By this time I had been apart from my children for a month   ...  and the pain of separation was still fresh.  I sent tons of e-mail to my son, in hopes of remaining an integral part of his life.  It helped  -   but only a little.

Subj: Hi ... HowYa Feeling Today?
Date: 10/01/97
To: Son #O

Hey kiddo ... feeling better today? Did your stomach ache go away?

I wanted to get online & check on you yesterday, but one of Tim's friends from work came over to the apartment and borrowed the computer for the ENTIRE DAY. (Grrrrrrrr!!!) I kept waiting & waiting for him to leave ... but he never did. Finally, in frustration (and boredom), I walked over to the river and sat on the beach for a couple of hours. It was raining, but it was so warm I didn't even need a jacket. I sat there on a log, getting soaking wet, watching the ducks swimming by and the boats out in the middle of the river and the geese flying overhead ... until suddenly I realized that it had gotten dark (by then it was about 7p.m.) and that the entire beach was deserted, except for one creepy old guy who was walking around picking up garbage. I found the biggest stick I could carry and made my way back through the pitch-black woods and onto the main road, looking over my shoulder the entire time. By the time I got back to the apartment I was completely drenched, totally paranoid and utterly exhausted ...

(God, I love going to the river!)

I have another big interview tomorrow morning at 11:00, this time with a temporary employment agency right up the street from where I'm staying. I've got to take a typing and spelling test and go through a couple of interviews, but if I pass then they'll start giving me temporary job openings that come up, until I can find something permanent. It won't be much fun but it'll give me some money until I can find a real job that I like.

Tim has Friday & Saturday off: if the weather isn't completely crappy, I think we're gonna go camping. He's a total camping fanatic. I said that it sounds like fun, but he'd better bring a LOOOOOOONG extension cord so I can plug in the COMPUTER ....

Anyway, just wanted to check in & see if you were feeling OK. Drop me a line when you get a chance.

Love you,

Mom

 

I also wrote to Daughter #2 every day, for the same reasons ... and also because I hoped she would pass along my messages of love and apology to Daughter #1, who still wasn't speaking to me.

Subj: Just Wanted To Say *Hi*
Date: 10/04/97
To: Daughter #2

Hi sweetie.

Did Jaymi get her package?  (The jewelry I sent back to her?)

I haven't heard anything from any of you in a couple of days ... hope everything is OK. I never know whether my concern is considered a nuisance or not, so I try to keep things as low-key as possible ... but the truth is that I think about you guys constantly & miss all of you more than you can imagine.

Got an e-mail from Aunt Debi tonight: guess she's finally decided to join the cyber world. Tomorrow I hope to have a little free time to catch up on my e-mail, and I'll write to her (and to you guys) with more detail then.

I love you, Kacie. Drop me a line if you get a chance. Talk to you soon.

Love,

Mom

 

 

More e-mails sent to the kids, hoping to hear back from them.

Subj: Just Wanted To Say ... *Hi*
Date: 10/04/97
To: Son #O

Hi.

(When I don't hear from you for a couple of days, I start to go through "Mom Withdrawal.")

I LOVE you. Hope everything is OK. Drop me a note.

Loveya.

Me

 

Finally ... one of Son #Only's brief-but-reassuring communiques.

Subj: : )
Date: 97-10-04 22:31:20 EDT
From: Son #O

To: SecraT

hello.

love ya.

 


 

 

Journal entry bemoaning my lack of a journal entry.

Sunday afternoon
October 5, 1997
Without Preamble

 
Yesterday when Tim and I were touring through the second or third "manufactured home" lot of the afternoon, the snotty young salesguy -- the one who sorta looked like Tom Hulce -- glanced at me and said, "You don't say much, do you?"

I smiled at him and said, "No, I don't say much. But my brain is always going a million miles an hour."

Of course he didn't have a clue what I was talking about -- it was clear that he had already dismissed me as the extraneous half of The Potential Sale -- but it sorta neatly sums up the way I've felt lately. The past couple of weeks I've felt as though my brain is on FIRE.

Actually, it's been that way the entire last year .... easily the most eventful, stressful, beautiful, tragic, strange, wonderful, terrible year of my life. Whether I was flying across the country in the middle of the night, or trembling in the waiting room of an abortion clinic ... tossing stones into the Clackamas River, or weeping as a man played love songs for me on his guitar, long-distance ... shopping for Christmas tree ornaments in the Caribbean, or sitting in a bathtub with a razor blade pressed against my wrist -- there has been a constant narrative running in the back of my head the past twelve months. ("God ... this would make a great journal entry.")

The tragedy of the situation -- for a wannabe writer/lifelong diarist like me -- is that none of it has been recorded. Truth is that the minute I went online, in August of 1995, all journal-writing activity ceased. (Except, of course, for the X-rated diary that proved to be my marital undoing ... but that's another story for another day.)

Of course, one could argue that the e-mail I've written to some of my online friends serves as a sort-of journal for the past couple of years. I've saved all of it, naturally. You can sit and read my letters to Edmund or Feef or Robbin or my mother, and their replies to me, in or out of context, and what emerges is a fairly accurate picture of the things I've experienced & felt during The Unrecorded Years.

But it's not the same thing as keeping a real journal.

I want to change this ... and I want to change it NOW. TODAY. Without any further fuss, muss, dither or 'do.

If I keep waiting until I've found the perfect diary software ... the perfect pen and notebook combination ... the perfect time/place/mood/audience/chemical stimulant ... then I'm never ever going to get another word written.

So ... here is the first entry. I'm not even going to allow myself to write anything more right now, because I will almost certainly find a way to fuck up what little I've accomplished here. Let's just cross our fingers and hope that I find my way back here tomorrow.

