2011, I’m sad to see you go (or, Epilogue part 2)

I found this meme in the winter of 2008 and have done the same meme ever since.  I usually don’t do these but it is my favorite because it’s not completely dumb.  I don’t have to list what’s in my pockets or what I had for supper last Sunday.  I will say that this is the first year that I honestly almost can’t remember anything before July.  It’s been that kind of year in which a select few events completely overshadowed the rest of the year. 

2011, For the Win!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I ran a 5 mile race in May.  And I use the term “run” very loosely, of course. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Did I make a resolution?  I don’t think I did.  And, if I did, it had something to do with #1.  Which I did.  Loosely.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes.  My baby niece Jordyn Rose was born in February.  And then I got to spend 7 weeks with her while my sister finished the school year.  Oh my aching ovaries…

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.  Thank God.  It’s been several years since I’ve had to dig up all the same old feelings regarding mortality and whatnot but I just have this feeling that my luck is about to run out in that department.

5.  What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

This is a tough one.  2011 was a year full of blessings.  I got just about everything I’ve ever wanted, all in one year.  And, having just moved for the 4th time in seven years, I know I don’t need another THING.  So let’s just say that I’d like to go on a real family vacation.  Colorado…Disney…Michigan U.P.  Somewhere.  Together.

6.  What countries did you visit?

Um, no.  None.

7.  What date in 2011 will remain etched in your memory and why?

July 23.  (See #8 for why)

8.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I returned two separate phone calls.  One of them was to a boy.  The other was to my current boss/CEO.  Both have turned into very successful relationships.  This is significant because I have some sort of phone phobia.  I don’t answer my phone unless I know who it is AND have something to say and I almost never return calls.  I know.  I’m working on it.

9.  What was your biggest failure?

Fat Camp.  Okay, it wasn’t a failure and I haven’t gained back a single ounce.  Well, I did but then I lost it again.  But I have moments of great stress that now make me want to find a treadmill and/or a set of free weights.  Not that I act on it.  But I know how it feels to sweat it out.

10.  Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really.  I got pneumonia last winter/spring.  Twice.  But I’ve been mostly healthy and injury free.

11.  What was the best thing you bought?

I’ve got nothing for this one.  I haven’t really bought anything of importance this year.  A new wardrobe for work?  A sweet cut and color? 

12.  Whose behavior merited celebration?

Again, I’m going to go with the littles.  This fall and winter have brought so many changes to us all.  I’m working full-time.  I’m with a wonderful man who makes me laugh every day and who loves the girls like they were his own.  We moved.  The littles will start at a new school in three days.  And yet, they are still as flexible and understanding and curious as before.  Challenging, yes.  But in a great way.

13.  Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Hmmm…I can’t think of anyone. 

14.  Where did most of your money go?

First half of the year:  Fat Camp, et al.  Second half of the year:  Childcare 

15.  What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Adult conversation, daily.

16.  What song will remind you of 2011?

“Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts

17.  Compared to this time last year are you:

happier or sadder?  Much happier

fatter or thinner?  About the same.  Sadly.  And, oddly enough, happily.

richer or poorer?  Richer?  There’s more money coming in (got a job) but more money going out as well (gas, childcare, meals)

18.  What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish we would have gone camping this fall when the weather was so great.

19.  What do you wish you’d done less of?


20.  How will you be spending Christmas?

In 2012?  I’m going to go with “snowed in”.  It appeals to my hermit nature.  Barring the storm of the decade, I really want to surprise the girls with a trip to Disney at Christmas.

21.  What would cheer you up today?


22.  Did you fall in love in 2011?

Yes.  Yes I did.  Madly and deeply.

23.  How many one night stands?


24.  What was your favorite tv program?

“Castle” without a doubt.  Wouldn’t miss it for anything.  I also started watching “Weeds” and “Psych”.

25.  Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I’ve said this before but no.  I don’t feel that hating anyone is a good use of my emotional energy. 

26. What was the best book you read?

The “In Death” series by J. D. Robb.  Gets me every time.  I know it’s total fluff but I can’t help myself.

