Thursday, November 30, 2006

Boy's Night

Tonight is Thursday night. Boy’s night. Walter and Allan come over and watch the kids while Jeanine and I go to therapy.

Last night, after dinner, Jeanine left. I had the kids by myself. We read books by the fire.

The animals joined us.

Everyone had a bath or shower.

Everyone was in bed by 8:30pm. Lights out. Quiet night.

We were all calm.

Tonight, there will be a wild game of Veloci-Raptor. Chasing in the dark of the night, whipping tennis balls at each other. Using flashlights for “ hit points.” Tarzan yells for… well, the sake of yelling loudly.

I have cooked dinner for them although Walter is great about opening the refrigerator and making due. Two weeks ago that meant breakfast for dinner.

Jeanine and I are going on a date tonight. We haven’t fought for four straight days. I thought that deserved a celebration. A friend asked if I thought going to dinner was a good idea.

We love going out to dinner. Why?

Well… you can’t yell at each other in a theater.

True. But I feel pretty confident the armistice will hold. We will be able to talk to each other and when the hard subjects come up, we’ll make a mental note and take it to therapy next week. (Our therapist had the nerve to go on vacation this week.)

By the time we get back, all boys will be in bed.


Dirt will be removed from hands and face.


Dinner consumed.

Absolutely. If not by the kids, by Walter. The man leaves no leftovers. I can’t wait until the boys kick into teenage eating. I envision placing a platter of food down and watching the bits fly in the air.

Homework done.

A must before the game of Veloci-Raptor can start.

Boy’s night.

Date night.

Wonder who will have a better time?

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I so scored tonight. How you ask? You won’t believe it. The Wall Street Journal.


There is an article in today’s Journal about the PlayStation 3 vs. the Wii. I gave it to Ben to read.

Why? He asked.

I need to know. Go read it and tell me about it.

He did.

During his report, Zachary showed up. What are you talking about?

Mom gave me some work to do. I read about PlayStation 3 and the Wii. The Wii definitely rocks.


Here, read it, Ben handed the paper to Zachary.

Is your homework done? Jeanine asked from the other room.

Zachary paused. No, not yet.

No reading the paper until you’re done.


I listened to the rest of Ben’s report. I thought the newspaper was just boring stuff, Ben confided. This is really cool. I thought I wanted the PlayStation but now I want the Wii.

Do you know how many PlayStations will be made this year?

No, but the Wii is much cheaper and more fun. You can really do stuff with the Wii. PlayStation – borrrring.

Good to know, I said. Thank you.

Zachary just came running in. I’m done with my homework. Can I read the paper?

Such a score. Hands over the head, touchdown! My kids are interested in the newspaper. Not any newspaper but the Wall Street Journal.

Did you notice the part about Jeanine calling out from the other room?

A surprise entrance. We all had dinner together. The boys were wild and silly.

After I called DINNER TIME, I pulled Jeanine close and said, thank you for being here tonight. It’s so nice. I kissed her.

The boys all ran, EWWWWWWWW.

What’s up with that, I asked as we all sat at the table for dinner.

You were like, making out, Ben informed us with rolled eyes.

We were not.

The kiss lasted, like, more than three seconds. That was making out.

Aren’t you glad we weren’t fighting?

Yeah, Zachary piped in right away.

Oh, that boy gets it.

We had dinner. The table was cleared. I didn’t have to do everything alone. She had to leave to go back to work. I wish she was still here but I’m not angry she’s not here.

I understand something now. It’s not that I need a major commitment of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I need an hour or two every day. That’s all. Connected. Present.

The boys are all settled. Reading. Waiting for their turn in the bath. Fully informed about the difference between a PlayStation 3 and a Wii. Disgusted and perhaps a little relieved their mothers were kissing in the kitchen.

We still have a long way to go.

But tonight? I scored.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I’m not on the roof.

I’m not ready to pack bags and walk out the door.

I’m making clam chowder- extra bacon, almost no potatoes- the way the boys like it. Not the way Jeanine likes it but she’s not going to be home. (Not going there today) I brewed a pot of coffee.

I know. Coffee in the afternoon is a big no no. When I post at 3AM, you’ll all understand. It smells so good, though. With the sky gray, promising snow, I couldn’t resist. Soup, hot coffee, warm bread. Does life get any better?

I have a lot to carry right now. I am. It’s not easy. My body aches a lot- I realize this is the physical manifestation of the work I am doing in therapy around the abuse. I have added Glucosamine to my drug of choice list, right after Advil.

Allan told me I need a weekly pillbox.

I am not that old, I said.

And a pill cutter.

I can bite the pill in half.

Pill cutter and pillbox. Christmas is coming!

Why don’t you get me some support hose while you’re at it?

He was not deterred in his excitement.

I guess I know what I’m getting for Christmas.

Ben was on cloud nine yesterday. He has been picked as a ‘student leader.’ This means he helps with the kindergarteners and first graders in their gym class. He was seriously proud.

Are you gonna help me? Jake asked. He is a first grader.

Ben shoved his brother aside. I don’t think so.

Ben is sweet with small children. That is, any small child but his little brother.

BEN YOU HAVE TO… Jake isn’t one to back down.

I don’t have your class. I’m sure. Anyway, I am a student leader…

I suggested Ben take his homework to his room, seeing that he is so much older now. Jake stood an inch outside his open door, carefully eyeing the threshold, keeping a hair’s width outside.



I’m not in your room.

I made it to the bottom of the stairs in time to see the door slam on Jake’s nose.


No, honey, he didn’t. He slammed his door, which he shouldn’t…

You always listen to him! He howled, holding onto his barely touched nose.

No, Jake, I saw you…

But he…

Jake, why don’t you take your homework to your room, too?

The howling stopped immediately.


He ran downstairs to get his pencil and math worksheet. I ignored the reality there will be pencil drawings on the wall in his room. That’s why there is a gallon of Kilz in the basement, I reminded myself.

I opened Ben’s door. He turned, ready to shout but his face softened when he saw it was his mother, not his little brother.

When you want privacy? It’s probably good to close your door, okay? And not on Jake’s face.


Through the daily banter, the memories are always present. I sat yesterday afternoon and held a picture of my father. I know it’s from the camping trip. He looks out from the photo with a crooked, uneven moustache, haunted eyes and mouth half open. I am a little girl dressed in her brother’s hand me down sneakers and Baltimore Oriole baseball cap. My hair is stringy and unkempt. There is a forced smile on my face. I look scared. Uncomfortable in my body, my shoulders are pressed back.

Good posture was very important to my mother.

All of this swirls around me, every day, all day. It is not a simple weave but an enormous tapestry with different scenes stretched out- some finished, some waiting for more detail, some yet to be lived. I am happy in the moment of hearing Ben’s announcement. Slightly annoyed with the fight between the boys but pleased with my quick redirection of Jake.

And. And I know I have to go back into the tent with my father. I have to remember to let go. It is not one or the other. There are many things that must occur together. I am a mom. A wife. A sister. A friend. A little girl.

My life is full. There is much to be joyful about every day. I am not sad. I do not feel sorry for myself. I know what I have to do. The little girl in the picture has been running for a very long time.

I’ll go bring in wood for tonight. The boys and I will read after dinner in front of a warm fire. I have to remember to press the fire screen tight against the wall lest the cat crawls into the fireplace again.

She’s hell bent on catching a flame.

It’s bearable. I can sit. I can see it. I know what happened- maybe not all of it yet but I know. I can feel it. It’s okay. It’s not happening now. I have to catch a very quick little girl in a size too big baseball cap. Make her hear me. Get her to stop. Because I know I can now.

