Tag Archives: musings

Happy Birthday to My Ex-Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend

Monk, the Obsessive Compulsive detective

Monk, the Obsessive Compulsive Detective

I remember dates. It’s a gift, and a curse. It used to drive my ex-husband crazy. This, from a dude who forgot my birthday — twice — when we were still together. But me? I remember numbers for some reason, always have. I can rattle off his land line phone number from high school. I know the birthdays of people I haven’t had any contact with in years.

Recently, it was my best friend’s birthday. I’d never forget that, of course. But it also reminded me of the Other Woman (well, the original other woman was his teenaged lover before her, . . . but I digress . . .). Let’s call this Other Woman . . . Penelope Homewrecker, shall we?   (I don’t really blame Penelope for wrecking my home, though.  Though she certainly made choices I would not, my ex-husband did not have to honor her — requests?)   Anyway, Penelope’s birthday is two days after my best friend’s. I know this because years ago, when I first discovered their affair, I did my fair share of research, as did my work colleagues at the time. I was working in a law office — enough said. Before long I had her full name, her address, her real estate records, current and prior addresses, etc. , and — her birthday.

I remember sharing the information with my best friend. She responded with one of those completely irrational comments only a true friend would say. She almost growled, “How dare she have a birthday near mine.”  My friend was right, by the way:

How dare Penelope have a birthday close to my very best friend’s special day?

How dare Penelope have a birthday?

How dare Penelope even exist?

It reminds me of a scene from Sex And The City when Carrie realizes that her on and off boyfriend Big has chosen a woman named Natasha over her — and he is actually happy. Carrie tells her friends she’s ready to accept it. For a beat the women were silent, but then they gave, an irrational, nonsensical, yet incredibly supportive response.

Natasha. What a bullshit name.

Totally.

Stupid.

Complete bullshit.

Sex and The City

Sex and The City

I just love that — showing support in such an subtly obvious way, via a frivolous statement.

So thanks to my best friend for expressing outrage that my husband’s mistress dared to have birthday near hers.

How dare she? Indeed.

When Carrie found out about Big's new girlfriend, Miranda offered support.

When Carrie found out about Big’s new girlfriend, Miranda offered support.

By the way, Penelope and my Ex didn’t last. (Long story, well not so long, but it’s a good one.  I may blog about it at some point, maybe.)

Much later, after Penelope and the Ex broke up,  my Ex announced he had a new serious girlfriend.   I did the required Facebook check on her, and I noticed that Penelope and the Ex’s new girlfriend were Facebook friends. When I checked again a little later, the two women were no longer Facebook friends.

Huh.

There was some kind of unfriending situation between Penelope and the new girlfriend.

Huh.

Perhaps Penelope Homewrecker didn’t want to see posts by her replacement.

Huh.

Heh heh heh

I wonder if later, Penelope, who had likely thought she’d become the coveted Mrs. Ex, was treated to posts about my Ex’s wedding and subsequent procreation?  I’m guessing that Penelope and the new girlfriend must have had some mutual friends. Yes?

Please, yes?

Heh heh heh

My investigation days are over. They’ve been over for a long time. Years. I never look at my Ex’s or his wife’s Facebook pages or his family’s pages. I really have no interest now. But those damn numbers stay in my head. As I said, it’s a gift, and a curse.

So, Happy Birthday Penelope Homewrecker!  I literally can’t help but remember the date.

Of course, Evil Me wants to ask: What’s your Relationship Status now?

Though, Regular Me acknowledges that Penelope Homewrecker dodged a bullet and may indeed be the luckiest woman in the world.

Celebrity Analysis

For those who follow celebrity gossip, think of it like this:  My Ex-Husband’s mistress  pulled a Penelope Cruz.  Let me explain.  For a long time (by Hollywood standards) Tom Cruise and his wife Nicole Kidman were a golden couple.

The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple

It didn’t last.    It was rumored that Tom  left Nicole Kidman because of his affair with another actress, Penelope Cruz.

 

When Tom and Nicole divorced, Tom and Penelope went public with their relationship.

 

Tom Cruise and one-time girlfriend, Penelope Cruz.

Tom Cruise and one-time girlfriend, Penelope Cruz.

 

But then they broke up.

Penelope  escaped becoming the  wife of  Tom Cruise, known to control and overshadow his wives.   And at some point, Tom Cruise went a little crazy.

Crazy Tom Cruise during his infamous Oprah appearance.

Crazy Tom Cruise during his infamous Oprah appearance.

Crazy Tom Cruise went on to marry once perky, but later suffering Katie Holmes, while Penelope Cruz ran free!  (Katie Holmes is now Ex Mrs. Tom Cruise, by the way, but they had a child together so she still has to deal with him.  She’ll never be completely free.).

 

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes when they were still together. She doesn’t look happy, does she?

 

And Penelope Cruz?  I picture her frolicking in a field somewhere.

Of course, in this scenario this would make me Tom’s jilted wife, Nicole Kidman, mother of the first kids.   And I’m okay with that.

Tom Cruise's Ex-Wife, Nicole Kidman

Tom Cruise’s Ex-Wife, Nicole Kidman

And I’d be okay with this, too:

Nicole Kidman and her current husband, Keith Urban

Nicole Kidman and her current husband, Country Music Star Keith Urban. She upgraded. By all reports, Keith Urban is supposed to be a nice guy, and Nicole’s career has soared once she was free of Cruise.

Just Me With . . . numbers in my head.    And a song in my heart, a country song, “Little Bit of Everything

See: Facebook Mutual Friend with the The Ex’s Girlfriend — Part One

and

To My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

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I Almost Crossed One Off Of “My Bucket List Of Men To Do”

The Village People.  There are all types of men out there.

The Village People. There are all types of men out there.

A while back I wrote a Bucket List of Men to Do.  On it, I included an Too Old For Me Rich Guy saying, “At this point in life this is my only route if I want to be photographed as the pretty young thing on someone’s arm.

Dick Van Dyke and his bride

Dick Van Dyke and his bride

This past weekend, I thought about checking that one off my list.

I had been invited to a graduation party of a former student.  The student’s family is wealthy.   Not surprisingly,  it appeared that their friends are similarly well off.    As per usual I attended alone.  As per usual, it appeared as though I was the only woman attending alone, except, of course, for the widowed grandmothers.  As per usual, I was the only woman of color, and as per usual I knew hardly anyone there.    The point is, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.   Well, maybe not sore, more like a bare thumb, among French manicured pinkies.  But these are really good people, we go back a long way, and I was happy to have been invited.   Sometimes I just tire of going solo — all the time — but I digress . . .

I got my food and took an empty seat among strangers, though the host did eventually join us.  He  introduced me, explaining that I was his son’s music teacher.

Thurston Howell, III from Gilligan's Island.   My would-be suitor was older than Mr. Howell, but  he'll do.

Thurston Howell, III from Gilligan’s Island. My would-be suitor was older than Mr. Howell, but he’ll do.

Well, an older gentlemen seated across from me was simply fascinated, almost smitten.  Now I don’t discuss the specifics of age but considering my wealth of life experience, a man significantly older than me has got to be  pretty darn — experienced.   Nay, old.  But this man, by his dress, demeanor and comfort level led me to assume that he had means.   I seriously doubt that this dude needed to check his balance before going grocery shopping.

I didn’t catch his name.  But let’s call him Jack.  Jack was quite complimentary, noting that he  certainly would  have stuck with his music lessons if he had a teacher who looked like me. “Wow,” he said, and inquired as to whether I had any openings . . . heh heh heh.  “I don’t know how the boy could learn anything with you as his teacher.”

I tell you, I almost giggled.  This flirtation from an older gentlemen of means made me —  me, a grown-ass woman of feminist sensibilities —  positively girlish!  I’m not sure, but I think I may have flipped my hair.

I took the comments in kind and did not pursue the matter, but . . .

Damn.

Let the record reflect that I object to the way younger women romantically involved with  older rich men are maligned, called gold diggers and such.  It’s offensive.

But hey, Gold Diggers, I get it now.  (Shhhhhhh)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Just Me With . . .  giggles.    I really wanted him to buy me something shiny.    I’m just saying . . . 

Technology Has Created The One Handed Child

iPhone

I admit.  I’m on my phone a lot.  All the time.

But I didn’t grow up on my phone all the time.  I grew up — using both hands!

The other day my daughter and I went to the neighbors’ house to walk their dog.  I wanted to make sure she could do it by herself.  Accordingly, I instructed her to open the door by herself using the key.  She dutifully inserted the key in the lock with her right hand and turned.  The door did not pop open, of course.  She turned the key again with her right hand.  It did not open.  Her left hand hung at her side.

She was bewildered, perplexed, really.

She turned the key again with her right hand.  Her empty left hand still hung at her side, useless.

Before my head exploded, I had to speak up — slowly:

“Turn the key with one hand, use the other hand to turn the knob and push.”

She’s  a teen, not a toddler.  Yet it had not occurred to her to use both hands.

I blame Apple.  Usually this kid has a phone and/or iPod in hand.  She is so used to holding a  device  that it has rendered one hand useless, even when it’s empty.

This scenario has happened often with my kids.   They only use one hand for most things, even cooking.  Oh, I admit they’ve become quite adept at using one hand, but it’s not efficient.  Not at all.

And it looks ridiculous.

When my children were babies and toddlers they always scored so well on those tests for large and small motor skills.  They could manipulate small toys and they could climb on anything.

Now they forget that they have two hands.

I think someone should conduct a study on the long-term effects of the use of personal digital devices on the (arrested) development of manual dexterity in teens — because I think this is a problem.

Seriously.  Have you ever watched a person do laundry with one hand?  It’s ridiculous.

Just Me With . . . both hands.

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise

My old house is not as big or grand as this, but is similar.

My old house was not as big or grand as this, but is similar.

Before my divorce, when I still lived in the big house in the nice neighborhood —  also known as “The Marital Home,”   “The Debtor’s Prison,” or “The Money Pit” I had some really cool neighbors, many of whom were there for me when my world fell apart.

Hillary and Tom lived across the street, in a stately Tudor home.

Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey.  Hillary and Tom are a older modern version.

Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey. Hillary and Tom are a older modern version.

Hillary and Tom are older than I am, and well established in their careers.  Both lawyers, they had worked in the same firm I had, but had left before I started there.  My colleagues spoke so highly of them.   I earned street ‘cred at the firm just by being their neighbor.  I’m not sure where Hillary and Tom went to school, but I’m guessing there was ivy on some of the buildings. Eventually both left private practice, Tom for  high-profile government work, and Hillary took  an in-house corporate job.  The couple moved up the ranks in their positions, with Hillary becoming a major client of the firm.  Hillary was kind of a legend for younger female attorneys, she had played with the big boys and shattered the glass ceiling, or at least made a lateral move around it.

What’s more, Hillary and Tom are good people.  Tom is a talker, knows as much about music as he does about law (he’d been a drummer in a previous life). Hillary is not nearly as gregarious as  her husband, however.  She has a quiet dignity that suggests that she is not to be messed with.  She’s also very attractive, and appears to be years, even over a decade younger than her years.   They both worked long hours, so I didn’t see them often around the neighborhood, but  I always liked and admired them both.   They were a power couple, truly.

In some ways, I considered Hillary and Tom to be a bit out of my league.   They were connected, respected and wealthy.  They were happy and well-suited, though Hillary joked that this was because they didn’t spend a lot of time together.

A couple of years ago Hillary took an early retirement from her corporate job.  She was undecided as to what to do next, professionally.   In the meantime, she  had some time off — for the first time in probably twenty years.  I was surprised ( shocked) when she invited all six of us to her beach house.  We hadn’t spent much time together before this.  But I was in the midst of a divorce and renovations on the new (hoarders) house, and I don’t think I had a kitchen at the time.  I needed a break.   But,  I was in a bad way, my medications made me afraid to drive long trips alone.  I explained this to her, deciding to be honest.

Hillary listened and said,

“I’ll drive you.”

And she did.

She picked us up in her SUV and drove the kids and I to the beach where she opened her home to us, fed us, and let me sleep while she played with my kids on the beach.   I was surprisingly relaxed there.  It was nice.

Beaches, with Bette Midler and Barbra Hershey

Beaches, with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey

Hillary eventually took a new job, and we haven’t done anything together for  years now, though she sometimes drops off her daughter’s (designer)  hand-me-downs, and will buy whatever my kids are selling for school fundraisers.  We share an educational level, and some professional accomplishments, but our lives have taken drastically different turns.  I am, quite literally, on the other side of the tracks now.

Last year, Hillary and another ex-neighbor dropped off gift cards for all of us at Christmas.  I was completely surprised and thankful but I didn’t expect it to happen again.

But again this year, a few days before Christmas,  we heard a noise in the front room.  One of the girls got there just in time to see the door closing and a package sitting on a table.   Hillary had left chocolate and gift cards for all of us, including me — again.    These are not the obligatory gifts from some aunt.  Hillary is not related to us, and has no  long-standing tradition of giving gifts to my kids — or me.   This was clearly something that she just wanted to do, without fanfare.  We were obviously home when she came by,  but her stealthy elf-like drop off told me she didn’t want to talk.

So, instead of calling, I emailed her to thank her.

This was her response:

I am grateful for your friendship and especially your companionship during a time that was difficult for me.  Not much time for companionship lately, but the friendship is still there.

It made me cry.

I thought I was only on the receiving end of assistance.  I assumed that Hillary, like other friends and neighbors who witnessed or had second -hand knowledge of my break up and break down, was simply helping  a family in need —  because she had the means to do so.  I never thought that I had much to give, let alone the means to help anyone — especially someone like Hillary — who seems to have it all.

So I cried.

And I’m still not exactly sure how I  helped her — but I guess I did — and it meant so much to me that she told me so.

Just Me With . . . A Wonderful Life?

It's a Wonderful Life

Clarence The Angel: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”
Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”

Other stories of good neighbors:

When I Needed A Helping Hand

Riding With My Boss

My First Grown Up Thanksgiving —- Kind of

The Thanksgiving Feast

Well, I did it.  I prepared Thanksgiving dinner in my own house for my parents.  It was just the three of us.  The children were with their father.

Since my marriage ended years ago it has been our practice for the children to be with my ex-husband for Thanksgiving and with me for Christmas.  See, All I Want For Christmas is My Kids.  So, I’ve been kid-less for many Thanksgivings.  I’ve spent a couple of Thanksgivings with my best friend and her large, extended, ethnic family.   They are very nice and welcoming and I had a good enough time, but it started to feel weird being alone with someone else’s family.   Two years ago I did absolutely nothing (I think, I can’t remember).  Last year I went out for Thanksgiving dinner with my parents.   We didn’t go to a really nice or fancy restaurant, more like a diner, a nice diner, but a diner, nonetheless.  The food was okay, but I found the whole scenario depressing.  There were a lot of older people, elderly people.  It smacked of a refuge for souls who had no where else to go.

So this year, I decided to stay home and cook dinner at my own damn house.  I decided this on Monday, declining my mother’s offer to have  Thanksgiving at their house. That can be (has been) depressing as well, going “home” for Thanksgiving, completely alone, feeling like a grown child, the only child who never moved away (which I count is a personal failure), knowing my sisters are with their families at their homes, knowing that my children are with my ex-husband’s wife’s family.  Just thinking about  going to my parents for Thanksgiving felt like it was one small step above being the middle-aged single man living in his parents’ basement.

No, I have a home, I reasoned, and even though the children wouldn’t be there,  I decided that I would serve Thanksgiving dinner to my parents. Plus, it’ll give them a break.

I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner before, but that was in The Big House (formerly the marital home) for my (now Ex) in-laws.  This was different.  This is my home, alone (except for the bank).  My little home that gets very few visitors, despite its extreme makeover.  My little home to which some of my kids are too embarrassed to bring their wealthy friends.  My little home which has a very nice, slammin’ new kitchen.

So I cooked, for me, for my parents.  Cooking does not give me any joy.  See Confessions of a Skinny Mom.   Still, it was so much less awkward than being at the restaurant.  My Mom and Dad ate my food; they were appreciative, and it was good.  And though my long-married parents have a tendency to bicker (huge understatement), today they did not.  I can’t help to think that it was the locale of the dinner.  Had they been at their own home, they would have fought.

George, between his parents on Seinfeld.

In some ways it was my first grown up Thanksgiving, because it was my home, and more importantly, my decision, as opposed to just figuring out how to pass the time while the kids are gone or making sure my parents have somewhere to eat (or, in the old days, doing time with the in-laws).  Now I’ve christened my house as our family home.  It only took three years.

Weird that my first Thanksgiving dinner in my own house did not include my children, but at least they know that holidays can happen here in our new house  home.

Just Me With . . . leftover Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and something crossed on my bucket list that I didn’t even know was there.

Good Fortune and The Dreaded Question, Part II

I’ve written previously about an encounter with  Marla, the deli clerk, who had asked me point-blank why I got divorced.   “Why Did You Get Divorced? The Dreaded Question. 

I saw Marla again over the weekend.  I was alone, the store wasn’t busy, so we had time to talk.

Marla, an older woman, is petite  in stature, slim in girth.  She manages to look quite stylish in her grocery store uniform, which is a brightly colored tee-shirt, smock and visor.  Her hair is curly, worn pulled back  as required, but she always has wavy tendrils hanging down and framing her face, and she sports side bangs.   I’ve never seen her without  full make-up on her olive skin, including heavy eyeliner and blue eye shadow,  and she wears big dangly or hoop earrings.

I felt differently about chatting with Marla this time, because this time she didn’t ask about the divorce.  She asked about me.

She wondered what I do for myself, asking whether I’ve been getting out, having any fun, doing something other than taking care of all the children.

Again she launched into a series of compliments, saying that I’m so beautiful and have a great smile and I’m so nice, that I work so hard for all my kids.  She commented on how difficult parenting is, queried whether my ex-husband gives me a break, noted that men don’t want independent women like us, etc.   She said, not to worry, all things come around.

Then Marla said, pointedly — really, she actually pointed at me with a crooked finger,

“You’re gonna have it all.  Mark my words.  This Gypsy Lady says you’re gonna have it all!”

Whoa, she’s a Gypsy?

Now that’s a whole different take on things.

Just Me with some good fortune coming my way, because the Gypsy Lady told me so.

Referring to Fifty Shades of Grey as “Mommy Porn”? Stop it!

Fifty Shades of Grey

You know those posts, reviews, rants or raves about a topic the author knows nothing about?

Well, this is one of them.

Actually this is only inspired by something I know nothing about, “Fifty shades of Grey.”

I haven’t read it, all I know is what I happen to see written or said about it in passing.  I know that it’s very popular it’s been critiqued for it’s literary value or lack thereof.  Reportedly, it is very  sexually explicit  . . . and adventurous?  Is that right?

Whatever.  I haven’t read it only because it doesn’t interest me — not my cup or tea right now.

My problem, however, is that I’ve heard it described as “Mommy Porn.

“Mommy” Porn?  Seriously?

I take offense.   People need to stop inserting the word Mommy in front of an otherwise serious,  established or even, dare I say, “respected” genre in an attempt to diminish or qualify its meaning. In other words, don’t use the word “Mommy” if the topic has nothing to do with mothering!

Porn is Porn.  I don’t know if Fifty Shades is actually Porn.   But I know it’s not “Mommy Porn.”

What does “Mommy Porn”  even mean?  Does it mean that mothers are aroused, as opposed to women who don’t have children?  (Because, guess what, not all women have children — shhhhh!!!!)

This woman is reading. I don’t know whether she has given birth. Is this “Mommy Reading”?

Whether or not Porn is enjoyed by “Mommies” as opposed to “Women”  is  a distinction without meaning.  I’m no porn historian, but I think that I can confidently say that historically,  mainstream porn was directed toward heterosexual men —  largely pictures of naked ladies or depictions of male conquests.  Then someone figured out that women might enjoy porn more or differently  with some tweaking (heh heh heh).  Hence, the birth of erotica or “Porn for Her”  — Porn that is engineered specifically for the arousal of women or hetero or lesbian couples — i.e. for WOMEN!   Does it matter whether the women have given birth?  Uh, no.

I can live with identifying  pornography created for a particular gender or sexual preference  when it’s descriptive —  i.e. gay porn which features gay sex meant to arouse gay people.  Duh.

But what is Mommy Porn?  Mommies having sex with each other with their babies in the next room?

I don’t think that’s what’s they mean.

Is  Fifty Shades of Grey referred to as  “Mommy Porn”  because it’s  sold in Target?

Because it has no pictures?   By the way,  I was in Target yesterday and paged through it.  No naked men.   hmmph

Do the people who use the phrase “Mommy Porn” believe that there is a genre of work that appeals only to the prurient interests of  women who have given birth?  Is a mother’s sexual appetite or fantasy different from  a woman who has not had a child?  Well, that’s just stupid.  Hence my rant.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m being too literal.  It just irks me.

If there was a true thing as “Mommy Porn” — something that turns only mothers on, wouldn’t it be something that gave, especially a mother of a newborn, maybe six hours of uninterrupted sleep?  Now wouldn’t that be a turn on?

Or for the mother of  older children — having a day where her children don’t ask for or expect a damn thing from her all while doing whatever she said without so much as an eye roll?  hmmmm  oooohh  ahhhhhh  

“And the child left the room silently, robotically picking up the toys strewn about the floor,  and quietly closed the door behind him. Hearing the screen door downstairs slam shut she knew she was left alone, and was expected to do . . . nothing. The child knew, instinctively,  that “Mommy” needed to be alone.  She was left to lay in her bed, taking in the smell of the freshly laundered linen. Her eyes strayed to the clock.  No, she had nothing to do, no reason to get out of bed, yet she wondered if   her package would arrive today.  Would the UPS man need a cold drink or a place to rest between deliveries?  The last time he came had been unplanned, unexpected . . . unbelievable . . . ” 

. . .  but I digress . . .

What was I saying?

Oh yeah.  I don’t know what the “Mommy Porn” people mean; I think they just mean that it’s sexually explicit material that “real”  women — who they think would not  enjoy “real” porn  — read.

