Everything has been finalized; I am now a divorcée.
719 weeks and 1 day
13 years, 9 months, 10 days
I gave this marriage 37% of my life, chronologically...but much more in terms of life force and energy. This marriage was a gaping maw of need, of expectations unmet, of spite, of resentment, and so much hurt. This marriage spans the lifetimes of my children, my career, my youth.
In my imagination, a crooked house has burst into flames in the middle of the prairie. It was ramshackle, poorly architected, hastily built ad-hoc, but it was ours. I have a kid's hand in each hand. We are staring as our history forms a dark grey cloud in the night sky, obscuring the stars. I am grateful for that, at least: there is no comfort to be found in stars. They twinkle on, aloof to the microcosmos of humanity, many of them long-dead already and we just can't see it yet.
This seems to be a pattern with me and things that are long-dead; I just couldn't see it. I didn't want to see it.
I suddenly can recollect long-hidden memories, playing like silent movies in my head. How much we laughed during our wedding reception. The look of wonder on his face when he first held Isaac; the one of reverence when he first held Emily. Watching him speak at his sister's funeral. His bare shoulders as he dug up decades' worth of hard-packed clay to make vegetable gardens in our backyard, because he promised me a farm. Tearing up at my sister's wedding because it was already over by that point, but we didn't have the heart to steal any of the spotlight. The hard-earned hug and cigarettes we shared after signing the divorce papers.
Ugh, sorry. Waxing sentimental isn't going to help me now.
What constructive life lessons do I take with me? Hopefully a healthy aversion to marrying again. A grave reminder to always choose kindness over charm. The knowledge to take life more soberly, to give the important things their proper respect and deliberation. No more whirling dervishes. And for god's sake, to listen to my instincts.
Tim and I are almost friends now. We still communicate daily because the kids keep us busy. But for my own sanity's sake, I still need discrete boundary lines. Maybe one day, we will look back at this and laugh.
Tim and I are newly divorced. The legal process lasted about 11 months, and during that time, I also had to grieve the loss of an important part of my identity. I set out to re-learn how to live my life as a singleton. I made a list of milestones to remind myself of what I am free to do and how I could keep myself company and be content when I am alone.
Single Girl Milestones
(Ranked from easiest to hardest)
For Julie, by Julie
1. This apartment is now your domain. Decorate the space as you damn well please (sheets and pillows, wall art, and other decor).
2. If you can afford one, buy a new bed.
3. Netflix and chill with a blanket and some ice cream.
4. Attend a work or school shindig stag. The solo people have way more fun.
5. Go to the park alone with no further agenda, and read at a leisurely pace.
6. Buy your own birthday cake in your favorite flavor, with pretty decorations and writing, the whole nine yards. Share slices with your coworkers, friends, family, and/or neighbors.
7. Treat yourself to thoughtful little gifts, the way you treat others with random things that remind you of them.
8. Take a class (dance, language, arts and crafts, cooking, coding, and other new skills) and attend sola.
9. Watch a movie in the theatre sola. No one will think it strange.
10. Treat yourself to a sola dinner. Eat at the bar if you feel embarrassed. Talk to your counter-mates, the bartender, the chef.
11. Go to a bar sola and buy yourself a drink. Just one drink.
12. Ask someone to dance with you, even if it's just for a few seconds while waiting in line.
13. Ask someone out on a date. Chances are, they'll say yes, because who does that anymore? A chance at a fun or romantic evening doesn't often present itself to you, right?
14. Take a vacation sola. At last, you will only hit the spots you want to see, and you won't have to sit through your companions squabbling or complaining about things.
I would wish you a happy new year, but seeing that it's already February, I'll wish you a happy President's Day instead!
So, what's going on in House Mang?
Emi is doing GREAT in school, thanks to a multi-pronged strategy that includes:
1. Pulling her out of the on-site afterschool program and having her picked up and taken care of by one of my best friends and supernanny extraordinaire until Isaac comes home from school.
2. Tim taking over the morning routine, since he has a lighter touch with Emi than I do at that hour. I'm a cranky drill sargeant ("Move IT move IT!") and he's more reasonable. Plus, he and Emi get to bond and she feels more secure about her world as a whole, and feels less of the need to act out for attention. It's all very awwwwwww.
3. The leaps she made in therapy about identifying and coping with the huge emotions she feels. In fact, she's so much happier now, we went down to seeing the counselor once every two weeks, and next week's session will be a "goodbye-for-now" session!
Emi still gets into tiny bits of trouble at school, but it's for things that seem refreshingly normal: talking to the person behind her in line, forgetting to raise her hand, and one time she didn't come home with a good behavior slip because she made a snoring noise because she thought a story was boring.
Isaac is slowly turning into a tween. Sometimes, he stiffens when I grab his head to kiss the top when I drop him off at school, or he snaps back at me when he feels unjustly chastised. Other times, he starts stammering and falling over himself when he encounters a pretty girl (usually MUCH older than him, harrumph). He just started up a new season of his basketball league, his class is currently working on a musical, he just finished up reports on the Island Fox (California's only native carnivore, found only on the Channel Islands, didn't ya know) and Marco Polo. For a while, he was devouring the Harry Potter books, but stopped near the beginning of Order of the Phoenix, which I actually think is appropriate for his current stage of emotional maturity. He is currently reading books like the How to Train Your Dragon series, the Warriors series, and Dragon Rider.
The other day, I was getting ready to assemble a digital piano, and as Tim rushed over to help me, Isaac shooed him away, saying "This is woman's work!" Since when was working with heavy pieces of furniture woman's work!?!?!? So, later on, I decided to pick his brain a bit about gender roles. Interpret as you will, because I just crawled up into a ball and rocked myself back and forth:
Me: So...working with assembling furniture is woman's work, eh?
Isaac: Yup! It's because you are careful and Daddy does not read the instructions.
Me: What else is woman's work? How about cooking and washing the dishes?
Isaac: Daddy washes the dishes. And the cooks at Polly's Pies are men.
Me: Hey! I cook at home too! How about earning money?
Isaac: You both earn money. But Daddy earns more money.
Me: Why do you think that is?
Isaac: Because women earn 70 cents for every dollar a man earns for the same job. Which is weird, because I think women do most of the real work, and men stand around and make plans and blueprints and say, "What if we did this? What if we tried that?" and then laugh really loud, which doesn't seem like real work.
Me: Where on earth did you get this impression?
Isaac: At Daddy's office.
Me: I work too, but at home. And I work hard, even though I'm often in my pajamas. Do you think that's real work?
Isaac: Yeah, I know that because you yell at me to leave you alone when I ask you if I can watch TV.
Me: ... Sorry about that.
Isaac: It's okay.
Me: So when you grow up and become a man, you expect to stand around and make plans?
Isaac: No, I'd rather work with all the women.
As for me, I'm doing well. I still get excited about a lot of shit, currently I am gagging over the current season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." I'm rooting for Detox, Honey Mahogany, and Jinkx Monsoon. I want to marry Ivy Winters because he looks like a young Morrissey and dresses like the 11th Doctor. Which reminds me...I will be attending Gallifrey One this weekend; really looking forward to it, as it will be my first one!
My alma mater won the Rose Bowl this year, and we were there to witness it in person! It was so much fun!
Tim is only slightly mortified by the props given to his singing voice. He's still totally hot.
Tim and I reporting live from our office/den/shit pile room, drunk as skunks, and we just recorded the next best rendition of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" since Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I lied. It's terrible. But hopefully it's funny!
Introducing...Tim on lead vocals and bass piano, Julie and backup vocals, treble piano, and assorted chortles and cuss words (hover over widget and press play):
Happy new year!!!!!!!!!!!!1111 I love you all. Yes, even YOU.
PS: I'm drunk, so please forgive grammar errors. But not spelling. No excuse for poor spelling. Except for poor Tori Spelling.
PPS: 새해 복 많이 받으세요!
PPPS: I'm going to the Rose Bowl tomorrow. I hope.
As a side note, why does it seem to get harder to be apart from each other over the years rather than easier? Even with Tim's shifted schedule where he can't eat dinner with us anymore, I can definitely tell the difference when he's away, especially at night after the kids are in bed and the day's chores are done. I have trouble falling asleep, and my dreams are fraught with anxiety and dread. Am I softening in my old age?
Okay, so last Friday, there was a winner drawn for the YoKids/Tom's of Maine goody bag, and it was jooliyah! I mailed it over the weekend, so you should be getting it soon, lucky duck.
Sorry for not finishing off May, I got caught up in anniversary afterglow and Emi contracting every disease on the planet. She's on the mend from her latest illness, a stomach bug that came and left her body with alarming abruptness. My car bore the brunt of it, though, and I just threw out her carseat. Which reminds me: how did people get rid of upholstery barf smell before the invention of Febreze?
