Friday, October 13, 2017

Dear Mom, I miss you.

Dear Mom,
I hope you’re doing well where you are. When I saw you, over a year ago now in that dream, you looked great. I carry that image of you smiling at me wherever I go. 

I’m really annoyed that you’re dead. I still need you so much. Although I often wonder what the "flesh-and-blood" you would think of the choices I’m making now.

Dating someone half my age from a different culture. Travelling all the time. Living in Mexico, where someone else prepares my meals and cleans my apartment, and my only responsibility is working a few hours a week at my easy Internet job.

Not exactly what you pictured for me at this age, was it?  

First, of course, before you could attempt to come to terms with my age-inappropriate lifestyle, you would have to get over the shock of my divorce.

You loved my ex so much, I know. So did I.

But I also know you would have supported me in getting a divorce, given the circumstances. You might even have encouraged me to do it sooner than I did.

Still, it sucks, I know. I was supposed to be the parent of an adopted kid by now, living a life of domesticity in my big house with its garden and the fancy food processor and the two pugs. Finally “settled down.”

But nothing ever really works out as planned, does it? Thanks anyway, for paying for the wedding. It was beautiful. I’m so sorry you couldn’t make it. We read one of your poems and talked about you.  
I do think that the "flesh-and-blood" you would approve of some of the other things I’m trying to do. Like becoming an ESL teacher and an interpreter.

(And of course publishing another book. Sorry I couldn’t make that happen before you left. At least you got to see me publish one. Thanks for coming all the way to Seattle for my book launch party. That was great, wasn’t it?).

And I know the "flesh-and-blood" you would have already been down here to Mexico visit me at least once or twice because that’s how we Agiewiches roll. Travel is in our DNA, at least ever since Dad got sick and decided life was too short to sit at home watching TV.

In real life you were awesome, don’t get me wrong. You were the best mom anyone could ask for. You helped make me the person I am, who is mostly strong, confident, and unafraid (Well I’m afraid all the time but I’m good at hiding it).

I soldier on no matter what, just like you always did, even though I often just wish I could melt down completely.

With dad getting sick and then dying so young, your life didn’t turn out exactly as planned either. But that didn’t stop you. You cared for him, you cared for us, and meanwhile you got on with things – making new friends, writing, helping people, traveling.

I hope I’m a little bit like you, mom.

Anyway, now that you’re ethereal and all-knowing, I know that you’re totally down with all the stuff I’m doing. Young boyfriend, vagabond lifestyle, and all. You’re not burdened by earthly expectations or judgements anymore.

“It’s all good,” you’re saying, which is something you would never say in real life.

At least, when I saw you in that dream a year and a half ago, when you couldn’t stop smiling at me, that’s what you seemed to be saying. And even now, thinking of that smile, so much more vivid than anything I can remember from when you were alive, I feel your warmth and your unconditional love.

I love you and I miss you more than you could ever know, mom. Come visit again soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Happy anniversary to me

All photos by Sara Tro
So, last night in honor of my upcoming five-year wedding anniversary I watched a bunch of old videos of me and my ex, drank some tequila, and cried myself to sleep.

Because not only would August 25th be my five-year anniversary, it is also the one-year anniversary of the day I asked for a divorce.

Somehow, without planning it, I ended up asking for a divorce on our anniversary- a moment that's burned into my brain for the relative lack of drama with which it occurred and all the drama it unleashed soon thereafter.

Weddings small and big

We actually had two weddings. The first was on August 25th, at my mom's house in California. That was our legal wedding. On September 1st, we had a wedding and reception in Seattle.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. There was only supposed to be one wedding - in Seattle - and my mom was supposed to be there. When we'd announced our engagement 7 months earlier, in February 2012, my mom had been thrilled.

She loved my ex. She had lung cancer. She liked the idea of me finally tying the knot.

So she offered to pay, and we immediately set about planning the wedding together. We picked the venue, the caterer, quibbled over the invitations. Then her health took a dramatic turn for the worse and she couldn't help me anymore. But the wedding planning kept me afloat as I watched her go downhill, the cancer creeping into her brain.

I wondered, many times, selfishly, if I would have to cancel the wedding. Couldn't she live long enough for me to have my big day? It turns out she did.

But by late August of 2012, she wasn't well enough to travel. She wasn't going to get to enjoy the beautiful venue that I'd found (with her help), a rowing club on Lake Union.