Job interview downtown tomorrow at 10:30 -- receptionist for a Portland law firm. Tim and I went to Value Village today & bought me three dresses for interviewing, then went grocery shopping. Wild, stormy afternoon. Made tacos for dinner, watched TV, nothing much else. I'm staying offline for a few days   -- I figure if I'm gone for awhile, I'll either be missed or else I'll finally have something to actually WRITE about when I come back.

 

More e-mail to the kids.

Subj: Checking In
Date: 10/09/97
To: Son #O

Hey kiddo. Didn't want you to think that I'd *forgotten* about you guys or anything.

I'm trying to really stay focused on job-hunting this week, and as a result I've only spent a few minutes online, this entire week.

Tomorrow I have a job interview in downtown Portland. It's a secretarial job for a law firm, and I would really like to get this one. So keep your fingers crossed for me, OK?

Today I'm going to go to Value Village & maybe a couple of other thrift stores and try to find something decent to wear for work. All the clothes I brought down here are summer clothes. Oregon gets unbelievably cold in the fall & winter ... way worse than Seattle ... and I'm going to be riding the bus a lot, so I need some warm stuff.

Anyway, just wanted to say *hi* real quick and let you know that I think about you all the time. How is everything?

Drop me a line, either at this screen name or else to "WuddleItBe" and I'll check it this afternoon.

I love you very much !!!!!!!!!!!

Talk to you soon.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

Journal entry (job interviews for Tim & I)

Tim and I both interviewed today -- he with Lexmark, I with a downtown Portland law firm (Reinmiller & Associates) -- and tonight I am allowing myself to feel cautiously optimistic. Doesn't even matter whether or not I get this particular job: point is, I'm looking. Things are moving in a forward direction again, maybe.

More tomorrow when I'm not quite so tired.

 

E-mail to my mom and sister.

Subj: Checking In
Date: 10/10/97
To: kbeeson & onevoice

Hi Mom & Deb:

Figured I would kill two birds with one e-mail here and write to you both, while I've got a few rare precious minutes in front of a computer ...

How is everyone? Any news from TicTac? I haven't been able to talk to the kids much this week, online or otherwise -- the job-hunting has begun again, in earnest -- but I do try to at least send an e-mail to Daughter #2 & Son #Only every day or every other day.

Once I start working I'll be able to call them (and you) on the phone a little more often, I hope, but until there's some money coming in I don't feel right about running up the phone bill here.

I interviewed today with a law firm in downtown Portland. Tim had the day off from work so he drove me to the interview, but if (by some miracle) I happened to land the job, I'll be commuting by bus. The office supervisor who interviewed & tested me said that I'm "overqualified," but I think it would be a great job -- lotsa phones & lotsa computer. I'm also registered with a temp agency here in the area, so one way or another I should be working again soon.

Tim had an interview today, too ... he's not happy at Starbucks, LONG story I'll share when I'm not so pooped ... so we're both waiting to see what happens.

Drop me a line sometime this weekend & let me know what's happening on your end, or give me a call (503-XXX-XXXX), OK? I love & miss everybody there a whole bunch.

* * *

Terri

 

E-mail to online pal Robbin.  (Four years later, she'll be a guest at my wedding  ...  but I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Subj: Remember Me? :o(
Date: 10/10/97
To: Mizzle

Hi Mizzle.

I have maybe ten minutes to dash off a quick e-mail this morning, while Tim is in the shower. He and I both have job interviews today -- his is with Lexmark, a company he's always wanted to work for, and mine is with a legal firm in downtown Portland -- so we'll be out & about (and far away from the 'puter) for most of the day.

I'm not even nervous about this interview. I've become an old hand at this job-hunting stuff, the past year & a half. I just want to start working again ... for all kinds of reasons.

I did see you online the other night, when you threw a "hi!!" i.m. at me ... unfortunately it was Tim who was running the flash session at the time (SecraT automatically cycles into it) and by the time I finally got a turn with the 'puter there was no one left online for me to chat with. I am becoming seriously depressed about this whole sharing-a-computer situation. It's not just because I can't get online & talk to my friends, either (although that's the worst part of it) ... it's just this creepy feeling of "intruding into his space."

Here's a "for instance" -- when I first got here I put some cute .wavs and colors and icons and stuff onto the Windows/AOL desktop -- you know how I love that sort of thing -- but it was clear from his reaction that he didn't like it, so I took everything off. In a ridiculous way, though, I felt like my sense of expression had been squashed, and like there is no place that is truly *mine* at the moment. I want my own computer!!! Even an old funky laptop, so I could sit in the living room and type journal entries and e-mail while he's online. I can't stand this feeling of not being able to write when I want to write.

There's a lot of other stuff I want to talk to you about, but I can hear him getting out of the shower and I really don't want him reading this over my shoulder. If possible, I'll TRY and get online tonight (or sometime this weekend). I'm absolutely dying for some conversation with someone other than Tim. I love him, he's wonderful to me, but I'm just too isolated right now and it's starting to do weird things to my head again: I get depressed and withdraw even more into myself and feel like everything's hopeless.

Anyway, look for me later if I can manage it: if not, drop me a line and bring me up to date on what's happening on your end. You fully recovered yet from your injury? What else is new? Any interesting tidbits of cyber gossip you could toss to a starving friend .. ?

Love you.

Terri

 

 

Saturday morning.

Two bizarre death-oriented dreams last night:

1. I had promised Ray and the kids that I would perform some sort of "ritual suicide" ... but at the last minute, when I chickened out, they were disappointed. (Huh??)

