Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to make a phone call

At the stoplight, I checked my side mirror at the car behind me, as I always do, and felt as though I were gazing into a window on the past. The driver sat in her car sobbing, mopping up her tears with a white Kleenex and saying what appeared to be "Oh, my God!" if my lipreading skills are to be trusted. My heart broke for her as I empathetically remembered over and over doing the same thing. Was she alone? I peered as hard as I could in the rearview mirror and right side mirror, but in the dark, rainy night could only make out the shadow of a male shape. How could she be so clear and he so..not? I watched her cry and cry in the two minutes we sat at the light, and after it changed I drove toward the ramp to I-5 South. She kept going straight, and I blamed him. If the cause for her distress were anything other than him, she would not have been driving...he would have made her pull over and either comforted her immediately or taken over driving until she was no longer so upset.

I kept thinking about that woman long after I got home, wondering why the tears, how she happened to have a Kleenex when I never do, and what happened next. Was I right in my assumption that it was the man's fault? In my experience, it always is. From my dad, to the Swine, to Steve, to all the men who hurt the women that wrote to me with their stories when I before I erased this blog because of the Swine back in 2006, I have tale after tale of male-induced horror stories. There are good men, I know, just why so far and few.

But that wasn't meant to be the point of my story. The point of my story is, yet again, that I am happy about the new chapter. The one where I'm not the girl sobbing beside an impassive male or because of a awful betraying male.

In other news, yesterday I had a moment that was hilarious to me:

We just moved into a new place in a town just south of Bellevue, Newcastle, it's called. And we now have a home phone, where before I only had a cellphone. Because Audrey is now old enough to stay home for short periods of time by herself, I want to make sure she can contact me or the police in an emergency. I called her downstairs, so I could show her where the phone was and the list of numbers. "Do you know how to use it," I asked. "No, what do you do?" she said picking up the phone. "Dial my number," I told her, and she punched in the corresponding keys "How do you make it call?" she asked staring at the handset. I laughed..."It's already ringing." "It is??" and she hung the phone up to her ear, "Oh yeah, it is." We heard my cell phone ringing from my room upstairs. "See, that's all it takes." "How do I make it hang up?" she said looking at the handset again. "You just put it down," I answered. "Really?" she said incredulously putting the phone back in its cradle. And with that I taught my daughter how to use an old-fashioned land line...where you don't need a call or end key. How awesome would it have been if we had a rotary phone?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mmm, mutton.

Tonight Audrey and I watched the Men's figure skating short program and made slight fun of the Russian guy (how great was it when Dick Button said he'd cast him to be the evil agent - he really wanted to say evil Russian guy, but couldn't because that's not PC) because he has awful hair (and I secretly wished he would bite the big one because he won so big lat time that he's the Yankees of men's figure skating). And we spoke again how she had never watched the winter Olympics before. I said, "Well, yeah, it was four years ago, you were practically a baby."

Audrey laughed and said in exasperation, "Mom, four years old isn't a baby!"

"That's right, four years," I said smiling and then again, "Four years..." And it hit me. I wasn't with her four years ago. That was why she'd never watched the winter Olympics with me. I wasn't with her last time. Four years ago. And it all crashed on me. Funny how that happens. Four years ago. I've wondered over and over recently why I barely remember the Olympics at Torino when I can clearly remember so many other winter Olympics. And bam, it clicked. Four years ago, the Olympics started the day after Oliver was born and ran till just days after he died. I wasn't with Audrey, and I was with Oliver and then I wasn't with Oliver. Those 16 days of Olympics were a shadow to the events that colored my existence.

I sent Audrey upstairs to get her pajamas on, and I waited for the wave of memories to pass before going upstairs to read aloud another chapter of Ronia, the Robber's Daughter. We laughed hysterically as her dad told the sheep that they didn't know what it's like to have a dead child before he realized that he always eats their children.

New memories of joy and laughter pave my heart.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Does the Olympics Have Singing?"

Because I was in Dallas enjoying their biggest snowfall in recent decades from a hotel conference room on Thursday, Audrey spent the night with my mother. I was devastated when my Friday morning flight was canceled due to the horrible conditions, but my agency quickly rebooked me the last ticket to Seattle and I was able to make it back in time to pick Audrey up from school.