And so we had a very small ceremony at her house, with a rabbi. It was beautiful in its own way. I'm not even sure my mom fully understood what was going on by that point. But I think she knew it was a momentous and happy occasion. She seemed happy, anyway.

We were too. Nervous but happy. Hopeful. And so were my sister and brother in law, the only other ones there.

The wedding in September was beautiful too. Everything I ever dreamed a wedding should be. A handsome husband, a gorgeous locale, many smiling friends. Champagne. Karaoke.

A dream.

The only thing missing was my mom.

A month and a half after the wedding, she died.

The divorce years

And things went downhill after that, as they have a way of doing. Two years later, my sister and her husband of 12 years had split up. Two years after that, it was us.

I'd like to say that I'm glad that  my mom doesn't know.

But I think she actually does. Because she came to me once in a dream, six months before my ex and I split up, to reassure me that everything was going to be OK.

She didn't say anything. She just smiled. A lot.

That's how I knew something big and scary was coming. And that I was going to survive it.

How well I'm surviving depends on the day. Last night, as I watched old videos of us from seven or eight  years ago, I felt like a jealous interloper spying on my old life. (Because of course all old videos are happy. Who ever videos the screaming fights? The throwing of the Xbox controller ? The tears?)

Look how happy we were sitting on the couch with our old pug, Snuffy. Playing guitar, singing songs together, not doing much of anything.

Look at how he looks at me. So lovingly.

Look how pretty and happy I look.

Look how you can see the lights of Seattle in my old condo.

I miss that condo.

I miss Snuffy.

I miss my mom.

I miss...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

This could be the last time, maybe the last time, I don't know...

Lately I've been thinking about last times.

More specifically I've been thinking about last times that I knew were last times, which made them even more sad.

Like the last time my mom kissed me.

In the summer of 2012, she was dying of lung cancer, which had spread to her brain. There are so many things to say about that time, of course, including how she was dying as I was on the verge of getting married, and how bittersweet that was, and how hard it was to see her lose the ability to speak, read, and write (My mother!!! To whom, like me, speaking, reading, and writing were everything).

But if I go into all that right now, I will never get to the point.

Maybe a week or so before she died in October  2012, I was getting ready to go out and meet a friend for dinner. I'd been at her apartment all day, during which time she'd hardly been conscious at all. As it turned out, she chose the exact moment I was leaving to wake up.

She wasn't talking much by that point (if at all). Mostly she slept. By this time, she was in bed for the last time and hadn't moved in a while. At least she didn't seem to be in pain.

I went to say goodbye to her this night - I remember it was a pleasant, balmy night (as it often is in Palo Alto, California) -- thinking I would kiss her on the cheek and leave her to her ever-deepening sleep.

Instead, she opened her eyes when I said goodbye. And I immediately felt guilty for leaving. And for wanting to leave, even now that she was awake, because watching over someone's deathbed all day is nothing if not draining.

I said something like "Mom, I'm going to go over to Katie's for dinner now, OK?" Then I went to kiss her on the cheek.

To my surprise, she bolted semi-upright and kissed ME on the cheek. A full, hearty kiss. Just like she had done every night when I was little kid, and every night when I was an adult too, if I happened to be visiting with her. My mom never failed with the goodnight kiss.

But of course, she hadn't done that in quite a while. Like I said, she couldn't really move anymore. It must have taken every last ounce of energy she had to sit up and kiss me that night.

She fell back down on her pillow after that, exhausted. She might have croaked out the word "goodbye." Probably not.

Startled, sad and yet uplifted, I left the house to go have dinner with my friend. I knew deep down, somewhere, that it was the last time she would kiss me. But I didn't let myself feel the enormity of it at that moment. I still had the whole business of her actual death to get through (Which is something I thought I was prepared for after her semi-prolonged illness, but I was totally not.)

But now, four years later, I think often about that moment. How she must have known she was dying because she made that last effort to let me know just how much she loved me.

Four years later the thought of that kiss both sustains me and also makes me weep uncontrollably.

I also often feel an intense anger at myself for not writing down every word of this exchange in my journal right after it happened. For example, I don't know the exact date that last kiss happened.  What kind of writer am I? What kind of daughter am I?

When the anger passes, though, I realize I wasn't such a bad daughter. Oh sure, I was completely self-involved and constantly caught up in my own dramas. But despite our occasional squabbles and screaming fights (remind me to tell you about the time I threw a spoon at her at Thanksgiving), my mom and I were the best of friends. And that made both our lives so much better.

I like to think that it made her death a little better too.

And even if I didn't write down the stupid date or exactly what we said (which is what my mom would have done if she'd been able to write in her journal), I will never forget that kiss.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Summer of my Discontent

Must. Have. Fun.
Summer has always been a challenging time for me. As an adult, anyway. So much pressure to have fun.

No one (at least in Seattle) ever says "Have a great winter!" or "How's your fall going?" Oh no. Summer is THE moment! That glorious time when Seattleites crawl out of their caves and blind you with their pasty white skin.

As my  erstwhile alter ego Breakup Babe the Younger put it, summer is the "moment when everyone else is living out a sun-drenched Coke ad, and you're a broken-hearted, miserable wretch."

(She was good at whining, that BBTY).

Breakups always seem to happen for me right on the precipice of summer, too. So that instead of looking forward to the endless days and balmy nights, I'm cowering in dread.

HOWEVER. We are in a slightly different situation now.

Seen in upstate NY

The edge of The Abyss

My breakup happened 10 months ago.

And then, well, I figured once that happened there would be The Abyss. That I would fill with anti-depressants, crying jags, cocktails, dating apps, and  men equally crippled by emotional baggage. Kinda like my younger self did (but without the apps or the fixation on marriage [gag!]).

That did not happen.

Instead someone decidedly not crippled showed up. At a time when the last thing I expected was to fall in love. At a time when I probably shouldn't have fallen in love because I hadn't yet escaped the towering inferno that was my marriage.

But, there he was,  like a sexy fireman, pulling me out of the wreckage in his strong, tanned arms. And. I. Could. Not. Resist.

Girlfriends on the more sensible end of the spectrum (that is, my complete opposites) counseled me not to rush into anything new. If you get your heart broken now, it will only make things that much worse.

I know, I know! Don't you think I know??

But because I'm not sensible, I fell hard into his waiting arms. (a story I'm still figuring out how to tell).

 For now, I'll just say that this relationship  has sustained and grounded me through a period that would have otherwise been complete SH*T. (Remember when I said the last six months were the most bittersweet of my life? Now you know where the "sweet" comes from.)
Now suddenly, however,  I'm alone, because he's working all summer in a camp upstate New York and I have so much baggage around effing summer camps, but let's not even go there right now. Because it's IRRELEVANT, ok?

Comes a time when you're drifting, comes a time when you settle down...

Leaving Seattle
Anyway, without him, I feel very...displaced. Not at home anywhere. Except airports, airplanes (kind of) and other liminal spaces that have to do with travel. I feel comfortable traveling between places, but once I'm there I pretty quickly feel out of place.

That's because he was my home for the last six months. Not Mexico. He was in Mexico, which made it a warm safe place for me to be. A place where, for a while, I just relaxed and forgot about my identity crisis.

Who am I now if not a wife, a home owner, a soon-to-be adoptive parent?

Bring it on, summer. I can take you.  

Now the identity crisis is back, thanks very much. Which isn't a bad thing. It is what it is. In fact, I'm sure it's HEALTHY for me to be ALONE for the SUMMER figuring out who the f*ck I am and where I belong.

Meanwhile, I at least temporarily have the freedom (thank you, flexible job!) to jet around feeling uncomfortable in various places. So I don't have to be stuck in just one! So far this summer, I've been in two different countries, 3 different states and five difference cities, seeing friends and dogs and spending insane amounts of money on AirBBs.

Also, drinking way too much coffee, not exercising, crying less than I thought I would (but still enough), and looking out the windows of various modes of transportation at the ever-surprising, usually-beautiful U.S. countryside.

Speaking of which...I'm just about to get on another bus (aah, my comfort zone) to drift a little more.

*OK it's totally not undisclosed. All you have to do is look at my Instagram feed to know where I am.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Weirdly mustachioed ex-husband denies pug visitation rights

Getting divorced is so much fun! I wish someone would have told me how fun it was because I would have done it much sooner.

Just the other day, for example, my ex-husband (who is now weirdly and apparently un-ironically handlebar mustachioed) TURNED ME AWAY when I went to pick up my pugs for a visit.

Yes! Those two snuggly pugs that we legally share custody of. And whom I have not seen in three months. Who are the lights of my life. The whole reason, practically, that I came back to Seattle for a visit, smooshed between two huge dudes on a middle seat in a germ-infested aluminum tube.


