Miscellaneous correspondence/journal entries from one of the more difficult months of my life. My first Christmas away from my children - plus my fortieth birthday - made December 1997 an emotional minefield.
E-mail from Feef, encouraging me to hang in there.
Subj: A short rambling messy rant of a Wednesday morning e -- to someone SPECIAL.
Date: 97-12-03 10:02:13 EST
According to the little chyron down in the lower left-hand corner of the TV screen -- it is 9:26 a.m. and 48 degrees. I've got a dentist appointment at 10 (routine), then a few hours at the office, then a doctor's appointment at 4 (to find out why in the hell I still have dregs of that last nasal disease hanging about), then a couple hours with Beau or a couple more hours at the office.......depending on how HIS day goes. I'm hoping to talk him into a "later" get-together -- like maybe at 4 or 5 a.m. tomorrow -- because I really need the time tonight at work. We're swamped and getting swampeder.
I keep thinking I'm gonna have time and be in the right frame of mind to sit down and write you a worthy response to your Thanksgiving Day e -- (which I printed out and have read four times now, by the way) -- and I will, eventually -- but meanwhile, here's an "unworthy" note to let you know you're ALWAYS on my mind. (And if you've got a Willie Nelson tape, you may hit the "play" button NOW!)
It's true you know -- and it's frustrating as hell for me that I can't just jump in the car and come see you.
Your T-Day letter evoked a lot of different emotions.......but mostly I was just glad to hear from you and get some news. You sounded "down" but definitely not "out" and I was a little less worried about you for a couple days.........until Sunday when you sent the "Thanks for being my friend" note and stuck that sleeping angel in your profile. I figured that was your "subtle" way of saying that your head was flying off your shoulders and tried to call you but couldn't get through. So needless to say, I was a pretty happy camper when Edmund told me he'd talked to you on Monday and that you said you were "okay."
Listen.........when you get like that next time, please follow these instructions:
1) Face the nearest wall and beat your forehead against it three times........HARD.
2) Repeat this sentence three times: "There are people who LOVE and ADORE me and I can reach OUT to them RIGHT NOW."
3) Then repeat THIS sentence TEN times: "This is just a rough spot. It will not last because NOTHING lasts FOREVER. Nothing ever HAS and nothing ever WILL!"
4) Pick up the gawdammed TELEPHONE and CALL me. Or call SOMEONE!
You're not alone. Can you GET that??? You may be lonely.........and you may be depressed.........but you are NOT ALONE and you are NOT unloved and you ARE gonna get past all of this FORCRYINGOUTLOUD!!!
I gotta go now. To the dentist.
I LOVE YOU, DAMMIT! TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!!
Feef had a special treat delivered to my office as an "early birthday present." My thank-you letter:
Subj: A Slightly More E-Longated *Thank You*
The brownie pizza thing was utterly INSPIRED. Not only did it impress the hell out of my co-workers, but the leftovers will feed my middle-of-the-night chocolate cravings well into 1998. (Somehow that 1 a.m. glass of Chocolate Royale SLIMFAST just wasn't cutting it.)
Thank you. You always find a way of making me feel very special. One of these days it will be nice to return the favor. (Sigh.)
It's late Sunday afternoon and I actually have a couple of minutes alone with the computer. The irony of the situation, of course, is that even when I do have a few minutes all alone ... I'm generally too tired or too busy or too "blah" to sit and write e-mail: all I REALLY feel like doing is running some laundry and curling up with a library book and snoozing. I'm hoping that the blah feeling will wear off once these short, dark, gloomy winter days are over. My job isn't especially tiring physically, but the hours are long & the commute can be cold and strenuous. By the time I get home, usually a little after 6 p.m., the only things I am even remotely interested in are a hot bath, a bowl of soup and SLEEP. Weekends are pretty much the same thing, only I usually have time to actually warm up the soup before I soak my feet in it ...
Sorry about last weekend, btw, and the scare I threw into you and Shell Pile. (George appears to have come out of it blissfully unaware.) That was just me publicly marking a painful anniversary. I know it sounds kinda dumb, but it was just something I had to do. For a couple of days I shut down mentally/emotionally ... "the angel closes her eyes" ref was a song lyric, a dumb none-too-subtle message to The Asshole, in case he's still reading my profile(s) ... the first couple of days were horrible beyond description, but amazingly I did manage to get through the rest of the week with a minimum of psychic damage. At the risk of sounding redundant since I know I've said this a million times before at the risk of sounding redundant ... I finally feel a teeny-tiny bit of closure here. Seriously. I think I just have to get past the dreaded one-year mark. I anonymously mailed him a Benchmade Knife Catalog a few days ago. I didn't attach a note or include my name or anything, but I did take a highlighter pen and highlighted what I felt were a few key words and phrases ... "dependability" ... "integrity" ... "notice the balance. Marvel at how smoothly it operates. Examine the extraordinary strength and sharpness. The quality is tangible." Then I mailed it to his office. My way of getting in the last word, even if the catalog never even makes it to his desk.
Nothing much else to tell. My life has once again neatly compartmentalized itself: work, commuting, sleep. An occasional trip to the library. Laundry. A bubble bath twice a week. Tim and I are looking for a new apartment -- something bigger but cheaper, if such a place exists. This is precipitated as much by abject financial distress as it is by a need to spread out a little before we kill each other. We're skipping Christmas completely this year. No gift exchange, no cards, no holiday music, no seeing out kids ... we're not even getting a tree. I'm not happy about this, exactly, but I just don't see putting on a big brave holiday face when I don't feel that way inside, and I guess Tim feels the same. I expect it's going to be a pretty nothing day for us both.
1998 cannot possibly arrive too soon for me.
Oh well. Enough gloom and doom. Tomorrow I'll go back to work and lose myself in mindless data entry and I'll feel better: it's these long nothing weekends that play havoc with my head.
Thank you again for the *sweet thoughts,* girlfriend. Hope all is well on YOUR end. You are thought of each & every day.
Talk to you soon.
I was having some problems with my brand-new website.
Subj: Re: wee comment
In a message dated 97-12-07 16:21:00 EST, you write:
<< I was shocked to see that you'd had over 140,000 hits on your Web page .... did you do this your yourself?
