Category Archives: Divorce

Goodbye Moon

Goodbye porch; goodbye deck.
Goodbye mice; yelling heck.

Goodbye kitchen; goodbye woods.
Goodbye river; goodbye shoulds.

Goodbye small-town; goodbye charm.
Goodbye living without harm.

Goodbye history; goodbye past.
Goodbye love story meant to last.

Goodbye snuffle; goodbye rooms.
Goodbye Bucknell, goodbye moon.

Hello LA; hello sun.
Hello adventure; hello fun.

Hello new friends; hello old.
Hello new life, taking hold.

Hello future; hello me.
Hello what is meant to be.

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Filed under Divorce, Moving, Transitions

January 2012: It’s RESOLUTION time.

I have decided that my JANUARY RESOLUTION will be to cook foods from my pantry – especially my freezer.

I want to empty the pantry – to rid myself of things I haven’t used for a long time, and to focus on stocking a pantry with the items I really do use all the time.

You see, my basement freezer died at the end of the summer. It was a SAD, SAD day. It happened at the best possible time of year, since the freezing season hadn’t really begun and I had used most of the stash I had built up for the winter before. Still, I lost some spring vegetables, a lot of home-made broth, and (sniff, sniff), my share of a Tamworth pig from Owens Farm. Ever since this terrible, horrible, no-good day, I have been trying to decide if I should buy a new freezer.

I have a normal fridge/freezer in my kitchen, and the freezer side seems to be filled with food I never use. Shouldn’t I empty this freezer out before I determine if I need more space? Shouldn’t I purge myself of three year old Gogurt that I bought to have on hand for a dinner party which included small children? Shouldn’t I either eat, or pitch, the leftover taco meat from Thanksgiving weekend 2010? Yes, yes I should.

So this is my plan – I’m going to EMPTY the freezer and my pantry so that I can then clean out my cupboards and basement food storage. There really is no reason for me to have a case of tomato paste in my house. Truly, there isn’t.

I come by this problem honestly. My grandmother, Phyllis, lived through the depression and was a big fan of bargains and saving. When she moved out of her home in Ambler, PA we had to clean out her basement, which included her pantry. I am not kidding when I say that we found caned food that had dried out.

Canned beans, which rattled. RATTLED.

There was a station wagon (a gigantic Chevy Caprice Station Wagon) full of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper which had probably been purchased (on sale, of course) in the 1970s. I think I finished using those napkins about three years ago. There was WWII ration sugar that was over forty years old (hard as a rock). Seriously. (Do I need to mention that my mother has used this sugar? She pounded it out with a hammer.)

I can still picture my brother’s face when he started to clean out my grandmother’s freezer as it defrosted. This freezer was full of meat that had spoiled WHILE IT WAS FROZEN. My brother was brave and strong and a VERY GOOD GRANDSON for cleaning out that freezer.

So I worry, a bit, that I might have some hoarding genes in me.

In my early adulthood, when I was newly married and interested in being PERFECT, I always wanted to have a full pantry of anything we might possibly need. A smart, college-educated, liberated and LIBERAL woman I still thought that my husband should never find himself without toothpaste, or toilet paper, or, well, capers. You know, just in case there was a caper emergency.

Now that I am a real grown-up, divorced, single, happy, and, um – SANE, I am content to have a small pantry of basics that I use regularly and know that I can easily run to the store for anything I really need. I live in America, after all. So I can buy raspberries from Chile in February if I want to.

Since it’s time to shed the past and become a person who doesn’t have five shelves of canned goods and dried food waiting FOR YEARS to be used, I’m going to do this. I’m going to use up what I have (and try very hard not to waste anything) and then start fresh, with a SMALL and PRACTICAL pantry of foods I use every week. And that’s it. No more hoarding. No more taking care of a husband I don’t have any more (who, incidentally, never asked me to take care of him in this way). And no more three-year old Gogurts.

No one should eat those things anyway.

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Filed under Divorce, Family, Food, Resolutions

Scream!

You know those movies, where the teenagers are all hanging out at a camp or at a friend’s house and then suddenly: THEY HEAR A NOISE?  From the deepest corners of the house, a noise that is clearly not human and not mechanical.  A noise that says something is seriously wrong.

One brave soul (usually dressed in a really tight cheer leading uniform) goes to investigate, and opens the basement door.

“Don’t do it!” we yell!  DO.  NOT.  GO.  DOWN.  THERE!

But she always does.  She goes down there, and what happens?

She gets chopped up into tiny pieces.

Why can’t she just look away?  Run? Hide?

Well, that wouldn’t be much of a movie now, would it?

The funny thing is, in real life, I think we often do look away. We  do run. We do hide. But in the end, those monsters in the basement get us anyway.
Because my friends, the monsters are us.

They are our childhood dreams, turned into resentment at lost opportunities. They are our life’s disappointments, turned into anger that things didn’t work out differently. They are our missed opportunities, turned into fear that no more opportunities exist.

In the movies, there is always scary music to let us know that danger lurks below.  In life, though, there is no scary music to tell us to when those monsters are about to attack.  They lurk for years in our psychological basements until they grow so big and powerful that we cannot ignore them any longer.  And by then, it is often too late.

