As a professional in the Policy Field, I can't help but reflect back, look ahead and appreciate the present. Daily shifts in perspective help to highlight life's amazing adaptability. This blog is a focus on perspective.
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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 man....is 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.
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
I have tormented
my “brother” Mike by walking into his bedroom and wishingour “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
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
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 TuolumneCounty,
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
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 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 MontereyPeninsulaCollege.
I also suspect it is a reminder of things to come too. More degrees and success
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
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 ofthe
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
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
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
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 HalfMoonBay.
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.
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.
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 though...it 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!!
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
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
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
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.
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.