Friday, March 17, 2017

Handing over the cash and saying goodbye

Compared to many, I’ve had an easy divorce. There are no kids involved. No huge sums of money. Just two innocent pugs who seem to have settled happily into their life of sloth with my ex while I gallivant around Mexico, trying to outrun my feelings.

Photo by Sara Tro. My doomed but beautiful wedding.
 There’s been plenty of ugliness and drama, that’s for sure. But it could have been way worse. As I know because we went to court at the beginning of this.

And I saw other couples who once loved each other get up in front of the judge and tell stories about violence and lies and restraining orders gone wrong and children caught in the middle. Trying to make their soon-to-be-ex-spouses look as bad as possible. Abuser, liar, cheater, out-of-control, drug addict.  

You have to hope that it all started well, at least. That maybe, like us, they had a sun-dazzled wedding on a gorgeous dock with sailboats floating by, and Uncle Norman on the saxophone, and champagne flowing, and everyone smiling. That maybe, like us, they had hope and love in their lives for at least a little while before it all started to go awry.

We split up nearly 7 months ago. On our fourth anniversary, to be exact. The divorce has dragged on, mainly because my lawyer has uglier divorces to deal with.

But now, finally, we seem to be nearing the end. Where it’s all coming down to a pile of cash that gets exchanged. And that seems so sad to me. A wad of cash and goodbye. Here’s what our relationship was worth.

I’ve been waiting for it to end and yet I don’t want it to end (even though it's over).

This is everyday tragedy to be sure. There are much bigger messes out there. But  that doesn't make my broken heart hurt less. I started out with so much love and hope and champagne and sunshine and music and here I am.

Here's your moneySee you later, person I once staked everything on and thought I would be with for the rest of my life. Don't spend it all in one place.  



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Seattle trip report: snuggly pugs, pouring rain, and angry exes


I wanted to see the rain.

I saw the rain. Lots of it. It made me cold and wet.

I wanted to see my dogs. I saw them. They kept me warm and dry.

I wanted to see my friends. I saw them, and that lifted me up too. 

I didn't want to see my (soon-to-be-ex) husband, but I had to see him to get my dogs.

I was expecting him to be friendly, because that's how he'd seemed - mostly - over these last couple months.

However, I should have known better. Because a hallmark of his behavior is volatility. And finally I've learned something important about him that I should have learned long ago. The one thing that's actually predictable about him is his unpredictability.

There was a moment, back before I left for Mexico, when I thought, "OK, we can be friends. This is going to be fine." Because my (soon-to-be-ex-) husband is, or was, my best friend. And it was very hard to let go of that. And so I held on to it, thinking, when he seemed fine with everything, "Great, we're always going to have each other's backs."

From http://www.yuzmshanghai.org/rain-room/
But since then, there have been various about-faces on his part, where he goes from friendly to furious and then back again. And I finally realized NO, we're not going to be friends. At least not now.

But no. The two occasions that I had to see him, he vibrated palpably with anger. I would even go so far as to use the tired cliche that he was seething with it. And while we're on a roll with the clichés, let's say that he didn't make much eye contact with me, but when he did, his eyes shot daggers at me.

Our interactions were short, but they left their mark. Because those daggers draw blood. It hurts to see someone who once looked at you with love (and a huge, gorgeous smile) look at you as if they hated you more than anyone on Earth.

He didn't always look at me with love, of course. My (soon-to-be-ex) husband was volatile at the best of times during our marriage and it only got worse as time went on.

But still, he always loved me. I never doubted that. Even as our marriage went through increasingly hard-to-recover from death spirals, I knew he loved me. I loved him too. And I clung to that.

Sunny, happy Puebla street scene
Just like I clung to our friendship, and the ten years that bound us together. And my love for my mother-in-law and our shared love for my dogs, and the fact that my niece and nephew loved my (soon-to-be-ex) husband more than anyone else in the family.

Until I didn't cling to it anymore.

Which is a story in itself that I'm still trying to figure out how to write.

Meanwhile, back in Puebla, the sun shines and people are nice to me. I've started to dry out and the anger feels a little more distant. But it definitely left its mark.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Even in Mexico, there are Mondays

Tasha is tired of Mondays
Yesterday was such a Monday.

My pants were too tight, my hair was bad, and my (flexible) (well-paid) work (that lets me live anywhere in the damn world that I want to) was destroying my soul.

#Firstworldproblems


Yes, I know, what a whiner I am. Here in a country with desperate poverty and a corrupt government, all I can do is complain about how tight my pants are because I've indulged a little bit too much in queso fresco and tacos al pastor.

Mmm, tacos al pastor. Actually, better yet, TORTAS AL PASTOR.

But  I digress.  In general, life in Puebla for a privileged gringa such as myself is idyllic.

I rent a little apartment with a Mexican family where I get 1)cheap rent 2)delicious homecooked meals 3)a clean room every day 4)Spanish practice and 5)canine companionship (shout out to my homies Tasha, Dolly, and Coco!)

It's also sunny. All. The. (Effing). Time.

OK, I love sun, don't get me wrong. Especially after 25 years of the endless winters in Seattle. But I'm starting to recall my love for rain too, and a bit of cloud cover in which to hide.

I'm also realizing how much I crave the presence of  water. In Seattle, you're never far from it. Throw a rock and you find a lake or a bay or a channel. At my ex-mother-in-law's house, I could literally launch myself into Lake Washington from here backyard (which I did often and enthusiastically).

Ah, Isla Mujeres.
Here in Puebla, we're landlocked.

(Though I did get a splendid dose of agua in Isla Mujeres in December, which seems like eons ago now).

So it's a good thing I'm headed to Seattle in a few days. Besides seeing my friends and my dogs (oh, the pugz, how I miss them!) I will get to quench my thirst for clouds and water and rain.

Unless, of course, there's a freak stretch of sunny weather.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Good hair days in Oaxaca

Has anyone ever made a decision about where to live based on how good their hair looked in a given location?

If I could reasonably do this, then I would move to Oaxaca city.

Art from one of Oaxaca's many galleries
Not only is it full of stunning art, delicious food, strong drinks (including the best strawberry margarita I've ever had), colorful cafes,  and many other attractions, my hair looked fabulous there.

I mean, if I do say so myself.

Because of my Good Hair, I was exuding so much confidence (and possibly cleavage) that young waiter even asked for my phone number! Unfortunately I made the poor guy repeat himself several times because no one has ever asked me for my phone number in Spanish before.

And though I didn't actually I give it to him, I wanted to tell him how flattered I was and how he'd made my day, but my Spanish wasn't quite up to the task. Because I was flattered and it DID make my day. (I mean when was the last time a random stranger asked for my phone number?)

The minute I returned to Puebla, my hair started to droop again. Even though there are many things to love about my adopted Mexican city, good hair, alas is not one of them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Monarch butterflies in Michoacán

A couple weeks ago, I went to see the monarch butterflies in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico.


Ever since I was a little kid, I've had a thing for butterflies. That's because my favorite memories involve chasing them across the wildflower-choked meadows of the Sierra mountains in northern California when my family backpacked there every summer.

The monarchs here can be elusive. If you arrive before the sun is high in the sky, they might still be sleeping in the trees, clustered together with thousands of their butterfly friends for warmth. Or if it's a cold day, they might never really leave the trees.

But if it's a warm and sunny day like the one we were lucky enough to have, then you're treated to the sight of them swooping through the air like little orange fairies with the bright blue sky above.

I've always related to butterflies (I have three of them tattooed on my back, in fact), but even more so now that I've migrated to Mexico temporarily too.



We stayed at a little hotel called JM's Butterfly B&B, which I really liked (except that all the other guests were Americans, and I don't know when I got so snobby about other Americans, but I realized while I was there that they talk really loudly, and that they also never stop talking).

From this scenic and tranquil spot, you hoof it up on horseback or foot to about 10,000 feet, where - if you're lucky - the butterflies will be busily flitting about. And your mouth falls open at the first sight of them, and maybe you cry, and you wander about in a daze for the next couple hours, taking pictures, listening to the delicate whisper of their wings, and feeling really grateful.



Then you come back for tequila shots at sunrise, and eat wine-laden dinners with the other friendly but LOUD Americans  and later go to sleep with ALL your clothes on the pretty but unheated rooms.

Meanwhile, the butterflies go back to sleep together in the trees, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them, fighting off the nighttime chill until the sun prompts them to open their wings again.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

BreakupBabe: The Divorce Years

Well darlings, it has been an eventful year. And that doesn't even begin to describe it.

For one thing, I'm getting divorced. Which means we've fast-forwarded to...that's right, BreakupBabe: The Divorce Years! Soon to be followed by BreakupBabe: The Nursing Home Years! Oh wait, I take that back. No one in my family lives long enough to put in a nursing home. But ANYWAY.




You know what this means, right? It means that another juicy, tell-all memoirish book will be forthcoming in the near future. I have so much to tell you all!

Meanwhile, after centuries of writing and revising, I'm actually about to start flogging my middle-grade book about nerdy Sam and his embarrassingly exuberant pal Cedric, aka Little Lord Fauntleroy

So wish the two of them luck because they really need it. Although IMHO, Cedric is just as charming as he was way back when he was the Harry Potter of his day, even if he does talk a little funny.


But back to me. I can also tell you that in the wake of my divorce I've fled it to Mexico like so many brokenhearted, confused, and criminally accused before me. Though I might never get back, because of the effing WALL, I'm pleased to report that the sunny climate and tranquilo lifestyle of Puebla is agreeing with me even though I miss my dogs (a lot), my friends (a lot), and the rain (a little).

At least there's my new Mexican boyfriend Coco to comfort me. He's only five months old but the age difference means nothing to us.

Coco

Also, I've started writing regularly again, which is something that didn't happen much in the turmoil of the last six months. I've come out, at least, temporarily, on the other side of that turmoil.

Although if I know anything about grief, I know that it's a long process losing someone and this will be haunting me for a long time.

That is, of course, until I excise it by writing the juicy tell-all memoirish book, which I've already started on with the help of cervezas and sunshine, and the luxury of distance.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A look back at 2015

I’m always amazed to look back every year and see how much I’ve done. It's a good feeling to remind myself of everything, and to feel grateful for all the adventures, big and small. With that, here's a look back at the highlights of 2015...

January – I started off the year by diving into the icy waters of Puget Sound during the Polar Bear Plunge at Golden Gardens. I discovered it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be! I'm not in this picture (which was shamelessly stolen from the Seattle PI) but this is what it looked like. The temperature was probably about 40 degrees.








February – I was recovering from knee surgery, so this was a slow month. I did a lot of physical therapy. Snooze. Dave and I took one terrible trip to Fort Worden. The less said about that one the better. But Fort Worden is a beautiful place. Somehow I have no pictures from February. So I'll post a random cute pug picture of Sugar and Big Bud (who we adopted in July).










March – This was this first year I successfully grew my own garden. I started planting stuff in March, which was a good way to get outdoors since I wasn’t allowed to ski, bike, or hike. My cherry tomatoes were especially successful! (Thanks to global warming).








April – I camped with my sister, niece, and nephew at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in Northern California. I’d forgotten how beautiful this part of the California coast is.









May – Going to Steamboat Rock State Park has become an annual tradition for me and Dave. This year I couldn’t hike up Steamboat Rock because of my knee, but I kept well occupied with biking, kayaking, and easier hikes...
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June –At the end of June, I headed to Oaxaca, Mexico for a language study at Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca and a homestay with a local family. I loved it! My only regret is not staying longer.








July – For the first week of July, Dave and I toured around Mexico City and visited Huatulco on the Oaxaca coast. We had our own plunge pool at the hotel, which felt like the height of luxury.












August – I did a solo camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula, during a rare stretch of perfect weather. Highlights included watching the surfers at Shi Shi Beach and hiking to Point of the Arches.








September – Fall colors were superb on this beautiful hike to Damfino Lakes and Excelsior Peak near Mt. Baker. Also, Dave and I went to see the Foo Fighters at the Gorge, and got in some (very hot) mountain biking at Ancient Lakes before the show.








October – Dave wore his scary pug costume and Sugar wore  her butterfly costume. Big Bud refused to wear one.











November – I taught a new class for the Seattle Public library this year, called “Get ready for NaNoWrimo.” It was a blast! Dave and I also went to Whidbey Island with the pugs, and hiked at Ebey's Landing and Deception Pass.








December – Skiied for the first time since my knee surgery at  beautiful Echo Ridge in Lake Chelan. Yay knee! All that boring physical therapy was worth it. What a great way to end the year.