Driving through that South Seattle neighborhood always fills me with a sort of pathos. It's not unlike many other neighborhoods in the city, in fact it's typical Seattle, but going there is like taking a plunge into Swineville. When the Swine first moved there and Audrey began going to school there in 2008, I got lost often trying to find his house, trying to find the school. Over and over I would get lost, and I didn't feel safe, and I felt like I was in another world. So engulfed in my Bellevue bubble, and not traveling as often as I do now, I found myself shocked by the abrupt contrast between where I live and the long street I had to drive to get to Audrey's school and daddy home. On the Eastside it's Beemers and Blondes. In Seattle, it's just reality. And I preferred denial. I didn't want my daughter to go to school there, I wanted her to have the far superior top education the school my district could offer her rather than the poorly ranked alternative school her father won the right to send her to. An alternative school offering community rather than scholastics and somehow that's okay.

Going through boxes of my old memories I found some school work from 1988. I was 8. I had long paragraphs of neatly written cursive giving a review chapter by chapter of a book we'd been asked to read. Audrey is 8. It's funny, by the time I was 8, by 1988, I'd lived in so many places including Ireland and the Phillipines and gone to 7 different schools. It's a wonder I learned anything. But I am not comparing myself to Audrey, I was also in the fourth grade by that time, so it was fourth grade level work I was looking at, and she is in the second grade. But I also found stacks of honor roll certificates, awards of achievement, letters from the two South Carolina Senators congratulating me on my college scholarship, and I can't help but fear that she will never have a taste at that success because of her father's choice in schools that do not value academic achievement but rather "seeds of change". Which is all well and good, except that's not the way the real world works. Oh, I know how all of this sounds, but I don't care. I have a smart kid, but she has a dumb dad and is going to a dumb school, and I'm not with her enough to counteract the effect, so pathos it is.

The parents at the school know the Swine and they know the Warrior Princess. They've seen me. I'm the one that shows up to events now and again, keeps to herself and wears makeup and business attire (I once heard one mother comment negatively on my high heels to another mother...le sigh, Seattle). They don't know me. We have about as much in common as sushi and beef jerky. Except one mother, the mother of the child that happens to be Audrey's best friend, how serendipitous. She too wears makeup and business attire (we are an army of two), and she too abhors the school and would pull out her daughter if it weren't for her kid's dad. Yes, pathos it is.

Friday afternoon, I swooped in, picked up Audrey and we drove back to my Bellevue Bubble. I told her about the snow in Dallas and she told me about her roller skating party. We snuggled and ordered pizza and watched iCarly.

This afternoon we watched figure skating and marveled as Audrey oohed and aahed as the pairs glided over the ice. How had we never watched figure skating together? She loved it. And after watching the Olympics all weekend, she looked up at me tonight and asked, "Does the Olympics have singing?" and I grabbed her up in a big hug to soak up her innocent adorableness. "Because it seems like one big talent show," she continued. Yes, that it is. But no singing, and no paragraphs of painstakingly written cursive. There are all kinds of competitions in life. It's one big talent show. And it's our duty as parents to provide the foundation for our children to be successful in whatever path they choose.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 9, 2010

I woke up in a bed that was not my own in a hotel room not far from here - one of two hotels I would sleep in this week. I threw open the shades and looked out on the view of things that are familiar to me. And I got dressed in an outfit I wouldn't normally choose for the office. I didn't think of it and the day went by in a rush of typical busyness.

My hair is shorter than it was, but longer than it's been.
My heart has more scars, but it's more whole than it's ever been.
I smile more. I have "happy points" and muscles and friends.
I sketch and play the piano and sing and laugh.
I live.

I thought of it the day before and I remembered it the day after, but it was the first time I wasn't pummeled with emotion the day of. The day after I felt so guilty, but also relieved. While he'll always be apart of me, the loss of him no longer paralyzes me. Last year I had lunch with the father so we could console each other, and I left that lunch feeling icky and it was the last time I ever saw him. And I feel good about that. This was the first year we didn't reach out to each other. The connection is really dead, and it's as if he never existed.

The ashes sit in a wooden box on my piano, but I no longer have any pictures around. I don't like questions, explaining is too complicated. It was nine months that made twelve days. He would have been four.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

the lines

"This is Rebecca."

"Mom, where are you?"

I looked at the time...12:40. Ha! Turns out that it was early dismissal Wednesday. Le sigh. Warrior Princess had picked up her sick son and assumed I was picking up Audrey, because Audrey told her so. And though I had an amazing mass of work to do and a conference call that I'd already rescheduled twice that day, I crammed my laptop into my bag, grabbed my keys and bolted for the elevator. This mother-of-the-year had a kid waiting in the rain and another mom was taking said kid to the city library to await my arrival. Just great.

As I drove, I tapped out a text to Warrior Princess asking her what had happened. Gotta love miscommunication. Le sigh again.

Flying into the library, I collected my daughter and we made the trek back to our new home. I immediately dragged out my laptop and jumped on the yet again rescheduled conference call. Boxes still litter my rooms and Audrey stared at me for a while, as I listened to my agency present the newest round of creative. All I wanted to do was toss away my phone, slam down the lid to my laptop and grab Audrey in my arms and twirl around till we collapse in a pile of laughter and twisted legs.

Instead, I wrote emails approving this and sending on that, and she put together the giant floor puzzle of the United States.

But then we ate dinner and watched iCarly, our favorite show, and after her bath came the absolute best part of my day. We cuddled together in her new bed, in her new room and cracked open a new book, which she received for Christmas. And I read to my darling child with all the enthusiasm I could muster complete with special voices and accents. We laughed together as Ronia, the Robber's Daughter smartly defied her surroundings and sat on tenterhooks when the harpies nearly got her. Audrey snuggled deeper into her covers, and I knew it was time to say goodnight, though I could have read for hours more. "What's the name of the next chapter, Momma?"


And we collapsed in laughter again. These are the moments I treasure. The readings. The analysis of the characters actions. At the end of chapter two, Ronia encountered her first child. And as I drove Audrey to school this morning, we tried to figure out where this other child came from, and how Ronia'd never met him before. Then I couldn't stop waving as Audrey ran up to the playground. I wished I could stand with her till the school bell rang. I wished that I didn't have to rush to the office to start a non-stop day of meetings, conference calls and catching up on emails during the five-minute transitions between it all. But more than that, I wished that it wasn't really 7 days until we will see each other again. 7 days until we can read chapter 3, till we can laugh and hug and twirl and sing.

And that's why the next 7 days are filled with my other life. The one where I go to the gym and work all night or hang out with friends and meet new ones and never mention my child. The next 7 days, I'll wonder about Ronia, but I won't peek in on chapter 3. The next 7 days, I'll wonder about Audrey, but I won't call her as often as I want to. I shouldn't have to call my daughter. Mothers aren't supposed to have to call their children.

Friday, February 5, 2010

outstretched wings

I named my first blog Narcissist Flight, because I started it on the heels of my separation from the Swine. Escaping that sinkhole of a marriage was a victorious self-indulgent leap into the air. It was a flight that landed me in the arms of another soul sucking man almost immediately. And I am happy to announce that life since Steve is great. It's like I'm breathing fresh air for the first time in over a decade. I made a toxic mistake marrying the Swine, followed by the caustic error of being with Steve, and boom, my twenties were gone in milliblink.

Year 29, though, that was the year. I did things I've never done before, I widened my horizons, I explored and I experienced. In other words I lived. I went out with boys and didn't marry or have children with any of them. I went to Chicago and San Francisco and Hawaii. I smoked a cigar and did a pub crawl. And this year a month in, I've been to Vegas (for CES) and learned how to Whistler of all places. And I'm due to go to New York City for the first time at the end of the month. What boundaries? I'm reluctant to get a boyfriend. I push them away when they get close, because when the result of my two longterm relationships is a Swine and a betraying Brit, I sometimes wonder if all of the experiences I'm having in my new found state of celibacy is much preferable to the stultifying other.

Besides, my job, the one that I got to replace the sucky one I was laid off from ( thank you, truly horrible boss - I mean it), really, really rocks and for the first time, I've had a job for 14 months and counting and still like, nay love, it. Of course, it's demanding and I travel, but I rock at it. And it's a life changer. I'm a stronger, more confident person since I started working there.

I'm entertaining and fun and people love me. Is that narcisstistic to say? Who cares? It's true. My work life rocks. I just kind of suck at real life. One guy told me that my schedule is stupid. One friend got pregnant and had her baby in the space of time that I went without seeing her. I've mostly made new friends, ones that don't mind not seeing me often. They don't know any different. Relying on my calendar and giving two hour time slots two weeks apart doesn't work for most men, so I shrug my shoulders and plug myself into experience. I build relationships and network and sniff the air around me. It smells good up here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

new digs

Three years we lived in that apartment. It is a complex filled with history. I lived there so many years ago where the stories of the deleted posts take place...stories of endless knocks and tears and decisions that brought me there again a year and a half later, to a bigger apartment with a bigger view and bigger heartache. I'd been warned that the juju was too much, but I liked it there. But with the case over and yet another loss under my belt, I deemed it time to move on. And so move I did, for the 35th time in my 30 years.

So weary I am of packing my belongings, carrying them somewhere else and laying them all out again. I try to get rid of things, but can't bear to toss the Day tickets for the London Underground, I look and them and I hear "Mind the gap," and wish I was there once again walking the streets of Chelsea and through Hyde Park and then I remember how much pain I felt there. Packing up my belongings, I came across journal after journal I've kept over the years, and I found the one I kept in London. Flipping straight to January 2006, the stream of excitement that is so quickly quelled by the horrible unveiling of a wicked plan executed by the Swine is a clash that jarred me as abruptly now as it did then. To one moment be wild with anticipation for the arrival of one's daughter and impending birth of a son, and the next anguished over the betrayal and realization that a battle would have to be fought and now the son couldn't be born fast enough to allow for a return to the States to fight that battle is a heartbreaking juxtaposition of emotions that is only heightened when that son dies and all that is left is to fight for the daughter whilst mourning the loss of that son. Packing away that journal with the Underground tickets, playbills and ten-year high school reunion namebadge, I felt as if I shouldn't have read that, as if I'd violated my 26-year-old self's privacy. And I realized that I prefer the fog of the years over those memories. Reading that journal brought back the acuteness and extremity of those emotions in a way that tore at the scars in my heart.

Even as I packed it away, I sat in the mess of that apartment thinking about the journal entries I read from other years that are sprinkled with pain and with drama. Part of me wished I could share them with my siblings, the ones who don't get me and my gruff, me exterior. They don't know me anymore, and I don't know how to let them in, because it is the stuff of those journals that brought me here today, to the girl that calls herself narcissist. I don't want to talk about it. And to tell the truth, they don't want to hear it. Perfection they demand, but only from me, and since I have only imperfection to offer our relationships will be as they are.

London happened. It's easier to go away. That's what my dad taught me. And so I go away from that apartment where I lived with Steve, the man I thought I would love for everything despite and in spite of everything, the apartment where I tried to pick up the pieces when my mom had surgery on her brain tumor, Steve betrayed me, the Swine started another war, I lost my job, and two out of three siblings showed me their backs because I didn't deal with all of that very well. I thought I did all right. I had a friend who landed in the psych ward when she was laid off. I managed to find a job in two months, help nurse my mom back to health, kick Steve to the curb, hire a lawyer and figure out how to pay her. So bite me, siblings. \I got grouchy, so what? I was dealing with a few things. Ever hear of empathy? Moving on.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Defying Gravity

Starting a new blog never happened. The prospect of starting from scratch was too wearisome, and then I went through a lot. What else is new?

In a nutshell...the Swine did more swine-like things and I spent a year fighting him and lost. Steve betrayed me in a most unforgivable way, so he is out of my life forever, and I try not to remember how silly and childlike I was about him from the beginning. Ah, very defined they are in my life.

Determined to make better choices and live a good decade for once in my life, I defy those that have tried to bring me down. Of course, I'm filled with vitriol toward the Swine and his Warrior Princess wife...because how else do you react emotionally to people that do everything in their power to take away and manipulate your child. But we're not talking about that now. We're not talking about the custody battle that I lost, because uh, I have a job and at the time, neither of them did meaning they can spend more time with her than the big, bad working mom. We're not talking about the fact that almost immediately after the case was resolved, he accepted a job in Afghanistan and won't tell me when he's coming back and I have to let my child continue to spend more time with a warrior princess than her mother because the world sucks and I live in it. Bringing lawyers into the mix again and wondering how one man can change so much that only the name Swine suits him for all eternity no matter how he might henceforth try to redeem himself, not that he would ever attempt such a thing.

And so I swirl on with my life, a bifurcated life of part time motherhood and most time single girl in the big, bad world. A life lived floating from person to person. Nothing is steady; all is ethereal. And I marvel at how many chapters 2009 had. There was the month I hung out on boats. There was the month that I saw new cities. There was the month one fell in love with me, and I didn't fall back. And the backstory of every chapter is the drama with Swine.

New friends, which I make all of the time in this odd, single, third-time mother life I lead, are suprised to learn I have a child. Most learn on Facebook rather than through me. I don't bring it up. To bring up being a mother begs the question, where is your child? And then more questions and I hate answering questions about that part of my life because it is painful. Mothers of 8-year-old children aren't supposed to be able to hang out on boats or visit new cities so often, but that's the life I'm used to, and now it's weird to be a mother. Mother time is special and treasured, but I feel so disconnected from my daughter's real full life, and I hate that. So I don't talk about it. Because not talking about it makes the days without her more livable.

So here I am, and though I can never go as deep below the surface as I used to because of them that know of the site, I can write about them here, and that will provide deep satisfaction. Their evil can be as evil is, and I will just record it. And the great thing about kids is that they grow up, and if Audrey ever wants to know the why of it all, I'll have a place to point her. This, this is what I dealt with for so long. Olive branches mean nothing to Swine, darling, only slop, and I've been dealing with his slop for forever.