Who knew I could turn a simple organizational project into a metaphor for the darkest parts of my own psyche?

YOU DID!

Seriously, I think that we should all be in the discipline of cleaning out our basements – literally and figuratively – more regularly.  We shouldn’t wait until the basement is so out of control that it is unmanageable.  We should face it, regularly, so that it is not such a big f*ing deal.

In addition to enjoying an organized pantry and a workbench free of clutter, these past weeks of spending time with my basement monsters has provided me with some incredibly useful insights and lessons.  It has been painful and a bit scary.  It has definitely not been pretty.  But I am still whole.  And I don’t need to run and hide.  AND, I have a clean basement.

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Filed under Divorce, Life, Organizing, Uncategorized

The basement in the basement

Cleaning a basement seems like such a simple thing.  You sort things, you throw things out, you organize what’s left.

Right?

Wrong.

When you clean a basement, you confront your past.  You argue with yourself about your future.  You even face failures.

Think I’m being melodramatic?

All I’m saying is no one ever puts their Academy Award in the basement.

As I (finally) took some of my ‘before’ pictures today, I spent some time just looking at my basement.  What’s in it?  What do I want it to be?  What do I need?  These thoughts quickly turned into conversations (remember the conference room of Shelby’s I have in my head?).

First, the gift wrapping station.  Yes, I have a whole bunch of wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and craft supplies.  I used to be crafty.  When I was just out of college and had no money, I made up for my humble gifts with awesome wrapping.  As I got busier, and let’s face it, had more disposable income, keeping things simple was most important.  Family gets green wrapping paper at the holidays, friends get blue.  Seriously.

So that one wasn’t so hard.  I don’t need a gift wrapping station.

Next up, the workbench.  I have lots of tools.  My ex-husband wasn’t terribly handy, but he tried.  And he liked to buy tools.  So I have tools I’ve never used, tools I’ve never heard of, and tools that have never been opened.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know how to use a hammer and a power drill (thanks Dad!).  I understand how to use a level and a stud finder.

(Heh. Heh.)

I own a home.  And I like to imagine that I am a smart independent woman so I SHOULD BE SOMEONE who can repair things.  But the truth is this: with the exception of doing the most basic tool-oriented tasks, I would just rather ask someone or pay someone to do it.  I will never, ever, figure out how to put up crown moulding.  I just won’t.  Not because I can’t.  But because I just don’t want to.  It’s hard to admit this to myself, let alone to the world.  I like to think I’m more self-sufficient than this.  But I don’t think I need my tool bench either.

The pantry is easy – thank goodness.  An emotional break since I cook all the time, I use most of the items in my pantry, and the ones I don’t I can easily let go of.  I can check some expiration dates and pitch the year’s supply of store-bought spaghetti sauce that has been there since before my divorce.  (My ex-husband was also a big fan of Sam’s club.  Seriously, I have been using the same jar of capers since 2002.)

But oh no.  There’s another room.  And in that room is the memories.  And the dreams.

All of the jigsaw puzzles we built.  Supplies for the camping we were always going to do but rarely did.  Decorations from our annual Halloween parties.  Framed photos I took down but can’t bear to throw away.  The box of ornaments we exchanged every year.

What do I need to let go of?  What will I regret throwing out in ten years?  What represents a hobby I should return to and what is an old dream I should forgive myself for abandoning?

Egad.  This is hard.  And you know what?  If this is cleaning the basement, I think cleaning the basement sucks.

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Filed under Divorce, Family, Organizing

A Stretch by Any Other Name

All month long I’ve been focused on stretching.  Yoga mats and exercise balls, Pilates and core muscles.  I’ve been paying attention to my body and how it feels when I’ve stretched, how it feels when I haven’t.  All things considered, I’ve done well with this resolution.  If I were a teacher, I’d give myself a B- for results, and an B+ for effort.  That is, until yesterday.

Yesterday I really stretched.

Yesterday, I e-mailed my ex-husband.

A bit of background for those who don’t know me:  I was married for sixteen years to my best friend.  Well, at least that’s what I thought.  It went bad at the end, there, really bad.  And my heart was broken.  Tragically and irrevocably broken.

That being said, I’ve built a happy, single-girl, life for myself and it’s been a long while since I’ve spent time thinking much about the past.  We never had children, so we’ve had no reason to be in touch.  It’s been four years since we decided to get divorced and from then forward we had only brief exchanges by e-mail about asset transfers and signing documents.  It’s been three years (at least) since we’ve had any contact at all.

Except, we share family.  That’s right – I’m still a part of his family and they are still a part of mine.  My nephews are a delightful and important part of my life.  Their parents are my dear friends.  His mother is dear to my heart.  And it has never felt fair that that my tragedy has become theirs.

So yesterday I reached out to my ex-husband and simply offered peace.  We can be in the same place at the same time, right?  We’re still family, aren’t we?  And your wife, she’s family too, right?  Sure, he said.

We had a pleasant, if rather simple, e-mail exchange and that was it.  It wasn’t great.  It wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t, actually, much of anything.  Except the right thing to do.

Wow, I can touch my toes!

Of course when the time does come for our first encounter, it might be tough – that first time especially.  But of course, that’s nothing that a fabulous dress and party hair can’t handle.

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Filed under Divorce, Family, Stretching