Once again, “I call bullsh*t.”

No one knows what’s on our computers, phones, or in our underwear drawers or our shoe boxes.  We don’t have to go to Target for the real deal.  And guess what, given how our minds work,  we can concoct full fledged porn scenarios in our minds while  grocery shopping — without assistance from a book, magazine, DVD or battery operated device.

So please don’t call  Fifty Shades of Grey “Mommy Porn.”  It’s an insult to Porn and Mommies.  It’s a book about sex.  And even acknowledging that it’s largely women who are eating these books up, so be it.   If it turns women on, their reproductive history has nothing to do with it.

Don’t even get me started on Mommy Blogs or Mommy Wars.

Just stop it . . .  Daddy.

Just Me With . . .  a little attitude.   Next I’ll discuss the timely and important topic of  using bears to sell toilet paper.

“Why Did You Get Divorced?” The Dreaded Question

Recently a fellow tweeter had lamented about  having been asked the question, “Why did you get divorced?”  It truly annoyed  her, being asked such a personal question.  I came up with some snappy comebacks but admitted that I am rarely asked.   I’m not sure why this is so, but I live in a small suburb and it was big gossip for a while, and I think most people my ex-husband and I know already have heard some version of why so there is no need to ask.

Just the other day, though, while I was getting some cold cuts at the grocery store that I stop by two or four  or five times a week,  the counter person, a woman maybe in her 60’s started chatting away.   By the way, I hate guessing ages, so much depends on factors other than the number– hard living, for example, can make a person appear older, she very well could have been younger.   I see this woman regularly, she knows my kids and she’s commented on the twin thing and always has a kind comment or pleasantry.

On this store visit, I only had one kid with me.   In our house we call that — pretending to be an only child — but I digress . . .    The Deli Lady, whom I’ll call Marla, saw us and immediately gave a loud and sweet hello, like we were old friends.  Nice lady.   Then she remarked that she saw my “hubby” with the kids a few days ago, that he must have been giving me a break.  I may have shuddered a bit, feeling the ick.

This remark was icky and  irksome to me for many reasons.  First, he’s not my husband,  no, he most definitely is not my husband.  I have papers and forcibly  spent $35,000 and counting in the process of making him  not my husband.  Second, the cutesy term of endearment “hubby” is antithetical to this man to whom I am decidedly not endeared and I no longer see as “cute.”  Third,  my “hubby’  wasn’t giving me a break, he was seeing his children pursuant to a court custody order and  he was shopping at “my” store — most likely  picking up food to take home to his new wife  for her to prepare and serve to my kids.  So, no, my hubby didn’t have the kids to give me a break.  See Weekends Off.

Understanding that these are my issues and not hers, I was going to just let it slide, as I often do with people I don’t see often, but she continued to talk, asking where I was when he had the children.  Considering that I see this woman a few times of week, that she knew me by name and was trying to learn the kids names, I might as well stop the happy marriage train.

“Well, he’s actually my Ex-Husband,”  I offered.

“What?  He’s your Ex? You’re Divorced? ”  She said, shocked, truly shocked.   Leaving me to wonder, had he allowed her to think we were still together?

At this moment, I wished I’d said nothing.  The one kid I had with me was the one who had the most lingering hostile reaction to the divorce, and didn’t like to hear about it or talk about it.  I sometimes refer to this kid as The Angry Child, i.e. She Wants To Break Me, but she’s been so much better these days.  She really has.  As luck would have it, as I turned to see if she was listening, she’d flitted off,  probably to find her favorite snack to throw into the cart.

Good, I thought, I can get this conversation over with.

Marla, was shocked, still,  by my revelation.

“Divorced? . . . . Why?”

And there is was.  The question I am rarely asked.   I thought of my Twitter friend, and wished I could channel her support in my head.  But, I was In Real Life (IRL if you only have 140 Twitter characters) and I didn’t even have my phone out. Plus, Marla was waiting for an answer.  She wasn’t even slicing my meat.  She was waiting.

The Million Dollar Question

I think I kind of stammered and shrugged my shoulders, rolled my eyes,  and said, “Well, you know.”   I understand that this is not a definitive answer.  But I thought my body language and facial expression would have been enough to change the subject.

But Marla apparently needed a real answer, in real life, right then and there.

She asked again.

“Why did you get divorced?”

Now all the snappy comebacks I’d joked about had left the building like Elvis.  I had nothing.  Actually, my snappy comebacks were mostly to put the other person on the defensive.  I figured it they can ask me something personal I should come back with something just as personal, like,

“Well it’s a long painful story.  How much did you make last year? And are you having regular sex?”

But I didn’t want to be rude to Marla.  And I couldn’t even come up with, “I don’t want to talk about it.”    It was a deer in headlights situation, for sure.

Marla is good people.   I like the banter I have with her and many of the people I see in stores while carrying out mundane tasks.   Marla is funny, friendly and compliments my kids.  This makes her royalty in my book.  I didn’t want to insult her or put her on the defensive.   And, unlike my snobby ex- neighbor, see  Holiday Party post, she wasn’t judging me because I am divorced.  Marla was  genuinely surprised, really surprised.

So, I finally answered, leaning close to the counter, “Well, he was a bit of a player.”

This isn’t exactly true.  There weren’t a lot of other women, to my knowledge, but you know, there were more than there are supposed to be, you know  . . . when you’re MARRIED!    Still,  I figured this shorthand answer would do the trick  and end the topic of conversation before my kid got back.

But it didn’t.

It actually opened an opportunity for her to share  her own personal life which included two husbands and four children and the proclamation that she will never marry again, which, had we been in a coffee shop or at a bar would have been good girl talk.  But we were on opposite sides of a deli counter in a grocery store in my hometown, and where, apparently, my Ex-Husband still shops — while on his visits with the children.

I added with another shrug while I perused the meats that, “Yeah, well, he’s remarried now, so . . .”   I don’t know why, but I thought that information would help end the conversation.

But it didn’t.

Marla shared more about her life.  I found out about her ex-husband’s new ex-wives, and how one of them told her what he’d said about her,  and how his other children are no good, etc.   Then, the conversation turned back to me, as I hoped it wouldn’t, but feared it would.

“Divorced? Really?  And you’re so pretty . . .  and smart . . .”   Now, I’m not trying to blow my own horn here or provide self-gratuitous comments, but Marla went on to compliment me very highly, noting that I am slim (not the healthiest comment for me to hear, see  Confessions of a Skinny Mom  and Angela Jolie  posts) and she thinks I’m  brilliant, which, considering our only interaction is at the meat counter — I find to be very astute — heh heh heh.   I took her compliments in kind, though a little embarrassed, being at the deli counter and all.  But, hell, it’s nice to be appreciated.

While finally cutting my meat,  Marla added, “Leaving a girl like you. . . . I don’t understand it.”    And she just shook her head.  “I just don’t get that.  You are something.  I think you’re great.”  And she smiled, looked me up and down,  and shook her head again.

Now this tugs at my insecurities.

In my tortured mind Marla is thinking,  “There must be something wrong with her that I can’t see.”

My damaged self asks: Is Marla  trying to figure out what dark secret or hidden insufficiency I must have which  caused my husband and father of my beautiful children  to leave me?  Is that what everybody thinks —  that  there must be something wrong with  me that they can’t see?

I wanted to scream, “I’M GOOD IN BED — HONEST!!!”   But that didn’t seem appropriate.

So there it is, my problem.  And it truly is my problem.  Not Marla’s and not my Ex-Husband’s —- and I’m working on it.  I need to slow down and control those ill-informed, overly chatty  people  — not the ones in the grocery store —  the ones in my head.

It’s simple, really.  I don’t like being asked why I divorced  because it’s personal and I don’t like to talk about it unless I bring it up.  But more than that, I don’t like being asked because of all the time I spent crying on the kitchen floor Amy Winehouse style wondering why I wasn’t enough for him.  

Truth is.,  he was done.  It really doesn’t matter why now, and it shouldn’t matter to my lunch meat friend.  After a excruciatingly painful period in my life, I’m done analyzing why and I’m done, too.  Unless I have brought it up and I am in a place mentally and physically where it is appropriate to talk about it, my final answer actually is, “Well, you know, whatever.”

(In my head I’ll say it’s because he’s an asshole.   I’m not a saint.)

My daughter eventually flitted back with her cheese sticks and Marla had the good sense to change the topic, asking my daughter if she helps me out at home, which,  I pointed out,  she does not do nearly enough, prompting a devilish smile from my girl.  A smile, not a denial, mind you.  That kid is lucky she’s cute . . .  but I digress.

Just Me With . . .  American Cheese,  ham off the bone, Southern fried chicken breast and some discomfort and insecurity . . .  sliced thin.

Special thanks to  @CRobbieLV for inspiring this and sharing her experiences with  — The Dreaded “Why?”

Postscript:  See Good Fortune and the Dreaded Question,  Part II

For the best responses to finding out about my break up see, “When I Needed A Helping Hand”   and “Riding With My Boss” and “Six Days of Separation

Road Trip Entertainment — Our Music and Movies

I just finished a road trip with my five children.  I know no one asked, but I thought I’d share what we listened to and watched on the ten hour drive home.

1. Rachmaninov

Piano Concerto No. 2

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

2. Prokofiev 

Piano Concertos 1 & 3

3.   “The Foundation” by The Zac Brown Band

Because you know I like my chicken fried . . .

4.  Soundtrack to West Side Story

Can’t believe I almost forgot this one!

5.  The Radio — remember that?  

6.  Adam Sandler’s “The WaterBoy” 

“Momma said, ma ma ma  momma said . . . ”

7.   Les Choristes — A beautiful French language Film about a music teacher for troubled boys in  1940’s France.

8.    Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo — Comedic Japanese (manga) Anime.

(I don’t really understand Bobobo, but there was lots of discussion about nose hair.)

For the most part, each of the choices were approved and enjoyed by all of  the tween and teen kids

. . . and myself.

Just Me With . . . an interesting collection . . . of children.

Miracles Happen

I was living in the suburbs and working in the city.  Consequently, I lived and died by the train schedule.    Each day I drove to the train station, parked, and caught a train to another world.  The trains ran rather regularly  and had express routes during “rush” hours, but after the commuter trains stopped there was often an hour wait between the trains which made — every — stop.  If I missed the last express train, I would be very, very late for work.

On this particular day, I had trouble finding a parking space.

“Damn,” I thought, as I drove around the lot.  “I cannot miss this train.   I can’t.”

I was working at a law firm where they proudly told new associates the story of how the founding partner died at his desk.  This was something to aspire to, according to them — so long as our time sheets were in order  (Ha ha — and by that I mean, not funny at all . . . but I digress . . . ).

The Ancient Ailing Managing Partner in “Intolerable Cruelty”

Needless to say, strolling in late was, well,  frowned upon.

Finally, I found a semi-legal parking space and ran down to the tracks just as my train pulled in.   But I was “running” in dress clothes and carrying a briefcase.  It wasn’t pretty — or effective, especially since the train pulls in on the opposite side of the parking lot  and I had to run down the stairs, cross under the tracks, and run back up the stairs to actually board my train.

I didn’t make it.

As I climbed the steps on the other side I witnessed my train pulling away.

The next train, which was not an express and therefore would take the full 43 minutes to get to the city, would not come for another 50 minutes.

Sure, I could drive into town and pay an arm and a leg and my first-born to park,  but I would still be late for work.   I cursed myself and the world — Damn, damn, damn.  I hoped the partners wouldn’t see me coming in late.  I should have left earlier. I had no one to blame but myself.

I wished with all my heart that I’d made that train. I ached to have caught that train.  But all I was left to do was  just stand there — all alone — watching my train pull away. I was left  there like the last dog  at a shelter.

Rose whispering to the life boat to “Come back” in Titanic

I think I even whispered out loud, “Come baaaack” before I hung my head in defeat.

(I hope you can feel the tragedy of it all.  I was having a very bad day.)

But then, I looked up again.

The train . . .

The train . . . was . . . coming . . . back!

I thought I’d lost my mind.   I did the cartoon character rubbing my eyes with my fists thing.   I looked around to see if anyone else could see this, because it was surreal.   But I was alone.  Everyone else had actually caught the train — which was slowly, but deliberately, coming back.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Had I willed this to happen?  (Was it like in that first Harry Potter when Harry makes the glass around the  snake  cage vanish, yet is totally oblivious of his powers?)  

Was I being Punked? (Where were the cameras?  Ashton?)

Things like this just don’t happen.  Not in real life.  Not in Suburbia. Not to me.

But sure enough, the train pulled back into the station.

Tentatively, I stepped up to the now open door.

           “Can I get on?” I asked the conductor, sheepishly.

            “Yeah,” he answered.   I must have looked spooked because he volunteered that there was some sort of switching problem.

Huh.

But you couldn’t tell me that I hadn’t brought that train back out of  the sheer force of my will  —  or it was divine intervention — because almost as soon as I embarked, the train started again, and took me into the city, express style.

I smiled the entire trip.

It was a commuting miracle.  A miracle, I say.

So, when I’m feeling a little blue, sometimes I think of the miracles in my life.    And it’s not always the obvious or the big stuff — like births and graduations and crap.  Sometimes, I think about the day the train came back . . . just for me.

Just Me With . . . a commuting miracle.