And there is laundry the boys have to put away. Walter called earlier, reminding me to look for the Celtics tickets. The soup needs to be turned down to a slow simmer. It’s time to go pick up the boys. Drop the mortgage payment in the mailbox on the way.

I’m not on the roof.

I’m not walking out the door.

Soup, coffee and warm bread. In this moment? Life doesn’t get any better.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Gut Check

Gut check today.

We were cleaning the basement this weekend.

Are you trying to get in my pants? I asked her when she said yes to throwing away a big pile of stuff.

She smiled. That should be a benefit of marriage.

I stopped- I was afraid we'd start to argue and I'd lose the chance to heave the ugly, wooden shelves we've been holding onto but not using for the last ten years.

In the process, I came across a box of my old writing. In it was sections of my old journal. Back in the early days of DOS and giant, flimsy disks for saving, I tended to print things out to save them.

I wrote this in November, 1992:

"Seems I have a girlfriend who thinks nothing of spending all of her time and energy on everything else but her relationship., which of course is the only thing in her life with any room to give. And I, feeling less than deserving, have been getting more and more miserable. All I really want is to have a life with her outisde of her work. Is that too much to ask? If she is consumed by obligation now, at a job she hates, what's to happen when it's a job she loves? Will there ever be time for the two of us? This has been an on-going issue for us, from the start. She can't say no, except to me. Big priviledge, huh? What will happen is that I'll threaten her, she'll change for a few weeks, then slowly, it will go back to this, then I'll threaten her, she'll change, and so on and so on. I don't particularly like being the bad guy all the time. There has to be a better way..."

Did that ever take the wind out of my sails. You mean, I've been fighting the same battle since 1992? We didn't even have children.

I was right- there has to be a better way. We both deserve to end this fight. To find a way to make peace with who we are and what we want.

The urge to run poked it's familiar head up again today. It doesn't pull at me. It looks silly and tiring. I called a friend. Heard myself say the words again.

It's going to take time. We have a lot of work to do.

It came from a heavy heart.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

His Own Guy

Zachary made a card for Thanksgiving in school. They are learning about the local Native American tribe, the Wampanoag’s.

Inside the card, he wrote this:

“What I am thankful for

I am so lucky I have so many things. I love my family members and found of friends. I am warm all day because of my clothes. It’s miserable without a life. I love my life. Thank God “if there is one” that I was born!”

The other day he said to me, I don’t have much in common with you. I’m pretty much my own guy.

I nodded. You are your own guy. I think we have some stuff in common though.

Well, he said, we live in the same place but I don’t act like you. Or mom. I’m my own guy.

Yeah, I nodded, you are.

I read this card and I want to laugh. He is my son. He is his grandmother’s grandson. My mother would have been so proud to read the line “if there is one.” She would applaud his thinking for himself.

I see me in those words. It’s what I say to him when he tells me about heaven and God. I remind him that’s what he believes. I’m not so sure. We talk about it.

I wanted to call my mother and tell her about the card. We would have laughed together. The third generation of independent thinkers.

He is his own guy.

That’s what makes him so much like me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I woke up very early this morning. Jake had a bad dream. I went in and stuck my arm through the bars of his top bunk and rubbed his back. The cat gently stuck her paw through the other side and played with my moving arm.

I came downstairs and watched the sunrise though the tree branches.

I wonder what it would be like to be alone. All my talk is as much to convince myself I can take huge leaps as it is to be heard.

The words tossed back and forth between us are like a cartoon bomb, waiting to explode, it’s wick seemingly endless. We have some basic disagreements about big issues. For the first time, we both feel sure about our place.

Is compromise possible?

My life is falling apart. I understand the word shattered for the first time.

The sun came up. I wondered about happiness. Love.

Jake came tearing down the stairs and jumped in my lap.

Snuggle time, he said, curling up.

His cold feet pressed against my hand.

I know happiness and love.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I love writing PS’s. I don’t know why but I do.

I know there is no easy solution. I do love Jeanine. She does love me. We, at times, are great together. I want more than once a month. Or when it fits into her schedule.

Or when she’s scared of losing me.

I don’t want to be pushed out on the edge, to a place of being empty, lonely and miserable.

I also want to say, I wrote what I did last night because anyone out there who is struggling in a marriage, I believe, can relate to the holiday drama. It’s not easy to be fighting on a day about love and family and togetherness. It’s not easy to be in a room full of people who don’t know how angry you’ve been with each other.

Hi, haven’t seen you in two years but we’re going to take this time to spit fire at each other.

Who wants to be a jerk and mope in the corner?

It wasn’t about putting on a face, either. We do love each other. It was more about having a cease-fire. Coming out of our trenches and sharing turkey in no mans land.

For a moment, we relaxed and had fun.

We still have so far to go.

I'm Still Here.

My friends are killing me today.


I was away. It’s what happened yesterday. I write what happens in a day. It’s the point of the blog.

Please understand, we talked about a separation. It is an option. The daily tension can be so bad my blood pressure pounds in my head. Not good. Not good for either the kids or us. It was the only way I could see to lower the tension and put us both in a place where we really have to look at the relationship.

Do we move forward? What do we each want out of it? Is it a relief to be apart or hard?

Also, remember, this would not be our first separation. I left the house for almost a month this summer. I was struggling with the abuse memories that were flooding my head. Jeanine’s response deeply disappointed me. It didn’t feel safe to be around her. It was helpful for me. I was able to separate what was going on with Jeanine and what was going on with me.

I have no idea what the next step should be, only how important it is to choose carefully. Shouting at each other daily isn’t being thoughtful. I see a separation as a chance to get clear.

Jeanine does not. She is hurt by the suggestion. But willing to talk about it.

I feel stuck. The fighting exhausts me. I don’t know how to stop. Allan tells me to be Zen and breathe. I’m not very good at Zen and breathing.

Jeanine then proceeded to charm me the rest of the afternoon yesterday. The conversation completely flipped her out. She let go and made nice. She is enchanting when she wants to be. And very beautiful.

She pulls me in every time.

And the minute she feels safe, she goes away again.

It is an old pattern that must change.

A separation may be helpful. It may not.

No decisions have been made. It took us 15 years to get into this mess. It will take a long time to get out of it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Still Sitting Still

I asked for a separation this morning.

Thanksgiving morning. Nice, huh?

I’m frustrated. Raw. Tired of being hurt with the constant jabs.

Then we went for Thanksgiving dinner to Walter’s sister’s house. It was such fun. Great people. Everything, everyone was relaxed and easy. The way family should be with each other.

Of course, I’m an outsider and don’t know the dirt but it seemed very easy and relaxed to me. I played cards with my wife and Allan and Walter’s nephew. (Please note: I know all the names. I don’t use anyone’s name without permission. So if it gets confusing with the references to the cousin’s sister’s brother of Walter… it’s because I only have Walter’s permission.)

My wife.

On a holiday. My favorite holiday.

She’s such a charmer, my wife. She smiles and her eyes light up a room. You never know if it’s joy or rage behind that sparkle. I know it’s both. I played cards with her. Listened to her talk to Walter’s mom and sister and sister’s friend eating dinner. She is a good person. She has a good heart. I love her.

And I asked for her to consider a separation this morning.

On one hand, I can’t imagine not having her to wake up with every morning. Or, more realistically, to shove her out of bed and tell her it’s time to get up. We sat at breakfast this morning and discussed making a reservation to go to the Macy’s parade next year.

Jeanine and I came upstairs and talked about separating.

I watched her over the table, playing cards. I listened to her talk to Walter’s mom. I remembered the part of her I love so much. The part that is so kind, thoughtful. Funny. Gentle.

We text messaged each other during the football game. The contents of the messages will not pass the Weezie meter. Let’s just say, she wants one thing, I want another. We’ve always made it work in the past. It’s been a little hard to do lately. We haven’t been able to meet each other in the middle of the bed. And when we can’t meet each other in the middle of the bed, we are in deep trouble.

I am reminded of my friend who barked at me, you’re still having great sex after 15 years? Are you out of your goddamn mind?

Our cement boots have kept us at separate sides. Anger, confusion and sadness. I wondered, as the messages went back and forth, can we sexually heal this bump in the road, the way we have so many times before? Will our entrenchment keep us apart?

She is a wonderfully kind person.

This is not a bump. It’s a mountain.

My friend Donald reminds me, being single isn’t so great. There is a limited gene pool out there. I watch two other friends, divorcing, now dating clones of each other. Why go through all that trouble to end up with the same person, different body?

It’s a different body and different baggage. They both get to start over. No eye rolling or bitter comments

No finished sentences.

It’s Thanksgiving. I asked for a separation this morning.

I was pulled back this afternoon.

I know. Everyone is thinking, c’mon girl! What the hell are you doing?

I’m going to sit. Sit still.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Break

We are leaving, with the masses today to go to Walter’s family in Connecticut.

I have not traveled on the roads for Thanksgiving in years. There is something about the bustle, hurry and smiles on almost everyone’s faces that make it exciting. We’re bringing a ham, cheesecake and some wine. The boys can’t wait to stay in the hotel with the indoor pool. Very fancy.

I have to go to the kid’s Harvest festival in a few minutes. Then come back to meet with the bat exterminator. Yes, Spike is gone but we want to be sure there will be no more friendly visits.

Sitting still.

I will not be posting tomorrow. My first day off since I started.

Well, I will bring my computer just in case. It is our first trip as a family to Walter’s homestead. Cousins to meet each other for the first time. I think it’s a big deal for Walter.

I know it’s a big deal for me. I hope his children behave and make him proud. I promise to behave and make him proud, too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Right now I need to surrender. Stop. Surrender to that which I cannot control. Breathe in all that is around me. Be at peace with the things that are difficult- see them as marbles in my hand. I can roll them, throw them, and look at them… I have many choices. Right now I have to sit with them in my hand and do nothing.

Surrender to the moment.

Oh my god, do I sound like I’m full of shit or what? Seriously, I think this is my challenge right now. Not to make any choices, not to make any decisions but to simply sit. Don’t do anything. No chaos.

But I love chaos. I want to move, to change, to rebuild, and to rethink. Save stray animals and have more babies. Anything but sit still.

But the word keeps coming back to me. Over and over. Surrender. You really have no power. You cannot control the universe. All I’m doing is scrambling.

I had a dream last night I was running in deep, soft sand. My knees ached, I could make no progress and I was so tired. I gasped for breath. Everyone I cared about danced, laughed and ate atop a hill of this sand, unreachable. I could not drive my legs hard enough to get there. I was hungry. Exhausted. I wanted to be still. I wanted to be held.

I can run miles everyday. I can changes houses every five minutes. I will not make my life better. It is wonderfully distracting. Always the hope of something new over the horizon. If I have this, it will all work out. Oh wait, no it’s this thing, object, house, state, job, place- I’m starting to see the pattern. It never works out. I need to be at peace with myself.

I won’t give up. I have fought so hard in my life to be heard, seen and understood. The thought of giving up is foreign. Painful. Surrender? It is to be at peace with the struggle against my father’s hands. To stop fighting against the weight shoving my face into the carpet. Never.

When I think of surrender in terms of being at peace with all that is around me, the serenity prayer from AA comes to mind- change the things I can, leave the things I can’t, and most importantly, the wisdom to know the difference.

I don’t think I know the difference. I don’t think I’ve ever known the difference. I give up when I shouldn’t. I try when it’s ridiculous. I look for love where it is impossible. I forget how much I have right in front of me.

How do I get the wisdom? I can’t make it happen. I need to sit with it all. Hold all the marbles. And do nothing. Simply surrender. I have all this in my hands. At times, I can juggle it all, with ease, in the air. I can shift them back and forth, palm to palm. In the end, I am holding the same marbles. My arms ache. The marbles, however, are still there.

Every fiber of my being wants to make busy, to move, to change and shift… I need to give it up. Let go.

I cannot move forward until I stop trying so hard to make it okay. In my dream, the soft sand kept my friends away. I woke up crying in frustration. If I had only realized I could sit and call out for help.

Or better, sit and watch the ocean that created the deep sand. Breathe. No panic. No desperation. My friends will still love me even if I am not in motion, even if I fail to climb a mountain to be with them.

I will never give up.

I only hope to make peace.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Trouble

I have had an enormous amount of feedback about my blog lately.

My wife is PISSED.

My mother in law is really concerned. She should be.

I had someone who I don’t know at all write me an email suggesting some helpful hints to a better marriage. Thank you for your concern.

My friend Margaret worries that I am rubbing salt into Jeanine’s wounds. I think I’ve been incredibly fair about Jeanine. Believe me, I could bitch a lot more.

Walter said, you need to tell people why you write this blog.


I am an outsider and an insider, all at once. I am white. I am privileged. I have a beautiful home. I live in a gorgeous neighborhood. I have plenty of food to feed my children. Access excellent public education, no crime threat and two cars that work.

I am also a lesbian. My marriage is not recognized outside of Massachusetts. People lined up at the State House in Boston yesterday to wave flags and cheer the current governor’s attempt to repeal the right to marriage for all in this state. I have been harassed, yelled at, fired from a job, denied health care coverage all because I am a lesbian.

When someone in Iowa, New York, California- wherever- reads my blog, my hope and goal is that they can relate to what I experience on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes, not so good. We all struggle with our past, some more than others. We all struggle in our marriages from time to time. We all want to wring out kids necks, if only when we’ve stepped on the same Lego piece for the tenth time in a single day.

I’m a person. Just like everyone else.

I deserve rights. Just like everyone else.

In this country, there is only one state where gays and lesbians can get legally married. One. In the land of the free and home of the brave, one state has the courage to treat people like me equally.

If by writing this blog, I get people to see that my life isn’t so different, my kids are like theirs and deserve all the same legal protections, I have made a difference.

Being gay or lesbian in this country is different. We are not allowed to marry. We are not allowed to serve, openly, in the armed services. We are not allowed, in many states, to adopt children. We are not allowed, in many states, to be foster parents. We cannot list our spouses on insurance policies. We often cannot have our family members listed on a healthcare policy. We cannot enter hospital rooms of our spouses. The list goes on and on.

I am not perfect. I have been a good wife and a lousy one. I take my marriage very seriously. It’s only been “legal” for two years but believe me, I have been married 15 years.

The point of this blog is to reach out and make a connection. I’m not trying to air dirty laundry to be spiteful. I’m not trying to get people on my side. At this point over 6,000 people have logged on since I started this site in late August. Some are people who have never met a gay person (or at least think they haven’t). They get a peek at what it is to be a Suburban Lesbian Housewife.

And maybe, when they go to the voting booth and have a chance to decide whether or not someone like me can have all the same protections they have? They won’t be so afraid.

Not because I’m perfect. Not because I won’t end up divorced like over 60% of heterosexual marriages do, but because I’m a person.

Just like everyone else.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Love Letter

I received a letter in the mail yesterday. It was from my mother’s cousin. I hear from her… once every five years or so. Not often.

She had already sent me condolences.

She sent me a letter she found. A love letter from my grandfather to my grandmother when they were courting.

We don’t court anymore. We date. We have sex. We have lost the art of courting.

Why send it to me and not my brother or sister? I have no idea. I am incredibly thankful though. I read it to my sister. She said, it’s a sign, Sara.

A sign?

I know you’re having a hard time right now with Jeanine. But don’t you think it’s weird that of all days, you got that letter today?

