September 1983 - July 1984
Age 26

"I'm probably much luckier - and much happier - than I realize."

September 21, 1983

Hello, new journal!

There are a number of things I "should" be doing at the moment ... washing last night's dinner dishes, putting a clean sheet on Jamie's crib, catching up on my letter-writing ... but I couldn't resist postponing everything, in order to write in my fat new orange journal!  Orange, for autumn -- my favorite season of the year, the "time of beginnings." The other night I felt autumn beginning. Ray and I were grocery shopping, there was a huge yellow moon, and the night was clear and cold. It was exhilarating.

Jamie is playing in her bedroom with Wendie Kitty; Kacie has just gone down for her first nap of the day. The house is a moderate shambles - nothing too serious. I can put it in order in an hour. The only problem is my usual lack of energy. I can never seem to get started until the middle of the afternoon; in the mornings, all I can do is sit here in my chair and drink coffee and watch the soaps. I feel so sluggish.

Things are going to change in my life, though. I can feel it. Something is going to happen to wake me up and make me feel alive again. Maybe it's the approach of autumn that makes me feel this way ... this is usually the best time of year for me. Good things happen in the fall. I get a sense of "starting over." Whatever the reason, though, I know that something good is right around the corner.

Today Kacie is six months old. Half a year! My funny, fuzzy-haired, gentle-natured daughter. What a special addition she's been to our family.

We took the girls to visit my Grandma Vert last weekend. While Jamie played in the kitchen and ran around in the backyard, Kacie laid on a blanket on the living room floor and gurgled happily at everybody. Grandma Vert kept saying to "Grandpa" Ted, "Look at what a good baby she is!" She was so amazed by Kacie's sweet nature. Every time Grandma caught Kacie's eye, they both broke into huge smiles; it was as though there was something unspoken and special between the two of them. I thought it was beautiful: two of the dearest people in my life, getting to know each other. My grandma and my Kacie. At one point Grandma was thinking out loud, trying to decide who Kacie resembles. She was starting to say that Kacie looks like me, but then she stopped suddenly and laughed. "No!" she said to Kacie. "You just had an expression on your face that was the image of your daddy!" Grandma had caught a glimpse of what I call Kacie's "Ray Face."  Something about the eyes, the brow and the nose ... that kind of musing, self-absorbed look that Ray gets when he's thinking.  Sometimes Kacie looks exactly the same way, although at this point it's unintentional.

5:30 p.m.

Terry S. has taken both of the girls for a walk in the double stroller ... I am savoring the momentary quiet and solitude. Kacie has been strangely grumpy all day -- I think she's teething, poor little thing -- and my nerves are frazzled. Ray is bowling tonight, but I don't have much interest in going with him this year. I know I'm throwing away a chance to get out of the house one night a week, but I can't help myself. These days I'm practically agoraphobic: leaving the house seems like more trouble than it's worse.

I got a wonderful letter from Dad yesterday. It was unexpected but most welcome. Dad & Valerie had invited me to go camping with them last month, but I had to turn them down. Since then I've been afraid that they were mad at me, but Dad's letter dispelled my fears ... it was long and rambling and funny and full of the familiar "Dad-isms" I know so well.

Thursday morning
September 22, 1983

Tired this morning. Marcy B., the wild-eyed alcoholic next door, came pounding on our door at midnight, drunk and hysterical. She said that (her husband) John was beating her, and she wanted me to "hide" her. I gave her my bathrobe, since she was only wearing a pajama top, and I tried to get her to quiet down and sleep on the sofa. Her screaming both woke the girls.  Finally, I practically ordered her to "lay down and shut up" ... that's when she went screaming and crying out the door and into the night, still wearing my robe. I locked the door, turned off all the lights and went back to bed.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Several times Marcy has come to our door after a drunken fight with Johnny, and every time it's the same story ... she sobs and swears and says she "hates that s.o.b." ... it's pathetic. At first I was afraid for her, and I honestly thought I was doing the right thing, letting her stay here. After it happened again & again, though, I realized that she was taking advantage of me. But no more. After last night, I've had enough. If she and John can't keep their arguments within their own house, it shouldn't be my problem. From the accounts that (their sons) Rick & Mike have given me, their mother is the one who usually starts the fights (and the one who starts hitting and throwing things), so I think she can hold her own against John. If she was really a battered wife, that would be a different story, but she isn't. She just uses that as an excuse.


Marcy just came to the door to return my bathrobe. She was sheepish and apologetic and promised that it won't happen again.

I've got terrible cramps. They just started a little while ago. It's been so long since I've had menstrual cramps like this, I'd forgotten what they feel like. OUCH. I took a couple of extra-strength aspirin, and drinking hot coffee seems to help.

This is the first autumn in two years that I'm not pregnant! And I find I miss it, in a way.

Friday morning
September 23, 1983

Cut my hair yesterday, about four inches all the way around. Some of it isn't completely even, but for the most part it looks nice. I'm getting older now, and the long LONG hair I've worn for thirteen years is no longer as becoming as it used to be. It looks much better short.

Kacie had me up and down all night last night. I think it was because of the full moon ... Gretchen is always more agitated during a full moon, and since she is right outside of Kacie's window, she probably kept waking the baby up. I wish we didn't have a dog. Somehow or another we got stuck with Gretchen last year, and she's been nothing but trouble ever since.

Tomorrow is the annual Western Kraft picnic at Lake Sammamish. I'm actually looking forward to it: it should be fun to get out and spend the day as a family.

Today I have little odds & ends of housework to do. I also want to get a head start on tomorrow; trim Jamie and Kacie's bangs, start packing the diaper bag, do a load of baby laundry and set out their clothes for the picnic. Traveling anywhere with the two of them is always a major undertaking.

Monday morning
September 26, 1983

We had a wonderful weekend. (I'll tell you about it a little later.) Right now I'm surveying the disaster area that is my home and plotting how to make it livable again. There are toys, dishes, newspapers, dirty clothes, paper bags, ashtrays, empty beer cans, chicken bones, wet towels and other odds and ends strewn everywhere. Oddly enough, however, today the mess isn't frightening or overwhelming. Some days I look at it and feel like crawling right back into bed. Today, though, I view it as a challenge. I'm certainly not going to be bored today! There's too much to do.

Now I've showered and dressed myself and the girls. I have new stoneware ... a complete set, royal blue and brown. My mother-in-law sent it over to me yesterday. Apparently she bought it for herself but decided she "didn't like" the pattern. I love it. It's in beautiful condition ... hardly a chip or scratch anywhere. Drinking my coffee this morning from one of the wide coffee cups; marveling at my mother-in-law's unexpected thoughtfulness.

Cloudy. Ten minutes ago it was a lovely sunny morning; suddenly there are huge black clouds looming overhead. I wonder if it's going to storm? I think I would enjoy a good wild storm today, while I'm puttering around the house.

The Western Kraft picnic on Saturday was wonderful. We had so much fun. Jamie had the run of the park, and she thoroughly enjoyed herself, dashing around and mingling with the other kids. Kacie was an angel. Most of the time she sat in her stroller or in my arms, observing the goings-on; later in the afternoon she even took a nap. Both the girls got a new stuffed animal - Kacie got a brown teddy bear, Jamie a blue duck. I sat and drank beer with the other wives and talked. (Marcie was there with her new twin daughters, Randi & Sandi).

That night, after we got home from the picnic, Ray took me out for drinks at The Chili Pepper while Terry came over & babysat the girls. It felt terrific to get out, alone with my husband.

Wednesday morning
September 28, 1983

Worried about Jamie and Kacie's doctor. We owe him $139, and I'm afraid he's going to ask us to "seek professional care elsewhere," the way Dr. VP did. I couldn't bear it if this happened. Aside from the humiliation, there is Kacie to be considered: she missed her four month DTP, and now her six month is due. Tonight I plan to talk to Ray about it, after he comes home from bowling. If he tries to avoid paying the doctor bill out of tomorrow's paycheck, I'm going to insist. I've been worried sick about this all month, and I must see it resolved before Dr. Bauer cuts us off.

Kacie is so close to crawling. I expect it to happen any minute now. This morning she rolled from her back to her tummy - twice. That means she's gaining greater control of her body. She's strong and she's determined, and as soon as she figures out how to put one hand and one knee in front of the other, she's got it made.

I tried giving her strained peas yesterday and she absolutely refused to eat them. She's not crazy about applesauce, either. Getting her used to solids is proving to be tougher than it was with Jay. She is also having difficulty sleeping through the night - still. Last night she was up at 1 a.m. and again at 4:30 a.m. I'm so used to getting up in the night that it doesn't bother me much anymore, but I still wish that once in a while we could all sleep straight through, without interruption. It would just be such a luxury.

my happy baby  

Kacie was an undeniably happy baby

Thursday midnight
September 28, 1983

Can't sleep. Ray and the girls are in bed; I'm sitting in the darkness of the living room, watching Joan Rivers and Erma Bombeck on The Tonight Show. It's always so peaceful when everyone is asleep.

I should say that this has been a very good day. I got a lot of things accomplished, and I spent some quality time with the girls: this was a day well spent. My house looks beautiful. I borrowed the neighbor's vacuum cleaner and did every room. There are no toys on the floor, no dirty dishes in the sink ... everything is in its place.

Jamie "helped" me put on my makeup this morning. She also "helped" me take a shower, brush my teeth, set my hair on electric rollers, wash the dishes, vacuum, write a letter to Melinda and make "Mommy-Daddy's bed."

Kacie came a fraction of an inch closer to crawling today.

Saturday 1:30 p.m.
October 1, 1983

Sunny but cold: autumn is truly here. I feel really good. An apple pie is baking in the oven, and a load of baby clothes is tumbling in the dryer ... the house smells of apples, cinnamon and Ivory Snow. Ray is still sleeping. He didn't get in until five or so this morning. Jamie and I are listening to music ... she just crawled up onto my lap ... and we're enjoying some special time together. (Funny little pumpkin. Now she's twirling around the living room with her baby doll in her arms, dancing to Billy Idol's "White Wedding" ... red sailor dress, pigtails flying, newly-trimmed bangs.)

Monday 10 a.m.
October 3, 1983

Sausages frying. "Benson" on the tube. Neither of the monkeys are awake yet. I have just showered, and now I'm drinking a cup of instant coffee, watching the beginnings of a storm brewing outside. I'll be busy today -- the whole house has to be picked up, several huge loads of laundry must be folded and put away, an apple pie must be baked, dinner must be planned and prepared. I have six letters to write and a handful of clipped recipes to put in my cookbook. I'll watch my soaps, and listen to the stereo later in the afternoon when all my work is done. I've got to keep a close eye on the dog to make sure she doesn't get out of the yard, and we have four baby kittens that I'll bring in and show the girls later today.


Watching a new TV show I really like -- "Boone," on NBC.

Tuesday 10:30 a.m.
October 4, 1983

I didn't get everything done I planned yesterday ... some remains to be done today. Kacie crawled about one inch forward this morning. She moved one knee, and the then the other; but then she tried moving them both at the same time and fell on her nose. Undaunted, she continues practicing. I am impressed by her determination.  Babies are such remarkable people.

Thursday 11 a.m.
October 6, 1983

Well. How do I begin writing about this? Ray is in jail. His bail has been set at $518, and since no one appears to have that much cash laying around, he may be in jail for some time. I'm in a total fog this morning. I'm going through the motions -- doing a laundry, washing dishes, taking care of the girls -- but inside, my heart aches for Ray.

Here's what happened. Ray went bowling last night, but as usual I stayed home with the girls. About 9:30 I began watching out the window for Ray to come home. I'd made us a late supper of franks and beans, but I was waiting for him to come home before I ate. At 9:40 I suddenly heard a police siren, just up the street from our house. I remember the exact time because somehow I just knew it was Ray being pulled over, and I checked the clock for a point of reference. I just felt it in my heart  ...  and as it turned out, I was right! Ten minutes later there was a Kirkland police officer knocking on my door. He was very curt: he said that he'd pulled my husband over, and when they checked they discovered $518 worth of outstanding tickets/warrants on him. One was an old trespassing charge, from 1981 when Smokey ran into the Pierce's yard;  the other was a shoplifting charge from last December (when he stole the Christmas tree stand from the hardware store).  Ray had told me both charges were cleared up, but I can't say I was surprised when I found out otherwise. Ray likes to sweep things under the carpet and pretend they don't exist. Anyway, they were preparing to haul him off to jail, and they wanted me to go up the road and "take possession" of the car. The cop gave me a lift up the road to where the Impala was parked, and I drove it home. Ray was in the back of a second police car parked at the scene, but I wasn't allowed to speak to him and it was too dark to see his face. They took him away and I came home.

At first I thought I should stay awake in case he came home, but soon I realized it was hopeless and I went to bed. I had a restless, awful night with very little sleep. The girls were unnaturally restless, too ... every hour or so they would both wake up crying.

When I woke up this morning I felt two ways. At first I was desolate and lonely for Ray. Then, I realized that it was important for me to present a normal face to the girls: in spite of everything, I've got to carry on as usual.

My mother-in-law was here an hour ago. Ray called his folks in the middle of the night, but they didn't have the cash to bail him out. Peg went down to the police station this morning to check on Ray's status, and we found out that he goes in for arraignment this afternoon at 1:30. At that time, the judge might reduce his bail; if so, Peg says she'll bring him home. If bail remains at $518, though, he may be in jail for a long time. I'm afraid to even think about that. His job will be in jeopardy, and without his job to support us, the future looks exceedingly grim.

From Peg's cool and detached demeanor, I can tell we've set relations with the in-laws back a mile. I hugged her when she first came to the door, and I could actually feel her pull away from me. I know what she's thinking: "Damned irresponsible kids, probably spent all their money on drugs."

I don't know what's going to happen. What a mess. On the one hand I keep asking myself, "Why did I marry such an irresponsible man?" On the other hand, I married him for better or for worse, and I've got to stick by him, no matter what. He must be feeling like hell. I keep thinking about him sitting down there in that stupid jail, and my heart hurts for him. He's basically such a decent person, but nothing ever seems to go right for him. He wants to be responsible, but he can't get ahead. Something always happens to set him back. At any rate, the last thing in the world he needs right now is for me to turn against him. Deep down inside, I'm probably furious with him, but I'm going to be supportive and gentle and understanding (even if it kills me) ...

I've got the car, and I've got about eleven dollars, so if we run out of formula or milk I can drive to the store. The house is well-stocked with groceries. I've got understanding neighbors surrounding me; if it turns out I'm home alone again tonight, I'll turn to them. It would be a lot worse if I was sitting here broke and carless. I don't have to feel hopeless ... for the time being, anyhow. There's plenty of time for that later.

Peg was going back down to the jail so I gave her Ray's toothbrush, a clean pair of socks and a shirt and a hastily scribbled note offering love and support. She'll be coming back later this afternoon to let me know what's happening. Until then, all I can do is wait. 

Oh Ray ... why do these things keep happening? When will we climb out of the hole?

Friday morning
October 7, 1983

He's out of jail. Peg and I managed to get him out last night. I'll tell you how it happened in awhile ... right now I've gotta have some coffee.

Saturday 10:30 a.m.
October 8, 1983

A day's distance from our "ordeal" makes it easier to write about. Yesterday I was still upset: today life seems to be back to normal.

At Ray's arraignment on Thursday, the judge lowered his bail to $232.68. Peg came back to the house to let me know the exact amount. Since she seemed to have no intention of bailing him out (no doubt per Don Sr.'s instructions), I knew it was up to me. I ended up hopping in the car and driving down to Grandma St. John's. She wrote me a check to cover Ray's bail, and she seemed glad to help us out. Unfortunately, when I got back to the Kirkland Police Dept. (around 7 p.m.) they wouldn't accept Grandma's check! The check writer had to be there in person to present I.D.   I burst into tears at this news. I didn't know what else to do, so I called the in-laws. Don Sr. refused to come get Ray out of jail, and I cried even harder. I felt so foolish, sitting there in the police station bawling like a baby, but by that point I was frazzled and lonely for Ray and desperate to get him out of that awful place ... I just came unglued. Apparently Don changed his mind, because about 45 minutes later Peg came whistling through the door. She said to the officer behind the desk, "I've come to get my son out of hock." I signed over Grandma's check to Peg, and she wrote a new one for bail.

When Ray finally walked into the lobby, I started crying again ... I was so unbelievably glad to see him! He gave me a gigantic hug, and we both thanked Peg profusely for getting him out. Then we came home. I had left Terry with the girls all afternoon and evening, and when we got home she had them both bathed and in their pajamas, plus she'd cleaned the entire house as well.  So it was a pleasant sight waiting for us when we walked through the door. Jamie launched herself into Ray's arms, yelling "Da-da! Da-da!" at the top of her lungs. I reheated the Wednesday night franks & beans, and he showered and ate and played with his daughters and said over and over how glad he was to be home ...

Yesterday he got a ride to work with a friend, so I could have the car. I packed up the girls in the afternoon and we drove down to Totem Lake, where I stopped in at the doctor's office to talk about our overdue account. This jail business has really set us back financially, and I know it'll be awhile now before we can pay the doctor bill. I explained this to them, and I think they'll let us have some more time. After that I took the girls to the park. Jamie played on the swings and in the sandbox, while I pushed Kacie around in the stroller. We had a nice time.

Mike Paynter brought Ray home around 9:30 last night, after I'd already gone to bed. The first thing Ray did was get Jamie out of her crib: I could hear her running around and chattering, so I got up to investigate. He said, "I just wanted to see Jamie for awhile," so I let it pass. I sat on the living room floor with him and we talked for about half an hour. He was in a happy/weepy frame of mind: he said that his 24 hrs. in jail had made him stop and think. "I love you and Jamie and Kacie more than anything," he said, and there were tears in his eyes. "From now on, things will be different. I'm not getting into any more trouble."


Spending the day with Ray and the girls. He has been watching sports on TV all afternoon, and has now gone to the store for milk and formula and to pick up my pictures from the drugstore. There is more warmth and unity in this house today than I've ever felt before. Even Jamie and Kacie sense it. Ray's renewed appreciation of his family is the basis of this good feeling. He's been playing with the girls, giving me unexpected hugs and kisses, cracking jokes, clowning around ... he seems like a different person altogether.

Wednesday noon
October 12, 1983

Jamie is wandering around the house, looking for a missing black kitten. ("Dee? ... dee? ... dee?")  Kacie is napping. The two of them woke up before I did this morning. I was dreaming that I was working at Ridgway Packaging, and that I was married to Howard Hesseman (??) when the girls, cooing and chattering in their cribs, woke me up. I layed there in bed for awhile, just listening to them.

Foggy morning. As always, I've spent these early hours drinking coffee, reading the paper, watching the early morning soaps. The tree across the street has its first sprinkling of gold autumn leaves; I've taped some Hallowe'en decorations to the windows.

Now Jamie is snuggled up next to me here in the armchair, drinking her bottle and clutching her Liddle Diddle. I had to bathe her first thing this morning; last night she was rubbing 7-Up into her hair, and today it was sticky and matted. She still hates having her hair shampooed, but I did it fast and then let her play in the tub with her toys. Now her hair is soft and clean and smells like baby shampoo. She has the prettiest hair, with just a trace of curl on the ends.

(Donna Pescow on "AMC"? In a teensy tiny role. I BET SHE'S GONNA BE A LESBIAN!! Yep. She is.)

The garbage truck is lumbering up the street; Jamie has flown to the window, watching for it to come to our house. "GA! GA!" she announces.

Scene played out today

I have just finished changing Jamie's diaper, and now I've started changing Kacie. Jamie lays on the floor next to Kacie, waving her legs around in the air and watching me tend the baby. Suddenly she starts pulling at her plastic pants. "Pot-pot?" she says, hopefully. She wants to go sit on her potty chair. So far that's all she does - she just sits on it. "Not right now, Jamie," I tell her. "I just changed you."

She becomes insistent. "POT-POT!" she says. She tugs harder at her diaper. "POT-POT."

"I'm changing Sister!" I snap at her in exasperation. It's been a long day. Jamie sits up and shoots Kacie a murderous look. Then, quicker than a blink, she picks up a little metal spaceship toy and throws it at her little sister, hitting her squarely on the head. Thunk. For one long moment the three of us are frozen. Then Kacie's little face crumples up and she howls in pain and surprise. Jamie sits there and looks at me, fearfully.

I want to scream but I don't. It takes every ounce of willpower I have. "Go to your room!" I say, picking up the crying baby and glaring at Jamie. Jamie blinks, swallows hard, looks at me to see if I mean it. I do. My face is closed and hard. She grabs her Liddle Diddle and runs out of the living room; halfway down the hallway I hear her begin to sob. Her bedroom door slams shut.

I sit on the floor with Kacie in my arms and I feel like crying myself. I know I handled the situation badly. Kacie's sobs gradually lessen; she wasn't really hurt, just surprised. I kiss her hot damp face and rock her gently until she's calm.

Two minutes later, Jamie is peering around the corner, holding Kacie's shoes. "Shoes!" she says, in a bid for my attention. I don't reply; I'm still trying to figure out how to handle this. Do I let her off the hook? She comes back, this time with one of my barrettes in her hand. "Bar?" she says, sweetly, hopefully. This time I accept the peace offering and thank her. She beams, chuckles, dashes into my arms. All is forgiven. I pick her up in my arms and she presses her face against my shoulder, hard, seeking reassurance. "I love you, Punkin," I tell her. "But you can't throw things at Sister. OK?"

She scampers down from my arms and looks at Kacie, laying there on the blanket. "Why don't you give Sister a kiss and tell her you're sorry?" I suggest gently. This could prove to be a real Kodak moment after all ...

"NOOOO-OOOOO!" Jamie shouts merrily, running once again down the hallway. So much for warm and fuzzy sibling moments.

October 13, 1983
Scene from early this morning

It is 4:40 a.m., and Ray is frantically running around the house searching for his car keys. I have gotten out of bed to fix a pre-dawn bottle for Kacie, and I stand, nightgowned and sleepy, and watch Ray tear through cupboards and slam drawers open and shut.

"Jamie took my keys!" he says, near panic.

He has forgotten this important rule: to find something Jamie has hidden, you have to stop and make yourself think the way she does. I glance around the kitchen. Her little pink toddler car is "parked" next to the kitchen table.

Car = keys.

I calmly walk over to the little car, lift up the lid, and fish out Ray's keys.

I'm either becoming very very smart, or else I'm regressing ... I'm not sure which.

Monday evening
October 17, 1983

Waiting for Ray to come home. For some reason our water was shut off this afternoon without notice, and I want him to do something about it. It's hard to take care of two little ones without running water.

Jamie spoke one of her first complete sentences this morning: she said, "I found a cookie." The cookie looked about a hundred years old -- she probably found it under a sofa cushion -- but I was so excited about her putting the words together that I didn't care.  Later in the day she also said, "I found Ga!" "Ga" is her word for "treasure box," one of her favorite toys.

Jamie's favorite commercials:

1. The new Sears commercials ("There's more for your life at Sears!") because Winnie The Pooh is usually in them.

2. The Tab commercial that goes "Tab! What a beautiful drink! Tab! For beautiful people!" She runs around the living room holding an imaginary can of pop.

3. Any commercial with the Pillsbury Dough Boy; she giggles every time he giggles.

4. The Murphy's Oil Soap commercial. Every time this one comes on, she runs to the end table and climbs on top of it, legs dangling over the edge, like the little boy in the commercial.

5. Sure Antiperspirant ("Raise your hand -- you've got it! Raise your hand -- you know it!") Jamie runs around the living room with her arms in the air.

October 22, 1983
Saturday afternoon

A gorgeous, pre-storm autumn afternoon.  The sky is coal-black, the trees are brilliantly gold and scarlet: the contrast is startling and beautiful.

On Wednesday (the 19th), Kacie sat up by herself. I wasn't helping her a bit. She was laying on her tummy when she suddenly maneuvered herself onto her rear and sat up, supporting herself with one arm. She has been crawling (sort of), all week ... a funny, salamander-like loping movement, using her arms to pull herself along. She uses her legs occasionally, but so far she mostly relies on her arms to propel herself.

Anxiously waiting for my period, due on Thursday but now two days late.

Monday morning
October 24, 1983

The pleasure I usually feel in October is being spoiled this year by a handful of nagging worries ... the $132 we owe Grandma St. John (for bailing Ray out of jail)  ...  the $139 we still owe the girls' doctor  ...  why hasn't my period started yet?   I am stewing about these things constantly. I've only been out of bed for ten minutes and already my stomach is tied in knots. I worry so much. Half the time my worries prove to be needless, but even knowing that doesn't help. Problems grind away from me, from the moment I get out of bed in the morning until I'm laying awake at 2 a.m., trying to clear my mind and fall asleep.

Went to the in-laws' yesterday for Jeff's birthday dinner. Peg made her awful, greasy "spagitti," but aside from that it was a pleasant visit. Jamie had a ball, tearing around the house with her little cousin Billy. Kacie was passed around from relative to relative, and she was in a generally agreeable mood. Judy was there with little Nathan -- he gave his Aunt Terri a great big smile! I held him for a little while, but then he started to cry so I handed him right back to his Mama. Sheryl is enormously pregnant; her baby is due any time. Family speculation has it that she'll have a girl. I'm still hoping she'll have a boy, for the somewhat selfish reason that I'd like to have the only girls in the family.

The Seattle Times

" ... Much the same criticism could be leveled at NBC's "The Haunting Passion," the new TV movie at 9 tonight on Channel 5. Viewers eager to embrace a ghost movie may find "Passion" to their liking, but this ghost story is neither intriguing not has director John Korty been able to make it scary. The setting is Vancouver, B.C., and lovely Jane Seymour plays the painter/wife of Gerald McRaney, an ex-jock now trying for a career as a TV sportscaster. They move into a splendid house on the beach, and in no time Seymour is being erotically possessed by a ghost. Once the novelty of that idea wears off, however, the film doesn't seem to know where to go. It is far less compelling or thrilling than, say, "Poltergeist," or even Seymour's earlier film, "Somewhere In Time."

I disagree! This was one of the most fabulous movies I've ever seen on TV ... I loved it! It was scary and romantic and involving, and the special effects were exciting ... I literally couldn't tear myself away. (It was on again, July 20, 1984.)

Tuesday noon
October 25, 1983

The worrying has let up a bit today: I'm simply blocking the problems out.

U.S. forces have taken the island of Grenada this morning. I don't understand much of what is happening, but all regular morning TV is being pre-empted for special news reports on the situation, and I'm trying to sort it all out.

Two months until Christmas. Where will the money come from this year? So many little people to shop for this year ... Jamie, Kacie, Billy, Nathan, Gerald, Kelli, Ben, Sheryl's baby-to-be ...

Wednesday morning, just out of bed
October 26, 1983

Well, there's ONE problem down ... my period started, early this morning. I've got paralyzing cramps again, but at least there won't be any babies born next July. I'm so relieved. I know it's only a matter of time before I get pregnant again, but I'm hoping we can avoid it for another year, at least. I'm looking forward to one more pregnancy, but since I know it will probably be the last one, I don't want to plunge into it too soon. I want to anticipate it awhile longer.

Ray gets paid tomorrow, and I'm hoping we can give some money to Grandma St. John and to Dr. Bauer. That would go a long way towards alleviating some of the pressure I've been under.

I just woke up from an odd & disturbing dream about my mother in law. She came over when the house wasn't picked up and the laundry wasn't done, and she was criticizing me for it. I tried joking with her but she wasn't having any of that, so I started telling her off. I don't remember what we were saying to each other, but I know it was pretty nasty.

I had another weird dream last night, that practically had me in tears. I dreamed that our neighbors, the S's and the Bruffs, decided to move at the same time. I was devastated. I cried to Ray, "They're the only friends I have! Now I'll be all alone!" In reality I think I'd be a little sad if they moved, but certainly not as crushed as I seemed to be in the dream. How odd. I wonder what I was trying to tell myself?


I am really suffering tonight. This is the most painful and uncomfortable period I've had in years. One minute I'm flushed and sweaty, the next minute I'm chilled and shivering. I'm bleeding unusually heavily, and the cramps are grinding. I've taken some extra strong aspirin and I'm sipping a glass of wine, but nothing much seems to help.

Ray is bowling. Jamie and Wendie Kitty are off together somewhere, playing. A very cranky and noisy Kacie is rolling around on the floor at my feet.

I got really angry with Jamie today ... she got into my box of sanitary napkins and tried flushing a handful of them down the toilet. Eeeuuw.

Some frequent Jamie-isms:

"Pfeeee" Please
"Kuh. Mom-ma." Thank you, Mama
"Moh? Moh?" More
"Fye, six!" Five, six
"Faw!" Kermit the Frog
"Bah!" Benson

Friday morning
October 28, 1983

Kacie got me out of bed earlier than usual this morning -- 8:30. I was having a pleasant little dream (Brad Vernon, "One Life To Live") and didn't feel like getting up, but she was insistent. When I went into her bedroom I found her, soaking wet and completely tangled up in crib blankets. She was on her hands and knees, rocking back and forth and grinning toothlessly at me. I got her dressed and brought her out to the living room; she played with the new Squeeze Buddies her Daddy brought home for her last night (a squeaky rubber wrench and a toy stalk of celery), while I made my coffee and chugged down two hasty mugsful. Now Kacie has gone back to bed and Jamie is up; she is full of beans this morning!  Already today I've caught her pushing a kitchen chair over to the counter (trying to reach the candy bars), and she's turned the living room into a shambles.

What am I going to do with myself today? The day stretches out before me ... housework, laundry, babies, coffee, soap operas. If Ray stays out all night again, like he did last Friday night, the day stretches out even further. This is all vaguely depressing today, for some reason. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm just tired. I need some kind of lift ... something special & fun to do, to pick me up and give this day some quality.

Evening 8 p.m.

Wish Ray would come home. Jay is in a horrible mood, and Kacie refuses to go to bed. I'd love a cold beer and a little adult conversation. In desperation, I have plopped both girls into their cribs with bottles.

10 p.m. ...

... and still no Ray. My stomach is tied into one big knot. I KNOW that he's going to stay out drinking all night again, and I'm already mad as hell at him.

Sentence Jay said tonight: "More please Mama."

October 30, 1983

Ray had a severe asthma attack last night, and I had to call the paramedics for help. They took him to the hospital because he literally couldn't breathe. I stayed at home with the girls and Terry, and later in the evening when Ray was released, Bud B. drove me to the hospital to pick him up. Ray was fine but shaken. The whole thing happened so quickly. One minute we were sitting at Dave's Place having a beer, and the next minute he was hunched over the steering wheel, gasping for breath. I've never seen him have an attack, and it was quite frightening. Seeing him being carried out of the house on a stretcher gave me such a hollow, helpless feeling.