You are going to have to wash your feet soon. >>
L O L.
I have absolutely ZERO idea how this happened, to tell you the truth! You're the first person to comment on it. All I know is that I made some minor alterations to the page, about a week ago, and the next time I went to view it ... there was the counter, reading at 142,000+ hits. I keep waiting for GeoCities to correct the glitch but so far nothing has been done: in the meantime, I'm deriving a certain quiet amusement from it.
Daughter #1 celebrated her sixteenth birthday
Subj: *~*~* H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y *~*~*
To: Daughter #1
Sixteen years ago this morning I was laying on a hospital guerney, convinced that time had come to a complete standstill, that I would be in labor until the end of time, and that my baby would NEVER be born.
Sixteen years later ... it feels like someone has pushed the Fast Forward button on our lives. One minute you're indignantly peeing on Dr. Heffron in the delivery room ... the next minute you're SIXTEEN YEARS OLD.
(Don't worry: that's as close to "gooey and sentimental" as I'm going to get this morning. It's only 5:45 a.m. forcryingoutloud.)
I'll be thinking about you all day today. I think about you every day, of course, but today holds special meaning, even though I'm far away. I know birthdays are a pain in the butt sometimes -- and they get even more so, the older you get -- but try and have some fun today anyway, OK? Do something silly and something sentimental ... something fun and something vaguely naughty ... something nice for someone else and something purely for yourself. And then write and tell me about it one of these days.
I'll try and call you this afternoon or early this evening. In the meantime, happy birthday. I love you more than anything in the world. You were a miracle to me, right from the very start, and each day that passes I love you more.
Little note to Daughter #2.
Subj: Hi Sweetie
To: Daughter #2
It's early -- not even 6 a.m. yet -- and I've got to start getting ready for work in a minute, but I wanted to say "hi" and ask you to do me a favor ... let Jay know that she has e-mail, OK? Not sure if she checks it regularly, but I really wouldn't want her to miss it today.
ALSO ... I'm going to mail your Christmas check today, so it should reach you before the end of the week. I haven't bought any Christmas cards yet so it's going to come in a dumb Benchmade Knife Co. envelope -- sorry about that!! -- but when I send your package next week it'll be more festive, OK?
Love you! Thinking about you a lot this week. I'm going to try and call later this afternoon or tonight, if I can, to wish Jay a happy b.day ... would also like to yack at you for a minute if you're home. Miss the sound of your voice when I don't hear it for a few days.
And tell Kyle I said hi and I'll write to him this week. Gotta go jump in the shower now.
Enormous state-of-the-life e-mail to Feef.
Subj: No Subject/No Matter
Date: 97-12-11 23:42:07 EST
I LOVED your e-mail the other day. I printed it out, as a matter of fact, and read it on the bus to work that morning ... read it again a couple more times on my lunch break, and then once more when I got home ... each time I read it, something *new* seemed to jump out and grab my heart. It never fails to amaze me how you can shine a light into [whut seem to me to be] the darkest, ickiest corners of my life and make me see them in a completely different way.
The Christmas stuff, for instance. Here I was, all prepared to feel awful about skipping the holidays this year -- and to no doubt help everyone around me feel awful along w/me -- and here you come, telling me that not only is it way OK to take a break from all the nonsense ... but that you actually ENVY me for it. (Wow.) That part of your e-mail was a real eye-opener for me.
Of course there is a little part of me is afraid that I might actually enjoy skipping it so much that I never learn to love it again ... but the fact is that the last two or three Christmases were total Stress-athons, in terms of energy and finances and emotion. (I remember saying to the girls last year that I thought Christmas should only come once every five years, just because it was such a pain in the butt.)
I'm sure I'm gonna have weak moments, here & there. I miss my Christmas tapes. (Remember those? I wrote about them to the 'Grillaz last year ... the songs I taped off the radio when my kids were little, along with their voices.) I miss the smell of a real live Christmas tree. I'll probably be sorta blue and weepy, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: being apart from the Tots is going to be indescribably awful. But maybe next year things will be different, and I'll be ready to embrace the holidays again ... nonsense included ...
There was so much other stuff in your e-mail that I wanted to respond to but as usual it's late, I'm exhausted & I have an *audience.* Quickly, though, some of those "miscellaneously random thoughts and questions" in response to your "miscellanously random thoughts and questions" ... at least, until he gets outta the shower & I have to relinquish the 'puter ...
* I was just kidding about the Slimfast! ...
... no real dieting efforts going on here at the moment, although there IS an ancient can of Chocolate Royale up in the cupboard, left over from the frantic oh-my-god-I'm-going-to-the-Caribbean-and-I-look-like-a-whale days ... sometimes in the middle of the night when I am desperately craving chocolate, I actually consider firing up a big ol' glass of the stuff ... but now I just have another big ol' hunk of my BROWNIE PIZZA.
* Glad you liked the catalog. Got cute e-mail from both of "the boys," thanking me for same. Bet you're all just sitting around waiting for my employee discount to kick in, huh?
* A computer? Rully???? OK. Tell Scott that for my first two years online, I used an IBM PS/1 Consultant 386 with a 2400 baud modem. (Then tell him to quit LAUGHING.) He'll understand why absolutely anything short of an abacus would feel like an *upgrade* to Secra.
And I absolutely WILL take you up on this one, dear, if you do manage to find a way to make it "happen." A Computer For Terri is not exactly on the priority list around this household, if you catch my drift: he sorta thinks that would be money/time/effort/electricity better spent on more important things. Like an AQUARIUM. [sigh] Whereas, to me, it's not only at the top of the list ... it's the whole list, right there. A computer. Period. End of List.
* Whut am I reading? Everything & anything. It's been a few years since I've had a library card & I'm like a little kid again. The Gladstone Public Library issues a receipt just like a grocery store receipt, whenever you check out stuff. (How many times have I used the word "stuff" in this e-mail so far? Too tired to go back & check.) Here's whut's on the receipt I've got sitting in front of me right now:
"What The Dogs Have Taught Me" - Merrill Markoe (humorous nonfiction essays)
"Exorcising Your Ex: How To Get Rid Of The Demons Of Relationships Past"
"The Creative Spirit"
"Excel for Windows 95 Simplified"
"The Book of Reuben" - Tabitha King
"Pearl" - Tabitha King
"One on One" - Tabitha King
"Caretakers" - Tabitha King
(right now I'm sorta into Tabitha King ... can you tell?)