2. Jerry W. (oh look! The Jerry Dreams are back!) and I were driving in a tunnel. He was going too fast and I was yelling at him to slow down, but we slammed into a concrete post (a la Princess Di?). My last conscious thought before I died was, "I love my kids."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rainy, windy morning ... Tim is making coffee ... time to grab a shower and get dressed.

 

 

E-mail from my sister.

Subj: hello
Date: 97-10-11 16:45:13 EDT
From: Onevoice

To: SecraT@aol.com

I received your mail and read it this morning. I have been down with a sinus infection the past couple of days so I'm getting to my email's today.

I don't have much to report from tic-tac because I havn't been at the office much due to the re- modeling going on here at home. As far as I know everyone is OK.

Mom is in the Tri cities for the weekend (job related) and her computer is down. I don't know if she knows that or not. I didn't want to mess with it because I don't know all the pass words to get in!! So if by
chance her mail is not going through that is why.

I am going to make this one short because my "helpers" just got here. (We are taking the 150 gallon fishtank out of the dining room today)!! But I wish you luck on your job search and hope to hear from you soon.

If I don't hear from you I'll wrte again anyway.

I Love You,

Deb

  

The kids and I were sharing one AOL account from three hundred miles apart.

Subj: Hi
Date: 10/11/97
To: Daughter #2

Hi Sweetie.

Just wanted you to know that I am occasionally needing to use the "SecraTerri" screen name this weekend, for job-searching reasons. It's the e-mail address listed on the resumes I send out, so once in awhile I've got to pop on & see if I've gotten any responses. I try to never stay on as SecraTerri for more than a minute or two, and my friends know to contact me via the other screen names, on the account I was sharing with the new boyfriend, so hopefully this won't be a problem for you or anyone else there.

How are you? I do see your name on my Buddy List from time to time, and I always wonder how you're doing. I'm a little hesitant about i.m.'ng you, for fear that you might be in the middle of "something" or just might not feel like talking. If you ever see "SecraT" or "PopDartz" online, though, and need to get ahold of me, PLEASE don't ever hesitate to throw an i.m. at me. I'm always here if you need to talk.

I went on a really important job interview yesterday, for a law firm in downtown Portland. I don't want to jinx it by writing too much about it, but it would be a great job and I think I have a pretty good chance at it. I'll let you know what happens, especially since I know you guys are waiting for me to start sending you money on a regular basis.

There's lots more I would love to tell you about, but at this point I'm not sure how receptive you are to the idea of mail from me ... so, for the moment, I'll just say that I love you dearly, I think of you (and Jaymi, and Kyle) every day, and that I am counting the days until I can see all of you again. I don't know when that will be, but it couldn't possibly be soon enough for me.

Drop me a line one of these days & let me know what's going on in your life.

Love,

Mom

 

 E-mail to Son #Only.

Subj: Never try to teach a pig to sing!
Date: 10/11/97
To: Son #O

Hi Boo Boo.

Remember Fifi? My online friend who always used to send me packages filled with weird stuff? (Like my jumping spider, or those little bottles of booze?)

She sent me a package a couple of days ago, apparently in celebration of Hallowe'en. Here's what was in it:

* Two pieces of Hallowe'en candy (already gone)

* A Kentucky Fried Chicken pen

* A pair of Hallowe'en socks

* A pair of battery-operated "monster eyes" ... you stick them on the window of your car and they blink at people

* One of those jigsaw puzzle greeting cards that you have to put together in order to read the message. This one says "Never try to teach a pig to sing! It wastes your time and annoys the pig." (Silly, huh?)

Anyway, it was kinda fun, getting a package from her again ...

I went on my job interview yesterday, did I tell you? It's for a law office in downtown Portland, answering phones and typing and stuff like that. It's kind of far away from where I live -- I'll have to take the bus to & from work -- but it would still be a great job. I won't know anything for a few days, but I've got my fingers crossed.

Got an e-mail from Aunt Debi today. She said she's been sick so she hasn't been to the office & didn't have any news about you guys to share with me. (So I guess YOU'RE gonna have to write to me and bring me up to date on the latest news.)

That's all for tonight. I'll look for you again tomorrow or early in the week, and maybe we can talk on the computer or on the phone for a little while. I miss you and think about you all the time ..

Love you,

Mom

 

E-mail to Mom

Subj: What Interesting Timing
Date: 10/12/97
To:     kbeeson

Mom.

I had no sooner hit the button & sent an e-mail off to Deb (asking her if she knew when you would be home) when the nauseatingly chipper little AOL guy announced "You've got MAIL!" ... and there you were ...

Quiet weekend here. Went and saw "Kiss The Girls" yesterday afternoon -- VERY true to the book, and both Morgan Freeman & Ashley Judd were great -- then spent the rest of my time reading (Tabitha King, "Survivor," and -- just for fun -- something called "Only Love Is Real," about past lives) and trying to piece together a semi-decent working wardrobe, just in case that job with the law firm in Portland pans out.

Haven't heard from the kids at all this weekend, but I send them e-mail at least once or twice a day. Actually, I send e-mail to Son #O and D#2, since technically I am not supposed to know Jaymi's screen name (but of course I do) ... but I always manage to work in at least one loving reference to her in every letter I write to the other two. Hopefully the message gets filtered down to her eventually.