They are the only family I have left in this city. And YET. My ex, the professional victim, decided to take his revenge on me for all evil I've wrought, by denying me opportunity to see my dogs.

Even for him -- an accomplished bully - this was a low and unexpected blow.

And yes. I thought of fighting back somehow.  Of calling the police. Of harassing him somehow. Of yelling and screaming and causing a scene.

But here's the thing. He has guns. A lot of them. And, at the moment, he's clearly full of self-righteous anger. He is, in fact, scary just to look at because the anger just pours out of him, infecting the air around him.

Turns him into this hard, flinty person and smothers everything that is soft and (yes) beautiful about him.

Yes, yes, I'm angry too! Everyone's angry in a divorce! You disappointed me too, you know!  But I deal with my anger in a healthy fashion! By crying and writing vicious blog posts and bitching to my friends and running off to Mexico! Not by being deliberately cruel!

So I did not chase him down or harass him or even write him a scathing text message. All I could do was call my lawyer and seethe.

Meanwhile, in his  anger-infested state, my ex is undoubtedly basking in his victory, feeling very smug that he both surprised me and deprived me of something I loved. That will teach her.

Not only that, he invited a friend over to witness the whole thing, some fat gun-freak looking guy named "Gil"  who looked on with prurient interest while my ex shouted down to me from his balcony and left me standing there empty-handed and stunned in the chilly Seattle twilight.

Yes, I can take him to court. No, I can't do it now because I'm only here for two weeks.

Is it worth it?

I don't know.

And yes, this divorce is sucking more than I ever imagined possible. Even though I'm well aware it could be MUCH WORSE.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Breakup Babe become Married Babe became Breakup Babe (again)

Photo by Sara Tro
Hear ye, hear ye, I have achieved my life’s dream of being middle-aged and divorced!

But what does this mean, exactly? Especially for someone who was once Breakup Babe, wearer of slinky clothes, owner of a karaoke machine, writer of a salacious blog-turned-novel, failed but enthusiastic pursuer of innumerable commitment-shy men?

  • Does she go back to being Breakup Babe (only a slightly more wrinkly, beaten-down version), chasing men across continents?
  • Does finally publish another book, the sequel to BreakupBabe: A Novel that all three of you have been waiting for?
  • Or does she curl up and die from loneliness and boredom just like Breakup Babe was always threatening to do?

How Breakup Babe  became Married Babe

For BB, being alone equaled loneliness, and loneliness led to lots of other unpleasant emotions that she tried to blot out with compulsive dating and blogging about dating. What she learned that was you don’t make good choices in relationships when you’re terrified of being alone.
Photo by Sara Tro

(She also learned that when you’re in the throes of loneliness, you do write entertaining prose).

One day, however, BB finally met someone who was not commitment-shy. They fell in love, got married, adopted some pugs, had lots of adventures, and applied to adopt a kid.

Things were looking up for Married Babe (formerly BreakupBabe), who not only had a husband now, and a possible future kid, but a whole new set of relatives to love.

Why, she might never have to be lonely again!

True happiness comes from inside (duh)

MB knew (at least, in theory) that no one else can make you happy. That true happiness comes from INSIDE. From doing things that make you feel good and help others.

For her, this meant writing fiction, climbing mountains, traveling to exotic locales, and reading stories to kindergarteners. Plus lots of other stuff. All of which she did in abundance.

So she wondered, after a couple years of marriage, why she didn’t feel happier. Because, not only did she have a life partner now, she was doing all these things she loved.

So what was missing?

Two can be as lonely as one

Eventually she realized it was because she was lonely in her marriage.  First a little, then a lot.


Early on, the loneliness would come and go. Because, even with the lonely times, there were still so many good times. There were the pugs and the garden. Playing guitars in the living room and cuddling in front of Netflix. Sunday night dinners with the mother-in-law who was like a second mom.

And last but not least, the application to adopt and the dream of being parents that was in process.

But then the lonely times got longer and the good times got shorter. The fights got worse. Attempts at counseling fell apart.

Yet they kept on keeping on, like you do when you can't envision another future.

Until finally the application to adopt got rejected.

The Great Mexican Escape

Another turning point quickly followed. In April, 2016, MB went away for a few months to study Spanish in Mexico.

She thought she might feel even lonelier there. And she did, at first, but then slowly she felt better and better.

There was a strange feeling growing inside her and at first she wasn’t sure what it was. Finally she realized: it was happiness.

She was happier being away from her husband than being with him.  It took three months of feeling light and unburdened in Mexico to make her really face this fact. To make her realize just how weighed down she'd been by the struggle to keep her marriage alive.

Because she loved her husband, there was no doubt about it. Loneliness, doubts, and all.

But after all the space and sunlight (and fighting with her husband from afar), she realized just couldn't struggle for her marriage anymore.

The end and the beginning

So she stopped struggling. Went back to Seattle and asked for a divorce.
Then she quickly turned around and went right back to Mexico, which welcomed her with open arms. And there she lived through the most bittersweet six months of her life until the divorce became final on May 22, 2017.

As for what's next, your guess is as good as mine. But as the sign at left says, "When nothing is certain, everything is possible."

Which about sums it up for now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A happy relationship story (for a change)

I mean, my new hair looks good, right?
The other day, I thought it might be funny to write about all the mean stuff my husband has said to me during the divorce process.
But as I started to dredge up all those choice quotes, I realized something. This isn’t funny at all. WTF were you thinking?
So today, I thought I’d tell a more positive kind of story. One about a relationship in which the two parties have actually worked through their issues and made a spectacular turnaround even when things looked grim.
It’s a story about me and my hair.
The two of you who’ve been reading this blog over the last couple months know that when I went to Oaxaca back in February, it was like a honeymoon for the two of us. The warm, dry climate of Oaxaca did wonders for my relationship with my har. It was all roses and champagne and falling in love all over.
No time to blow dry? Doesn’t matter! Hair looks great in a ponytail!
Only five minutes to blow dry? Hair looks sleek and volumized anyway!
But when we came back to Puebla after a too-short week, things quickly went downhill again. My once ebullient hair positively drooped. The gray proliferated faster than normal. No amount of product or careful blow-drying could give it that Oaxaca dazzle. On top of that, my jeans were way to f*cking tight.
It was a dark time for a couple weeks there. It looked as if we weren’t going to make it. I tried to remind myself how lucky I was just to have hair (and pants to wear). A few years back, I saw a wrenching documentary called Mondays at Racine, about a salon that opens its door for free to cancer patients. And it chronicled, in part, how devastating it was for these women to lose their hair.  
So why couldn’t I just be grateful?! But that kind of thinking never works. It just makes you feel worse about yourself because you know you’ll probably lose your hair to cancer one day too and then you’ll hate your former self for being so spoiled and ungrateful to have a head of full – if slightly droopy – hair. Yet it doesn’t make you appreciate your hair any more in the moment.
Of course, it’s not easy to break up with your own hair. But we were definitely heading that way. Until things changed. I went to the salon one day with very little hope for any miracle. Except, that of course, they’d get rid of the gray and I could forget for a while that I was actually kind of old.
But two other things happened at the salon. One, I showed them a picture of how I wanted my bangs cut. Because my bangs NEVER turn out how I want them to.
Two, they parted my hair on the Other. Side.
I tried to protest this.
“I always part my hair on this side,” I said, or rather said with gestures, because I have no idea how to say the word “part” in Spanish.
Then I got a mini-lecture about how you should part your hair on a different side every day so it doesn’t get “stuck”. Then I gave up and watched skeptically as they styled it with the part on the other side and the new bangs. And…
Well, your hair always looks good the day you go to the salon.
The next day I tried parting it on the usual side. Eh. Then I parted it on the new side. And what do you know, it looked good. The new bangs were in my face a little but that’s kind of sexy, right?
It might have been that the climate in Puebla changed just a bit too at that moment. Suddenly there weren’t so many flyaways in my hair either. It looked sleeker. Plus, it was getting longer after I’d chopped off a bit too much the last time.
And though it took a few days to dawn on me, I realized that I was starting to look forward to blow-drying my hair now instead of dreading it. That I could actually count on my hair to look good instead of just waiting for it to disappoint me every single day. (Which is a feeling I know all too well from my marriage, thank you very much.)
Since that day almost a month ago, things have been steadily improved between us. In any long relationship, there are ups and downs. But in the healthy relationships, things generally get better again instead of staying mired in the bad. You work through stuff and find your footing once more.
And, like your hair stylist says, you mix things up so you don’t get “stuck.”
Which is, of course, a lot easier said than done with relationships.
But at least one of my important relationships has been salvaged.

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."

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.


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.


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.