"Stormy Weather" - Carl Hiaasen
"Two For The Dough" - Janet Evanovich
"She & I: A Novel" - Eileen Lottman (amusing/sad novel about Siamese Twins)
Gotta run .... but I'll try and write a little more this weekend.
Amusing e-mail exchange with my pal George, talking about my new job at the "knife factory."
Subj: Re: They Stab It With Their Steely Knives, But They Just Can't Kill the Beast
<< So what, precisely, do you do at (the knife company)? >>
Pretty much the same stuff I've done at every other job I've had since you've known me. In other words ... I answer phones, placate irate customers, type a lot of teeny-tiny numbers into a computer and drink a big buttload of really bad coffee. On the more interesting days I manage to fall down in front of someone important.
Once again I'm at the absolute bottom of a corporate totem pole -- somehow, it ain't quite as cool telling people I'm a "Receptionist" as it was twenty years ago [sigh] -- but this particular company is going places fast & I'm coming aboard at a fairly early stage. So who knows whut might happen.
And yeah, I like it. I rode the bus home tonight with one of the guys from the Finishing Dept., and we had a long interesting conversation about the company & about his experiences there. (He's been there for nine months, which makes him something of an old-timer, relatively speaking.) He said, "It's nice to wake up in the morning and not think, 'Oh fuuuuuck ... I gotta go to work." That says it exactly for me. I wake up most mornings, these days, and feel glad because
1.) I'm not paralyzingly hungover
2.) I'm not exhausted from another 2 a.m. cyber marathon
3.) I have an interesting new job that keeps my brain occupied
4.) All nine of my fingernails are the approximate same length at the moment
Gotta go ... my Boogerville Booger is calling my name. (And after that I expect to be paged by Mr. Bubble, Mr. Koontz and Mr. Sandman, hopefully in that order.)
E-mail to my mother ... checking up on The Tots.
Subj: Pre-Errands E-Mail
Glad you got the forwarded mail I sent you (from Jason). I've talked to Jaymi on the phone a few times in the last couple of weeks, and I'm beginning to feel some hope again where she & I are concerned. For awhile I was convinced that I'd lost her forever.
It's early Saturday morning and we're gearing up for a long day of shopping and errands, including looking at another apartment. I'm running on ten hours of sleep and two cups of Starbucks and I'm feeling pretty darned good for an *old lady* ... if I do say so myself ...
Do you know if Kacie got the Christmas check I sent her? She requested hers early, so she could pay her way to Tolo tonight: I sent it early in the week but haven't heard whether or not it landed safely. Next week I'll send checks to the other two, and maybe a little package of goodies if I can manage it.
Will try and write more tomorrow. Sundays have become *my* computer day, since Tim is usually working until late. God help him if he ever tries to stay home on a SUNDAY.
To: Daughter #2
Did the check arrive safely??
Here it was at last ... the day I was dreading ... my fortieth birthday. First one outta the chute to congratulate me (a little early) was Daughter #1.
Subj: Happy Early Birthday!!!
Date: 97-12-14 17:38:04 EST
From: Daughter #1
Well, hey whats up? Me and Jason do have a birthday card for you, but were gonna send it on Wendesday when we get our Grud Tolo pictures back. Thats the casual dance where couples wear the same thing. I also have a lot of other pictures to send to you, (homecoming, a school picture, a picture me and Jason got done at Penny's, and a Grub picture). I'm sorry that you wont get them until the end of the week. I had a birthday party on Friday night after the dance. Dad and Kyle stayed out until 2am so they wouldn't bother us. I had almost 50 people over and dad didn't even care. So that was pretty fun. This is our last week of school for the year but I have a lot of tests this week. I'm getting and academic award on Thursday since right now I have a 3.7 GPA. I'll also have a few new newspapers to send to you. Our christmas edition should be awsome, (you knew I'm taken journalism, right?). I'm also doing DECA, Travel and Tourism, and I'll hopefully get invited to join National Honors Society in May. I'm also Sophomore class secretary and pep club secretary. I'm gonna play softball for sure in the Spring and hopefully when my kidney infection clears up, I'll be able to play basketball in January. I hope that your job is going well. Mine is getting better, I was just having some problems for a while. Levenworth was fun last weekend. When me and Jason get our film developed, I'll send you a few pictures.
Well, I have to go Christmas shopping now, (dad is having me do all the shopping this year), so I'll let ya go but I hope to talk to you soon.
Have a happy birthday!!!
My response to Daughter #1:
Subj: Re: Happy Early Birthday!!!
<< I had a birthday party on Friday night after the dance. Dad and Kyle stayed out until 2am so they wouldn't bother us. I had almost 50 people over and dad didn't even care. So that was pretty fun. >>
I'm very pleased to hear that you decided to celebrate your birthday after all: I just wish I coulda been there to spill food on people & set my desk on fire & screech unintelligibly about my boss trying to call me on the computer ...
And thanks for the early birthday wishes. Frankly I would rather be having another root canal --- sans anesthesia, performed with a rusty wrench by a blind dental student on crack --- than turn forty tomorrow. But I don't have much say in the matter, for one thing. And for another, the alternative isn't all that appealing. So this afternoon I'm going to sit here, quietly contemplating the meaning of life and watching my thirties draw to a close and stuff.
And then I'm gonna color my hair. Again.
No plans for tomorrow. I work, of course ... and then "we" will be spending MY birthday evening watching THE BIG GAME on Monday Night Football (the return of JERRY RICE to the San Francisco 49ers!! Oh BOY!! Wooohooo!! WhoGIVESafruck .. grrrrrr ...)
>> were gonna send it on wendesday when we our grub tolo pictures back. thats the casual dance where couples wear the same thing. i also have a lot of other pictures to send to you. i'm sorry that you wont get them until end of the week>>>
Whenever. I was absolutely serious when I said that all I want from you guys this year are photos. I'll be thrilled whenever they arrive.
Mostly I just want some cool pictures of the three of you to put on my desk at work. Right now I'm "displaying" that photo we took at the Waterland Festival a bunch of years ago ... the three of you on the marina, sitting on the bench, remember that one? ... your basketball card photo from last year, and some old (2-3 yrs.) photos of Kacie & Kyle. I get favorable comments about those pictures every single day, but current photos will be even more fun to show off.
By the way ... to say that I am impressed by your list of activities and accomplishments (your GPA, journalism, DECA, T & T, class secretary, pep club, etc. etc. etc. etc.) would be the understatement of the century. I am absofuckingtively BLOWN AWAY by your achievements. You make me very proud. And yes, please, send me copies of your newspaper. I'm sure you are perfectly well aware of how effectively the idea of you being interested in journalism pushes my buttons.
Things here are relatively OK. I love my job. I'm healthy. Tim and I get along most of the time. 1997 will be OVER soon. [Sigh.]
Anyway, I'd better get a couple more e-mails written while I've got the computer to myself. How was shopping?
A sweet pre-birthday e-mail from Tim. The guy had his (rare) moments.
Subj: Almost there
Date: 97-12-11 16:39:19 EST
Hey it's almost your birthday. Don't worry, 40 ain't so bad. But you know once we move we should both start working out a bit. Like my chiropractor said as we get older, if we work out, stay active, we not only feel better but those little aches and pains we aquire as we get older are dimminished. Well ok I have bigger aches and pains than most. But I'd like us to do some stuff like that together. We should do some bike rides together, go camping. It's just that I don't want to sit around and grow old. I want to fight it and hold out as long as I can. I love you honey.
The Grillaz sent birthday wishes.
Subj: To The Birthday Persona !
Date: 97-12-14 21:32:59 EST
CC: Edmund & Bottle
Listen.........I gotta tell you I had one HELLUVA time picking out your presents!
I would've sent you a cake mix, but I've been boycotting Betty Crocker products ever since she displayed the incredibly bad taste to use the song"Bad to the Bone" to sell her potatoes.
And I would've sent you a new toothbrush, but Ialready did that last year.
But after DAYS of searching, I DID manage to find some incredibly USEFUL items.
BETTER, even, than in years past!!! I think you're gonna be proud of me.
So watch for a package tomorrow, okay???!!!
a box of 100-count pink Downey Dryer Sheets,
a Colonel Sander's combination mouse pad and pocket watch,
and this really cool book I found(!)........."Feng Shui Made Easy."
Man......you are gonna LOVE that last item! Chapter ONE tells you how to reposition your WIND CHIMES in order to create HARMONY between your battery operated smoke alarm and your doorbell!
Chapter TWO is a guide to perfect placement of your SCOTCH TAPE DISPENSER so as to eliminate the stress having to listen to John Tesh at home or in the workplace!
And there's MORE!! But the UPS man came and I had to stop reading.
Happy Birthday girlfriend!
And Bunches of Love!
Subj: Many Happy Returns and Stuff
Date: 97-12-14 22:07:12 EST
To: Secra, Feef & Edmund
Feef has set the bar incredibly high, sending you an entire freaking UPS shipment of cool stuff.
It's going to be a real challenge for Ed and me to surpass that (especially since I don't even have your ADDRESS, for chrissakes), but I think I've come up with the ideal gift nonetheless.
Since we worship the ground you walk on and stuff, I have decided to recognize the day of your birth by having some of that ground removed from your feet.
Yes, that's right.
It's a Birthday Foot Washing.
And I've called in the experts.
The first several layers of caked-on soil will be removed from your feet by an internationally respected archaeological team, since they believe that some significant fossilized remains may be buried within the second or third strata. (The National Geographic film crew will document the entire dig, just in case.)
Once all the heavy stuff has been removed, the crew that mopped up after the Exxon Valdez will move in with a variety of industrial solvents. They believe that the first few patches of actual skin may be sighted after three or four weeks of intensive activity.
That, of course, will bring us to the final stage: changing the pigment of the newly exposed skin from coal black to at least a medium earth tone.
For that task, I have hired Michael Jackson's dermatologist. (He offered to also reduce the size of both big toes, and to add some dimples in the pinkie toes, but I told him you wouldn't want anything flashy like that.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SEC!
Subj: Hey BIRTHDAY GRL!
Date: 97-12-15 09:45:39 EST
To: Secra, Bottle & Feef
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
WE THE GRILLAZ LOVE YOU.
THAT IS ALL.
GO MAKE SOME KNIVES.
More birthday wishes from Daughter #1
Subj: happy birthday again..........
Date: 97-12-15 14:33:52 EST
From: Daughter #1
Just wanted to say happy birthday again. I think you called this morning, but I was half asleep. I hope to talk to you again later.
From my son
From: Son #Only
YO! what's up? just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! And that I found out today that my nw science teacher SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUC CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK KKKKK''''''SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!just felt the need to say that. and wanted to let you know that your birthday presents from me will be in the mail shortly.If you have any time on your break tomorrow give me a call. By the way even though it's your birthday I want to tell you something about presents I mean my cd's I plan on buying them with my own money.**** :o)****
A belated birthday wish from Daughter #2
Date: 97-12-17 00:05:06 EST
From: Daughter #2
sorry , ive been so bust latley , well just wanted to say happy 28th birthday :?)
talk ta ya laters,
<<< Whut???? It's turning out to be one of the nicest holidays, huh?? That's AWESOME Terri......but TELL! Geez........... >>>
Yeah ... I can hardly believe it myselves, but it's true. In spite of my best efforts to remain resolutely Grinchlike & unsentimental, Christmas 1997 is sorta turning into ... well ... into Christmas, forcryingoutloud.
(And you started it, by planting the thought in my muddled little head that it might be permissable ... heathy, even ... to cut back on all the holiday nonsense for one year. I immediately stopped feeling guilty and sad, and instead started looking for stuff to feel good about, Christmas-wise. Like not having to shop for the IN-LAWS.)
I even broke down and bought a Christmas tree yesterday. It cost me $3.99, it's made out of synthetic something-or-other and it only stands about a foot tall ... but it's perched now atop Tim's entertainment center, and it's doing amazing things for my general mood.