It was written on July 21, 1927 from the Hotel Madison.

“My Darling Sweetheart,

Hope you will “excuse” my writing you again tonight as haven’t a bit of news but I do want to tell you again how much my love for you is growing each day. Sometimes, when I get to thinking of you would give most anything to be with you for a few minutes and am already looking forward to the time when I can come back to you for a few days at least.

Is still mighty hot out here and coupled with some terrible roads we are having a “wonderful” time. But don’t think we even mind that as long as we can get our share of the business.

Hope you haven’t had to work so hard this week, also that you and Uncle Tommy are peaceful again.

We went swimming in the river here tonight and had a real nice time. The water was just fine and wish you could have been with us.

As it is getting right late I must say “Goodbye.”

With ever so much love for you, I am, as ever,


So kind. I don't know if it's a sign. It is, however, a reminder. Of how easy love is in the beginning. Lifelong committments come from sweet nothings whispered, earnestly, in hopes of capturing the other's heart.

It is easy, over time, to forget those early moments.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The blanket of silence has descended on the house. Jeanine is furious with me for not continuing a conversation last night. I knew I had nothing to say that was going to be positive or helpful. I knew I needed to stop before I said things I regretted.

She is not talking to me.

I don’t really want to talk to her.

I had a dream last night that I was pregnant. I was not happy. It made me tired to look down at a full belly and know what was ahead. I knew I was pregnant to try and save my marriage.

No more babies. Chaos will not make this better. It’s not the answer.

It feels like a huge swing, in some ways. We were doing so well. Jeanine has made amazing changes. But I know we are finally back, full circle, to what has been a problem for our whole relationship. It is old and heavy, cement shoes holding us firm in our convictions.

We are at a stalemate.

I don’t really know what the answer is.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Spike is Gone

About an hour ago, Jeanine took the cat upstairs to take care of the bat.

The exterminators could not make it till next Wednesday.

In the meantime, Jeanine and are are arguing in the living room.

Jeanine is in tears. I'm frustrated.

Then Spike makes an appearance.

I scream.

Okay, I scream for bats, snakes and mice. I'm a baby. What can I say.

The kids freaked.

Doors are shut. Jeanine chases Spike with the net.

Spike leaves.

The cat is still upstairs. I don't even want to know what she found.

Bye, Spike.

Back to the Wife

A new carrot is being dangled in front of me.

If I change the way she wants, she’ll stay.

If I don’t, she’ll leave.

I can’t help but think I’ve been surrounded by carrot dangling people my whole life.

I’m tired of carrots.

It doesn’t work on me anymore. I won’t be held prisoner by someone else’s needs. She should not feel held prisoner by me. If she is unhappy with the very best person I can be, then she should leave. Threatening me will not make me change. I know it did before. Which is probably why she’s trying to see if it will work this time.

I don’t feel so empty. So alone. I understand my need to rush and take care of someone else. It’s not helpful. And it never works in the long run. (See November 1st blog, Take Two.) I end up drained and resentful.

I love my wife. And I will not back down. I realize love does not mean giving until there is nothing left in an attempt to avoid confrontation.

The fighting between us- and the silence- is starting to take a toll on the boys. They are quiet at times. Too quiet. As if they are holding their breath, waiting for the next outburst.

Ben made his bed, brushed his teeth and didn’t fight once with his little brother this morning. He said to Jeanine on her way out, Have fun today!

He is trying to be the caretaker. On my way out to couples therapy last night, he hugged me and would not let go. It’s okay, honey, I said. I’ll be home in an hour or so.

I know, he said. He still held tight.

I’m not leaving. I’m not walking out the door. I am not, as my friend says, writing the story before it takes place. There is no rush. Taking careful steps, pausing often, will help me choose the right path.

For the first time in my life, I’m not angry. I’m not anxious. I can wait to see how this works out. The huge black hole, the void from years of abuse shoved deep into the farthest corners of my mind, is gone. All my tricks to avoid it are like a magician’s hat and deck of cards finally held in the audience’s hands. Not so tricky after all.

I have said before, and will say again, I am not a perfect person. I hold equal responsibility in my marriage for its success or failure.

I am, however, a different person now.

One who does not respond to carrots.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Bat is Back

Or should I say, the bat never left.

The bat's name is Spike.

Jake wants to build Spike a house.

Zachary came bounding down the stairs a little while ago.


Zachary wants Spike GONE. NOW.

Ben and Zachary are huddled together with the cat in Ben's room.

We are keeping the cat, they informed me.

Jake is asleep.

I did not leave him upstairs with the bat. Or should I say, Spike. I realize my error in leaving Zachary upstairs with Spike.

Zachary does not like Spike.

Walter is chasing Spike as I type. Spike scampered back to the eves.

Walter and I know there may be more than one Spike.

The boys are certain there is more than one Spike but we have denied this fact. This is called a little white lie. Also known as, it's the only way to get them to close their eyes and go to sleep.

Tomorrow, the exterminator is going to come and resettle Spike and perhaps Spike's family.

To the country. I'm sure.

Through the Gate

Time to move forward.

Whether I like it or not, I am moving forward. I am swept by a tide of good friends, good fortune and good timing. I left my job at a key time. I was ready to be more than an assistant.

At the same time, my friend was ready to leave her job, to step up to new challenges.

I pushed her. She pushed me.

She opened doors for me. Talked about my expertise. Now I have amazing challenges in front of me.

I thought I simply had a big mouth.

I hope to open doors for her. It is the one legacy of my mother I hope to continue. My mother supported strong women in business. Over and over. I will do the same. I know my friend is a leader. She will move mountains. She already has.

She wrote me and said God does put angels in our paths. My commitment to her made her cry.

Her commitment to me makes me cry.

I am finding ways to pull together varied groups. I am finding a way to make things happen. When I think about what I lived through in a prominent, affluent home as a child and what it is like to live through the same without the resources, education and access- I become driven.

My challenge, I have been told, “is finding a way to CHANNEL your PASSION and INTELLIGENCE and COMMITMENT constructively and in a way that is valued in the world. You have so much to contribute, lady. . .”

I have always felt I did not earn my place at the table. It was handed to me. What did I know?

I realize now I have worked hard to be respectful of the power and responsibility being at the table brings.

My friend says she wants on her tombstone, she made a difference in all children’s lives.

I want mine to say I made a difference.

I have a gate to walk through. It's my own fear, my own insecurity and my own shame. It's old. Overgrown. It no longer fits who I am.

It’s time to move forward.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Note to My Wife

The cat is out.

There is a bat in Jake's room.

Get the cat in and put her in Jake's room. Please don't let the bat out, though.

Zachary doesn't know there is a bat on the third floor. The door is shut. To Jake's room. With the bat.

[school ben looked at tonight] sucked.

I have an early AM meeting. Off to bed.

Let the cat in. Keep the bat in.


What do you deserve?

I realized something today.

I actually know stuff. Quite a lot of stuff.

I’m… smart.

To some people who know me, they will think I’m kidding about this.

I’m not.

I’m worth something. I deserve respect. Kindness. It’s not about needing it, not about wishing for it- I deserve it.

Anyone out there have a clue how big that is for me?

Probably not. Most people see my confidence, my bravado. They don’t understand how I move through the world as a little girl whose faith was ripped away. Whose hope was a moment of clinging to her mother’s legs in the kitchen. Fragile. Unpredictable.

Today, I feel like I deserve this life. I have hope.

It comes in waves. I move back and forth between wanting to close myself in the closet and pull the trigger. And feeling sheer joy that I made it through, I am alive. I have three great kids. Wonderful friends. Gifts beyond belief. I am blessed.

Today the wave is strong; it makes me feel ten feet tall.

Tomorrow, it may throw me to the surf, crushing the air out of my lungs.

