Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving from His Big Fat Indian Wedding to Leaving Divorceville

Boxes. Dust. The pile for Goodwill. The small mountain of trash. Moving is a lot of work. Sometimes things get broken. Or misplaced. And maybe the move doesn't quite work out the way you expected. Let's say you get there, and the lights don't work when the electric  company assured you the power would be turned on. Or the toilets don't flush. Yeah. Like that.

So.... I like it here on the road to Margaritaville, but my flip-flops are nowhere to be found. And the signature that I expected to turn up on a certain document yesterday (after I fulfilled the restraining order by changing the URL and title of my blog) never materialized. My metaphorical feet are killing me.

But I wanted something to celebrate last night, so I just raised a glass to my beating heart. And yeah, I know, it's a martini glass. So things aren't quite perfect, but god, life is fine and good anyway.

And, oh--that is a margarita in the martini glass.

And sorry, but the Links Within don't work anymore. Busted in the move. And my blog list got lost. I'll find you all back again. Don't worry. Really, I like it here.

There is beauty all around me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Leaving Divorceville

Dear friends and loyal readers,

The band is playing the final song at His Big Fat Indian Wedding. The cleaning crew is hovering in the doorway waiting to swish the fancy tablecloths into the laundry bag. Children are running amok eating all the leftover mints. Hems of pretty dresses are dirty, and neckties are stuffed into suit coat pockets. Everyone is tired.

But those of us who live in The City of Angels know about makeovers. A nip here. A tuck there. A stage name. A new life in the sunshine where palm trees wave graceful arms, and some neon-colored flower is guaranteed to burst in bloom at any moment. 

I hope you'll come visit this new place. Unless there's a last minute glitch, you should be able to find me very soon at If that fails, come visit me at: or  Birthmother and look for a link. If you find that I've disappeared entirely...well, maybe the U.S. Marshal has hauled me away.

Thank you for the love, support, wise words, and good humor.  May it all come back to you ten-fold.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My New Identity

Some masks are more transparent than others.
One might opine that the person behind the mask, no matter how good the disguise, remains....well...the person behind the mask.
I'm not so sure.
What if the mask has its own effect on the person who wears it?

I'm going to be changing the title of my blog, its URL, its entire look, probably. I'm going to be writing about my divorce less and less, and some of the regular characters I've written about will never be mentioned again. In doing that, I feel that I'll be transformed too.

The new URL might be But divorcevilleright downtheroadfrommargaritaville makes me laugh. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, allow me to toss these titles into cyberspace--if for no other reason than to get them out of my head:

Other title ideas are here and here.

Shopping for a New URL

youcan'tdivorceabook......This is from a quote by Gloria Swanson "I’ve given my memoirs far more thought than any of my marriages. You can’t divorce a book."

photo credit:The Stepford Wives

Sunday, June 26, 2011


In the next few days, I'm going to be changing the URL of HIS BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING. The title in the header has been revised for some time. So I might go with MY BIG NEW WRITING LIFE if it's available.
I dunno. I normally love titling things, but my brain feels like someone clicked the "mute" button. It's not talking to me.
Ideas? Advice?
Maybe it's a good idea to have "divorce" in the URL? In order to connect with others going through divorce?

Even if you're an optimist, all eggs do not turn into chickens

These are not chickens. I counted them though right here.

In reality, not all of my projects hatched. Stripping the doors did not enable them to close. So my lovely (sometimes I wonder if I'm kidding myself) old condo still has a bathroom door that doesn't shut, and my "owner's closet" has a note proclaiming it as such but no lock. But I just finished reading Caribou Island by David Vann.  You can read a review of it here. Given the outcome of the construction of a cabin (not to mention the marriage) in this book--one of the darker novels I've read, I still feel okay about my 12 days of fix-its.

One of the things I've learned about myself in the past four years since the failure of my marriage is that I don't give up easily. It's a good thing and a bad thing. Was it a good thing to stay married to someone who so obviously did not want to be with me? No, but I kept telling myself that I could fix it. That it would work out on its own. The empty nest would revive us...

