JOURNAL NO. 50
January 1995 - November 1995
Age 37


"I can feel myself turning lazy and complacent lately  --  always taking the easy way out  -- and that's not the way I want to be."

 

January 10, 1995
Tuesday

My first journal entry of 1995!

It is a wet and gloomy Tuesday morning, and I have just arrived at the office: no one else is here yet. I want to stay upbeat today, but I know my mood could take a downturn in the blink of an eye. I've already had bumpy encounters with both Ray and Jamie this morning.  With Ray, it was his 'reminder': "Don't forget to mail the phone bill."  I am, you see, a complete and total imbecile, and I probably would have FORGOTTEN to mail it if he hadn't reminded me.  

THANK YOU, RAY. 

And then there is Jamie. "I have to go now," she said irritably, when I was trying to talk to her on the phone a few minutes ago. She is as self-absorbed and snotty as any thirteen-year-old in history (including yours truly), and we really don't seem to like each other very much right now. We love each other, but we don't like each other. This will pass.

There's a lot more to it, of course. There always is. I'm having a Bad Hair Day ... the tabs on my car expired two months ago ... the "new" washing machine died this weekend, and it looks like we're back to using the laundromat again (sigh) ... Ray's last three paychecks have been garnished and money is tight, tight, tight ...  the house is a mess and we still haven't taken the Christmas decorations down ... Bob M. in Spokane just called to chew me out about Purchase Orders ...




Monday morning 7:50 a.m.
January 16, 1995

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and here I sit in my chilly office. Schools are closed, banks and government offices and liquor stores are closed, there's no mail delivery ... but you'd better believe that BNC Telephone is open for business, folks!

I'm exhausted after another tough and dysfunctional weekend. My life needs some serious reworking, but right now I'm too worn out to write about it.

Kyle was going to come to the office with me this morning, but he pooped out at the last minute. "Come get me at lunchtime," he murmured sleepily, when I tried to wake him (per his request the night before) at 6:45 a.m. Haven't decided whether or not I will.  Bob doesn't seem to really like it when I drag the kids into the office, and my position here is so tenuous all the time that I don't want to do anything to upset the status quo.




Tuesday morning
January 17, 1995

Freezing. This office is like a refrigerator this morning, and all I wore was a short-sleeved blouse and a thin cotton jacket. Brrr.

I bought Kyle to the office yesterday, and now I wish I hadn't. Not because I didn't enjoy his company -- I LOVE being with him, he is one of the true bright spots in my life -- but because of stoopid BOB. I thought that yesterday, being a national holiday and all, would mean that things would be slow and I'd be alone here in the office pretty much all day. I figured that Kyle could play games on the computer, and I could read my Dean Koontz ("Funhouse"), and then we could slip out early, around 4 p.m. or so. Unfortunately, Bob showed up unexpectedly shortly after lunch, followed soon after by Randy, James, J.C. and Little Brad, and they spent the ENTIRE AFTERNOON in the warehouse, taking inventory and cleaning out the shop. Bob didn't actually say anything about Kyle being here, but I sensed that he was not happy about it. Waiting to see what happens when  comes in this morning.

10:45 a.m.

Bob was perfectly pleasant this morning -- he gave me some phones to send to Vodavi for repair, asked me to mail some stuff for Carleen, gave me his itinerary for the day -- and I know I should just relax and go about business as usual and quit worrying. But I can't. There is a hard little knot of fear in my stomach, and it tightens every time the phone rings. Bob M. called from Spokane a little while ago and asked for . Usually Bob M. is at least semi-pleasant to me on the phone, but today he sounded downright grim. Is something going on? Has my lousy attendance record finally caught up with me? Is  going to come in here later this afternoon and let me go?

I realize that I am being incredibly paranoid. I'm always telling Ray and the kids, "Not everything is about YOU," and I should probably listen to myself now. I know that the chances that Bob & Bob M. are discussing ME right now are remote at best. What is the matter with me today?? Why can't I shake this feeling of impending disaster ... ?!

You want to know what's really funny about this whole situation? Lately I've been toying with the idea of leaving BNC and looking for another job, anyway. Mom is trying to get me to apply to the Highline School District again, some position involving the Performing Arts Center, and for a day or so I seriously considered it.  I'm checking the classifieds every couple of days or so, and if a really great job opportunity were to leap out of the paper and bite me on the nose, I might send in a résumé. I might even go on an interview. But I have to be honest: it would have to be the job of a lifetime for me to take it. I may not be deliriously happy here at BNC -- especially with the piddly money I make -- but it would be hard to find a job as well-suited to me personally as this one is. Sitting here in jeans all day, playing on the computer, listening to the stereo, reading, spending hours and hours alone ... the autonomy and the solitude I enjoy so much here would be pretty hard to find anywhere else. I'm not "growing" much here -- if anything, I'm being even more withdrawn and self-involved, spending so much time alone -- and I worry about that. Am I sinking into another rut? Probably. But I still enjoy my job a lot of the time, and I don't really want to leave. Not just yet, anyway.

2 p.m.

OK, now I'm going totally nuts. Bob hasn't called all afternoon -- hasn't responded to any of my pages -- and then a few minutes ago some girl with a sweet young voice called and asked for him. She gave me her name (Julie) and her phone number but wouldn't give a company name. Neurotic Terri is convinced that this is the new secretary Bob is hiring for BNC Telephone to replace me.

Later:

Sometimes I amaze even myself. The last time I talked to Bob, he was not only pleasant, he was downright funny. ("I think I'll go home now," he said. "OK. I give you my permission," I said. He laughed and said, "Oh, thank you very much!") Have I been imagining this whole thing? 




Wednesday morning
January 18, 1995

Another cold, rainy morning. Ray fixed my right tail light and turn signal for me last night (for the zillionth time), but I know darned well that they'll be out again when I go home tonight ... my poor old car doesn't like sitting out in the rain all day.

Nervous about my paycheck. There is a possibility that I may be getting an extremely tiny check this time. I've taken two draws in the last month -- one for $400 right before Christmas, one for $250 last week. The Christmas draw never showed up on the last two paychecks, so it's possible that Carleen might have deducted them both now, leaving me with a whopping $33. I won't know for a couple of hours. I'm emotionally prepared for it, I think -- I can "live" off the petty cash check, plus Ray is supposedly getting a really great paycheck this Friday -- but, well, YOU know. I'm hoping for the best.

10 a.m.

Oh God, the paychecks are here. I am afraid to look.

10:10 a.m.

Oh hey. Hey oh. Carleen not only didn't take the last draw out, she didn't take out the Christmas draw, either. So my check is for the usual $683.57, AND I got a petty cash check for $233. Yay.

10:20 a.m.

Uh oh. Carleen just called here a few minutes ago, looking for Bob (who is spending the day at his cabin), and instantly Neurotic Terri took over. She's calling him because she just remembered about the two draws. I know it. I feel it in my bones. 




Thursday morning
January 19, 1995

My heart is heavy today. Even a beautiful pink and aqua sunrise during the drive to work didn't help ... I still feel sad and tired. What in the world is happening to my family? It is disintegrating in front of my very eyes, and I am powerless to stop it.

I had a 7:15 a.m. meeting this morning with Jamie's vice principal at Chinook, Mrs. D. Jamie got in trouble yesterday for slapping another student -- a walking attitude problem named Suzanne, who has been harassing and baiting Jamie for weeks -- and now Jay has been suspended for two days. In addition, she'll be on probation until the end of the school year. It could have been a lot worse -- she was facing a possible ninety day suspension -- but the whole thing still hurts my heart, Journal. While I was sitting in the vice principal's office this morning, listening to Mrs. D. read Jamie's probation conditions, I suddenly felt like I was going to cry. I started thinking about the way Jamie was in kindergarten -- so bright and eager and sweet -- and I had to hold my breath to keep the tears from starting. I didn't want Mrs. D. to see me cry, because I didn't want to appear intimidated by her authority ... and I didn't want to cry in front of Jamie, either, because I'm trying to be supportive and understanding ... but it was so hard. Suddenly I just felt so sad. The Jamie I've known and loved for thirteen years has vanished, and I don't know when or how it happened. Where did she go? Will she ever be coming back? I knew thirteen was going to be rough, but I had no idea HOW rough. I don't even feel like joking about it anymore. Ordinarily humor sees me through situations like this, but all of a sudden there's nothing even remotely funny about it.

And then there's Ray. I am going to just flat-out say it, Journal: I can't stand him. I can't stand to be in the same room with him, I can't stand his sour breath and his foul moods and his drunken tirades, I can't stand his stinginess, I can't stand the way he shuffles his feet when he walks, I can't stand HIM. Last night I went out and bought $50 worth of Chinese food as a special treat for the family. It's been over a year since we had a good Chinese dinner, and I was dying for some sesame chicken. I thought Ray would be so pleased. Guess again. Not only didn't he eat any of it -- he thinks he's dying all of a sudden, because of his high blood pressure, and he keeps talking about low-fat this, low-salt that -- but he made drunken insulting comments about it all night long, until I was in tears. ("I ain't eatin' this junk." "When I drop dead of a heart attack I ain't leavin' you guys ANYTHING." "I took a bite outta this shrimp and the grease just RAN down my face.") Then he got in his car and went to Taco Time. (Oh yeah ... much healthier.) I don't know, Journal. I am so tired of having my feelings run over by this self-absorbed asshole. If he's really serious about eating healthy, why doesn't he cut out the ten bottles of Mickey's every night?? Frankly, I wish he would drop dead, and the kids are beginning to feel the same. Jamie hates him. Kacie tolerates him, but she's shocked and unhappy about the way he treats us. Even Kyle is beginning to avoid him. Of course Ray doesn't see any of this. He thinks that he's this warm, wonderful DADDY whom everybody adores and respects, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

We've decided not to tell him about Jamie being suspended. Even my mother agrees that it would be better to keep this one from him: he has no self-control anymore, and there is no telling how he would react. Last Sunday night when Jamie came home from spending the weekend at Kelly's -- she'd been gone since Friday night -- he went completely berserk, calling her a "slut" and giving her this stupid list of punishments ("This is FINAL. It's FINAL.") and slamming doors until the whole family was crying. God, I hate him. I hate him, I hate him, I HATE HIM.

It wasn't supposed to be like this, Journal. Recently I've been transcribing my old journals and diaries to computer disk - -- right now I'm in 1976, just starting college - -- and I had such high hopes for my life back then. It's excruciating to read now. I was so sure that marriage and having children were going to be the high points of my life. Instead, marriage has turned out to be the biggest disappointment of my life, and having a family has turned out to be the biggest heartache. I love my children with my whole heart, and I always will, but I can't help but feel I've screwed up their little lives as thoroughly as I've screwed up my own, and it's just one more thing to feel guilty and sad about.

Check this out:

"... I hate him - -- I think - -- which is a terrible thing to say, but if the feeling is there, I can't ignore and deny it. It has reached the point where I can't even stand to be in the same room with him. Everything about him irritates me. I'd move out of this house in a MINUTE if I had the means to support myself."

I just discovered this in one of the old journals. It pretty accurately sums up my feelings for Ray, doesn't it?  Except that I didn't write it about Ray  ...   I wrote it about my Dad, circa 1977!  God. I don't know whether to be amused or depressed. In some ways it makes me feel better, although I'm not sure why. Maybe because it means that I've had these feelings before, and things worked out in the end, and maybe they'll work out this time, too. But it is also profoundly distressing. Am I doomed to endure the same crappy problems, over and over and over again ... ? 




Sunday morning
January 22, 1995

Just out of bed. I was dead all day yesterday, but today I feel slightly more alive (except for a stuffy nose). The house is a dive. I would describe it as "worse than usual," except for the fact that it's ALWAYS "worse than usual." I'm going to drink some coffee, take a shower, dink around on the computer a little bit, and then try to clean things up.  David Jr. spent the night with Kyle last night: the living room is a sea of Oreo cookie crumbs, Ray's empty Mickeys bottles, old newspapers, Kyle's miniature pool game, magazines, empty pop cans, dirty paper plates. Now the two of them (plus Kacie) are glued to the TV, watching "The Mask" for the third or fourth time this weekend. I'll probably end up having to work around them. Ray will lay in bed until 2 p.m., like he does every weekend, but at least he's out of my hair for a while. 




Wednesday evening
January 25, 1995

  • Whew. Tonight was supposed to be the company dinner, but it was cancelled at the last minute because of a family emergency. (Carleen's dad - -- Bob's and uncle - -- is gravely ill, and they're all going to Spokane.) I'm sorry that it was called off for such a sad reason, but I'm ecstatic that I don't have to spend my evening making small talk with the bosses and their wifeys.  I see enough of these people at the office every day.
  • Just dropped Jamie off at dance class. Now I have approximately one hour to sip some dry white wine and type before I go pick her up. I'm glad that she's back in dance class. She needs this kind of structured activity, I think, ESPECIALLY considering last week's suspension from school.
  • Ray has decided to barbecue some chicken tonight. Right now he's firing up the Webber and wearing his famous God-I-do-everything-around-here expression, just because I'm parked in front of the computer for a couple of minutes.
  • No software today from Reliable in California. Darn. Maybe tomorrow.
  • This white wine actually tastes OK. I drank sweet pink wine all weekend, and it made me feel horrible for days afterward.
  • No software from Tague Stationery, either. Darn again. Lately, buying software is an obsession: I just can't seem to get enough of it. It's kind of the way I used to be about country decorating magazines, chicken recipes, junk jewelry, vitamins, old 45's ...
  • Fabulous eyebrow day today ... OK hair and makeup day, too. Wore that green blouse that reminds me of a Communist uniform, the old Koret City Blues (wearing a bit thin in places) and my boots. Growing just a little tired of my boots: need some new flat shoes.
  • My favorite people at work are Ron Colson, J.C., Little Brad, and Maureen.
  • I really like the "new" computer keyboard I brought home from work last week. (I swapped my old one, which had crumbs wedged under the keys, for a spare keyboard I found in the warehouse.) The keys are really springy and it has a nice light touch.
  • I owe a letter to Kathy B. in Mojave, as usual. Still waiting to hear from my other pen pal, Deanne, to see how she liked the "Memory Book" disk I sent her.
  • Kacie and I stayed up late last night and watched "The Pelican Brief." At first I couldn't understand why it seemed so FAMILIAR ... I knew I'd never seen it before ... but then I remembered that I read about a third of the book, a year or so ago. I liked Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington together, although I wish they'd allowed them to have an onscreen romance: it would have made the movie even better.
  • A load of my "trouser socks" (hand-washed last night, since we have no washing machine) tumbling in the dryer. Hope I can keep KACIE out of them.




Thursday
January 26, 1995

Jamie called from school this morning, saying she had a sore throat and headache, so I told the attendance secretary to let her go home. Last night all she felt like eating for dinner was a bowl of ice cream, so I know this is probably legit. Ray has been sick for two weeks and I keep waiting for the rest of us to get it. I've had an on-and-off stuffy nose and a little tickle in my throat for a few days but it doesn't seem to want to blow up into anything bigger. So far.

Maureen just stopped by with her kids, to pick up her billing and her office supplies. I looked up from the computer and saw a little red-haired gremlin peering in through the front door -- her five-year-old son, Eric. He's very cute.  Makes me wish Kyle were that sweet age again. Speaking of Kyle, he bought himself another one of those infernal plastic dart guns at Tom's last night, when we were picking Jay up from dance class and buying some milk and pop. I HATE those stupid guns of his. Why do little boys think guns are so wonderful?!?




Friday morning
January 27, 1995

Extremely happy that it's Friday. Maybe my software will show up today!  Disappointed yesterday -- Tague dropped off my office supply order, but it turns out I accidentally ordered LabelPro for DOS, not for Windows -- hopefully they can exchange it today.

Last night Kacie and Kyle went to an assembly at their school, to see some guy with exotic animals or something. Kacie came home at 8:15, excitedly waving a Polaroid in my face. It was a picture of her and her friend Bonnie with an enormous boa constrictor winding itself around their shoulders. Kyle was right behind her, and he was very upset because Kacie had hurried him out of the assembly before he had a chance to get his picture taken with the snake. He was so disappointed that I popped him into the car -- I was in my pajamas and bare feet -- and drove him back to the school. He ran back into the gym and got his picture taken while I waited in the car.

Tomorrow Kyle participates in the Hoop Shoot at Kennedy High School. This is a very big deal to him, so I definitely have to go and watch.

Jamie is home sick today. Last night her throat was so sore, she just stood in the kitchen and cried. Ray bought her some Popsicles and yogurt, since she can't swallow anything else, and I brought her a magazine and some strange new soda to cheer her up. 



Kyle's snake photo

Kyle takes his turn with the boa constrictor.
I will always be glad we went back and got this picture.
January 27, 1995




Monday morning
January 30, 1995

Back at work after an eventful weekend. Torrential rain this morning ... the world is dark, wet and gloomy. Strangely enough, though, I don't feel half-bad. I got a lot of things done this weekend, I went to bed at a decent hour last night, and I woke up this morning feeling OK for a Monday morning. Hope the feeling prevails throughout the week.

Kyle's Hoop Shoot on Saturday was a mixed bag of emotions for me. He was the littlest guy in the competition, AND he was the first to compete. I was proud of how composed and grown-up he acted in front of all those people. He came in third (out of four boys), which broke my heart a little ... I really would have like to see him win, because it would have been so good for his ego ... but I'm still amazed at how well he did. He's so small and that basketball hoop was so BIG. He took his defeat philosophically. "This was just the first year I could be in it," he said. Meaning that he wants to try again next year. That's my boy. 

After the Hoop Shoot, he and Kacie and I went out to lunch at Denny's, then wandered around Drug Emporium for a little while.

On Saturday night we had an earthquake! It hit around 7:11 p.m., and registered 5.0 on the Richter scale. The amazing this is that I totally missed it. (Or maybe it wasn't so amazing -- I'd had a snootful of wine by then.) Kacie and I were standing in the kitchen by the refrigerator, goofing around -- I was trying to plant a kiss on her forehead, and she was trying to dodge me -- when the glass jars in the spice rack on top of the fridge started rattling really hard. I thought it was just Kacie bumping against the fridge. It was another ten minute or so before anyone could convince me we'd just had an earthquake, because I hadn't felt or heard anything -- I finally believed it when I heard the news bulletins on TV.

Yesterday was the Super Bowl. Tracy spent Saturday night at our house, and yesterday afternoon Lori and Jeanetta came over to watch the game and have dinner with us. (John had to work -- thank God.) I was hungover and tired, and Lori's non-stop yacking and smoking began to fray my nerves by the end of the day ... I love her dearly but she NEVER SHUTS UP ... so it was a relief when they all finally went home.

10 a.m.

Crud. I was feeling so good when I got into the office this morning, and now I'm back to feeling paranoid and unhappy again. Bob is back, after several days in Spokane, and he can't seem to find anything . . the new Vicon camera he ordered (which I swear I saw come into the office last week), some other phone equipment ... I don't know anything about any of it, and I know I'm coming across as vague and useless. Now he's in a huddled phone conversation with Carleen, and I'm thinking (as always) that it's about me and my two payroll draws. Crud. Crud crud crud crud.

Now I wish everybody would just leave and let me have some time to myself, but Brad J., The World's Most Annoying Human Being is here, and he's settling in at his desk, looking for all the world like he plans to spend the day ... Little Brad and James are milling about in the warehouse ... and then of course there's Bob, who is still talking to Carleen, half an hour later. God. I just had a horrible thought. What if they deliver my software now, while Bob and Brad are here?! I've gone from feeling like this might be a better than average Monday to wishing I could go home and go back to bed.

Crud. 




Wednesday night
February 1, 1995

Disappointing day in a lot of ways. Our paychecks didn't arrive, for one thing. At 10 a.m. the UPS guy showed up, but the only thing he had was something for Bob.  He happened to be in the office at the time, and when I asked him about it, he said he was "sure" that Carleen had mailed out the checks yesterday. Then he made an elaborate show of calling Spokane and asking them to "trace" the shipment. Finally he said that the checks will be here first thing in the morning. I know Bob, and I know how things work around here, and I'm completely aware that the checks probably (really) went out today, but I pretended to believe him and just said That's fine. Secretly I was fuming. This is just one more example of the way the company doesn't give a rat's ass about their employees. If the checks were going to be delayed, no big deal ... just give us some warning, for Pete's sake. Maybe money doesn't mean that much to Bob and his family, but for those of us who are living paycheck to paycheck, even a one-day delay can be devastating. Ron loaned me five bucks until tomorrow -- which I'm sure he could barely afford himself -- but I'm disgusted with Bob once again, and almost wishing I'd gone ahead and applied for that job with the school district.  Also, I have this feeling that when my check does show up tomorrow, it might be that $33 paycheck we were discussing two weeks ago. Gut instinct. Bob has been very gloomy the past couple of weeks -- this morning he got into a shouting match with Carleen on the phone, closed his office door and everything -- and I'll bet that they're going back and accounting for every nickel and dime the last two months or so.

My Reliable software didn't show up, either. It's been almost two weeks and now I'm starting to get a little nervous. What could have happened to it? I finally got my LabelPro software from the office supply place, and it's really great -- I'm still learning how to use it -- but we now owe Tague Stationery almost $600 (I intercepted a bill from them today) and I know that Bob is going to shit major bricks when he sees the invoice. 

Still transcribing the old journals, by the way. Basically there's been nothing else to do the past couple of days -- transcribing journals and reading the bag of old TV Guides that Lori brought me on Sunday. Such a stimulating way to spend nine hours every day. The journals are starting to depress me big time. I'm still in the college years -- I'm in the spring of 1978 now -- and what depresses me about them is how incredibly stupid I sound. I thought I knew everything about love and marriage and children, and in fact I knew nothing. I am also amazed and embarrassed by the way I wrote back then. I've always believed that my college journals were so insightful and sophisticated, but reading them now they just seem bloated and redundant. I had to say everything two or three times, and I sound like a hopeless idiot. Makes me wonder how THESE journals will read, eighteen or twenty years from now. Do we ever grow up? God, I hope so. I would hope that my writing style has improved, at least ... changed, evolved, grown, matured, ripened, gained depth, flowered ... (Ha ha. That was a journal joke. I don't still do that, do I?? Say the same thing over and over? If I do, please slap me.)

The journals have surprised me in other ways. I'm beginning to realize that the way I remember things happening isn't necessarily the way they really happened. Obviously my memories have been altered by time and perspective. For instance, I remember my relationship with my high school/college boyfriend Scott as being one long endurance test -- arguments, one-sided sex, feeling trapped and unhappy -- and yet the journals are page after page about our wonderful loving relationship. ??? I also remember Highline College as a warm, fuzzy, wonderful place to be, and yet in the journals I'm always complaining about it. This is especially distressing when you consider that I spent most of 1994 reconstructing my life for the Autobio. Are all the things I "remember" just so much twisted bullhunky?

On the other hand, some of my other memories are dead-on. The stuff about Dad, for instance ... I remember our thorny relationship with total clarity. It's amazing how similar my feelings about Dad (then) and Ray (now) are. That excerpt a page or two back is a perfect example. That horrid sense of let-down whenever he stays home from work  ... feeling like I have no privacy when he's around ... that feeling of never wanting to be in the same room with him ... etc.  I'm still bothered about this. It speaks of a pattern that scares me. 




Tuesday afternoon
February 7, 1995

Nearly a week later. I haven't felt much like writing the past few days ... haven't felt like doing much of anything, for that matter. I stayed home "sick" yesterday, although it was mostly a case of needing a day off to recover from my days off.

Last weekend was the crappiest weekend we've had in years ... Saturday, especially. We got a phone call from Arizona that Ray's grandmother might be dying ... Kacie and her friend Sasha were arrested for shoplifting at Southcenter, and while they were being detained in the Bon Marche's security office, they "lost" Kyle in the mall: we then spent a harrowing ninety minutes combing the mall, looking for him ... the house was a grimy horror, with laundry piled to the ceiling ... Ray was squinty-eyed drunk all weekend ... we bought ourselves a small treat, which we really couldn't afford, and Ray promptly lost it ... etc. etc. etc. By Sunday night I was a mess from stress, and when I woke up yesterday morning I just said "Screw it -- I'm staying home." Kyle took the day off too, for no better reason than the fact that I didn't have any clean clothes for him, and the two of us spent the day laying on the couch, watching TV and eating leftover pizza. Kacie came home sick around noon but promptly disappeared into her room and slept all afternoon. Thankfully, Ray didn't stay home. Mainly I just needed one day at home without him there to drive me crazy. When he got home in the afternoon I felt calm and rested, and I cooked a big dinner for everybody (homemade Salisbury steak) and watched TV with the kids and went to bed feeling a lot better.

Things aren't perfect  --  they never are. I feel sick at heart about Kacie getting caught shoplifting, for one thing. Just the day before she was arrested, she graduated from the D.A.R.E. program at school. Lori and I went to the graduation ceremony, and when Lori was taking pictures of Kacie and Tracy, she made a remark about this being "their last days of innocence." Meaning, once they leave sixth grade, watch out. My experiences with Jaymi recently bear this out. Little did I realize that the shit would hit the fan the very next day.  I'm also battling that feeling I get once in a while, that there's nothing ahead of me in life to look forward to. Nothing seems to bring me genuine pleasure anymore, except sometimes for the kids. I just mean that there's very little fun in my life. No joy, no passion, no fun. It's all about getting up at 5:30 a.m., going to work, coming home to my messy house, keeping my family from killing each other, going to bed. Period. My weekend wine binges are as close to ‘fun" as I seem to get anymore, and considering the fact that they set me back for three days afterward, it doesn't really seem worth it, does it?

Oh well. I'm going to try and muddle through this stuff as best I can. Part of it is my annual case of the February blahs, I'm sure. This is always the most depressing time of year for me. I don't know why -- it just is. Things pick up emotionally in the spring. I just have to hang on till then, I guess.

I finally got my software, by the way. LabelPro for Windows is OK, except that I can't seem to use the Windows Clipboard with it -- still trying to figure that out - -- but most of the Reliable stuff is weird and hard to use. I don't even know why I ordered half of it. There are some math games that Kyle really likes, and I like having lots of new wallpaper choices, but the rest is disappointing. Oh well. Waiting for that software to arrive, at least, gave me something to "look forward to."

My favorite joke of 1995 (so far): What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic and a dyslexic? Someone who stays awake all night wondering if there's a dog. Ha ha ha. Definitely a joke only Mommy could appreciate. 




Wednesday evening
February 8, 1995

Home. Feeling a little more peaceful than usual. Sitting here at my desk, sipping a glass of wine, drying the last load of clothes, contemplating my day. Ray is outside, puttering around the yard ... sweet smell of new-mown grass in the air. Kacie is practicing her jump-roping ... Jaymi just disappeared into her room after a brief hello . . . Kyle is over at Shannon South playing with Brandon. (I have to drive over and pick him up at 6:00 ... twenty minutes from now.) The sun is setting and the sky is a gorgeous rosy pink. Things are (temporarily) in order.

I forced myself to do a couple of things today that I didn't really feel like doing. For one thing, I stopped and filled up my gas tank on the way to work, instead of waiting until my gas gauge reads E-E-E-E, so I was glad to get it done. Then, I went an extra mile for Ron Coby without him asking me to -- instead of merely typing his letters of inquiry to all the Keg Restaurants in the area, I CALLED them all and got the name of the General Manager at each location so the letters would be more personal. I didn't want to make all those phone calls, but Ron was really surprised and grateful, so I was glad I did it. These things may not sound like much, but they left me feeliing pleased with myself for the rest of the day. I need to start pushing myself a little more. I can feel myself turning lazy and complacent lately  --  always taking the easy way out  -- and that's not the way I want to be. I need to start coming home after work and doing things around the house. I need to make a conscious effort to spend more time with the kids, and I don't just mean sitting around watching TV at night together, either. I need to buy myself some new clothes. I need to start putting money in the bank. I need to start paying more attention to my work. I need to learn something new once in a while. I need to stretch ALL of my muscles, the big and the small, the physical and the intellectual. It doesn't have to be anything big, either ... a little extra effort here, a little something different there. It all adds up.

Part of this, I'm sure, is this weird feeling of early spring in the air. January and February (so far) have been unseasonably warm and dry -- it was almost 60° today -- and it actually is beginning to feel like spring already. I have this irresistible urge to clean up my house, lose some weight, organize my life, start doing everything right. The way I feel every spring, I guess. I hope these feelings last -- and furthermore, I hope I DO something about them -- but only time will tell if this is the real thing or just a passing bout of spring fever.

Got to go get Kyle now ... back in a few.

6:15 p.m.

Home, by way of Trailer Town so Kacie and Kyle could buy some junk for their lunches tomorrow. I could have strangled Kyle. I gave him a five dollar bill when we stopped at the store, and I told him "Bring me back my change." What I meant was that he could buy himself a pop and a bag of chips and bring me back two or three bucks in change. Instead, he spent almost the whole five dollars and handed me seventy-five cents in change! We're perilously close to broke and every cent counts. Oh well. One of the things he bought was a can of tuna fish for Gabby, "As a special treat," he said. How can I be mad at him for that?

Ray is gone -- I think he's gone to Safeway to get some badly-needed groceries. I requested cheap broiled steak and frozen French fries for dinner, and miraculously he liked the idea. I have time for one more glass of wine and a cigarette before he gets home and I have to start cooking.

I'm still working on the college journals -- today I got to the part where I finally get my Drivers License after three tries -- and I'm still amazed by the things I'm reading. In a section I transcribed yesterday, I spout off for almost three pages about how I never want to be a fulltime homemaker and mother ... how "demeaning" that kind of life is to a woman, and how my plans for my life are so much grander. I guess we all know the punchline to that particular joke. It also bothers me now to see the way I censored myself in those days. At that time I was still desperately in love with Jerry Wagner -- I was dreaming about him practically every night -- but I only hint about it in the journal, here & there. I was always afraid that Scott was going to read what I wrote. I didn't feel I had any privacy, even in my personal journal, so a lot of the stuff I wrote was just surface.

Oh well. Time to go. I'm going to try and make a dent in organizing the family laundry, starting with the load that's in the dryer right now. I have a pile of ironing seven miles high but I know I won't get around to it tonight -- it will be a miracle if I just catch up with folding the clean towels and underwear. 

Such a "grand" life I lead. Sigh. 




Thursday morning
February 9, 1995

Well, fuck. Overnight my life has gone right back into the crapper. Too upset to write about it right now ... maybe when I get home from work this evening.

5:15 p.m.

Home. Fighting back tears. I've done pretty well all day, keeping my emotions in check, but walking into the house just now -- seeing how clean the house is, seeing the cake sitting on the counter that Kacie baked for me, hearing the kids' cheerful "Hi Mom!" -- finally did me in. At least my children love me.

So, you're asking, what happened today? It's a long, stupid, ugly story, but here goes:

I got to work this morning, popped a disk into the office computer -- and promptly blew Windows out again. I was deleting some games, using the new Reliable software, and all of a sudden Windows flipped off and I was at the DOS prompt, looking at one of those Messages From Hell ... "Unable to load Windows" or something like that. I hadn't even had my first cup of coffee when it happened. The worst part is that I'd left all the Windows set-up disks here at home, and I knew I was going to have to drive home and get them or face the dismal prospect of nine hours without a computer. Unthinkable -- especially if Brad were to call later in the day and ask me to do something for him on the pc. What would I say to him? "Sorry, Brad -- I screwed up the brand-new computer." No way. So I told Bob that I had a "computer emergency" and that I'd be back in half an hour -- "OK?" he said -- and I jumped into my car and sped home.

I ran into the house and got my disks, noting that the kids had left both doors unlocked, the coffee still plugged in and our pregnant cat locked outside. I'm going to have to TALK to them when I get home, I thought to myself.

Several minutes later, when I was heading back to the office on 99, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a Sea Tac police car about five car lengths behind me. Ever since my tabs expired in November, I've been avoiding police cars like the plague. He's going to see my expired tabs and pull me over, I thought to myself. Then he'll ask for my Drivers License, and that'll be the end of everything. Wildly, I considered pulling into Winchell's Doughnuts in hopes of losing him, but before I even had a chance to change lanes he was right behind me, flashing his lights. With a sinking heart I pulled off to the side of the highway. 

The long and short of it: he sternly wrote me up for having expired tabs, no proof of insurance and no Drivers License, and he told me in no uncertain terms that I could not drive my car. 

"Could I just drive it home?" I asked him politely, but he said, "No ma'am ... if I see you driving this car at all, I'll arrest you." He gave me my tickets and left, and I just sat there for a minute, dazed, wondering what the hell I was going to do.

The place I'd parked in front of was a company called Washington Poster, directly across the highway from the cemetery. I took my disks and my jacket out of the car, locked it up, and went into Washington Poster, asking to use the phone. The man in the office -- I think his name was Dan -- was so nice. Not only did he let me use the phone -- I called the office and told Bob I had "hit a snag" ("Well, just get here as soon as you can," he sighed), and then I called Ray at work and told him what happened -- but he also gave me a ride back to my office. He was so kind and nonjudgmental, it was really amazing: even though I was horribly upset, it restored a little bit of my faith in people.

Anyway, I got back to the office and managed to muddle through my day. Out of pure reflex I called my mother, first thing. Why do I ALWAYS turn to her in times of crisis? I have vowed a million times to quit doing that, and still I call her. She was sympathetic and gentle but basically no help. (What did I expect? That she would run right out and fix everything for me? When will I learn?) Then I called Lori and cried on her shoulder a little bit. She offered me Jeannetta's Washington State Drivers Guide so I can bone up before I go in and take the test, and that made me feel a little better. But the person who cheered me up the most was my co-worker and pal Ron. He came into the office about an hour after the Washington Poster guy dropped me off, and he cheered me up with funny cynical cracks about cops, as well as some practical advice about going to court and getting insurance. Later in the day he called the office a couple of times, just to make sure I was "hanging in there." I honestly don't think I could have gotten through the day without him.

Bob called the office, too. "How's everything going?" he said, and I could tell by the tone of his voice that he meant more than just business. Frankly I was surprised by how understanding and nice he was. I told him that I wouldn't be driving for a little while -- that my husband would be ferrying me back & forth, which means I'll be coming in earlier and leaving earlier -- and that I would be having a court date coming up in a few weeks. He didn't pry, he didn't make any snide comments ... he just said, "That's fine." I was amazed and relieved.

The worst part of the whole day -- aside from getting pulled over, that is -- was riding home from work with Ray. He showed up at the office at 4:30 and waited outside in his car for 15 minutes while I finished my typing and got the office closed up. He didn't say one word to me the whole ride home, except to ask me where my car was parked. He wasn't mad -- he simply didn't realize how upset I was, or else he didn't care. No words of sympathy, no questions, no small talk, nothing. Just silence. It made me indescribably sad. My mother, my best friend, my children, my co-worker at the office  ...   even a fucking stranger (the guy from Washington Poster)  ...  all cared about how I felt.  But not my own husband.  

After a while I realized that he intended to drop me off at my car and have me drive it home. Fighting back tears I said, "I CAN'T DRIVE!" and he blustered at me, "Well, you HAVE to." Finally I convinced him to at least switch cars with me when we got to the Velmobile.   I drove his car back to the house in a cold sweat, watching for police cars the whole time. I was convinced that Officer Asshole was going to spot me driving Ray's car, pull me over and triumphantly haul me off to jail. Fortunately I made it home without incident, and that brings me to now.

I knew this day was coming, Journal. I've known it all along. I've been feeling guilty and paranoid about driving without a license since the day we bought the Velmobile, almost two years ago ... I knew that eventually I would get busted. Every morning I would get into my car and think, "Will today be the day?" And the truth is that it could have happened in a multitude of ways. I could have been in an accident. I could have been stopped for driving drunk. Or -- the way it finally happened -- I could be pulled over for something really stupid, like driving with expired tabs. One way or another it was going to happen eventually.

So why didn't I take care of it a long time ago? I guess it goes along with what I was writing about last night -- about always taking the "easy" way out. As long as I was getting away with it, what was the big deal? That's always been Ray's attitude about everything, for as long as I've known him, and over time I started feeling that way about things, too. Or maybe that's not fair. Maybe I've always felt that way, and I married someone who felt that way, and we've just reinforced it in each other. Why pay a bill on time when we can let it slide for awhile? Why do the right thing when there's an easier way? The legal thing when there's a cheaper, illegal way? Blaming Ray for this isn't fair. Blaming him isn't going to do me any good. Ultimately we are all responsible for our own actions. If this is something I've learned and Ray hasn't, and I still don't do anything about it, then I can't pin any of the blame on him. The only person at fault here is ME, plain and simple. And the only person who can "fix" this is me. 




Saturday morning 8:30 a.m.
February 11, 1995

Waiting for my coffee to brew. The kids are still asleep -- Ray is working today. Mom is going to take me to the DMV later this morning, so I can take the written part of the test to get my drivers license. Not at all sure I'll pass it. I keep trying to read the manual but nothing sticks: five minutes later I've forgotten it again, so I've just quit reading and am hoping for the best.

Just before I woke up I had a dream that I went in and took the written test, and passed it, and then when I tried to schedule the driving test the guy behind the counter said, "This is your fourth account with us, Terri, so you won't need to take the driving test." I was so happy -- this meant I was getting my license right then and there! No fuss, no muss, no driving test! "Um, not so fast," he said. "I have to hold your picture up and see if anyone here recognizes you." Then he held up this huge black and white photo of my face. I turned around and saw forty or fifty police officers sitting in the waiting room, and almost every one of them had their hands raised! My heart sank, but then I realized why they recognized me. "They met me at Kacie's D.A.R.E. graduation!" I shouted, and everyone agreed that yes, that's where they'd seen me before, and it was OK to issue me a license. I was so happy that I asked the DMV examiner for his favorite turkey recipe and invited him to Thanksgiving dinner.

Incidentally, yesterday was one of the loooongest days of my life. I had to get up at 5 a.m. to ride to work with Ray. ("Better hurry -- I don't want to be late," I said sarcastically, and he laughed.) It was 6:30 a.m. when I sat down at my desk at BNC. Being in the office that early was weird ... it felt like the middle of the night. I cranked up the radio, made a pot of coffee and turned on the computer, and by the time Brad showed up at 8:00 I had a nice caffeine buzz going and I was feeling pretty good, in spite of a wicked hangover. I managed to stay in a good mood all day, too. I'm not sure why, under the circumstances. I was cheerful and talkative on the phone, I spent most of the day working on transcribing the journals, and I even cleaned up the office and the coffee area and the bathroom. By the time Ray picked me up at 4:30, though, I was limp with exhaustion. I came home, made some quick spaghetti for dinner, took some cold medicine and basically went to bed at 8:00. Ray had too many Mickeys and started picking on Kyle around 10:00 or so, and that woke me up for a while. Ray was drunkenly insisting that Kyle sleep with him, but Kyle had a nice little sleeping bag arrangement near the woodstove and didn't want to sleep with his Dad.

"I'm not two years old!" Kyle said. 

"Fine, then you can just sleep on the fuckin' FREEWAY!" Ray snarled, and ten minutes later he was passed out cold and we all went back to sleep. I slept straight through the night and woke up feeling good.

Well, crud. I need to get a shower and study this drivers manual for a while this morning. Still no call from Mom so I have no idea what time we're going. Wish me luck -- I'm going to need it.

1 p.m.

Home now. I can tell that this is going to be one of those situations that refuses to be resolved easily ... I'll get over one hurdle, only to find another one waiting for me ... sigh.

I passed the written test. Actually, I was shocked by how easy it was. I missed two questions out of 25 -- "Not bad, not bad at all," Kyle said a minute ago, when I told him how well I did. Mostly it was just common sense. I am glad now what I read the book a little bit, though: one question was about how long you have to have your turn signals on before you turn, and I remembered that it was 100 feet. I wouldn't have known that one otherwise.

That's the good news, anyway. The bad news is that I failed the vision test!! I couldn't believe it! "Read line four on the monitor," the grumpy young asshole told me. When I peered into the monitor, my heart sank ... I couldn't even read line ONE, let alone line four. For a minute I honestly thought maybe they had the wrong slide in there because everything looked like it was written in Chinese! "Do you wear glasses?" the DMV guy asked -- God, the people who work there are humorless -- and I said, "No. I'm just sort of astonished by how fuzzy everything looks." He came around the counter and peered into the monitor, just to check it, and he said, "No, everything's just the way it's supposed to be." I blinked hard a few times and tried it again, but it was no use. I couldn't make out a single letter or number. So even though I passed the written, they wouldn't give me a date to take the driving test. I have to go back with proof that I've got glasses before they'll schedule me. DAMN IT!!!!!  What next?!?

An hour or so later:

Just back from an invigorating walk to Trailer Town with Kacie. Cold and rainy today -- the "spring weather" has all but disappeared. The walk made me feel really good. On the way we stopped and got the mail, and there were Valentines cards for the kids & I from Valerie -- she also sent me $13.50 for some business cards she wants me to make. Considering the fact that I am almost dead broke, it was incredibly fortuitous timing. Also, when we got to Trailer Town I discovered that my wine was mismarked again -- $1.09 instead of the usual $3.79 -- and the nice guy behind the counter said "Oh well!" and rang them up for the wrong price. So I got two bottles of wine for $2.20 and actually came home with MORE money than I had when I left!

Ray is working today, which is wonderful. One long lazy afternoon with my computer and my wine. Maybe I'll get started on my Valentines, or finish my letter to Deanne.

2:46 p.m.

Or maybe I won't. Ray just walked through the door. "We got off at 2:00," he said merrily, and now he's out in the living room turning on his bowling and arguing with Jaymi. So much for my long lazy afternoon without Ray. Fuck several ducks. 




Wednesday morning 7 a.m.
February 15, 1995

A few days later. Sitting here in my frigid little office ... lots of slushy snow on the ground this morning. Traffic was slow, and Ray made little constipated noises of frustration as he drove us to work. This was only the fourth morning that he's driven me to the office but it already feels like an eternity. I miss my morning drive.

Some good news, for a change: I got my glasses last night! I was positive that something would go wrong at LensCrafters ... they wouldn't accept our personal check, or the doctor wouldn't be able to find anything wrong with my eyesight, or the glasses would all be butt-ugly ... but this was another easy hurdle, thank God. I had my exam ($54), picked out my frames ($50 for a nice pair of thin gold frames), and my lenses ($100), and then Ray and I walked around Southcenter mall for an hour while the glasses were being made. We didn't have two cents between us and we were both starving, so it was kind of frustrating -- I never realized how many food places there are at the mall! -- but eventually my glasses were ready and we could go home.

There aren't a lot of pleasant surprises in my life anymore, so the drive home from the mall, wearing my new specs, completely knocked me out. The moment I slipped them on the world changed. I couldn't stop marveling over how clear and different everything looked ... traffic signs, street lights, houses, stores, people, cars, the snowflakes pelting the windshield. We stopped at Safeway and I felt like I'd landed on another planet. Everything was so bright! So vivid! So three-dimensional! (When I slipped the glasses off, everything went back to looking like it was smeared with Vaseline. I honestly had no idea my eyesight had gotten that bad ... what a difference a pair of glasses make!)

Ray & the kids were really sweet about the whole thing. Ray grinned every time he saw me in my glasses last night.  "I can't help it ... you look cute," he said. "You look like a librarian." The kids, of course, all wanted to try them on and look at themselves in the mirror. "If you're embarrassed about wearing glasses, don't be," Kyle counseled me later in the evening. "I have LOTS of friends who wear them."

We're still not out of the woods, of course. Yesterday I got my first summons for court -- this one is for driving without a license. My court date is Feb. 23, which is one week from tomorrow. That's how much time I have to finish getting my license. I've got to get back to the DMV immediately and re-take the vision test, then set a date for my driving test ... and then pass the damned test the first time out. Think I can do it? I don't know. I keep remembering the horror of taking the driving test the first time, when I was 20, and failing it twice before I finally got my license. That just can't happen this time -- I don't have the time. I'VE GOT TO PASS THE TEST THE FIRST TIME. I've also got to get tabs and insurance before the second court summons shows up in the mail, but I'm trying to take this one step at a time, and getting my license is the #1 priority. I can't think much beyond that.

Right now I'm less worried about passing the test than I am about how I'm going to get to the DMV, not to mention what car to use for the driving test. Obviously the Velmobile is out. So is Ray's car, pretty much; aside from the fact that it permanently smells like beer, the brake lights are screwed up, and his tabs, apparently, are expired too. (A fact I did not know until last night. "I colored them green," he said sheepishly.) I don't seem to have any other options at the moment and I'm worried.

I also need to find some way to get to the bank today, after paychecks get here. I assumed that Ray wouldn't mind taking me to the bank after work, but he acted like it was this huge imposition when I mentioned it in the car this morning. These days almost anything I mention to him is met with a big dramatic sigh and a whiny "I don't KNOW" ... if it isn't HIS idea, or if it doesn't comfortably fit into HIS Mickeys-drinking schedule, then forget it. I'm trying to stay positive and focused while I slog my way through this driving mess, but his lack of support and his refusal to do things the right way are making it so much harder than it should be.

Yesterday was Valentines Day, by the way. Kacie made me a tissue paper flower and Kyle made me a Valentine that says "SUCKER! Roses are red, blah blah blah blah and a bunch of other stuff." And that was pretty much it. Ray said that my "Valentine" was him taking me to get my glasses, even though I'm paying for them. Jaymi said that she "didn't have to give Valentines to anybody this year," but I think she must have started feeling guilty last night after I fell asleep, because I woke up this morning to find a quickie Print Shop card on the coffee table. ("Hope You Have A Great Valentines Day!!! Love, Jaymi.") I managed to spit out three computer Valentines for the kids yesterday, but nothing for Ray or anybody else. I feel bad about the way we slid through Valentines Day this year -- ordinarily it's a fun holiday for us -- but I'm just too preoccupied and exhausted to do much more than get up, go to work, come home and start getting ready for work the next morning. Hope this changes soon.

10:10 a.m.

Checks will be here any minute, and I just had a horrible thought. Oh God, what if THIS is the week of the $37 check? This would absolutely, positively be the worst possible moment for that to happen. Cross your fingers for me.

10:35 a.m.

Well, aside from the fact that the UPS guy gave me a heart attack by showing up at EXACTLY 10:30 (if checks don't get here by 10:30, they're not coming)  ...  AND aside from the fact that Carleen once again didn't send me any postage money  ...  everything's fine.  Ron Coby has offered to take me to the bank at lunch.

Later:

Ron did take me to the bank, and it was actually kinda fun. He and I never seem to run out of things to talk about. Afterwards we went to Arby's and got some lunch. 




Thursday morning 6:50 a.m.
February 16, 1995

Tired and hungry after a rotten night's sleep. Ray and I stopped at Red Apple on the way home last night so I could buy pop and snacks for the office, and I had the foresight to buy myself my beloved breakfast sandwich and some Lemonade Ice Gatorade ... somehow I just KNEW I was going to need them this morning ...

I had a horrible nightmare last night. In the dream, Velma had given me some new software for my computer -- some kind of children's programs -- and when I tried to run them, my computer caught on fire and was destroyed. In the dream I kept saying, "Oh God, I hope this is a dream! I hope this is a dream!"  When I finally woke up I was relieved to the point of tears.

I suppose I know what prompted the dream. Velma is coming this morning to pick me up and take me to the West Seattle DMV, so I can re-take my vision test and schedule my driving test. That's where the Velma part of the dream comes in. 

The computer part is something else. Yesterday afternoon Jaymi called me when she got home from school and announced that Puget Power had shut off our power. Ray huffed and puffed about it, of course, but eventually he went in and paid the $86 bill so we could get our power restored. When he and I got home, sometime around 6:00, the kids had lit candles all over the house, including a little one in the front window ... I thought that was very cute, even though it didn't do much good. The house was dark and cold, and it stayed that way until the power guy finally showed up at 7:45. Until the power was restored, we sat in the living room reading magazines by candlelight and trying to stay warm. Ray lit a fire and we all snuggled under afghans (Kyle, who was enjoying the black-out more than anyone, eventually fell asleep), and actually it really wasn't all that bad. It was certainly quiet and peaceful. ANYWAY, when the power came on, I ran out to the laundry room to check on my computer. For about twenty minutes after I turned it back on and booted up, it made this horrible grinding, whirring noise. It scared me to death. I was just starting to panic when the noise began to die down, all by itself, and eventually disappeared altogether. Whew.

I love my computer. Can you tell?

2:40 p.m.

Eventful day. I passed the vision test at the West Seattle DMV -- I was in and out in five minutes. Amazing. That's the good news. The bad news is that getting an appointment to take the driving test is proving to be yet another "hurdle." The very soonest they can schedule me is February 28th  ...  five days AFTER my court date. Crap. There is a slight chance I may be able to get a "stand-by" spot tomorrow morning, though, if Velma can take me in at 8:30 AND if we can scrounge up a car for me to use for the test. Velma said she'd "work on it" this afternoon, and I'm supposed to call her when I get home and see if she's come up with anything. Otherwise I'll have to wait until the 28th and hope I can convince the judge that I'm 2/3 of the way towards getting the license, which proves that I'm sincere about fixing everything, and hope that he lets me off easy.

On the other hand, a hurdle I've been dreading -- insurance -- looks like it's going to be much easier than I'd expected. I called a place that Ron C. suggested, Sav-On Insurance in Burien, and it'll only cost me $96 to start, and then $52 a month for the next four months. I mean, that would be enough to get me through the court stuff, and I can always get more later. I'm determined to do all of this right.

Work is keeping me busy today, and that's good. We had a meeting this morning about Bob's new system of tracking equipment and job costing. It's going to mean a ton of new paperwork, but I don't really mind. Also, Brad is installing a new phonemail system in the next few weeks, whenever he can figure out how to get it running, and then I'll have a whole new system to learn. What all of this means is that work is going to get busier and more interesting, and I welcome that.

In the meantime I'm still transcribing the journals ... I'm up to the Scott W. period now, and I must say that I really don't like the Terri I was in 1979. Aside from being a total cokehead and annoyingly self-absorbed, I just wasn't a very nice person. Not that I'm Mother Theresa now, but I do think (in hindsight) that I'm lucky things didn't work out between Scott & I. If I had moved to Portland with him I wonder if I would even be alive today -- seriously.

Now I'm annoyed. Kacie's sixth grade teacher called today to tell me Kacie has been "bouncing off the walls" all day, and that she's been bragging to the other students that the only thing she ever has for breakfast is "coffee and sugar." God DAMN it. Ray landed into her again last night -- a little unfairly, I thought at the time -- for being hyper and rude, but now I'm wondering if he was so far off-base. All of a sudden she's just impossible. You tell her to do something and it goes in one ear and right out the other. She's got this whole Beavis & Butthead persona that she's cultivating -- this mean-mouthed, "slacker" mentality -- and it's gotten way out of hand. Suddenly everything is "Bunghole" this and "Asswipe" that. I just don't know what to do. On top of everything else, she suddenly seems to have become a lightning rod for Ray's mercurial mood swings. For a long time it was Jamie, but they seem to have forged a tentative truce and now he's picked Kacie to vent his frustrations on. His blood pressure medicine combined with all the Mickeys turns him into a ranting, raving lunatic every night, and all Kacie has to do is blink the wrong way and he's all over her. I have asked her over & over again not to draw attention to herself when he's in one of those moods, but just like everything else I ever tell her, it goes unprocessed. The next thing I know she's doing this stupid Beavis & Butthead "head banging" dance that Ray HATES, or she's standing in the kitchen making cocoa when Ray is trying to fix his dinner, or she's just bouncing around the living room, and WHAM! All hell busts loose.

What really frustrates me about this whole situation is the fact that I can't be there in the mornings to supervise the three of them when they're getting ready for school. I call them at 7:00 to wake them up, and then I usually talk to them one more time before they leave the house -- to make sure they've got lunch money, remind them to lock the doors, etc. -- but it's not the same thing as being there. I know damned well that the girls are probably going to school wearing tacky outfits and tons of makeup, that Kyle probably wears the same socks and boxer shorts for five days running, and that none of them eats a decent breakfast. God knows what their teachers must be thinking.

All of a sudden I seem to be earning a reputation as a really shitty mom. Both of the girls now have friends who are no longer "allowed" to spend the night at our house because of things they've heard about me. You wouldn't believe how much that hurts. All I've ever really wanted in my life was a family -- to be a good mother -- and sometimes lately it seems like I haven't even been able to get that right. 




Friday 10:40 a.m.
February 17, 1995

Only a few precious moments to type a journal entry -- Brad J., The World's Most Annoying Human Being is on his way to the office, and I know he'll be all over me about his stupid frigging "databases" -- but I just wanted to tell you that I couldn't' take my driving test this morning, after all. Feeling somewhat let-down, even though I know everything is going to work out fine eventually. I just want to get the damned thing over with and get back behind the wheel.

Wish it was 4:00 but it's not. The weekend feels a million miles away.




Monday Tuesday
February 21, 1995

Back in the office after an unproductive and depressing three-day weekend. Basically all I did was get drunk (Friday & Sunday) and recover from getting drunk (Saturday & Monday). This morning, instead of feeling rested and relaxed, I'm guilt-ridden and exhausted. Why do I DO this to myself? It sets me back so far I feel like I'll never catch up. 




Thursday 9 a.m.
February 23, 1995

I have my first court date this afternoon at 1:15. I'm not really nervous about it, but I do feel sad and tired today. Ray is an asshole, my life basically sucks, and I have nothing whatsoever to look forward to.

Later:

Court was not exactly a day at the beach, but it wasn't THAT terrible, either. Velma showed up promptly at 1:00 and we made it to the Sea Tac courthouse just in time for my court session. (She waited outside.) When the judge asked me how I wanted to plead (for the charge of "driving without a valid operators' license"), I looked at him right in the eye and said "Guilty." 

"Are you going to get your Drivers License?" he said, and I told him that my driving test was schedule for the 28th. I had to sign a form, and I was given my next court date (for this ticket), April 4th. And that was it. I was back in the office in less than an hour.

There will be lots more court dates in my immediate future ... the other ticket, for one thing, and then Kacie's shoplifting crap. But at least now I know where the courthouse is, and I know what to expect, and next time won't be as scary.

Believe it or not, Ray actually got mad at me last night because I wouldn't just drive myself to my arraignment for driving without a license. I mean ... consider the lunacy of the idea. The depth of the man's ignorance and insensitivity never fails to amaze me. 




Monday morning
February 27, 1995

Another Monday morning at good ol' C&B Telephone . . .

I actually don't feel too bad for a Monday. It's a pretty morning; the sun is reflecting off the Seattle skyline, and the sky is all pinks and blues. I went to bed early last night. And this wasn't one of those "depressing, unproductive" weekends we seem to have so many of -- I got a lot of things done, for a change. We cleaned house ... Ray took three loads of laundry to the laundromat ... we watched all three hours of "Schindler's List" on Saturday night. I took a brief practice drive in John's car early yesterday morning, and ironed enough blouses last night to get me through the rest of the week. Kyle spent Saturday night at David Jr.'s house in Tacoma, Kacie went to a Rainbows pizza party with Tracy, and Jaymi almost went to a dance at Tyee. (She got all dressed and ready -- she looked fabulous! -- but then the date fell through at the last minute.) I goofed around on the computer making new "wallpaper" for Windows,  my latest passion. I sorted through boxes of photos, old journals and kids' schoolwork, transferring it to new sturdy boxes. Ray barbecued T-bone steaks for dinner last night. The kids and I played with Gabby's kittens, born late Friday afternoon  --  four white, one gray. Ray worked Saturday so I had one long, lazy day at home without him underfoot. 

All in all, an energizing and pleasant weekend. Please let the rest of this week go as smoothly ...

Tomorrow morning is my driving test, but I don't want to spend a lot of time writing about it today. I'll just make myself needlessly paranoid if I do. It was so hard getting it the first time around, but I've got to keep reminding myself that I've got seventeen yrs.' worth of driving experience under my belt since the first time I took a driving test, and that's got to count for something.

4:15 p.m.

Another fifteen minutes and I'm outta here. Ray is already here, sitting outside in his car drinking a beer and reading the newspaper. With any luck, my days of riding with Ray are nearly over. I suppose there are worse things than being chauffeured to & from work every day, but I've really missed driving. I miss being able to roll the windows up or down, or to turn the heat on or off, or to switch radio stations in the middle of a song if I feel like it. I miss taking different ways home every evening. I miss stopping for last-minute groceries. I miss the independence and the control and the fun of driving.

Yes, I'm worried about taking the test tomorrow, but I'm not nervous ... if that makes sense. I just have this fatalistic sense of "whatever happens, happens." Since the moment that cop pulled me over, almost three weeks ago, I've felt a calm acceptance of this whole thing -- maybe even relief -- and I've just been trying to meet each obstacle as it comes along. That's how I feel about the driving test, and the court dates, and getting tabs and insurance ... I'm trying to just deal with one thing at a time so I don't become completely overwhelmed. I don't see any other way to do it.

5:13 p.m.

Now I'm home. Ray and the kids are out in the (CLEAN!) living room watching TV ... I'm sitting out here drinking a wine cooler and trying to put my thoughts together.

This was a busy day at work. I'd forgotten all about Chuck Atkinson coming into the office today until I looked up from my computer and saw him walking through the door. He's the 3M guy from Minneapolis who comes in two or three times a year. I can't stand him. He always acts really friendly on the phone, but there's a phony undercurrent behind everything he says and does. The best word to describe him is "smarmy." I always feel like washing my hands after I talk to him. Fortunately he stuck with Ron Colson all day, helping Ron put together his bid for the new Muckleshoot Casino, so I personally didn't have to deal with him much. Between Ron's Casino bid and Bob's new inventory lists, I was typing all afternoon. (And now here I am at home, and what am I doing? Typing, of course.)

Anyway, John and Lori will be here early tomorrow morning, and then it's off to take the driving test. I'm paying John $50 to let me use his car for the test, a fact that I'm keeping from Ray because I know he would blow a fuse if he knew. I figure it's MY money, and therefore MY business ... besides, what else was I supposed to do? Drive Ray's beermobile? I don't think so. I'm glad that Lori is coming with me because I can use the emotional support.

Twenty-four hours from now I'll be sitting here at the computer, and I wonder what I'll be typing. 




Tuesday 5:14 p.m.
February 28, 1995

Here is the card I found sitting on my desk for me when I got home a few minutes ago:

I'M SO PROUD OF YOU!
(ANYWAY!)
WE LOVE YOU ANY WAY, YOU TRIED YOUR HARDEST.
KACIE, KYLE, JAYMI

I guess that tells you what happened at my driving test today, doesn't it  ...  ?

Journal, I've been so good all day. I cried a little bit in the back seat of John and Lori's car, when they were driving me back to work after the test -- just a few quick disappointed tears, which I blotted away -- but otherwise I managed to keep my composure all afternoon. There were a couple of bad moments -- once when Ray called and I had to tell him I flunked out, and again in the afternoon when Kacie called ("Hi Mom! Did you pass?") -- but other than that I stayed cool. Until now. Now I'm home, and there's no reason to hold the tears back anymore.

My driving test was a spectacular failure from start to finish. John and Lori were late picking me up, for one thing. They went out and partied last night, and this morning they were so hungover that they "forgot" about taking me for my test. It was almost 9:15 before they finally got here, and I was starting to sweat a little. Then, they thought I was taking my test at the Kent DMV, and when I told them no, the appointment was in Auburn, John wasn't sure where the office was located. By the time we found the place it was 9:40 and I was in a total panic ... only five minutes left until my test, and I was supposed to be there fifteen minutes early. I ran into the DMV office while John and Lori parked the car, took a ticket, and sat down until my number was called.

When I got up to the front desk, I got the same DMV robot who failed me on my vision test a couple of weeks ago. I explained that I was there to take my driving test, and then I fucked up in the first major way. 

"I think you're the same person who flunked me on my vision test," I said congenially -- aiming for humor, recognition, a little human contact maybe. 

I keep forgetting that these DMV robots aren't human. "I didn't flunk you," he said without so much as an atom of humor. "There is a distinction between flunking and failing, and I certainly didn't flunk you." 

Right away I tried to fix things. "Well, I mean, I'm glad that you brought it to my attention," I said. "I didn't even know I needed glasses, and the difference is just phenomenal." Desperately I tried eye contact with the other robot sitting there, but she gave me the same blank, humorless stare. What's the deal, anyway? Are these people fined for smiling or something? I don't think they even blink. 

Anyway, Robot #1 was busy shuffling papers around, and he said "So you're here to take the written test?"

"No," I said, "I have a driving test scheduled for 9:45. I know I'm a little late but -- "

"I need you to step over here!" he snapped, and then he checked his clipboard and informed me that my test was supposed to be at 9:30, not 9:45, and that I'd already missed it. Fuck-up #2.  "I can put you down for 9:50," he said, which was five minutes away. "Back your car into one of those spots where that blue car is parked" (pointing out the window at John's car) "and wait for your examiner."

"The blue car is the car I'm taking the test in," I said pleasantly.

"Well, it needs to be backed in," he snapped. 

By this point I was ready to go back to bed, but it was too late for that. John hurriedly turned the car around for me, and I climbed in. When I got into the car and started adjusting all the mirrors and stuff, we noticed that there was a huge glob of bird shit on the windshield, right in front of me. John had to use Sprite and a napkin from Lori's purse to clean it off.

My examiner showed up while John was still cleaning off the window.  She looked like she eats people for breakfast: my heart sank when I saw her. "Can I have your driving appointment slip?" she said. 

My what? 

"I don't' think I have one," I said, flustered, and she said, "That's it right there in your hand." 

Crap. Fuck up #3. 

She checked the brake lights and turn signals, and then she got into the car with me. It was freezing cold so I started to roll up the window, but she said "No, I need you to keep the window down." Then she tested me on hand signals, which I conveniently managed to completely forget for a minute. Was "left turn" straight out or straight down? I took a wild guess and hoped for the best. "Stop needs to be held further down," she said, but otherwise I seemed to be OK.

John and Lori were standing right in front of the car, and the examiner told them to move out of the way. "When it's safe, I want you to back the car out and turn left," she said, and I immediately proceeded to hit the curb as I backed out. Fuck up #4.

The next ten minutes surpassed my wildest nightmares. Except for hitting the curb I thought I was doing OK, until we got to "parking on a hill." Before the test John had mentioned something about the emergency brake being locked so I wouldn't have to worry about it, but then when we parked on this imaginary hill I couldn't figure out how to unlock the brake. For a mortifying few seconds I couldn't even FIND the brake release. "I'm not familiar with this car," I told the lady, but they don't care about stuff like that, of course. I also didn't "point my wheels in the right direction" on this imaginary hill, so the whole exercise cost me major points. I also (apparently, according to her) goofed up a couple of turns. Finally, near the very end of the test as we were heading back to the DMV parking lot, she said "How fast are you going?" I looked at the speedometer and it read 30 mph. She gave me this mini-lecture about how the speed limit was 25 mph on unmarked roads, and that this was in the DMV manual. At this point I dared to sneak a peek at her clipboard and I saw that I'd failed the test. I still don't know if it was that final error that cost me the test, and I don't care. I just know that I blew it big time. 




Thursday night
March 2, 1995

Amusing moment at work today: Sitting at my desk typing -- Ron, the only other person in the office, working on his casino bid -- when all of a sudden the radio started playing "Marrakesh Express," my dreaded bad-luck song! I flew out to the warehouse and snapped off the radio for three or four minutes, waiting for the song to end. When I figured it was probably safe, I turned the radio back on. Ron must have thought I was nuts.

Nice moment at work today: After working for two days on the inventory data, I printed it out and left a copy on Bob's desk. It looked wonderful and I was really proud of it. Bob looked it over, then left on a service call. Almost immediately the phone rang: it was Bob, calling from his truck. 

"Terri," he said, "I forgot to tell you, that inventory you typed looks just perfect."

I've pretty much gotten over the driving test fiasco. Already I'm rehearsing next Tuesday in my head ... practicing exactly what I'm going to say and do, every step of the test, and I know I'm going to nail it. It's going to take more than a bunch of robots to make me give up.

Waiting for Ellen or David to call. David called me at work today, out of the blue, and asked me to do some work for him tonight; Ellen is supposed to drop it off. I'm just not sure when. I'm really tired again tonight and I wish she would hurry up. Sipping a glass of wine. Cold. Ray and Kyle just left for Burien to get their hair cut; Jamie is in her room, on the phone as usual; Kacie is around here somewhere. Both of the girls have signed up for softball and their season should start pretty soon. Ray mowed the grass after work this afternoon. Spring is in the air. 




Tuesday afternoon
March 7, 1995

Well ... I failed my driving test again today. I'm so disheartened this time, I don't even feel like turning it into an amusing journal entry. Not right now anyway.

To make things worse, I am AWOL from work. When I talked to Bob this morning I told him I wouldn't be in the office until "after lunch" ("That's fine," he said cheerfully) but now I don't think I'm going back at all. Instead, I'm cleaning up the house and drying clothes, and I've just poured myself an ice cold wine, and maybe after I finish drinking it I'll have the nerve to call Bob again and request the rest of the day off.

God damn it, Journal. I was so sure I was going to nail it this time. My test wasn't scheduled until 11:20, which meant I got to sleep in a couple of hours this morning ... I felt a lot more rested and calm this time. I thought maybe that would make a difference. Before the test John let me drive his car around Auburn a little bit, and I practiced parking on that stupid imaginary hill about ten times, until I was pretty sure I had the hang of it. I even had a halfway-decent examiner this time, a nice laid-back guy named Rob. No DMV robots. But three minutes into the test I made a fatal error -- I made a left turn from the wrong lane -- and that was it. It was all over. (I was looking for a clearly marked turn lane but there wasn't one. Rob the Examiner said that I should have moved over to the middle lane anyway, whether it was marked or not.) I also got two points knocked off for my parallel parking, and another six points for "turning wide" at an intersection, a mistake I also made last week. When we got back to the DMV and he was explaining why he couldn't pass me, I was very pleasant and mature, and I even thanked him for his time. What I felt like doing was kicking and screaming, but what would be the point? It wasn't his fault. Acting like a baby wasn't going to get me anywhere.

I even managed to remain upbeat and cheerful while John and Lori drove me back to my house ... no sitting in the back seat weeping this time. Test #3 is next Tuesday, same time, same place, and John said there would be no problem taking me again.

What is going to be really hard this time is telling everybody that I failed again ... Ray and the kids, especially. The first time I at least had sympathy working in my favor: everyone felt bad for me, and they were gentle and loving and understanding. This time will be different: this time I'm just going to look like the big failure I am. Ray is going to be annoyed, and the kids are going to be surprised and disappointed. (Kyle gave me some "good luck charms" last night before we went to bed -- his favorite slammer and a couple of baseball cards. Thinking about that now, and thinking about how much confidence he had in me, just breaks my heart ...)

Oh well ... time to call the office. No sense putting it off any longer.

2 p.m.

I called the office (Brad Jackson, The World's Most Annoying Human Being answered) and things are relatively cool. Bob was on another line so I ended up just talking to Brad. I wasn't really planning to tell anybody at work that I failed the test again -- I was just going to hedge and hope nobody asked -- but when Brad said "Did you pass?," I found I couldn't lie to him. He was really nice and sympathetic about the whole thing, the way he always is. I said that I didn't think I would be making it back to the office, and he said he would let Bob know. So now at least I can enjoy the rest of my impromptu day-off with out anything hanging over my head.

The kitchen looks great, anyway, and I've dried and folded all of the laundry. In a minute I'm going to vacuum the living room. The kids will be really surprised: I've done all their after-school chores for them. (Maybe they'll forgive me for being such a big loser!) It's been a long long time since I've been home all alone like this, cleaning house and feeling "domestic" ... it's the only thing that's saving my mood today, I think. I don't even have the TV or radio on ... just blissful silence. It's a pretty spring day, too, and that also helps. As bleak as the driving situation may be at the moment, at least I'm managing to stay on top of my disappointment.

I've just got to get over this feeling that fate and the government are conspiring to keep me from achieving my goals. Sometimes it's really hard for me to keep from taking all of this personally. It hurt my feelings when that cop pulled me over last month. It hurt my feelings when I sat in court that first time a couple of weeks ago ... I was thinking, "I'm a nice person. I'm a mom. I'm a secretary. What am I doing in a place like this?" And it hurts my feelings every time I fail the driving test. It sounds stupid, I know, but there it is. I feel like the reason they're not passing me is because they don't like me.




Saturday afternoon
March 11, 1995

Cloudy day; old Elvis cranked up on the stereo; Ray and Jamie both gone for the day. My LEAST favorite housecleaning chore ... cleaning Kyle's bedroom. Ugh. We haven't cleaned it since last fall and it's just horrible. Broken Christmas decorations, crusty forks, mildewed socks, teeny-tiny Erector set pieces everywhere. (Last December when I was buying that frigging Erector set, I KNEW that someday I would be sitting on Kyle's bedroom floor picking up thousands of little screws.) I've been at it for two hours and have barely made a dent ... I finally had to take a break.

I'm in a fairly good mood in spite of everything. I love these Saturdays when Ray is at work. We all went to bed early last night and slept until 9:00 this morning, and I feel better than I have all week. I made breakfast for Kacie and Kyle and myself, and we watched "The Coneheads" on HBO, and then we turned off the TV and started working. I plan to keep plugging away at the Bowels of Hell until Ray gets home, then I'll ask him to buy me a bottle of wine and I'll sit out here and work on the latest inventory list for Bob. Funzies!

Back to work. More later.

2 p.m.

Another break. We've basically finished Kyle's room, all except for vacuuming, and I am now sorting through the boxes of Christmas stuff. When the holidays were over the kids just tore everything off the tree and took all the other decorations from around the house and threw it all into boxes, which sat in Kyle's filthy room for two months. It's an unspeakable mess. Now I've got to go through everything and re-pack it, which is probably what I should have done in the first place, and then haul it up to the attic. Then I won't have to think about it for another eight and a half months, at least. Bah Humbug.\




Tuesday 5:30 p.m.
March 14, 1995



Dig the *big* glasses

Yep, it's true ... I actually got my damned Drivers License today, on the third attempt. I remember the first time I got my license -- also on the third attempt, when I was twenty years old -- I wrote that I felt like I had "wings on my heels." I transcribed that journal entry onto disk just a few weeks ago, as a matter of fact. This time around I don't exactly feel like I have wings, but I DO feel an incredible sense of relief. I'm still at least a week away from driving the Velmobile again -- I still have to get the tabs and the insurance -- but I feel like the worst of the hurdles are over. Finally.

The funny thing is that I went in there this morning with absolutely no expectations whatsoever. The last two times I was sure I would nail it: this time I was neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I had Kyle's "lucky baseball card" tucked into my jeans pocket, and I quickly re-read a section or two of the Drivers Manual while John and Lori were driving me to the DMV, but aside from that I actually felt lessprepared this time than the other two times. A rotten toothache and a lot of wacky dreams kept me from getting a good night's sleep, and this morning I had a terrible fight with Jamie before she left for school (more about that in a minute), which left me feeling drained and sad. When we got to the DMV, I had less than five minutes to park the car and get ready for the test: no time to "drive around" and get a feel for the car again. To make matters worse, it started to rain like hell about ten minutes before my test was scheduled to begin; John had to quickly show me how to use the windshield wipers.

Fortunately, I lucked out and got the same Non-Robot DMV Guy for my test again this time. After he got into the car, he recognized me from last week. ("I was the one who took a left turn from the wrong lane," I said, and he said "Oh yes, I remember.") All things considered, I think the rain turned out to work in my favor: it gave us something to talk about -- "Let's get this over with," he said, laughing a little.  And it gave me an excuse to drive reeeeally slowly and to think about every move I made before I made it.




Thursday afternoon
March 16, 1995

Picking this up a couple days later. I ended up getting completely shit-faced on Tuesday night -- two bottles of wine on an empty stomach will have that affect on a person. I was in a celebratory mood but I guess I overdid it. The girls said I was sitting out in the laundry room listening to "Rocky Horror" until midnight but I don't even remember it. Work was torture yesterday, and as a matter of fact I wound up coming home at noon -- Ron Colson drove me home, after stopping at the bank to cash my paycheck. I told Bob that there was a "family emergency," but actually all I wanted to do was go home and take a big nap. I wanted to make it an early evening last night, but David J. showed up at 7:00 wanting me to type a letter and make some business cards for him, and it was close to 11:00 before I finally got to bed. So I'm still back-pedaling today.

 


Friday 1 p.m.
March 17, 1995

St. Patricks Day, and yes, I'm wearing green ... a mint green cardigan over a white blouse, jeans and tennis. The Casual Look. God, I wish I could afford some new clothes -- I've pretty much been wearing the same four or five outfits over and over again since fall, and I'm sick to death of all of them. -- but not until I get all the driving and legal crap taken care of, I guess. Moneywise we're OK at the moment, but of course that's always subject to change.

I'm in a pretty good mood, though, in spite of a few temporary setbacks. Ray was a grumpy butt in the car this morning. A breathtaking sunrise, a good song on the radio, a Sausage McMuffin from the McDonald's drive-thru ... nothing made him smile. When he dropped me off at my office door (waiting, as he always does, to make sure I unlocked the door and got inside safely), I said "Smile!"  He gave me a half-hearted grin and drove away. Oh well. And then Brad Jackson, The World's Most Annoying Human Being, sat here in the office for almost five hours ... I was beginning to think he'd stay here all day, the way he did on Tuesday. Saints preserve us.

5 p.m.

Now I'm home. When Ray came to pick me up from work he handed me a bouquet of green carnations ... I guess I'll forgive him for his grumpy mood this morning.

God, am I glad it's Friday. I'm already half-lit and I suppose this will be another "lost" night ... oh well.


Friday morning
March 31, 1995

Two full weeks later. Kacie's twelfth birthday was on March 21st, and I don't want to let it pass without mention. I took that entire day off -- I told Bob I had a "family situation" to take care of, and he let me off with no problem -- the truth is that it had just been a long time since I was home for one of the kids' birthdays, and I wanted to spend the day baking her cake, decorating the dining room, cleaning up the house, etc... . all the domestic stuff I miss sometimes. I was really looking forward to it, too, until Ray woke up that morning and announced he was taking the day off, too!! I could not fucking believe it. He just can't stand for anyone to have a day off without him. I was really annoyed and tried my best to work around him all day.

The only thing Kacie asked for in the way of a birthday gift this year was money, so she could buy a starter jacket like Jamie's. I made her a funny card on the computer and taped a $50 to the last page. To me that didn't seem like much of a birthday gift, but it was honestly the only thing she wanted. Jamie got her a couple of books and a CD, my mom and sister both stopped by with cards and more money, I cooked the birthday dinner of her choice (chicken breasts coated with "Perfect Potatoes" seasoning mix, fettuccini, and canned corn), we sang "Happy Birthday" when she blew out the candles on her cake ... and that was pretty much it. 

The following Saturday I drove Kacie and her friend Bonnie to the mall (had to use Ray's car, since at that point the Velmobile was still out of commission) and she bought her starter jacket and some other stuff with her birthday money. It was kind of funny -- technically Kacie isn't allowed back at Southcenter Mall for a year, following her little shoplifting episode -- and she was terrified that the mall security people might recognize her, so she wore a ton of makeup and borrowed Kyle's baseball cap to "disguise" herself. I pointed out that with thousands of people going through the mall every single day it wasn't likely they would recognize one little 12 year old girl, but she wasn't taking ANY chances.

In spite of the shoplifting crap, which as of this writing has still not been resolved (we still owe money to the Bon Marché and to the court, and she has a "diversion hearing" at the end of May), Kacie is going through a nice period in her life. She was recently named captain of her Highline Hoppers squad (they're going around performing at schools today, as a matter of fact), and she was just made pitcher for her softball team. She seems to have a lot of friends and is more self-assured and happy than I've seen her in a few years. Even better, she and Jamie are becoming "friends." I don't even know when it happened, or how ... I'm just glad it's happening.

The really good news, of course, is that I'm driving again as of this week! Ray and I went and got my tabs on Tuesday after work, and Wednesday morning I drove my own car to work for the first time in seven weeks. I can't even describe how wonderful it feels. It's like coming home after a long vacation ... everything feels new and nice and different.




Thursday afternoon
April 6, 1995

I've been in an emotional slump for the last few days and I haven't felt much like writing. It's nothing new or interesting ... just the same old worries about money, hating my marriage, hating the way I look and feel, hating the way the house looks, feeling tired all the time, longing for something but not knowingwhat ... the same old shit I've been whining about in my journals since time began. (Or at least since the journals began.) Day to day I'm trying to stay optimistic, but it's hard: every time I start to feel a tiny bit better about things, something new comes along and knocks me down ... a new unexpected bill, a call at work from a collection agency, a fight with Ray, a problem at work. Yesterday Jeff M. called me at the office. He used to work here, a nice person I haven't talked to in months, and I was really happy to hear his voice  ...  until he innocently mentioned that he'd "heard that the office was being moved to Issaquah?" when the lease expires in a year and a half. Of course Bob hasn't mentioned a word of this to me or anyone else except his precious Brad. I was in a fairly good mood until Jeff's phone call, but that was enough to send me spiraling downward for the rest of the day, even though I'm not sure why.

I keep having dreams that I'm in love. Night before last I was "in love" with some fictional person at my high school; last night it was Ron at the office. (When he came into the office this morning I blushed from the tips of my toes clear to my hairline! It was really hard being near him all day. I kept remembering my dream about him, and I was just positive he could see it written all over my face.) The dreams are almost never about sex -- just love and romance, and they're always very sweet and pleasurable -- but when I wake up in the morning I'm more depressed than ever. At age 37 I'm finally beginning to realize that I'm never going to experience true love, and it's a very sad realization. There are probably a lot of other things I'm never going to experience -- I will never own my own home, I will never have a credit card, I will never have a new car, I will never wear a wedding gown, I will never see Europe, I will never be thin again, I will never have another baby -- but somehow missing out on true love is the saddest "never" of all for me to accept.

Speaking of work, James is leaving for good in a week. I was surprised when I heard the news. According to Bob, James is leaving because "his wife misses Oregon," but privately I have my doubts.  I think maybe Bob is letting James go, and he's using the "moving to Oregon" story to allow James to save face. It would be typical Bob; he's never straightforward about anything. I'll be sorry to see James go. For a long time I thought that James didn't like me -- he was very reserved and formal around me for the first few months I worked at C&B -- but I made a conscious effort to be nice to him, and after a while it worked. Now I consider him a friend. He's a nice guy and it won't seem the same without him.

Unfortunately, now that James is leaving, Bob has decided to hire Steve Mason on fulltime, starting week after next. I don't know if I've mentioned Steve in this journal: he's an older guy (late 40's to early 50's, I would guess) who has been doing part-time work for Randy since last December. Almost since the moment he walked into the office, he and I have been at odds. You know how it is when you meet somebody and they instantly rub you the wrong way? That's the way it is with Steve and I. I JUST DON'T LIKE HIM. He's loud, pushy and abrasive, and already he's acting like he owns the place and I'm the hired help.  Day before yesterday Steve and I were sitting in the office in the morning, waiting for everybody else to show up. He was sitting at Bob's desk, and all of a sudden he ripped Bob's phone list off the wall above the desk and asked me to make him a "copy" of it, right then and there. 

"I need to update it first," I said nicely. Little Brad and J.C. recently moved into an apartment together, and I've been meaning to put their new phone number on the phone list ... it was just one of those things I hadn't gotten around to yet. 

Later in the morning Bob was in the office. "Where's my phone list?" he said, and I told him that Steve took it. (Bob didn't like that very much, I noted with some pleasure.)

Around 3:30 Randy and Steve walked into the office to pick up some equipment for their next job. I was sitting there working a crossword puzzle: I'd finished all my work and I didn't have anything else to do.  Steve immediately shot me this look of contempt (Lazy bitch!) and said, "Is my phone list ready?"

"I'm just waiting to get Little Brad's new phone number," I said.

Apparently he didn't hear me, because less than two seconds later he said, "My phone list. Have you printed it out yet?" 

I wanted to haul off and smack him right then and there, but instead I said -- AGAIN -- "I just need to finish updating it, Steve." He walked away, and fifteen minutes later I handed him his precious fucking phone list, giving him a look of undiluted hatred.

Today was not a whole lot better. Steve has this habit of showing up at the office around 6:30 a.m., whether he's due there at that time or not. I discovered this during the weeks Ray was driving me to work. Steve parks his van in front of the office and then sleeps in it until 8 a.m. I always hate it when I pull into the parking lot and see his stupid van sitting there: it gets my day off to a horrible start. Anyway, he came strolling in at 8 a.m., looking all pompous and puffed-up. I guess he thinks he's pretty hot shit, now that he's coming on fulltime. No one else was due to show up at the office for another half hour, so we were alone. I decided one more time to try and be friendly ... kind of the same thing I did with James. 

"Gee, I'm really glad to hear you got hired fulltime," I said, completely insincerely. I know he's got a family to support and that he's been out of work for a long time, so this must be a really great development for him. We made fakely pleasant chit-chat, and I started to think that maybe it was going to be OK after all. No one said I have to be in love with everyone I work with. Maybe Steve and I can be amicable, at least. I kept that thought in my head all day, until he and Randy showed up at the office late in the afternoon. I was sitting there working on purchase orders when they came in, and he went back to the warehouse for a minute. Almost immediately he was back in my face. 

"The next time someone buys pop," he announced in his I Run The World Voice, "buy me some Hawaiian Punch and some Minute Maid Orange." 

To his credit, Randy seemed a little embarrassed by Steve's pompous attitude, and he tried to make a joke out of it. "Yeah, Steve's got SPECIAL NEEDS," Randy giggled.

FUCK YOU STEVE.

Until now I thought Brad Jackson, The World's Most Annoying Human Being, was my biggest problem at work. Now I know that it can be much, much worse.

Addendum:

I was just reading this journal entry to Kacie while it was still displayed on the computer monitor -- the stuff about Steve, since I thought it was amusingly written -- and she inadvertently read that paragraph about the stuff I'll "never" do. You know what she said when she read it? "That's not true!" she said. "Mom, it's NOT too late ... you can still do this" (pointing to the screen), "and this, and this." 

God. If everything else in my life has disappointed me, the one thing that hasn't is having children. This is the one thing I wanted to do, and followed through on  ...  the one thing that has met (and surpassed) every expectation I ever had. The one thing in my life that went right. Thank you, God.




Monday morning
April 10, 1995

Cold gray morning, and for a change I am perfectly happy to be sitting here in my office on a Monday morning. Not only is it Spring Break for the kids, but Ray has decided to take this week off too, much to everyone's dismay. I wouldn't want to be stuck in that house with the four of them for all the tea in China. I remember back in the babysitting days, Spring Break was always The Week From Hell. Something tells me this year it will be no less so, especially with Ray there. I just don't understand him. Why in the hell can't anyone have a vacation or an occasional day off without HIM there?? It's going to be a horrible week, but fortunately I won't be there to experience it ... during the daytime, anyhow. Evenings will be another story.

Another nothing weekend. I got all fucked up on Friday night, and that wiped me out pretty effectively for the rest of the weekend. By late Sunday afternoon I was feeling slightly better -- enough to clean up the kitchen, fold the laundry and cook a corned beef brisket for dinner  --  but otherwise I once again have nothing to show for the weekend. When I left this morning the house was a total disaster area.

We gave away one of Gabby's kittens on Friday afternoon -- the little white kitten we named "Brad Jackson, The World's Most Annoying Human Being." Kacie and Kyle's P.E. teacher from Bow Lake took him. One down, three to go. I think we're going to have to keep "Ichabod" ("Icky" for short), the fluffiest of the white kitties. He has a real sweet personality, and he's one of the prettiest cats I've ever seen. We all love him, even Ray.





Tuesday afternoon
April 11, 1995

God, if there's anything I hate, it's coming to work with a hangover.  I got completely goofed up again last night (making a fool out of myself in front of David, David's girlfriend and Jamie's friend Kelli's mom in the process), and I'm barely crawling through this day as a result. Serves me right. Who in the world gets stupid-drunk on a MONDAY night, anyway ... ?

Ray and Jamie got into a terrible fight last night. When I got home from work it was obvious that they'd been at it all day long: you could cut the tension with a butter knife. Ray was bleary eyed from a long day of drinking beer, and Jamie was deliberately trying to antagonize him (by playing her rap CD's on the stereo, talking back to Ray when he asked her to do something, doing a slipshod job on the housework, etc.). The fight escalated, and finally Ray slapped Jamie across the face.  She ended up fleeing to Kelli's for the night. I think maybe that's why I escaped into a bottle of wine last night: it was a way to distance myself from the tension. Home, sadly, is becoming one of my least favorite places to be. In that unhappy little shoebox of a house, the only two places to "go" to get away from the crap is into a wine bottle or into dreams. The drawback is that neither solution lasts nearly long enough.

This Spring Vacation is going to last forever, isn't it?




Wednesday morning
April 12, 1995

Dammit, Journal, it happened again ... another "dream" about Ron Colson last night. I dreamed that he and I were sitting on a sofa talking to my grandparents about pizza (?). We were sitting close together, and suddenly he turned to me and started kissing me, very gently. I woke up instantly and just layed there in shock for a few minutes. What in the world is going on in my subconscious?? During the day my feelings for Ron are the same as ever -- close friendship only -- nothing remotely romantic. But then my dreams tell a different story. It's starting to drive me nuts.

Cold and rainy. Everyone is supposed to be in the office this morning at 8 a.m. for a meeting with Bob, so I'm here a little early to make coffee and get the heat going. Bob leaves tomorrow for his two week vacation to the Grand Cayman islands, so I guess the "meeting" is just to remind everybody not to slack off while he's gone. Ha ha ha.




Monday morning
April 17, 1995

Another Monday morning ... another hellish weekend. I have been sad and tired and worried for so long now, there doesn't seem to be any other way to feel. Especially on Monday mornings.

Yesterday was Easter, and it should have been a nice day. I did everything I could to make it that way, anyway. Jamie and I took Ray's car and ran around for hours on Saturday, looking for Easter baskets. We got lost on our way to Southcenter and spent a hilarious 45 minutes trying to find the mall, but once we got there I couldn't find anything decent (unless I wanted to spring for three sausage & cheese baskets from Hickory Farms, at $41 a pop!). I did find some cool software for myself, some business clip art with a built-in viewing utility, but otherwise Southcenter was a bust. We drove to Burien after that, and by the time we got to Payless I'd pretty much decided to buy empty baskets and fill them myself, even though it was more work. Jamie waited outside in the car while I bought the baskets and filled them with all the things the kids like ... hair goodies for Jamie, makeup for Kacie, toys for Kyle, candy for all three of them ... almost $60 worth of stuff. They were probably the best Easter baskets I've ever given them, and I was really pleased.

Saturday evening they decorated Easter eggs with the coloring kits I bought for them. I asked Ray if he would mind buying the coloring kits, since I was buying the Easter baskets, but he acted like it was this HUGE IMPOSITION so I said forget it. At least he did buy a big ham and some fresh asparagus for dinner, and since we weren't expected to go anywhere, dinner promised to be relaxing and nice. 

The kids loved their Easter baskets, I felt energetic and happy most of the day (cleaned off my messy desk and did a lot of file work on the computer), it was a beautiful sunny day, and everything seemed to be going great. So what the hell happened? I honestly don't know. I'm still shell-shocked by the whole thing. Sometime around 7:00 last night everything deteriorated. Suddenly Ray was squinty-eyed drunk, and he and Jamie were at each others' throats again ... Kacie and Kyle were crying ... dinner was forgotten because Ray was too drunk to cook it, and we ended up having pizza ... and Ray, before staggering off to bed, informed me that I had somehow "fucked up everybody's Easter," especially his. He said that all I care about is "that fucking computer," and that I ruined the weekend for everyone. I went to bed in tears for the billionth Sunday evening in a row, and this morning I am washed-out and lifeless inside.

I have my last (I hope) court date this afternoon at 3:00. Last Friday I finally got my liability insurance, so at least I can show the judge that I've taken care of everything. I suppose there will be another humungous fine to pay, but that's hardly anything new. My dentist office is suing us for over $4,000, we're behind on virtually every bill, I have $30 to my name and over a week before my next payday, AND today is tax day. Ray couldn't find my W2 form this weekend and he made a huge stink about it, of course. This morning I calmly walked into my office, called Carleen in Spokane and asked her to fax me another copy of it -- the fax just arrived a few minutes ago -- problem solved. Fuck Ray. FUCK his inability to see any point of view but his own narrow, skewed one. I am thoroughly disgusted with him and I don't care who knows it.

If there is ANY kind of "good" news this week, it's that Spring Break is over and everyone is back to work and school, safe and sound. Maybe a long day spent apart from each other, absorbed in our own lives and activities, will diffuse some of the tension when we all get home tonight. God, I hope so.




Saturday morning 10:30 a.m.
April 22, 1995

Beautiful, sunny morning. Drinking coffee and watching "Sister Act 2" with Kacie and Kyle, waiting for breakfast to cook, planning to take a shower and clean my house. No hangover and no Ray today. The world is my oyster.

Ray's 40th birthday was on Thursday, and amazingly we all lived through it. I think maybe this is one reason he's been even grumpier than usual lately ... he thinks he's getting "old." I'll probably go through the same thing myself in (gulp) a year and a half. We gave him some presents that I ordered from the office supply place, and Kacie baked him his annual pineapple upside-down cake. He seemed pleased by all the attention, anyway, even if he's not thrilled about being 40. He took yesterday off but had to go back to work today and possibly tomorrow too. (I hope.)

All the kittens are now gone except Ichy: yesterday one of Kelli's friends took Blair, the last "extra" kitten. I'm glad we found good homes for them all, but it's weird not seeing all five of them trailing after Gaby everywhere. Goodbye Blair, Gizmo, Brian Johnson The World's Most Annoying Human Being and Aleah. Have a nice life.

Time to go clean my room. Frankly the whole house is a disaster area, but I'm going to start with one room at a time.




Monday afternoon
April 24, 1995

Cloudy, stuffy, warm afternoon. Kacie left this morning for a week at Camp Waskowitz ... it's going to seem very quiet around here without her.

We've been through another emotional wringer the past 24 hours. Kyle went over to play at Joe Gregson's yesterday afternoon, and he had only been gone for half an hour when I got a call from Joe's dad: Kyle had been bitten by a neighbor's dog!  Apparently the neighbor's kids had deliberately set the dog on Kyle & Joe, and it managed to take a healthy chunk out of the back of Kyle's leg before he could get free. Mr. Gregson brought Kyle home right away, and I just about died when I saw his leg: the bite mark must be a quarter of an inch deep and almost an inch long. I called Dr. Kay's office but the nurse on call told me that dog bites are considered a "non-emergency injury" ... they told me to have him soak in a bathtub, then apply ice to the wound, elevate his leg & give him some Tylenol for the pain. Otherwise there was nothing else to be done except file a report with Animal Control and wait a few days to see if the dog has rabies.

Animal Control took the dog away from its owners, and according to Anita Gregson they don't seem at all interested in getting their dog back. In fact, they seem remarkably disinterested in the whole incident ... when they were talking to Anita they showed not so much as a glimmer of remorse or apology. They didn't even bother to ask if Kyle was OK. I am incredibly angry, and at this point I'm not discounting the possibility of suing them, even though it seems kind of pointless (since they've relinquished their dog and there are no medical bills or anything yet). I suppose the only thing we can do now is wait and see if the mutt has rabies. It's very unlikely, of course, but I'll be worried about it until we get a final report.

Kyle seems to be feeling fine. I let him stay home from school today, hoping he would stay quiet and avoid bumping his wound and reopening it, but by the time I got home from work a little while ago he was running all around the backyard, shooting hoops and riding his bike. He is one tough little bugger. Ray took him over to Lori's before I got home, so she could take a couple pictures of his bite ... just in case we do take legal action later. I've also got the names and numbers of the Animal Control officer who filed the report, the name and address of the dog's owner, and the name of the nurse who gave me the initial medical instructions over the phone yesterday. Hopefully this covers all the bases. I want to be as thoroughly documented as possible, just in case.

Nothing much else to tell, thank God. I ran a bunch of Oakland Diner menus for David J. this afternoon, and I think he's coming to pick them up pretty soon. Ray has gone to the grocery store to get the rest of the stuff we need for dinner -- some steaks that John gave us last week, plus shrimp and steak fries. I'm not very hungry but maybe it'll sound good in a while. I've got hay fever this week and I feel congested and sleepy. If it were up to me, I would be curled up in bed with a stack of new magazines and some heavy-duty cold medicine, but it's much too early for that and there's too much to do. Seems like all I do is work and get ready for work.




April 25, 1995
Tuesday afternoon

Crap. Crap crap crap crap. I was in a really great mood until twenty minutes ago ... happily sitting here in the office playing with my new PowerAlbum software, listening to the radio, enjoying my solitude ... and then everything just sort of fell apart. Now all of a sudden I'm sitting here fighting back tears, wondering what in the world happened to my nice, peaceful day  ...

First David called. "You made another mistake on Ellen's letter," he said, in that snotty tone of voice I have come to loathe. I've typed Ellen's
frigging Chanel letter twice already, and now it looks like I'm going to have to do it again. "I am NOT Ellen K's personal secretary!" I screeched at him. "I will do this goddamned letter for her, but after that I am never, ever doing another thing for her, do you understand me?!"  I think he was shocked by how upset I was, because he backed down right away. He's bringing me the paperwork back tonight, but once the letter is finished, I don't even want to hear Ellen's NAME ever again. I don't mind doing an occasional favor for David or for his friends, but Ellen is too fucking picky and aggravating to work for. Between my job at C&B, trying to keep my family from killing each other every night and doing the menu stuff for David, my life is aggravating enough, thankyouverymuch.

Oh yes, and then Carleen called from Spokane. In this big cheerful voice she said, "Hey, let the guys know their paychecks will get there on Thursday, OK?" La dee da. I have two tablespoonsful of gas in my car and 35 cents in my purse, and until that moment I was deliriously happy that tomorrow was going to be payday. Je-sus.

I'm missing Kacie a lot. I know she's having fun at Waskowitz, but I miss her sunny little face. This morning I had no one to talk to while I got ready for work ... Kacie usually wanders out of bed around 6:30 a.m. or so and keeps me company while I put on my makeup and watch the news, but this morning there was no one.  Kyle stayed home from school again, nursing his injured leg, so he was still sleeping when I left. And Jamie never puts in an appearance any earlier than is necessary: she shlumps out to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and then disappears back into her room. At one point I found myself standing in the kitchen, talking to my bagel as it toasted. ("OK, OK, I'll let you go one more round, but then it's butter and cream cheese, fella.") It will be so nice to have my little companion home from camp at the end of the week.

Oh well. I feel a little better. I'm getting some of my "bounce' back, anyway. David called again, this time to report a "mistake" on the laminated menus I did on the Oakland Diner. Fortunately it was a quick & easy fix, and I've already printed out the revised copies. I've talked to the kids a few times on the phone, and Ron Colson called twice, just to see how I was doing -- he knows I'm feeling sad and edgy today -- and every little bit of comfort helps. Pretty soon I'm going to call home and ask Ray if he would mind getting me a small bottle of white wine. I suppose he'll grouse about it, but what choice to I have? Wine costs slightly more than thirty-five cents these days, and Ray (Lord & Master of Polenville) has sole possession of our checkbook.

4:20 p.m.

Well, now I'm back to tears streaming down my face. Just as I predicted, Ray was horrible when I asked him for a bottle of wine. WHY does he feel it necessary to be so rude to me all the time?? It doesn't matter what I do or say -- he either cuts me off or cuts me down. If it isn't A.) His idea, B.) His decision, or C.) Something that directly affects him, then he wants nothing to do with it.




Monday night
May 1, 1995

Cold, wet, gray, gloppy, yucky afternoon. I felt pretty good when I went to work this morning, moodwise anyway, but it didn't take long for that to end ... Bob came into the office in a rage and he proceeded to yell at everyone, including me. He was pissed off about billing, about the way the warehouse looked, about the way Randy's desk looked, etc. etc. etc. For four solid hours he ranted and raved. The only silver lining in all of this was big stupid Steve, who came strolling into the office ninety minutes late and immediately tried to jolly Bob out of his bad mood. "What's the matter, GRUMPY?" he boomed, as the rest of us winced. We have all learned, through personal experience, that when Bob is in one of ‘those' moods you just do what he says and leave him alone. It gladdens my heart to see Steve shooting himself in the foot this way. He's only been on the payroll for two weeks and he's already badgering Bob about getting a cell phone (no way), has asked for VACATION TIME, and has called in sick at least twice that I know of. On top of everything else, he clearly annoys Bob as much as he annoys everyone else except Randy. Goody goody goody.

Kyle is sick. Apparently he threw up at school this afternoon during an assembly and the nurse sent him home. Right now he's sitting in my bed with the magazine I bought him (Sports Illustrated for Kids), drinking a 7-Up and watching TV. Ray is at Safeway. I'm not looking forward to Ray coming home because we're going to have a confrontation I've been dreading all day -- there's no avoiding it. Naturally it's about money, and I already know precisely how it's going to go. (The long & short of it: I'm going to have to pay for my $66 traffic fine AND Kyle's birthday. Friday night Ray said he would pay my ticket for me, but I know that was just Friday night talking. We're both really short on money, and I'm afraid that Kyle's birthday is going to be very disappointing for everybody.) I'm drinking a couple of quick glasses of wine while he's at the store, hoping it will calm me down and make it easier to talk to him, but where the subject of money is concerned you never know.



Kyle blows out the candles on his birthday cake

No mention in the journal, but here's Kyle on his ninth birthday, blowing out
the candles on his  cake.
May 4, 1995


Sunday afternoon
May 7, 1995

I hate Sundays. There's something about Sunday that makes me feel hopeless and tired and sad, even more so than usual. I don't know if it's the prospect of going back to work tomorrow, or having so much to do in one short day, or the weekend being over ...

I've been in the kitchen all day. I got up and made a huge breakfast for the kids and me, and then since Ray asked for enchiladas tonight (chicken and beef, one big pan each), I had to get started early, boiling a whole chicken and chopping vegetables. Everything's in the oven now, finally, and I have a minute to sit down. I am sweaty and exhausted. Ray went to the store a little while ago and bought me some cigarettes and (even though I didn't ask) a bottle of wine. I know I shouldn't be drinking on a work night, but it's kind of hard to ignore when I open the refrigerator and it's sitting right there. I got completely screwed up on Friday night and the truth is that I'm still feeling it today, a little. I know I'm drinking too much again, but I can't seem to help myself. As hobbies go, my Friday night wine blasts are pretty pathetic, but it's the only real "up" I have anymore.

Later:

Ray got all screwed up on Mickeys, as usual, and by dinnertime he was squinty-eyed and mean. He tore apart one of my beef enchiladas, and when he discovered I'd forgotten to put cheese in them he threw it onto the stove and said, "This is horrible." I burst into tears, and we launched into another big, ugly, drunken, Sunday night fight. I had spent the whole fucking day cooking for him, and this was my reward. I hate him so much.




Tuesday night
May 9, 1995

It started raining while I drove home from work tonight, and my shitheap of a car stalled a record eleven times on the way home, and KBSG played nothing but crappy songs ("This Diamond Ring") ... it's been a long, tough day ... it felt amazingly fine to pull into my own driveway tonight. I don't feel this way very often, I'm afraid: some nights I am desperate not to come home. Ray is working late tonight, and maybe that is adding to the unusually mellow atmosphere around here. When I walked into the house, Jamie and Kyle (Kacie is at a softball game) were sitting quietly in the living room, doing homework and watching "Forrest Gump." I changed out of my work clothes and poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to watch the movie with them for awhile ... then I came out to the kitchen and made omelets and fried potatoes for dinner. The mail today was more bad news -- two annoying legal notices for me, both requesting large sums of money -- but even that has rolled right off my back tonight. I just don't care about any of that tonight. After I make one more omelet and pick up the kitchen a little, I'm going to settle down with my Dean Koontz novel and watch TV and continue to enjoy this nice reprieve from worry and depression, for however long it lasts.





Wednesday morning
May 10, 1995

Well, it didn't last long: I knew it wouldn't. This morning I'm right back to my usual frame of mind ... worried, sad, preoccupied with money problems, feeling frumpy and inadequate, fighting back tears. Paychecks aren't here yet, but I have a feeling this one is going to be microscopic. I know I whine about this same thing every week, but thisweek in particular, a small check is going to hurt. I've got legal crap coming at me from all directions, my paychecks are going to be garnished in another week or so (I did some figuring this morning and it looks like they'll be garnished until October, at least -- and Ray still doesn't know about it), and I need everything in the world, from an auto tune-up to a haircut to a decent pair of work shoes. (IF I HAVE TO WEAR THESE FRIGGING TENNIS SHOES TO THE OFFICE ONE MORE DAY, I'M GOING TO SCREAM.)

As if that weren't bad enough, Bob came out to my desk earlier and "informed" me that I forgot to padlock the warehouse door last night. This is one of those things that I'm really conscientious about and almost never forget to do, but the one time I do forget to do it, Bob catches it. It made me feel stupid and embarrassed, and I had to sit here and will myself not to cry for about ten minutes afterwards. I'm not sure, but I think Bob actually enjoys humiliating me. It's nothing I can explain -- maybe it's something about the way he leans across the desk at me, smiles, rolls his eyes and says it like I committed some despicable crime. Or maybe it's the way his demeanor changes right after he's said something he knows will make me feel horrible. Suddenly he's super-charged with good humor, laughing loudly on the phone and making cracks with the techs, while I sit here and quietly struggle to get my shattered emotions back into check. There are times when I really, truly do not like my boss, and this morning is one of those times.

