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Success, Failure...some of my greatest failures have been a springboard to my greatest successes...the terms are truly fluid.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I have a Reader.!!!

I am so excited!! My mother is reading my blog...

She is not the most technologically driven person but her new kindle has made it so she can check our Facebooks and now to find she can find time to read my blog when she and dad are pretty busy people, is ....well, pretty exciting to me..

My stats show I have readers in lots of countries but to be honest....I am not used to anyone that I know mentioning they had read it...I feel sort of like it is a secret world where anyone who reads my words does not actually know me...but there is comfort in reading other people's experiences for me. I started this blog since it was such a crushing thing to lose the love of my life and have no stories or role models to go to for solace and while losing my house to foreclosure I found no examples, post Depression, of anyone who had done well after being ripped from their homes.  Ifigured my adventure would be at least one person's experience...not a role model or anything...but an experience to show what it feels like...

Now here I am entering another year and collecting stories of my success and failure as I trudge forward into new adventures both romantic, scholastic and in living post trauma...or drama or comedic tragedy...all I know is Elton John's words best describe my life so far, "I'm Still Standing!"

The Confusion of Simplicity

I find myself feeling completely baffled.

I spent over $1000 on a class with Oregon State University to take an Economics class to find information on how to improve an economy. I am interested in how our economy fell apart in 2008, and what factors led to a collapse of an old network of protections against a Depression." Remember, I am a Foreclosure Victim, who relishes the idea of getting back into the system to "fix" what I view is a broken economy. I also am VERY interested in Developmental Economics so I can find useful information about what has worked to make previously poor countries suddenly wealthy, (think Japan or South Korea).

The class with OSU had a text put together by Greg Mankiw, an advisor to Mitt Romney and a guy clearly in the Bush regime's pocket. I hate to be clinical but I thought he was a jerk. In the class we learned to take as "written in stone" old ideas that didn't work. In fact some of the "free trader" mentalities that his text pushes as "economic law" seem like the same policies to me that gave banks and investment firms free run of the economy and the very tools to collapse the housing market to the point of ruination for me personally.

I got my first and only college "F" in the class.

Now I am in a class that is fun, easy to follow and FREE through an online MOOC, (Massive Open Online Courses).

I have learned so much more then most of my other classes in this course that is relevant to my orignal goals. I want to  make a point of saying this...this course is SUPERIOR in every way to the one I PAID for...PERIOD! The class is EASY for me since it is simply designed and easy to come my out of date, confusingly designed Economics class with OSU cost me so much?

As if that was not confusing enough, why am I not concentrating this morning?

As I study hard this morning with my nose to the grindstone...learning what I find most relevant...all I can think about is the compatibility I had on my date to the snow yesterday. He even invited my dog along, took me out to a nice lunch and we talked and talked AGAIN...he is so easy to talk to, about with...

Everything that comes out of his mouth is incredibly compatible with work...why do I feel so confused when being with him is so simple?

Food For Thought

Some nights is my favorite song...Fun. I like the way it sounds...I like the words and I like the way I feel when I scream/sing it in the car. I had a date and after spending the evening with a perfect gentleman who made me dinner...I got home late at night and found myself dancing to the song in my heels...grateful to be alive.....

Friday, December 28, 2012

An Early Morning Rendezvous


I am in pain from the same illness that made it so I could not work.


But gosh, who cares? I just had the greatest morning and it is only 9 am in the morning.

I was able to take a long difficult night of painful sleep and turn it into an advantage. I was up and ready and my new romantic interest was as well... I was showered and dressed and I have to say I even looked nice by the early morning meeting time at a coffee house. No heels, but business-y nice.


It was strange to be in person since we have been in the habit of communicating via phone so we can be with our children as much as possible. Already I find his priorities in order.


He was adorable and we were meeting before the kids wake up....


Mine sleeps in until 9 am…so I was home before my youngest was stirring...but the conversation today was warmer inside a building instead of via cell outside in the chill winter air. I have been in the habit of talking to him so intently while I am outside that I have been unaware of the cold or the sun even rising...he is so fascinating.


In my little county it is not typical to find a man who has a history of world travel, college frat life, and who also knows some good hikes from here to the top of the pass as well.…lots for me to be excited about.


Gotta say it feels alive to be able to find someone who has alot of the same interests I my own little corner of the world.


The other morning at home, Mike caught the dog and I, out in the windy, freezing, cold morning shivering outside the door. I had my cell glued to my ear, the dog was curled up in a shivery ball on the cement at my feet. He tried to talk us into going inside where the house is warm with radiant heating but the dog wanted to stay where I was and I wanted to be able to talk as inanely and foolishly as possible, without being heard.


Not only did I find our conversation electric…but I was whacked with Mike’s good humored texts during the middle of our chat.


“INDOORS?? What a concept…”


“Small but visible signs of growing up. I’m so proud!”


Why does it seem like good cheer is still all around even after Christmas….?



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Waking Up....

I have been in a  dreamy happy stew since I am not working. I spend my days putting myself through a class that is far superior to the Economics class I engaged in with my crummy class cost me $1116 for a term without even counting the book and other expenses yet now I am enrolledin a MOOC with MRUniversity. I love the class since it is simply wonderful adn FREE...its content far outweighs my expensive class and I am finally learning what I went to school do we improve the economy as is, here adn elsewhere...yeah, that is what I do with my breaks...

I also have been knitting and making tons of presents. It is what I can do...I can't afford much EVERY year but I can make things for Christmas.

I also had the sensation that I was waking up...sort of shaking off a sleepy stupor....I went from craving the hot peppers...really big difference...huge difference!

A few days later I found myself sort of perhaps in the midst of something starting...I don't know what or anything...

I think I am waking up...I sat outside in bitter cold... enjoying rain, wind and get my fingers so cold that I could not type at the typewriter...and my feet so cold that I have been indoors for about 2 hours and they are still hurting on the bottom...why? So I could talk on the cell to someone I view as cute outside in the frosty morning air...

Either way...I can't shake off the feeling that I am waking up...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winning and Losing....

Well, let's see, since the holidays started I lost my precious Uncle....he died just before Thanksgiving. I never had more then two so now I am down to one. I gained though alot of precious cousins I had not seen in ages...some since 1979!! I finally got around to putting up my Uncle's art and his handsome portait from his high school days and feel in some ways closer then I have in a bit...if my uncle and I weren't close lately it was all my fault...I felt embarassed to see him since I had been so happily married when we used to hang out...after the divorce...I felt oddly like I was a failure and had let him down...made me feel guilty to see him even though he is a great guy who never once showed the slighest judgment or concern...he was pretty good about figuring people knew their own lives better then he did.

I also lost my job that week and I guess my health. I had no choice but to quit after being told my illness was not being helped by the conditions at my job. I was uncomfortable to say the least but I oddly felt glad I had not been imagining my pain or my symptoms. I had to go in to Promptcare twice and the Emergency Room once to get some real details in what was up. Surgery was discussed but pushed off until January, at the present, to wait until the holidays are over. Maybe at that time, I will have some idea of health coverage.

The positive to losing my job is that I suddenly wound up with Thanksgiving off, the last two weeks of classes to bring up my grades (and boy, did I need finals off...they were rough this term!), and also time at home for the precious...I spent days crying under a hot pad but how delicious to be home!! Making things...sewing, knitting, gluing, and baking...just being with Mike and Ann is nice too...I can cry watching chick flicks with Ann..we keep hankies handy since we are both absoutely lovely!!

I brought my grades up from the bruising they had taken from my excess hours on the job....I had also found myself feeling much better physically the more time I spent at home.

This holiday season I have no money to buy presents. But let's be honest...everyone I know can buy themselves what they want...but I can make things from I am making a small handful of presents...just for those I love...I gave a new baby in my life a hand sewn green gnome doll...and her mommy some fun little gnome knitting needles I glued together myself. I am making baskets of good cheer that I have been working on for a bit...a few cans of apple butter...candles decorated with beeswax figures we made...stuff like that...very personal.

But I can't help but feel so many levels of my Christmas at home before going to grad richer and deeper...maybe it is the deep appreciation of life here at the house...or the job and all the wonderful people I was privileged to see daily...either working along side of them or waiting on them behind the counter.

Anyway, just as this year was winding down it seems to be tossing me a super pleasant surprise that has me completely off guard...I do not have a clue what it means yet but I am definitely happy with the direction this year is headed in at the finish!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Looking Ahead....

Last night Spencer and I had the privilege of hanging out with more good friends and it was marvelous to find myself focused on my spiritual beliefs.

I also had a workmate pull my mind towards my less daily concerns a few days ago.

Mike and Ann, though practical people, are always pulled towards more thoughtful and playful ways as well too but until last night I had not realized that I have been so stuck in my daily life I have not even been following through with my more playful, fun beliefs.

I usually stop, examine and sort of guess towards what I want. I do it almost once a week usually, but I have been frightfully busy and never seem to have time to stop at all since coming home. During my brief moments of relaxation I have been walking with Spencer, Ann, Mike or James. It is so nice to do right here at the house, I have not gotten in the car once to walk at my usual hiking spots...even after returning home after over 4 years away!!

So here is my chance this morning to at least think about what I want now.

I want more time. I feel shorted on time then ever before. I feel pushed and pulled between school, work and working on Spencer's school work. After all I am a homeschooling mom. I am sure it will only be worse next term when I finish those science classes.

I see though that time is at a premium until I can figure out a way to relax into a rhythm that allows me more breathable space.

I see grad school choices that knock my socks off. I see myself studying something that will get me my dream job, working in an international capacity. I already have two choices that are at the top of my list. One is James Madison University's Florence program studying EU policies. That happens to combine beautiful Florence with something I have been studying for fun for years. I love guessing and watching the EU and how its policies effect the larger communities that it enfolds. But can I see myself studying policy all day? And working in only that field? I don't know since I have not seen much policy first hand. And I was thinking of being a Policy Analyst east when I was looking at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, that was on my A list of prospects. other interest is gaining an MA from Richmond University in London's Kensington District. I just had an Italian friend visit there and he tells me it is a ritzy place though. But as much as I really want to study International Relations in a year long program in the heart of London, I am afraid of the cost. Since my present school did not provide the promised funding, I am a bit paranoid about that part of the equation.

But both programs would get me into jobs BEFORE they were even over. And talk about the connections!! Oh and studying in either place makes my stomach feel so happy.  

I am still weighing out many factors though. Most of the time I look at my possible choices, I always run the city by Spencer and see if he would even want to live there for a year.

The plus side of all of our outrageously fun travel this year is how Spencer and I felt watching this laest James Bond release Skyfall. We laughed at the rain in the English shots. We both guessed at the countries and airports and I was rather impressed with the fact that it was an 11 year  old I was having the conversation with!! I think I have grown quite a bit and maybe even become more of the multi national person I have always wanted to be...and he seems to have been born that way! I learned something from the show that made me realize that I have studied enough Chinese to even survive the Shanghai Airport. I did not realize that they seem to use both pinyin and traditional characters on their signage there. I can read and study the pinyin which uses our letters...and I know quite a few Chinese words from my perpetual studies in that I would not be as lost as I thought.

I guess the other thing I need to find time to do is to mend fences with my family and see them more before we are off again. I have been distant since coming back home. But, during that year long study for my Masters...I will not be able to come home much I think. They say it is very intensive work. So if I get into a prgoram by next fall I have about 7 months left here, in my beloved county. I do love my family but have seen very little of them since settling at my friend's home...but time with my sisters, mom and dad and kids would be something I want for the holidays. I do miss my sister's mother's soothing voice and my father's biting wit. I miss my oldest son's bright humor and compassionate ways...and my neice's light-filled, fresh, outlook..and time wih my dear Ex Hubby and his new love would be a nice thing for the holidays...

Let's see if a job in the grocery biz allows much of that.. at the holidays...or if family feels like time wih is a funny never can tell what will happen until it happens...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Romance On The Rocks


     Since that moment when I almost drove into the Pacific Ocean, I have been savoring time and relationships. I cut out what hurts as if my very life depends on it since now I know it does. Cutting out a relationship that hurt was really my aim…I have to explain why I am more then OK with losing the man that I loved before I left for Europe.


      We had already felt the strain of not sharing many of the same values or interests. He is a wise and loving man and worthy of keeping by all standards but we, as a couple, were unhappy with being together long before I left on my dream trip for Italy.


     He was big on casinos…I hated going to them and could only endure them when I brought tons of books with me to study on the premises.


     I am big on quiet family weekends…he was uncomfortable with such close family structures and found little joy in them. 


     I hiked 5-6 miles along the Boardwalk with my dogs each morning while he refused even once to join me. Often though, he complained of not enough physical activity in his life with me. I think I am very physical, hiking and running all the time without him wherever we had lived. The problem he really had was that I was not into physically being competitive.


     I quit running regularly, even though it had been a lifelong habit, the second month we were together in Salinas. I had a hard time with his “coaching” me about how to run better. You see, I don’t run to lose weight, or improve my speed, or for anything at all.


     Running to me is a meditation, where my brain stops and my feet take over. I can’t spell anything while I am running. I am without language when I run. I am clumsy awkward and joyful as I run since I am not running with any goal whatsoever but to feel air in my lungs and calm in the aftermath.


     When I run, I go fast and push myself with ease until I feel like stopping. Period. There is no rhyme or reason to my running. Except that I feel like I got rid of a burst of activity that was twisting around in side of me somewhere and had needed to be let out.


    So why would I care about the WAY I ran? I tried to ask him to stop “helping me” but he could not understand my reasoning. He came from a different place where running correctly for speed or endurance was part of the joy of running.


     Because we were definitely feeling the strain of our ill fitting life together I was not surprised that he refused to go on the trip to me with Europe. He had loved Europe when stationed there in the ‘80s but he was clearly not all that excited about making it happen with me in this decade.


     I had jumped through every hoop in order to get to Europe, even getting a scholarship that paid for the tickets and supplies to go abroad, but not the $13,000 for schooling. He had seemed to pay little attention. He was ahppy for me but also seemed happy with the idea of 3 months without me.


     As I prepared to buy the tickets he became more skitterish and edgey, being angry at every little thing around the house. Spencer and I spent a lot more time away from the house. I remember when Spencer was gone at his dad’s house, I stepped up my long walks with the dogs away from the house and his seeming moodiness.


    When the scholarship came in, he suddenly needed to go to a casino. Let me rephrase that, when my money for school came in, he suddenly wanted to go to a casino. This was a day after he felt we had no money at all for a drive to Monterey, which was a half an hour away.



     I think that was the moment I realized that casino trips seemed to coincide with my money disbursements for school. Quite often I did not have the money to buy all my books for class, but we always seemed to have money for these trips, that inevitably cost us hundreds of dollars and long hours in the car driving large swaths of a really big state.


    I headed to an Alanon meeting and found myself crying as I came to the point with the group, “…I am realizing, I have a problem…and I sure hate to get rid of him but he is now interfering with my college career. Or perhaps I am seeing how life with an alcoholic is interfering with my schoolwork only now, but I will never forgive myself if I do not have the money for my tickets abroad. I think it is time to let go of someone I truly love, before it destroys both of our hopes and dreams.”


    As anyone who has attended such meetings can attest, the looks I received were not only full of compassion but also knowing. Everyone had been there before. Many were still trying to figure out what to do about the issue but I knew in my heart already I had made my decision.


     I went home with new resolve. I knew I would not budge.


     I had my money for the travel agent the next week. In the meantime though he asked me to consider pushing off the trip until next year when it would be easier for him. I also was told to consider not going for other reasons as well. My heels were dug in. I knew I was flying out of San Francisco’s airport when it was time. I did ask him again to consider going with me too, but I was not surprised at his wishy washy answers of why he could not. He seemed to relish the idea of being alone more then anything.


     I woke up one morning before leaving to do schoolwork and at 5 am checked my Facebook after finishing one of my assignments. A shock went through me as my home page had a picture of the man I loved, standing next to his favorite Disney Princess, Jasmine, announcing my engagement to him!!


    I could not believe it! I was instantly horrified on many levels, mostly since this was a most public way to announce anything in my world, as if it had been posted on the front page of my hometown paper, only worse…a paper that only went out to 200 of my closest friends and relations…people who knew who I was…


    I knew I felt as if I was on the last legs of my relationship with someone I loved with all my heart but while my back was turned, our relationship had been ratcheted up a notch!


     I was in damage control over the next few days….talking to all my family who were a bit miffed that they had been left out of the news BEFORE it went on Facebook.


      In my man’s defense, he was as embarrassed as I was when I brought it to his attention, immediately picking out a different picture aside from the one that featured Jasmine and picking one of the both of us instead. He also apologized swearing he thought he was simply changing his status on Facebook from “in a relationship with Terri Pugh” to “Engaged.”


     I was surprised that he did not want to see us off when we were flying out, asking that we say goodbye to him at a parking lot in Scotts Valley instead.


    He was very emotional and I was very excited.


     I figured out he was missing in action and out of touch while I was in the Cinque Terre in Italy. Spencer was playing in the cold water along the black beach and my Ex and I sitting on the beach, like Americans at all the beautiful sights in the world, checking his phone to see if we had a connection. It was stunning…the sun was setting and we could see our son’s silhouette as he held back from getting completely soaked in the chilly water of an early spring evening.


     I knew my man had been lost since we had no contact via Facebook for days. I also knew I had reached the end of my rope on his unpredictable behavior long ago…perhaps the day I sat in an Alanon meeting admitting that my priority was not my relationship but school at this point. We were almost somewhat unreachable, as we roamed around Italy, except through Facebook. Cell phone usage was extremely high priced and unpredictable too. He knew he should be monitoring this only avenue but there was simply no word from him.


     It is odd to say but in a matter of weeks, while I was in the UK…I had already given up on him and had barely felt it since I was having the time of my life with Miss Kimberley and Elliot in Wales. I knew that at this point it was far more painful to have kept my son and I involved in that unpredictable world that he found himself living in from time to time.    


     Painful as it is, I understand how to cut out what I do not need anymore. I honestly am not angry with him for being himself. I do not think I am mad at myself either…I think I am just understanding the value of seeing when my discomfort outweighs my comfort.


     Last I knew he was living with a younger female co-worker who had a crush on him. When she wrote me in Europe I found myself worried about her, not jealous. That also told me my relationship with him was over.


    The moral of my “romance on the rocks”?  Well,…when it hurts too much, don’t worry about cutting it out of your life and letting other things that make you happy in its place. I hope with all my heart he feels the same about losing me…maybe his tension is now gone and his life flows beautifully…at least I hope that is his fresh reality.  


    Now that time slot that was I used for time with my filled with a job…and my son…but there was so much more time left over once the man was cut out of my life of his own accord.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Glitter Of Home…


     When Spencer and I flew so far in planes lately we often saw the glitter of lights and towns far below. We wondered as we looked out the window, what it would be like to live “down there” and call it home.


     Now my room looks out on the glittering lights of Sonora. I can’t help but see the hospital and a stretch of Highway 108 at night out my large domed windows, sparkling in the hills.  I share my room with Spencer. He gets the big bed. I am in a really large bean bag, which I specifically wrangled from my 11 year old since it is round. I think the 70’s made round beds seem way cooler then regular square ones.


    I have tormented my “brother” Mike by walking into his bedroom and wishing  our “wife” a goodnight as per our instructions from the John Tesh radio show. John says that couples who say goodnight and goodbye as well as kissing their mates for at least 15 seconds stay happier longer. The kissing part is something that I do not do with anyone these days, but it is fun to banter with Mike about how important goodnights are since we both compete for Ann’s attention. All part of the humorous life we have adapted to in this happy-go-lucky household. I think it would make a funny situation comedy.


     Oddly I do not miss the kissing aspect of life. I feel like it takes all of my effort to keep up with a job, school and Spencer…how did I ever have time for a relationship before anyway?


     I am still weighing out the meaning of the last few months where I have found my life gaining in momentum and moving in a new direction that makes sense to who I have shifted to in the meantime. I am counting down the months now to grad school, applying to places that make sense to where I want to wind up and trying my best to appreciate this small window here in Tuolumne County, my home. If I am lucky I have 9 months left here at home before Spencer and I head hopefully out of the country to other destinations for grad school.


      I never made it to the top of The Pass and now I think it is closed because of snow. I am home but hardly ever visit my old haunts at all.


     I have a regular income and love my access to so many people that I have known and loved for years but consider the hours in my monkey suit to be unpredictable and cumbersome to plan around for Spencer’s schooling and my own.


      But I still spend a good chunk of my days laughing. I love my studies but spend tons of time complaining about them.


      I think I am starting to shape another life that will be closer to what I have morphed into now. Hopefully I can start to hammer out more details as I apply around and see what I am moving towards now.

    As I sit and type away at a lush and large office within my room, I feel so luxurious and happy. Ann and Mike's kindness have given me the Italian/Welsh family life I learned to live abroad. I am presently within a family that watched the Giants win the World Series with me, and seem to enjoy my son and I like we do them.    


     When I think of my life before, I remember a lot of frustration.  Now I do not feel that same irritation. I am in a lovely home with no need of repairs.   Thanks to Mike I am no longer driving the clunker I talked about in the last story, so even that headache that plagued my life before is now gone. I no longer have the foibles of living in that house before Europe which had many problems in it from the water not running properly to half the house being unpainted.


     I guess it is nice to feel the glitter of home.






Oh, The Tragedy of Having All My Dreams Come True




      I had a quick sound bite conversation at work yesterday that made me see my whole world since returning home in a new light.


   I was asked why I am upbeat each time this particular customer comes in. I know it annoys people to see someone so cheerful as I am, all the time…and I grate on people’s nerves quite often because of it.


   I paused, something I don’t do enough, and answered, “Have you ever had a year where your every wish seems to have been granted? That is how I feel this year.”


   I honestly feel that is true to the core of my being. I am delighted to come home to my life here in Sonora when my work shift is done. I race up the road in my borrowed car to be home, loving the slow drive up the gravel drive and the faces waiting for me at the end. My home now is a safe oasis where I feel welcomed, loved and accepted for who I am today. I also love my job, where every shift at my store brings a face I remember, co-workers who crack me up and the sense of community I had lacked on landing at SFO in June.