Speaking of romantic things like barf, I made Tim a playlist highlighting a couple songs from every year we've been married. The songs are either ones we listened to a lot, have a specific memory attached to them, or concisely sums that year up:
2002, Two Of Us, Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
2002, Something to Talk About, Badly Drawn Boy
2003, Such Great Heights, The Postal Service
2003, The Hardest Button to Button, The White Stripes
2004, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), The Arcade Fire
2004, Portland, Oregon, Loretta Lynn
2005, Love and Longing, Stellastarr*
2005, Precious, Depeche Mode
2005, Here He Comes, Jakob Dylan
2006, Like A Star, Corinne Bailey Rae
2006, Emily, Joanna Newsom
2007, Killing The Blues, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
2007, Battleships, Travis
2008, The Bones Of You, Elbow
2008, Who's That Girl?, Robyn
2009, Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur, Sigur Rós
2009, Islands, The xx
2010, Birds of a Feather, The Civil Wars
2010, If You Think You Need Some Lovin, Pomplamoose
2010, I Remember, Yeasayer
2011, Reunion, M83
2011, If I Had A Gun, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
2012, Velvet Elvis, Alex Winston
2012, Crush, Sleigh Bells
2012, Shake It Out (Glee Cast Version), Glee Cast
I can't believe it, but it's been 10 years since Tim and I decided to get hitched while visiting Las Vegas! Here is the story if you haven't heard it already:
We had known each other for a little more than a month; he had just met my parents, and we were very very very much in love.
We got married in the drive-thru of the Little White Wedding Chapel in a Prius that ironically ran out of gas on the way from LA to Vegas. We had to siphon some gas from some fellows we found soaking in a feed trough by the side of the road.
The bride wore a tight black Placebo shirt and jeans. The groom wore a beard and a green shirt with a red "Om" symbol embroidered on the chest.
The marriage was consummated in a $20 room at Circus Circus for a couple hours, then we drove back to LA because we had to meet my parents for dinner.
We kept it our little secret for almost a year, until I discovered I was pregnant with Isaac, and I told my mom not to worry because we were already married. She was a little upset over the unplanned pregnancy, but she blew her top off when she learned we had eloped. So she demanded I plan a wedding in one month. That 10th anniversary will be next June. I'll post wedding pics then.
As for my thoughts on marriage, my motto is still "Marriage is not for the weak." It is something you really have to fight tooth and nail to protect, and not from external forces, but from the internal conflicts. It is a bond that is created from the deepest parts of two people's souls, but once created, needs to be treated as its own autonomous entity -- because at the worst of times, the worst parts of you (bitterness, jealousy, boredom, insecurity, vanity, etc.) will try to sabotage it. I don't know why, it doesn't make sense, but it happens to everyone.
When the Doomsday Device does trigger, all I can suggest is to slow down the pace: set up a reminder to call the lawyers 6 months from when you originally wanted to call them, and if you have been absolutely miserable that whole time, then do it. Nothing faster than that (unless, of course, your life is at risk). Treat marriage-time as epoch-time; slow and steady. In other words, in honor of Intergalactic Towel Day: DON'T PANIC.
RE: What do you think other couples can learn from your marriage?
MO: To the extent that there's a lesson learned from another marriage, the thing that I tell lots of young couples is that marriage is hard work. Even the best of marriages require a lot of work — even if you're married to your soul mate who has very few flaws. Building a life with a person other than yourself, and raising kids and dealing with all of the bumps and the bruises and the joys and the pains that go along with life, that creates the natural state of marriage, and it's a challenge. I say that to people not to discourage them, but to say that you will inevitably hit those bumps. Don't view that as a shortcoming of yourself or your spouse or your marriage. Don't give up on it. Just understand that you're going along the path that everybody else goes on. Go in ready for the work.
To Tim: Thank you, thank you, thank you. See you tonight.
Did you hear? The day after North Carolina became the 30th state to vote against gay marriage, President Obama, MY president, just became the first president in American history to publicly support same-sex marriage.
YES HE DID.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: this man has singlehandedly raised our national pride and international esteem back up from the Bush years with his poise, intelligence, wit, and RAW BALLSINESS. Needless to say, he has my vote again this November.
Mr. President, here is what I have to say to you: