Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks

I don't know that I've ever taken Thanksgiving seriously...you know, to really look at life and all of the wondrous things that come my way, making my fabulous life fabulous-er. I go through times when I'm more gracious than others. Some days, weeks, months I can look around me and see that I lead a truly charmed life and have so many people to thank for it. Others I take for granted, wallowing in my own personal muck and mire, forgetting that I have indoor plumbing, a cat who won't let any rodents past the threshold and a Chair of Fabulosity.

And then there are those precious Three Little Diggs. In addition to having delightful, intelligent, resilient children, I occasionally remember to step back and be in awe that they are all amazingly healthy to boot. I am so blessed.

Need I go into that whole, "best friends in the world" rant again? Seriously. The Best. My family...even though somehow I fell off their political and religious wagon, they embrace me for who I am...or at the very least, they put on a darn good show (though I can only assume that there's a whole lotta prayin' goin' on when it comes to my eternal soul).

And while I have been known to shake my fist at my government, I am lucky to have been born in a country where few go hungry, most have a roof over their heads and all have a right to dissent. Add to that Pell Grants and federal student loans...I'm happy to live here.

I hope I express this gratitude every day. I hope those around me can see that this single mom driving a 13 year old minivan living by the skin of her financial teeth is as fortunate (or more so) than someone in a fancy-schmancy house with a maid and a retirement plan. And I hope you feel as blessed as I do.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Flour Power

I continue to reluctantly embrace my new gluten-free ways. It's been a couple of months since I made gf bread...or bread of any variety, for that matter. And as the last couple of days have been spent angrily stomping about, nibbling on anything I could get my hands on, I realized that I was suffering from AGFS (angry gluten free syndrome). It flares up occasionally and manifests itself in the form of incessant, mindless munching on high fat and high carb foods.

So into my jam-packed Saturday, I squeezed the time to make a loaf of bread. As you can see, a good portion of those hours making bread are spent gathering and measuring ingredients. I have promised myself that when I perfect the texture and flavor, I will prepare the flour blend in bulk for far greater ease.

In any case, I got both my baking and eating fix. I'm still mystified by the texture of the dough -- it's more like batter, but not quite exactly that either. And of course, the end result is not the hearty bread I had grown to love so, but it provided a perfect landing pad for my peanut butter, jelly and jalepenos. And really, what more could a girl want?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fourteen?!

As I've expressed a few times recently, the divorce has taken a toll on the kids far greater than its impact on me. I don't think anyone could deny that I'm thriving in a multitude of ways since stepping out on my own. The kids...well...let's go ahead and rethink their suffering a bit...

Not much more than a year ago, Emily, Isaac and Audrey lived with two disconnected parents in one house that wasn't so much built for five. Sure, everyone fit and no one was sleeping on the floor, but the children, all three, shared one bedroom. They did enjoy a small basement play area, but the sleeping quarters left much to be desired.

When I found my way into Casa del Mar, Isaac managed his own room and the girls shared one that was a smidge bigger. In the meanwhile, Martin carefully jumbled living arrangements and each child scored their own room at his house. As of today, a year (and more than a few hours of bickering) later, I am finally splitting up the girls, having concocted a makeshift bedroom in a corner of the basement for Em.

This new bedroom is a surprise. Emily turns 14 today. Yes. I said it. Fourteen. She's been exhibiting teenage behaviors for some time now, but in the last few months, the fussing between she and her sister has been nearly unbearable. I feel a tinge of guilt knowing that my "gift" to Em is probably as much a gift to myself as well as Audrey. Heck, Isaac will certainly benefit as well. The less angry estrogen filling the house...well, you know the old idiom.

So in just a couple of hours, Martin and the kids will come over, they'll enjoy birthday cake (I made it with gluten to keep myself from eating it) and then the big reveal. I don't have a backup plan in case of a negative reaction, though I did buy one helium balloon. She could always suck out the air and speak in a squeaky voice for a few seconds...

From one bedroom to six in 13 months. Poor kids.

And Happy Birthday, Emily!

P.S. It was a big hit. Harmony is restored to my world...if only for a few days. And I'm quite content to take each and every one of those lovely days (or moments, if that's all I get) as yet another gift.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Woman Behind the Chips...

I'm trying to rewrite my bio. It's getting the best of me. I think that's funny.

I can throw up hundreds of words about my every day, my loves and losses, my friends, my cat (okay, we really don't talk about the cat here), my house, my kids, fitness, food, but me? What about me?

For quite some time I have looked at the sidebar of my blog and groaned. It's outdated. The dream of Portland kinda went out the window with the divorce, the mention of my L.A. life is irrelevant. The kids experiencing dizzying change...that can stay.

So what is it that I want to say about me? Girl loses marriage. Girl puts children in school. Girl exercises. Girl gets job. Girl gains perspective. Girl meets boy. And another. And another. Girl goes to school. I guess that's pretty much where we are now.

But that's not really what I want to say about me. I want pretty words to paint a pretty picture of a pretty life and pretty things. But it's not always pretty, now is it?

And if it were always pretty, what fun would it be?

Back to the drawing board...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday of Splendicity

Last night I was a melancholy mess. I tried to compose a post but could only find sadness and self pity. I wanted to share with you but the words and thoughts were stuck inside, quarantining the misery.

So I went to bed.

And that was sooo very unsuccessful. Insomnia...blah...blah...blah....we've heard it before, Jen. Whatever. Since the time change, I've been waking alarmingly early. Even earlier than I would have without the change, and last night I outdid myself. 3:30. Doing chemistry in my head...both that from class and that of love. Sorry. I'm not ready to divulge any of my discoveries. That's a different post.

So by 5:30, I was fed up with listening to my analogies. I got out of bed and laced up my new Nikes for a cool fall morning run. A cappuccino, my Greek yogurt, some good stretches and I was headed out the door. Not a fab run, but good enough. I've been taking the whole exercise thing to a ridiculous level for the last couple of weeks, so I didn't want to over-do my over-doing. After I returned home, I goofed with the kids for a bit then off to the store to fulfill their weekend breakfast requests. I decided that today would certainly be my last opportunity to scoot for some time, and as the market is only a few blocks away, the cold, wet air wouldn't do me in before I returned.

As Viv and I parked, I noticed a gentleman approaching. He wore a sincere smile and cheerfully greeted me. He came to admire the always glamorous Vivianna. She was flattered and accepted her compliment with grace. And then he and I began to chat. We must have both had our groovy-doovy positive thinker magnetic forces turned on this morning, because we enjoyed a great conversation and clearly had a big energy exchange going on. It was a bright ray of sunshine to an otherwise gray morning and absolutely reset last night's low mood.

Once home I made blueberry muffins (the kids have decided that is the Saturday morning tradition now) and a few other hot breakfast fixins. A bit later I was off to my second meeting of the day, this one planned. Cappuccino with Wasabi. Catching up with him absolutely warmed my heart and refreshed my spirit. And it wasn't even noon yet.

My afternoon was booked with the infamous Mrs Diggs and her crew. I had the corkscrew ready as soon as she crossed the threshold and we were gossiping and giggling before the kids settled into their places. We hadn't hung out since Halloween, which was manic to say the very least, and there was, as always, much to catch up on. Married folks love to live vicariously through me.

Once she moved on to her evening date with the fam, my house fell quiet. For about ten seconds. Then the kids started begging for more entertainment. I updated my facebook status, saying that my day had been spent basking in the glow of my friends' love and wondered who was coming over next. And then the best thing happened. Hostess Treat Claudia read the update from a sterile party. She twisted her hubby's arm and headed my way with her kiddos in tow. We enjoyed catching up until the under 15 crowd re-emerged from the basement and before long, her young son entertained us with his entrepreneurial aspirations.

Upon their exit, I realized my day and my heart were similarly full. From my whiny, leaky-eyed evening to a fabulous friend-filled day, I feel abundantly blessed and loved.

Tomorrow, however, I'm going to have to get back to that chemistry. The stuff from the book. Not as much fun as the love variety, but far more predictable...and with a lot more rules.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dinner Winner!

There are a lot of benefits to reuniting with old friends. Tonight I took advantage of one of those. Last week, shortly after Wasabi and I reconnected, he and I shared a quick text exchange about what was for dinner. I remember that he won by a long shot, making white chili for his family. I think I concocted some odd variety of bean dip that Martin usually makes for the kids. Acceptable in the eyes of my children. The budding dietitian in me...not so much.

And tonight, after a rather off-kilter day of studying (more or less), I realized that once again, I needed to feed the young 'uns. Last night had been a complete dinner fail. Em had leftover real deal mac n cheese; Isaac, a hot dog; Audrey, pasta with red sauce and I ate an entire jar of kimchi (hardly holding to my I'm not a short order cook mantra). Taking into consideration the many likes and dislikes...okay, mostly dislikes...with which I contend, I was at a loss for this evening's I-must-do-better meal. While I wandered through the massive grocery store, I remembered Wasabi's successful dinner. Consider it done. I had earlier noticed that skinless boneless chicken thighs were on sale (um...Jen...that's meat), I grabbed a few cans (seriously, Jen, you didn't cook them from scratch?) of white beans and was on my merry way. The rest of the fixins are pantry standards at Casa del Mar.

Or so I thought.

First step: saute the onions. Naturally, I only had red onions today. I had to giggle. Maybe it would be pink chili. I mean, I'm not feeding royalty or anything...and I had yet to announce the dinner menu on the marquee in front of the house. Really, when it comes to food, the concept is all that's needed. From there, I'm happy to experiment. So I'd already thrown in my towel for it being truly white chili. Good thing. My seasoning choices tended toward the more rosy shades as well.

And as a bonus, while I was cooking, Isaac pulled out his violin and began practicing. Remarkably pleasant for having only played three months. And rather heartwarming to boot.

In the end, the kids were satisfied. Not too meaty for Audrey, not too vegetable-y for Isaac and not too spicy for Emily. And for me...an excuse to enjoy avocado and Sriracha without pushing it on the kids.

And I finally have something to blog about other than love, or lack thereof. A dinner victory and then some...popcorn! (Audrey added that. Gotta go...make popcorn)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Open Letter to my Next Great Love

Dear Mr. Right,

I'm sure you have been wondering when I would come along. You've been living a good life for some time now. You are a wonderful person with tremendous love for your family and friends. You are complete on your own, but feel a tug toward a giving, loving relationship. And here I am. A like-minded spirit who longs for the same partnership. We are not the same, but we are not a case of "opposites attract" either. Our full lives leave just enough room for each other.

A little about me...I am not perfect, but I'm damn good. I am loving. I am smart. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am funny. If you do not believe these to be true, then this letter is not addressed to you. By societal standards, I might not meet any of these metrics, but for you, I give more love than you knew possible. To you, I am impressively intelligent. Because of you, I can move mountains. In your eyes, there is no greater beauty. With you, I laugh like no other.

And you are the most handsome, charming, witty delightful fellow I'll ever know. The mere thought of you brings a smile to my face. Your presence brings me comfort when I feel the world collapsing on me. You are my rock. If you don't believe these things about yourself then this note is not intended for you.

I have no desire to change you and you must not wish to change me. I will not surrender my sense of self. I will not give away those things that make me Me. Yet I am not stagnant. I will continue to grow in the way my heart directs. You will continue to grow in the way your heart directs. And if this essay was written to you, our hearts will move forward together.

I have much to offer, and am open to receive as well. Despite the fullness of my life, there is a void that only you will fill. And we might not recognize our love immediately. This could very well take time. We will learn each other, ourselves and us. Only then will we know that this message was meant for you. Parts of our lives will mesh seamlessly, others not so easily. But obstacles will pale in the light of our love. I have quirks and flaws. So do you. These will sometimes grate nerves, but more often than not, they will be overlooked or even embraced. We each love the others whole self.

Our lives will be filled with more laughter than tears. More joy than pain. More love than doubt. And lots of music and dancing and kisses and hugs.

Because we are meant to be, when you are ready, I will be too. I will not be impatient while you find your way to me. I have much to do, continuing to grow and learn and teach and be. For now, I will live my life, and you, yours. Sometime, somewhere, our paths will cross. When they do, it will be an extraordinary union, for we are both extraordinary people and together we will build an extraordinary life.

Thank you for your time, my truest love. I look forward to the day we meet.

Sincerely,
Your next great love

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friendly Fire

Have you ever tried on clothes at a store, parading in front of a trio of mirrors telling you that you look fabulous, only to get home and realize that the image reflected back at you was lying? Damn skinny mirrors. How's a girl to know how she really appears?

Can't trust the sales girl dying for a commission. Can't believe the guy passing by staring at your arse. Can't believe yourself because it's far more fun to think you really did drop those last five pounds. The only real way to know how the world sees you is from a friend. A true friend.

As we've discussed a hundred times here, I have the best friends in the world. I know with no uncertainty that I will never be hungry, cold or lonely. The wondrous people who make my life the fabulous mosaic that it is have demonstrated numerous times that they love me for exactly who I am...and sometimes they show that love by telling me exactly who I am.

Yesterday afternoon Fab Study Buddies Kristen and Laurie (aka Joy Agent 007) came to Casa del Mar for a long overdue social hour. While Kristen and I share a physiology class this semester, Laurie transferred to a different college and is desperately missed. We catch up a bit here and there on facebook, but we hadn't treated ourselves to a true blue hanging out session since the summer.

We sat. And we ate. And we drank. And we talked. And we giggled. And we learned. And we loved.

Among a whole lotta subject matter, Laurie made an observation that I'd not quite put my thumb on.

I like it smack dab in the middle of the fire...
...because it's warm in there.

Since the divorce, I've watched myself grow in numerous ways, but this is something I'd not considered. I'm a risk-taker now. Once I left the "comfort" of the marriage, I suddenly became empowered to take chances. I don't know if I have a sense of invincibility about myself now or that hearing nothing ventured, nothing gained for so many years finally sunk in deep enough for me to start living it. But I really do like it here in the fire.

Love, for example...the ink is barely dry on my divorce. Yet I enjoyed a remarkable summer romance last year, what I believed to be a happily ever after just weeks ago and more than a couple of fun distractions in between. And I will dive in again. What do I have to lose from loving? Heartache? Meh... The sum total of joy from head-over-heels in love vs. the sum total of sorrow when it ends...the ledger always balances in favor of love.

I'm making a promise to myself to be completely open and honest and not live in fear of heartache. Loving is absolutely amazing. Learning from it isn't a bad thing either. Having already gone through one divorce, another is not an option, so if happily ever after isn't imminent with the next lucky man who strolls into my life, I'd rather it end with some tumult now than with lawyers later.

So it turns out that mirror wasn't so much lying about those last five pounds. It was trying to tell me that I'm hot. Flaming hot.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Taking It on the Chin

Last Sunday was one heck of a day. In addition to the emotional hit of the break up, I also took a physical beating...at the hand (ok, wheels) of Viv.

Initially, I just had a slight gash under my chin and soreness at my temples along with a couple of cuts on my hands. Later that night, I noticed I'd skinned my knee too. Monday, however, I woke to see quite a bruise overtaking that gash, plus sore shoulders, and by midday, a breathtaking headache. Concert Katrina managed to massage out some of the hurt, but only the passage of time would allow for the remainder of my recovery.

As the week progressed, the achiness subsided for the most part. The headaches lingered a little longer, but the mark on my chin only grew angrier. I found myself defending against well intentioned smudge-wipers and was unpleasantly surprised each time I passed a mirror. Yet, just as I proudly wore my very first black eye, I also have an affection for this bruise. It finally appears to be fading but will likely take quite awhile to make its final exit.

Now, don't think for a second that this will keep me off my sweet scoot. If I've learned anything in the last year it would be to get back in the saddle, no matter what throws me off.

Brace yourself...here comes the metaphor...
(Insert other big event of that day here)

I know I won't heal instantly. But each day the wounds hurt a little less and are not quite as obvious...though I might earn scar or two from the hit. I don't regret for a second the decision to take that ride -- it was exhilarating and beautiful and a joy...until it came to its surprising end. Like so many other hurts I've experienced, this one hand delivered a lesson that I can take or leave. I think I'll take it. It would be a shame to waste such a great learning experience.

And I will definitely give right turns the respect they so deserve.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dreams Do Come True!

Apparently tucking that sweat sock under my pillow worked. The shoe fairy came! Hooray! I love the shoe fairy!

This is far from the first time a mention here on my Mountain netted just exactly what I needed...and I doubt it will be the last. Call my life charmed or blessed or downright lucky...all I know is that I have the best friends in the world.

My fitness endeavor has suffered more than one blow since I started school. My yoga instructor moved to another gym, so that practice has all but ceased. My school schedule makes for a tight, sometimes uncomfortable fit with my spinning classes (but I'm giving those another college try) and as mentioned last week, my shoes put up a good argument against running. But because of the thoughtfulness of a treasured someone, I've run fresh out of excuses and can't wait to hit the streets tomorrow morning.

I'm thrilled to relapse into my exercise addiction. I'm no longer trying to substitute for love though...the right one will come to me at the right time. But you never know...if I pick up my pace enough, I might catch up with it sooner than later.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The End: Parts II, III & IV

Broke the news to the kids last night. I had hemmed and hawed since the official break-up as to how I would tell them. I never came up with a song and dance routine, so as I was preparing dinner, I just called them near to me and dropped the bomb. First, silence. Then opposition. Will we still hang out with them? I thought you loved each other? What went wrong? We really won't hang out with them anymore? What about Emma? Can I invite her to my birthday?

I had never before introduced a suitor to my children. I've witnessed a friend parade no fewer than 50 men in front of her son over the last five years and I didn't want to do that to mine (nor do I desire to be a serial dater). I swore I'd not bring my kids into my mid-life whatever-this-is, so early on I promised myself that only the absolute finest of men would enter their lives. The Poet was my first romantic interest they met. He had the burden of initiating them (or did they initiate him?) to the wondrous world of post-divorce dating. Our first few hang-outs were fabulous. The Poet and I knew we'd hit the jackpot. The kids were having a great time. His loved me. Mine loved him. They all loved each other. Life was good. As time wore on, so did the newness. Little bits of bickering here and there...occasional resentment for time consumed by the outsider....but for the most part, it was lotsa fun and games and laughter and general happiness.

Until, of course, now.

The two young ones cried upon hearing the news. The big one was visibly conflicted. But as the evening wore on, they began reminiscing fondly of the times we'd spent together, the lessons learned and the general silliness that we'd all enjoyed as a family in the making. It warmed my heart to see them working through their emotions openly and positively. This won't be an instant recovery. There will be lots of moments in the coming weeks and months that we will find ourselves missing the good times we shared. But from what I've seen thus far, I'm pretty sure we'll all heal together nicely.

I don't think we've absorbed all of the lessons from this chapter just yet, but am certainly feeling better about having involved those little souls. They appear to be resilient, thoughtful and loving. Guess it's their turn to teach me a thing or two.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The End

As you likely surmised, The Poet and I are no longer signed on for Forever**. A beautiful love story for the most part, a hidden truth early in our bliss overshadowed many of our remaining days. I hoped to rebuild the trust I had lost, but toward the end, the transgression became insurmountable.

I hurt The Poet. Our breakup was mutual, but I think more of the pain has fallen on his heart.

Am I calloused? Maybe. Not ready for a happily ever after? Probably. Wish him all of the happiness in the world? Absolutely.

I've been looking closely at me these days and the flaws I'm discovering are fascinating. Part of my self-discovery was spurred by observing myself giving something away -- something quite precious to me -- in an attempt to "fix" a problem. I gave up a friend. After I did this, I stepped back from my actions and had to ask myself what else I was willing to relinquish in order to maintain my relationship.

Full disclosure here (more of that darn honesty)...the friend was Wasabi. The broken trust...a fifteen minute clandestine catch-up. Now, Wasabi and I have been in friends-only mode since last September, but I can imagine that with the blog trail I left chronicling our enchantment and subsequent friendship might give pause to many a suitor. Sensing The Poet's discomfort with our banter, I asked Wasabi for some space. And he honored that. He reached out to see if we could resume our friendship a couple of months later and that began the tailspin that was the beginning of the end.

Without turning this into the entire history of my mostly-lovely romance, I'll just mention that I am learning to be truer to myself, only willing to compromise what is worthy of compromise. A bad habit? Absolutely. A minor annoyance? I'll give it a whirl. Portabellos for morels? It'll be tough, but sure. A friend? Never again.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Was Wrong.

What the #*@! does a 39 year old know about forever?

You Call it Autumn...I Call it Fall

First things first...All Hallow's Eve. Tradition prevailed and the kids and I along with The Poet and his Emma went to Chez Diggs for food, fun and frivolity. Though for the past three years, Mrs. Diggs and I have paraded as Mad Housewives of some variety, this year, we donned our roller skates along with horns and pitchforks, claiming to be Hell on Wheels. Surprisingly, we made the entire night of trick or treating rolling about. The weather was spectacular and the kids had a ball. Each of us wiped out only once -- she, transitioning from grass to driveway and I, while standing in a neighbor's foyer...just fell down, knocking off the light switch at the same time. If I'm going to fall, I might as well make a production of it, right?

Other pieces parts of life have me a bit uncomfortable in my own skin. I'm already growing weary of this whole self-discovery thing. Each day seems to uncover another trait I find undesirable. What gets changed...what merits attention...what stays under the label "quirk"...what's a girl to do? Perhaps start by admitting she's not a girl anymore...

So today after several hours of wallowing in self pity and misery (and a bout or two with that leaking eye phenomenon), I realized that it was a beautiful day for a scoot -- very likely the last of the year. I painted on a reasonably happy face, concocted an errand to run and rolled Viv out of the garage. She was stubborn about starting as it's been well over a month since we hit the streets, but managed get her motor running and we headed to the...well, not highway...Roe Blvd. actually. A slight chill in the air along with bright sunshine proved a quick cure for my blues. I stopped to purchase a music book for Isaac's violin class and figured I should find my way back to Casa del Mar to hit the books. Three blocks from home, I took a right turn and before I knew it I was closely examining the asphalt. My first ever wipe-out. Turns out, autumn leaves that accumulate by the side of the road provide very little traction. Viv looks pretty good. The friend from whom I purchased her had taken a similar spill -- that time it was sand that had built up at a corner -- so she was already a little scraped up. As for me...I banged up my hand and took a fairly jarring blow to my chin (my jaw clicks now...do you suppose that's a bad thing?).

I'm okay with metaphorically falling down my own rabbit hole of self-discovery, complete with strange characters and interesting new finds, but I really could do without the physical impact of my arse to the floor and my face to the pavement. I'm getting the message...no need to pound it in further, Universe. Thankyouverymuch.