    I had grown so accustomed to life with strangers in strange lands…places where I found that in many ways there is no true stranger nor is there really a strange land, merely friends and family that one has not met yet.


     I have deodorant in my medicine chest from Italy touting “fresca efficacia” (fresh smelling) and a face cream with sand around the lid’s jar from being taken to the beach in Santa Cruz everyday while Spencer swam in the ocean and I studied for school.  I have my graduation cap and tassel thumb tacked to my wall representing my attainment of my 2010 degree from Monterey Peninsula College. I also suspect it is a reminder of things to come too. More degrees and success to follow.


      I have seen fields and fields of sunflowers in the Italian countryside as they follow the light of the sun through its daily path and lived with loving family in Wales. Wales….where the coziness of life with Miss Kimberley taught me to luxuriate in the indoors even as the days stayed sunnier for so much later in that higher part of the globe. I know what it is like to drop into a land filled with belli italiani, and find family abroad that have so much in common with me it can still make me cry to remember their smiles and going through their family pictures in my beloved Bar there.


     Life here in Jamestown is not a sharp contrast but instead compliments my experiences this year.


     I am happy inside and out. I run home to Ann and Mike, wishing for more hours in the day to watch TV or hear their way of looking at things. Mostly we just play here. When I got here I was in desperately in need of  the Housewife Camp I had fallen into as a way of life. But now I see it as gaining a brother and sister, as well as family. It is just as thrilling as being in Italy, only I am home, where I have not belonged for over 4 years, back in Sonora my old stomping ground BEFORE my foreclosure.


     The strange thing is that I frankly felt suicidal after returning home to the US. I found myself driving along the coast and wanting to hit the accelerator at one point, knowing my pain would end if I just drove a little faster around this turn on highway 1, in my beat up old car instead of slowing down.


      I did not have my son, of course. He had been taken in by family as soon as I landed at San Francisco’s dazzlingly posh airport. His dad had not seen him since leaving us at the airport in Florence, Italy. His brother and sister each lived apart now in areas far away from each other in the state and wanted their week apiece, so I floated around for weeks after coming back to the states.


     Everywhere I went I did not belong. There was a song from Sesame Street that Mike sang last week in his constant show of humor, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong, can you guess which thing is not like the others, before I finish my song?” He was not referring to me but I thought of that time when I had a great sense of "not belonging" after coming back to the states.


     That is how I felt when I started my homeward journey. I did not belong anywhere now.


     I was home but instead of the belonging I had learned to savor from my friends in Valle San Giovanni, Italy…or that homey feeling of being where you understand everyone, something I felt instantly in Porth, Wales, I was completely lost and alone in ways I have never felt since becoming a mother.


   My most beloved family had no idea what I was going to do and seemed to have little faith in my resilience this time. After all, where was I going to live and what was I going to do?


   My home, my pets and my life had been dismantled while I was gone. There was no home where I belonged or could return to at this point. There was no man like I had before and apparently my family thought without him I would sink rather then swim.


     I had no job.  No home….and a car that was falling apart around me as I drove it all over the state visiting. I was in the cold mountain mornings of the Sierras one day drinking in the pine smells with my morning tea or basking in the heat at my little sister’s house in the valley the next.


     Everywhere I went my family was dripping with worry over how I would slip through this one and create anything that could be considered a life now, without even a penny to my name.


     As it was they were slipping me money from their pockets to pay for my gas on this excursion.


      I did not eat as I drove the endless miles to visit, choosing instead to go through whole days without food and frankly not even noticing it. In Italy, often we were penniless and hungry and I did not even feel the hunger pains with so many other things on my mind. Without my Spencer in tow…there was no need for mealtimes.


     I came to terms with my anger at my man. On the car we had 3 images representing Spencer, Manny and I in stick figures. This is a common practice in California but I am sure it will bewilder my international readers, especially my friends abroad.  This is how much we are our cars here…we even put stickers representing the pets as part of the family too in that little personalization of our vehicle-as-home ritual. I drove into Santa Cruz and scraped his image off of the car along with a restaurant’s sticker he liked to take us to eat in Half Moon Bay.


    I must have been a sight ….in the Natural Bridges parking lot where you can only be parked for 15 minutes, but madly scraping away his image from my car with a key...the only thing that I could find for the job, when I realized how good it felt to want to be rid of him. What a catharsis!! As I scrubbed with Windex and paper towels at the back window, I felt somehow free AND angry all at once. I was so happy I guess to be alive at this point.


     It had only been an hour before that I had almost killed myself rounding a bend along highway 1. I knew the stretch well.


    I had not moved back to Sonora since 2008 and missed everything about it.


    Traveling the world had only made the pain of being away from home more acute. Besides I wanted to feel the joy of being amongst family and friends after being among family in Wales and friends that felt like family in my little Abruzzo town in Italy. I think a good chunk of my pain had to do with thinking it was stupid to come back home and want to be where I felt intense belonging.


    There was a moment I will always remember…that sick overwhelming feeling of self disgust, enhanced by contact with well meaning family who had nothing but fear for me, it made me so sick inside. I remember driving highway 1, a coastal road and imagining the ease of stepping on the gas and going over the edge near Santa Cruz, into the ocean. I put my foot on the accelerator, I heard the engine pick up its pace.


    I knew the area well. I knew it was a sheer drop on this bend, having stopped here on another trip a while back. I drew this cliff from another angle and knew this turn would not maim me, it would kill me. The sheer cliff also cut out the view of the road ahead as well. As I aimed the car for the edge, already frightening the car behind me with my nearness to the sky and water,  something colorful caught my eye at that precise moment. It was a vibrant hang glider sailing around the cliff edge…the bright primary colors billowing the top part of the sails had me mesmerized…and I corrected the car unconsciously.


   As I finished the break neck curve that hugged the cliffs along the coast, I found myself suddenly surrounded by the vision of a sky full of colorful hang gliders and parasails gliding over the beach. All over the area, they were every where!! It must have been a club for they were weaving in and out of one another. Some were hooked to surfboards in the water while others seemed to waft and twist as they went spinning down to the beach below.

    I had been so close to taking my own life. I was right on the edge of ending it all, yet this amazing coincidental moment of beauty distracted me and aroused my interest.


    I pulled over and cried, sobbing loudly on the same road I wanted to die on. I marveled at the movement, gently billowing all around me on the beach and in the sky.  You never know what moment of beauty is going to be a life saving moment.


    From that moment on, I have been savoring time and relationships. I cut out what hurts as if my very life depends on it…because now I see it really does...and I am happiest when I feel safe and secure and appreciated…. like I do now…now that I am home.

     Of course all of this was months ago. Now the world is calm and beautiful and I am living in a healthy life here in Sonora. But even the most cheerful amongst us can be amazingly close to a precipice. I guess that is why I am as cheerful as possible at work and home, using all my focus to see what I can be grateful for....I know I can't afford anything else...or to blame anyone else for my lack of dreams...and I also see and feel how important for me it is to find other dreams to reach for, hence my obsession with applying for grad school and moving towards a life that sounds like an even better dream. Living without dreams you think you can reach is a dangerous business...I know first hand.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Last Night I Looked At My Pay Stub....

I finally picked up multiple pay stubs from my grocery clerk job on Friday. I had not actually seen any since I get my money automatically sent to my account. The details of how and what I am paid has been as much of a mystery to me as everything else in my life.

I was shocked to find that I have been getting overtime pay!! And extra pay for days that I have been working on holidays!! Do you realize that is the FIRST time in my life I am getting paid fairly for what I am doing?  Being part of a union simply rocks!! Do you think I could negotiate anything like that on my own? Never!! The store is part of a chain and has a team of lawyers decide how to negotiate with anyone and anything. I am positive that only another corporation can out maneuver a corporation. Then it comes out to a team going against another team of lawyers. We simple solitary humans can't possibly compete.

Sort of like my foreclosure. I was against a team of lawyers who had stacked everything against me. I remember one brutal day while losing my home I was talking to some recent grad from some San Diego law firm. He was closer to my kid's age then my own.

I told him, "I am losing everything. This means that I am going to fight you no matter what. I know I am going to lose but when I am done I will decide when I am moving out and I will decide how little I will pay you until that day."

He laughed good naturedly and told me, "As long as you understand that we will wind up with whatever we can get. We are professional lawyers and you are an Average Joe, all alone against us."

I couldn't help but laugh. He was absolutely right and he was being honest, not mean spirited.

The funny thing about me is that when people meet me they are quick to clue into one side of me or the other. Either they see me as very smart or they can instantly tell I am forever baffled by the world around me. I think they are all right, though it is a huge mistake to treat me like I can't figure out what is going on. That high IQ thing I have kicks in at the oddest times and it gets really perturbed when it is treated like a non entity.

For some reason, I see a union as the only way my Average Joe side can get any chance at a fair shot. Funny that unions are being pushed out of existence even as I write this...I am rooting for the unions is about the only chance any of us have left at being able to get a fair shot against a team of lawyers working for the other side. Instead of asking those with union jobs to give up their benefits...maybe we should consider the idea of bringing the rest of us, (I say us since I am fresh to this having a union thing-and have never had fair benefits to speak of!), up to the standard they represent.

Thanks UFCW8...the United Food and Commercial Workers...I appreciate being on your team!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Story of 3 Wives and a Husband



     While in Wales I lived a dream for most women. Once we women have a home and responsibilities we are forever running behind. We love our responsibilities because they are all part of nurturing those we love, but we are also never finished like those who have a desk that is empty of tasks by quitting time.


    But living with my Miss Kimberley I found myself in a wonderful balance. She was far younger then me, a single mom with a vivacious and intelligent 4 year old. She had a wonderful order to things and a rhythm that was rich and satisfying.


     I loved living in Wales and just being in her house. My romantic relationship went very sour while I was there from my perspective but her practicality and outlook helped me to see the humor in the situation.


     I also loved the way we were always on top of things. The balance was right with 2 women taking cares of two boys in a 3 bedroom house. We always were caught up on cooking, dishes, washing the clothes and tidying the house.


     I think our homes can become unwieldly with chores piling up and jobs never complete. I have never found myself really caught up like I did while with Miss Kimberley.


     I now find myself living with a couple who have a loving and positive relationship and household. For me, it is also tremendously important to walk away with what I learned from Kimberley and carry it into my fresh life here in the states. I now know that being fiercely independent was not necessarily the best way to view living arrangements since I am so happy living in this harmonious lifestyle with my buddies.


    Thanks to Miss Kimberley I knew that it would be easy to live with another woman but it is amazingly healthy to find myself living the adult version of having a brother and a wife.


     Ann is also a better housewife then I am, like Kimberley. I am eating excellent healthy and fun food every day under her happy roof. I also am feeling as nurtured and cared for as I did with Kimberley. I have come home to find some of my clothes folded!! Having a wife simply rocks. There is always the fresh smell of food in the air when I come home. My 11 year old is happy and well adjusted since Ann, Mike and James cannot help but chit chat with him and enjoy his company even though I have made it clear that they does not have to pamper him while I am at work.


   I have to say that having a husband/brother around who is not mine is actually a lot of fun too. Mike is always ready to verbally jab me into thinking about things in ways I do not always do.