OH! I just remembered: I listed you as a reference when I was applying for the legal firm job on Friday. Actually, I faxed them my references from the apartment later that same day, so they probably won't be calling you until Monday or Tuesday. You're listed as a business reference -- no mention of the fact that we're, uhhh, "related" -- hope that's OK, but under the circumstances (not wanting to mention my most recent employment disaster & all) I'm pretty desperate for an impressive-looking name, job title and phone number on my reference sheet. [grin]

Anyway ... that's all for now. I've been online for a couple of hours, and I'm not used to it at ALL ... it's giving me a headache, believe it or not. Guess I'm recovering from more than alcohol and nicotine addiction these days, huh? :o)

Talk to you soon ... love you a bunch.

TL

 

Letter to Son #Only, all about Oregon's most disgusting animal (besides "Scottzilla")

Subj: Sunday Night ... Nothin' Good On TV ...
Date: 10/12/97
To: Son #O

Hi there. I see you still haven't read the e-mail I wrote you YESTERDAY ... but here's another one, anyway.

:o)

It's Sunday night, and once again a stupid baseball game is interrupting all the good TV shows on FOX, so I decided to sign on for a couple of minutes and throw out a few quick e-mails. Wrote to Aunt Debi and Grandma and Edmund and MsBobo ... now I'll write to you. Again.

:o)

Have you ever heard of an animal called a "nutria?" I'd never heard of them until I moved here. There's a small pond that runs behind our apartment building, and I was told that once the weather started to cool off, the nutria would start hanging around the pond. "They're like small beavers, except they have a long skinny tail like a rat," they said. I thought they were just kidding me ... but yesterday morning I walked out to the pond and guess what?

There they were. Two of 'em. In all their ugly, rat-like glory. Swimming around in the pond, trying to bite the ducks in the butt.

Uggh.

Here's what my cyber encyclopedia says about them:

" .... aquatic, plant-eating RODENT, Myocastor coypus, of South America, resembling a small beaver with a ratlike tail. The nutria is up to 25 in. (64 cm) long, excluding the 15-in. (38-cm) sparsely haired, round tail. It has long, coarse, brown outer fur; its soft, gray undercoat is valued commercially. Descendants of nutrias escaped from fur farms are found in wetlands in the S U.S., where they are destructive pests."

UGGGGH AGAIN.

I don't care what anyone says, about how "friendly" and "cuddly" they are. I am NOT feeding them leftover bread. I am NOT giving them cute little names. And I am NOT going to sit next to the pond and let them crawl around on my LAP ...

 U U U U U G G G G G G G G G H H H H H H H H H H

 Talk to you soon.

I love you. Just don't ever send me a NUTRIA, OK?

*

Mom

  

 

 

 

Lack of computer time, my new web page (the beginning of *FootNotes*),  job-hunting, Tim's depression, back & forth w/Kyle.

Subj: Re: web page antics?
Date: 10/16/97
To: Mizzle

Morning, Mizzle.

I figure you're probably reading this in a rush -- you leave for Texas today, right? -- so I'll keep it sorta short for the time being. ("Sorta short" being relative, of course ... let's just say I'll keep it below novel-length. )

It's 8 a.m., Oregano time, and I've been up for four hours already. Tim opened the store today, which meant he had to leave the apartment by 4:30 this morning ... and since I hate to waste *any* opportunity to use the 'puter, I hauled my own sleepy butt out of bed when he left. Been sitting here happily writing e-mail to the Tots and searching for cool web page backgrounds and snarfing down black coffee, ever since. (He'll be home at noon and then he has the next couple of days off, so I'm likely to be even scarcer than usual until at least Sunday. Figured I'd better use this time to get as much cyber-stuff done as possible.)

 << I tried to look at your Web page tonight, and I could get there, only the photo was gone. (Although the photo credit was sitting there in a very well-behaved manner.)

Just thought I'd let you know.>>

Really? I can't imagine what's causing that. The handful of people I've talked to this morning report that it's working OK ... wonder if it was just a temporary "glitch?"

Eventually I'll be including more of your photos on the page: this is something we can talk about when you get home from Texas, because I might need you to re-send some of the TicTac pictures. (I would also love to include some of your writing ... I want to *showcase* a few of my talented cyber pals ... but again, this is something we can talk about when you get home.)

BTW, I wish I had more time to work on the darned thing. Ultimately my goal is for it to become a sort of "online journal" ... a place to post my goofball musings, the way I used to in the chat rooms/string mail/message boards ... I miss the creative process, and eventually this will be a great forum, I think. I need to have a project like this, just to keep from going completely insane.

Right now, though, the priority is getting a JOB. My unemployment is profoundly affecting everyone and everything -- including my new relationship with Tim, which is on wobbly legs at the moment -- and the sooner I'm working again, the better life will be all the way around. For all of us.

Prospects are a little slim today, but I'm ever hopeful. I've got a bazillion-page job application to fill out this morning -- Clackamas County is always hiring office personnel, but first you've got to wade through the somewhat-daunting application process -- I fill out a page or two at a time, then put it aside for awhile, then go back & fill out another page. And I've got some resumes floating around town, including a couple that I faxed right here from the apartment. I'm registered with a temp agency, too, but so far the jobs they've tried to send me out on are either not on the bus line or else they're all numbers-oriented. (Gee. I scored an 89 on the word processing test, an 86 in data entry and a 24 in accounting/ten-key ... and they want to send me out as a bookkeeper??)

We went to Value Village last week (a local chain of thrift stores) and I managed to find three office-appropriate dresses AND a pair of new (well at least they look new) shoes for under twenty bucks. So at least I've made a start in replacing my wardrobe. Tim had to pay for everything of course -- which I HATEHATEHATEHATE, because I feel obligated enough as it is, and he's got money worries aplenty of his own -- but I swear to God I will be paying for my OWN cheap secondhand clothes soon. Sigh.

But enough about that. Did you manage to go to physical therapy this week? How's the shoulder feeling?

And thanks for the little tidbits of AOL gossip, incidentally. Of course, hearing about New Orleans caused me a stoopid MOMENTARY flash of emotional yuckage ... for a number of reasons, all of which I'm sure you understand completely. (I still think about him all the time, Mizz. But I'm fighting it.) I feel very disconnected from the whole Boomer thing anymore, anyway. Went into the B3 message boards the other day and found it so clique-heavy and "in-joke" laden that it was practically unreadable. I feel nostalgic for the old days sometimes ... remember our ill-fated Hallowe'en party, two years ago? ... but I can't complain too much: I have a handful of wonderful cyber friends who, I'm sure, will be part of my life until I die. And that's more than I had when I went online to begin with.

Anyway, I'd better get back to the job application and then grab a shower. Hope your visit with Rob is a bunch of fun. Write and tell me all about it, OK?

Love you bunches -

Terri

 

A quickie from Son #O.

Subj: yo
Date: 97-10-16 11:14:18 EDT
From: Son #O

To: SecraT

hello i have not been on line latley but i got a chance this morning and read your letters and now im saying hi (hhhhhhiiiiiiiiiii) well i got to go to school now so i'l just say by for now and good luck on your interview.

 love ya

 kyle.

  

My instantaneous reply:

Subj: Yo Yourself
Date: 10/16/97
To: Son #O

Hey there.

Glad to hear from you ... finally!!!

The interview was last Friday, and I'm still waiting to hear something back ... but in the meantime I'm not just sitting around on my butt: I've got an application to fill out today, for an office job with the county. The application is about twelve pages long, so I'm going to throw on some shoes and limp down to the river and work on it there. (That way, if I get bored I can always throw rocks at the ducks or something ...)

I'll write again later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, Grandma Beeson says she STILL has not heard from any of you kids. I think she's beginning to give up hope. Would you PLEASE at least drop her an e-mail and say hi???

Talk to you soon. I love you.

 

Excerpts from e-mail sent to Mom; a lot of it is the same stuff I wrote to Robbin, except for:

...Tim has been very depressed the past few days. The Dept. of Labor is holding up his knee surgery, and he's had to request a decrease in hours/job responsibilities at Starbucks in order to get him off the floor & off his feet. This hits him as much in the ego as it does the wallet. There's a lot more to it of course, but that's what it boils down to. Additionally, he's got a lawsuit going in Washington over some property he owns, and it's adding to his general emotional malaise. I try to keep his spirits up but it's tough when I have so many issues of my own going on ... plus, he is so accustomed to dealing with things alone that it sometimes feels like I'm "intruding." So things are a little bumpy right now.

I get e-mail from Deb just about every day, which is nice. The other day she said that she finds it "painfully silly that we can live within 5 minutes of eachother for years and never find time or energy to work on a relationship. maybe since you are now 3 hours away we can manage to find some time for eachother.?" I'm certainly willing to give it a try, and who knows? Maybe e-mail will prove to be the forum that works for the two of us.

No news from the Tots, though. I was sorta hoping Kyle would sign on this morning, while I have some rare private time in front of the computer, but I never caught a glimpse of him. I'll write to him (and to Kacie) after I send this e-mail off to you.

Every couple of nights or so I dream that I'm back in TicTac. The other night I dreamed that Jaymi had suddenly been turned back into a baby again: I looked at her and said, "I can't believe it! I'm getting a second chance!"

[Sigh]

Well, I'm starving, I'm out of coffee and I'm in dire need of a shower, so I'll close for now. Let me know if any potential employers call, OK? (And you can tell 'em I was a SecraTerri. )

Love you.

Terri

 

E-mail to my mom and sister; more job-hunting, missing the kids

Subj: Hello, Ladies
Date: 10/23/97
To: kbeeson & onevoice

Hi Mom & Deb.

Figured I'd best check in with the two of you. How are you? Healthy? Busy? Computers fully operational??

Don't know if you heard, but I spoke to Ray & 2/3 of The Tots on Sunday night. Ray left a couple of messages on the machine over the weekend while we were out, but I had to wait until Sunday night (when Tim was working and the long-distance rates were lower) to return the call. It wasn't a fun conversation for anyone ... we all got a little overwrought ... the sense I get is that Ray is afraid that I'm not going to honor my financial obligations. Understandable, given the circumstances (and my shitty job history). But I really am busting my butt right now looking for work -- and I told him so. This isn't like that year when I sat around on my rear end, collecting unemployment and diddling around on the computer ... this time I am focused, hungry and DETERMINED. Problem is that the two employment opportunities I am most interested in aren't going to happen overnight. One is working as an executive assistant for a female lawyer in downtown Portland.  I have an interview with her on the 30th. This would be a great job -- $12-$15 an hour, 30-35 hrs. per week. In the letter she sent me she says, ".. Legal experience may be a plus; what is more important however is the ability to learn and adapt to computer systems, good writing skills and attention to detail." We spoke on the phone, and I got a REALLY good feeling about this one. The only drawback would be the commute ... 40-60 minutes each way on TRI-Met ... but that's a minor drawback. The other interesting opportunity is getting hired on by Clackamas County, but again this is one that isn't going to happen overnight. Last week I submitted the 12+ page application, and next I am required to go to Portland on November 7 and take a fairly rigorous qualifying test. The test is given on computer and measures clerical and secretarial knowledge & ability, etc. When I pre-registered last week I was given a MASSIVE handbook to study in preparation for the test, and I've been carting it around everywhere I go, the past few days. Once I've taken the test (and passed with flying colors, I'm sure ), then I'm eligible for all kinds of good jobs right here in the Gladstone/Oregon City area, with starting pay again between $12 and $15 an hour. But like I said, these are opportunities that aren't going to happen for at least another week or two, and in the meantime Ray is getting increasingly panicky. I don't know what to do. I'm sending out an average of 10 resumes a week and interviewing every chance I get. The only things I turn down are those that are pointedly "wrong" ... bookkeeping, for example, or more than a 90 minute commute by bus. I have an interview this afternoon with J & B Auto Shop -- they're right down the street, five minutes on the bus, looking for a data entry clerk at $6.50 an hour. If they offer me the job ... what do I do? Settle for what I can get? Or stick it out a little while longer and see what happens with the lady lawyer and/or the county?

'Tis a dilemma.

Anyway, I got to talk to Kyle and Kacie ... didn't even ask to speak to The Other One, knowing full well I would be rebuffed ... I told them I was sorry I've been out of touch lately, and asked them to tell Jaymi I said "hi." That was about it. I hung up the phone after the conversation and went and sat outside by the pond and felt very homesick for the rest of the evening.

My pledge to write e-mail to Son #O and D#2 every day without fail has sorta fallen by the wayside, unfortunately ... my computer time these days is EXTREMELY limited. Part of that is because of the jobsearch ... part of it is because this is "his" computer, and when he's home he's sitting right here using it (or else looking over my shoulder whenever I'm using it). Lately the distinction between what is "his" and what is "mine" has been a source of irritation and misunderstanding between the two of us, so I pretty much try to leave "his" stuff alone as much as possible. Including the 'puter. Sigh.

Anyway, gonna send this off to you both and then get ready to go hop on a bus. I'm getting so good at this interviewing stuff, I think I could do it in my sleep ...

Love you guys. Drop me a line & let me know what's up.

Terri

 

 

 

Letter to Kyle, telling him I took the job at J&M Auto Body.

Subj: Friday Night
Date: 10/24/97
To: Son #O

Hi BooBoo ...

Sorry I've been so lousy about writing the last few days. How are you? What's been happening this week?

Thought I'd let you & the rest of the family know that I got a job ... I'll be starting next week. Hopefully I'll be able to sit down sometime Sunday and write you a long e-mail with all the details, or maybe we can talk on the phone for a little while.

You've been on my mind a lot lately. Hope that all is well. Write me if you get a chance & I'll probably read your e-mail on Sunday morning. Tell everyone else I said hello, and give Ichabod "the usual." (lol)

I love you a bunch.

Mom

 

 

Journal entry, sent to various friends; depressed about the new job, Tim, feeling very sad about the turns my life is taking.


10/26/97

"... when we got home from grocery shopping on Friday night, the light on the answering machine was blinking, just as I had known it would be. I knew what the message would be, too: the auto body shop, inviting me to come work for them. Ironic, wasn't it? The job I least wanted ... the one I put the least amount of effort into pursuing (during the interview I fiddled with my jacket and looked out the window a lot) ... was of course the one that fell right into my lap.

But at least it was a job ... thank God. Never mind the fact that the hours are totally fucked, the logistics of getting there & back are going to be a nightmare until I master Tri-MET, and I know absolutely nothing about cars (and care even less). It's a job. I'm going to be able to send money to the kids, finally. I can help out with the rent & stuff here. I don't have to ask Tim to pay for my goddamned tampons and pantyhose. Hallelujah. Time to celebrate.

Tim paused in the doorway, listening to the message just long enough to ascertain that it wasn't for him .. and then walked back out of the room. I knew he was disappointed: he's been waiting for over two weeks for Lexmark to call him back, following that interview he had, and he's starting to lose heart. Coupled with today's nasty financial blow (the notice of garnishment he got in the mail), I suppose this was the 'last straw' for him. Not only had I landed a job within a few weeks of not-so-very-active pursuit ... but I apparently was going to be making two or three times more than him.

I heard him making noises in the kitchen ... unpacking groceries, opening and shutting the refrigerator, running water in the sink. I sat there on the edge of the bed, with the phone still in my hand. OK, so I'm employed, I said to myself. And then I burst into tears.

It just seems like a recurring pattern in my life, you know? The last time I got a phone call like this was almost six months ago, in May, when the newspaper called and offered me the customer service job I'd wanted so badly. I remember how I sat there at my little desk in the laundry room that morning after getting the call ... feeling limp with relief, happy about something for the first time in weeks & weeks, urgently wanting to share my good news with someone ... and when I signed onto AOL, there was the doc. It turned out to be the last time we ever communicated. 'The Highline News just called!' I typed jubilantly. 'I got the job!'  But he wasn't the slightest bit interested in hearing about my new job, wanting only to tell me that he'd 'decided over the weekend' that he wasn't in love with me anymore, he was sorry, there are different kinds of love in the world, he knew I would make the right decision about the pregnancy, all the best of luck ... blah blah blah ad fucking infinitum. I showed up for my first day at work, the next morning, looking (and feeling) like a walking train wreck. The first day on any new job is tough, but It took every bit of inner strength and Maybelline I could muster to get through that day in one piece. He pulled a lot of shitty stuff on me, towards the end, but I still think this one rates right up there with the worst of it.

And -- goddammit -- here it was, happening again. Me with semi-good news ... and absofuckingtively no one to share it with. Not even the person who supposedly is sharing my life with me. I understood his disappointment, his embarrassment, the damage to his delicate male ego, all of that. So he's not much for expressing sentiment. (In all the time I've been here, I have never once received either a 'thank you' or an unsolicited compliment from the man.) Fine. But would it have been so difficult to say 'Congratulations, hon?' Or, 'Gee, that's great news?'