It's still gonna be a much quieter, emotionally-muted Christmas than I'm used to ... but at least Tim and I are spending it together. This past week has been a real turning point in our relationship. It's a long story, but the gist of it is that he stumbled across some things I had written about him -- some of my standard, overblown, embellished-for-comic-emphasis, all-men-are-pond-scum Secra stuff, some of it to you -- and the hurt I saw reflected in his face when he quietly confronted me with it is something I will never be able to forget. It really opened my eyes, and it has caused me to do a lot of soul-searching the last few days ... trying to figure out why I would feel compelled to sabotage the first healthy relationship I have ever had with a loving, caring, nurturing, emotionally-engaged man who LOVES me, forcryingoutloud. I'm still trying to figure it out.
Anyway, we're muddling through this latest storm, and in a weird way it almost seems to have brought us closer together: the last few days have been bliss, not just emotionally/sexually/romantically but in a connected way that manages to be both wonderful and terrifying (to me) at the same time. I still regret the hurt this incident caused him, but it has definitely opened up the lines of communication between us ... and this pleases me beyond words.
I'm still gonna write & complain about him occasionally, of course. He's a GUY, after all. But it's important to me that you know that he's a good person, and I love him, and he didn't deserve all the bashing I've been giving him.
Anyway, gotta get the spaghetti water boiling and throw together something to wear to work tomorrow. I'll try and write more later in the week: I'm gonna have a four day weekend & hope to spend some of it in front of the 'puter.
From The Oregon Boyfiend. He read a private e-mail I sent to Feef, and didn't like some of the things I said about him.
Subj: Re: Stuff
Date: 97-12-22 12:38:17 EST
Just thought I'd say thank you for writting to Feef and letting her in on the "some of my standard, overblown, embellished-for-comic-emphasis, all-men-are-pond-scum Secra stuff." Although I'm still not sure how you get comic emphasis out of such caustic remarks as the ones you wrote. But I'm happy we got through that "stuff."
That's why it's important for us to communicate so those maybe missed placed feelings that we sometimes get are put to rest by the truth of whatever is causing those feelings. I've had some missplaced feelings too that in the lack of communication have grown out of proportion. For instance, after reading some of those things you wrote, I really felt that you did not honestly love me. But after we talked and you admitted to me that those things were undeserved, unfair and that you were sorry, I regained the comfort in knowing you do love me.
I am very happy we are spending Christmas together. I can't wait to move into our "new" place in a month. Our little corner of the playground too. But it will be nice to begin the process of setting up the apartment, the "office" and our lives together.
I love you.
Got some photos in the mail from Daughter #1
Subj: Thank You
To: Daughter #1
The photos arrived: the envelope was propped against my apartment door as I straggled home from the bus stop tonight.
I'm cold, exhausted and STARVING ... and yeah, a little melancholy, thinking of all of you so far away ... but just sitting here looking at your faces is warming my heart.
I love you.
I was knocked out by how much The Tots had grown in the four short months since I'd left.
Subj: Has Anyone Bothered To Tell You ... ?
To: Daughter #2
Has anyone told you, Kacie, that you are mind-bogglingly GORGEOUS????
I got the envelope of photos that Jaymi sent tonight, and I am sitting here, positively blown away by how much you've grown up. It isn't just the makeup & hair, either: there is a serenity and a calm intelligence in your expression that absolutely leaps out of the photos. You've always been pretty -- and that isn't just a mother's prejudice talking, either, but plain fact -- but now you are beautiful.
Just thought I would tell you so.
Son #Only, checking in
Subj: i know who your talking to, but stop calling me puss!
Date: 97-12-22 19:55:15 EST
From: Son #Only
hello. we got your presents & and money today. i have a feeling i know what one of the presents for me is because theres a hole on the wrapping.Dont worry i am not peaking but i felt thin plastic when i brang out the presents. I must thank you for the taco bell sauce. I finished my shoping today. since i know you wont tell I am going to tell you what i got people for christmas:for jaymi i got lion king slippers,for kacie i got her a red scarf to go with her coat,for dad i got him a nice pair of pants. and for you i got you a ????????????? because i know you whould like it. Oh ya!Jaymi got Ichobod some drugs,I mean cat nip. but dont tell ichobod or he'll go look for it.I know you already know but we're still going to g&g V.'s house at three o'clock like usual. well i gotta go.see ya
Subj: Re: i know who your talking to, but stop calling me puss!
To: Son #Only
<< I must thank you for the taco bell sauce. >>
I was sitting on the living room floor Friday night, wrapping your presents and admiring how neatly they fit into the cardboard box and getting everything ready to take to the Post Office.
Suddenly my eyes fell on the coffee table right next to where I was sitting. We eat Taco Bell maybe four or five times a week -- yep, that's right, your Mom actually eats TACO BELL now ... I still don't think it's as good as Taco Time, but it's cheap and it's quick -- so there are always those stoopid little packets of hot sauce laying around the apartment. I scooped up a handful of them & tossed them into your Christmas package, then sealed it up.
Tim looked bewildered. "What'd you do THAT for?" he said.
"Oh .... my kids sorta know to 'expect the unexpected' from their mother," I told him. And I guess I was right, huh?
The package of photos arrived today, btw. Tell Jaymi thank you VERY MUCH for sending them!!!!!!!!! I can't get over how wonderful you all look to me, and I can't wait to take the pictures to work tomorrow & show you guys off.
I wish I could write more, but I just got home from work a little while ago and I'm cold, exhausted and starving. I work a full day tomorrow (Tuesday) and approximately half a day on Wednesday and then I have four days off, most of which will be spent sitting home doing nothing. So look for lots of e-mail, later in the week. I'll be especially anxious to hear how all the Christmas Eve & Christmas Day festivities turn out.
I love you.
Subj: Merry "almost" Christmas
Date: 97-12-23 03:22:41 EST
From: Daughter #1
Well, I am glad that you got our evelope...I kinda wanted to send more but I didn't really have the money and it would anger father. I'm sorry that your Christmas will be small this year, but in a way thats what you've wished for every year, right? Your week sounds like mine... I'm working as much as possible so I can take another draw tomorrow night to finish the stockings. Your presents are pretty much the only ones I have to open. I convinced dad to save his money for Kacie and Kyle and all I wanted from Jason was money so I could get as much for Kacie, Kyle and Dad, so he helped out a lot. He's been such a huge help that I wish I had more money to make him happy but he tells me he's as happy as he's gonna get. He pretty much lives here now and helps around that house a lot. He and dad are pretty close now too.
