Sunday, October 29, 2006

Transition, part 3: New Horizons

I went to court with J~ on Wednesday and watched him go through the nervous motions I went through several months earlier. Luckily for us, in this state there is no ninety-day waiting period. He had the paper declaring him officially "single and unmarried" in his hand two days later.

Our plan: go to town hall and get married as soon as possible, then take off for a honeymoon-appetizer weekend immediately thereafter. The actual honeymoon will have to wait until we have a plan for B~'s care and tickets to a warm and beachy destination yet to be determined.

I have one more day's work on the big magazine project that has dominated my life for the past few months, and four more meetings of the class I'm teaching. With breathing room in sight, the question I've been putting off has churned back to the surface: what is to become of this blog?

I began it on November 29th of last year, on the heels of my second miscarriage, while working as an abortion counselor. At that time, the Babies or Not question dominated my life. But shortly thereafter, my husband dropped a bomb on our marriage, and suddenly, for me anyway, the question became a slogan, a mantra: Babies or not, I told myself, I will get through this. I will be creatively and heartfully engaged in living.

Then J~ came along, cradling that precious question mark I thought I might've lost forever. It is especially poignant right now, as I'm a day away from the point in my menstrual cycle when my morning temperature usually takes a nose-dive and I begin to bleed. This morning and last, my temp has been slightly higher than usual (than ever before, actually). If it's high again tomorrow, I'll shoot over to the drug store for a pregnancy test. Otherwise, I'll be putting that question mark aside again for another month.

And that's the thing: I'm realizing now that I actually can put the question aside, and it is a relief. Babies or Not no longer dominates my life. I am in love. I am stepmothering. I am making art and writing and working and laughing into the night with my family and dinner guests as we toast marshmallows in the woodstove. I am making exciting plans for my life that do not preclude babymaking, but don't depend on it either. In other words, I am moving on.

And so, I am marking November 29th on my calendar for the potential last entry in this blog. I might come back, on occasion, to add updates and epilogues, but more likely, I'll start a new blog altogether.

As usual, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 23, 2006

How Far We've Come

A friend just emailed me an article supposedly* from a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Monthly entitled "The Good Wife's Guide," all about receiving your man at the end of his hard work day. Among the tidbits of wisdom this "Guide" offers:

"Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he may have gone through that day."

"Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him."

I could quote the whole outrageous article, but instead I'll let you see it for yourself.

To think, this was not outrageous fifty years ago, and fifty years is not so very long. But how much have things changed, truly? Look at women's magazines today. Okay, so they're a lot more sexually explicit, but still, chock full of prescriptions for man-pleasing. Not that there's anything wrong with man-pleasing (there is real pleasure in bringing smiles to the faces of loved ones), but where are the magazines about our own pleasures and interests, outside of the gym, kitchen, and bedroom, that is? And where are the men's magazines all about how to please a woman? The choices we see at the checkout stand are there because we haven't demanded otherwise, and because those are the ones we buy. We buy them because we still haven't quite figured out that we are completely fine and absolutely gorgeous without any affectations at all: free of makeup, speaking our moody truth, possibly even with all our body hair intact, and god forbid, wearing comfortable shoes. Also, let's face it, men in general are yet to fully engage in the joys of nurturing. It's a learned pleasure, and a lot of them never learned it.

But this isn't about blaming men for their shortcomings or ourselves for our insecurities, nor is it about blaming our parents. The atmosphere that they grew up in influenced the people they became, the way they raised us. Not just our mothers, but our fathers too. Just think of the pressure men must have felt to always know best, and how that pressure got passed along, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Is it any wonder that men still have so much trouble asking for help?

And no wonder women (me absolutely included) still struggle to remember that our comfort and happiness matters just as much as everyone else's.

The good news is, not many of us these days would agree that we shouldn't question our spouses when they stay out all night. (I, personally, told mine he better f-ing start talking, and then when he admitted what he'd been up to, I promptly divorced him.) It's a start.

Maybe we should sock away some of today's women's magazines, so that fifty years from now we can open them again and see how truly outrageous they are, and reflect, with amazement and pride, on how far we've come.

*I edited this entry to include the word "supposedly" because it has been brought to my attention that this article is likely a fake, an exaggeration of the truth of those times. (Thank you Lisa). My point remains basically applicable, however, so I've left the rest of my post unchanged. But I've learned my lesson: double-check my sources. Sorry about that. For more info, check this out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Transition, part 2: Getting There

It may not have been a significant day in the scheme of things, but for me, yesterday -- rainy, windy, October 20th -- was a major holiday. Exactly ninety-one days since a magistrate heard my case, I was allowed to file the final paper, procure the final signature, and make this thing legal. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I am divorced. And J~ is right behind me. If all goes well, he'll be single too on Wednesday. Good riddance, cheating spouses. Hello, brand new life!

Speaking of which, there will have to be a third post in this Transition series, in which I really explore the new horizons my life is offering. I've been so busy lately, my world has seemed quite small. But the class I'm teaching is moving along, I've wrapped up one design project and another, a big one, is almost done. Home improvements are under control: new woodstove is cooking away, wood is stacked, new windows are installed, and most of the rooms I've wanted to paint and find furniture for are now decently appointed. There is free time on the horizon.

Late yesterday afternoon, in spite of the weather, I went out walking, full of energy for my new freedom. I hadn't gone far before the rain stopped and the sun slid into view below the clouds. But it wasn't until the wind threatened to rip my umbrella out of my hands that I realized I didn't need to hide underneath it anymore. In fact, it was beautiful out. The air was fresh and lively, all the autumn-gold trees tossed and glistened wet in the late-slanting sun, and the gray clouds were thinning and tearing away into ragged white swatches against blue sky. I turned to the east, and sure enough, found the rainbow I was looking for, vibrant and solid and landing square in my new neighborhood. No doubt about it, my friends. I am home.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Transition, part 1: Old View

Two weeks ago I gave up the keys to my old apartment. But before I did, I sat in the living room and stared out of the same window I've stared out of for more than five years. The view isn't anything astonishing, a little patch of sky and a piece of the neighbor's roof and chimney. But many times, at night, I've seen fireworks in that patch of sky (there is a small stadium a mile away); and once or twice, when a storm passed through in the afternoon, there were rainbows.

The view has been good to me, even though so often I've looked at it unhappily, longing for the day I might have a roof, and chimney of my own, some sun, a patch of dirt to make myself a garden. I thought that the day I moved out of this apartment would be the day my ex and I took a step closer to that dream. Little did I know...

In my notebook, I composed an imaginary letter to A~. Well, the letter was real, but the idea of him ever reading it was not. In it, I wrote about the nausea I felt moving the last few things out of the building. I wrote about how angry and hurt I still feel. I wrote about how I can't possibly respond to his request that I call or write to give him updates on my life. Unless he can express interest and concern for how I actually feel, unless he can truly be my friend, I cannot be his. I wrote that, as much as I am loathe to admit it, I still miss him. And then it hit me: I cannot even be his friend. And then I cried for a few minutes, snapped a few photos, dropped my keys in my landlord's mailbox, and left.

Part 2, next post...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Sorry Sorry Lame-Ass Post

Oh, bear with me my readers! I'm deep in the work-crunch this week, major deadline looming. I'll be back!