So much of my pleasure in this job has diminished lately, and that makes me sad. It's not just Bob, or Brad's annoying way of making me feel just a little bit stupid, or my crummy salary and the fact that I've been here nineteen months without a payraise ... it's a lot of things, added together. For instance, I used to really love coming in here in the mornings, before everyone else. I liked walking around, making the coffee, turning on the heat and the lights and the radio, getting things in order before the guys began straggling in ... that little window of time alone in the morning made a huge difference in my day. Now Steve is here every morning, at least an hour before I am, and he does all the things I used to do: the coffee is made, the phones are switched over, the music is playing, and he's sitting there at Bob's desk, looking like he owns the place.  I can't stand him, Journal. I hate everything about him. I hate the way he pulls his truck into the parking space in front of the door, the space reserved for Bob or Randy. I hate the way he expects me to treat him the way I would treat Bob or Randy. ("How do I get this plasticized?") I hate the way he paws through my dish of Lifesavers, scooping up enormous handfuls of his favorites and leaving nothing but the crappy pineapple ones. I hate his whiny voice on the phone. I hate the way he complains about everything from the kind of pop in the refrigerator to the way someone wants him to do a job. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.

10:30 a.m.

Checks are here, and they took out my $300 draw. Shit. That leaves me with nothing practically. Time to start fighting back tears again. $535.74, including petty cash. Ray will expect me to put at least $200 or $250 in the bank. That leaves me a big $285.74. How in the world do I make it for two weeks on THAT? No fast food, obviously, and no David J. What else? Cut back the kids' allowances for this pay period. I hate doing that, but I don't have a choice. One pair of shoes each, instead of the two pair each I'd promised the girls. No frills, no treats, no new software, no Drug Emporium runs, no Atomic Video. My haircut will have to wait, and so will my tune-up.

CRAP.




Monday afternoon
May 15, 1995

Still struggling to stay afloat -- emotionally and financially. I hate being poor. I hate living in a shabby rental house with filthy carpeting and someone else's hand-me-down furniture. I hate driving a 22 year old car. I hate wearing clothes from Value Village and cutting my own hair and feeling bad about the way I look all the time. I hate having to say "no" when the kids ask me for something we can't afford ... which of course is practically EVERYTHING they ask for  ... 




Tuesday morning
May 16, 1995

I walked into the office this morning in time to hear Bob saying goodbye to someone on the phone. "All right, I'll talk to her about it," I heard him say in a resigned, unhappy voice, and then he quickly hung up. He's off on a job with Ron right now, but he'll be back in the office in an hour or so. I have this horrible feeling that something's coming. I know, I know, more of my paranoid delusions ... I'm always imagining that the ax is poised just above my head. This time, though, I feel it more strongly than ever. I'm in trouble about something. I just don't know what it is yet.

I'm finally sending the garnishment papers to Carla in Spokane, by the way. I've been sitting on them for awhile, hoping to squeeze out a decent paycheck or two before the garnishment goes into effect, but reading through all the legalese yesterday I discovered that the garnishment itself is retroactive to any paychecks received within the past 60 days. Fuck. I guess what that means is no paycheck at all next week. Won't Ray be thrilled about THAT? The really awful part of this whole thing is that I haven't even told Ray about it yet. I've known about it for over two weeks, and I still haven't told him. I don't know why. Avoiding an unpleasant scene as long as possible, I guess.

10:10 a.m.

Bob and Ron just got back into the office, and now I'm more convinced than ever that something is wrong. Bob has barely said three words to me all morning, and when I deliberately tried to catch his eye and smile just now, he pretended he didn't notice. I'm already thinking about pulling all my personal files off the computer and cleaning out my drawers, in order to make a quick and dignified exit when Bob fires me later today.

I suppose it would be worthwhile to mention that my period is now three days overdue, and a lot of my goofy paranoia today could be hormonal. (I like blaming my hormones for stuff like this because it makes me seem slightly less nuts.) I've been feeling very tense, my chin is covered with acne, and I've been craving salt and sugar for over a week. If my stupid period doesn't start SOON I'm afraid I'm going to spontaneously combust.

Noon:

Well, at least everyone is finally out of the office (Brad Jackson The World's Most Annoying Human Being lingered for a while today: I was starting to get worried) and I can let out a deep sigh of relief. I'm not completely out of the woods yet -- I haven't been alone in the office with Bob at any point yet today, and that's the big hurdle I need to clear before I can truly relax. But at least I have a little time to eat my lunch in solitude, stretch my legs by walking around the warehouse a little, play with my graphics stuff on the computer, etc.

Most Heartening Thing I've Read In Months:

" ...  But don't be too hard on yourself if you're still a slob at heart. ‘ Untidy people have their lives well organized in their heads,' says psychiatrist Hedi Daoud, who has spent almost two decades studying the effect of neatness on families. ‘People who are very strictly organized, where everything has a place and nothing can be moved,' says Daoud, ‘are not sure of themselves and don't have confidence in their own convictions.'"

From "Getting Organized"
Published by Globe Communications




Tuesday lunch hour
June 13, 1995

I really don't want to write this journal entry. When I get home tonight, it is very likely that Ray will tell me he's been fired from his job. This is just the latest in a series of events which convince me that our lives have slipped out of control. Outwardly I'm functioning fairly well, but inside I'm coming undone.

I desperately wish somebody would come along and "fix" everything, but of course that won't happen ... I don't believe in fairy tales or quick fixes anymore. Do I?




Wednesday, just home from work
June 14, 1995

I don't really want to write this journal entry, either, but it's important ... perhaps the most important journal entry I've ever written.

So far 1995 is proving to be one amazing year for this family: Jamie getting suspended from school, Kacie's shoplifting escapade, my Drivers License nightmare, Kyle's dog bite ... and now this. I don't even know where or how to begin ... so I suppose I'll just begin, and hope the right words will come.

This morning Ray and I went to Highline Hospital, where he admitted himself to the Highline Drug & Alcohol Recovery Program. He will be there for four weeks. It feels so unreal to be writing this, Journal ... never, ever in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine this day would come. Ray's drinking has been a part of our lives for so long: I've never known any other Ray than the Ray with a can of Rainier in his hand. It all happened so fast ... maybe in a day or two the reality will set in and I'll be able to process the fact that Ray is gone, and that when he comes back he will be an entirely different person from the man I married. 

God. Who will he be?

But I'm going to back up a little. This may have happened suddenly, but there have been some warning signs. A couple of weekends ago Ray called in sick, on a day when he was really needed at the plant. His attendance has been OK this year -- compared to other years, anyway -- but that particular morning he woke up hungover and he forced me to call in for him. I could tell that his supervisor didn't believe my story about Ray having "stomach flu," and I was afraid he would get in trouble. Sure enough, he was given two days off without pay and a verbal warning. That was scary, but I figured as long as he kept his nose clean and didn't screw up again, everything would be OK. Unfortunately, Monday morning (two days ago) he called in sick again  --  hungover again  -- and this time the ax fell.  His boss told him that unless he went in for drug and alcohol treatment, he would be fired immediately. Yesterday they sent him to an alcohol counselor, and she recommended that he enter the program at Highline. As a matter of fact, she wanted to admit him right then and there, but Ray convinced her to let him come home for one more night, so he could break the news to the kids and I.

When I got home from work yesterday (expecting Ray to tell me he'd been fired), I was surprised to discover that he wasn't even home. Jamie said she thought he was out grocery shopping, but I was sure he was just avoiding me, in order to postpone telling me he'd been fired. I cleaned up the house a little, and then I sat down on the sofa and waited for him to show up. 

When he finally came through the door, no groceries in hand, he was crying. I asked him what was wrong, but he was so distraught that I could barely understand a word he was saying. "Were you fired?" I asked him, and he shook his head. 

"Then why are you crying?" I said, exasperated. 

In a broken voice he started to explain the situation, and little by little I managed to piece together the story. When I realized that he was telling me he was actually going in for treatment the next morning -- that he would be gone for four weeks -- I was speechless.

I called Bob at home last night and explained the situation to him, without any elaboration, and told him that I needed to take some time off this morning so I could go with my husband to the hospital. ("No problem," he said. "I hope everything works out OK for you.") I'm right in the middle of typing another one of those nightmare Allstate databases for Brad Jackson The World's Most Annoying Human Being, so I couldn't take the whole day off, much as I would have liked to. 

"I'll be in the office by noon," I told Bob, and he said that would be fine.

We spent Ray's last night at home exactly the way he wanted ... we ordered a huge pizza with the works, goofed around with the kids a little, watched TV, called our friend for a little treat -- probably Ray's last ever -- and talked about the future, uncertain as it is. I was very calm all evening and tried to keep everyone else on an even keel emotionally. I slept in the big bed with Ray, and all through the night he kept reaching over and laying his hand on my back, checking to make sure I was still there.

We left the house this morning at 9:30 and went to Ray's work first, where we met with his boss, Rob. Ray signed some papers regarding treatment and insurance, and we also made arrangements for me to come in next week and pick up his paycheck. Then we headed for the hospital. We were about half an hour early, so Ray drove to 7-11 and bought himself a magazine and one last beer. In the hospital parking lot I stood outside the car and left Ray alone to drink his beer, knowing it would probably be the last beer he ever drinks. I stole a quick peek over my shoulder and saw him taking a swallow from the can, and I knew that this must be the hardest thing he's ever done in his whole life. For some reason this suddenly made me feel very sad, and I started to fight back tears for the first time since Ray had broken the news that he was going in for treatment. I looked up at the sky and said out loud, to no one in particular, "Another pivotal day." Meaning, another one of those landmark days, after which nothing is ever the same again.

As Ray and I walked towards the entrance of the treatment center, he reached over and took my hand, a simple gesture that moved me beyond words. At that point we were both crying. Ray was crying because he was scared. "I've got butterflies," he said, and tears were streaming down his face. I was crying because I was turning my husband -- and our future -- over to the unknown, and that's never an easy thing to do.

While we waited for his counselor to show up, we sat in the waiting room, my arm around his shoulders. I tried to cheer him up with dumb, meaningless chatter about watering his tomato plants and taking the kids swimming while he was gone, but he just sat there and stared out the window, crying. Finally his counselor came out and asked us into her office. Actually, she only asked Ray to come in -- it was clear she didn't really want or need me to come in, but Ray insisted. I have to tell you: I didn't like her at all. Maybe this is understandable ... in some way I suppose I view her as "the enemy," even though I know she's got nothing but good intentions. She just seemed unnecessarily hard and condescending. At one point she asked me point-blank why I had never insisted Ray get a hearing aid. 

"You've been together fourteen years," she said. "Didn't it ever come up?" 

How do you explain to a total stranger something as personal and complex as Ray's stubborn refusal to face up to his hearing loss? "It was something he didn't want to talk about," I said, lamely.

A few minutes later she said that she and Ray were going to discuss some issues that might be ‘upsetting' to me, and I finally took the hint and said I would leave the two of them alone. I hugged Ray and told him I loved him, and then I left, with my heart in my throat  ...  feeling like I was abandoning him.




Friday morning
June 16, 1995

I am not handling this whole thing very well. At least, not so far. On Wednesday night, while I was typing the last journal entry, I started drinking wine and talking to people on the phone: the next thing I knew I went off on a wild wine-and-coke binge that lasted until 3:30 in the morning. Of course I was too wrecked yesterday morning to make it in to work, and Bob was -- is -- very angry with me. At least I think he is. He didn't say anything about it when I came in this morning, but I can tell I'm on his shit list. I've been spending money like crazy and haven't' done anything about the bills, the laundry, the housework, the garbage. Yesterday I slept until 1:30 in the afternoon, and when I woke up and started moving around I felt like crap.

The kids and I went to the hospital late in the afternoon yesterday, to drop off Ray's shaving stuff and a clean set of clothes, and Kyle and I were allowed to visit him for five minutes. He was sitting in his hospital bed eating dinner, wearing one of those horrible hospital gowns, and he was so shaky and doped-up from the medication they've been giving him that he spilled his salad all over his lap. ("This stuff makes me feel like Jell-O," he said morosely.) Tears glistened in the corners of his eyes the whole time we were there, and he looked so sad, it just broke my heart. Kyle and I both tried to be upbeat, but it was so hard ... I cried the whole way back to the car, and for the rest of the drive to Burien, and for most of the evening.

After the hospital visit, we went to Fashion Bug in Burien so I could buy a Father's Day present for Ray and some things for the girls (baby doll shirts and nylons for their dress-up days at school). I found a wonderful Far Side T-shirt for Ray and a pair of comfortable looking green shorts, and it made me feel a little better, buying him something I knew he'd like. Unfortunately, while the kids and I were sitting in The Dragon Pearl having dinner, someone broke into my car and stole the shopping bag from the back seat of my car!! Sixty dollars' worth of clothes, gone, just like that. The kids and I were shocked and sickened by the theft ... it was just such a lousy thing to happen at a time like this.

God, Journal. This is going to be so hard. How in the hell am I going to get through it? I'm astonished by how much I miss him. I couldn't bring myself to sleep in the big bed last night: it just didn't feel "right," without him there. So I ended up sleeping on the couch, like I always do, and Kacie slept on the loveseat next to me, and Kyle slept by himself in the big bed. I wanted one of the kids with me at all times last night, usually either Kyle or Kacie. "I don't want to be alone," I told them. Frankly, they seem to be taking this a lot better than I am. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it's true. Kacie is probably the most forthright about her feelings, and right now I feel very close to her. Kyle has to be coaxed into talking about his feelings, and even so he doesn't seem very comfortable about it. He is very sweet and sensitive to my feelings, through ... yesterday he was the only one who noticed I was crying in the car, and he reached over and put his arm around me or patted me on the shoulder whenever he saw me looking sad. Jamie is so wrapped up in her own life & problems that the situation is more an inconvenience to her than anything else. We're supposed to attend Al-Anon meetings & lectures during the next four weeks -- basically that's the only way we can visit Ray, plus it will probably help us a lot, especially me -- and I can tell already that it's going to be an uphill battle getting her to come with us to anything. I know she loves her dad, but when you're thirteen it's hard to see much past the end of your own nose. Still, I think I would rather have the three of them dealing with this situation they way they are -- each in his or her own way -- than falling apart at the seams like their mother.

I don't expect to be such a basket case the whole four weeks that he's gone. Hopefully I'll pull myself together in another day or two and start taking care of things, the way Ray expects me to. Getting fucked up on Wednesday night was an inappropriate -- but probably fairly common? -- reaction to the situation. I'm losing my partying partner, and it's a lost & scary feeling. I'm a tiny bit better today, although it's still hard to think about Ray without getting teary-eyed. I'm going to try very hard to cut back on drinking while Ray is gone. I know I should quit completely ... I know my problem is just as bad, in its own way, as Ray's ever was. But since we both can't be in treatment at the same time -- one of us has to at least try to hold down the fort -- I'm forced to deal with my problem in my own makeshift way, and I'm sorry but I just can't go cold turkey, all on my own. All I can do is try to take some little baby steps. Not drinking on work nights, for one thing, and resisting the temptation to call our friend. Trying to stay as busy as possible. Doing stuff with the kids. Concentrating on work. Getting enough sleep. Going to the meetings at the hospital. Reading about alcoholism. Praying. Talking to people. Writing in my journal. This is about all I can handle right now. I just don't think it would be fair to Ray for him to go through this ordeal and then come home next month and see me sitting around drinking wine in front of him.

But it's hard. Even now, this very minute, I'm fighting the impulse ... it's Friday, and I keep thinking that I'm going to go home this afternoon and drink wine & play on the computer, the way I do every Friday, and that Ray will be there with his beer and his basketball game on TV, and that he and I will get a little coke later in the evening and have our usual Friday night fun. It's so hard to believe this stuff is all over, forever. I know it's ridiculous to be feeling sentimental about it, since it was killing Ray and costing us a fortune and hurting our marriage and our family -- the rational part of me knows this -- and yet it's hard right now to remember anything but the fun times we had, the silly happy moments, the closeness we felt sometimes when we were high together. It was familiar and comfortable. What in the hell will Ray and I do for fun when he gets out of the hospital?!?!? Almost all of our good times revolved around alcohol & drugs, as horrible as that sounds. It's hard to imagine what we will possibly have in common now.

2 p.m.

Still fighting back tears. A song will come on the radio that makes me think of Ray, or a friend will call to see how I'm doing (just now it was Lori), and the next thing I know I've got my nose up in the air, fighting to keep the tears from spilling down my face & messing up my makeup. Can't have Bob walk into the office and find me with mascara down to my chin. I'm in enough trouble with him as it is.

3:30 p.m.

It's a losing battle. One ugly phone argument with Jamie, and my makeup is all over my face. GOD. What the hell is the matter with her anyway?? I can't believe how completely self-engrossed she is, even now. She doesn't bother asking how I'm doing -- or if I have any news about Daddy -- but immediately launches into what I can do for her. Basically she wants me to drop her & Kelli off at the movies and then go back and pick them up later, no matter how late it might be. I tried to explain to her that I'm feeling really tired and sad today, but she cut me off with a nasty, "Well, it was your idea." That's true. Last night I said we might go see a movie tonight. I've been trying to keep everybody busy & happy -- lots of running around in the car, spending money, eating fast food -- but the fact is I might be overdoing it.

3:40 p.m.

Just talked to Kacie and Kyle. Kacie has a special Rainbows Meeting tonight and won't be getting home until "late" ... Kyle asked if he can go to a friend's house and spend the night ... and I basically told Jamie to go spend the weekend at Kelli's because she's "causing me too much stress." So it looks like I might end up alone tonight. Guess we all know what Terri P.'s going to do with her evening, don't we? I don't even feel like fighting it anymore today. At least tomorrow isn't a work day.

7 p.m.

Home. Right before I left the office, Bob called to thank me for the "good job" I did on the Allstate database. ("You only made one mistake," he said.) It was so unexpected. I thought he was really angry with me. I took the opportunity to apologize for missing work. "I'm very sorry about yesterday," I told him. "I just needed to be home with my kids for a day." Not precisely the truth, but hey. He said that he understood what a rough time I was going through, and that it was no big deal. "I won't let you down again, Bob," I said, and I really meant it. I just hope I can keep that promise. I hope I can keep from letting everybody down.

As I was driving to Burien, I almost hit a guy who was walking through a crosswalk near Sunnydale Foods. I was so distracted that I didn't even see him until we were both halfway through the intersection. Shocked, I mouthed the word "Sorry!" to him, but he leaned his head through my window and shouted "DUMB ASS!!" at me at the top of his lungs. I was shattered. I almost turned around and went back to find him, to explain why I was distracted and to apologize again, but what would be the point? Like he would care that my husband is in the hospital and my thirteen year old daughter hates me and my whole world is falling apart. My problems are no excuse for driving like an idiot. Still, I started crying again and by the time I got to Fred Meyer I could barely see through my tears. I feel like a leaky faucet ... once the tears start, they just won't stop. I should probably just stop putting on eye makeup altogether.

Anyway, I went to Fred Meyer to buy Ray some new socks and underwear -- he wanted me to bring him his old stuff from home, but I felt he deserved brand-new -- and then I went back to Fashion Bug and bought the same fucking outfit I bought him 24 hours ago, the Far Side T-shirt and the green shorts. I could have bought him something else at Fred Meyer, I know, but the fact is that I'm still pissed off at the asshole who stole the shopping bag out of my car last night, and I felt like, "I'm not going to let this person steal from my husband." I can't explain it any better than that. I feel very protective towards Ray right now and I'm not going to let anybody hurt him.

When I got to the hospital, around 5:45, the front desk was closed and I managed to get lost inside the hospital again, as usual. Finally I stopped a nurse and asked for help, and she took me into the restricted area so I could drop off Ray's clothes at the nurses station. "Is there any chance I can visit with him for a second?" I asked the nurse, and even though it wasn't the regular visiting time, one of the other patients went off to find him. While I waited, I talked to the nurse on duty. She said that Ray was doing a lot better today; he's out of detox and dressed and walking around, and I was so glad to hear it. I don't think I could have handled walking into his room and seeing him look the way he looked last night ... so vulnerable and sick and sad. A moment later I looked down the hallway, and there he was, walking towards me! I have rarely been so happy to see anyone in my whole life. He was walking very slowly, but it was clear he was glad to see me. We hugged and kissed, and then I showed him his new clothes and told him they were an early Father's Day present from his family, but he still seemed a little dazed and I'm not sure he got the humor of the Far Side shirt. The nurse said, "While you're here, Ray, let me give you your vitamins." She gave him a little paper cup of pills, and checked his arm (for the results of his TB test, I gather). She was so tender and gentle with him. I noticed that about the nurse last night, too. It's as though they genuinely care about their patients. There does seem to be a spirit of real love and nurturing there. I hope it helps Ray. It certainly helped me: it makes me feel as though maybe I haven't "given him to the enemy," after all. Anyway, Ray said, "Let's go downstairs for a minute," and he led me to the elevator and outside to a patio area where patients can visit with their guests. While we sat outside, for ten minutes or so, he seemed to be more his old self, except there were still tears in the corners of his eyes the whole time. I wonder when that will stop? I forgot to bring him a newspaper, which I could kick myself for, but I promised that I would either call him or come by to see him every day, as long as he's there, and that I'll bring him anything he needs or wants. "Have you got a cigarette?" he said. I don't carry them in my purse, but I told him that if he wants a pack, I'll bring him some tomorrow. What the hell. If he wants to start smoking again, I for one am not going to stop him.

After ten minutes I felt it was time to go. The nurse had said we could visit for five minutes, and I don't want to get off on the wrong foot with these people. I reminded him again that I love him, and that I'm proud of him, and that I'll stick with him no matter what.

 


Tuesday 4 p.m.
June 20, 1995

Four days later. I should be writing every day, but it's so hard to get the words out.

Just got off the phone with the kids. Today was their last day of school ... now Summer Vacation 1995 officially begins. After work I'm going to run home and pick up Kacie, then we're going to go grocery shopping and try to fill up the freezer a bit. Basically we've been living on fast food, raisin toast and potato chips for the past week, and it's been one more thing to feel guilty about. We have no money in the bank but I'm going to write a check anyway, praying that good old Carla comes through & paychecks arrive on schedule tomorrow (and that it's a GOOD paycheck) . . .

Ray is doing OK. I've visited him every day since Friday, and each time I visit him, he seems a little better. His tears had disappeared by Saturday's visit, anyway ... that was such a relief. He looks clear-eyed and rested and definitely more comfortable with his surroundings.

Our weekend was OK in some ways, completely dysfunctional in other ways. Jamie was gone until late Saturday night, but when she got home she apologized for being a butt. Things are still a little thorny between us, but I'm trying to give her some slack. I drank wine and got silly on Friday night ... most of my evening was spent on the pone, talking to everyone who called to lend moral support (including Ray's brother Don, Ray's parents, John & Lori, Velma). Ray himself called that night, from the pay phone at the hospital -- that was a wonderful surprise! Since then he's called once or twice every day, but that first unexpected phone call was the greatest.

I felt horrible on Saturday morning, naturally, but I managed to get my shit together by noon and then Kacie, Kyle and I went and visited Ray at the hospital for a couple of hours. He showed us his room, took us downstairs to the cafeteria, etc. We met some of the people in his group and listened in on one of their "reading meetings" -- they read a chapter out of their AA book and then discuss it. Afterwards, I dropped Kyle off at the house so he could go spend the night at Keith Baxter's, and Kacie and I took off for the video store. We rented a bunch of movies, stopped at a store and bought some junk food, and then spent a fun evening at home, just the two of us. I ended up getting fucked up again on Saturday, for the second night in a row. I just don't seem to have any self control right now, but I'm not going to apologize for it. I just hope I can settle down & behave myself by the time Ray comes home.

Sunday was Father's Day, and miraculously I managed to get all three of the kids to come visit Ray with me. We had a nice visit, brought him some cards & some silly things we made for him on the computer.

Last night Kyle and I went to a Family Support Meeting at the hospital with Ray. More about this later.

Now I'm home. Ray asked me to stop by the hospital on the way home and drop off a newspaper & the latest People magazine. I was supposed to go to an Al-Anon meeting tonight at 7:30, but Ray understood why I wanted to pass tonight ... "Yah, it won't get over until late," he said. Of course I feel guilty about not going, but guilt and I are becoming old friends. Now I'm sitting here trying to compose a decent grocery list. We're out of everything, and frankly I don't even know where to begin. Ray has done the family grocery shopping for as long as I can remember, and I'm at a loss. How does he do it? I have never in my life gone into a grocery store, filled up a shopping cart & written a personal check for it. This is all brand-new to me: I hope I can pull it off and come home with more than Twinkies, wine and magazines this time ...

Kacie leaves tomorrow for three days: she's going to a Rainbows Grand Assembly at Puget Sound University. She has spent this whole day diligently preparing her wardrobe and packing. (Just now she came out to the laundry room ... "I've gotta check on my socks," she said.) I'm very proud of Kacie these days. Ever since the infamous shoplifting episode, she has seemed more thoughtful and mature about things. Since Ray went into the hospital, she has easily been my most reliable and compassionate kid ... sometimes it feels like she's the mom and I'm the child in need of comfort and companionship, both of which she cheerfully supplies. Jamie's been a little better this past week -- she's been especially good about cleaning the house for me -- but she would still rather be with her friends than stuck here at home, which I guess I can understand. Kyle is Kyle: more interested in making his go-cart and shooting basketball than anything else. But Kacie is my little soul-mate this summer, and I love & appreciate her more than ever.

 


Sunday afternoon
July 2, 1995

Over a week later, and so much has happened. The big news is that Ray is home! He was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon and is now officially an out-patient. I was surprised and a little upset when I found out they were releasing him -- I think Ray was disappointed by my lack of enthusiasm -- but it just seems so soon. He's only been in treatment for two and a half weeks, and I'm not sure that any of us are ready for this ... me included, Ray especially.

 


Wednesday early evening
July 12, 1995

Ten days later. Hot and stuffy. Tired. Just got home from a quick run to Safeway for frozen pizza, wine and nylons. Ray is at an AA meeting, and Kyle & Kacie are jet-skiing with our neighbor Mark, along with Don Jr. and Tracy, who were invited to come along. Jamie was here when I left for the store, but as I was driving home I saw her walking by Bow Lake School. I honked at her and motioned over to the car, and she said she was going swimming at Dennis' apartment. When I got home I found her note on the kitchen counter: "Mom: I have gone swimming at Dennis's. I hope this is OK w/you. If you are mad, I am sorry. I will be home by 8, if later I will call. © Jaimy." (Good grief, she's changed the spelling of her name AGAIN.) So I guess I'm blissfully, wonderfully alone for a little while ... just what I need, after another stressful day at the office.

SHIT. That sure didn't last long! Just as I was typing this, all four of my little jet-skiers came crashing through the front door. Apparently something went wrong with Mark's jet ski and they're all home, two hours earlier than expected. Shit shit shit shit. I need to get a few things written, though, so I'm just going to ignore them & pray they leave me alone for a little while.

I'll admit I wasn't happy about Ray being released from the hospital so soon, but it's been a week and a half now and so far things are OK. He's a very different Ray than the person who went into Highline last month: he's much quieter, and he keeps to himself a lot. When he isn't puttering around the yard or working on his car, he's sitting out in the garage, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. He drinks a lot of coffee, until late in the evening, but it doesn't seem to be affecting his sleep any ... he goes to bed early every night and sleeps like a dead person. He does the grocery shopping and makes repairs around the house: last week he painted the dining room. He goes to his meetings and reads his AA books. Last night he barbecued hamburgers, the first time he's barbecued anything in five weeks. He went back to work last week -- day shift -- but starting tomorrow he'll be on swing shift for eight weeks. This basically means that we won't be seeing each other at all, and I don't know how that will affect our marriage, but frankly nothing could surprise me anymore, I don't think.

I think the reason I didn't want him to come home so soon is because I didn't know what to expect. I thought he would come home & right away start badgering me about money, sex, the kids, the house, my drinking, etc. etc. So far, he's done nothing of the kind. I managed to thoroughly fuck up our checking account while he was in the hospital, but he hasn't said a word about it. (Now we're going about the business of repairing the damage.) He very politely and sweetly asked me to sleep with him once, the first Saturday night he was home, but since then he hasn't even mentioned sex. He hasn't picked a fight with anybody, not even Jamie (or Jaymi, or Jaimy). He's so mellow and nonplussed about everything, it's downright amazing.

He was supposed to go to traffic court this afternoon for a mitigation hearing (for driving with expired tabs a few months ago) but he didn't think he could take the time off from work, so I offered to go in his place. It was a pain in the butt, but frankly I was glad to do it: I feel I owe him. Besides, I saved us about $300 in fines by showing up -- they dropped the fine from $340 to $50 -- so it was worth it for that alone. "You made my day," he said on the phone when I told him.

Lately I haven't been liking myself very much at all. Part of it is because the way I've handled (or not handled) his recovery. But an even bigger part of it is because I'm still transcribing the old journals onto disks, whenever I have a little free time at work, and I'm beginning to realize how awful they make me sound.

 


Note from Terri to Ray
July 13, 1995

"Ray --

Don & Jazzmine called at 10:00 and said they were having "car trouble" & couldn't pick up Don Jr. until very late, so I told them to just let him sleep over one more night. They promise they'll be here to pick him up early tomorrow. Sorry about this.

Jamie is spending the night at Nicole's, and Kacie is at Tracy's.

Your dinner is in the fridge. Talk to you tomorrow.

Me."

 


Note from Ray to Terri
July 14, 1995

"Terri -

Thank you for fixing me dinner.

It's 3 am & I'm too tired to eat -- but I will have a good lunch tomorrow.

Love you

Ray."

 


Saturday morning
July 29, 1995

Haven't written anything for over two weeks ... sorry.

It's a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, and I feel better than I have all week. I spent a quiet evening with Kacie and Kyle last night -- we watched "Flatliners," had KFC for dinner, talked -- and then I fell asleep early and slept straight through the night. The phone woke me up about twenty minutes ago: it was my brother, calling from jail downtown. There is a custody battle brewing over my little niece, Karen, and Dick wants me to help.

 

The Girls of Summer

The Grrls of Summer
Kacie, Jamie and a platoon of cats hang out in our backyard
Summer 1995

 




Tuesday night
August 1, 1995

I can tell that this is going to be one of those periods where it's hard to get anything written. What makes it worse is that the more time that passes (and the more newsworthy things that happen around here) the harder it's going to be to get back into the journal-writing habit.

Ray is working swing shift these days. Have I bothered to mention that yet? He works from 3:30 till midnight. Not only that, he's working weekends: the upshot is that we rarely see each other. A little bit on weekend mornings, and that's about it. When I get home from work in the evening, it's just me & the kids. More precisely tonight it's me, Kyle, Jamie and her boyfriend Nick ... Kacie left this morning for her annual trek to Camp Cedar Springs. She won't be home until Saturday.

Ray seems to be doing all right, but he has lost some of the enthusiasm for recovery that he had when he first got home. He's skipping meetings, here and there, and I rarely seem him reading his books anymore. Most of the time he just seems flat and sad. Is this normal? Is this what the will always be like, from now on? I wouldn't want him drinking again for anything in the world, but I would like to see him get some joy and fun out of life again.

Another thing I haven't had a chance to mention ... Ray's grandma Bev passed away a couple of weeks ago. Ray called me at work that day and said, "Grandpa Henry came for Grandma this morning." That was his way of telling me that Bev had died. It hit him hard, of course. I suppose this has as much to do with him being "flat and sad" as anything. The memorial service is in three days, and although Peg & Don offered to pay his way to Tucson for the funeral (as they did for Sheryl, Don Jr. and Barbara), Ray had to decline. He used up all his vacation and sick time to go into the hospital, and he didn't want to rock the boat by asking for special time off right now. Grandma Bev was a special lady, and I feel privileged to have known her, but most of my hurt & worry right now are for my husband.

 


CAMP LETTERS 1995

Mom to Kacie

July 28, 1995

BNC Telephone, Inc.
Seattle, Washington 98108
U.S.A.
Earth

"Kacie Pauline P.:

I'm writing this letter the Friday before you leave for Cedar Springs. I'll mail it tomorrow & you'll hopefully get it your first or second day at camp. J

How are you? How does it feel to be back at good old Cedar Springs? You must have the whole place memorized by now. J Take a few pictures of the cabins & the buildings for me this year, so I can get a better idea of what your camp looks like. OK? And don't forget to give you camera to a friend & have her take some pictures of you. J

I must tell you, it's extremely difficult thinking of things to write about, since you're not even leaving for another four days! I'm having a very long and boring day at the office. It's only 2:10 ... that means I still have another 2 -- 1/2 hours to go. L I can't wait to get home & change into my sloppies & kick back with you and Kyle. I called home a little while ago and talked to you ... we talked about getting chicken for dinner and watching "Flatliners" tonight. I can't wait to go home, I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait, I CAN'T WAIT . . !!!!!

Have I mentioned that I can't wait?

You sound very excited about camp. You know, it's kind of funny when you think about it. When I first signed you and Jaymi up for Cedar Springs a few years ago, I was afraid you wouldn't like it very much. Do you remember that? We were trying to get you both into Girl Scout camp but something went wrong, and we ended up sending you to Cedar Springs instead. I honestly didn't think you would like it at all. Guess I was wrong! J Maybe someday you'll be counselor there! J

Bet you're gonna miss your kitties while you're at camp, aren't you? Don't worry, though -- we'll only give away a couple of them while you're gone. I promise. Besides, I'm sure that Kyle and Jaimy will give them lots of attention and care.

Will you miss your MOM while you're at camp? J Will you miss your DAD while you're at camp? J

Will you miss your sister Jaemiey while you're at camp? J

Will you miss your BABY BROTHER while you're at camp ... ? . . .

L

Here are some other things I bet you'll miss: sleeping late in the morning ... Mom's wonderful prank calls every day ("Hi may I speak to Barb?") ... Beavis and Butthead ... KFC Honey Barbecue ... spending quality time with Jaimee and Kyle ... fonts ... safety pins ... Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ... horse meat ... flashlight batteries . . .

Well, I'm obviously getting a little silly now so I think I'll close. I'll think about you a lot while you're at camp, and I'll miss you! L But I know you're going to have a great time. When you get home we'll arrange a visit for you at Grandma and Grandpa's, and then after that we can start thinking about shopping for school clothes. Fun! You can start thinking about what kind of clothes you're going to want this year. I'll also bring home the office supply catalogs so we can order some school supplies. Anyway, I love you, Kacie! You have a special place in my heart that no one else can ever fill. You're my spiritual child -- the child with the biggest heart and sweetest spirit. Be safe! Have fun! Say hi to God for me!

I LOVE YOU LOTS!!!!!!!!!! J

Love,

Mom

Love also from:
Dad
Jeaiymiee
Kyle
Sabrina
Gabby
Ichy
Dixie
Felix
Ajax
Conrad
Floyd
Irving
The mailman
Vanna White
The Indian in the cupboard
O.J. Simpson
Garth Brooks
Mr. Gallagher
My boss
Barb
Pull my finger
The newspaper on the roof of our house
That old dude at Trailer Town
Miss America
Alvin & The Chipmunks
The entire population of Chicago
The Wicked Witch of the West
Pete
Homer Simpson
Zev
Ray Colson

The Avon lady
Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just glad to see me
Aunt Barbara
Jack the Ripper
The Hole in the Wall Gang
Those scary guys who hang around in front of Tom's all the time
Mother Theresa
Margarine
Mrs. Doubtfire
Barbie at Safeway
The Pope
Santa Claus
The Easter Bunny
The Tooth Fairy
The Boogey Man
Cracker
The spider in the bathtub
Everyone with red hair and glasses
Little Richard
Big Richard
Medium-Sized Richard
Uncle Richard
Everyone named "Frank"
Hugh Grant

... AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO THINKS YOU'RE THE GREATEST! J "

 


Mom to Kacie (again):

"Dear Kacie:

I'm going to write this letter in a big hurry, hoping I catch the mailman before he shows up here at the office. Later this afternoon I'll sit here at my computer & make you some stationery to take to camp. I'm really happy that you asked me to make your stationery. I love doing that kind of stuff, but I didn't think you'd want something your MOM made. After all this is JUNIOR HIGH camp. Nice to know I'm still useful. I don't expect you to waste all your free time writing letters, but I hope we get at least one letter or postcard from you. It's always so fun to get mail from my kids.

Hope you're having a lot of fun at camp. Is there anyone there you know, besides the people from Angle Lake Church? Are you swimming a lot? Learning new songs? Did you buy yourself a camp T-shirt? How's the food at camp this year?

It's going to seem so quiet around the house this week with you gone. Who is Kyle going to fight with all the time?! I suppose he'll have to pick on Jaymi, even though she can flatten him like a mosquito! I'm going to miss your sunny little face around the house ... it just won't be the same Polenville without Kacie P. around. I'll probably sit here at work every day & look at your picture on my bulletin board and think about you, hoping that you're having a lot of fun. (You MUST have at least $109 worth of fun or I'll be mad.) And gee whiz, as soon as you come home & I get used to having you around, off you'll go again to Grandma and Grandpa's! And after that, it's back to school! Some people have all the fun.

Well, Sweetie, I've got to pop this into the mail right now or you might not get it in time. I love you a lot, and I know you're having a great time. Be good & say hi to God for me.

Love Always & Always,

Mom."



 

Kacie to Mom:

"Dear Mom,

Hi, I'm having a great time. I'm in cabin 3. I made a friend named Sherel. Today is Tue. I'm getting ready for sports. We're having a volley ball turnament. My leader is nice.

One hour later

Hello, I just got your letter, or say letters. 2 came for me today. Thank you very much.

I miss you

Kacie."

Kacie to Ray:

"Dear Dad;

Hi. I'm having a great time her. I'm in cabin 3. I'm having lots of fun. I went swimming, and played slip and slip relay, and street hockey, it was cool. I miss you. I miss everyone but I also have met a lot of new friends. On Friday were going to have a camp cook out.

Love,

Kacie."

Mom to Kacie:

Hi Kacie:

I just dropped you off at the church a little while ago, so by now you must be on your way to camp. Kyle called me after I got to the office and said you forgot your camera. GOOD THING YOU REMEMBERED BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE! I can just imagine how mad you would have been, if you'd gotten to camp & realized your camera was still sitting on the coffee table!!!

Your "care Package" will go out Wednesday afternoon. I'm sending it U.P.S., "Next-day air." That means that the U.P.S. guy will have to bring it to the camp office & have someone there sign for it. You might want to mention to a counselor that you're expecting something on Thursday. I would have sent it regular mail, but as you know I don't get paid until Wednesday, & by then the mail would have been too late.

Don't know what Jamie, Kyle & I will be doing tonight. I hope Jamie doesn't stay mad at me this whole week! I think going to camp is something special ... if she had wanted to go to Cedar Springs this year, I would have spent just as much money & attention no her. As it is, I think she's having a perfectly good summer. She got to stay at Grandma & Grandpa's for a whole week, she talked them into buying her all kinds of stuff, and she's going to spend five whole days with Kellie at the end of the week. So don't feel too sorry for her. I don't!

I'm going to pick up Kyle on Friday during my lunch hour and bring him to the office for half a day. Jamie will be gone that day and I don't want him home alone. It's not that I don't trust him to be here by himself ... I just don't want him to feel lonely! After work we'll probably go rent a movie and pick up some fast food.

I don't know what time you get home on Saturday. Maybe I'll call the church and find out. Give us a call when you get to the church, and I'll drive over and help you get your stuff home. I'll be so happy to see you! And I'm sure your kitties will be too!

Well, the mailman is on his way so I'm going to close. I miss you already and you've only been gone for an hour. I hope you're having the best time ever. I love you lots!

Love,

Mom

Dear Kyle,

Hi it's right before dinner and I'm really bored. They will probably feed us constituded road kill again. But I can always by candy at the snack shack. They sell popcorn by the bucket!

Love

Kacie

August 2, 1995

Hi Kacie:

This is probably the last letter I'm going to send you this year ... I'll put it in your care package this afternoon before I send it off.

How are you doing/ I'm writing this on Wednesday, your second day at camp. By now you're probably all settled in & having fun. I miss you! It felt really strange to come home from work last night & not see you sitting in your little tree swing ... !

Actually, when I got home last night the first thing I saw was Jamie's big goofy boyfriend in the middle of our front yard, playing volleyball with Kyle. Nick hung around the house until about 8:00, and then he rode his bike home. I'm not sure but I think he's coming over tonight, too. (I told Jamie, "Why don't you just ask him to move in?")

1:00 p.m.

Now it's after lunch, and I just got back to the office. I went to the bank and cashed my check, then went to Payless and got you a few "goodies" for your package. Sorry it isn't much, but I hope it'll do. I forgot to get you another camera -- sorry -- I hope 15 pictures was enough this year.

Here is another little bit of money. I won't be mad if you don't buy a T-shirt ... this money is yours to spend the way YOU want to.

Well, I've got to get this package all ready to go. I love you so much, Sweetie, and I can't wait to see you on Saturday. I think about you all the time & I hope you're having a great time.

Love forever,

Mom

Dear Jaymi,

You wanted a letter so heres a letter. I've met 4 new friends and the other 2 SUCK. I'm in cabin 3 and it's Wen morning, early, to early. Last night they made us consitraded dog chow. I'm going on the zipper today -- if you don't know what that is it's a string attached to a tree 60 feet up and the string is pulled 60 feet and attached to the ground, and you can climb up and slide down on a harness. It's pretty cool.

Sincerely,

Kacie

Jaymi,

I just had to add this. It's 4:30 on Wen and I was just chosen to go on the 60 foot zipper. The platform is at the top of a 70 foot tree!!

O my God

Kacie



 

Dear Mom, (Vanna White)

I forgot 2 ask you before, but could you please leave me a few dollars for this weekend cuz me and Kellie are going skateing & to the movies.

Love ya,

Jaymi



 

Note from Terri to Ray:

Checks I wrote last night:

Sunnydale Red Apple: Check #2878
(3) half-cases of pop for work
(2) boxes of Banquet Chicken
(1) box of instant mashed potatoes
(1) pkg. of gravy
(1) People magazine
$30 cash ($20 for Kacie to take to camp, $10 for me for gas)
Check total: $49

Burien Albertsons: #2879
(1) ice cream for dessert
$10 cash for me to have today Check total: $12.59

I'm sorry if this upsets you. I didn't see any other way to handle it: I didn't want Kacie to go to camp without some spending money, and my gas tank was empty. I agree that the checking account is for bills, but two days before my payday I didn't think it would hurt. I said I would replace it and I will.

Last time I looked, the checking account was in both our names.

Terri






Thursday afternoon 3:30 p.m.
August 10, 1995

I've been too busy -- and too sad -- to write anything this week.

Gabby died on Monday night, after being hit by a car. Kyle found her hurt in the garage, shortly before I got home from work. The girls and I rushed her to the emergency animal hospital in Burien, but they weren't able to save her ... sadly, we gave the doctor permission to put her to sleep. The kids and I were wrecked, of course, but the kittens that Gabby left behind (the six from this latest litter, plus our beloved Ichabod from the spring litter) are keeping us all busy & distracted, and that helps. The younger kittens are five weeks old -- cute as buttons -- and fortunately they were pretty much weaned when Gabby died. We fed them with eye droppers on Monday night, a disgusting concoction that the vet suggested (condensed milk, water, corn syrup and raw egg yolks), but that took too long and they got too impatient. So we've switched now to dry cat food soaked in warm milk, and they seem to like it. We're trying to litter box train them now, since their mama isn't around to clean up after them anymore.

I will miss my Gabby. Lately she had become sorta crabby and aloof -- two litters of kittens within six months might have had that affect on some people, I guess! -- but whenever I think of her, I'll remember the way she was last year, before she started having babies ... responsive and affectionate, greeting me at the bathroom door every morning after my shower, chewing up my hair rollers, cuddling in my lap in the evening ... that's the Gabby I will always remember and love.

Sweet dreams, Gab.

Very cold and rainy this week: doesn't even feel like summer. I have a head cold and I'm completely burned out today ... I CAN'T WAIT TO GO HOME. Kacie came home from camp last Saturday, but now she's gone again -- this week it's her turn to stay at Grandma and Grandpa P.'s. She left yesterday and she'll be gone until sometime next week. Jamie is practically living over at Kellie's these days, so tonight it will just be me & Kyle again. I'm going to stop off at Taco Time on the way home and get us a couple of soft tacos, and then we're going to watch some of the movies we rented last night. With any luck I'll be sound asleep by 9:00.


 

"Jamie:

If you can write a letter when you're mad, so can I.

Regardless of the fact that you obviously have no respect for me or for my feelings, I'm still your mom and I still deserve to be treated with courtesy, if nothing else. Shouting at me when you don't get your way is one behavior that I shouldn't have to tolerate. Talking to me in that "God-you're-an-ignorant-bitch" tone of voice is another. I don't think you have any idea how much your attitude is hurting me ... or if you do, you don't give a shit. Either way, I am sick and tired of having to tap-dance emotionally around you whenever I attempt to talk to you. If things don't go precisely your way, if I don't give in instantly to whatever your demand of the moment is, you "punish" me with rudeness and hostility. Is this the kind of behavior I'm supposed to reward with huge chunks of money & constant permission to run around with your friends? I don't think so.

Yes, you do more than your share around the house. Yes, I depend on you more than I do the other two. No, this isn't completely fair, and yes, this sucks. There are probably some ways we can work through this & make the workload more balanced. That's not the problem. The problem is that I'm tired of feeling sad and insulted every fucking time I talk to you on the phone; I'm tired of you acting like I've committed an unpardonable sin if I say "no" to something you want; I'm tired of being treated like The Mommy Bank of America; I'm tired of feeling like my own daughter hates me.

I'm going to quit bending over backwards to get you to treat me like a person, Jamie. This is something you're going to have to decide to do all on your own. I love you. Nothing you do will ever change that. I will guarantee you, however, that if you ever talk to me again in the tone of voice you used with me this afternoon, you'll be on your own for school clothes. You can ask Dad, you can ask your grandparents, but The Mommy Bank of America will be closed for this year.

I mean it.

Mom."

 

 


Tuesday 5:40 p.m.
August 22, 1995

Another twelve days since I've written. Just home from work ... just enough time to sip a glass of wine, kick my shoes off for a minute and write a word or two in the journal before it's time to hop back into the car again. This summer, Kyle and I have both realized a dream: I have finally managed to go on-line, and Kyle has finally started taking the karate classes he's wanted for so long. Tonight will be his third lesson. Classes start at 6:30, so if I leave at 6:10 that should give us just enough time to get there & get him changed into his karate outfit.

Going on-line was an interesting experience. A couple of weeks ago I found a modem at work that nobody was using, and I brought it home in hopes of hooking it up to my p.c. I've wanted to go on-line forever. Last year it was my one & only New Years Eve resolution. The only obstacle has been my lack of a modem. I like to read a lot of computer magazines and the Personal Technology section of the newspaper and stuff like that, and whenever I priced new modems they seemed totally beyond my financial reach. So when I found the modem sitting neglected & forgotten on a dusty shelf in the warehouse, I thought it was a gift from the gods. Before I brought it home & tried hooking up to an on-line service, though, I decided to test-drive the idea at work. My office p.c. is hooked up to a modem, mostly for Brian's use (altho the only thing he ever uses is ProComm to hook up to customer databases ... zzz), and for the past year or so I've been getting these "free trial" disks from services like America OnLine and Prodigy, so one afternoon last week when no one else was in the office I took the plunge. I decided to try America OnLine, based on things I'd read about it in my computer magazines, and after a couple of frustrating hours trying to figure out how to get registered, VOILA, I was in! I was ecstatic ... it was great! There is just SO MUCH THERE. I called everybody I knew and said "I'm on line! I'm on line!" Jamie & Kacie were completely blasé about the whole thing. "That's nice, Mom," they said, but I could tell they didn't really give half a shit. I toodled around AOL at work for a couple of days, exploring the bulletin boards and chat lines, and finally on Friday I decided I was ready to try it at home.

I stopped at Radio Shack on my way home Friday afternoon and bought the kind of modem cable I figured I needed. I came home, hooked up the modem, dialed into AOL ... and nothing. My computer couldn't "read" the modem. I felt like crying! I spent most of Friday night experimenting with different phones and different set-ups ... I even went back to the office and "borrowed" the office modem for the weekend (praying that no one would stop into the office on Saturday or Sunday and notice it was missing) ... but nothing worked. Finally in desperation I called the AOL Help Line, and after another hour or so of trying everything the technician suggested, we stumbled across the problem: I ALREADY HAD A MODEM INSTALLED IN MY P.C.!! It's an internal modem, installed in the back of my computer. It's been there all along, apparently! Did I feel stupid. Anyway, about 10 p.m. on Friday night I finally gained access to AOL, and I was jubilant. Jamie came out and saw me "talking" to people on a chat line, and when she saw what it was all about & how much fun I was having, she begged me for a turn. She ended up typing messages to people until 3 a.m. (using up most of my "10 free hours" in the process)!! The next day Kacie had to have a turn, and ever since then the girls and I have been firmly hooked. All three of us have our own code names and passwords, and now it's a matter of fighting each other over who can use the computer to chat with our on-line friends . . .

 

Thursday morning
August 24, 1995

Feeling remarkably good this morning, in every way. Things are going well at work lately, for one thing. Yesterday was my two year "anniversary" at BNC... hard to believe that I've been here for two whole years already. I mentioned it to Bob the other day (casually but deliberately: I am seriously overdue for a raise) and he couldn't believe it either. Lately I've been liking my job again, and I'm so glad. Making peace with Steve helped. We'll never be bosom buddies, but I've gotten to the point where I don't mind coming into the office & seeing him sitting here reading his newspaper. At least the coffee's already made! And when he wants to be, he can be very funny & interesting to talk to.

2 p.m.

Every afternoon about this time I get a headache. Is it from being on the computer all day? Or too much coffee in the morning.

My good mood has all but evaporated. Bob spent most of the morning "interviewing" some gorgeous young saleswoman in his office with the doors closed ... two hours later she left in a cloud of perfume & a second interview scheduled for Monday. This has hit me in an extremely unpleasant way: all of a sudden I feel frumpy & dumpy again. Then Bob managed to find a way to blame me for a P.O. error that he made. I couldn't believe it. Every time I start to feel comfortable & happy with our employer/employee relationship, he does something to remind me what a posturing, insincere shmuck he really is.

Feeling perilously close to tears. God, I was in such a lovely mood this morning. What happened?

Amazingly, the nicest thing that's happened to me all day was something Steve did: he came into the office about 20 minutes ago with a beautiful potted plant, singing "Happy Anniversary to you! Happy Anniversary to you!" He knows that this week marks two yrs. at C&B for me. I'm sorry for every rotten thing I've written about the guy.

 

Tuesday
September 26, 1995

Just downloaded this new font from AOL ... it's called "Vassalle." Kinda neat, isn't it? One teeny tiny bright spot in an otherwise crappy day/week/month/year/life . . .

My journal entries have been virtually nonexistent for the past couple of months. Once in a while I stick in a photocopy of an amusing family note, or an AOL e-mail, or a cartoon from a magazine ... everything except a "real" journal entry, it seems. I'm not sure why, although I suspect it may have something to do with Ray's recovery, and my problems dealing with it, and my recent feelings of self-loathing.

I don't know how to explain it, Journal. For the first time in our marriage, I feel as though he's the "good" spouse -- the moral, upright half of the equation -- and I am the "bad" spouse. Here I am: still drinking too much, still lying about money, still letting things slide at work & around the house, still looking for the easy way out of any difficult situation ... and here's Ray: working seven days a week, paying bills, shopping for groceries, making repairs around the house, going to AA meetings, acting responsibly ... ad nauseum. For the first time in our fifteen years together I feel as though maybe I don't deserve him, instead of the other way around, and it's disorienting & humbling. Basically what it means is that I can no longer pin the responsibility on Ray for any problems or screw-ups or unhappiness in my life ... there's no one to blame but that person in the mirror. What makes it even worse is that he's not particularly noble or nice about being the "good" person: in fact, he's downright nasty to me most of the time. Ten minutes ago I called home, just to say hello, and I could tell right away by his constipated tone of voice that he was mad at me about something again. "How are you?" I said, and he snapped "Not very good." He then proceeded to chew me out because we're overdrawn at the bank, using his favorite new target -- my AOL account -- as the reason. ("That computer thing of yours" is what he calls it.) For a few weeks after he got out of the hospital this summer he was wonderfully mellow and funny and sweet ... I was almost falling in love with him, all over again ... but them days is gone, folks.

 


Wednesday evening, home
September 27, 1995

I am in mourning tonight.

I went to log onto AOL this afternoon -- Wednesday being one of my favorite nights to goof around with my friends in the Baby Boomer Chat Room -- and was shocked to receive a message stating that I had an "Invalid Account." Access denied! What in the world did that mean?? At first I was afraid it meant something went wrong with last months' payment. Insufficient funds, maybe? Or a problem transferring the money from our checking account two weeks ago? If that was the case, Ray was going to blow a thousand-watt fuse ... he's been against my going online since the very beginning, mainly because it affects his precious checking account. Fingers trembling, I dialed the AOL 800 number, armed with my checking account information and determined to shmooze my way back on-line with the Billing Department. Whatever the problem was, I was sure I could smooth it over.

Forty frustrating minutes of interminable "hold" later, I finally connected with a human voice. "Are you an AOL member?" he said.

"I HOPE so!" I chirped. Whatever the problem was, I thought it probably best to handle it with good humor and diplomacy. I gave the AOL tech my screen name & billing information, and he checked to see why I'd been cut off. A moment later the horrifying answer came: I've been terminated because someone using my account has violated the Terms of Service Agreement ... not once but three times. The TOS agreement governs such things as on-line language, misuses of AOL services, etc. Apparently someone named "Kacie01" had been warned twice in the past month for using vulgar language on-line, and then today someone named "Jaymi00" incurred a third -- and fatal -- warning.

I am now officially cut off from AOL, for "no less than sixteen working days," and maybe longer.

Crying seems like a really stupid and inappropriate reaction to this whole thing, and yet here I sit, tears sliding down my big stupid face. I am unspeakably angry with Jamie and Kacie. I've been thinking about it all afternoon, and I don't think I can remember a time when I've been this mad at both of them at the same time. How could they be so thoughtless about something that means so much to me?

I feel so adrift, cut off from my Boomer friends. Over the past few weeks they have become a sort of lifeline for me ... a group of people who look at things the same way I do. Friends I can let my hair down with. Nothing beats the thrill I get, going into the room and having everyone say "SECRA!!!!" ... it's sort of like belonging to a little clique. Going into the Boomer Chat Room was something I looked forward to, and counted on, and enjoyed more than I can even describe.

I am furious with myself for letting AOL become so important to me. Sixteen days sounds like a lifetime. What will I do for fun?

I am depressed and sad because the girls are turning into people I don't even recognize, let alone like very much half the time, and it's probably my own fault. I feel like a failure as a mother.

All these feelings at once. And all over something as trivial as AOL ... ?

"Trivial" to other people, maybe, but not to me. Going on-line is something I've dreamed about for years, and yet since the day I first logged on I've gotten nothing but crap about it. Ray thinks it's a waste of time and money ... Jamie gets mad because it ties up the phone line ... my friends and family complain because they can't get through when they try to call ... etc. etc. etc. AOL was the first thing of my very own, the first hobby/interest that has really grabbed me in a long long time, and it's important to me. Why then the completely uphill battle to get my family to understand that & respect it?

 

September 27, 1995

America OnLine
Terms of Service
Fax: (703) 918-1703
From: SecraTerri

To whom it may concern:

This afternoon I received an "Invalid Account" message while attempting to log on to AOL. I called the Billing Department and was informed that my account was invalidated because someone using my account had violated the Terms of Service Agreement three times, the third and final violation occurring today. The "offenders" in all three instances were my teenage daughters, "Jaymi00" and "Kacie01."

Until today I was not aware of the Terms of Service Agreement (although I agree in full with its content), nor had either of my children informed me that they had receive any kind of warning messages onscreen. To say that I am surprised and upset is an understatement.

When our family decided to subscribe to AOL, it was with the understanding that it would be used sparingly -- and responsibly. The fact that Jamie and Kacie didn't tell me about the warning messages -- not to mention the fact that they were using this language onscreen to being with -- tells me that they are not ready to enjoy the privilege of unsupervised AOL time. We have spent most of this evening discussing the situation. They both agree that what they did was stupid, an, in the end, hurtful to me: I love my AOL time, and I am crushed to learn that I'm cut-off for sixteen days because of their thoughtlessness.

When and if I am reinstated, "Jaymi00" and "Kacie01" will no longer exist ... for the time being, at any rate. If they want to go online they may do so, using my onscreen name -- and with me in the room with them. If, after a reasonable period of time, they demonstrate that they are able to communicate without vulgarity and profanity, we'll consider allowing them to choose a screen name again.

Please know that I am very sincere and very sorry about this. You have no idea how much AOL means to me.

If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to call me. My daytime number is (206) xxx-xxxx; home phone is (206) xxx-xxxx. Please notify me AS SOON as I'm able to go back on line.

Thank you,

Terri P.

 


Thursday morning
September 28, 1995

Recovering from yesterday's AOL fiasco, a little. Naturally I went home last night and landed into both of the girls but good. No allowance for either of them until my AOL account is restored (altho I did give them a list of chores they can do for a little extra cash), and when we're back online they lose their screen names until they can prove themselves trustworthy. Actually, the main culprit in this whole mess is Kacie. When I asked her about it last night, she said that she didn't know she was doing anything wrong when she typed "suck my crippled ass" ... sigh.

As it turns out, it was Kelli -- Jamie's best friend -- who dealt the fatal blow yesterday. She and Jamie were online for a little while, to celebrate Kelli's birthday. Someone in the Teen Chat Room asked Kelli if she likes Ace of Base, and Kelli typed "Ace of Base kicks all ass." BOOM. We were cut off, just like that. Oh well. The AOL people don't care about why it happened, so there's nothing we can do but sit & wait it out. I've faxed a letter to the TOS department, and I'll check every few days to see if I've been reconnected, and pray to God that my Boomer friends don't forget about me while I'm in exile.

Gorgeous bouquet of flowers sitting on my desk this morning ... a real treat on this gloomy, rainy day. Debi & Tim sent them to me yesterday for making their wedding invitations for them. They're getting married November 11, and I'm going to stand up with Deb as her Matron (ugh ... what a horrible word) of Honor. Flurry of activity. Kinda nice. Makes me feel a little closer to both Deb and Mom.

Anyway. Gotta go. Brian Johnson the World's Most Annoying Human Being is on his way into the office. (No Bob, though -- he's in Japan.)

 


Thursday afternoon
November 2, 1995

JOURNAL. I was utterly shocked when I picked you up this morning & realized that it's been over a month since I've written anything. Where in the heck did the entire month of October go??

The AOL situation was resolved much more quickly than I dared hope for. A couple of days after I faxed this letter to them, I called the main office in Virginia. I wasn't hoping to accomplish anything, really ... just wanted to make sure they'd received my fax, maybe grovel a little. To my astonishment, the AOL person who took my call said that my request for reinstatement had already been processed, and that I could go back online at any time! ("Actually," she said, "I've never seen a reinstatement request go through this fast!" My fabulous letterwriting abilities work their magic once again.) So I wasn't out in the cold for the whole sixteen days, after all. Interestingly, Jamie and Kacie both seem to have lost all interest in AOL. I don't know if it's because of this experience, or because they didn't really take to it the way I did. Either way, at least I don't have to worry about them getting me TOS'd again. (If it happens again -- if I incur even one more TOS violation -- I'm off AOL forever & ever. A horrifying thought.) Anyway, they were both very sorry about the whole thing, and we've managed to put it behind us and move on.

My life revolves around work, the family and AOL these days, and there is very little room for anything else. I am fairly happy. Ray and I are getting along OK, the kids are doing well in school, and except for a minor back problem last week, I've been relatively healthy for some time now. I took a week of vacation towards the end of October ... nine days spent puttering around the house, watching rented movies and talking online. The online world is more dear and important to me than ever. My friends & I from the Boomer room on AOL threw a cyber-masquerade party last Sunday night, which was the most fun I've had in ages, and my (purely platonic but exciting) cyber-friendships are deepening all the time. Sometimes I worry that I'm spending too much time & energy (not to mention money) online, but I love it so much.

Anyway, just a blurb to say hello and let you know I'm still alive ...




Note: This essentially is the end of the written journals, as AOL pretty much became the center of my emotional and creative universe.  

Within a year I would be involved in the online affair that ended my marriage.  

Within two years I would be gone.





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