Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I worked hard at endorphin production to make the transition from '08 to '09.  Came up a tad bit short at the stroke of midnight, but danced a little more, made
last call and got into a big conversation with a scientist about sub-atomic particles and the the big bang and that made me feel like there might almost be something like a God. Maybe it was the wine.

I'm Working On It

The new me will have an MFA. I don't care that I'm too old with too short of a resume to find a "real" teaching job. Whenever that conversation starts and someone asks me why I've gone back to school, I tell them I'm going to teach creative writing in the prisons.  I tell them I have connections.  
The new me will keep in touch with friends. Drop an email, write on a Facebook wall, buy a plane ticket or take a road trip. I'll be the one to suggest lunch or dinner instead of waiting for the phone to ring.
The new me will work harder, review what I've learned more often and try to remember it. I'll read sitting up instead of lying down in bed so the words have a chance to settle into my brain instead of sinking into my pillow and mingling with down and fluff.
The new me will tell my children I love them every time I see them and  in every phone conversation. Every time. Grand children, too. 
The new me will call my mother more often. Even if I have to over enunciate and speak more loudly than I'd like. The new me will visit her at least 4 times a year.
The new me might settle down and stay in L.A.--eventually. Or somewhere else.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is Snow?

I was hoping for the pristine. A white blanket. The covering of flaws and bleakness and something to coat the branches of the trees that stand naked in the winter wind. Last December, during my first grad school residency, I walked in the woods every night. But this semester after 75 hours inside, I ventured outside for the first time this evening. You could say I'm cocooning, but that's not really how it is. I'm inside. Interior. Thinking of how terrible I felt last year to be starting grad school without a support system, mourning the death of my marriage full out. (How did I manage that?) and somehow taking lecture notes and workshopping and getting to know people. I feel better this year. But I still want snow. Something to blot out the grayness. Something for the moon to reflect off of.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sweeter than Pineapple

My original intention as I began this blog at the end of September was to put into words the gratitude I feel toward my friends.  The list of kind acts, kind words, dinners, lunches, coffee dates, conversations, gifts tangible and intangible that I've received from my friends and family since my marriage ended would make this blog longer than a litany of the saints. But I've gone off on about a million tangents since then, and while I think of my friends every day and spend more time with them than ever, I don't always write about it.
My friend Ellen called me this morning while I was eating pineapple in the restaurant at the New Otani Hotel in Honolulu. My daughters were still asleep and beach-goers on this quiet side of Waikiki were just beginning to don their snorkels and venture into the blue water.  I've felt a bit underwater these last couple of days--sad that our family is broken apart and mad that Mr. Ex fell in love with someone else--but I have my friends and family and we've drawn closer since the divorce.  Ellen's phone call reminded me of that. And that, my friends, is sweeter than pineapple. 

This is my second divorced Christmas and I’m asking myself when, if ever, a new family tradition will emerge.  Right now, the holiday season feels as mysterious as a shiny wrapped gift lodged at the bottom of Santa’s bag.  I can’t even see the shape of the box, give it a shake or puzzle over its heft.  Or maybe it’s worse than that.  Maybe my life is one of those office parties where you don’t even bother to draw names and instead have a “white elephant” gift exchange and for all I know from now on each Christmas and New Years will unfold without enough planning, without enough meaning for me or my children to want to keep what we have invented for the next year's celebrations.

It’s these occasions that draw families together that make me wonder what was so  wrong with my family that my husband left us for someone else.  I know he hasn’t actually divorced our daughters, but that’s the way it feels to me because we weren’t just a couple with children, we were “us.”  The four of us.  An entity that looked out from the homemade photo on our family Christmas card with hearts conjoined.  Something greater than the sum of its parts.  That us is as gone as if we’ve been photo-shopped out of existence and now there’s no one there posed in front of the mantle or the tree or the poinsettias or the wreathed front door.  The four of us are gone. And I am, one year and five months later, still grieving the loss.

What was wrong with going to Mass and singing Christmas Carols on Christmas Eve with the night just cold enough to make us remember the Midwestern childhoods my husband and I spent growing up with our own families?  What was wrong with our dinner out at our favorite restaurant watching the glow of one another’s faces in the candlelight and then going home to light the fire and open presents? 

Okay, I admit it--there  were things that were wrong and we knew it, but still we were us.  Our family struggling through some of that togetherness--together.  And I miss it.  Imperfections and all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bachelor #2

I went to dinner with another date tonight. He's a writer and we have a lot in common. Our meal together was very, very pleasant. High energy and vivacious. I liked him well enough to see him again, but maybe he's not that into me. I have no idea, really. We were on our best smiling behavior and it's just hard to read  a total stranger. Dinner or coffee is such a common first date, but there's a certain amount of pressure in that endeavor--staring into someone's eyes while stuffing things into your mouth or slurping something hot while trying not to dribble.  It's, well........a little too intimate, maybe. The hiking date was easier in a lot of ways. I didn't wonder what to wear and we  could walk and talk without being forced into eye contact while chewing.
I've made email contact with 3 other guys, too and will maybe date them when I get back from this set of travels. The way I see it, it's like when magazines or lit journals allow simultaneous submissions---it's good to get that piece of writing around to several editors at the same time. There's a better chance that it will find a home.  But I looking for a home?  I'm not.
So this is where it gets complicated.

Dancing in the Dark

I had the second date with the guy I met for the first time last weekend. After we decided to get together again, I suggested we attend the Christmas open house of my favorite L.A. modern dance company.  I guess the standard dating advice givers might throw up their hands at this. Modern dance isn't everyone's cup of tea, but why pull punches is my attitude.  Here's what I like.  Here's who I am. Why waste time?  And after all, I'm willing to try new stuff, too. Wanna take me to Vegas?  Hell, I'll go. Nascar? You bet. I've never enjoyed these things in the past. But having the person you love reject the past you concocted together is a great way to open your mind to new things. My date seemed to enjoy our evening, although he told me that a few years ago he would have scoffed.
Anyway, before the dance stuff we had dinner in an incredibly raucous bar with the Laker game on a screen almost as big as the stage the dancers performed on.  We had to sit close and talk into each other's ears and found out that we both love to watch basketball.   I wonder if there could be a Match couple more different than this guy and me.  I ask myself why I like him,  and the best thing I can come up with is that he seems like a really good person....and that I like his face (not typically handsome) and his eyes. He's studied Tai Chi for 30 years (and teaches it) and has all this eastern spiritual stuff going on and I can't imagine what he sees in me.........all I can figure is that he's as willing as I am to open heart and mind to something new.
Dating.  A leap of faith--like the dancers in a Diavolo performance.
Go see them at Santa Monica City College February 20th and 21st.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I had a date today with a very nice guy.  We climbed one of the trails near the Griffith Park Observatory on a rare Southern California day when you could actually see into the distance.  The ocean was shimmering in the sunlight, storm clouds piled up like a stack of  pillows over the San Gabriel Mountains and from our particular angle the Hollywood sign appeared to read, "Hollywoo."  There wasn't really any serious wooing going on though. Both of us were cautious in our approach to the date. But conversation was easy, sweet and deep.  I told him I'd like to get together with him again, but that I wanted to move slowly, let things unfold very gradually instead of fantasizing that our relationship might turn into the next big thing and let that fantasy push us forward into something that might not be real.  
After two hours of talking and walking, we got into our separate cars and drove down the hill. At the bottom, as we sat side by side at a stop sign, he blew me a kiss before he went left and I went right.  
I drove west to a friend's art show and drove through the neighborhood where I used to live with Mr. Ex and then across Melrose where he and I saw dozens of plays over the three decades we regularly went out to the theatre in L. A. 
The shadow of all those years together is still like a rain cloud waiting to burst and wash away present pleasures.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Emotionally Unavailable

I've been on again (it's like crack--I say I'm quitting, but...)  His name was Gene and we've been emailing back and forth for the past few days. Tonight he emailed me and said he was sorry but he's realized he's "emotionally unavailable." It's the holidays. They're a bitch when your heart is broken, when your heart is half-way healed and probably when you think it's almost recovered. While I was visiting my friends in Portland, we took a scenic drive and then went downtown to walk through the streets under the lighted trees. When I stepped out of the car and heard the brass band on the corner finishing a Christmas carol, I felt my eyes fill with tears.  All those houses with their pretty lights, the city lit in some kind of happy conspiracy and then the music---it made me sad and if I hadn't had a lollipop in my purse, I would have been standing in a puddle of tears. This is my second divorced Christmas.  I had 29 married ones.  I wonder how many Gene had.   

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm Sorry But

due to the turbulence, there won't be any beverage service."  These are words I hate to hear when I fly.  I'm a reformed nervous flier and the thought of not being able to have a drink when I think a drink might be just what I need inches me a tiny bit closer to the old self I'd like to stay rid of.  I found myself on edge today flying back from Portland as soon as I neared the end of the "A" gates. Outside the rain splattered windows were small airplanes with propellers and the sky was as thick and gray as a week's worth of dryer lint.  Noooooooo, the anxious me said to the me who was trying to be calm and I thought about rushing back to ticketing to see if I could get on a different flight which probably would have been a simple matter, but I'd checked my bag.  So instead, I sat and looked at the people around me.  High school athletes with trophies, business people, families with babies. They looked calm and happy so I got on the plane (which didn't have propellers) and felt passable until the announcement about the beverages.  I pulled out a lollipop and started sucking, stuck my ipod in my ears and listened to poetry podcasts, reminded myself to keep my eyes open and look out the window. I did ok. Not stellar, but fine.  
It's odd that I keep traveling. Since the divorce, I've flown more than I ever could have imagined.  Back when I was married, flying terrified me.  Maybe because I was trying so hard to keep that jumbo jet of a marriage up in the air and knew it was going down.  

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My New Boyfriend

I've given up.
Here's Sam the man.  Sammy belongs to my Portland friends whom I'm visiting at the moment.  He likes to nuzzle his face against my hair while I'm sitting on the couch.  When he wants a little attention, he comes up to me and paws my leg (without extending his claws.)  I like that direct communication.