Wednesday, December 05, 2012

And then there were 3

This is a story about how we got a cat.

First of all, a little background.

My parents have this cat named Yoda that my son absolutely ADORED when we lived there. Yoda was HIS kitty. But Yoda lived outside, and didn't always love Ri as much as Ri loved him. He was super tolerant, sure, but would dash out the door if he saw Ri coming. I was afraid that if we brought him with us he'd try to escape every time the door was opened and we'd have a squished or lost kitty and a sad little boy. So we left him at my parents' house. It wouldn't be too lonely for him there--we'd see him on visits, and his brother is there, too.

Then a few weeks back a friend shared on Facebook that her cat (William Blake aka Blake) needed a new home when she moved to California to get married. This cat was used to FOUR little boys, not just one, and was content to stay inside all day. (Or so I thought.)

I thought this would be a perfect solution.

But I felt guilty. I felt guilty about taking on a new cat after we'd left Yoda behind.But then someone pointed out that Yoda had a home, but Blake would not.

And Riley really loves cats.

So we took him! We're cat owners, for good or for ill.

It isn't as rosy as I thought it would be. He really wants to go outside (more about that later), although he seems more content to stay inside as time goes on. He'd been accustomed to taking care of his business outdoors and wasn't sure about the litter box at first. He's a very tolerant cat, but even very tolerant cats have their limits when a 3-year-old boy is around. And for some reason he wants to sleep on MY bed. Which makes Ri sad and me sneezy.

Riley's thrilled, though. He used to come find me as soon as he woke up in the mornings. This morning I caught him in the living room playing with the cat. Apparently he'd rather play with Blakey than say hi to Mom. He loves to pet him, and I've taught him how to gently brush his fur. Every time you ask him about his new kitty he gets the biggest grin on his face.

There *have* been a couple of escape attempts. In fact, the day we brought him home Ri accidentally opened the door to his carrier right before we got the door open. Thankfully, he was too scared too move and we got him inside.

Then last week he dashed outside, jumped over the back wall, and headed across the street. I was able to round him up in about three minutes (in my pajamas and barefoot, no less), but he did make me bleed in the process.

But...we love him! He's part of our family now. And part of the couch. He loves the back of the couch.

Maybe not our best pic--but we're happy!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Confession time. I have a thing for celebrity "news." I read People when I'm waiting at the doctor's office. I peruse tabloid headings at the grocery store. And that's how I came across this magazine cover about Taylor Swift:

Lately, I've seen these digs at Taylor all over the place. So...let me get this straight. A 22-year-old girl/woman has a few (or a few dozen) breakups, and suddenly she's Elizabeth Taylor? I guess I don't really understand what exactly people expect her to do. Rush in and marry the wrong guy just to settle down? Stay for years in a dead end relationship? Join a convent? (It would be a shame to cover up her hair like that.)

It's okay, Taylor. I've got your back.

A year and a half ago, after a rather painful (yet not *that* unexpected) rejection (note: not even a break up. Just a rejection.) I lay awake at 3am counting how many breakups I'd ever had. The count, up to that point, was 26. Twenty-six.

I dealt with this painful realization the way I often do, with poetry. Forgive me if it's a little cliche (after all, it's a poem), but here it is:

Steel plated

This is like road rash
In the same way that childbirth is like a mild back ache
My heart hasn't been dragged through the mud
It's been tied to the bumper of your 4-wheel drive and splattered all the way up and down I-35
I need steel plates and a guard dragon
To protect it long enough to make it whole
I need bumper lanes and training wheels
And a secret service detail
To save me from myself
And the worst part is how it doesn't hurt
The nerves were irreparably damaged years ago
Years ago

Some of those breakups are repeats, multiple breakups with the same person. When I was Taylor's age, the total count was 13, including a rather devastating broken engagement. (Hey, that's my favorite number. And hers. #notreallythatobsessedipromise.) These days the number is, um, 33. (Yikes.)

Obviously, I've done a few things wrong in the past 28.5 years. I know that. But *most* of these breakups have NOT been my idea. I mean, if I could have had a dime every time a guy said "It's not you, it's me"...I....Okay, I got nuthin to follow that up with, but you get the idea.

Many of the relationships weren't serious; some were. Most were short lived. In fact, I've only ever had one relationship last longer than six months (and that one, I think, lasted just seven months). That doesn't mean the breakup isn't painful. Just...different. And repetitive. And to watch friends all around me settle down and buy houses and have babies and pets, yet here I am failing over and over and over and over with no one willing to give me a really made me wonder what the hell was so wrong with me.

The point is, it's sucks. It isn't pretty. It isn't fun. And even when your roommate tells you "Don't worry. There's plenty of fish in the sea. Especially for skinny blondes with big jugs." it stops being comforting/funny and just...ironic after a while.

In the world of single parenting I've met a lot of people who are divorced. I get that I can never fully understand that...or, well, that I don't currently fully understand how that feels and hope that I never do. By the same token, though, I don't think someone who was married at 20 can understand what thirty-three breakups feels like. (Unless, of course, they've had 33 breakups of their own.) How numb (and sarcastic. and cynical.) you become. How hope becomes a little like a toothache that flares up when you least expect it.

I've had a post like this in the works for a while. I can admit that I'm a little hesitant to put it all out there like this. I know there are some who would look at the numbers I posted and judge me negatively. I can't say that I'd blame them. It's (more than) a little embarrassing. And more than a little painful.

But I also know that the right person won't care about all that. Because the past can't be changed, no matter how painful it was. I'm currently dating someone who I at one (okay, more than one) point swore I'd never ever get back together with. Like, ever. But patience has a way of winning me over, and time has a way of replacing pain with happiness.

Here's to keeping it all going.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Someday I'm going to be a pillar of light and not a pillar of salt

I might be a little obsessed with Harry Potter. (By a little obsessed I probably mean a lot obsessed.) I've always imagined myself to be in Ravenclaw, the Hogwarts house that values intelligence and wit. So imagine my surprise when the Pottermore sorting hat put me in Gryffindor.


If I wasn't a Ravenclaw, I could at least see Hufflepuff. I often feel like I belong nowhere and I like to work hard. Well...sometimes I do. Or maybe Slytherin; I pursue self interest perhaps more than I like to admit. But Gryffindor? The brave-of-heart wannabe heroes who charge (often stupidly and recklessly) into situations unseen? Um, okay. Didn't see that one coming.

But then I thought about it. Not everyone in Gryffindor lacks intelligence. There's McGonagall. Hermione. Dumbledore. Lily. All magnificently brilliant, but it is their strength and courage that define them.

*Maybe* I am brave. *Maybe* I have heart and courage. How many times in the past four years (or more?) have I done the impossible simply because it had to be done? Perhaps this strength has been within me all along. It just took a crazy sort of fire to bring it out.

Both of these things--my intelligence and strength--are vitally important to me, to how I see myself. I remember noticing for the first time in fifth grade how some of the girls would pretend to be bad at math so that the boys would like them. I swore that day that I would never, ever do that.

And I never have.

I am proud of my intelligence, my strength. Why on earth should I hide who I am? I realize I'm not getting a Nobel prize in physics any time ever, but I can string together a decent sentence and add large numbers in my head. I can pay my own bills and take care of my own child and squash my own spiders. I can work 50+ hour work weeks, even when it really sucks. I have a college degree and an independent streak (some might call it stubbornness).

And I am not ashamed of any of this.

And if that's why I've never been married, so be it. Being single gets old after nearly three decades. It gets lonely. But I would far rather be alone than settle for someone who doesn't want me when I am strong. Because there is beauty in my strength. And I know the bravery and wit I have now are just a spark compared to my ultimate potential.

Still, despite all this, perhaps at times I give off damsel-in-distress vibes. Even at three, Ri loves to rush to my aide. To help me with anything and everything. Part of it is his age, of course. But I think a part of him recognizes that I do a job alone that's meant for two. I want to be, need to be, strong for him and give him everything. Yet at the same time I have to let him know that when he grows up and becomes a daddy, he isn't irrelevant.

When I was pregnant and tearfully asked my son's father how I could possibly do this all on my own, he said he knew I could because his mom had done the same. In some ways he was right. I *can* do this on my own. But it's a tricky balancing act--be strong, but not so strong that I push everyone away and teach my child to do the same.

The only solution I've found so far is simply never to settle. Never be less than my best. Not that I always have to be perfect (how exhausting) but when I find that *someone* and settle down, it will because he'll see and appreciate how glorious I am at my best. At my strongest.

And that I am not ashamed of it.

See? I knew I bought this awesome Gryffindor jersey for a reason.

I may talk tough, but I still love getting flowers from a not-so-secret admirer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Exhausted but happy

Nobody told me that single parenthood would be like giving birth Living in our own place, doing all of this on my own, is exhausting. So exhausting.

Yet I love it.

I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't say this enough--I will always be incredibly grateful for the sacrifices my parents made and all the help they gave us; it's a debt I can't repay. (You know, until they're old and feeble and need me back.) But being on our own like this, it's how things should be. I love coming home to our own place, paying our own bills (yeah, I'll get over this one fast), eating leftover pizza in the living room for breakfast if we feel like it.

For some reason I thought that once we moved I'd have all this time on my hands. I'm sure Fate threw back her head and laughed every time I thought that. Maybe it's the adjustment period, but I swear it feels like I just had a baby--you know, that deer-in-the-headlights, I-don't-know-what-in-the-hell-I'm-doing-but-I'm-DOING-it feeling. Wondering if I'll ever have 8 hours of sleep again. Trying to figure out if that smell in the kitchen is the coming from the fridge, the garbage, or the laundry. Keeping my exhausted eyes open long enough at night to try clean up dinner, prep breakfast and my lunch, laundry, dishes, get tomorrow's dinner ready for the crock pot, set out clothes, shower, exercise, sweep, vacuum, get my child to bed, get my child to STAY in bed, yoga/pray/read/meditate, get myself to bed--and doing it all over again the next day. (And if you *really* think I do all of those things every.single.night...have we actually met?) Like, seriously, I'm exhausted just reading that.

R still isn't quite used to having his own bedroom, and almost every morning I find him and his pillow pet on my bedroom floor. I'm not used to all this either, and my gotta-check-the-locks OCDness is out in full force.

Plus moving brings the opportunity for new friends. (Yay!) And somehow it brings old friends (and old flames, and old would-be flames) out of the woodworks. Who knew? If Emotional Gymnastics were an Olympic sport, I'd win a gold freakin medal.

But, hey, I'm doing this. And loving it! I'm finding out that no matter how strong I think I am, I can always be stronger. I might despair sometimes, I might whine, but when something has to be done, I do it. So all of these things that have to be done (by ME, because there is no one else to do them) now that we're on our own, I do it. It's exhausting. But I love it. I love this new life we're making for our little family. The kisses and hugs I get at the beginning and end of every day make it all worth it. His smile, his kindess his goodness; I'd do anything for my little boy.

And right now that means being exhausted every day as I adjust to our new life. And I'm okay with that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Michelangelo's Masterpiece

You aren't a monster
Just a human being with flaws
Eerily similar to my own
But still
What you did, it wasn't right
And it's not okay
It's not
There may be redemption from this
But reconstruction?
That era was temporarily successful at best
I'd like to think we're better
(Or at least that we can be)
But right now I just don't know
I don't
If I had to guess, I'd say this vortex of ours is inescapable
Please prove me wrong

Thursday, September 06, 2012


Eleven years ago I finally had a boy pay attention to me for the first time in my life. I was giddy; I was in awe. We were walking in Fred Meyer when he held my hand for the first time. And as quickly as it began, it was over. He betrayed me with a friend of mine, and it would be years before I realized that perhaps she was hurting, perhaps she was as deceived by him as I had been. But she and I went to different schools and Facebook and text messaging didn't exist, so I haven't spoken to her since. I wish I could. I wish I could hug her and tell her how sorry I was that she was hurt, too. (I mean, I would assume she still remembers how it all went down. But maybe not.)

Ten years ago I had my first "real" boyfriend. He took me to my senior prom and we spent a crazy summer together. Then autumn came and I left for school and we eventually fell apart. Some time in the past several years we initiated a close friendship, and a year ago I flew half way across the country to see him. I thought maybe, just *maybe* things would click. This would be it. I was excited for all the possibilities and potential. And then...nothing happened. It took only a few weeks before I realized it was probably better that way, but at the time you might say I was disappointed.

Seven years ago I had a ring on my finger. It was pale yellow gold with a princess-cut diamond set at an angle, and the matching band in the set had a small row of diamonds that slid under it. I've never seen another ring like it before or since. Nothing in the world could have gotten me to end that relationship, no matter how miserable I may have been or how unhealthy it was. We were supposed to be married. I'd prayed about it. I knew. And then one day I bought a dress and the next day he changed his mind. I dodged the bullet, really. We were terribly, terribly wrong for each other. But still, I was devastated. I remember walking/running/sobbing through the gardens on campus. Making my way past curious stares into one of the campus bathrooms and seeing mascara all. over. my face. Then two years later seeing that ring on someone else's finger and having a panic attack in Target. It's funny, sometimes, how people who are such a cornerstone in your life at one point aren't even in it years later.

Five years ago I was in love with a man who loved me back and wanted to give me the world. So, naturally, I broke his heart into a bunch of little pieces. He picked up the mess and moved on to a great life, and somehow we are able to very casually be friends. But I wonder about the person I was that day, how I could possibly have been so cruel.

Four years ago I peed on a stick and saw two lines. Pregnant. That relationship had already been a roller coaster, what would happen now? I knew my whole life was changing and it seemed surreal. And then he somebody else. Somehow I found the strength to go forward. To make plans. To take care of myself and of the fetus that became the baby that became the most amazing little boy. I moved across the state and quit my job to have family support. I shared a tiny bedroom with him for three years. Worked late hours to spend more time with him. I did what had to be done because, well, I had to do it. Life hasn't been ideal, but caring for my child has never been optional. Never.

Two years ago I was going through my second or third breakup with someone I'd been (kinda) friends with for years. You'd think the pain would have stopped surprising me, but it didn't. And then a year or so later I briefly let him back in my life and he hurt me more than any other human being ever has.

One year ago I fell in love by watching the man I admired falling in love with my son. (In a father figure sort of way, not...any other way.) I had never experienced anything like that, so I had no idea until it happened how badly I wanted that for my son, for our little family. But I wasn't the right girl for him, and it didn't last. And it's okay; it's actually refreshing to me to know I can wish him well with no bitterness or regrets.

Six months ago I ended a relationship was smothering me. I was done. Done done done. I never imagined that that would come back into my life to burn me more than I knew possible. Never imagined that the strangest friendship of my life would emerge from those ashes. (Or will if I can fix myself long enough to not burn that up myself.)

Someday I am going to find someone who loves me and whom I love in return...enough for both of us to make that scary leap into the unknown. Someone who realizes that love is based on actions, not feelings. Someone who cares deeply for both me and my son, and gets that we are a package deal. Someone who treats me well because he knows I won't settle for anything less than that. Because I'll be strong that day, and the right man out there for me wants a woman who is strong.

I like to think that I am tough. That I'm Rosie the Riveter and I don't really *need* a man. That if someday never happens, I'll be perfectly alright. And it's true; I will. If it's just me and Little Man for the rest of our lives, we will be happy and we will thrive.

But today is one of those days when I hold onto all the possibilities of Someday. So please don't tell me it doesn't exist.


Someday I'll be a real girl
And when you pull my strings they'll fall apart in your hands
What will you do with me then?
With no lifeless wooden form to manipulate in your hands
No hollow, hollow eyes
And a will of my own
What use will you have for me
When I am beautiful?
And real
And when I'm a pillar of brilliant light
Will I blind you or draw you near?