I am trying to learn how not to react to the high or the low. To simply ride the wave. It curls under and eventually crushes itself. Only foam is left. And a tingling sound like champagne poured in a glass.

I can do this.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Unwanted Rooms

I’m trying to function. I can barely stand to be in my skin.

Jeanine was upset with me for posting what I did yesterday.

You’re going to make my mother cry, she said.

It’s a sad thing, I shrugged.

I can’t believe such horrible things happen, she said.

Look at me. Such horrible things happened to me. It’s about me. My life. Not some global sense horror.

I know, I know, she says before fading away to a safer topic of conversation.

I know it’s almost impossible for her to take in. She cannot imagine. She does not want to imagine. If she does, she has to see the woman she is married to as a small child so afraid she wet her pants- often. She’ll have to realize some of the sadness is irreparable. I will always have it. When she holds me, she will have to realize how I was held against my will.

I need her to imagine. Imagine my fear I’ll never be able to sleep again without wondering, as I close my eyes, what I will see in my dreams. Imagine what it’s like to sit and without control, have what I can only describe, somewhat inaccurately, as flashbacks. My vision isn’t gone, but suddenly, as when I write, I can see the scene as clearly as if it were on a movie screen. As a writer, I have always locked onto the ‘picture’ in my mind and moved through the room to describe each detail for the story I’m writing. This is how my memories have come back to me. Unwanted rooms, unwanted detail. I have to make myself look.

My fear is that she thinks I’m making this up. Sometimes, I wonder if I am.

It is the clarity of my memory that pulls me back from questioning myself. The orange box of Spic an’ Span, the tiny black and white television on top of the cluttered desk. The closet of my father’s clothes, with a line of ties, where I would sit and crouch as deep into the suit pants as I could go. There was no door to close. There was no place to hide in that tiny apartment. It was the best I could do.

Those memories are crystal clear. I know they happened. It is these specifics I count on to keep me from feeling crazy.

It doesn’t start that way, though. Each memory begins with a very hazy image or sensation.

I have vague sense of something in my hand- I know what it feels like but cannot yet see the room, the place. I know it smells like canvas, morning dew. Then I realize there was a camping trip, to a place where the road was washed out in one place and my father drove the car over a small stream. And we pitched tents. Old army tents. I can’t see it all. But I feel myself start to panic. I feel the air leave the room.

I don’t want to remember anymore.

I start to run. I want chaos. I want to rage against Jeanine. I want to kick and scream and fight. Because if I don’t, I start to cry. Uncontrollably. I feel small and wrong and broken and dirty. I’ll never be whole again. It’s a huge, vast emptiness – my hope was ripped away from me.

I was just a child.

I have to function. I have three kids. Beautiful children who are not broken. They are alive and full. They believe in their happiness. I have to function for them.

No, I have to do more than that. I have to heal.

Which means going back to the canvas smell. The sensation in my hand. The terror in my throat.

I know it’s sad to read. If you cannot, then don’t.

I lived through it alone the first time. I was a child.

I have to live through it again. I will do it with or without Jeanine by my side. With or without her understanding.

I want to heal. I have to heal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Real Demon

My father.

I can barely stand the thought of sitting on his lap as a small child. Having him slide me up and down on his leg. How he would have me sit on his foot and jiggle it. The image makes me nauseous.

He would tickle me until I wet my pants, until I cried for him to stop. And he would keep on, laughing, never saying anything. He would grab just above my knee and squeeze and it would make me jump. Dig his fingers in the backs of my thighs. I laughed and cried. It hurt. And tickled.

As a little girl, he let me do all the things my mother said no to. Sit on his lap on the riding lawn mower. Sit on his lap to drive the car when I was four, five years old.

Seems I was always on his lap.

He was so quiet. My mother said he was gentle and kind, when she was in a sloppy drunk mood. When she was a angry drunk she said she married him because he asked and her father was unhappy with paying for four years at Hood College she hadn’t found a proper husband.

And she still hadn’t.

I’ve gone back to my mother. As I write this, I run back to my mother. I cannot stand thinking about my father. The camping trips. The apartment. The house in Ithaca.

But he is the real demon.

My sister and I can sit for weeks and talk about my mother. How much she tortured us, the awful stories about her making my sister pull up carpet at 2am, or how she ran out to my car the night I finally realized I did not have to stay for her abuse and in her nightgown tried to stop my car by slamming her fists on my windshield… and we laugh and laugh. Somehow, it’s funny. My mother. Her abuse. We can laugh about it. We compare notes- I’ve been disowned five times. No, no, I’ve been disowned more.

And we laugh.

But we never talk about my father. Ever.

Part of that is because when I turned 25, I said no more. He called all the time. He sent gifts- clothes bought at yard sales that were for a twelve year old at best, stuffed animals- he wanted me to be a child. I was not. Something about it was so awful- I told him you cannot call me but once a week on Sunday. He would call Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday… never Sunday. And finally, I said, no more. I will not talk to you anymore. It was the early days of answering machines. I stopped answering the phone. He would leave long, garbled messages. My girlfriend at the time, in her infinite wisdom and complete immaturity said, he is one crazy motherfucker, isn’t he? Indeed, he is.

Eventually, he stopped calling. It took years.

I can remember vividly being eleven years old and having him come into my bedroom after having dropped us off at home from our court approved, weekly visit with him. I was making my bed. And he walked over the sheets on the floor. And I remember the anger and hatred I had for him. I remember writing in my journal about how much I hated him, how stupid he was, how he disgusted me. And how drunk my mother was.

Again, I go to my mother. She’s easy.

His apartment was in a huge building. I have dreams, now, forever, that I have an apartment in a building that is his building and it’s filthy and dirty and I cannot clean it no matter how hard I try. In my dreams, I have to live there, I have no choice. It’s disgusting and I think, maybe, just maybe I can live here if I clean really well. In the dream, I scrub the filthy apartment with cockroaches climbing the walls… how can I make this work? I have to make this work…

There were only three rooms to his real apartment. A kitchen, a bath and a main room with his bed, and his desk. The kitchen was my sister’s domain. The bathroom was mine. My sister cooked. I cleaned. I would scrub the layers of dirt off the bathroom sink, covered with stubble and the unwashed remains of toothpaste. I would work the gray ring in the bathtub until it finally washed down the drain.

I was obsessed with it being clean.

[reference removed upon request]

I feel myself wanting to tell about how the museum holds my mother’s O’Keeffe now. Her prized piece of art.

I need to leave my mother alone. It wasn’t her fault.

My father walked around the apartment with only boxer shorts on. Sometimes, he would drink gin and sing Judy Collins songs, slightly off tune. My mother hated Judy Collins.

Ah, back to my mother. I’m running to her faster and faster.

If I was good- I’m afraid of what that meant- but if I was good, I could take out his banjo and play it. I loved the feel of the thin skin, and how you could rub your fingers just on it and make a rustling sound you heard in songs sometimes. But if I took it out and played with it, he would take it from me eventually and try to play it. He never really could. An expensive toy, my mother said.

See the pattern?

I remember the piles of Playboy magazines. Go ahead, he would say. What do you think of that? He would laugh when a centerfold was pulled out. That creepy, quiet laugh. No words. Just laughter.

And I would pick up the magazines and read them. Read the stories. Women getting raped and having great orgasms. I didn’t know what an orgasm was, at first, but I learned. I would read, and read… housewives masturbating on the spin cycles of washing machines. A woman walking into a firehouse and having every fireman in the place in every orifice she had. And it was mesmerizing. Over and over, I wanted to be the man. I wanted to be the one dominating the woman. I wanted to be in power.

I felt so little. Being a girl was scary. Meant horrible things happened to you. Horrible things did happen to me.

Take a bath, he would say. And see myself in the bath. And hear him make that noise. I remember it in the car. I remember it in the bath.

Until a few months ago, I remembered nothing. Not the tickling. Not the stacks of pornography. Not the noise.

It makes me sick.

It’s time to leave my mother alone. It wasn’t her fault.

It wasn’t mine either.

But I'm cheating here. I'm racing through the years. Tomorrow I am going to start at the beginning and take slow steps, holding each one.

Without running to my mother.

The real demon was my father.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


No flights out tonight.

Don't ever try to fly out late from a small airport.

I worked on some photos. I was only going to send them to Walter.

I decided to be brave.

"Moonscape." I saw a basic picture of the sand, the lines in the sand and wanted to make it something fun. Different. I used colors and found what felt like a moonscape.

"Dig." The surf creates a natural layered wall on the beach. At times, almost five feet high.

"Only, Lonely" I've walked this beach many times and this is the first starfish I've found, completely in tact. So sad. Surrounded by shells, it's still alone. I did nothing to manipulate the setting of this photo.

Going Home

I have to go home.

I don't want to.

It's been beautiful here.

But the next time I come down, I'll bring a friend. And then another.

I am loved and I'm trying to remember all the things that have worked out well for me. This place is one. I'm so grateful to be here. It gives me peace. Calm.

I can't wait to share it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sit Still

Walter called me today and reminded me, the hardest thing to do right now is nothing. To not want to make decisions about properties, to go through old things, to decide who gets the photo album with pictures of my mother drinking beer in college.

Grandma was wild! My boys all said, looking at the photos. Tall, thin and always with a smirk on her face. Crouching in front of her new car before graduation. Sporty in her saddle shoes.

Yes, she was. Your Grandma almost got kicked out of college because she was caught skinny-dipping the night before graduation. I believe a very large donation from your great-Grandfather allowed her to participate in the ceremony.

They laughed. New admiration for Grandma sparkled in their eyes as they looked over the photos.

It wasn’t a story told at the memorial service but it is one of my favorites.

You’re right, Walter. It is. It is almost impossible. I’m afraid of standing still.

I am afraid if I do, I will become deeply unhappy with my life as it is right now.

That I will find myself worthless.

My world small and petty.

I will stop caring.

In short, I’m terrified of my depression coming back. The stay at home mom depression I fought for years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

But it’s not the same as before. I am not the same. I know more. The memories are clear, crisp, with no fog.

Stopping, doing nothing means facing what I have to face. So I can move on, and no longer be held hostage by depression, fear and feeling worthless.

In short, I have to face the real demon in my life. I have to sit at the table with him. I have to tell him what he did was wrong. Deeply wrong. Bizarre. Painful.


Tonight, I’m going to have dinner with my kids. Try to spend time with Jeanine and not fight. I have been short, angry and explosive lately.

It’s time.

Tomorrow I’m going to start posting about my father. It will not be for children to read. I’m not even sure I will be able to read it. I have to, though.

Over and over.

I have to stop. I can’t run anymore.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Mother's Condo

There is something about this place. I’m in northern Florida, almost Georgia. I don’t know if it’s the Spanish moss that hangs from the branches of the trees. Or if it’s the incredibly slow pace of everything, and how older women refer to you as chil’, or honey chil’ in sweet sing song voices. Of course, everyone else calls you Ma'am- which is far better than Miss. Once you’ve start being called Miss, you know you are old. Very old. My mother was Miss Anne down here. Even the old women called her Miss Anne. The first time I get called Miss, it’s time to put on the elastic waistband pants and give up. My young boys get called Sir. It is not meant to be funny. It is a reality of social class.

And that’s the pull and the push. The love and the hate. I love the beauty- on any given day, you can see dolphins swim along the coastline. I found a horseshoe crab shell that was two feet across and at least four feet long on the beach yesterday.

I know, it sounds like a fish story. So I went back with my camera to take a picture. I knew no one would believe me.

A dog had found the shell and torn it apart.

Even better the dog ate it. You’ll have to take my word. Or come down and walk the beach. On any given day you can walk away with a whole sand dollar, a handful of shark teeth and an intact conch shell. Sometimes with the conch still inside.

It is completely unlike Southern Florida here. The palm trees line beaches but just inland are giant oaks. One woman said to me, in her kind drawl, this is really Georgia. Just a little warmer.

My mother was a southerner. To her core. For me, it was a foreign country we visited every two years when I was growing up. Virginia. North Carolina. Once the Mason Dixon line was crossed, ice tea was on the menu and hushpuppies were corn fritters, not some ridiculous shoe. My brother and I would salivate over the opportunity to have exotic kinds of pop- we were from Rochester. It wasn’t soda. It wasn’t tonic. It was pop. My favorite was Dr. Pepper. It was only available down south. My brother’s, Mountain Dew. My mother rarely had anything more than Kool-Aid in the house. But down south, there were bottles of Co-Cola, known as Coke to us harsh mouthed Yankees, Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew always in my great aunts and grandparents refrigerators.

My great aunts once took us to a restaurant with ‘the best ham in Virginia.’ I don’t remember where the restaurant was but I do know I was the only child in my family who loved ham more than sweets. Green beans were served, too, cooked with a ham hock for about 8 hours on a stove, till they were but slivers, a mere memory of what once sat on the vine with nutritional value. I think my great aunts believed there must be some southerner in my blood. They never met a natural born foodie before. I remember there were white linen napkins and elegant Black men in tuxedos serving us. The gracious dance between my aunts, my mother and the men. My mother played a game she learned from birth on but grew to reject. My aunts believed God himself ordained their place at the table, the men’s place standing, serving. I remember the dance.

The dance goes on today, here. As if the years of civil rights never happened. In a way, they did not here. We can be as liberal as we want, dictate laws for the country but in this South, men still drive in trucks with KKK emblems on them. And unlike the confederate flag that finds itself waved by drunken college students north and south of the border as a sign or rebellion, the KKK logo is unmistakable and frightening. I drove behind a truck here, in the safety of the gated community where the condo is, where the logo for the construction business was the same black, red and white.

I was scared. I may be white. I may be privileged. In that moment, I was a lesbian and afraid.

So why would I want to be here?

I can’t quite explain. It’s part of my history. My upbringing. My mother was a southerner. There was calm and peace in the sweet drawls with which my grandparents and great aunts spoke. I loved the sounds. The time they took to speak coincided with the time they took in life. Things were done with care, slowly. Maybe only because of the unbearable afternoon heat that simply makes you sit down and have iced tea. Maybe because they refused to have the carpetbaggers tell them how to live.

I love the food. The grits and pecans and softly scrambled eggs. The black-eyed peas gently mashed into stewed tomatoes. And of course, the ham.

It’s still a foreign country to me. The dance between privilege and poverty is painful. It makes me angrier today than when I was a child because I understand the acceptance. When my children ask why someone would live in a shanty- and there are many on the way- I explain about poverty, racism, education and opportunity. And if my boys can ride bikes through an inner city neighborhood in Boston, I want them to be able to walk through here and be comfortable but aware.

Both have served me well in my life.

And I love the dolphins.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Moonlit Night

A friend wrote me and said, don’t look too hard for a sign in Florida. Sometimes it’s just a song on the radio. Rejuvenate. Be at peace.

Last night,the moon was almost full. The shrimp boats out. I sat on the porch and talked to my mother. I told her about the amazing change in the country. Bush with his tail between his legs. And how important it is to keep all those damn politicians on track. There was so much to make up for but there cannot be a single day of rest. When we relax, we end up with Clinton style compromise.

We always agreed on politics.

I told her the condo remodeling looks just as she described. Ben is going to love it. I told her I threw away her ashtrays. I mean… could you have at least washed them out before leaving them here, locked away in a closed up house? Yuck.

I told her I missed her. But it was much easier talking to her this way- I could dream her responses. And the dream comes from the time we were close. The best time.

Of course, the neighbors probably think I’m nuts, out on the porch babbling away. The first night we ever sat out on the porch- my sister, my sister in law, my mother and I- were laughing and going on talking away. We heard someone three stories up cough a little and realized we were being very loud.

Didn’t stop us.

It is easy to be here. I'm grateful to be here.

Thanks, Mom. What a gift.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


We won.

I can't believe we won.

What tremendous hope lies ahead.

I told Lily it wasn't possible to elect a Black man as Governor of Massachusetts.

I was wrong.

Thank God.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Missing Pieces

Who the hell designed kids pants with zippers to remove the bottom part of the leg? Making long pants shorts with a quick unzip?

I’m going to send them all the mismatching leg bottoms I have piled up in the laundry room. Where could they possibly go? One pair of pants came down to the laundry with one leg bottom on, the other off.

I do not remember watching Zachary walk around the house with one pant leg on- where is the other one? How did it come off? Are my kids upstairs in their rooms, chuckling, hey, let’s mess with mom’s head, unzipping one leg bottom and stuffing it under their bed? I have four navy blue leg bottoms. My kids don’t have zippered, navy blue pants. Do their friends bring them over, stuff them in my son’s laundry? I honestly don’t remember anyone coming over in navy blue pants and leaving in navy blue shorts.

I have to start paying more attention.

That’s all right. Payback is a bitch. When they look for that full sized Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds they got from the sweet old lady down the street?

I’m going to tell them it’s in the same place as all their pant leg bottoms.

Monday, November 06, 2006

End of the Season

The bedroom switch did not last.

Ben’s in his own room, where he belongs. Jake in his, Zachary in his.

All is quiet on the Western Front. At least at this particular moment- I’m going to keep my helmet on.

It’s a stunning fall day. The kind that makes you think it will be warm for weeks and weeks to come. I know better. It’s the last burst of sun before we wake up to snowflakes. The frost has already ended the tomato season. Today the fruit is still bright against the shriveled leaves. Makes you think you could pluck one and take a delicious bite even though they are now mealy and breaking down.

The snow can arrive anytime soon because I am off to Florida, to my mother’s condo. My first trek to a home she owned since she died. On one hand, I am excited. It has a stunning ocean view. You can sit on the porch, drink coffee in the morning and watch the shrimp boats go out. In the evening, their lights dot the horizon. It is easy not to move very far, only from the deck to the beach, back to the deck, stopping only to rinse the sand off your feet.

There is a wonderful spa and golf course nearby. I plan to play golf and have the miraculous high performance ‘counter-aging’ facial.

If I’m out drying the hell out of my skin on the golf course and at the ocean, I might as well give it a shot. Maybe they have a maximum dose for sun worshippers like myself.

I haven’t been to the condo for three years. Things between my mother and I were too hard. I was too anxious to sit with her for long periods of time. I never knew what she would say. I was afraid I couldn’t get away.

It was her favorite place to be at the end of her life. It was easy to manage and gave her the privacy she craved. No one stopped by unannounced. She allowed herself to ignore the ringing phone. She was anonymous there- something she never was in her hometown. No one asked her out to lunch.

She once said to me, I’ll give them money only if I don’t have to go to lunch. I am so sick of going to lunch.

I’m excited about my visit and… a little scared. Nervous. It’s her house. I feel like I’m going to intrude.

I wonder if I’ll feel her presence. I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep in her bed. I’ve always been afraid of ghosts- when looking to buy our first house, Jeanine and I went into a home that was icy in a single room. There was a skeleton key to the porch tagged, “Mary’s” in very old, worn script. The outline of a cross was faded on the wallpaper. A very, large cross.

The house was a great price. I didn’t care.

Oh, no. I said. I’m not moving into a house haunted by Mary who was a Jesus freak and didn’t like gay people. No no no.

Jeanine, a logical thinker, rolled her eyes. But even she was a little creeped out by the cross on the wall.

Over the years, that particular house has turned over, again and again. I’m thinking I was right about Mary still walking around the house, looking for her key.

But if it’s my mother’s ghost, will I be frightened? I don’t think so. I held no secrets at the end. I told her the truth. She wasn’t very happy about it but we made our peace. Will she come sit at the end of the bed, grab my foot and shake it, like when I was a little girl? Will she scowl at me for not having sent out my thank you notes yet?

I will, I will.

I haven’t been dreaming about her as much. Since I really broke down last week, I seem to be more at peace. She’s not roaming in my mind.

Maybe, I’m a little hopeful. Maybe I do want to see her. To feel her spirit. Maybe I want to believe she would want to see her baby. Tug my foot. Or sit with me and watch the boats on the horizon, one last time.

Maybe, like my tomatoes, I will see something beautiful, if only from the outside. If only for one last time before the snow falls. Before it all goes away.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Room Shuffle

My kids love to change rooms. Move around, try different configurations, and buddy up with different brothers. This is probably a direct result of having moved so many times. Everyone tells me I’ve ruined my kids. I see them as very flexible.

For a long time, they all shared one room. But the fighting between Ben and Jake was too much to take on a daily basis. We separated all three, to their own rooms.

But, inevitably, they want to move things around again. This morning, Ben tried to convince Zachary to move into his room.


Can I move into your room?


Zachary likes his space to spread out and not listen to fighting.

You can move in with me! Jake said excitedly.

Ben thought for a long time. The two don’t get along very well.

I don’t know if there’s room…

Sure there is!

Jake promptly started shoving all his stuff into a corner. To share a room with Ben is a dream come true. He adores his oldest brother. Once, I tried to explain to Ben that Jake thought he was the sun, the moon and the stars… Ben said, no he doesn’t.

He does. Ask him.

Ben did. Do you think I’m the sun the moon and the stars, Jake?

Nope, Jake said. I just think you’re cool.

See Mom? Ben felt vindicated.

Ben… and I went on to explain that Jake, at that time only four, didn’t really understand the image.

So this morning, at about 9:30am, Ben started to move into Jake’s room.

Zachary came downstairs and hung out in the kitchen with me while I was cleaning up.

How long do you think it’s going to last? I asked him.

Till tomorrow. Then they’ll be in their grumpy moods and start fighting.

At about 11am, the move was complete. Jake came downstairs.

How long do you think you and Ben will last?

Maybe till tomorrow. Maybe just till tonight.

He shrugged and picked up his blanket off the floor, wrapped himself in it and headed towards the stairs, BEN!!! BEN!! I FOUND MY BLANKET BEN!!

It’s noon and they’re eating lunch. Everything is smooth so far. Jake is in heaven- his sun, moon and stars have commandeered his room. Ben is already a little exasperated by the Jake shadow following him around. He’s trying to keep his cool.

Personally, I think Ben is nervous about the visit to the new school today. He has taken in the reminder I gave him last night that no matter what, he would be in a new school next fall. A major challenge lies ahead. And has been the case with other big steps, he’s willing to take it on but retreats on another level. He leaves the autonomy of his own room, a queen sized bed to move back to a twin, with primary colored trucks covering the flannel sheets.

I think the move will last more than a day.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Do It

I have too many people telling me what to post on my blog.

Jeanine read what I wrote today and said, nope. You can’t post that.


Too grim.

But I’ve been working on it all day… what else am I going to post?

Dunno. Just can’t post that. You need a few lighter days.

You sound like Walter.

Walter is right.


Okay, I won’t post it. But I will eventually. Promise.

Today I did have a moment of brilliance as a parent. Not often I have my kids perfectly pegged but today I did. We are looking at private schools for Ben. For many reasons, but the biggest being he is a bright kid who is trying his hardest not to be seen in the classroom. He so wants fit in, my fear is he’ll avoid achievement in order to be cool. Linger in the middle, where he thinks no one notices.

I notice. I know exactly what he's doing.

Tomorrow is the first open house I want him to go to- a wonderful school where the programs reflect a variety of approaches to learning and have a heavy leaning to the arts. Ben, however, hates change. Any change. If I told him he was going to Disney World in five minutes, he’d be mad. No time to absorb it or prepare for it, he would take it as an attack.

When he was two, he’s yell, MY DO IT! About everything. He’d do it, thank you very much, in his own time.

So when I was talking to Walter earlier about how to present it, I thought- it has to be about choice. It has to be enticing. What is something Ben loves?

Private and Exclusive.


We made the offer to go visit a private school that focuses on art and creative writing- two things he secretly loves but denies in public- because he was going to a school next year that, unfortunately because it was public, lacked the same kind of resources.

His eyes lit up.

Is this a you-have-to-go-to-this-school-no-matter-what kind of thing or is it about my choice?

We will make the final decision. It may be a place you love but if it doesn’t meet our standards, we may say no.

Big smile.

Okay. I’ll go.

It was a moment of parenting that felt perfect. No fights. No tears. No stubborn refusal.

I’m not sure this is the right school. There are many to see. But he’s open to the idea. I got him to say MY DO IT.

And for a kid like Ben? That’s huge.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Miss Suzy Sunshine

Uh oh.

Got the killin’ too many babies thing going on again. Sara’s Ashes.

Even my sister- a die-hard blog fan- said she couldn’t read the blog yesterday. Too much.

So let me spread some good news. My wife has figured out what she’s going to do about working too much. Can’t spoil the secret but I can say I am so relieved I could drop to my knees and sing Hallelujah.

To my friends who worry about my incessant need to pull up roots and move every two years to a different house, if not a different state? I’m settled. I saw a beautiful house the other day- don’t look at me, Jeanine is the one who made the appointment- and said, nope. Not going anywhere. I love the elementary school and the fact that it is so close we can walk there in less than five minutes. I love the gorgeous Japanese maple tree in the back yard. I can’t imagine leaving the trees I planted with Walter the day I finally understood my mother was dying. I have neighbors who not only tolerate but also celebrate my three boys. Even when they are tearing through yards, playing Veloci-Raptor with Walter, a game they all created with flashlights, hit points and a series of rules that includes Tarzan yells.

I’m home.

Although the 1970’s style stucco walls in the family room have to go. Don’t worry; I’ll create enough upheaval with remodeling to keep my chaos craving at bay.

I’m home.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Letting Go

I let go last night.

I cried and cried and cried.

Grieving one loss melted into the bigger loss.

I miss my mom.

I miss the part of her who loved me regardless of what I said, who kept me as her daughter even when the temptation was to cut me out.

She couldn’t.

For all the people around her who thought they knew her, I can only smile and know, they did not. They only knew the mask, a gilded surface of who she was. I knew all of her. She trusted me. I knew her fears, her insecurities, her pain. I held her through them so many times. She would tell me how she felt about people. The one’s who used her and why she let them. The few she truly loved and her joy about them.

My sister in law spoke to me, just before my mother’s death, about how surprised she was at my mother’s insecurities. She’s frightened, she told me. Just a little girl.

I knew. I’ve always known. It was a vulnerability she showed me from the time I was very young that hooked me in, drew me near. I couldn’t stand to see her pain. Only in the last few years did I learn it was the roses in the cycle that would eventually turn to pain before coming back as roses again.

She’s gone. She’s never going to be on the other end of the phone to laugh with about Jake’s latest antics. She’s never going to ask me what I’m serving for a party and what flowers I would put out. She’s never going to yell about the horrible Republicans and how the world was going to hell in a hand basket because of them. She’s never going to sit with my kids in her lap and read them a story.

She’ll never sit with me again and tell me the real story. How she really felt. Let me in behind the mask she wore so tightly, sharing her secrets, her true self.

A friend said to me at the funeral service last week, it’s time to let go.

I let go last night.

She’s gone. My grief is intense. It’s not about fighting anymore.

I miss my mom.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Take Two

I realized today I needed to go back and re-write the Personality Test essay.

No, revisit it. Take two.

My red person- the red person is the one the test said is someone who I will always love- it’s the truth. I wish I could hate her. I wish I could throw it all away and know I was wrong to trust her. Me, my judgment, my hurt, my world.

Sounds familiar. Painfully familiar. I am my mother’s daughter.

Somehow, the essay makes her come across as purposeful. She meant to hurt me. I don’t believe she did. The truth is, she could not bear to hold anyone else’s pain. Only her own. I can imagine her looking at my life and thinking, she’s got it made. My life is falling apart but Sara has it made. She has to stay focused on the small pieces in front of her for fear she’ll lose everything.

And any thought of me simply faded into the background.

It’s true, to some degree. My wife did not leave me. I get to wake up every morning with all three of my children, close to me, every day in the home Jeanine and I created. My kids going back and forth to Walter and Allan’s house is not about divorce but choice. There are no tears or raging fights between us. We all love each other.

Well, except for when Jeanine and Allan are being jerks, then only Walter and I love each other. But that’s another blog.

And when I step back from my own mirror, my own obsession with my own feelings, I start to see it has nothing to do with me. My red person probably doesn’t even think about me anymore. She has moved on because she had to. Her life feels like sand slipping between her fingers and she’s desperately trying to hold tight to what she can before it all blows away.

My view shifts completely.

I have been looking too closely in my own mirror.

My red person and I are very similar. We share past horrors and a willingness to say it out loud. I can carry so much but eventually, I break. So does she. I need to remember her caution to me. She held her hand up and said I cannot do this. I can’t bear seeing you in pain. It leaves me in pain. My pain. Yours. I can’t tell the difference. I wrote this to her:

“You tell me, we are mirrors of each other. We are reflecting this whole thing on each other and it is too intense. We are like fire, each of us, and we'll consume each other if we are not careful.

I know you are right. I know you need someone calm. I know you need rest,too. Peace. You need someone to love you with kindness. You need gentle.

I do, too. I have that. It grounds me.

It’s been about this intense, unbearable connection. I have never been so understood.

And I cannot lose having you in my life. It's an amazing mirror.”

None of it feels amazing anymore. I need to remember it doesn’t feel amazing to her, either.

Believing I was disposable, believing she doesn’t care feeds into my own self absorbed anxiety. It doesn’t allow me to grieve the loss. It keeps my heart suspended.

I have never been so understood. The hope we could always keep that kind of unbearable connection was a fantasy. I wanted to believe we would not consume each other. But we did.

I wish there could be closure. I realize this is as much closure as I will ever get. I get the feeling she is frightened of me. Feels small next to me probably because that's how I feel about her. We are still and always will be mirror images of each other. The history we shared too intense to ever take that away. Mabye that scares us both, too.

This is one of my last emails to her:

“Thank you.

You have done so much for me. You helped me get to the place I am now. My life shattered but I finally have all of myself. I could not have done that without you. You helped me with extraordinary generosity during the single most difficult period of my life. You kept me, at times, from suicidal impulses. You reminded me to keep my sense of humor. Thank you.

My relationship is stronger and better today than it ever has been. We still have a long way to go. Without understanding the emotional intensity I needed, I would never have been able to ask for it. You showed me that someone could match my intensity. You made me understand how much I needed it in my life. Thank you.

You had faith in me that I was smart enough, and capable enough. You trusted my judgment.

Thank you for everything.”

I need to let go. Let my heart break. Grieve. It is a huge loss. It was an amazing mirror.

And she is a person I will always love.