Instead he wordlessly finished putting the groceries away, and a few minutes later he sat down at his computer and began working on his checkbook. With nothing else to do, I sat on the sofa a few feet away and watched the sun set outside the window. All of a sudden everything that has been burdening my heart the last few weeks -- missing the kids so horribly, feeling cut-off from friends & creative outlets, having no money, still pining for The Shithead Doc in spite of all my best efforts,and (above all else) realizing that moving here was the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life -- all of this stuff came crashing in on top of me. Knowing how much he hates seeing me cry -- and with nowhere to go in our tiny little shoebox of an apartment -- I threw on my coat and hiked over to the river for a few minutes, just to pull myself together.

Sitting there in my 'secret spot' on the river bank, I watched two boats in the mist below me ... and wondered what it would be like to simply walk into the river one day and not walk out. It occurred to me that I have been happy perhaps ten days out of this entire year. The other 300+ days have been spent juggling the most intense array of emotions imaginable, most of them not very much fun. What if I just waded into the river, until the water was up to my chin, and then just leaned back and floated down the Clackamas for as long as I could float? And then when I couldn't float any longer ... I could just let go of everything. Like going to sleep, except that this time there would be no dreams about airports and babies and cars falling over cliffs: nothing but sweet, deep sleep. Total cessation of pain.

Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it - I'm too much of a wuss to go wading into the Clackamas River in the middle of SUMMER, let alone when it's 38 degrees and a chill Oregon rain is falling. And I don't really want to die. I just want to quit feeling like my life has ended ...

... When I got back to the apartment, he seemed marginally more relaxed: he was cooking dinner, the computer was shut off, he was his usual verbose self. We sat on the couch together and watched TV, and because it was so chilly (and because he's so stingy about turning on the gas heat), he brought in his little kerosene camping heater and set it up on the floor at our feet. Within minutes the room was toasty-warm. 

'You know,' he said at one point, 'if you ever use the heater when I'm not here, you should keep a door or window cracked.'

'What happens if you don't?' I asked, not really paying attention but knowing that some sort of response was required.

''You'd die!' he said merrily -- throwing his head back and rolling his eyes to illustrate the concept -- and then he abruptly changed the subject ... something about how he thought he would try e-mailing the Lexmark people. Meanwhile I just sat there and contemplated the kerosene heater .. "

 

One of the most amazing e-mails I have ever received, before or since.

Subj: Re: Journal Stuff
Date: 97-10-27 01:39:49 EST
From: FifiOToole

To: SecraT

Dearest Terri,

Funny isn't it, how you can always get the job you're trying like hell NOT to get? I could definitely relate to you "knowing" what the message on the machine would be. You knew you had it before the interview was even officially over, didn't you?

But hey........congratulations anyway! Because you know whut? It's a step, Sec.

Like you said, it's a step toward feeling okay about pulling your own weight. But it's more than that.

It's a step toward interacting with PEOPLE...........widening your horizons..........meeting some people in Gladstone other than Tim.

Yeah......I know. Participating in workplace comraderie isn't exactly high on your current priority list.

You don't feel especially charming at the moment......or especially cute.......and you don't feel like working at either one of the above. Furthermore, the last thing on your mind is getting chummy with folks at an auto body shop. Or anywhere else for that matter.

But if you'll go there every day determined to be YOU.......and not an extension of Tim or Tim or Ray or the tots, you can turn this job into a piece of the foundation for the life you're just beginning to build.

If you'll just let it be a place of escape from all the stuff that runs around in your head when you're sitting at the apartment, I think you can retrieve at least a part of Terri that you haven't seen in awhile.

And after you've been there a couple weeks, and know the ropes somewhut, you'll have a place to go everyday where you have at least SOME control over a portion of your life. And god........everybody NEEDS that. Everybody!

 I'm sorry that Tim didn't seem excited for you......I know how that feels, too. Hell -- I could've won a freakin' Nobel Peace Prize and Bozo would've said "Bring me a beer, wouldja?" The first time he laid eyes on our beautiful daughter (and she really WAS a beautiful baby and IS a beautiful young woman) I said, "Isn't she gorgeous?" His reply? "She just looks like a basic baby to me."

And I was in LOVE with that guy, Terri!! Deeply!! I thought I could not LIVE without him!! GAWD! Was I RETARDED, or whut??? (Don't answer that.) Furthermore.......I STAYED with the jerk for 13 years! Getting lower and lower and lower. And once I even went BACK to him to try to "patch things up!" Despite the fact that everyone I knew, including his own FAMILY, told me (correctly) that I had rocks for brains!

Anyway.......*I* am EXCITED for you!!! Even if it's NOT exactly whut you want. By gawd......it's damned life affirming to feel that you are marketable..........and that you can earn enough money to buy your own fudking tampons!

No.....I'm not joking in the least. I've been there. I've been on food stamps........I even sold my wedding ring for 5 bucks once because I needed the cash. Not to mention the blood plasma I sold every 10 days for close to two years running. And not to mention all the jobs I couldn't seem to get because I didn't HAVE a job. (And I'm sure I wasn't exactly oozing with self-confidence in any of those interviews, either -- which was probably a big part of not getting the jobs, now that I think about it.) I was so far down in such a deep, deep hole that I thought for SURE I'd never get out -- and my self-esteem was non-existent.

Zilch.

But I did get out. Mostly by tenacity and the skin of my teeth. And by dragging my ass through some days when the very thought of the idea that "life is a gift" was hysterically funny to me. If you don't remember anything else about me.....remember THAT! Because if I made it out, YOU'LL make it out!

A serious changing of my attitude......and a re-inventing of myself was part of the deal.......but those things came about involuntarily.......sort of by default I guess. Looking back, I'm certain that it was due to the survival instinct inherrent in us all.......I know it wasn't anything I planned or did purposely.

So yeah.......I'm excited for you! I am even MORE than excited..........I'm ECSTATIC for you! And I'm PROUD for you!!! You're a survivor. You're gonna make it. And I'm gonna be standing on the sidelines cheering like hell with tears of happiness running down my face!

I know I'm a damn poor substitute for having a man in your life who can set his own ego aside and say this stuff, but believe it or not, the day may come when that's not as high a priority in your life as it is at the moment. (Of course, one of life's cute little ironies is that once it is NOT a priority, you'll have TEN guys all hot to set aside their egos for you. That's pretty much a "given." )

Meanwhile, I hope you'll accept MY congrats and the love that comes with them as being sincere and heartfelt.

And don't read this and think of it as some kind of condescension, okay?? (That's how I always used to feel when I felt like my own life was sucking wind and one of my friends who happened to be in better shape than I was at the time talked to me this way. It used to piss me off a little, in fact -- and I just wished they'd shut the hell up.)

But I'm not sitting here on some lofty perch and trying to dream up cheerful and cute little stuff to say to you. I really care........I really CAN identify.........and I really respect the hell out of you for your courage and determination.

What I'm trying to say is........don't sit there by The Clackamas and think about wading in.

Don't contemplate the kerosene heater. (For one thing, they stink too much to comtemplate for any great length of time.)

Pick up the phone and call me -- ANY TIME!!! I don't care if it's 4 o-freakin'-clock in the morning! (You think I've never made a call like that? When I just needed to hear a friendly non-judgmental voice? Wrong!)

And you can dictate how the conversation will go, okay??? If you want a shoulder to cry on -- you've got it! If you want me to be funny and stupid -- you've got it! If you want me to shut up and just listen -- you've got it! For you, girlfriend, I would even read the BIBLE aloud, okay??? (I'd prefer Dr. Seuss or Stephen King but hey! If you had a sudden unexplainable yen to hear The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle, I SWEAR I wouldn't argue.)

The office is 800/XXX-XXXX  (Don't EVEN tell me you don't have it written down somewhere, as many times as I've given it to you because it will piss me off if you tell me that.)

Home is 1-800-COLLECT 502/XXX-XXXX.

Thanks for sharing your journal with me, Terri.

Yes, I really mean that. I've felt so damned far away from you for so long.........and I hate that feeling a lot. It's a big empty hole and I've missed you beyond words. (No, I'm not bitching.......I know you feel you don't have anything to give at the moment......and believe me, I'm not asking for anything. But I have to tell you that just HEARING from you is terrific.)

Love,

-Feef

P.S. How's it going with Jaymi? The last I heard from you, Kyle and Kacie were sort of okay with things, but Jaymi was pretty bitter. You making any progress there? I hope so.......I've been sending buckets of good vibes to both Tic Tac and Oregano for you guys. For whut that's worth.

 

 

 

Subj: Mom's New Job
Date: 10/27/97
To: Son #O, Daughter #2

Hi you guys.

I've been having some minor computer problems the past day or so ... I don't know if it's AOL or if it's the computer ... but I haven't been able to get e-mail sent off to anyone until now (Monday night, 7:00).

I start my new job day after tomorrow: I'll be working as a data entry clerk for "J & M Auto Body." (Ironic, isn't it? I know zero about cars ... and now I'm going to be working at an auto body shop. Sheeesh.) My new office is located up the highway a few miles, in a little town called Milwaukie: about a half-hour to 40 minute bus ride, each way. I'll be working Monday through Friday plus one Saturday a month, making about the same as I made at my last job, plus benefits, but that's about all I know about the job for now. After I've been there for a couple of days, I'll write to you again and let you know how it's going.

We went hiking again last weekend, this time at a state park called Silver Falls -- ten miles, most of 'em straight UP -- and I've been in total excruciating agonizing pain ever since. Every muscle in my legs feels like it's been run through a coffee grinder ... and I have blisters the size of pan pizzas on the bottoms of both feet.

(I don't know about you, but I think maybe stamp-collecting would be a very nice new hobby ... :o( ... )

How's the computer running these days, btw? Any problems?

Anyway, I'll write again after the new job starts and let you know how it's going. I think about all three of you every single day, and love you a bunch.

Mom

   

 

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

from Healing the Child Within by Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.

Chapter One

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost.....I am hopeless.

It isn't my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

Chapter Two

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don't see it.

I fall in again.

I can't believe I am in the same place.

But, it isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in....it's a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

 

Chapter Five

I walk down another street.

 

**********************************

 

From the time she was a little girl, if she let her hand hang over the side of her bed, another hand would lovingly take hers, and she would be reassured no matter how anxious she was feeling. Oftentimes when her hand accidentally went over the bedside and the grasp surprised her, she would reflexively jerk back her hand, and this always broke the embrace.

She always knew when to reach for the hand and to feel comforted. There was, of course, no physical form under her bed.

As she grew older, the hand remained. She married but never told her husband about this experience because it seemed so childlike.

When she became pregnant with her first child, the hand disappeared. She missed her loving and familiar companion. There was no hand to take hers in that same loving way.

Her baby was a born, a beautiful daughter. A little while after the birth, while lying in bed together, the baby took her hand. A sudden and powerful recognition of that old familiar feeling flooded her mind and her body.

Her protector had returned. She cried with happiness and felt a great surge of love and a connection that she knew existed far beyond the physical.

From "Only Love Is Real" by Brian M. Weiss, M.D.

*****************************

 




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