    Today after laughing while watching a humorous show with both Ann and Mike…I realized that my life would have been completely different had I been raised alongside him as his sister…he countered in his typical masculine style with the quip, “Well, you’d be more interesting!”


      I found my own voice saying, “And I would have been a lot stronger too….” It is hard to believe now that I am happy and confident and living with such security and that immediately after Europe…back in late July, I was suicidal and actually quite close to taking my own life.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5, 2012

1 First In New Format



I have yet another book in the works. I am going to try to switch my longer format to those book entries and shall try to confine my writing now in my blog to shorter entries. This takes adjustment on my part and I apologize ahead of time as I work out my sizing. I generally have a clear point to make but can’t always make any real clear points in a Facebook post since it is too short so my Facebook posts wind up being quick joyful blurts without any depth.


Let’s hope I can avoid that here.


Since returning home to the US, I have been off kilter and leading a very different life. I left Europe with my every wish fulfilled and more but landed here

.in a much darker place then I had been accustomed to being in while in Europe.


Within weeks of returning to SFO…San Francisco is the airport I know best in the world, I was essentially homeless and suicidal, jobless and wandering. After all, one of the great loves of my life left me while I was having the time of my life, causing my home to be packed up and stuffed into a storage unit and my dearly beloved pets to be spread out and taken away from me. I still do not know where our beloved cat Whiskers is, since he disappeared in all the ruckus.


But the Universe takes care of me and I was thrust in the arms of friends like Kimberley in Wales, Ann and Mike, Sandy, Rose, Marcia and Donna. Now I am as happy as I was in Europe and enjoying every day. I love to see people at my centrally located job as checker. I have security thanks to Mike and Ann’s help and Gordon’s excellent support. Now I reserve all my crying for their shoulders and it keeps to a minimum, never becoming a focus.


I suppose it is safe to say that sometimes having every wish come true can lead to a bit of heartbreak as the Universe realigns your life to create new wants and wishes.


It makes me wonder if the wanting is half the joy.


Monday, September 17, 2012

My Moment of Courage


My Moment of Courage


     I worked until midnight the night before my Zen walk. I showed up 30 minutes early for the night shift so I could ask my co-workers on payday to pony up the change in their pockets for Cystic Fibrosis and Zen. I felt my courage wane as I walked up to my first victim, the big wig. He instantly gave me a warm smile and pulled out a bill. He graciously asked if it was enough.

    I was thrilled. I also asked other co-workers in the break room and down on the floor. One of my younger bosses told me I was “probably not allowed to do that.” I had the feeling she was telling me to protect me, but her discouragement did not stop me. In my mind I was doing this for my young friend and “probably” was simply not enough of a reason to give up.

     It is funny the things we can screw up courage to do and why. For myself I would not have plodded on with my donation hunting…I realize that now…but my heart is not the scholar I bill myself to be or my fresh new label of “checker” that my grocery store has bestowed upon me…my heart is that of a “housewife” and “mother.” I know that since I lost the house years ago and my divorce kind of killed my “wife” label I might actually be stripped of both technically but I can’t seem to shed the loyalties all of us housewives and mothers share. My heart is always going to side with any child…and Zen is one I know who wears many labels, a minor one being his CF label.

    I ignored being told I should not persist in soliciting donations from my fellow employees. I casually name dropped my first donor and kept walking on. I went through all areas of the store and gathered many donations before I had finished.

    Everyone donated something or apologized for not having cash on hand. I took each donation and placed it in an envelope and scribbled the benefactor’s name on the outside. I had over 15 before my shift ended.

     The next morning, I was up before dawn. I wanted to write up the donations and put them individually on the website but that just did not work. I had to give up and focus on creating proof of my affiliation with CF and Great Strides. After a conversation with my dear Ex, Gordon, I realized I also had to make some sign and print something with the Great Strides logo on it to add legitimacy to my charity. He said it would be best to get a large sign with the Great Strides emblem but I did not have time for such a thing since I did not know until this week that I was walking here in Sonora doing a local walk.

     I printed my blog page...I had already created business cards with the info for how to donate on them.

       Ann had gotten up early to see me off…she wore a proud smile as she hugged me goodbye and told me it was OK to borrow the truck to gather some more of my boxes of things after the walk.  As I backed Mike’s truck out of its cozy home in the garage I carefully turned fully towards the rear, like my father taught me to do when backing up.

      And that is why I was startled completely when the driver’ side rear mirror broke clean off as it hit the side of the garage door.  I stopped the truck and hopped out in my Italian dress, with flowing scarf drooping loftily as I scrambled to pick up the shattered glass.

     Now Mike is a jovial sort but he is a man and they sometimes can react rather strongly when damage is done to a vehicle. But there was no more time to waste on problem solving my way out of this mess when I had a walk to somehow be coordinating. I figured the Universe would figure it out for me on this one.

     Since I had run ads and spoken to a few people who said they might show up…I really had to get to the track with more envelopes in tow in case a few people DID make it. My friend Sandy teaches there and she helped me make a sign and gave me tape to slap it up somewhere. And then I waited. I had my tights on and ballet flats. My dress made me look nothing like a person who was walking the track, but instead I smacked of the tourist visiting Italy just as I had since returning home. Well on any day that I picked out my clothing I instead of donning my Monkey Suit for the job.

     When my start time happened and no one appeared I waited 10 minutes and started walking. I had completed 3 laps when my daughter delighted me by showing up with a Starbucks in hand.  We were engulfed in a complex conversation about the dangers of International Politics and the foreign service (especially the death of the ambassador to Libya this week!) when another walker joined us. Valerie from the paper showed up and joined us for a bit longer. I was probably at 3 miles already but I was so happy to be walking with others, I was not going to stop until forced to.

     My daughter left to find out if her tires were now mounted on her car and finally Valerie left too.

     I went to the tire place and found my daughter still there. During the conversation the friendly guy behind the counter also told me he could look at the broken mirror. He told me he would call on Monday with a quote on the cost. I was thrilled. The Universe had taken care of it…without any interference or planning on my part.

     I then took the car to the storage unit and loaded boxes of books in the rear in a frenzy so I could meet up with my daughter again to look a baby clothes for a dear friend. Afterwards I ate with Sandy, Mike and Ann. I laughed so hard at times my eyes watered. The conversations are always funny with any one of us but when we are all telling stories the content seems to reach new heights.

     I visited my work again on the way to water a friend’s yard. I walked out with even more donations. And I found out I was working with  the girl who had singlehandedly put on the CF walk I missed in April. Her sister has CF and she understood why it was important to me.

     When I got home to get ready for work, I felt exhausted but it was a good kind of tired. I was glad I had worked hard and overcome things to accomplish an important goal. And I know that my real goal of seeing Zen’s life expectancy go longer and longer was well worth any price I pay.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Moment of Zen

My Moment of Zen



     The first time I read about Cystic Fibrosis, I was pregnant with my first born child.  It was 1986 and I was huge. I usually enjoyed relaxing my hulking shape in a sunny doctor’s waiting room, killing time reading. Since there were no National Geographics or Time, I grabbed a ladies journal and flipped past the multitude of recipes to find myself riveted by the trials and tribulations of a parent raising a child with Cystic Fibrosis. The child in the story died at the age of 8 from her CF.


      At this point I had very little contact with children. My own baby was not yet born and my world centered around my husband and my little sister who was 7 years old at the time.  I was crushed to imagine this father’s heartbreak…his daughter was only my little sister Boo’s age!


     I read about the father in the story having to help loosen the phlegm in his daughter’s chest with cupped hands. It sounded like a traumatic experience. Cystic Fibrosis causes an excess of phlegm in the lungs. In the article the father talked about how hard it was to pound on her back and chest rhythmically every morning and evening in order to make the likelihood of her living another day a probability.  Some days his daughter would beg him not to but he knew her life depended on it so he always followed through. He was shouldered with the responsibility since his wife did not have the physical strength to loosen up as much as he could…..and the writer carefully explained how this procedure went on for years.


     I sat reading the article in the doctor’s office, crying at my own inability to really be a good parent. This guy had the right stuff. How was I ever going to cope with such life issues? I knew I was embarking on the most important job of my life, being a mother, but I knew full well that I was woefully inadequate compared to this guy. My husband then, Gordon and I were already questioning our ability to really be grownups, (a sentiment we STILL feel almost daily!) and I knew that this was a touching reminder of our shortcomings. I knew neither of us had the steel to be able to ignore any child’s whining, how were we going to be able to make sure we gave the children what they needed instead of what they wanted? If Gordon’s daughter begged for him to stop in this case, he would have quit hands down and so would I…we are that kind of folk.


       The projected life expectancy in 1955 for a baby born with CF was 5 years old. By the 60’s that figure was moved up to under10 years of age. By 1981 the figure had reached the age of 20 and in 1985 life expectancy reached 25 years of age. In 2004 life expectancy reached the mid-30’s.


     Fundraising and research has changed this dramatically.  Advances are made every year and I have been watching these events unfold in a highly personal way. I have a young friend with CF. His name is Zen. I saw him at parties and being a kid person I watched his exuberance with a smile. He is funny and sweet like any child. His eyes light up when he is getting away with something. He now has a little brother that he dotes on at family functions. One of my favorite memories of him at these parties was when we were at a small park in Santa Cruz. He endlessly road around a small blacktop area on a little bike….around and around…his face beaming.


     I had known him for over a year without realizing he had Cystic Fibrosis since his family is so upbeat and fun. They focus on the positive so much that no one had mentioned it at all.


     I wondered if his father had to hit his chest with cupped hands to loosen the phlegm in his chest….and I wondered how long he would live. Thanks to advances in research and innovation Zen wears a little vibrating vest that accomplishes some of what the thumpings had done to loosen it…and my son said Zen watches TV while he wears it before bed. I am afraid to ask if they still need to repeatedly hit his chest to give him optimum chances to survive the night. I do know that his parents are the best they can be to him so whatever they are doing it is going to make sure Zen stays Zen.


     They have a walk that they seem to be key components of and I was only too glad to walk for Zen. If money is what has caused these advances in life expectancy then I am on board. I have several T Shirts with the label ZenWalkers that I had been wearing as night shirts.


     I have a job this year that sometimes matches donations to charities like this that I can go to and beg for funds. It has to be local though. So my Zen family set up a team for me in Tuolumne County. Our walk in Tuolumne County was done before I moved back home though back in April…actually the local CF walk was done while I was in Wales with my Miss Kimberley.


    I guess the bottom line is that I am asking for walkers to join my team and for donations to help increase the life span of Zen and all those like him. Right now it is 37 years. It is only in a few days away so my goals will be small…but if I can make even a couple of hundred dollars it really can make a big difference.


        I will be walking the Sonora High School track on September 15, 2012. I will be walking 2 miles starting at 9 am. I might be alone but I will be in spirit walking with any who are willing to donate via the CF Foundations website.  I gladly welcome your well wishes and company if you can.


     Thank you for your interest in my goings on…..



Further Cystic Fibrosis information-


Deford Frank, Alex: The Life of a Child, A famous sportswriter’s true story of his own daughter who grappled with CF.