Christmas pretty much isn't anything for me either this year. A lot of are traditions just arn't the same or too painful to do. Me and Jason are gonna pick up little Karen on Christmas Eve after I get off of work and we are meeting dad and them at Grandpa V.s then it's off to Dick and Anns. I'm very happy that everyone on your side of the family are making sure that dad feels welcome, espically sine all of his family went to Tucon for Christmas.
I better let you go now, but I hope to talk to you soon. i hope you know that all Christmas day I'll be wishing to be with you and so will everyone else.
My response to Daughter #1:
Subj: Re: Merry "almost" Christmas
To: Daughter #1
<< Well, I am glad that you got our evelope...>>
I took all of the photos to my office today and just sort of casually left them sitting on the side of my desk. All day long, people would stop and say, "Are these your kids??" while I sat there, beaming proudly.
My favorite comment came from Dan, the credit manager. He pondered the portrait photo of you & (your boyfriend) Jason for several moments, and then said -- with utter sincerity -- "Your son looks quite a lot like you."
<< I kinda wanted to send more but I didn't really have the money and it would anger father. >>
The last thing in the world I want to do is anger "father." I mean that sincerely. I have inflicted quite enough damage on the man for one lifetime.
The second-to-last thing in the world I want to do is put you into a position where you feel your loyalties are being tested. The most important thing to me is that you and I communicate ... at any level YOU are comfortable with.
<< I'm sorry that your Christmas will be small this year, but in a way thats what you've wished for every year, right? >>
I guess I deserved that one, huh?
And I guess can see where it would appear that way, from your point of view. Your clearest recent holiday memories are of a mother too stressed/too broke/too busy/too tired/too sick/too high/too low/too hungover/too emotionally wrecked/too SOMETHING or other, pretty much at all times, to enjoy herself. You don't remember (or weren't born yet to witness) the years when this wasn't the case ... when I was the original frigging Christmas ELF, driving everybody absolutely insane with *holiday spirit* before the Hallowe'en jack-o-lanterns had even begun to mildew on the porch ...
Someday I hope to get a little of that holiday spirit back. I would LOVE to love Christmas again. But yes, I guess that this year it's going to be - to use your word - "small." Quiet. Sans hoopla. Thinking of you guys.
<< Your week sounds like mine... I'm working as much as possible so I can take another draw tomorrow night to finish the stockings. Your presents are pretty much the only ones I have to open. I convinced dad to save his money for Kacie and Kyle ...>>>
SHIT. If I had known this was the case, I would have sent you more stuff to open -- even if it was just a bunch of silly 99 cent store stuff -- but it was my understanding that you wanted a check in lieu of actual gift-gifts.
<< and all I wanted from Jason was money so I could get as much for Kacie, Kyle and Dad, so he helped out a lot. He's been such a huge help that I wish I had more money to make him happy but he tells me he's as happy as he's gonna get. He pretty much lives here now and helps around that house a lot. He and dad are pretty close now too. >>
This is all good news: the fact that Jason is proving to be a loyal, considerate family member ... and the fact that Dad is getting an extra dose of male support around the house.
<< Christmas pretty much isn't anything for me either this year. A lot of are traditions just arn't the same or too painful to do. >>
Then make new traditions.
Seriously. Make up new stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with ANYTHING that came before.
This is what I've had to do, over & over again in my life. You know the Christmas-cards-taped-to-the-ceiling thing? I "invented" that one, the Christmas I went to live with my dad. I was fifteen, and it was my first holiday away from the house (and the family) I had grown up with. I was sad because I missed my grandparents, and depressed because Dad and I didn't have very many Christmas decorations ... but at the time I had about a bazillion pen pals & they'd all mailed me Christmas cards .... and VOILA. A tradition was born.
Make up some new, goofy traditions that are meaningful to you & Dad & Kacie & Kyle & Jason ... and repeat them again next year, and the year after that.
<< Me and Jason are gonna pick up little Karen on Christmas Eve after I get off of work and we are meeting dad and them at Grandpa V.s then it's off to Dick and Anns. I'm very happy that everyone on your side of the family are making sure that dad feels welcome, espically sine all of his family went to Tucon for Christmas. >>
Yeah, I'm glad about this, too. But then I've always thought *my* side of the family was pretty exceptional.
<< I better let you go now, but I hope to talk to you soon. i hope you know that all Christmas day I'll be wishing to be with you and so will everyone else.
Another rare journal entry.
December 24, 1997
6 a.m. Christmas Eve Day
Refusing to allow myself the luxury of self-pity today.
I was standing on the toilet in Grandma St. John's bathroom, trying to reach the top shelf of her bathroom closet. On that top shelf, out of sight and out of mind, I had stashed a handful of personal things -- mementos from my affair with The Asshole, knick knacks from my childhood, other things that reminded me of happy times and people I love. I had hidden them away because they were too painful to look at. "I'm ready to start enjoying some of these things again" I said, scooping up a perfumed hotel soap ... an amber pendant Grandpa V. had made for me ... a photo of my kids ...
... Suddenly I am standing on an ocean beach at low tide, staring at a shipwreck several hundred yards in front of me. I know that inside the old ship is even more wonderful treasure -- if I can just get out to the boat and figure out a way to get inside of it before the tide comes back in. I start walking towards the remains of the ship, planning to scale the side of it, but all of a sudden the tide comes back in with a rush, sweeping me up in cold black water, and everything goes dark and silent ...
Christmas Eve greetings from Daughter #1. She finally reaches out a little to Mom's new beau.
Date: 97-12-24 18:12:44 EST
From: Daughter #1
Just wanted to say hi. We're almost on our way to the V.'s and then to Aunt Ann's. Right now we are watching the end of Scrooge. We have lots of pictures for everyone.. mostley the pictures we got taken in nice frames. Jason is meeting us at Grandpa's in a little while. Hopefully tonight will be nice for everyone. Jason is gonna help me stuff stockings tonight. All the presents are wraped, nothing unwrapped from Santa, but thats ok with everyone. Uncle Dick and Karen are riding with us later.
I hope that you and Tim have a happy Christmas Eve.... watch the Bevis and Butthead Christmas Special or something like that. And tell him Merry Christmas from me and I'm sorry about the voice mail I left him.
Christmas letter, written to my children. My tone was light but my heart was heavy.
Subj: Merry Christmas
To: Daughter #1, Daughter #2, Son #Only
Jaymi, Kacie and Kyle:
Even though we're not together, I hope you know that I'm thinking about all three of you this Christmas Eve ... and missing you more than words can possibly express.
Here's a little something I discovered on an old computer disk this morning, by the way, from Christmas three years ago. Thought it might give you a giggle.
Sliding through the snow
In Mommy's shitty car
Hear that tire blow?
We probably won't get far.
Cover up your head!
With a little Christmas luck tonight
We probably won't get dead.
OH! Velmobile, Velmobile,
What a piece of junk!
If Mama Polen had her way
We'd all be in the trunk.
OH! Velmobile, Velmobile,
What a piece of crud
Someday we'll send it off a cliff
And watch it go KA-THUD.
Christmas wishes from Daughter #2
Subj: merry christmas
Date: 97-12-25 00:17:38 EST
From: Daughter #2
I hated that car :) , merry christmas mom.
Subj: Re: merry christmas
To: Daughter #2
<< merry christmas mom. >>
Thanks, Kacie. It was nice to wake up early this morning and discover e-mail from all three of you, waiting for me: not as nice as it would be to wake up and actually be there with you, but at least we're all together in spirit today.
I've been up for most of the night. Tim got violently sick right around midnight -- at first we thought it might be food poisoning, but now it's looking like flu -- so I wound up tossing and turning on the living room "ouch." Woke up around 4 a.m. and just layed there, thinking ... finally I just decided to get up and make some coffee (which I'm drinking out of the Santa mug my dad gave me) and write some e-mail.
I called Grandpa V. & Grandma Valerie last night, right after you guys left. Grandpa sounded really odd to me ... like he has absolutely no teeth whatsoever. Or like he'd been drinking a LOT. (Or both.) And Grandma Valerie had to start out the conversation by yelling at me for moving to Oregon, four months after the fact, before she finally loosened up & became a bit more friendly and conversational. But it was nice to chat w/them for a little while anyway. Grandpa said you had a good visit, and both he & Grandma Valerie said they couldn't believe how much YOU have grown up. (Bet you're getting kinda sick of hearing about that, huh? lol.)
How was the rest of your evening? Did you have a good time at my Uncle Dick's house? What are you guys doing today?
We were planning to go see "Titanic" and try to look for an open restaurant so we wouldn't have to cook anything, but with Tim sick I suppose the plans will have to be revised somewhat. I might wind up sitting here writing e-mail & working on my webpage all day instead, which of course would be totally fine w/me.
OK, I'm going to crank out a couple of e-mails to the other two and then cruise around AOL a little. I love you very, very much, Sweetie. Merry Christmas! We'll talk later today, maybe.
Son #Only writes
Subj: i dont remeber it
Date: 97-12-25 01:08:47 EST
From: Son #Only
?????! sorry but i dont remember that song. oh well just wanted to say Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. I love you very much but i have to go to bed or santa wont come. (wink,wink.)
Subj: Re: i dont remeber it
To: Son #Only
In a message dated 97-12-25 01:08:47 EST, you write:
<< ?????! sorry but i dont remember that song. oh well just wanted to say Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year. I love you very much but i have to go to bed or santa wont come. (wink,wink.) >>
Funny thing is ... I don't remember it either! LOL. I have absolutely ZERO memory of writing that poem ... which is what made it so fun to discover last night, when I was looking through some old computer disks.
How was your Christmas Eve? I ate a Quarter Pounder, watched a "Drew Carey" re-run and went to sleep. How's THAT for thrilling? (Then Tim woke up at midnight, violently ill. At first we thought it was food poisoning or something, but he's still so sick this morning that I'm positive it's the flu. He'll probably sleep most of the day ... I'll sit here and write e-mail and listen to the radio, I guess.)
I'll call you guys sometime today, if one of you can let me know when a good time would be, OK?
Love you a whole bunch. Merry Christmas, Mookhead.
Christmas letter I wrote to Daughter #1
Subj: Re: Merry Christmas
To: Daughter #1
How was Christmas Eve? Would love to hear all about it, whenever you get a chance. How many children does my Cousin Les have now?
After I talked to you on the phone last night, I tinkered with the 'puter some more and finally got it working ... talked to my Dad & Grandma Valerie on the phone ... went out driving with Tim in the fog, looking for an open grocery store (finally found one funky little Oriental mom & pop store, sorta like Tom's, where they charged us five bucks for one pound of bacon) and a place to eat (we wound up with soggy Quarterpounders) ... then watched a "Drew Carey" re-run and fell asleep.
At midnight Tim woke up, violently ill. At first we thought it was food poisioning, but he's also got a fever (plus *I* feel perfectly fine -- so far) so we guess it's the flu. I grabbed a blanket and trudged out to the living room and spent a sleepless night on the "ouch" ... a familiar sensation, at least. (Sigh.) I woke up again around 4 a.m. and could NOT get back to sleep, so I finally decided to just get up and make some coffee and write e-mail to my kids and my friends.
Originally we were planning to go see a movie and eat dinner out today -- we're both feeling lonely for our kids today & didn't think we'd want to stick around the apartment, feeling gloomy -- but now that he's sick, I imagine the plans will change.
I'd like to call you guys later today, btw ... when would be a good time? If one of you will let me know, I'll write back and confirm and then we can all have a Christmas phone chat, whenever is convenient for everybody.
Anyway ...... hope the rest of your day is warm & wonderful, Puss. I'm sure you'll find ways to make this holiday a memorable one.
I love you very much. Merry Christmas.
A last-minute inspiration of mine
To: Daughter #1, Daughter #2, Son #Only
Almost forgot to tell you ... you'll be getting notice from AOL in the next day or two, notifying you that your account has received a $20 AOL gift certificate. That'll help pay your AOL for the next month.
Love you. Hope your Christmas morning is going well. I'll be calling soon.
In the true spirit of the season, I sent my mother an "electronic Christmas card." Her response:
Subj: Fat, tired and I love you too!
Date: 97-12-25 19:45:08 EST
Got the card--thank you. Much love!
Day-after-Christmas correspondence with Daughter #1:
Subj: Re: Titanic
To: Daughter #1
In a message dated 97-12-26 02:26:17 EST, you write:
<< Have yo seen it yet?? It's the best movie I have ever seen. But if you see it, I know you are gonna bawl your eyes out cause me and Jason and my friends did. Just a warning =-( >>
That was the movie we were *planning* to go see yesterday until Tim got sick. Maybe we'll go later this weekend, if he's feeling up to it. (It's 8 a.m. Friday morning and he just left for work, saying that he feels "fine," but he looked like hell & I have a feeling he'll be home and back in bed before noon.)
He slept all day yesterday while I sat here at the computer and quietly read old holiday e-mail. After I talked to you guys on the phone, my mom and Uncle Dick called and we talked for a long time. Around 4:00 I borrowed Tim's car and drove to the ONLY open store within a 100 mile radius ... a Payless over in Oregon City ... to buy us some "Christmas dinner." (Two ancient-looking Hungry Man Turkey Dinners @ a RIDICULOUS $4.29 each, a pumpkin pie, a quart of Dreyers Ice Cream and a two liter bottle of 7Up. Seventeen bucks for the whole mess, but we both felt better after we ate.)
Gonna make some coffee & try to wake up. I have a couple of precious hours *alone* until he throws up at work and decides to come home ... I want to take advantage of it and get some stuff done.
I sent each of the kids a check for $100 for Christmas: then got a frantic call from Jaymi, saying they were having problems cashing them.
To: Daughter #1, Son #Only
I am sooo sorry about the checks not clearing. I don't have a clue what happened, and have no way to check it now because it's after 5:00. I made the deposit from an ATM yesterday morning -- almost 36 hours ago -- so this has got me very concerned and upset, especially since I put my entire damn paycheck into that bank.
Please let me know what happens, OK?
Very Embarrassed Mom
Subj: It's ok..
Date: 97-12-27 16:37:52 EST
From: Daughter #1
Dad went to the bank where Aunt Terry works this morning and I guess everything went ok cause he gave us our money. Most likely the problem was that Jason took us to a crummy check cashing place.
Thank you for being concerned though.
Don't forget to see Titanic!!! I know you'll love it and it's my faveriote movie now. Also, Amistad is good too.
A little bit of mindless back & forth between "The Grillaz" ...
Subj: Re: Re Re: '97 sucked and IT AIN'T OVER YET!
To: Feef, Edmund, Bottle
In a message yadda yadda yadda Secra lifts the following from Feef:
<< And hey. On a more serious note........nobody EVEN wants to try and top you........you get the "97 Sucks" award with either or BOTH hands down, okay?...........
..........but EVERYBODY DOES want you to keep us posted. With great regularity, please! >>
… forcryingoutloud, 'Grillaz .... we only have FOUR DAYS TO GO before we're all safely out of 1997 and into a bright shiny new year filled with promise and hope and stuff. Can we all PUHLEEEEZ promise each other we won't do anything FOOLHARDY between now and then? (Like, say ... leave the house? Or look at the cover of this month's Rolling Stone?)
Subj: Clueless in Loo-uh-vulle
Date: 97-12-28 03:06:26 EST
To: Secra, Edmund, Bottle
Dammit Sec........there you go again with one of those obscure little innuendos that I don't "get" even when I turn my computer monitor upside down and hold it up to the mirror.
How come you always DO that????
I got the part about "hope and promise," okay?
And I got the part about "not leaving the house" too (even though I HAVE to leave the house because we don't have enuff toilet paper, face cream or parakeet seed to get us thru to '98).
But WHY can we not look at Mick and Keith??? Granted, they are wearing ugly shirts and they look OLD as hell, but I was kind of enjoying the fact that my own appearance is ever-so-much more youthful than theirs. (My boobs are bigger, too.....which is also very cool.)
So whut's UP wit dat, huh??
And listen......don't blow this off, okay??? This is of extreme IMPORTANCE, because as you'll recall, we already LOOKED at the cover of this month's Rolling Stone(s) back when Bottle told us about the John/Joan article. (Which we won't go into at this time except to say that it terrified me to the point of sleeplessness and prompted me to phone several pregnant friends and convince them to bag the circumcision custom!)
So now I REALLY need to know whut terrible thing is going to befall us.....and WHEN.......so I can determine if I should bother to send belated Christmas cards to CHOJUCK and the guy with the funny hat who cleans my chimney every spring............or if I should just save the price of two stamps and read "Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil" instead.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.
The Slow, Dumb One.
Subj: Ed takes a break from his pain and misery....
Date: 97-12-28 08:08:34 EST
CC: Secra, Bottle
....to address Feef:
"The Slow, Dumb One."
*The LATEST cover of Rolling Stone sports Tori Spelling: enemy to the republic, on the cover!
Gotta go now and put away the collapsable chairs....
Subj: Re: Ed takes a break from his pain and misery....
Date: 97-12-28 16:26:30 EST
CC: Secra & Bottle
<<*The LATEST cover of Rolling Stone sports Tori Spelling: enemy to the republic, on the cover!>>
Thank you Edmund. For taking a break from your pain and misery to tell me that.
Tori must be upstairs under THE KID's pillow or something.
And it had completely slipped my mind that we hated her.
I'm sorry all the holiday spirit you had has drained away, Kazman. But quite honestly, all that high octane seasonal jubilance and uplifiting gaiety you've been displaying lately was getting a bit tiresome anyway.
We're all quite exhausted from trying to keep up!!
Subj: *~* Attention K-Mart Shoppers: Happy New Year *~*
To: Daughter #1, Daughter #2, Son #O
Hope you're having a nice, fun, LEGAL celebration tonight. I'm doing laundry and eating chicken. (Whoopee.)
1997 sucked BIG TIME, didn't it? Here's hoping that 1998 is a better year ... for all of us.
I love you.