27.  What was your greatest musical discovery?

The live music scene in my very own town.  I also discovered that I was born with a great ear.

28.  What did you want and get?

I get to be the reason that somebody wants to come home every day.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.  And I got it.

29.  What was your favorite film of this year?

“The Muppets”.  I know that was the last movie I saw so maybe that was my favorite?  I also had a moment going to see the last Harry Potter movie by myself.  It was a decade of committment that came to an end.

30.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I turned 36.  I don’t think I did anything at all.  Did I?

31.  What one think would have made your year immeasurably more pleasurable?

This is a hard one because it really was the best year I’ve had in a long, long time.  So I’m going to go with “not a damn thing.”

32.  How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

The transition between track pants and corporate America.  It’s been a difficult transition to be sure.

33.  What kept you sane?

Daily conversation and affection from and with an adult.  It changed me forever.

34.  Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Fancy?  Again with the fancy.  Nathan Fillion, hands down. 

35.  What political issue stirred you the most?

The “Occupy” movement.

36.  Whom did you miss?

I still miss my Iowa friends.  They really are the family I chose.  And, even though I am head over heels, I still miss Stephen.  But it’s different now in a way I can’t explain because I haven’t figured it out fully yet.  I miss him but it’s not like it used to be.  I also miss my littles when I’m at work.  Some days.  Not all days but some days.

37.  Who was the best new person you met?

This guy:

38.  Tell us a valuable life lesson learned in 2011?

Be brave.  Return that phone call.  Just keep running and finish what you started. 

39.  Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

God blessed the broken road/That led me straight to you/But now I’m just rolling home into my lover’s arms/This much I know is true/That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

So there you go, 2011.  All things considered, it was a pretty good year.  You know, as years go.  I have high hopes for 2012 and I’m planning the start of all kinds of new things.  A new blog is in the works.  We are starting new things around our house.  I’m, learning to be a proper doggie mama again.  Maybe there will be a gym membership or…something else fun?  Who knows?  I certainly couldn’t predict a year ago the fun and craziness this year would bring. 

I am hopeful.  I guess that’s a good way to end this.

With hope.

Thank you one and all.

Probably wouldn’t be this way.

Last Friday marked four years since I watched the man I married slip away.  Leave me.  I watched the lights go out.

I decided to bury his ashes instead of keeping them.  At the time, it felt creepy any other way.  I designed a stone.  Chose the rock so that it would sparkle when the eastern sun peeks over the cornfields and river bluffs.  I took our children out to see their names carved into it and to trace the triangle design that used to be the tattoo on his back. 

I see my own name there, too.  I am constantly surprised.  I shouldn’t be.  I put it there.  I am surprised that this was my life.  I signed that paper to deny life support.  I knew what was coming.  And yet…I am still surprised.

I am not the widow who sits at the stone or uses it as a place for meditation.  I chose the location poorly if that was to be the case.  I have only these words on this little blog.  Sometimes I think he’s looking over my shoulder as I write.  Sometimes I think he has his hands on my head; he is wishing he could hold me.

Or, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

I’ve taken the first few baby steps toward getting on with my life.  Nobody told me I had to.  Nobody said it was time.  Nobody has ever thought I was dwelling in the past or that I should get over it. 

But from somewhere inside, I got a nudge.  A voice that said, “It’s okay.  It’s time.”

And I fell in love.  Again.  And it is a good thing.

But still…

There is something disconcerting about crying in the dark because you are still somewhat haunted by the memory of one love…and being held and comforted by another.

Later that very same day, I was working.  It seems I am out of my fat pants more often than not these days but I was working on putting a once-larger than life country artist on stage.  And while the voice is enormous, her personality was less than impressive.  Disappointing, for sure.  But, say what you want, the girl can sing.  And the middle of the set contained one of my favorite country songs: Probably wouldn’t be this way.  It is one of those songs that we can all sing to.  And we have. 

But the words…how is it possible for this woman to sing these words as well as she does?  I listened to her sing them and felt almost betrayed.
I probably wouldn’t be this way
I probably wouldn’t hurt so bad
I never pictured every minute without you in it
Oh You left so fast
Sometimes I see you standing there
Sometimes I feel an angel’s touch
Sometimes I feel that I’m so lucky to have had the chance to love this much



I guess that’s why I’m surprised.  I never pictured my life without him in it. 

And yet…here I am.  Here we are.  The girls and I.  We have been without him for four years.  Seems like yesterday that I put his wedding band on my index finger.  I have never taken it off. 

Not even when my fingers lace into a new hand.  Not even when we plan for our future together.  And I think over and over again about how every day seemed like the hardest day ever.  And then the next one was worse. 

Until it wasn’t.

And here we are.  Four years later.  And I’m still surprised.  I see the picture of his stone with my name on it.  And I’m still surprised that that name is mine.

And now I hear my name said in love again.  And I feel arms, real arms, wrapped around me. 

And it still surprises me. 

I never, ever pictured my life like this.

But, then again, whose life resembles the one they pictured?

These are the days.

I have spent the better part of the past four years talking and writing about the cycle of things.  The cycles of the littles’ lives.  The cycles of depression and of grief.  The seasons and the years.  The cycles of a theatre production.  And how the cycles of good events and bad events never seem to get around to the good.  For me.

The last two months have been less of a cycle and more of a very wild ride.  Dare I say, the wildest of my life?  Okay.  I will.  I’m sure it’s been this manic before (spring of 1998 and fall of 2001, I’m talking to you) but it certainly has been a good, long while.

Let’s recap, shall we?

In July, I met a wonderful man working a show that I almost begged out of because (lamest excuse ever) big girls don’t like heat and it was forecasted to be 110 in the shade.  Which turned out to be true.  And I was chafed in places that we don’t discuss on this blog.  I met him during the show but didn’t really fall in love until later.  Because (and this is also a lame excuse) I don’t date in the business.  Anymore.  Or, rather, until now.  Again.  He makes me happy in a way I cannot even put into words.  And it gets better every day.

So.  There’s that.

And then…then…

I found and hired a nanny.  This may not seem as significant as, oh, a new love but it relieved plenty of sleepless nights and worry about begging somebody to take my people so I could, oh, go and work a show or two.  Or six.  Whatever.  I was to the point where I was pretty much as busy as I wanted to be picking up jobs here and there all over town.  She wanted to quit her job so I offered her a retainer fee for x number of hours a month and it works out great.

And then…then…

Back in June, I had asked for prayers or whatever sent out to the universe about something life changing.  And then in July I was devastated to find out that what I had asked for wasn’t to be.

Which turned out not to be true at all.

Two weeks ago, late on a Monday afternoon, I got a call from the CEO of our local symphony.  I had sent in my resume months ago and had heard through the grapevine that the position I wanted wasn’t going to be filled.  Ever.  So the CEO calls and wants to know if I am still interested because he considers me a person of interest.  The only time I want to be a person of interest, I tell you. 

Brings me in for an interview.  Which I ace.  I knew I aced it when I walked out.

I had a soft offer 20 hours later and 3 days later an official offer.

Which I took.  And confirmed today, officially.

You are looking at the words written by the new Operations Manager at the Symphony. 

I know.

Seven and a half years later, I am becoming a contributing member of society, complete with a 40 minute morning commute. 

I know.

I have a nanny.

I know.

I will need to go shopping because I’m pretty sure that the dress code doesn’t include track pants and/or Keen sandals.

Hey, three out of four isn’t bad.

My new dress code probably requires dry cleaning and two-inch heels.  And I’ll need more than two pairs of earrings.  And…maybe more makeup than what currently may or may not fill a teacup.

All kidding aside, it really has been an amazing couple of months.  I know my blog and, quite possibly, my friends have been neglected.  It’s kind of all I can do to pull my head out of the clouds to even function as a mother. 

The littles have noticed a difference.  They go between an eerie kind of calm (yes, like the kind before a storm) and being very needy.  They know this is going to change our lives.  I’ve said as much.  They are getting used to somebody being home after school other than mom.  We’ve talked about how I won’t miss the important stuff but how I probably won’t be able to make it to the Halloween parties at school. 

I’m just ecstatic to be around adults all day.  And, yes, I mean work AND the boy.

Part of me thinks I should have been playing the lottery all this time.  And I would have had I known how this summer would turn out. 

I am pleased.  And pleasantly surprised.  And trying not to jump up and down and shout it to everyone I see.  Because I know that, as good as I have it right now, somebody somewhere is equally down. 

That was me four autumns ago.  And this is me now.  Clawed and scraped back up.  But up. 

And that’s what counts.

Love in the time of Facebook.

I think it goes without saying that I don’t believe in miracles.  I think that what we have or what happens to us is one part sweat and one part who you know and one part preparation and maybe less than one part dumb luck.  You know, being in the right place at the right time or a moment of unusual bravery and/or panic that ended up being well-placed.

Do you ever have one of those days where everything goes right?  As often as everything goes horribly wrong do we even remember the good days when they happen?

I’m writing this down in hopes of having a record of my really great day so that when it happens again, I’ll be able to begin looking for a pattern.  As geeky as that sounds, I’d really like to have something to look forward to.

My mom was in town and crashed at my house for a few days.  She called it a vacation.  And, deep down, I don’t mind.  I really don’t.  I like the company and she always (and I mean always) makes herself useful.  It wasn’t always this way of course.  There were many, many times that she would come to visit and plant herself on the couch with the baby and whine to go shopping.  These days, she’s a flurry of activity.

Our morning activity was to take the littles to the chocolate factory.  Turns out, there’s a full-fledged chocolate factory less than 20 miles from my house.  A very delicious way to start the day.

Upon returning from our chocolate quest, she made lunch for herself and the littles while I went grocery shopping.  Alone.

I know.  That in itself is a win for Team Mommy.

I came home from the shopping trip to find the washing machine going and the littles busy cleaning their room before rest time.

I had decided days ago that it was high time I got myself something pretty.  I’ve been trying to get out and get social and I think (but don’t know for sure) that such activity requires more than my mom uniform of solid colored t-shirts and track shorts/pants.  It’s an investment in my self-esteem.  Or, so I say.  So we took the littles and went shopping.

Two significant things happened on this particular shopping trip.  First, the littles got nothing.  I’m good for blowing time and money on them and not on myself.  Had my mother not been there, I may have fallen into the old pattern.  And second, everything I tried on fit.  Everything.  I either have a realistic sense of my own body or the stars aligned just right.  For less than a hundred I got two shirts, a swimsuit, a dress (!) and a pair of earrings to match the dress. 

We got home from shopping and I started supper: chicken fried steak fingers, mashed potatoes and gravy and fresh sweet corn.  While I was cooking my darling mom asked if I wanted a few hours out. 

Yes.  Yes, I would.  One could maybe call this a miracle.

Made a few phone calls and made plans to meet friends out.

One friend in particular.  And this is big.

Wait for it.

I have been seeing someone.  It hasn’t been for very long (relatively) so I’m trying not to get too excited but…

I’m pretty excited.  It’s been a long, long time since I dated.  More than a decade anyway.  And dating is different in the age of Facebook and texting and itunes.  It’s also very different when it’s not under the unicorns and glitter cloud of love in your twenties with your whole life and dreams of family ahead.  I am different.  Older, for sure.  Wiser.  More than a little bit jaded.  Cautious.  A tiny bit guilty.  Somewhat selfish but in, I think, a healthy way. 

Oh, but the glitter is still there.  And the flutters and the pacing and the playlist set to “sappy” (except this time I don’t have to wait for the song to come onto the radio or for somebody to make me a mix tape).  I still had sweaty palms and, at the end of the day, I didn’t want to untangle myself from his embrace and head for home.

That much hasn’t changed.

Last night, I introduced him to several of my asshole friends (my asshole LOCAL friends) to an enthusiastic end.  And, like I knew he would, he fit right in. 

I couldn’t stop smiling.  And the feelings are, very obviously, mutual.

I don’t know how this chapter ends but, and don’t hold me to this, I think it might be a long story.