My last night in St. Paul I was tired and frustrated as I put away my tools and painting supplies, getting ready to return to California. Maybe when the summer rains and humidity come to an end, I thought. When there's a good hard freeze, the wooden doors will contract and....and then I caught myself.
I will need a carpenter to plane them. But it's okay. My painting jobs turned out pretty good. I chose an excellent contractor for the closets. Some things went well.

So before the snow flies, I'll go back. I'll take my window air conditioners out, maybe paint my living room.
I have every confidence that I will choose the perfect shade of green.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

While many residents of the Twin Cities have undoubtedly gone off to their cabins to fish, and swim, and boat these past twelve glorious summer days, I have been happily clad in a pair of my daughter's old basketball shorts and a cast-off shirt doing what I can to reel in some upgrades for my 100-year-old condo. I have painted so many things white and caulked so much that I can fake a French manicure. I've entertained myself by watching you-tube videos on how to remove padlocks with lost keys/combinations. I've consulted with hardware store clerks about removing hinge pins from ancient doors, and then invented my own system (involving hair product and an un-inflated balloon) to simultaneously get traction and release on a hinge pin that hadn't been budged in a century.

closet re-design by Storganize
For "before" photo, click HERE

And I've consulted with the experts. Floor guys, strippers, electricians, and closet remodelers have paraded in and out of here as if we were a set for an HGTV show. It's a relief to know that the dining room chandelier is now unlikely to ignite and that the built-in buffet no longer requires a table knife to get into it, that the bathroom door can now be closed, that someone living in this century has a chance at fitting their clothes into the closet, and that I will know whom to hire to re-do my floors someday.

Meanwhile, M. and I have disciplined ourselves to eat in rather than out--thereby preserving the funds to keep me supplied with paint and sandpaper. We've cancelled the cable, discovered how to procure free bagels, and practiced the art of what I call "freeganing" in our kitchen. By no means are we embracing the true freegan lifestyle, but we've waved at it from across the street anyway. The four of us here have eaten wonderfully this past week and a half on far less than what our familial foursome would have spent on one typical Sunday dinner in our favorite restaurant back when we were living the big fat life. Utilizing what we already have on hand and buying whatever fresh ingredients we need to complete the menu has yielded remarkably decent results.

I've taken this approach at my place in L.A. the past couple of months, too. Harvested the pantry, fired  the gardner. Waiting on the contracts for cable TV and my cell phone to expire. But even if I never spend another dime on booze, I'm going to have to throw a serious party if I want to put a dent in my liquor cabinet. A painting party, perhaps, since I have a set of  home improvement projects to finish in L.A. as well.

Four years ago I had two packing parties as I prepared to leave the house I shared with Mr. Ex. There was a blender involved, and the only thing I really remember is trying to come up with the right answer to the question, "Would it be okay to put Cointreau in the Margaritas?"

Caulking and Cointreau? Paint and Pernod? Anyone?

photo credit for vintage post card: Minnesota Historical Society
closet photo was taken by me

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

My father was 55 when I was born. My mother was his third wife, and she was 26 years younger. I didn't think of him as an old man. He took me out on the river in our pontoon boat. Took me fishing and on picnics. Took me on special outings without my mother and indulged my love of horses and cowboys by buying me plastic models of Roy Rodgers and Trigger, Dale Evans and Buttermilk. Wyatt Erpp and so many more.The bookshelves in my study still hold these mementoes from my childhood.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise, he told me. The early bird catches the worm, he said. Birds of a feather flock together. Don't go looking for trouble, trouble will find you.

It did. And he didn't forsake me. You don't look any worse for the wear, he said.

The last time I saw my father, he had already been dead for fifteen years. He came to see my new baby daughter. Just wanted to see what she looked like, he said. I never got to see your son. The power of love can pull us from one world to back to the other. A gift.

My father was too soft-hearted to be a good businessman, my mother said.

But I remember the river. That he pulled me up by my bathing suit straps the day the snakes came at me. That he turned me upside down in our kitchen when I choked on a piece of steak. I remember
that he sat at the head of our dinner table every night. And that afterwards I could find him in his recliner behind The Des Moines Register.

I remember that he drove me three hundred and fifty some miles to college. And that he sent me a cardboard heart full of Valentine's candy that arrived in my dorm room after I came back from his funeral.

Friday, June 17, 2011

10,000 Tasks in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Yesterday was patching day. Today was sanding-vacuuming-washing-and-priming day. I dragged the vacuum cleaner, a mop and a bucket, and can of primer from one end of my St. Paul condo to the other this afternoon. Tomorrow will be painting day in preparation for the new closet "systems" that will be installed in my bedroom closets and in my tiny kitchen pantry. The kicker is that I actually enjoy this sort of thing. With two walks to the hardware store plus the actual work, I got some exercise and saved myself at least several hundred dollars. How could that not be fun. I have always loved improving the places I've lived-- even as a renter.
I'm a sucker for pretty.

Right after Mr. Ex graduated from law school, he got an offer for a temporary job in Denver. We lived in a 450-square-foot apartment in the middle of L.A. then, and I stayed there while he went to Denver. While he was away, I pulled up the filthy carpet and hand-waxed the beautiful old wood floor. I custom blended paint colors tinting and mixing the almost-free paint I'd gotten at a flea market until it was a pale sandy rose and painted our living room.  Everyone looked gorgeous in that room.

I was both stricken and furious when he left me. By then we lived in a big house with a pool and a jacuzzi, a playground, a built-in barbeque big enough to cook a side of beef. We had a gorgeous patio next to a waterfall and a billion other things we didn't have when our life together was smaller.

I made this list sometime after he left me, pissed as hell that all my sweat equity was washed away, and that he let me work as his general contractor and as a laborer on a house that he wanted for himself and the Little Missus.

What I Did or Hired to be Done from Jan. '07 to Jul. '07 ( I chose to focus on this narrow period of time because after studying his cellphone records, it was pretty obvious to me that he knew he was leaving me by January.)

Haulers for misc. junk

Xmas lights down

Winterized Shade-Tree canopy system for patio

Solved drainage issues in driveway and front flower beds

Pond repair

Organized Mr. Ex's pile of papers in garage

Tree trimmers

New garage doors

Painted garage

Cleaned and organized garage top to bottom
Free-cycled the stuff we don't want

More shelves from CA closets for garage & repair of bin in back hall closet

Maintenance of AC & heating

Researched TVs

Carpet & rug cleaning

Direct TV installation

Garage floor installation

Set up garage as M's party room

Fed roses

Researched and bought new fridge

Got rid of old fridge

New shower head

Termite control


Sprayed roses

Pond guy again

Landscaping tune-up

More work on Pond

Constant yard work and gardening

I'm pretty sure I would feel like I was living in a mausoleum if I'd been the one to keep the house.  I don't miss it--except for what I grew there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ghost Blogging

First a definition from I'm going for the first example. Which is to say that I am available to do this for your business.

In fact, I am an experienced ghost blogger. It's not enough that I have three blogs of my own (see my side bar if this is news to you) and that I also wrote a 4th blog on Open Salon for awhile. (I loved my title and my log line there--but never mind.) I blogged too, as myself, at Smartly. But for some months now I have also been blogging as someone else. Don't ask. If I told you, I'd have to kill you, right?

No, it's not a celebrity. It's for a business, and I am not pretending to be this businessperson, per say. I am posting businessy-type stuff that requires some research and gathering and synthesizing of information. Gosh. Even my plumber has a blog. Many business people feel they need a blog these days. Blogging gives them more visibility on the Internet and makes them seem a little more personable. Except that most small businesspeople are already working their fingers to the bone, and it's hard to blog in that condition. And not everyone likes to write. That's why you need me if you have a business that is in need of more visibility. Leave a comment if you are interested, and we'll figure out how to get in touch.

And hey, I have plenty of experience writing about ghosts, too. Heck, I could ghost blog for you about ghosts if you want.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Falling Apart

Dread. That was what I felt all week waiting for the mediation. Dread like you'd feel if your teeth were furry and you were scheduled for a cleaning. This will be unpleasant, I said, but good and necessary.

The personal statement of appreciation I was instructed to prepare had to take one of those little numbered tickets and wait as if the muse had a crowd of people lined up. Finally the number was called at 7:30 that morning, and I had something to say that was true. I wrote it down:

I appreciate the innocence of a clean-cut kid who didn't know enough about working in a big law firm to wear dress shoes with his suit. I appreciate the way that innocence mingled with his sense of humor and led him to hang a long neglected formal portrait of a deceased founding partner above his desk, and his blissful un-informedness that allowed him to believe that new associates really were entitled to an entire month of vacation. It was on that very vacation that our first daughter was conceived. Both of our daughters carry their own versions of that happy wackiness, the ability to be comfortable in their shoes, to amuse themselves, to recreate full out, and to promptly seize not just the day but an entire month.

I arrived at the mediator's office first. Not nervous. Not angry, not sad. "I'm hopeful," I told her.

I choked up when I read my statement, but I got over it. Moved on to the crucial stuff. There was a smidgen of drama. Not much. We agreed to meet again.

I was lost when I came out of the mediator's office. Not lost as in upset. Just lost. I could not get my bearings--so I walked to a Starbucks and took forever deciding that I wanted a dulce cinnamon latté and then stood looking out of the windows. I drove down Lake, I said. I turned on Green. Green is a one-way street. From Green I turned right. I had it all figured out then.

I sat at my desk when I got home talking to a friend on the phone about books and cakes and stress and yoga. I decided to have a party to celebrate the end of all this wrangling. But a minute after I hung up I was cold and shaking.

Hours later, finally out of bed, the man who loves me called for the second or third time, and said we should go to a movie. That Woody Allen Paris movie. I don't know, I said, is it a romance? Oh I get it, he laughed, you don't know what to do with emotional involvement right now. I don't know what to do with Paris, I said. And a wail came out of me and the wailing wouldn't stop.

I woke up under two blankets on my couch wearing a sweater, and a sweatshirt and a terrycloth bathrobe. The man who loves me said it was a seductive look. I took a long hot shower. We made dinner. And then I was pretty much okay for the rest of the night.

But I still don't know what to do with Paris.

Photo credit:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Power and Infidelity

NPR aired a segment today about something that's been on my mind a lot over the past few years                What Science Tells Us About Power and Infidelity begins by telling us that the Wikipedia entry under "Federal Political Sex Scandals" totals six single-spaced pages. Power generates infidelity, and many of the high-profile men who have been quite literally caught with their pants down in recent years have resigned. All of the brouhaha has forced me to reveal something to myself that I'd rather have kept zipped up: I have a double standard.

It's my opinion that we ought to stay out of other people's bedrooms if it's consenting adults who are inside. The skill with which a congressman or senator or governor represents his constituents doesn't really have much to do with his sex life as long as he isn't spending taxpayer's money or shirking his duties to go "hiking in the Adirondacks." But whenever I've thought this or said it in a discussion, I've found myself secretly wishing that lawyers in private practice were held to the same standard as the politicians who've been forced to resign. They've been sworn into their state bar associations--isn't there something implicit in that oath that says they should be held to a higher standard? That they shouldn't lie or cheat even if the lying and cheating is done only to their wives and families? It would serve my personal cause to have the lying cheating attorneys I know dragged out into the limelight.

But not really. More people would be hurt. More wives. More children. And it wouldn't stop the way power influences the risk-assessing mechanisms in the brains of those in power. Maybe in a perfect world the continuing education the bar associations provide could give attorneys a heads up on what might happen to them. Maybe there could be biofeedback demonstrations, aversion therapy, free marriage counseling. The thought of all that makes me smirk. It sounds like A Clockwork Orange. I know! Big fat bonuses dolled out by big law firms to partners who stay married to their first wives. But money equals power. And well, we know what power equals.

I wish I could poll the trophy wives of powerful husbands. Would they cop to the idea that power attracts? Or would they say they love their husbands for their senses of humor, their over-the-hill physiques, their maturity, who they are as a person? I'm not ruling any of this out. My dad was twenty-six years older than my mother. She was movie-star gorgeous. And now that I think of it, maybe power was involved. My dad owned a grocery store then, and his name was emblazoned on a brick building in Dubuque, Iowa. Maybe she thought they would be rich. T-bones and good booze every night.

Everything fell apart when the big supermarket chains moved into town. The lack of money was a source of stress in our household until the day he died. Maybe that helped them stay together. And that my mother said he reminded her of Clark Gable.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thank You, Everyone.......

I am grateful for my friends--those in the my real word and those from cyberspace.

I've been discouraged. Dragged down by the undertow of 60-some pages of fictitious forensic accounting.

Thank you for the dinner and conversation. For the phone calls. For the lunch. For sweeping me off to a margarita as big as my head. For your blog comments. For your understanding and patience and love. For holding me--literally or figuratively, all through the night.

It's you I owe--not Mr. Ex.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A white blank page and a swelling rage

I've been captivated by Mumford and Sons ever since the Grammys. I've listened to the album "Sigh No More"over and over as if I were a teenager locked in my room with a "Do Not Disturb Sign" on the door. The mark of a good popular song, I think, is that it seems to be written just for you. For me right now the song, "White Blank Page" is about Mr. Ex, the Little Missus, and me.

I sat on my patio yesterday with 60-some pages of forensic accounting that attempted to prove why I should pay a shit load of money to the man who dumped me. His wedding decor, his life insurance premiums that will go to the Little Missus when he croaks, his doctor bills, parking tickets, remodeling on his house--I owe him for all that and more, the report claims. I get nothing for putting him through law school and supporting his career by keeping the home fires burning. I get nothing for raising our daughters and irreparably compromising my own earning power.

I used to be a writer. I'm not anymore, and I haven't been for a long time. I'm a crazed divorcée pretending to be a writer. Whenever I think I might be able to settle in, there's an email from my attorney--or worse yet, a bill from my attorney. I have to update my Declaration of Income and Expenses or my Schedule of Assets and Debts, or comb through another set of bank statements, and then pay them big bucks to read them. The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach returns, and I decide to open the fucking Pandora's box of papers pertaining to my divorce. I feel some sick impulse to confirm that yes, he called her every morning and every night for months before I got the news that our empty nest was going to be even emptier than I thought. The next thing I know every last duplicitous moment of his plays through my head like a series of deranged fairy tales. It was comforting every now and then to think that I'd at least get a hunk of cash. "Half of everything I have is yours," he said. I believed that too.

Yesterday, a few pages into the forensic report the gears in my heart were grinding so bad, I called him. He was in his car, and I'll bet his bifocals didn't adjust and he didn't see that it was me. He answered and we talked and he actually agreed to see the mediator I'd tried to arrange last week to no avail.

We'll meet on Saturday, and the mediator has asked each of us to bring a personal statement reflecting at least one thing we really appreciate about the other person or our shared past.

A white blank page and a swelling rage.

I wish I were a writer.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Doesn't this look like a big fat indian wedding to you?

Mr. Ex owes me money. A lot of money.

For a brief review of the chronology of our divorce and the duration of the my struggle to get my share of our joint assets see my sidebar.

I put Mr. Ex through law school. I lavished loving care on the three houses we owned and lived in over the duration of our marriage. Rose gardens, fruit trees, well-kept interiors. I tended hearth and home with complete devotion.

Mr. Ex claims I owe him a stunning 6 figure sum for the 14 months immediately following our split. I wrote checks from our joint account, used our charge cards. The wheels of the divorce machine were turning slowly, and I had no alimony yet.

Now, before the final payout, he's spin-doctoring the books. I spent less money that what my alimony would have amounted to if the system would have pulled itself out of the muck in a timely manner.

The foresic accountant's spread sheet has allocated a variety of items to me that are not mine. Like a 14,000 charge to a place called Distracted by Decor.

Photo credit: