The Silverfox and the Young Blonde

In an impromptu move I took the kids to the public pool yesterday. It was an easy $5 few hours of family entertainment. They loved it. At one point my daughter joined me on the towel (amidst the ants) to inform me her left ear hurt. I know what this means; it can mean only one thing: the dreaded ear infection. She has tubes in her ears and is still susceptible to infections. I am usually armed with a tiny bottle of antibiotic drops, but the bottle was now empty. This meant a trip to a new doctor as we had recently changed doctor’s and there hadn’t been a need for her to go. 

With pre-filled new patient forms in hand I arrived ten minutes early for our 3:00PM appointment. The boys were left happy and entertained at the summer program they attend on Tuesdays. Let’s get something clear, this is not a pediatrician. And you can tell because there is not a damn thing that is kid friendly or remotely interesting to a child in the waiting room, nay, the entire office. 

Another man walked in after us and was called in before us. OK.

I didn’t exactly choose this doctor, he was who we were assigned after our last doctor (a pediatrician) decided to no longer be a part of this insurance plan, after we changed plans specifically to follow this doctor in the first place. I met him once before when my youngest was essentially falling apart I could never get him better. The doctor was still wet behind the ears but I liked the way he talked to me.

At 3:10 a nurse walked out and asked us if we needed any immunizations. Nope. She left us in the waiting room. 

Ten minutes later the same nurse came to retrieve us. My daughter was weighed, measured, etc. in one room then into another room for more questions.

What is the reason for today’s visit?

Easy peasy. Ear infection. Here is the bottle of the prescription we have used in the past. 

3:25PM.

I can hear the doctor talking to the patient next door. There is an opening in the wall where the window is. It was obvious the doctor was not going to walk in at any moment.

“Mommy, my ear is leaking,” as she shows me her finger with wet infected wax.

Still listening to the doctor gab on and on next door as the man is telling him his life story of all the doctors he’s ever gone too, I’m wondering why the nurses don’t have this doctor under better control. (We all know the nurses run the show.)

The office has signs everywhere proclaiming, “Tell us what you think!” There’s even a posted letter from the office manager saying “You’re opinion matters. Take my card and call me for any reason to tell me about your experience today.” 

“Willow, hand me one of those business cards.”

3:39PM the doctor can be heard leaving the office next door. I give it five additional minutes before I open the door and snarl at the nurse looking back at me from the desk. Pointing to the man across from her she says, “The doctor will be right in.”

I prepare my stance for the doctors entrance: standing up, arms crossed, head slightly down, no smile.

He enters and immediately apologizes for the wait. “I really appreciate your patience.”

“Do you?!” I scowl.

“I know. I know. I’m really sorry. What is the reason we are here today,” he asks. You know, because there is no reason you told the receptionist when you called to make the appointment, or the nurse who was in 50 minutes ago.

“Ear infection. Here’s the prescription we need.” Boom. Done. Can we move on?

He looks at the bottle and asks if the ENT prescribed this. No, her previous pediatrician prescribed it. The woman in the building next door. For the previous 2 years. “But it says it’s for the eye,” he is confused. “Yes, doctor. It says it’s for the eye. I have been prescribed to put it in her ear… for the past two years it has worked so I don’t question it.”

“Her lymph nodes are swollen. Has she been lethargic or really sickly lately?”

No joke. “I’m assuming the swollen lymph nodes are due to her ear infection,” I add.

“Oh, of course. That’s probably it.”

OK, he will send the prescription over – but only after asking me two more times if the ENT prescribed this because he has never prescribed eye drops for the ear.

Just do it. I’m begging you.

Thank you.

I left the exam room booming, “You’re lucky I’ve met you before. This was not it any way pleasant.” I said it in my stage voice so it was dramatic and just teetering on sarcasm but I’m still getting my point across. He apologized again and all the nurses laughed nervously. Willow picked out her sucker – and two more for her brothers – I filled out the electronic survey on my way out giving a big ugly red angry face for “Length of time waiting for appointment” and left.

The pharmacy where we have gotten every prescription for the past two and half years is the Osco in Alberston’s. The pharmacist and his tech are such hoots and I really like them. (Plus the pharmacist is a young silver fox and I just drool over him every time and hope he will overlook the herpes and UTI meds.) 

Giving them a little time for the prescription to land and be prepared, Willow and I did a little shopping. My phone rang and I recognized the doctor’s office number. It was the doctor wanting to confirm the prescription. “Did the ENT prescribe this? I just want to make sure I send over the right one. This medicine is for the eye and I’ve never prescribed eye medicine for the ears.”

I walked up to the pharmacy counter, thankfully they were doing nothing. With the doctor on the phone  I had them look up Willow’s previous prescriptions. OK, so the bottle I handed him was *not* the right bottle but the prescriptions she had been given in the past were still eye-meds used in the ear. Clear as day, no further questions. “OK, I will send this right over. Should be there in 2 minutes.”

Willow and I go check out and come back several minutes later. At the risk of staring them down while they do their job, we kind of backed into an aisle to wait. I notice some drama going on. The assistant is flustered and the pharmacist is exasperated. He calls me over. “I heard you talk to him on the phone and tell him exactly what you needed. I heard the whole thing. What he just sent over doesn’t even exist. Even the directions make no sense. He’s prescribing 2.5ml in each ear twice a day. That’s absurd!”

Having no idea what this pharmacist speak is that he is using, I know I have to call the office back.

I get a medical assistant on the line. Meanwhile the pharmacist has written down exactly what I need along with the instructions. Passing all of this on to her, she says “No problem. Let me go find the doctor, get this approved, and send it over.” I’m wondering if she’s even going to find the doctor anytime soon. The silverfox pharmacist and I have some good bonding over all of this.

4:40PM I had promised the kids I would pick them up early before I knew I had an appointment for Willow. “I’m gonna go pick up the boys while you wait for the prescription,” I ordered the silverfox pharmacist. “You got it,” he agreed.

Willow and I go to pick up the boys. My youngest is limping as he’s walking to me. He wore some new sandals his father bought for him over the weekend. He is blistered on both feet. I take off his POS shoes, hand them to my oldest and carry youngest to the car. We arrive at the grocery store and I tell everyone before we get out of the car, “We are here to pick up a some medicine for Willow and no other reason. Do not ask for anything and do not leave my side.”

5:00PM We put youngest in a cart, even though he is 5 and much too big for the grocery cart, and head to the pharmacy. This time there was a small line. A young blonde was just ahead of us and an older woman with newly sprouting baby fine hair was being tended to by the assistant. Silverfox is on the phone. He’s talking to our doctor, I can tell. My youngest says some fairly cute remarks that get the attention of the pretty young blonde in front of us. The older two kids are on the blood pressure machine. 

Then Thatcher points to the older women at the counter and asks if she’s a mom. “Well, I don’t know. Not every woman is a mom,” I reply. You know, Girl Power. Let the woman decide if she *wants* to be a mom!

“No. She’s not a mom. She’s a dad,” he decides. Out loud. The blonde snort-laughs as we both stare at Thatcher with wide eyes. He repeats himself, “She’s not a mom. She’s a…” I place my hand firmly over his mouth. Please. Please. Please. Please Thatcher! Don’t say that again! “Didn’t you say you needed tMom humor, shocked, shit kids say, o go potty?” I frantically start pushing him towards the corner of the store where the bathrooms are. Remembering the other kids I look in their direction not knowing what to do. The young blonde waves me off, “I’ll watch them.” She can hardly contain herself. I’m racing to the bathroom and all I want to do is drop to my knees in the loudest laughter. But instead I get his barefoot butt into the stall and start texting my boyfriend. He has been asking how I’m doing and everything is happening so fast, I can barely keep up. 

Thatcher pees, then I pee. Cause, well, I probably had not peed since 7:00AM. 

We go back out to the pharmacy. The blonde is all done and slowly turning the corner still keeping an eye on the kids. She laughs and says, “I’ve got them too. Good luck.” I thank her profusely and go back to the silverfox pharmacist.

The doctor he was on the phone with was the main doctor of the practice. The prescription they sent over AGAIN was still completely wrong. Even though I had spelled out the name and the instructions for the medical assistant. So silverfox had called them back and was telling me that the doctor himself had never heard of eye drops being prescribed for ear drops. Apparently silverfox schooled him on eyedrops being way more sterile than eardrops. blah blah blah.

Then the kicker: when I changed the kids insurance plan so I could follow the original pediatrician, I lost my pharmacy privileges at Osco. So after ALL that, the prescription was not even covered. 

“Mommy, my ear is leaking.” 

Just ring it up, I’ll pay for it.

It cost me $54 for two bottles – one for here and one for her father’s house. I also invited the tech and the silverfox over to Top Shelf for a margarita next Kid-Free weekend. My treat!

By the time we got home the frozen pizza we bought was nice and defrosted. My oldest ran over to his friend’s house to invite him over. Willow ran across the street to invite her girlfriend over. Thatcher grabbed a squirt bottle and went out back. By the time I was done with my first vodka drink I realized I needed to ask Willow to return home…. so I could put the drops in her ears.

5:45PM

Intruders and Trials

Last summer when I finally met the Martial Arts Man across the street, we hit it off so well that our first conversation lasted eight hours. The next day while I was cleaning the house the song “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavignavril lavigne girlfriende came on and I started singing along rocking out thinking, we didn’t exactly discuss if he is in a relationship but if he is, she needs to start packing.

The question did come up and he shared that he had recently ended a five year relationship. Apparently it was a pretty bad one so I was glad that it was over. They were not engaged, he did not want to marry her, they did not live together, or have kids, or houses, or a business together. In fact, she rarely if ever stepped foot in his house and he only sometimes spent the night with her. Five years is a long time in my book so I did ask if they were still in contact. He said yes. I wondered why, especially given how miserable he was in the relationship. And it wasn’t as though they were great friends to begin with. He didn’t have a reason. I asked him to stop communicating with her. He said he would.

Several weeks later it came up again. He admitted he was still communicating with her. I was confused. WHY?! What do you talk about? Nothing, I don’t know. What are you asking her? Nothing, I don’t instigate anything. What is she asking you? I don’t know. Just every day stuff. How is your day? I miss you. Why won’t you return my phone calls? Do you still have feelings for her? What the hell is the deal? Why are you responding at all to her?

“I don’t know. Habit I guess.”

I asked him to stop… again. He said he would.

Several more weeks went by. I was sitting on his back giving him a massage in my bed. The thought had entered my mind earlier in the day and had tormented me horribly. I had to ask, “Have you heard from your ex?” Yes, he answered. I tried to remain calm as I waded my way through this disappointing and perplexing news. Instead of asking why, I went another direction, “How often are you two communicating?”

“I don’t know, 5-6 times a week?”

This is where Katie snaps.Vintage scream losing my shit

I have never gotten off a man’s body so fast as I did in that moment. I pointed to the door and yelled, “Get out! Get the fuck out of my house. Now!”

He reached out later that evening but I really had nothing to offer. I was hurt and confused. We had been dating for a few months at that point. There was no excuse for communicating with an ex-girlfriend who was allegedly so awful to him, after repeatedly telling me he would stop.

IMG_4810We spoke the next morning. He felt awful and would essentially do anything to not lose what we had. I was guarded and hurt. But we kept moving forward. With one final promise to stop communicating with her in any way. 

The hurt from that remained for many more months. It irked me at times when I would think about it and I would toss out tiny passive aggressive comments about it. One time he grabbed me and asked, “Have I done or not done something that has brought that up again?” I was honest and said, “No, I just haven’t healed from it.”

Recently, it was brought up again. But this time he was ready to hear me and I was able to articulate the pain from that experience, “When you kept carrying on with her when we started dating, it made me feel like I wasn’t enough. It was unfair.” He heard me, he acknowledged the pain and the unfairness of it, he apologized. And I was healed. It was a tangible healing of a wound. I was grateful and we were closer.

I manage a couple business pages on Facebook. One of them is his studio. It does not have his name anywhere on it, but if you know him you know where he has worked for the past 13 years. This past weekend there was a private message in the inbox of his business page. It rarely happens, but it does happen. 

“Why does it have to be like this? I know you miss me and think about me – tell me that I’m wrong??? And if I’m not wrong, then why are we apart? Why won’t you be honest with me and tell me what you’re really feeling? Why did we spend so much time together and then you just disappear without giving any real reason. I know there’s more to it than what you say. And if im not wrong, then why do you treat me the way you treat me, like I don’t matter, ignoring me, not responding, and if that’s the way you want things then why do you still think about me?”

When I read this my heart immediately dropped to my ankles. It had to be the ex. Of course she would write him through his business page, any other way and he would ignore her or have her blocked. I checked out her profile (people really should practice better privacy settings.) She was pretty. A runner. Two years younger than me. 

I forwarded the message to two friends that I assumed were not working or not traveling. A girl and a guy. The guy asked, “why are you bothered by this? I don’t think there is a threat.” The girl remarked, “she sounds crazy. Like, really crazy.”

“We just healed from the this! And now she’s showing up again?!” I screamed insiwe are never so vulnerable as when we love sigmund freudde.

I didn’t share this news with my boyfriend while he was at work. Knowing how upset this would make him I didn’t want to do it to him. When he arrived home he walked in and looked at my face and knew something was wrong. No matter how much I try to hide things from him, there is no way around it: he can see through me. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Something happened.”

“What?”

“I’m assuming the name Leslie means something to you?”

He created this sound that sounded between a scoff and an exasperated sigh, “Yeeeessss.”

“She wrote to you through your business page.”

“Is it bad?”

I was trembling. After spending hours keeping this stunning message to myself trying to dissect what it meant: After all the time we spent together? Well, five years is a long time. OK. But, “I know you think of me”?! Hmmm… you sure? What exactly makes you think that. “How could you just ignore me…” Well, he tends to want to avoid things more than handle them head-on, so I can understand that after communicating so much and he just dropped it, that she might feel jaded. But, really, it’s been a year, darling. Move on!

“It’s not good or bad, it just is,” I responded.

After a few moments of silence he comes out and says, “I have not talked to her in, I don’t know how long.”

“Well, OK. But that doesn’t explain why she’s still so hung up on you. This is your ex, right?”

“No! This is someone else. This is a girl I went out with a few times right before I met you. We were not boyfriend/girlfriend. We were not exclusive. We weren’t anything…”

“But you were sLife Magazine, Nina Leenleeping together,” I quipped. (Dick move on my part, I know, but it needed to be said. Don’t try and convince me it was nothing, if you were willing to stick your dick in her.)

Using the same exasperated sigh, “OK, yes…”

“Then it was something. To her, obviously, it was something.”

“I’m going to go handle this right now. I promise. I’m sorry this happened.” He left.

I my two friends as fast as I could. Really, I needed the alone time to process what had just happened. Firstly, I had NO idea this woman existed! NOT, that he needs to give me a checklist of every one he has ever been on a date with, but it just came out of nowhere. He was back in a flash.

“OK, here’s exactly what the email said.” (Grrr! Why can’t he just make a fucking phone call once in a while!) Anyway, I forget how he said it started but it ended with, “I’m in a relationship. Don’t ever contact me again.”

He took my hands. We were both trembling. He apologized but I assured him there was no need for an apology, he didn’t DO anything wrong! And, I am old enough to understand that this is of course going to happen again. And that’s OK. The gift is in what we each did with what happened: I didn’t ever question him, I trusted him fully. And he took accountability and handled it like a man.

vintage Romantic coupleWe healed and were so much closer than even when we woke up that morning.

The next day when I was still reeling in the glow of our triumph he said, “That’s what is supposed to happen through trials.” I had never heard that word used in regards to relationships. But yes, we have had some trials. And we keep triumphing together.

Today I Vow to accept the Trials and the Triumphs of all of my relationships.

Katie Hodge Today I Vow

When you are sleeping with the man across the street…

About a year ago I began dating the man across the street. You may have heard of him, he is: Martial Arts Man (MAM), or, “really insanely hot incredible man who has healed me in countless ways.”Anyway, we are both homeowners and love the houses we live in. We are also in our 40′s and maybe slightly attached to having things our way, i.e. love our own beds, temperature just right, can tolerate a certain amount of hoarding and clutter. This leaves one of us returning home late at night or early in the morning. A while back I shared that my returning home in the early hours felt like a Walk of Shame. I would often sprint across the street. A few friends pointed out how absurd this was: why aren’t you strutting? Be proud of your amazing sex life? So after some time my sprint home turned into a regular walk while checking for departing neighbors. Recently, this past 4th of July actually, we had spent most of the day lazing around his house. Around 8 or so that night I went home to get into my nighttime garb, wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. I had already downed one of my vodka drinks, had Garbage and Lady Gaga blaring, I was feeling sassy and feisty as I was getting ready for my man. I put on my nightgown, it looks sort of like this, but mine makes my boobs like fantastic!

Poured myself another drink and grabbed my pillow. Then I felt especially sexy and walked over to the sex toy drawer. Wrapped the Rabbit in a scarf, grabbed a small bottle of lube, put his cock ring on my finger and headed downstairs and out my garage. I pressed the button to open my garage on my way out and stood at the world’s slowest garage door to open. As the door rose up over my head, there is was: the entire family who lives next door to MAM, my daughter’s best friend (age 6) and her younger brother (age 3) excitedly running around the carport waiting till it’s a little more dark to light sparklers.
Both in their matching Old Navy 2014 4th of July shirts, they see me and run to me, “Katie! Katie!” Their mother was sitting in a lawn chair. She looked up long enough to see the state I was in, then looked down at her phone, never to raise her head again. Their father, on the other hand, was already grinning while he moseyed down to chase his children who were running into the street.
I stood frozen while I did a quick mental check of what this scene looked like from their perspective: the hot, single mom dressed in her short nightgown, hair up, holding a drink in one hand, and a pillow in the other arm. Barely hidden on the side of the pillow is a large well-loved sex toy lightly covered in a scarf. On my index finger is a blue cock ring. Is it obvious what it is, I’m wondering? Shew! At least the bottle of lube is hidden in my hand.
I’m smiling and laughing my way across the street, scared something will fall. I have a quick flash of fear: what if my boob is showing? I don’t even bother looking down to check because there is not a damn thing I can do about it if there is. The kids hug my waist – they are very sweet – and I’m just wishing I had a clicker for my boyfriends garage and didn’t have to put something down to put in the code. In fact, looking back, I don’t even recall how I got the door open. Maybe I willed it enough to open.
The mother’s face never rose to even give me a conciliatory half-smile. I know because I kept checking. The father’s last words: Have a good night!
Clearly, I will. (And did.)

Oh, You Mean You Want me to *Say* it?!

Within this romantic relationship that is clearly and smoothly moving forward, both my boyfriend and I acknowledge and accept that we are both basically engulfed in fear. Not so much paralyzed, but fully aware of the demons knocking. Luckily, one of us is always willing to stand guard for the other while a minor (or major) freakout occurs. (Let’s face it, you know I’m the one responsible for the major freakouts.) I would say his freakouts are more of a slow boil just underneath the surface; they don’t really explode so much as there is a peak where a major realization is observed and/or accepted. And then there is growth within us as a couple.

A few months ago it became absurdly clear how silly it was that we each were sustaining entire households by ourselves. Not that one of us has even begun to stay with the other so much (he never stays at my place and I’ve only recently been staying the nights with him when I am kid-free. We each pay the same landscaper, the same HOA fees, the same APS bill, the same city for the same trash, the same water company… He pays for cable and I don’t. But I pay for Netflix and Amazon and he’s welcome to hook us up with cable if he wants.

There was talk a while ago about making this transition right around our year-anniversary (next month in August.) But it’s coming up rather fast and there are tons of plans otherwise.

It’s interesting to be in your 40′s and dating someone whom you can clearly see far off in the future with. But when it comes trying to decide whose house to move into, neither of you have any real desire to move to the other. We are not in a position at this moment to sell both houses and go get our own, but we will in the future for sure. There are two complete households. One has 3 kids, the other has 2 dogs, all of whom have to be accommodated. The house with the dogs has fewer rooms, and the house with the kids has the detested stairs and no carpet downstairs to lay on. His bed is too soft for me. Mine is too firm for him. I love my bedroom set but have to go get him his own nightstand since one of them went off with the ex. He has a TV in his bedroom and it is on while he falls asleep. A timer turns it off and he turns it right back on the moment he wakes up. Many of you know me well enough to know that this is a big F’ing HELL NO! No TV in the bedroom at all! And if you are going to go to sleep why not just turn it off?! Why do you have to go through the trouble of setting a timer so it will go off in 20 minutes?!

He is a night-owl who believes the best sleep occurs between 4 and 9 in the morning. I wake up with the sun – usually a bit before – and am useless by 10PM *if* I can stay awake that late.

Typical:
“Please don’t tell me it’s 6:00AM.”
“OK, I won’t. It’s 5:30. Wanna ride to the Grand Canyon? I made you fresh scones. I’ve done three loads of laundry, finished a manuscript, and am waiting on an Amazon Prime delivery.”

These are the times he has actively wants to strangle me.

If I stay at his place and wake up normally, I can walk across the street and start my day. He has yet to experience a Team Dean morning. Although he did spend the night Christmas Eve to help me with the kids Christmas morning. When my daughter was heard downstairs at 4:30AM he told her it was too early and to go back to bed. It was precious in a way: him thinking he could tell a 6yo girl to go back to bed Christmas morning when she had already been through every stocking and neatly separated and piled the presents for each kid.

But deeper than the logistics, the fear of one of us sacrificing a great deal to move in with the other, the disinterest in the discomfort that would come from trying to combine two households that include dogs with a non-dog person and three kids with a man who consciously chose to never have children of his own… is simply not something either of us are jumping at.

Soon after we met I asked if we could never get married. I was sure with two ex-wives behind him he would be thrilled to agree with me. Nope, he immediately explained that he loves the concept of marriage and wants the experience he sees so sweetly and genuinely in his own parents who celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary this year. I was crushed.

If money were no object I have no doubt we would keep both houses and continue on exactly as we have. Or build a bridge over the street, or buy out one of the neighbors directly next door. But realistically, it makes no sense.

It’s been this thing that we have sort of touched on from time to time, but neither of us really deciding anything. Just yesterday, it came up again and I asked more directly, “Would you like to come join Team Dean?”

He got serious. “I will never be a member of Team Dean. I will never have that name added to mine.” Pause.  “Do you want me to move in?” he asked.

And then it hit me (notice that happens a lot?): neither of us actually asked the other to move in. And when he asked, “do you want me to move in” I felt fear begin to strangle my neck a little. (It does that. I have a throat thing, I swear.)

As the day went on I kept thinking about how I had really not asked him to move in. And why would I when the concept is so terrifying?!?! However, by the end of the day I said to him, “I would like you to move in with us. I will accommodate you and your doggies as much as I can. I will put carpet in the living room so they have comfy sleep spots. I will give you as much room as you need to bring the stuff you want (even though, let’s face, most of that shit better not even enter the street, it’s going to Goodwill, dammit! The Kung Fu master is going to have the most epic garage sale! Who needs THREE motorcycles and a gazillion punching bags?! And 2456 back issues of Kung Fu magazine!)

I recognized that I had not actually asked him to move in because that would open me up to the terror of rejection and major discomfort as we go about the task of combining households and integrating him into the family that has been me and the kids (and the polyamorous whore of a cat, Cupcake.) But the thought brings up just the right amount and kind of fear that indicates this is the next step. This is our next frontier of growth.

He has his issues too about this. And the only part about the kids that scares him is finding his place with them. But it isn’t that he doesn’t like kids or can’t stand to be around them, he simply knew that in the relationships he has been in he has never wanted to have children with them. And now we are just way too old and selfish to want to have one of our own.

His fear lies in having been in a marriage to a woman who made gobs and gobs of money and used it as just one of her manipulation tools: he had no say in anything, ever, no matter what. When he finally divorced that one, he landed in a long term relationship with another version of his ex-wife. He heard, “Get out of my house!” more than once. And his fear is that he will hear it again.

Intimacy has been defined to me as risk and trust, over and over. Slow and steady over time. I have never felt more intimacy with another human being in my life. And at almost a year, it’s finally starting to feel normal and comfortable, as opposed to disaster-waiting-to-happen, or “this could end at any moment so just drive him away now.”

The risk of moving in together is a big one for each of us. The trust is in knowing we are both dedicated enough to figure it out. Who knows, this could very well be the easiest step I’ve ever taken. Why do I assume it will be the biggest, craziest, most horrific experience of our entire relationship? Oh right, because that’s what I’m conditioned to expect: disaster.

Luckily, I’m working on that one.

Today I Vow to have a little more faith that doing something I am fearful of may end up being wonderful. And even if it has some rough spots, I will be OK anyway.

Saying No to the Discomfort of Shoes….and Friendships.

Let me ask you this: how many pairs of shoes do you own that are adorable and you wanted so badly that you constantly justify the fact that they don’t quite fit? They match an outfit perfectly and you swim in the compliments you receive because they are so damn adorable. But the ugly truth is you carry a roll of bandage tape and Band-Aids in your purse, and packages of moleskin in your car and in every bathroom so you can wrap every toe, the back of your foot, and basically any part of your foot that touches the shoe.
My brilliant girlfriends pointed out that my foot is clearly too wide for my shoe. Sometimes we really need someone else pointing out the obvious.
My brilliant girlfriends pointed out that my foot
is clearly too wide for my shoe.
Sometimes we really need someone else pointing
out the obvious.

At the end of the day you are peeling the shoes off your swollen, red, blistered, and angry feet and you wonder, for what?! And you might swear, “this is not worth it!” But you put the shoes back in the closet on the shoe shelf, because you can’t let go of the hope that maybe next time it won’t hurt as bad. And besides, they are soooooo cute!!!!

In my world, just this past weekend, two interesting realizations collided and I finally saw them clearly. First, I need to hunker down and figure out why exactly I experience the same horrific pain in my favorite type of shoes. And this has nothing to do with heels, I’m lucky that I’m rather tall so I don’t have the desire to wear extremely tall heels, but I do love to wear small heels. The issue is that my toes become mutilated after the smallest amount of time in my favorite types of shoes. Second, I caught myself trying way too hard to hold on to friendships with a couple of girlfriends who clearly no longer want to remain friends.

In essence, I’ve spent way too much energy applying bandages around all of my own rough spots to try and make them (these women) more comfortable; to try and make the friendship work. When in reality, I walk away peeling off the time spent with them, and my heart is still bruised and blistered.

In reality, there is no reason in existence why I should make myself someone I am not because they just don’t like me anymore, or they don’t like who I’m dating, or they don’t like how dramatic I am, or how needy I can be. Well, what the fuck ever! Because you know what else I am? Loyal and compassionate, and I would do just about anything to help anyone if asked. And I *try*. I put in a great deal of effort to organize lunches with my girlfriends, or to check in with them and keep the relationships alive. I worry about my friends and want to know if there is anything I can do to help, even if it’s just to be a listening tree.

But there is a limit and I’ve reached it. Just like I now know I have been buying the wrong size shoe and am calling in a shoe expert to help me go shopping (Thank you Anna and Marianne!) I now understand clearly that I have been trying to stuff my heart into relationships that don’t fit. I’m done. It doesn’t mean I will stop caring about these women but it does mean I am done wasting my energy crying and pining over “what have I done wrong?”

Besides, I’m fucking 40 years old and having the time of my life as I grow with my children and am in the midst of the most incredible romantic relationship I have ever been in and my education is going strong. I no longer have time for uncomfortable shoes OR relationships.

Today I Vow to honor my heart as well as my feet.

 

But how do you pay your bills.

Money is a fascinating concept: it’s something we all have to have in order to build the tangible life around us, tend to medical needs, educate ourselves, and gain experiences of life through travel. We are each fed our knowledge of money through our immediate caretakers, whether silently or obviously. The emotion we attach to money is mind-boggling. I can feel like I am on top of the world when my bills are paid, gas is in my working automobile, kids are clothed to play with needless toys, and I can grab food from a restaurant with my girlfriends. But the moment I am praying the bill that is late can hold on for a week more and that the landscaper doesn’t cash his check immediately, I feel like the smallest, most worthless creature wasting air on this earth.

Many years ago I was in a car crash caused by a red light runner. This young girl blew through a red light – never applying her brakes – t-boned my Mazda Protege sending it into the lightpost, killing my 17-month old son and putting me into a coma with severe brain damage. IF you have to seek the silver lining in the situation it was that this young was on the clock driving a truck for AutoZone.

At the time of the crash I was a single mother working at a restaurant and going to school at the local community college. I never brought home more than $40 a shift, and that was rare! I was new at this restaurant so I got a couple crappy shifts a week. There was no child support. I had amazing friends and some family who would watch my son for me because they could, even though I could not pay them gas money. In fact, only a week or two before the crash I had to ask an Aunt and Uncle to borrow money to make my car payment.

I didn’t qualify for any government assistance because I was in school. The thinking is, if you can afford to go to college (aka rack up tons of debt to try and better your chances at getting a better paying job as a single mother) you don’t need any further assistance. My son was getting health care through the state and I had been given healthcare only a few months before the crash because my ex-husbands income no longer counted towards my own income.

Much later in the year, as part of my rehab, I was able to volunteer for a few hours a day for the Red Means Stop Coalition and the Brain Injury Association. And I do mean a few hours. I was unable to stay awake for more than 4-5 hours without needing a nap. I could sleep for 3 hours in the afternoon and still able to sleep all night long. My brain became exhausted easily.

Litigation with AutoZone lasted almost 2 years. It was one of the most humiliating experiences I have ever had to go through. These days when I meet someone who wants to “sue”, I cringe and think to myself, “You have no idea what they will put you through. Please think again.” I had to walk into my son’s pediatrician’s office and ask for all of his medical records in order to prove I was not covering up that he was already dying. I had to find all of my medical records and account for every single counselor or mental health record to prove I was not a crazed lunatic who had a death wish and pulled in front of the oncoming traffic on purpose.

I had to read through several character statements written by my ex-husband’s friends and family stating that I was a horrible, absent, unfit mother. (He had gotten his own lawyer immediately after the crash, he felt he deserved half of the wrongful death suit. Did I mention he never paid child support and rarely saw his son after we separated?)

After AutoZone offered $150,000 total to cover everything I begged my lawyer to not let me be involved anymore and just let me know when it was done. He refused and explained that I needed to be part of the case.

During this time I was also enrolled in a neurorehab program. They didn’t want to deal with my grief. One day I was pulled into the program director’s office and told they were worried I was faking my abilities so that it would be better for my lawsuit. In my mind I’m telling them to fuck off. Unfortunately I don’t think I was strong enough to say that at the time. I never fit in there. A couple years later when I was awarded “Survivor of the Year” by the Brain Injury Association, the neurorehab facility had a table of at least 10 people that were all my doctors and therapists while I was in the program. Only one woman said a word to me. The rest ignored me. I’m telling all of them to fuck off now too, in my head.

The case finally came to a close almost 2 years after it began. We were 3 weeks away from trial and I was not going to back down at this point. Someone I met in the same office as my lawyer introduced me to some amazing men at NY Life. I met with them and told them what had happened and that the case was almost over. It’s these two men, “My Money Guys”, as I affectionately refer to them, who have handled this money from the moment I got it. So although I do not have direct access to my funds, what’s left after buying a house, a couple cars, and lots of life for almost 11 years, is still mine, and it’s still working for me.

In a very similar fashion that stay at home mothers are asked, “But what do you do all day?” I have been asked a million times, “What do you do for a living?” Well, I’m a mom. It was most convenient for me to also say I was a student. The most rude woman shoved both of those “reasons” aside and asked, “But how do you pay your bills?”

Sometimes it’s fun to unload: Oh, you wanna know? OK. Here it goes. In February of 2000 my 17-month old son and I were hit by a red light runner. He was killed. I was in a coma for 10 days and when I came to I had to be taught how to walk again. The driver was driving an AutoZone truck and there was a litigation from that, which I’m still living on. Anything else?

But there was other stuff. Soon after the crash I had family telling me things such as: don’t talk to anyone about your money, ever. Because people get really weird when it comes to money. And you better watch it, because that is all the money you are ever going to have so spend it wisely.

One day, I arrived to my parents house with a computer as a gift and was told, “You better stop spending your money or its all going to be gone.”

There was a CPA who did my taxes one year. She had no idea what my money was doing but she did feel it her duty to tell me that if I kept withdrawing so much money a month it would be gone in 4 years.

I have it cemented in my head that the money that I have put away really will be all the money I will ever have. This keeps me from spending it on things I really want to spend it on. it also keeps me feeling horribly guilty every time I have to contact my agent and ask for money – MY OWN MONEY! And I get scared to make it look like I have money because I don’t want that judgment either. I live way too much in lack. And I am aware that’s something I am going to have to change mostly because I don’t want to spread that to my children. I’m finally focused on a career goal. That is going to take some more school, which I am glad to do.

But I want to tap into believing I am worth more than thinking I can only shop for myself in thrift stores or on clearance racks.

 Today I Vow to being open to prosperity and believing I am worth more.

Distrust.

Last week I started writing about commitment and how I don’t know how the concept works, what it looks like, or how it feels. Basically, I’m clueless on the concept. I was writing on and on about the details of my childhood and parents and trying to get to the reasons I am so in the dark about commitment. But then I got tired of hearing my thoughts and shut the laptop in aggravation (and turned Six Feet Under back on.)

During my two years of psychotherapeutic psychoanalysis there were some devastating discoveries I made about myself. Realizations that rocked my world so deeply, that parts of my soul were accessed and nothing but raw emotion dumped out, usually in the form endless wailing and tears.

Intimacy was an experience I had never had or understood; my throat closed at the thought of the word. I struggle to ask for help because I learned early on to depend only on myself. I have control issues because of being unable to rely on anyone else. I walk through life with a grenade in my hand ready to pull the pin at any moment because my experience of people is: everyone leaves, so just run first. There are several more that I have no interest in getting into at the moment, but the latest one: I don’t know what commitment means, is a big one.

 

It applies to everything in my world. I’ve had countless jobs: if I don’t like them, I leave. Have ended tons of friendships: It’s not perfect? I’m out. You know I’ve been married three times and the first two lasted less than a year. (I’d like to think of them as practice runs but really, they were just more practice *at* running.) I’ve changed my education route so many times: I’ve gone to almost every major college and community college in Maricopa County at one time or another. I’ve lost count as to how many different subjects I’ve studied. Finally graduated with my first degree this past December. And I don’t know if the speed at which I finished my undergrad education was based on commitment or sheer will and issues with perfection.

Being a mother is an interesting concept when mixed with the idea of commitment. I would say I am dedicated to being the best mother I can be. But I don’t know if that has to do with commitment so much as it has to do with a paralyzing fear of having them hate me when they get older. I am starting to recognize that I can not be completely responsible for the people they end up being. Much as I am starting to recognize that I am more responsible for my own life than I have believed in the past.

A new memory: when I was in 7th grade I tried out for the basketball team at school. I wanted to play basketball and be like my Aunt Sabrina who was an amazing athlete. There was something about me that believed I would be good just because I had an aunt who was amazing. The part that I never saw was her commitment and dedication to practicing, which is the part I never did. Not once did I practice free throws outside of scheduled practices. I was not any good at basketball. I made every team through my junior year of high school – only because not enough people tried out. To this day I can’t stand it when everyone who tries makes the cut.

A few weeks ago when I had “the incident” with my boyfriend and tried my damndest to blow the whole thing to smithereens, I caught a glimpse of the concept of commitment. It was woven through the countless emails and texts from girlfriends who had successful marriages who said to me quite honestly: it takes work, every single day. I had heard those words so many times but they meant nothing to me until I had it sitting in front of my face: I had an amazing relationship and no, it wasn’t perfect. But we each had the most important part: we were both willing to make it work. To commit every day to the relationship and all that it entails.

I have heard over the past few year some amazing mantras regarding love, marriage, and commitment: Love changes. And Love is not a feeling it is a commitment, a choice.

Today I Vow to allowing myself the pleasure and experience of committing to another person and to other people while releasing my distrust in all of humanity, and mostly myself.

This Daddy’s Girl

For the past week I *knew* Father’s Day was coming and I found my mind dismissing the thought as I became too overwhelmed at the thought of what to do for my children’s father, what to do for my step-dad… that I never allowed it to occur to me how much the day would suck ass because my father is dead.

Until I woke up this morning and began glancing at my stream on Facebook: post after post of pics and gratitude sent to loving, attentive fathers. Also among the mix was several posts from girlfriends whose daddy’s have died. And that, my friend, is what did me in. The house was still quiet and in the peace of my bedroom I began to cry. Then I began to sob so I moved to the bathroom trying not to wake the kids. I thought, if I can get this all out now, I will be good for the rest of the day.

It didn’t really work out that way, but at least I kept from absolute sobbing in front of the kids (like I did on this past anniversary date of both my son and my daddy’s deaths.) Ugh! Scared the hell out of all of them.

My heart breaks for all my girlfriends whose daddy’s have died. And my heart swells with all the posts about the amazing daddies walking the earth. Amazing men who taught their daughters what to look for in a future husband, who were providers, protectors, unconditional, and dependable. The cynic in me instinctively wants to believe a lot of those posts are skewed, but I have to look at me and my reaction first. That particular father is not my experience, however, I had a really great Dad.

He called me Sweet Tooth.

With Kage. 2005.

This man taught me everything about baseball. He took me to Busch Stadium to watch the St. Louis Cardinals countless times. He also shared his other passion with me: fishing. Taught me to bait a hook and everything. That particular hobby does not continue within me, but I do still follow my Cardinals as much as I can. My daddy was a mechanic and taught me about cars. His proudest moment was when he arrived home and I had changed out the radiator in my car myself. All that was left was a couple drops of radiator fluid, as he recalled. I didn’t have time to wait for him to get home.

My father used laughter as a survival mechanism. His laugh was unmistakable and authentic. And his love was unconditional. He was witty and would help anyone, no questions asked. I can remember as a young girl driving with him through pouring rain in a grocery store parking lot. Making her way out of the store in the blinding downpour, an older woman fell to the ground and her cart raced away from her. My father threw the truck in park and raced out to help her. He was my hero on many occasions.

There’s no way to sugar coat it though, he was also an alcoholic who rarely took accountability for his behavior. He could be distant, unreliable, and unstable, I have yet to have any clear answer as to why we moved every 6-12 months while I was growing up. His love for sports of any kind was more of a tool for avoidance. He was not around when I was born and did not meet me until I was around one year old.

My parents separated when I was about 10 or 11 and I made my mother the enemy; my father could do no wrong. Until I was much older and could see for myself that he was human, flawed, and dealt a shitty hand himself. Like the rest of us, he did the best he could given the circumstances.

My father was the first person to confirm Blake’s death when I was still in the hospital after the car crash. As I was slowly waking from the coma, every family member and friend was given explicit directions to never answer any of my questions about Blake. One day he was alone in the room with me and I said, “Blake’s dead, isn’t it?” There was a pause and he said, “Yes, babe. And I’m so sorry.” He confirmed what I already knew, and he was brave enough to say what he knew his daughter needed to hear.

My father died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 53 in 2007. I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter. It was the most traumatic event of my life. Yes, the car crash was horrific and far worse, but I was immediately unconscious for that. (Silver lining?) The most surreal feeling I had surrounding his death was that of a book closing. The entire book titled, “Living With my Dad, Don Hodge” was closed. There were no details I would ever get from him, no advice, no updates on the St. Louis Cardinals, no clarifying answers about my childhood, nothing. The book was closed.

I don’t know if Father’s Day will get easier, I doubt it and I’m not going to give the thought any more energy. I’m just going to let it be, and allow whatever it will look like.

I’m grateful for the dad I had. He taught me a lot and I will miss him terribly until the day I die.

After the Talk…Installing Training Wheels.

After some sleep Saturday night I awoke at 5 – yes, even with the light-blocking curtains! Watched a little mindless television, wrote, IM’d with a girlfriend, went down and had some breakfast. Did I mention I was at a resort? In a spontaneous decision on Saturday afternoon I wanted to sit by a pool but I didn’t necessarily want to be surrounded by friends and I really didn’t want to be sitting at home knowing C would be right across the street in a few hours. It was a lovely escape. Initially it was only going to be for one night but I reserved it without paying attention and when I arrived was told my reservation was actually for the following night. Ugh. Well, I was already there, might as well add another night.

After sitting at the pool for a while I went back to the room started writing, had a massive epiphany, and contacted a couple of friends to help me process what I was thinking. That’s when I first texted C. There was no response and he wasn’t picking up the text. So I called a few minutes later. He didn’t answer. Total deflation. Just as I was virtually moping with a buddy, the phone rang. He called back! He had been out with some friends and was just finishing up before I called. Saturdays are his most tiring days because they start so early. It was late for him and so I started giving him an out, “I know you are really tired, so you don’t have….”

“I will come to wherever you are, right now, if you would like to talk,” he interrupted.

Without repeating The Talk, you can read it here.

Sunday morning after I ate I returned to my room thinking I would rest for a little while before my daughter’s birthday party. I had some thoughts pop up so I called C and we talked for a bit before he headed off for a motorcycle ride. We agreed we would see each other later at the party.

As I was driving home I had a thought. It’s definitely a typical Crazy Katie thought (which I’m *almost* done apologizing for.) I already have a ring for him. A few months ago he said he didn’t really want to wear a ring if/when we ever got married, wayyyyyyyy off in the future. ;-) In his line of business it would get in the way and possibly cause injury to himself or someone else. But then he changed his tune a little and said he would wear a black one, sometimes, when we dressed up to go out. So I started looking for black rings and came across one that was absolutely perfect. He loved it when I showed it to him on the computer. We found ourselves in a jewelry store not too long after and they had the same ring so he tried it on to find the right size. The online store was half the cost as the custom jewelry store so I bought it and kept for a future reason.

Back to the Crazy Katie thought. “I want to exchange rings,” ran through my head. Not, I want to get married. And not even, I’m going to propose to him. But I wanted a ring exchange after what I had just put us both through I wanted a ceremonious exchange to prove we were both ready for the next step.

So I called him but didn’t get an answer. He was already on his ride. I left a message but didn’t get a call till I was driving to the birthday party. “I want you to get me a ring and bring it with you tonight. It doesn’t need to be a diamond, big, not even real, but we’re doing this. Tonight.”

“OK. I got this,” he responded. Didn’t even phase him, and he didn’t even ask questions.

The party was a lot of fun. It’s a lot of chaos in a short amount of time and the perfect thing is you just walk away. Done.

The kids were still staying with their father Sunday night so after everyone drove off, C said to me, “Well, the two custom jewelers I went to were closed. So the only other option at this time is the mall. Unless you are willing to wait.”

“Nope. This is happening.”

So we drove to the mall. We went into Macy’s and walked by the fine jewelry counter and something in the clearance section grabbed my eye. He suggested we look at it. What I had originally had in mind was NOT fine jewelry, not even anything with real gold. I was just thinking of the neat costume jewelry these places carry. Some of the rings can be really sweet looking. But just for fun we grabbed the attention of a sales lady, Jan. (Jan rocks!) The ring was by my new favorite diamond company, La Vian. And by “new”, I mean I just discovered them this past six months. It was my size and it was absolutely jaw-dropping gorgeous. My knees actually went weak, I swear I felt it. Then Jan busted out her calculator to come to the lowest price it was after all the specials for Memorial Day Weekend. It was just over $1600. Which is unreal for what it was and how much I loved it. We asked her if we could take a lap and discuss it.

I then took him over to the costume jewelry section and said, “This is what I had in mind. I would be perfectly happy with one of these.” He adamantly opposed with, “Nope. We are not even entertaining the thought of crap.” Then he pointed out that getting a custom ring would cost as much as the ring we just found. We had discussed using the stone from my Great-great-grandmother’s ring, a beautiful art-deco ruby in a wonderful filigree setting that would require having another ring custom built for it because it’s so dainty it can not be resized up as many sizes as I need it to be. He said he was thinking something around $100-200 and I said OK, let’s go keep looking. We also were very clear that this was not an engagement ring and that the custom ring would be the final wedding ring. We went and found Jan and he told her the range he was looking for, to start with, until he could afford the other ring we had just found.

Jan thought about it and took us to a rotating display. We started turning it around and looking for anything that grabbed us. There was a claddagh that was sweet, but then I would have to take off the one I have, that I bought on my first trip to Ireland and that means a lot to me. So we kept spinning when a sapphire art deco ring caught my eye. I asked to try it on. It was truly precious and I loved it. It was exactly what I had in my mind. We asked to take another lap. to discuss it.

We found ourselves nestled in the clothes racks wanting to be deeply honest about our thoughts and feelings about the ring. We could take the custom ring out of the discussion because that would remain the end goal. So then it was between the amazing diamond ring I found first or the sapphire. There was a time awhile back that I had offered to put the ring on a credit card and he would pay it off. (PLEASE! Go easy on me!!!! I swear I know how wrong that is! That’s exactly what got me into my first bankruptcy way back in the day: Had the impulsive thought of getting married and the even more ridiculous thought of putting the diamond ring on my credit card since I had rocking credit. Dork.Am.I!) Anyway, we spoke the truth of that idea to each other. I asked him if he could ever look at that ring, knowing I really bought it, and be OK with it. He said no. Then he asked if I would be OK with it. No. OK then. There’s our answer.

So we went and bought the sapphire.

We went and had dinner, stopped by our houses and headed wayyyyyyyy the hell out to the resort.

Soon enough I was ready to do this. “Do we get naked for this?” I asked. I don’t think the words had fully emptied my mouth before he said, “Yep.”

We each grabbed our rings.

I had not put very much thought into what exactly I wanted to say so please forgive me (again!) for how lame I was!

I began: I’m not asking you to marry me. But I am asking if, one day, you will allow me to marry you.

He kissed my forehead and said, “Of course.” Grrr… I was soooo lame!

Then he started: “I want you to know, I would never propose to you like this.” (Which really f’ing confused me!?) Anyway…

“Do you promise to be my partner?
Do you promise to my partner in my struggles?
Do you promise to be my partner when times are good?
Do you promise to be my partner with my dogs?
Do you promise to be my partner with my business?
Do you promise to be my partner in making love?
Do you promise to be my partner when you want to punch me in the throat?
Do you promise to be my partner on motorcycle trips?
Do you promise to be my partner in growing?
Do you promise to be my partner when you want to run?
Do you promise to be my partner when I am depressed and can’t find my joy?
Do you promise to have patience with me with your kids?”

Yes, yes, yes, and YES!!!!!

As he placed the ring on my finger he said, “OK, you’re stuck with me.” And I said the same to him as I put his kick ass ring on his finger, “You’re stuck with me.”

This is not an engagement! Neither of us are using that word. But this is Training Wheels for Katie. It works for us, and we are oh so happy.

Today I Vow to commit to another person, and I commit to putting the grenade down.

The Talk.

After writing and processing with a couple friends, making many interesting realizations, I called him last night. The only thing he has asked since the breakup was that I talk to him and I always refused. Freaking control issues! He drove an hour out here where I am staying and we talked.

He said, “I didn’t come out here to beg you to come back to me because I don’t want you to be with me if you don’t want to. But I came to try and understand what happened and address what I did wrong.”

I insisted he did nothing “wrong” and after listening to me he went on to tell me that I was mistaken on a few things: He DOES have a life of his own and he’s perfectly content in it. He does have friends but just a few really close ones, not like me who enjoys being surrounded by numerous friends throughout my life.

And he does enjoy the kids in his own way. In his long marriage where she had 2 kids, he was not allowed to have anything to do with him, and then they divorced and the kids were just gone. He shared that my kids have expressed more love and affection towards him in just a few months than he received in ten years from the boys. He wants to learn better how to interact with them.

(What??? You mean if a man walks into the life of a woman who has kids and doesn’t know exactly how to handle everything, you don’t kick his ass out, even though he wants to learn?)

When he wanted to hear what my actual doubts were, I didn’t really have any doubts… I just had this moment of a not being able to separate my thoughts and feeling from the opinions of others, mixed with having no faith in myself when it comes to decision making in the romance area. This all lead to a moment where I pulled the pin in panic and the fallout was horrific.

I sat there talking to him – I’m so attracted to that man – and it was just hitting me like waves… OMG, all I’m doing is projecting all my ideals onto him! Worse than that, I took the opinion of one friend I have, internalized it, and it became law. It never occurred to me to question my girlfriend’s responses to him and think of what that triggered in her, and leave it as her own issues. Not mine.

I was so wrong.

He repeatedly asked, “what do you want?” Because I was so stunned at the realization of what I had just put him through and put myself through for no REAL reason, I couldn’t think of anything to say. Other than, “I’m so sorry. I don’t think I will be able to forgive myself for this.” He said, “You have to. I already have.”

“I want us,” I finally mustered.

It was getting so late and I could not stop yawning, so we hugged and agreed to talk more the next day. And he drove off.

I look outside myself far too often. I have no faith in myself. Maybe I need to start sharing more with my journal than I do with others. I am going to have to start breaking up with this grenade that I carry around. And I need a therapist.