I'm continuing this on Monday, Hallowe'en morning. We're still not sure what brought on Ray's attack. The doctor at the hospital said it might have been brought on by stress. He has been under a lot of pressure, especially financially.

November 1, 1983

I took Jamie out trick or treating last night for the first time.  It was an evening I'll never forget, not if I live to be a hundred.

I couldn't find a store-bought costume that fit her and would look appropriately cute and feminine  -  all the costumes at Sears and Fred Meyer were Darth Vader, Yoda and E.T.  Trendy but ugly. Finally I put together a makeshift costume for her out of stuff we had around the house. She wore her striped Osh Kosh overalls, tied a red bandanna around her neck, put her hair into two pigtails tied with red yarn, and her red tennis shoes on her feet. Then I used my makeup to paint her cheeks and nose bright red, and a black eyeliner pencil to dot some big fake freckles on her cheeks. She was a hobo! It was adorable.

Ray has a cold, so he stayed home with Kacie and watched Monday Night Football while Jay and I made the rounds of the neighborhood. Jamie was excited and curious. How odd it must have seemed to her, walking around knocking on doors at night. We went to ten or twelve different places, mostly neighbors that we know and a few that we don't. She got the hang of it right away, though, and pretty soon she was dragging me by the hand, pointing out "more houses," urging me to hurry up ...

People seemed to love Jamie. They would open the door, probably expecting big trick or treaters, and when they saw my tiny daughter standing there, they gasped in surprise. She was given HUGE handsful of candy at every house; she also got stickers and McDonalds coupons and animal crackers.

When we were cold and tired, we walked back up the street to our own house and knocked on the door. Ray pretended to be really surprised to see Jamie standing at his door, which practically sent her into convulsions ... she thought that was SO funny.

This morning - cold and rainy, the first day of November - I have the beginnings of a sore throat and very little energy. I've obviously picked up Ray's bug, so I think I'll just take it real easy today.


Now it's dark and storming. Kacie is just down for her nap; Jamie is laying on the floor with her blanket and a bottle. She's a little cranky today ... I guess that last night's excitement tuckered her out.

Next year will I be escorting two little trick or treaters?

Wednesday 10 a.m.
November 3, 1983

Feeling even worse today. This is a really NASTY cold I've come down with. The worst part is my stuffy head and grinding headache. Drinking orange juice, keeping the thermostat cranked up and taking aspirin is about all I can do to combat it.

Thursday 10 a.m. again
November 3, 1983

Yesterday Kacie began crawling in earnest, using both hands and both knees, and maneuvered herself all over the house for the very first time! First she crawled the length of the living room; then she explored the kitchen; and finally she went down the hallway and into all the bedrooms. Her crawl is still verrry slow and deliberate, with lots of starts and stops, but she has definitely mastered the basic principle. She aims for something and goes right for it. Her main objective, at this point, seems to be following Jamie around. Jamie runs down the hallway to her bedroom, and Kacie begins a plodding crawl, right behind her. Of course it's impossible for her to catch up with Jamie, but she tries. She wants to do the same things she sees her big sister doing. Now that she's mobile, she'll be trying even harder.

Jamie thinks Kacie's crawling is funny. She is slightly less amused when Kacie crawls over and grabs one of Jay's toy, or -- God forbid -- Jay's ba-ba. Then she'll say "NO!" and yank it away from Kacie, irritated. But when Kacie is simply crawling, without trying to horn in on Jamie, Jamie thinks it's pretty funny. She giggles at the goofy way her baby sister plod, plod, plods across the room.

Friday morning
November 4, 1983

I'm going out tonight!! I think. I have a date with my husband! He offered to come home at 6 tonight and take me out for a few drinks at The Chili Pepper and Dave's Place. The only trouble is I don't know if Terry can babysit. I'll have to ask her when she gets home from school. I HOPE she can: it's so rare for Ray to extend an invitation like this.

Monday morning
November 7, 1983

What a wonderful weekend! Ray and I did go out on Friday night for a few beers. On Saturday night he took me to the movies (we saw "The Dead Zone"). And yesterday afternoon we took Jamie and Kacie down to Dave's Place. So we spent virtually every moment together, all weekend long, and it was so nice! I felt closer to Ray than I have in a long time. Just doing things together -- alone, and with the girls -- talking, getting out of the house for a while every day -- it made me feel special and alive. Like I was "dating" again!

Reheating last night's steak for lunch for Jamie and me. Kacie has just gone down for a nap. The house looks terrible but it'll be afternoon before I get around to doing any housework. The worries are still here, but at least I had a brief reprieve from them this weekend.

Thursday morning
November 10, 1983

Sheryl had her baby last night -- a little girl named Tanya.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m.
November 16, 1983

Nearly a week later. Kacie pulled herself up to a standing position yesterday ... much to my surprise, I might add! I wasn't expecting her to stand so soon. Jamie was sitting on the sofa, and Kacie crawled over, grabbed the edge of the couch and very neatly & easily stood herself up! Exactly the same scenario is being played out at this moment: Jamie is calmly drinking her apple juice, seated Indian-style on the sofa; Kacie is standing at the edge, peering longingly at Jamie's cup. (Now Jamie has hopped off the couch and dashed away, leaving Kacie to stand there alone, howling. Kacie's major problem at the moment is that she doesn't know how to get back DOWN, once she gets up!

Amazingly, I actually had film in the camera
the first time that Kacie stood up by herself
November 15, 1983

I was so thrilled with this latest development yesterday that I decided to try something new ... I put both of the girls in the bathtub together, for the first time. Jamie ADORES her bath, but Kacie was slightly less enthusiastic. When I lowered her into the tub and her little bottom hit that warm water, she whimpered nervously and threatened to burst into tears. After a couple of minutes, though, they were both splashing and playing happily. It reminded me of the baths I used to give Brandy & Missy a few years ago. I remember I used to bathe Scott's little blonde daughters and wonder if I would ever have any little girls of my own. That's why it gave me a special satisfaction to watch my two beautiful, brown-haired daughters sharing their first tub together ... another small victory in the war against memories.

Kacie's first tub bath

I should mention last weekend: it was amazingly identical to the weekend before. Ray and I went out for drinks on Friday night; on Saturday night we went to the movies (we saw "Risky Business" with Tom Cruise and Rebecca DeMornay); on Sunday we took the girls to Dave's Place; and on Sunday evening Ray and I went grocery shopping while Terry watched the girls. Ray's friend & co-worker, Mike Paynter, was at Dave's on Friday night. Of all Ray's friends, I think he's my favorite. He's great fun to talk to, and I feel very close to him.

It will be another week or so until I need to begin worrying in earnest about being pregnant, so I've put it out of my mind until then. My period will be due on Wednesday or Thursday.

(Tired, run-down):

1. Change sheets on our bed
2. Cribs made up
3. Dishes washed
4. Baby clothes folded
5. Tape "99 Red Balloons" and/or "King of Pain"

6. Small amount of makeup

Friday 6 p.m.
November 18, 1983

The question of the hour: will Jamie P. like pickled beets?

The answer of the hour: an unequivocal NOOOO WAY !!!!!!

Tuesday noon
November 22, 1983
JFK assassinated 20 yrs. ago today

Odds and ends of the life:

* Kacie is getting very good at standing up now, although she still has to hold onto the furniture with both hands. She has also learned how to get back down (finally), by plopping onto her bottom.

* Jamie's favorite game now is pushing a kitchen chair over the kitchen sink and "helping" me wash the dishes. She calls this game "Sink." She also pushes the chair over to the edges of the counters and investigates whatever is on them. Last weekend she found a jar of coffee this way, and dumped most of it onto the floor.

* Watched "The Day After" on Sunday night -- the highly publicized and controversial TV movie about nuclear war. Parts of it were really graphic and gruesome. I watched with tears in my eyes a lot of the time; even Ray was moved.   I was haunted by "The Day After" for YEARS afterward.

Wednesday 10 a.m.
November 23, 1983

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and for the second year in a row we'll be spending it at Mom's. I think (Ray's parents) are miffed, but both Ray and I agreed that it would be more pleasant spending the day with my side of the family than with his. Who needs all the tension? Particularly on Thanksgiving. Sunday is Judy's birthday dinner at the in-laws, anyway, so we'll be seeing everybody then. I expect I'll get the Cold Shoulder for having missed Thanksgiving -- not to mention little Tanya's "debut" -- but we'll tough it out.

Monday 11:30 a.m.
November 28, 1983

The girls and I didn't get out of bed this morning until 11:00 ... I think that's the record, so far. The girls are worn out from a very busy weekend. Ray has gone back to work after a four-day Thanksgiving vacation, and frankly I'm not crushed to see him go: he was moody and remote all weekend. When he wasn't out "running errands" (his euphemism for drinking beer at the tavern) or sleeping until the middle of the afternoon, he was glued to the tube, watching football and basketball. Attempts to engage him in conversation were largely pointless. Today, at least, I've got my house back. I have about ten huge loads of laundry to do, and a sinkful of dirty dishes. My day has gotten off to such a late start, though, that even though it's nearly noon I just can't seem to get my motor started. I'm just now finishing my first cup of coffee. So much happened this weekend that I want to talk about, that I guess the laundry and the housework will just have to wait until I've gotten a good "write" out of my system.

First of all -- Thanksgiving. We went to Mom's, as planned, and it turned out she wasn't even expecting us! That was a little disconcerting. I'd been looking forward to this warm, wonderful holiday dinner with my family, and parts of it was like that  ... but other parts of it weren't. Tensions seemed to be running unusually high. Of course I may have been imagining it, but I don't think so. I left Mom's feeling oddly disappointed. The dinner was lovely, and it was great to see my brother and his new girlfriend, Gina. Jamie had a ball playing with Kelli and Ben and with Gina's daughter, Alexis (age 18 mos.), but Kacie was disturbed by all the unfamiliar faces, and she howled in fright unless I held her. The whole afternoon was a weird mixture of highs and lows.

Thanksgiving 1983 at Grandma Beeson's house
L-to-R: Jamie (sitting on Aunt Jody's lap), Grandma St. John, Kacie, me, Ray (top of head only),
my brother Richard, my niece Karen

I didn't see much of Ray on Friday. He slept until 2 p.m., and then he left the house almost immediately. I was tired and a little depressed anyway, so I didn't mind. I knew he was running his football cards. He came home around 10:30 with a bag of Chinese food for dinner.

On Saturday I left Kacie at home with Ray, and I took Jamie shopping in Bellevue. Ray gave me $100 and I did some early Christmas shopping ... toys for Jay & Kacie, Benjamin, Billy, Nathan, Tanya and Alexis. I also bought Jamie a pair of shoes, a baby gift for Tanya and a birthday gift for Judy. (Jay: size 7 shoes.)

Originally I was hoping to go out on Saturday night, but we were low on money and ended up staying home. We reheated the leftover Chinese food for supper, and I baked my first from-scratch pumpkin pie, as a treat. Ray konked out early, but I layed in bed watching "Saturday Night Live" and reading until late.

Yesterday - Sunday - was a horrible day. We had to go to the in-laws' for Judy's birthday dinner, and the in-laws were just as chilly and distant as I knew they would be. They're not about to let us off the hook for missing Thanksgiving. Judy was warm and friendly, but everyone else was made of stone.

I was informed in a very casual, offhand manner that the in-laws are going to Arizona for Christmas (Jeff, Sheryl & Tanya also). So they'll be celebrating on Christmas Eve, and we are EXPECTED TO BE THERE.  Period. This completely screws up our holiday plans, and I am in despair. I don't feel like going into it any further right now -- maybe later.


While Peg was telling me about the revised Christmas plans (in a tone of voice that clearly said "Be there - or else"), I slipped into a panic. I started to explain to her about our family's Christmas Eve traditions, and she suddenly became very cold.

HEY! I've got a brilliant idea. Why not invite Dad & Valerie here for dinner on Christmas Day??

Wednesday 10 a.m.
November 30, 1983

Yes ... the more I think about it, the better my idea sounds. We'll invite Dad & Valerie to our house for Christmas dinner, for a change. That way everyone will get to visit with the girls, and we don't have to do a lot of driving two days in a row. I doubt the girls could handle two full days of traveling ... I know that Ray couldn't! We'll go to Peg and Don's on Christmas Eve around noon ... spend the afternoon with them, eat dinner, open presents ... and then we'll leave for Grandma St. John's around 4:30 or 5:00. We'll spend the rest of the evening, as is customary, with Gram and Mom and all the family on my side. On Christmas morning we'll wake up in our own little house -- we won't have to pile into the frozen car at 7 a.m. and drive to the in-laws, for the first time in THREE YEARS. Ray can sleep late. The girls can empty their stockings and play with the toys they got the night before; I'll make breakfast and play Christmas music on the stereo. We'll drink champagne & orange juice, and eat scrambled eggs with bacon and avocados. Later in the afternoon, Dad and Valerie will arrive. We'll open the last of our presents, and Ray will fix dinner. I don't know about turkey ... maybe ham. Dinner will be around the table, with both of the girls joining us. After dinner has been eaten and Dad and Valerie have gone home, the evening will be ours, to relax and be alone as a family. (Note: This is pretty much the way it turned out.)

It all sounds a bit idyllic, I realize, but when I dream, I dream big. There are still a few flaws in my plan, though. When do we see Grandma Vert? When will the girls nap on Christmas Eve? I have to iron out a few details, but on the whole I'm feeling optimistic.

Yesterday I brought out the holiday decorations. Normally I wait until the first day of December, but I needed a lift yesterday.

Thursday early morning
December 1, 1983

For a change, Jamie woke up first this morning. She's been sick the past few days -- the flu, I think -- but today she seems to have bounced back.

I sure wish I could say the same for myself. I've had this rotten cold, on and off, for a month now. My period started last night, too (whew!), so between the cramps and the sniffles, I'm really a mess. At least I'm not pregnant, though. I haven't mentioned this in awhile, but I was positive I was. The same old story. Zzzz.

December is here, and I'm feeling decidedly more Christmasey than I was a couple of days ago. There are little touches of "Christmas" all over the house, and my head is buzzing with plans.

Kacie's first Christmas! I wonder what she'll think of the Christmas tree?

Friday morning
December 2, 1983

Bleak, icy winter morning ... snow mixed with Ray. (Whoa: I can't believe I just wrote that!! I mean snow mixed with RAIN. Yikes! I'd better get some coffee in me, fast.) My cold is worse. I'm completely stuffed up, and my throat is painfully raw. Why in the world have I been sick so much this year? Bronchitis last July, one cold right after another ... I don't seem to have any resistance at all.

Ray isn't going to be home until very late tonight, so the day stretches out long before me. Not unhappy about it, though ... there is plenty to keep me busy.

Jamie and Michele (one of the littlest neighbor girls) have just gone back into Jay's bedroom to play, and Kacie has begun her slow, plodding crawl in pursuit of them. I hear them laughing. Jamie is delighted with Michele -- she follows her around all over the house, touching her, trying to hug her, chattering at her in "Jame-ese." Kacie watches the "big girls" in awe, and I can tell she wants to be doing the same things they're doing.

Now the three of them are milling around in the living room. I sit here and watch them, fantasizing for a moment that all three of them are mine ... wondering what it would be like (what it WILL be like?) to have three little ones. The spacing of ages is about right. Michele is four; Jamie will be two in a week; Kacie is eight and a half months. It's conceivable (no pun intended) that if Ray and I continue on our present Russian Roulette course of birth control, there could be another little brown head around here in the next year or so. I feel as though it's my unavoidable destiny.

Reading two books. "No Man In Eden," by H.L. Myra, and "How To Parent" by Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson. The combination of the two is interesting. One is giving me hope about life in general; one is giving me hope about myself as a parent.

Monday morning
December 5, 1983

It's snowing again, and this time it's more snow than rain ... big fat wet flakes, falling straight down. I doubt that it'll stick, but it certainly is pretty to watch. My Christmas spirit just rose a notch or two.

The house is in complete disarray. There is a chance my water may be shut off this morning because of an unpaid utility bill - that would make housecleaning a decidedly uphill battle.

Still dragging around with a cold. Now I've developed a hacking cough, which kept me awake most of last night.

Yesterday we went to Sheryl & Jeff's for Don Sr.'s birthday dinner. As  family dinners go, it was better than most -- the guys sat downstairs watching football and playing video games, the women stayed upstairs and talked babies. I had a chance to see little Tanya up close. I saw her last week at Judy's birthday dinner, but I didn't really get to spend any time with her until yesterday. She is very pretty, with huge black eyes and fuzzy brown hair: I was surprised by how lovely she is.

Jamie played happily with Billy all afternoon. Those two are inseparable when they get together. Kacie wasn't so readily entertained, however. She's at that in-between stage -- she can't walk yet, but she wants to stand up and move around all the time. More than once she bonked her little head, HARD, on Sheryl's coffee table. Her grandpa would hold her for a little while, until she started to wiggle, and then he would pass her over to me. She would sit with me for five minutes and then she'd start to squirm again, so it was back to Grandpa. Back and forth, back and forth. All things considered, she was really pretty good. She was a little fussy towards the end of the get-together, but that was only because she'd missed her nap.

Jamie appointed herself Tanya's "keeper." Any time the baby cried, Jamie would bring her a pacifier or a bottle and say, "Ooooo, dee GA!" (Oh, baby's crying!) I watched my big girl sitting with her tiny baby cousin, and I thought how it seems like only yesterday when Jamie was that little and new ...

My big girl will be two years old this Friday. My quick, lively, mischievous, pretty Jamie. At the same time I feel sad and I feel elated. I'm sad that the little baby is gone forever; I'm elated that she has grown into such a precious and lovely little girl.

NOTE: Kacie just got up on the sofa! 11:00 a.m. (one of the sofa cushions was on the floor)

Thursday 9:30 a.m.
December 8, 1983

Morning time around the house ... Jamie, sitting at the kitchen table, happily munching on a bowl of cornflakes ... Kacie, crawling around the living room with the ever-present bottle hanging out of her mouth ... Mom, drinking coffee and half-listening to "Donahue" ... the rumble of the clothes dryer, the smell of last night's fried chicken, another winter storm brewing outside ...

I got an excellent night's sleep last night, punctuated by pleasant dreams (Scott A., tenth grade), and I woke up at 8 a.m. feeling refreshed and ready to begin the day. Tomorrow night we're having a birthday party for Jamie, so today & tomorrow I'll be busy getting the house in order. Sheryl's place was so pretty and Christmasey last Sunday ... it has inspired me to do something about my own house. We don't have our tree yet, but I've got out all the other Christmas decorations. I'm going to clean and polish and scrub until this house sparkles. I want to dazzle everybody with my impeccable housecleaning -- even if it is only a once a year phenomenon ...

Monday morning
December 12, 1983

A few days later. Monday morning. Kacie, nightgowned and fuzzy haired, is poking a tentative finger at our Christmas tree ... Jamie, wearing a new plaid pinafore over light blue pants and a pink sweater, is watching the sparrows through the front windows. I'm a little relieved that Jay's birthday has come and gone. I worked so hard last week, preparing for it; this week I can just wake it easy and enjoy the lull before Christmas.

It was storming on Friday, the night of Jamie's party, and my mom and Grandma St. John decided not to drive out. Then Judy and the boys decided not to come. I was disappointed -- these were the guests I was most looking forward to seeing. As it turned out, the only people who came were Peg, Don and Barbara, and Sheryl & Jeff with Tanya. I started the evening feeling happy and festive, but that happy feeling began to evaporate as soon as they arrived: I'd made a big pot of wonderful hot spiced wine, but everyone turned it down. That hurt my feelings, a little. (Don Sr. and Jeff, especially -- they both made a disgusted face when I offered them some. A polite "No thanks" would have been sufficient.)

Jamie had a fine time, though. She opened presents and chattered happily at everybody. When it was time for cake and ice cream, she blew out her candles before we were halfway through "Happy Birthday."

Jamie *previews* the birthday cake

The guests all arrived around 6:15, and by 8 p.m. they were all gone. Barbara had a school dance to go to, so everybody left at once. I sat there on the living room floor, in the middle of the discarded wrapping paper, feeling bewildered and hurt. I had spent the ENTIRE WEEK cleaning the house from top to bottom -- I even cleaned my bedroom, the fridge, the FIREPLACE, for crying out loud! -- and I'd been looking forward to this party for days and days. It was going to bring me closer to my in-laws. They would be impressed by how lovely my house was, and by what a good hostess I am, and by how well-cared for my daughters are. We were going to sit around the fireplace sipping hot spiced wine and listening to Christmas music ... I was going to make some popcorn. There would be all this lovely magic holiday warmth all over the place.


Instead, it was the same old "us" and "them" ... they sat and talked amongst themselves, while I sat there feeling as much on the outside as ever. I will never arrive, will I?  Frankly -- at this point -- I don't think I even care anymore. I am simply not their kind of people: you can't fit a square peg into a round hole.

The next day -- Saturday -- my mother, Grandma St. John and Deb all came out, and what their visit did for my general frame of mind was miraculous. It made me appreciate my own side of the family more than ever. The first thing Mom did when she came in was walk over to the piano and admire my display of antique toys and teddy bears. (The in-laws didn't even notice it.) Furthermore, Mom and Grandma not only drank some of my spiced wine  ...  they had seconds! We sat and watched Jamie open more gifts ... we chatted about family stuff, discussed the girls, had a nice time.

A package just arrived from my pen pal in New Jersey, Melinda Z. It says "Absolutely do not touch until Christmas!", but that's like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I've always been a package-peeker. In this case, I not only "peeked," I opened. Melinda knitted three beautiful sweaters - one for me, one for Jay and one for Kacie. They're multi-colored, sort of patchwork looking, and they're gorgeous! We're all wearing them now. Our first mother/daughter/daughter outfits!

Tuesday morning
December 13, 1983

Another one of those mornings where the girls & I sleep until 11 a.m. and then the rest of our day is all out of whack. It's nearly noon but I'm still in my bathrobe, working on my first cup of coffee. The girls are dressed, at least. Kacie is wearing a mint green pilucho and yellow Humpdee Dumpdee booties; Jamie's wearing her knit jeans, a striped pullover and a bright red smock. (She also insisted on putting on shoes and socks, even though we're not going anywhere.) They've both had a bottle, and now they're beginning the systematic daily ritual of tearing the house apart.

Terry S. gave Jamie a little toy shopping cart for her birthday last week, and Jay adores it. At the moment she's pushing it around the living room with one of her "babies" in it, her purse slung over one shoulder. Very much the Modern Mommy. (Took a picture of this.)

I have a lot on my mind this morning ... mostly Christmas stuff. My brain is humming. 

*Going shopping*

December 19, 1983

Woke early (7:30 a.m.) to find an inch of snow on the ground! I was so excited, I got a sleepy & grumpy Jamie out of bed to show her. Once she really woke up, she was quite excited, even though she's never even seen snow before ... I guess my enthusiasm rubbed off on her. Late in the morning I bundled her up and let her run around in the front yard, while Kacie and I stood at the door and watched her. She tromped around, slipped and fell on her bottom once, chased the kitties, tasted a handful of snow, shook the shrubbery and watched the snow fall from it ... I brought her back in the house, wet and shivering but pink-cheeked with excitement, half an hour later.

I cleaned house while Rick B. from next door cleaned out the carport for me. I was a little tired from the weekend, so once I finished the housework, I took it easy for the rest of the day. Terry stopped by a couple of times, just to visit.

We got two packages today -- one from Aunts Dora & Helene, the other one from Ray's Grandma and Grandpa P. They contained six presents, three for each of the girls. I can tell that one present in a doll for Jamie, and the rest feel like clothes. We also got cards from Grandma and Grandpa P. (with $30), Rhonda R., and my "Sealed Sunshine" newsletter from Melinda.

The girls and I took afternoon naps -- Jamie slept in Kacie's crib (she insisted on it, for some reason), Kacie in Jamie's crib, and me on the sofa, next to the Christmas tree. When we woke up, it was dark. It made me think of the old Simon & Garfunkle song: " ... A winter's day / In a deep and dark December ..."

I fixed meatballs for dinner, with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes. Ray was home at 9:30 and we sat in bed with Jamie for awhile, before going to sleep.

Last weekend Terry, Jamie and I went Christmas shopping at Totem Lake Fred Meyer. I spent $120 and nearly finished my shopping. I got Ray a pair of dark blue pajamas and a short-sleeved pullover. I hope to do the rest of my shopping on Friday, unless the snowstorm that's predicted actually happens and we wind up stranded.

December 20, 1983

When we got up this morning, at our usual hour of 9:30, snowflakes had just started to fall again ... tiny, lazy, unhurried flakes, the kind that stick to the ground and pile up into huge snowdrifts after a few hours. Last night Ray said we're expected to get nineteen or twenty INCHES this week. I'm worried about Christmas Eve on Saturday. What if we can't make the trip to Grandma St. John's? I would be so disappointed.

Fixed Jamie a bowl of oatmeal and brown sugar for breakfast. She ate about half or it and then (unbeknownst to me) she set the bowl on the floor for Wendie Kitty. UNFORTUNATELY, Kacie discovered it before the cat or I did ... oatmeal everywhere ...

I sat around in my nightgown for most of the morning, sipping coffee and writing all of this.


The snow stopped several hours ago ... it never really amounted to much, anyway, in spite of dire forecasts to the contrary.

Got $20 from Grandpa Torgrimson.

Dec. 21, 1983

No snow again today -- the sun shone all day. The world is as cold and dazzling as a diamond.

Thursday morning
December 22, 1983

The next four days are going to be unbelievably busy, so this may be my last chance to write to you until Christmas is over.

The girls and I just got up. When Ray left for work this morning he turned on the heat and the coffeepot, so now the house is toasty warm and there is hot coffee waiting for me. Kacie is dressed, but I'm still in my nightie and Jamie is insisting on running around buck-naked for a while. "Benson" on the tube. The house is a comfortable jumble ... I'm going to spend this day cleaning THOROUGHLY. We may be having company tonight: Mike Paynter, almost for certain, and the Waldens and Wuthriches if they can make it. I'm not going to go overboard cleaning and preparing, the way I did for Jamie's birthday (pointlessly, as it turned out). It has finally dawned on me that nobody looks in the bathtub, anyway. With the Christmas tree lights turned on and all the toys picked up off the floor, the house looks more than presentable. It looks lovely, as a matter of fact. That's the thing I love most about the holidays, I think -- "decking the halls." I just love sitting here in the living room in the evenings and looking at my house. It's nothing out of "House Beautiful." In fact, with the Christmas cards taped to the archway, and the tree completely stripped of tinsel & ornaments halfway down (thanks to little fingers), and the big holes in the sofa, clumsily camouflaged with sofa cushions, it looks almost shabby in the cold light of morning. To the discriminating eye it might even be considered tacky. Still, I look at my house through the eyes of love: I see a home, a place where four people are living and loving each other and becoming a family. To me, this is the most beautiful house in the world. I love it, because of the people who live in it (and tear it apart!) ...

Tomorrow I want Ray to take me shopping. I still have people to shop for -- Dad and Valerie, Uncle Dick, Jeff, Don Jr. I'd also like to get some stocking stuffers for the girls, and (if I can talk Ray into it) a pair of pants and a winter coat for me. Everything depends on the weather, though. They're still predicting a huge snowstorm sometime this weekend. If that happens, we're not going anywhere. For the first time in my life I'm actually praying that it DOESN'T snow ... at least, not until Sunday. It wouldn't be so awful being snowed-in on Christmas Day. We've got presents under the tree, and a turkey in the fridge. We could have a perfectly fine Christmas Day here alone. It's Christmas Eve that I'm worried about. We have so much driving to do that night -- to Ray's parent's house, then to Grandma St. John's, then all the way back home to Kirkland. If the roads are icy it will be scary enough, but if it's snowing, it'll be impossible. We may even have to cancel all our plans entirely, and that would break my heart. I have never once missed a Christmas Eve at Grandma St. John's: this will be my 27th year there. It's the only real family tradition left from my childhood, and it means a lot to me.

Tuesday morning
December 27, 1983

Christmas 1983 is now a memory, and my annual case of post-holiday-letdown has set in ... the tree is dry and brittle, but I'm going to leave it up for another day. Taking it down today would be just too depressing.

I think this was the nicest Christmas I've had as an adult, so far. There was a warm, pervasive feeling of "family" ... our family (Ray and the girls and I), as well as our extended families. Barriers were let down, temporarily. The girls had great fun. Watching them enjoy Christmas made the holiday a special, funny, magic thing.

First of all, the weather: all of the forecasts of heavy snow proved to be greatly exaggerated. A few flakes were beginning to fall when we arrived at the in-laws' house, but it stopped almost immediately, and the roads were clear when we left for Gram St. John's later in the day. No problem there.

But I have to back up a couple of days  ...  to Thursday night, when Ray stayed out all night. I expected him home that night around 8:00, along with Mike Paynter and possibly the Waldens and the Wuthriches ... but no one showed up at all!  I called Ray at the tavern a couple of times, and he said he'd be home "pretty soon," but that turned out to be the usual bull crap. By 1 a.m. I went to bed  ...  alone, angry and worried. All day Friday I waited for Ray to get home; I needed to finish my Christmas shopping. By mid-afternoon, when he still wasn't home, I was furious. I took $130 out of his football card money in the cupboard, left the girls with Terry, and borrowed a ride to Fred Meyer from our neighbor, Mrs. Kennedy. I had $170 altogether, and I finished most of my shopping with money to spare. I also bought myself a pair of Levi's, a blouse, and a nice pair of dark blue slacks. In the toy department, I picked up a few extra things for the girls -- an orange bean-bag doll and some wooden beads for Jamie, a "peek-a-boo" roller for Kacie. When I finished my shopping, I called Judy S. and she came and picked me up.

Incredibly, Ray didn't come home on Friday night, either! I wrapped packages, put the girls to bed and stayed up late, watching TV alone in the dark living room, a huge knot of hurt tightening in my chest. Two nights in a row! I was so angry with Ray I was actually thinking about divorce. At the very least I planned not to speak to him for the rest of the weekend, Christmas or no Christmas.

He knocked on the kitchen door at 4:30 a.m. "Well, what do you know?" I said in disgust as I opened the door and let him in. He smelled like a brewery, and I went back to bed, leaving him to sleep on the floor.

Saturday morning -- Christmas Eve Day -- I got up bright and early, with a million things to do. Ray was snoring on the couch. I relented a little bit and sent him off to our bed, deciding that Christmas was no time to be mad at each other. I had just a tiny bit of shopping left to do, as well as grocery shopping for our Christmas dinner, so I left the girls with Ray and hopped in the car. It was early morning, cold as ice, heavy snow clouds hanging low overhead; I was one of the first shoppers out, and it felt wonderful. I felt like part of the world. I got Stephen King's latest book for Uncle Dick ("Pet Semetary") and found something wonderful for Mom, a "Grandmother Remembers" book, plus I bought $50 worth of groceries. (When I got home from shopping I found Jamie and Kacie sitting under the tree, starting to open their presents ... Ray nowhere in sight ... he'd gone back to bed, leaving them pretty much all alone.)

Ray, the girls and I left for the in-laws' at 1:00. Everyone was there, including Billy (3), Nathan (5 mos.) and Tanya (1 mo.). We watched a Seahawks game on TV, visited, had a big turkey dinner, and exchanged gifts. The girls got toys, books, socks, clothes, underwear, pajamas -- Ray got a pair of pants -- I got a pretty sweater, lavender with white stripes.

Our little family, at the in-laws' house
Christmas Eve 1983

The only thing that really bugs me about Christmas at the in-laws' is the way they open their presents. Everyone just jumps in at once, ripping packages open and not paying attention to anyone else. You don't get to see other people opening the gifts you got them; you don't see what the others receive. At Grandma St. John's we proceed more slowly and carefully, enjoying the fun of watching the other presents being opened. I don't know. It just seems more "civilized" that way. Maybe it's just because that's the way I was brought up.

A special gift that Kacie received -- and which I LOVE! -- is a big teddy bear that plays Christmas carols when you flip a switch in his back. Jamie got a little toy stove, which she played with non-stop once it was opened. Both of the girls also got pretty clothes, nice warm jammies and lots of other toys.

We left for Grandma St. John's at 5:30. The girls both slept in the car during the 40 minute drive. As I mentioned before, the roads were clear, not a bit icy, and we made it to Burien with no trouble at all.

The only damper on our annual Christmas Eve get-together at Grandma's was that my sister Debi couldn't be there. Two weeks ago Mom had her admitted to a Care Unit facility, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. (This after Deb nearly died from an alcohol overdose.) She'll be in the center for two months, until at least mid-February. We are all approaching this as positively as possible under the circumstances. Actually, I hadn't realized her problem was that bad until she went into the hospital. Hopefully, her stay there will get her off drugs for good and give her a chance at a better life.

Mom gave everyone a copy of this letter:

"To My Family:

This year Christmas is testing our faith in the truth of its meaning. Circumstances dictate that gift-giving be limited to tokens and, for the most part, just a lot of what we have the most of -- love.

The crisis of Debi's illness has forced us to face her needs and some of our own as well ... Ken has begun treatment for the illness of depression which he, and we, have lived with for years. With a combination of medication and therapy we hope he'll learn to deal with his frustrations in new ways less harmful to himself and those who love him ...

For myself, I'm finding this Christmas full of more peace and hope -- and love -- than I've felt in many more materially fortunate years.

So my gift to all of you this year is a larger share of love. I'm sure it's the higher power which guides us all ... and the true meaning of Christmas.


She also gave something special to my brother Dick and I -- a notebook, which she plans to fill with written accounts of special moments from our childhood. Each year she will give us a new page to add to our books. I love the idea.

The girls both got more pretty clothes and toys. Dick's girlfriend Gina gave me an incredibly beautiful Yamaji vase, which now sits on top of my piano. Gram St. John crocheted us an afghan for the sofa in my favorite autumn colors, orange, brown, yellow & white. Mom gave each of the girls a pajama bag -- Kacie's is a monkey, Jamie's is a bunny. She loved the "Grandmother Remembers" book, by the way.

When we finally got home, around 11 p.m., the girls were sound asleep. Ray and I lay in bed for awhile, reading and eating pumpkin cheesecake. I was still mad at him for staying out two nights in a row, but it just didn't seem appropriate to be angry on Christmas Eve, so I let it go.

Christmas morning ... our first at home!!! Jamie and Kacie woke up at 9:30, and with a little prodding I managed to get Ray out of bed and gather our little family under the tree so we could exchange gifts. Ray liked his pajamas! He surprised me with a pretty pink nightgown and a gorgeous lavender bathrobe, which I love. Predictably, Jamie LOVED her Big Bird Sink. It has proven to be her very favorite toy ... she's playing with it right now, as a matter of fact. I guess I know my daughter better than anyone does: once again I've picked out her favorite present. That pleases me.


Jamie & Kacie on Christmas morning 1983

Ray made a great big turkey dinner, with all the trimmings. I added a touch here and there ... water chestnuts in the stuffing, some of Judy's wild blackberry jam on the rolls ... but other than that it was all Ray's doing. He was puttering around in the kitchen all day, happy as a clam. When he is cooking he is truly in his element.

Dad and Valerie showed up around 1:00, while the girls were napping. I gave Dad a red flannel shirt, and gave Valerie a pink nightgown. We sat and visited for a couple of hours while Ray worked on dinner. At one point, Peg & Don stopped in for a quick visit -- they were leaving the next day for Tucson, and they wanted to see the girls before they left. My father and Ray's father made polite conversation, while I sat back and listened to the subtle verbal maneuverings.

Dinner was great. We all sat around our tiny kitchen table -- even Kacie, in the highchair -- and Dad took home movies. We drank rosé wine and thoroughly enjoyed Ray's dinner. The turkey was done to perfection. We also had stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet peas, yams, cranberries, rolls and jam. It didn't matter that we'd had turkey just the day before ... it tasted as wonderful the second day as it did the first.

Dad isn't afraid to "eat and run." In fact, that's what he always does, completely without shame! As soon as dinner was over, he and Valerie were on their way. When they were gone, Ray and the girls and I took our annual Christmas pictures in front of the tree: then the four of us climbed into our big bed to relax and read the Sunday paper.

Ray with his girls
Christmas 1983


My after-holiday blues have subsided, just a bit. The girls have been fed and are both in new jammies, arguing over toys in the living room. Kacie keeps crawling over to the Big Bird Sink, trying to finger it a little, and every time she so much as breathes on it Jamie pitches a fit. ("NO NO SIS-SEEEEE!!!!")

Friday morning 7 a.m.
December 30, 1983

This is Debi's fifteenth birthday. Happy birthday, baby sister.

Very early in the morning. I'm not ordinarily out of bed so early, but a handful of whirling thoughts and worries prompted me to get up. The world is very dark, cold and quiet, except for this little island of comfort in my kitchen. My first cup of steaming coffee sits next to me; on the counter behind me the coffeemaker gives a happy gurgle & hiss, then lapses into silence. My babies are sleeping -- the sleep of the untroubled. How lovely that must be.

Ray didn't get home last night until around midnight, and of course he was very high. Mike Paynter was with him. I opened the door and let them in, but then I went promptly back to bed. The two of them sat out in the living room for another hour or so, drinking beer and carrying on a weird, mumbled conversation. I could hear them from the bedroom but neither one of them made any sense at all ... it had obviously been a long night at the tavern. After awhile, Ray came to bed and Mike apparently went to sleep on our sofa. Ray decided that this would be a fine time to get "cuddly," but I took one whiff of his stale beer breath and told him to leave me alone. Frankly, I was more than a little disgusted with him, and the feeling lingers this morning. When he left for work with Mike a while ago, I asked him for a couple of dollars to buy formula for Kacie. As always, when I ask him for money, he blustered and protested. "That's about all I got LEFT!" he said, but I was firm and he finally parted with his money. If he's got money to spend at the bar every single night, he can spare $1.77 for his baby daughter. I didn't say as much, but that's how I feel.

My marriage is in trouble, Journal. I've sensed it for a month or so now. This house has lately become little more than a stop-over for Ray. He is never home before 10 p.m. Whole days can go by without the girls even seeing him.  I clean the house, put clean socks in his dresser drawer, change the toilet paper. When there is food in the house, I fix his dinner. I clean the crumbs and gook out of the fridge, change the sheets, wash the windows, haul the garbage, take care of his children, pick up his dirty underwear off the floor, sew on his buttons, refill the salt and pepper shakers ... there are a million little unseen things I do every day for the comfort and sustenance of my family. I'm not unhappy about having to do these things. I regard it as my "career," and I usually derive satisfaction from it. What I am unhappy about it the way all of this is taken for granted.

I generally get no more than half an hour or an hour with Ray when he gets home at night. By that time he's usually spent five to six hours at the tavern, not exactly sharp as a tack, and he's no fun to talk to. He never thanks me for anything I've done for him, even the special things. When I ask for money or a favor, I get the bluster-and-protest business. What all of this does is undermine my sense of self worth. I feel like I'm the hired help and little else. I also feel desperately lonely. The girls help fill up the daytime hours, and they take care of an empty place in me, but it's not always enough. There is still the need for adult companionship.

Ray's drinking continues to increase, while mine has dwindled away to practically nothing. I'm just not interested in spending half my life walking around in a fog anymore. But that's what Ray does -- he walks around in a beer-induced haze for most of his waking hours. He functions, he goes to work, he gets things done, but nothing you say to him ever sinks in. It's incredibly irritating. He can't appreciate wit or subtlety ... they go right over his head and out the window. Conversation with Ray must be loud, brief and SIMPLE, or he'll just tune you out. I get so tired of talking about groceries and babies with him, but anything much more complicated than that and ZAP, I'm tuned out. He just can't follow what I'm saying if I try to discuss feelings, past experiences, current events, ideas.

Like a dummy I keep trying, though.

"Honey, you know what I would really like to do next summer?" I say, hoping to initiate a real conversation.

"Hmmmmm," he says, a fixed blank expression on his face as he chops onions.

"I think we should go camping," I say, hopefully. Actually, I could care less whether we go camping or not. I'm just looking for a little conversation, about ANYTHING. I'm met by silence. "What do you think?" I prod. "We've got a tent, and the girls will be old enough ..."

"Yeah, maybe we will," he says. Chop, chop, chop. End of conversation: I have clearly been dismissed. I retreat to the living room, feeling defeated.

I don't mean to imply that Ray is stupid, or that he's incapable of intelligent conversations. There are occasional moments when he astonishes me with sharp wit, subtle humor, a flash of insight. Sometimes he'll really listen to me when I have something important to say: occasionally he'll listen when I'm just babbling.

The problem is, was, and always will be his drinking. Alcohol makes him forgetful, sloppy, insensitive. It keeps him away from home, sometimes (like last week) for days at a time. For a while I think Jamie didn't even realize that he lives here with us; she thought he was just this nice guy who came to visit us every other night or so! Drinking has dulled him. Sometimes I feel like I've never even met the real Ray  ... the one hidden beneath the Rainier Beer ...

I've had enough experience of my own with drinking, off and on since I was seventeen, to understand the attraction. I know how addictive it is. It's easy to fall into the pattern: life doesn't seem particularly exciting or fulfilling, so you drink and get a buzz and everything feels better. If you've got to do something you don't want to do, take a drink and loosen up a little, and then it's easier to make that dreaded phone call. It's fun to sit around the tavern with your friends and enjoy a few beers: the conversation becomes progressively louder, funnier, raunchier. When you're so depressed you ache, have a drink or two, and it's like Novocain for the heart.

I've had whiskey periods and vodka periods and beer periods. When Scott W. and I broke up, I dove headfirst into a bottle and spent a boozy, hazy ten months trying to forget him by staying as high as possible as consistently as possible. This cost me two jobs, four roommates, one car and who knows how much money.  I figure I've probably spent a small fortune on alcohol. I figure I've also lost untold hours, days, possibly weeks of my life to black-outs -- time spent doing God-knows-what with God-knows-who -- and hangovers. I've lost friends and belongings and opportunities because of drinking. I have two ugly, disfiguring scars -- one on my left wrist, one on my right forearm -- that are the direct result of drinking.

Sometimes I think how differently my life might have turned out if I hadn't started drinking in high school. One thing is for certain: I wouldn't be sitting here in Kirkland this morning, bemoaning the fact that I married a hopeless alcoholic. On the other hand, I wouldn't have Jamie and Kacie, either. The thought of not having them is chilling. I guess that some things work out for the best.

Since I had my children and settled into a domestic routine, my drinking has dwindled and fallen off almost completely. There just isn't the desire anymore, or the need. I still enjoy an occasional Bloody Mary at the bowling alley, but like I said, spending my life walking around in a fog has lost its appeal. I'd rather be sharp and cognizant. Jamie and Kacie need a mother who can function, and function well.

I wish I could get some professional help for Ray, but I know he would never go for it. I'm just afraid it's going to take something drastic, like a DWI, to turn him around ... and even then I'm not so sure that would do it.  

Jan. 4, 1984

Hello, 1984!

We spent New Year's Eve very quietly -- we'd been out very late the night before, and were too tired to make it two nights in a row. (Friday night I drove down to the tavern and surprised Ray; later in the evening Mike Paynter came home with us, and he and I stayed up until 6 a.m., listening to music and talking.) New Year's Eve was on a Saturday this year. Late in the afternoon Ray took Jamie down to Dave's Place for a few hours, while I stayed home and napped with Kacie. I thought it was really nice of Ray to take Jay out for a special excursion, just the two of them. I know Jamie had a ball. When they came home at seven (Jamie wearing a silly paper hat!), they were both in bubbly moods. We had leftover McDonalds for a makeshift dinner and then went to bed early. I was sound asleep when the new year arrived.

I have only one resolution for 1984: to avoid, AT ALL COSTS, becoming pregnant again!

I plan to go bowling with Ray tonight, if I can get Terry to babysit. Might take Jay with us, too. All depends.

Kacie has a tooth -- FINALLY!!! On the lower left of her mouth.

I'm not as down in the mouth about my marriage as I was last week. It comes and goes. Some days I'm convinced that all is hopeless  ...  other days there is light at the end of the tunnel. Ray spent the entire weekend at home with us. Of course he was glued to the TV most of the time, watching one holiday football game after another, but at least he was here. He put together the little table & chairs that Grandma Vert gave Jamie for Christmas, and he did some grocery shopping and cooking. I felt almost guilty about writing those terrible things about him. The drinking problem is definitely there, though. I won't pretend it isn't, even if things are smoother than usual between us. It's going to hang over our lives until -- unless -- Ray gets some help. I just pray it doesn't take a tragedy for him to seek that help.

Today I'm happy. I don't know why. I just am. I keep thinking about last Friday night, sitting up until dawn talking to Mike Paynter. I like him very much, and it feels good to have a friend I enjoy. I keep thinking about last Thursday, when the girls and I drove down to visit Grandma Vert and my mother ... how good it felt to be out, free to go wherever I pleased. I'm thinking about all the things that are going right in my life ... Kacie's new tooth, and bowling tonight, and how nice my house looks, and Jamie's funny, uneven haircut ... the little details of my life.

Thursday morning
January 12, 1984

Over a week later. I'm getting bad about writing again. One of my unspoken resolutions for the new year -- a resolution I make every year -- is to be more consistent about writing in my journal. I'm off to a miserable start so far!

Jamie and Kacie are happily squishing bananas into their mouths -- and into the furniture. The beginning of another day. The coffee this morning is strong and bitter. I'm in the last days of my period and feeling tired despite a good night's sleep.

The thing I hate the most about January is the unrelenting ordinariness of it. It just goes on forever; days and days and days of the same old thing. It's extremely depressing. I wish there was something specific and wonderful to look forward to right now ... a vacation, a party, a special project. Last year at this time I was pregnant with Kacie, which made January more tolerable than usual. This year there's nothing ahead but Jamie's temper tantrums (the Terrible Twos have begun in earnest, I'm afraid), mountains of laundry, the same dirty dishes in the sink every morning, evenings spend alone waiting for Ray to come home ... God. I have to stop writing about it -- I'm working myself into an acute depression.

Friday morning
January 13, 1984

I think I'm facing a crisis here. The depression isn't going away -- it's getting deeper and wider. I'm functioning normally this morning, changing diapers and making coffee, but just beneath the surface I feel absolutely empty. There just ISN'T ANYTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO.

I've been toying with the idea of throwing a party, but that would only be a temporary solution to my loneliness. It would be nice to take a class again, maybe a writing class. Maybe dropping some weight would help. I don't know. There should be more to my life than housework and babies.

I do feel lonely, but it's strange ... whenever someone does come by to visit, I resent the intrusion. I wonder why that is? I ache for companionship, and then when someone offers it, I can't accept it. I guess I'm just accustomed to living in a solitary way. I love it and I hate it. Sometimes my lonely way of life is as comfortable as an old shoe, other times it feels like precisely what it is -- a rut. Today I'm feeling extremely rut-bound.

Where is that "something special" I predicted at the beginning of this journal? The Big Change that was going to take place in my life?

Sunday 1 p.m.
January 15, 1984

Terrible headache, slightly hungover. Ray and I went out for a while last night. Wish I had some pop, but we're broke. Waiting for Ray to finish cooking our brunch -- steak, scrambled eggs and pancakes. Yum.

I should be sick with depression today, but oddly enough I'm not. The fantasy is over: Mike Paynter did a thorough job of putting me in my place last night. ("Break It To Me Easy" playing on the jukebox in the background at the time.) I feel strangely relieved, as a matter of fact. Stuck, but relieved.

Breakfast was great! Brunch, I mean. Now I feel stuffed and sleepy.


The girls are eating their dinner (macaroni & cheese, green beans and toast). This morning I discovered Kacie has another tooth, this one on the top right side of her mouth. That makes two! Jamie went over to Terry's for an hour this afternoon, and came home pink-cheeked and jabbering excitedly. She sure loves Terry.

Monday morning
January 16, 1984

Ray is home today ... when he tried to start the car this morning he discovered he was out of gas. He walked down to the phone booth and called the plant, and they told him to just take the day off.

We are desperately broke -- literally down to our last few pennies. We need groceries badly, but I don't know how we can manage it. This always seems to happen to us in January, and it only compounds my depression.

Wednesday morning 7 a.m.
January 18, 1984
(Hurry up, coffee ... finish brewing!)

This is one of those rare mornings when I can't seem to go back to sleep after Ray has left for work: I'm too wide-awake. I just went outside into the freezing cold of this January morning -- a huge full moon still hanging in the west -- and picked up the garbage the neighborhood dogs had strewn around our yard. My fingertips are numb from the cold: the hot coffee cup stings my hands.

This was my dream last night:

A group of American and Russian officials were grimly sitting around my living room, while I served them a dinner of Italian meatballs. As I was dishing up the food, I was thinking, panicked, that "this will be the last thing anyone ever eats" -- because, I guess, the Big Bombs were about to go off. Suddenly an alarm went off, signifying that war had begun. I ran to find Ray. I told him it was going to be OK because "soon we'll be with the Lord," but I was still very afraid. Ray and I turned ourselves into little pieces of paper and tried to hide in one of Grandma Vert's flower beds, but the bombs were coming anyway ...

Ugh. I was quite relieved to wake up after that one.

Now I'm toying with the idea of going back to bed ... it's only 7:15, and the girls won't wake up for another two hours. Should I or shouldn't I?

I guess I shouldn't. The day has already begun. I'll just chug down a couple cups of coffee and keep an eye on the garbage until the truck gets here.

We're managing, money-wise. On Monday Ray borrowed $30 from Judy down the street, and yesterday he went to his parents and borrowed another $20. That kept us in milk and diapers and the most basic groceries; we've had hamburgers two nights in a row. I'm thankful that tomorrow is payday.


The other day I was thinking about how glad I am that we named her "Jamie." Her name suits her. She can't quite pronounce it yet -- it comes out "Dee Dee." ("No Dee Dee bass?" "No Dee Dee bed?" "Dee Dee sots!" No Jamie bath, no Jamie bed, Jamie's socks.) She just looks like a Jamie!


... is beginning to discover the joy of making noise. "Ma-ma-ma-ma" and "Dih dih dih!" are her two favorites. She shouts at me to get my attention. If I ignore her for too long, the shout turns into a bellow. ("AAAH!!") When she's happy she coos, sings and babbles softly, under her breath; I often hear her doing this in her crib in the morning, before she signals that she's ready to get up. (It is the happiest sound I know.) When she's frustrated or angry, she waves her arms around and shrieks.


... learns new words every day. There is practically no baby talk left in her vocabulary. The past week or so she has started holding up unfamiliar objects and asking me to name them for her -- last night's fishsticks, for instance. " 'Sat, Mama?" she said. "Fish," I said. She repeated the word back to me - "Fiss." I'm amazed by her retention of new words; she must have a working vocabulary of 200 words by now, if not more.

Her sentences are still quite short and simple. Here are some examples of things she says a lot:

"All done show! Show DONE. More show?"

"Kees ‘side. En gah IN?" (The kitties are outside; can Wendie come in?)

"Liddle Diddle GO?" (Where did Liddle Diddle go?)

"GA! Peez. GA. PEEZ?" (Can I get up please?)

"No-no Sissy. SISSY. NO NO." (Translation unnecessary)

"Mama sha! No Dee-Dee sha!" (Mama shower -- no Jamie shower)


... has begun drinking regular cow's milk on occasion, particularly during weeks like this when we're low on money and can't afford both formula and milk. She seems to like it, and I don't notice any change in her bowel movements. She also likes apple juice in the mornings. She has begun eating some table foods - things easily chewed with two tiny teeth! - last night she had a french fry and some noodles from a can of chicken soup; She eats happily, noisily, sloppily ... she puts her whole heart and soul into it. (Putting her to bed last night, I found a noodle in her hair.)

The only things she refuses to eat are meat-flavored or strained-meat baby foods. Chicken, beef, turkey -- it doesn't make any difference. She puckers up and refuses to let the spoon into her mouth.


Jamie's appetite comes and goes. Yesterday she ate like a lumberjack -- cornflakes & toast for breakfast, tuna sandwich, chicken soup, Fritos and Jell-o for lunch, and the afore-mentioned "fiss," french fries and corn for dinner. Plus a couple of bottles. Other days she subsists on soda crackers and a couple of green beans. We got her to eat some scrambled eggs last weekend, but that was because Daddy put some "oodle-doodles" (tomatoes) in them. Jamie loves oodle-doodles. I don't think it even occurred to her that she was eating eggs.


Kacie still takes two of them one in the morning, one late in the afternoon. Jamie takes one long nap, from 3:00 to about 5:30. Kacie wakes up from her naps cheerful and bouncing; Jamie wakes up groggy and cross.


... is 8:30 for Kacie, but she often refuses to go to sleep and I end up letting her stay up a bit longer. Jamie often stays up as late as 10:00 or 10:30 so she can spend some time with her Daddy. People may be amazed and critical that we allow her to be up so late, but we just operate on a different sort of schedule, that's all -- we go to bed later and we get up later. It works out fine for us. When Jamie starts school in a few years we'll have to amend this somewhat, of course.


... has become increasingly mischievous in recent weeks. Yesterday I was sitting on the sofa, putting on my makeup. She stood beside me, poking around in my basket of cosmetics, as she always does. A minute or two later she sauntered out of the room with exaggerated casualness, arms clutched tightly to her chest. I was immediately suspicious, and I followed her into her bedroom. She had hidden one of my eyeshadows in her sweater!

Another time I suddenly realized she was nowhere in sight, and that I hadn't heard a peep out of her for a long time. I found her in my bedroom, where she'd dragged a chair over to my dresser and had climbed up to my jewelry box. Earrings and necklaces were scattered all over the place.

She took some of her toy dishes into the bathroom and "washed" them in the toilet. She sprayed her clothes and hair with furniture polish. She dumped a bottle of fabric softener down the bathroom sink. She climbed into the bathtub and poured out a full bottle of shampoo, stopping to rub a handful of it into her hair.

When I take my morning shower, Jamie always used to come into the bathroom and watch me. Now she sees this as an opportunity to get into mischief while Mom is busy. She shuts the bathroom door while I'm showering and then scampers off to get into the first forbidden thing she can find. Ten minutes later I'll emerge from the shower, dripping wet, only to find all of the cats running around the living room, or Jamie uncapping all the felt pens in my desk, or Kacie locked in her bedroom screaming ...

I'm a little bit dismayed by how deliberate all of this is. The business of the eyeshadow was so calculated. Is she testing me? How am I supposed to respond? It certainly wasn't a serious crime; nobody was hurt, nothing was damaged. I took the makeup away from her and said "NO NO!" And that was that. She was mad at me for catching her, but a few minutes later she was sitting on my lap watching TV with me again, all anger forgotten.

She has become so contrary. Here is a typical morning conversation:

Mom: (putting bread into toaster) "Would you like some toast?"
Jamie: "NO TOAST."
Mom: "You don't want any toast."
Jamie: "No TOAST, Mama. NO toast, Mama."
Mom: "OK, OK, no toast." (I continue fixing it anyway)
Jamie: "TOAST, MAMA!! PEEEEZZ!!" (stamps her feet, starts to cry)
Mom: "Oh, you do want some toast. OK."
Jamie: "O-kee."


... Can now crawl at nearly the speed of light (or so it seems)! She can zoom from one end of the room to the other in seconds flat. (Daddy sits down in the armchair and sets his can of beer on the coffeetable beside him. Kacie, sitting on the floor in the kitchen, sees the beer. In five seconds she is standing by the coffeetable reaching for the can before Daddy even realizes what's happening ...)

She has also gotten really good at "cruising" -- moving the length of the sofa by holding onto it with one hand and side-stepping along, for example. She can move all around the room this way.

Yesterday Kacie made the happy discovery that by pushing the ottoman around the living room, she can walk along behind and pretend she's "really" walking.


I marvel at my little daughter's sunny disposition. She's just so HAPPY. She loves to play, she loves to eat, she loves her bath; when she's sleepy, she loves to cuddle. And she is always smiling! (Just now I picked her up from her highchair, where she's just finished eating her breakfast. She is sticky and wiggly, and she smells of toast and strawberry jam. I kiss her ear and she giggles.)


... is losing some of her baby fat. The big round belly, evident in last summer's swimming pool photos, is gone. She is slim and lithe. Of course, there's still a lot of toddler awkwardness, and she still has a baby's round pudgy cheeks and nose, and stubby, dimpled fingers and toes. There is still some of the baby in her. More often than not, though, when I look at her I see a little girl ... the infant is gone forever. Sigh.

Thursday 9:30 a.m.
January 19, 1984

Kacie has ANOTHER tooth! Bottom right side of her mouth. That makes three in two weeks. She certainly has been a busy young lady lately!


  • KACIE has Mama's blue eyes, shaped like Daddy's; JAMIE has Daddy's brown eyes.

  • KACIE has Mama's straight, fine brown hair; JAMIE has Daddy's fine, thick, wavy brown hair.

  • KACIE has Mama's very fair skin; JAMIE has Daddy's easy-to-tan skin.

  • KACIE displays right-handedness; JAMIE, left-handedness evident.

  • KACIE began teething late but will walk early; JAMIE began teething & walking right on schedule.

  • KACIE wakes up cheerful and happy; JAMIE wakes up groggy and cross.

  • KACIE doesn't mind the vacuum cleaner -- she even follows me around the house as I clean; JAMIE is terrified of the vacuum and won't go anywhere near it -- she howls in fright when I turn it on.

  • KACIE sleeps lightly and fitfully; usually wakes up once or twice in the night; JAMIE sleeps like a log, all thru the night.

  • KACIE doesn't mind having her washed, and has always loved her bath; it took JAMIE a long time to learn to enjoy her bath. Even now she still fights me sometimes. And she HATES having her hair washed.

  • KACIE hates broccoli & cucumbers; JAMIE adores them both.

Friday morning
January 20, 1984

Got up this morning and found our water shut off. Ray was supposed to drop off some money at the Kirkland Utilities office this morning, but evidently he didn't. I went over and used our neighbor Mrs. Kennedy's phone to call him at work. He said he'd had a "flat tire" and didn't have time to pay the bill. Mrs. Kennedy overheard our conversation. Her husband Rex works for the city, and she gave him a call, asking him to do us a favor & turn the water back on. I'm still waiting, but I'm sure he'll come through for us.

The girls got up a bit earlier than I would have liked this morning. They both started to holler at the same time; I huddled under the blankets and tried to ignore them, but they were very persistent.

Saturday 10:30 a.m.
January 21, 1984

Gray, soggy morning. Depressed and headachy. Ray didn't come home last night -- I've lost track of how many times this has happened lately -- and I still have no water. Mr. Kennedy never turned it back on for us. I guess it would be against city ordinances or something, since the bill still hasn't been paid. I had a heated conversation with Ray on the phone yesterday afternoon. He was down at the tavern, of course, and clearly in no hurry either to come home OR to take care of the water bill.

Tuesday 4 p.m.
January 24, 1984

Dark, stormy afternoon. Both of the girls are napping; I have just fixed myself some instant coffee, lit a cigarette and turned KEZX on the stereo. The house is (temporarily) neat as a pin. I'm a little tired today, but feeling not altogether bad.

The water was finally turned back on this weekend: that was about the only good thing that happened. Ray was out late again on Saturday night -- Joe and Karen's wedding reception -- and then out again all day Sunday, running around with Mike Ross. By the time he finally got home, I was touchy and mean. I tried to pick a fight with him, but he refused to argue with me so I dropped it. I guess I just wanted some attention from him, even in the form of an argument. I've been feeling quite neglected recently.

Last night he surprised me by coming home at 7:30 ... the earliest he's been home in months. I was amazed and grateful. He was in a cheerful mood, puttering around in the kitchen, making turkey burritos for dinner. He paid special attention to Jamie, and she was positively GLOWING because of it. They sat at the kitchen table together and ate supper. Jamie kept looking over at me and saying "Dee Dee sit Dada!" (Jamie's sitting with Daddy!) I acted really surprised and said "Oh BOY! Jamie's sitting with her DAD!," and she squirmed with pleasure and pride.

Kacie is trying to stand by herself today. She lets go of the furniture and just stands there for a second or two, without any support. She even tried taking one step but immediately plopped down onto her bottom. I cut her bangs this weekend and she really looks cute. It changes her whole appearance. I've got to get some film in my camera and get some pictures of her at this adorable stage.

Wednesday night 8:30 p.m.
January 25, 1984

House is unnaturally quiet ... no TV, no stereo, no dryer running. I turned everything off for a little while -- the constant noise was beginning to get to me. Jamie doesn't understand, and she keeps requesting that I turn on the "tee fee." I'm enjoying the peace, though. Ray is bowling, I presume. The girls are in their p.j.'s, playing.

Kacie now has four teeth. That was the major excitement of this day ... that, and running four loads of laundry. Oh yes, I forgot the REALLY big news -- Jamie fell and bit her tongue this evening. Could life possibly be more exciting than this??

Thursday morning, just out of bed
January 26, 1984

Downhearted. I laid in bed a little while ago, wondering why I should even bother getting up ... there is absolutely nothing to look forward to today, and very little that needs to be done. It's still January. It's been January for about ten years now. I am "in the doldrums," as they say, and nothing seems to help ...

... And then I tiptoe over to Kacie's open bedroom door and stand there for a moment, hidden, watching her rolling around in her crib ... chuckling, grabbing her toes, clutching her blanky, blowing raspberries in the air ... her private goofy antics bring a smile to my face. She is just so filled with energy and joy. Her day is going to be a lot of the "same old thing," just like mine will be, but that doesn't seem to bother her. She's just happy to be alive! It occurs to me then that this day, while probably not destined to be the most thrilling of my life, will at least be another day without nuclear war ... another day alive, healthy and comfortable ... another day with my children little and helpless and sweet. Does this make sense? Someday I'll wish I could come back in time and re-live some of these "dull & ordinary" days in 1984, when the girls were babies and I spent my mornings drinking coffee and moaning in my journal about how bored I am

... Still. I wish there was SOMETHING in my life besides fabric softener and baby wipes and leftover green beans. The most important decisions I make are what to fix the girls for dinner, whether to shower before or after "All My Children," whether I should wash the sofa pillows in hot or cold water ... ?

In the shower I was toying with the idea of getting a job. Initially the idea was intriguing. It might be kind of nice ... I'd be getting out of the house, meeting other people, earning a little money ... it sure couldn't hurt our financial situation. Then I started to think of all the reasons why I can't. I'm too fat, I'm too old, I don't have any clothes, my office skills are rusty, who would take care of my kids? So scratch that idea. It was easy for me to find work when I was 20 ... I was young and pretty and enthusiastic then. Everyone likes a pretty young receptionist. Now I don't even have that going for me anymore. Who would want lumpy-dumpy old ME sitting at their front desk? Maybe I could get work slinging hamburgers at McDonalds, or sorting can labels in a factory. Wouldn't that be fulfilling?

I'm 26 years old, but to hear me talk you'd think I was 70. Take everything I say today with a grain of salt: I'm looking at the world this morning through the eyes of a frustrated housewife. Where is Terri Vert? Whatever happened to her, anyway? Millions & millions of years ago, I was a girl named Terri Vert ... I remember that. 

Now who am I?

Friday morning
January 27, 1984

Jamie and I are sitting at the kitchen table having "our" morning coffee (Jamie's is more milk than coffee). Kacie is sitting on the living room floor eyeballing us, milk all over her chin. My girls. Funny, funny little monkeys.

Kacie looks so cute today. I've got her dressed in pink corduroy overalls and a flowered blouse with short puffed sleeves. Ever since I cut her bangs, her whole appearance has changed -- not to mention what the addition of those four little teeth have done for her. She's at such an adorable stage that you just want to pick her up and squeeze her (which I do, frequently).

Ray said he'll be home early tonight to spend the evening with me. I'm choosing to believe him, even though he has a lousy track record. At least it gives me something to look forward to. I may even take the time to set my hair and put on something pretty, just for the occasion. Of course, if he lets me down & stays out all night, like he usually does on Fridays, I'm going to be crushed. (So what's new?)

Saturday noon
January 28, 1994

What's new, indeed. Guess what? He didn't come home at all last night. It's noon Saturday, and he still isn't home. Am I crushed? Yes, a little. I'm disappointed and angry, too. This is the SIXTH time in one month that this shit has happened, and I'm sick and tired of it.

Tuesday 11 a.m.
January 31, 1984

Ray finally came home at 6 p.m. Saturday night, with Mike Paynter, hungover and contrite as usual. Apparently he drank himself into oblivion on Friday night and passed out on Paynter's couch. He said he "slept" all day Saturday, which is probably true. I was relieved to see him -- by that point I'd begun to fear the worst, that perhaps I'd become a widow at age 26 -- but he could tell I was also very angry.

When Paynter left and Ray had gone to the store to pick up some urgently-needed groceries, my mom stopped in unexpectedly. She'd been out to the hospital to see Debi, and she stopped by to see us on the way home. I had the girls in the tub (Jamie screaming bloody murder as I shampooed her gunky hair) so I didn't hear Mom knock ... she just walked right in and nearly scared me to death when she called my name, right outside the bathroom door! ("TERRI?") I hustled the girls out of the tub in a hurry and we sat and visited for about 45 minutes. Mostly we talked about alcoholism. Since Debi has been in the Care Unit hospital, Mom has become quite an expert on the subject. She's been going to A.A. and Al-Anon meetings, both. One is to help her deal with the alcohol problems of her loved ones; the other is to help her confront her own problem. She told me she's a "controlled alcoholic" -- she's got it under control at present. She asked me whether or not I was "aware" that Ray is an alcoholic. I said yes, I've known about it since before I married him. And it's true, he is. I've just never been able to say the word before. She suggested that I try an Al-Anon meeting, the support group for family & friends of alcoholics. I don't know. It's not the first time someone has made the suggestion. Judy S. talked about it once; I guess there's a local chapter here in Kirkland. I've thought about it, and I keep coming up with reasons why I shouldn't. Wouldn't it be kind of a disloyal thing to do? What would Ray do if he found out I was talking about his drinking to a bunch of total strangers? And what about my own "controlled" drinking problem -- wouldn't that be the pot calling the kettle black?

Anyway. Mom "oohed" and "aahed" over Kacie's pretty new teeth, and chattered with Jamie a little bit, and then she had to head for home.

Ray came home from the grocery store. I was still thinking about the things Mom had said when, to my total astonishment  ...  Ray began talking about his drinking problem!!  Mind you -- this was without any prompting from me. He just started saying that he knows he has a problem, and that he needs some help. He even said something about a treatment center he could go to "on the weekends." The only disappointment was that he refused to admit that he was actually an alcoholic. He seems to think he can just cut back, without having to stop altogether.

He also said he wants to start spending more time with the girls and I, doing things like a real family ... going to parks, for instance. I figured it was just so much "talk," but to my surprise and pleasure, the very next day he took us to the Kirkland waterfront. Ray and Jamie fed the ducks while I pushed Kacie around in the stroller. It was really cold, but it felt wonderful. We had so much fun. Jamie was totally in awe over the ducks; the boats, the other children ... she kept saying "hi" to people and jabbering excitedly at me. ("'Sat, Mama? S'at, Mama?")  I felt so proud and pleased to be out in public with my little family. Is this an indication of things to come? Ray says that next Sunday we'll go to another park. Wouldn't it be nice if this turned into a weekly routine? I can see us taking the girls to the zoo this summer, or to the Fun Forest. Or maybe to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza. Just normal, fun, "family stuff"  ...  things that millions of other families do all the time.

As for Ray's drinking. The problem is there -- I know it, and so does he. At least he acknowledges it. I told him that if he decides to get professional help, I'll support him all the way. The next move is his.

Mama: "Oh boy! What have you GOT?"
Jamie: (shoveling a huge spoonful of yellow gunk into her mouth) "Appa-SAUCE?"
Mama: "No ... that's not applesauce."
Jamie: "S'at, Mama?"
Mama: "Peach cobbler."
Jamie: "PEE KAH." (Shovel shovel.) "ALLLLL done!"

February 1, 1984
Wednesday morning

Jamie loves "Garbage Day." This morning she stood at the window and watched me struggle with the Waste-Wheeler, finally dragging it down to the curb. Now, every time a big truck rumbles down the street, she flies to the window to see if it's the Garbage Man.

"Sesame Street" is on TV. Jamie and I are sitting at the kitchen table; a few minutes ago she very sweetly requested a bowl of cereal ("Sih ... peez?"), so now she's happily munching Corn Flakes and watching Kermit The Frog. I hear Kacie thrashing around in her crib, down the hall, but I don't seem to have the energy to get her up yet. I'm savoring my first cup of drip-coffee in two weeks -- infinitely better than the horrible instant I've been forced to drink -- Ray brought me some Folgers last night, bless him. I could drink a whole pot of this stuff. (In all likelihood, I probably will.) Ray won't be home until after bowling tonight, so the day stretches out very long before me.

I'm going to write today of ordinary things. Not that I don't always, anyway! I just mean that I'll go beyond humdrum a little and delve a little more deeply into the details of life around our little house  ... 

Last night I watched a movie on TV called "The Master of Ballantrae," starring Michael York and Richard Thomas, based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Jamie sat with me and watched, although she was much more interested in the Hallmark commercials than the show itself. During the commercial breaks, I went out to the kitchen and made dinner for Ray and I -- frozen Banquet Chicken and Rice A Roni (to which I added leftover frozen vegetables -- peas, corn and green beans, to be specific). Ray still wasn't home by 9:30, so I went ahead and ate without him. On a whim I added some horseradish to my rice, which made it painfully, exquisitely hot. I have lately developed a passion for horseradish. Jamie, on the other hand, recognizes the red label on the little jar and won't go anywhere near it ... she still remembers the time last year she got into it and stuck big fingerful into her mouth ...

The movie lasted for three hours and was very exciting. I particularly liked Timothy Dalton, who played an Irish soldier of fortune. Jamie and I made a big pile of pillows and afghans on the floor in front of the TV and laid on the floor watching the show. Jamie imitated everything I did exactly: if I rested my chin on my hands, she did likewise, if I kicked my feet or drummed my fingers, she followed suit ... it was so funny.

Ray came home at 10:30. He brought home a small box of Pampers, a can of concentrated Enfamil for Kacie, milk, a pack of Salem Slim Lights for me, one can each of Pepsi and 7-Up, and a can of dog food. He immediately put on his p.j.'s and took his dinner to bed. Kacie heard the commotion and began to cry, so I let her get up for a few minutes and visit with her Daddy. (Every time she sees him, she does the same thing: first, she just stares and stares at him, motionlessly, frozen. Who IS that funny looking man?? Then, all of a sudden, she breaks into a huge grin and ducks her head, kicking and squirming, burying her face into my shoulder, kicking me happily. She'll sort of "give him the eye" for a little while, but any time he says something to her directly, she ducks her head again, as though she's shy, and holds onto me tight. Occasionally she'll approach Ray on her own. If she sees him sleeping on the sofa, she'll immediately crawl over and pull his hair. Or if he's sitting in a chair eating or drinking a beer, she'll putter over to him and try to grab some food off his plate or get his beer can -- all the time giving him her biggest smile. Anyway. Ray talked to the girls for a little while he ate his dinner. Then we put them to bed -- Kacie first, with half a bottle of formula and her blanky (the lavender and mint-green blanket that Grandma St. John crocheted for her). Then Jamie, with her bottle and her foul-smelling "Liddle Diddle" and a cribful of stuffed animals. Some nights Jamie puts up a struggle at bedtime, some nights she goes down quietly & willingly. Last night was one of the easy nights. She gave me a big kiss and a quick hug and politely asked me to leave the door open. ("No shut doh peez?") I think she likes to lay there and listen to the sounds of the house being shut down for the night ... windows being closed, the flush of the toilet, Ray and I talking in bed, the TV in our bedroom ...

I layed in bed and read for two hours. Ray fell instantly to sleep and snored peacefully beside me; he always sleeps on his side, with one fist resting against his cheek, as though he's deep in thought. I'm reading a book called "Kinflicks." Actually I've already read it once, a few years ago, but it's been long enough that I don't remember much about the plot or the characters; I might as well be reading a brand-new book. This weekend I read (for the first time) "My Cousin Rachel" by Daphne DuMaurier.

These are the things I need to do today: shower and wash my hair, make the beds, wash last night's dinner dishes, wash and fill Kacie's bottles, dry and fold the laundry I did yesterday, and pick up the girls' bedrooms. There is also lunch and dinner to prepare and the ever-present toys to pick up and diapers to change. I owe eight penpal letters: to Janet Hubbard, Beth Stepp, Linda Talbert, Tammy Cooper, Carol Baron, Amanda Prothero and Sue Miseroy; also one to my sister-in-law Judy. I don't have any stamps, though, so I've been putting off writing. Kacie's scrapbook needs work, and my journals need to be sorted and edited. The drawers, cupboard and closets in this house are a mess and in dire need of attention. The fridge needs a good cleaning, as does the tub, and I don't even want to think about the oven. I haven't had a vacuum cleaner for a year now, and the carpet always looks terrible. The living room drapes desperately need to be dry-cleaned, and the kitchen curtains are so old they're beginning to disintegrate; how much would it cost, I wonder, to replace them?

Still. I'm being hypercritical. When I'm done with my housework today, the place will look perfectly presentable. I daydream about coming into some money and fixing things up -- a new sofa to replace the peeling leather monster we've got now, re-painting the kitchen and living room, replacing the curtains and the carpeting -- but I know that these things are all out of reach. I've got to be happy with things the way they are, and make whatever small changes I can, slowly, one at a time. When we get our income tax return (later this month?), maybe I can get a few things for the house ... a couple of nice plants, some picture frames.

Kacie is out of bed now, dressed in a red velvet dress, white knee socks and small white shoes. She's awfully quiet this morning, playing by herself in a corner next to the living room window. Jamie is "allowing" Kacie to play with some of her toys. Maybe that's what's keeping Kacie so engrossed ... the opportunity to play with toys that are usually off-limits to her. Jamie is ordinarily very protective of her toys, but this morning she's more interested in filching coffee from me.

Stoned Thot: I want to have a lot of children, because there is a secret need in me to be "connected" to as many people as possible

Monday 9:30 a.m.
February 6, 1984

Monday morning. Jamie is here with me at the kitchen table again, happily spooning the leftover milk from her Captain Crunch into a mug of lukewarm coffee; half of the milk is on the table. Kacie is grouchy and unhappy this morning; she's got another diaper rash and a mild fever, which I'm monitoring closely. The house is filthy, but that's par for the course on a Monday. Ray made dinner last night (beef stroganoff -- his isn't as good as mine), and as usual he used every pan & dish in the house. There are torn newspapers strewn across the living room, the ever-present toys everywhere, bits and pieces of our weekend.

Ray actually came home on Friday night and spent the evening with me. Considering how many Friday nights he's stayed out all night, it was a rare and pleasant surprise. I made my version of the stroganoff for our dinner, and when both of the girls had gone to bed, we sat up drinking beer and listening to records.

Ray had to work on Saturday but he left me the car. On a whim I took the girls down to see Dad and Valerie. The girls were utterly fascinated with Dad's junky, cluttered house ... so many things to get into!!  Jamie discovered Valerie's secret stash of Lifesavers and ate a huge handful of them; Kacie tried to make friends with Dad's old tomcat, and got scratched on the cheek for her efforts. Dad took us all to The Flower Drum and treated us to a Chinese dinner. The girls were surprisingly well-behaved at the restaurant. Jamie sat on a booster seat between Dad and Valerie and worked on a glass of ice cubes, while Kacie sat in a high chair next to me, nibbling on prawns and rice.

When I got the girls home Saturday evening, we were all exhausted and went to bed early. I had to get up around midnight to open the door for Ray, but other than that we all slept soundly.

Peg & Barbara dropped by yesterday morning to pick up the vacuum cleaner we borrowed and to get the rent money. I'd sort of been dreading their visit for days, and I'm relieved it's finally over.

We spent a fairly quiet day, just puttering around the house. Ray was just paid last Thursday but already we're broke. With our last sixteen dollars, Ray went out and bought a few necessary groceries. I don't know how we're going to make it through the next eleven days until payday. Sigh. I'm tired of being so grindingly poor all the time.

Anyway. Last night Ray made the stroganoff again, along with salad and garlic toast. There were two good movies on TV last night, neither of which I'd seen - "Chariots of Fire" on CBS and "On Golden Pond" on ABC, but Ray and I smoked a little pot before dinner and by 9:00 I was too sleepy to concentrate on TV. Instead, I went to bed and finished reading "Kinflicks" and the Sunday paper. I had strange dreams all night long. This morning I've been trying to recall them, but I can only pick up bits and pieces.  (Climbing down a ladder ... being in love with someone who didn't return the feeling ... driving around downtown Kirkland ...)

Jamie passed an important milestone last night: she "did her poops" in the potty chair for the very first time. Without ANY urging from me, I should add. Ray and I made a big deal out of it, applauding and congratulating her on what a BIG GIRL she is. She just stood there and beamed. Of course I'm really pleased, but to tell you the truth I have no idea what to do next. Where do I proceed from here?

Kacie stood alone last night for a full minute before "plopping." She's trying very hard to walk, but she just can't seem to get those little feet to move the way they're supposed to. In the meantime, she continues to learn other little "tricks" -- something new every day, practically. This weekend she learned how to tip her bottle up in the air, to get the milk flowing. She also played a crude game of "peek-a-boo" with her blanky. Unfortunately, Kacie has simultaneously discovered the bathroom and the fireplace -- both of which are "off limits." In the bathroom, she likes to tip over the wastebasket and rummage through the garbage, chew on the toilet bowl brush (yecccccch) and unroll the toilet paper. When she gets a chance, she likes to poke around in the fireplace and munch on soot until her whole face is black.

I spent some time this weekend reading an old journal I wrote during the spring of 1975, when I was seventeen and a junior in high school. It was the Scott K./Rick H. period. I was amazed and embarrassed by how ridiculous it all sounded.  Was I ever really that young and dumb and desperate? I complained incessantly. Every entry sounds the same. I complained when I didn't have a boyfriend, and I complained when I did. I went out with any loser that showed the slightest interest in me. I imagined myself this hip young druggie, and did a lot of bragging about the booze I stole from Dad and the drugs I'd take very occasionally. I thought I was really stepping up in the world. It's incredible. I remember at the time I was trying to pattern my journal after the book "Go Ask Alice" (the diary of a teenage girl in the 60's who experimented with drugs). I was trying to be really shocking, but instead I sound pathetic and stupid. Reading the things my seventeen year old self had written, I kept feeling this urge to go back in time and slap her around! I thought I was so grown-up at seventeen, but now I see that I was hopelessly infantile.

Is this what is known as perspective?

When I'm reading this journal nine years from now, will I gasp at how naive my twenty-six year old self sounds? 

Nearly noon and I still haven't started on the housework. It's a clear and almost-sunny day, so I opened the kitchen door for awhile and let the girls play with the kitties. (I latched the safety gate so the girls couldn't go outside.) They enjoyed the cool fresh air and the cats running in and out the door, but after half an hour it got too cold so I shut the door. Now Kacie is down for a nap and Jay has curled up in an armchair with her bottle and Liddle Diddle. It's almost lunchtime. Jamie and I are going to have leftover stroganoff and noodles.

Tuesday morning
February 7, 1984

I've been hearing and reading a lot lately about something called "PMS" ... pre-menstrual syndrome. Headaches, backaches, nausea, breast tenderness, psychological tension and depression are some of the symptoms. I seem to recall reading that thousands of women are afflicted with it, within the week to ten days immediately preceding their periods. I also seem to recall that other, more complex problems can be caused by PMS, including psychological and emotional problems. I want to find out more about this. My period is due today, and I've been feeling horrible for a week. I'd like to find out if I'm imagining things or if I might be one of those women who suffers from PMS.

Last night I put both the girls to bed at the slightly-earlier-than-usual hour of 8 p.m., and with the exception of Kacie waking at 5 a.m. for a bottle, they both slept soundly until 8:30 this morning. I think we might continue this new schedule for awhile. It was great having a little extra time to myself last night. (I watched "Arthur," with Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli.) The only drawback, of course, is that Ray missed the girls completely -- by the time he got home at 9 p.m. they were both sound asleep. Kacie heard us rustling around in the kitchen and gave a little squawk, so I wrapped her up in a blanket and carried her out to the kitchen to visit with her Daddy for a minute. (She was so warm and sleepy and confused ... I kissed her fuzzy hair and told Ray, "I'm falling very deeply in love with this little person.") She really wasn't awake at all, so we put her right back to bed. I do like the idea of an earlier bedtime for the girls, but I also think they need to spend time every night with their Daddy, for his sake as well as theirs.

Bad cramps. My period just began this minute. I feel so bloated and uncomfortable this morning, but there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it. Aspirin and hot coffee are my usual remedies, but they're not helping much today. This will be a lazy day. I made pancakes and bacon for our breakfast this morning. I'll do the minimum amount of housework necessary, open a can of stew for dinner tonight. I know Ray will understand.

Got my "Good Housekeeping" in the mail today.

Wednesday morning
February 8, 1984

We are seriously broke. I just don't know how we're going to squeeze by another week. We've got food in the house, and I've got enough diapers to last until this weekend, but unless we come up with some fast cash we're going to be in real trouble. Maybe I'll take the girls down to Grandma Vert's tomorrow and request (another) loan, just to tide us over.

Rainy day. I fixed grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken soup for our lunch. There is something familiar and comforting about soup and sandwiches for lunch ... something out of my childhood, maybe? It makes me feel warm and comfortable.

Monday morning
Feb. 13, 1984

Several days later, post-weekend. I am out of bed early -- crazy dreams and a rotten stomach ache (due no doubt to my midnight taco) woke me up. The girls are just beginning to stir, but I need a minute or two to ease the sleep out of my head before I have to deal with little wet screaming people. The house looks awful. I have a full days' work ahead of me -- washing the dishes alone should take two hours. I just let the place fall apart this weekend, as I am wont to do, and now it's going to take the whole day to undo the damage. I have set some rewards for myself at the end of the day, though ... some cold white wine in the fridge, a stack of barely-glanced-thru magazines, the second part of a miniseries that started last night ("Celebrity") ... these things I will enjoy when my day's work is finished.

We had a fairly pleasant weekend. Ray worked swingshift on Friday -- that meant he went in at 3:30 p.m. and worked until midnight. I spent the evening home alone with the girls, as I almost always do on Fridays, but this time it didn't bother me a bit. I knew exactly where Ray was and what he was doing. Jamie and I munched on McDonalds food and watched "Dallas," and then we all went to bed early. I heard Ray come in around 1:30 a.m., but he didn't want to disturb me so he slept on the sofa. Saturday, Terry watched the girls and Ray and I went to Dave's Place until 10 p.m. I spent all day yesterday relaxing and recuperating. My stomach has been giving me trouble lately, and the beer I drank Saturday night didn't help: I felt vaguely nauseous all day yesterday.

("Mama? MA-MA! Mama? MOM!  Mama? MA-MA!!")

Last night Kacie learned how to climb up onto the sofa and the chairs without help. This is her new favorite thing to do. She practices it over and over again. Unfortunately, this poses all sorts of new problems ... she doesn't know how to get back down, for instance. There's also the possibility of her climbing further -- from the sofa to the end table, or from the armchair to the coffee table. I'm going to live in constant fear that she's going to fall and split her little head open.

Tuesday noon
Valentines Day 1984

Feeling crummy. I had a couple glasses of that wine last night with dinner, and this morning I have a splitting headache. Luckily this was one of those mornings when the girls slept late. We didn't get up until 10:30.

A policeman was here a while ago, asking for Ray. I was very polite and told him Ray was at work. He said he would "try again later." Shit. I have this awful feeling that they're going to come and put Ray in jail again tonight, probably for missing a court date or not paying a fine or something. Crap crap crap crap. We've run out of relatives to borrow bail money from! Guess I'll have to call him at Dave's Place after work and warn him not to come home. That means a lonely Valentines Day ...

(Jamie keeps saying "BOOM! Daddy fix!", over and over this morning. I think she's referring to the smoke alarm. He replaced the batteries while Jamie watched, and she was so impressed.)

Wednesday noon
February 15, 1984

The police never came back yesterday, so I still don't really know what that was all about. I went over to Mrs. Kennedy's yesterday afternoon and called Ray at the tavern. Just as I predicted, he decided not to come home, in order to avoid the police. I spent my usual solitary evening eating supper alone and watching TV. Ray finally came home around 10:30, parking his car up the street. He said that he called the Kirkland Police Dept. and asked them what was going on, and they told him it was a "traffic citation" for something like $200. Frankly, the whole thing sounds kinda fishy to me, but I won't say anything. Ray looked so forlorn when he got home. He said, "Why are they always picking on me?" I sat with him for awhile as he ate some canned stew for dinner, and we talked. I felt very tender and protective towards him.

Monday morning
February 20, 1984

Several days later ... a sad and rainy Monday morning. Ray has finally gone to jail. I went with him down to the police station last night so he could turn himself in, after spending a horrible, nerve-wracking weekend dodging the police. It turns out that the warrants -- three of them -- were for unpaid traffic fines totally $425. We've got $250 of it, but now I have to come up with the remainder ($175) and I honestly don't know where I'm going to get it. I wasn't kidding when I said we've run out of people to borrow bail money from. Grandma Vert gave us $200 just last week; Gram St. John bailed Ray out the last time, for which we never completely paid her back. Neither one of my parents would have the money, and I refuse to ask Ray's parents. Hoo boy.

I spent some time last night in prayer, asking the Lord to help us raise the bail money and get this whole mess straightened out. It's been such a long time since I've talked to Him, and I felt awkward. Was He listening? I hope He was.

Wednesday noon
February 22, 1984

Feels like a Monday to me ... the last few days have been so irregular and unsettled, and only today do things appear to be back to normal. The house looks the way it usually does on a Monday morning ... like the hurricane struck again. There hasn't been time for housecleaning or laundry, but today I'm going to set everything to rights.

Ray got out of jail yesterday afternoon, after I spent two frustrating and exhausting days raising his bail. I finally went to Western Kraft and threw myself on the mercy of Ray's boss. It was humiliating, but it worked: Frank wrote a personal check for the rest of the bail money.

Ray looked awful -- unshaven, rumpled, dirty, tired. Still, I was so happy to see him. The girls and I were sitting in the lobby of the police station when he was released. When Jamie saw him come through the door, she shouted "DAH-EE!" and launched herself into his arms. We brought him home and tossed him into the shower and fed him a hot supper. He told me about jail -- the awful "food," the odd assortment of jailmates, sleeping on the hard floor.

Friday morning
February 24, 1984

I fixed Kacie a bowl of hot cereal this morning, gave her a little spoon and let her have at it. It was her first attempt at feeding herself with a spoon, and it was hilarious ... oatmeal ended up EVERYWHERE, even up her nose and down the front of her overalls.

Spring is coming: I can feel it. Today is another gray monotone of a day, typical for February, but there is a trace of spring in the air. The buds on the cherry tree have swollen to twice their normal size: the blossoms are only hours away.

I don't feel like doing a darned thing today.

Ray had to sleep on the floor the two nights he was in jail, and consequently he's come down with a very bad cold. Given my penchant for picking up other peoples' "bugs," I wouldn't be surprised if I'm down with it before long. (The power of suggestion?) Almost in anticipation of that, I'm feeling oddly run-down and listless this morning, in spite of a better-than-average nights' sleep. I just want to sit here and look out the window and daydream.

I almost wish I had a newborn today. Jamie is resisting all attempts to engage her in conversation this morning; she refuses my hugs and kisses with a cross "GO, Mom." Kacie is such a wiggle-worm these days (the days immediately preceding walking) that she won't sit still long enough for a hug and a cuddle anymore. It would be nice to just sit and hold a baby this morning, someone little and warm and willing ... someone who won't tell me to go away or pull my hair or try to run away when I hug them ...

... I'm feeling the beginning pangs of "baby hunger" again. At the moment I'm between periods, and as always at this point in my cycle I hold my breath and wonder "What if ... ?" My body seems to be saying, "Hey - where's the baby??" My heart says, "Wouldn't it be nice ...?" My head says -- "NO WAY."

Jamie really is being a crab today. She absolutely refuses to do anything I tell her.

I've got some little bits and pieces of cleaning to do, but I can't seem to get started. I'd like to just let it slide today, but I live in constant fear that the in-laws are going to drop in unexpectedly, and I'll be damned if I'll let them see how icky everything looks -- including me. (Mousy dirty hair pulled back into a messy ponytail, no makeup, frumpy-dumpy blouse, bare dirty feet.)

4:45 p.m.

I still look like hell, but at least the house is picked up -- somehow I managed to scrape up the energy. The house is quiet as a tomb -- the girls are in the final minutes of their afternoon naps. Soon the house will explode into noise and chaos once again, but for the moment things are deeply peaceful. I was fantasizing a minute ago that it was 1981, before either one of the girls were born. I had the house all to myself ... no children to take care of. I could go to bed right now and sleep for 18 hours straight and nobody would care. I could spread my cookbook materials all over the living room floor and no little people would be poking around in it, tearing pages and eating my Glue Stick. I could go sit in the bathtub without an audience. Sigh.

This lady ain't feeling NO "baby-hunger" at the moment. No way. Unh-unh.


... But then I gave the girls their bath this evening. I sat there on a stool and watched these two absolutely beautiful little people, with their perfectly formed little bodies and their wet eyelashes and pink cheeks ... splashing, shouting, giggling when slippery soap escaped chubby fingers ... I sat back with a sigh, glad that it isn't 1981 again. Watching my children bathe evoked in me feelings of peace, pleasure, awe ... the way I imagine mothers down through the ages have felt, bathing their children ...

Saturday afternoon
February 25, 1984

Waiting for the mailman ... will we get our income tax return today??


Monday morning
February 27, 1984

My Biodex in the newspaper has predicted an odd day for me today:

Physical - High. You'll thrive in your work
Emotional - Low. An unhappy day
Intellectual - Critical. Rash action likely

Guess that means I should just throw myself into my housework and avoid doing anything "rash." Hmph.

We had a nice weekend. Ray was home early on Friday night -- for a change -- because he was sick with the flu. I fixed him some tomato soup, slathered his chest with Vaporub and tucked him into bed, happy to have someone to fuss over. By the end of the weekend he was feeling a lot better. I'm still waiting to see if I'm coming down with it, but so far I feel fine.

Mid-Journal Questions

Day, date and time: Friday, February 24, 1984 5 p.m.

What should you be doing right now that you're putting off? Getting the girls up from their nap, fixing their Spaghetti-Ohs, taking a shower

What is the best thing that has happened in the past week? Ray got out of jail

What has been the worst? Ray went into jail

Are you happy? Why or why not? Oh ... I don't know. I'm not unhappy. Things are just kinda blah.

What was the last thing you had to eat or drink? Leftover fried chicken (2 pcs.), fried potatoes, milk.

Do you have a phone? Nope.

Is the vacuum cleaner fixed? Nope.

What is your favorite song? "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," Cindi Lauper

Sheryl's baby? Tanya Ann, b. 11-9-83

Where is Jamie and what is she doing? Sleeping in her crib.

What about Kacie (Mrs. Hedgepeth)? Same.

Is Kacie walking now? A little bit, this past week.

Three biggest worries? 1. Money (lack of) 2. My weight 3. Wondering if Ray's folks know he was in jail again.

What is making you happy these days?

Saturday night was particularly nice. Ray made a blazing fire, I made a big pot of Swiss steak, we turned off all the lights and watched "The Howling" on Channel 13. Ray and I saw that movie at the drive-in a few years ago and it was pretty scary. Jamie sat in the big armchair with her Daddy; the two of them together were so sweet, it made me wish I had film in my camera.

Kacie walked for the first time -- officially -- on Saturday. Actually it was more like running than walking ... she ran on her tippytoes while flapping her arms in the air, about five steps' worth. It looked for all the world like a baby ostrich trying to get off the ground. It was so funny!

Now she seems to be taking an inordinate number of spills and tumbles. Every two or three minutes she's screaming again, and I'm running to make sure she's still in one piece. She persists in climbing on the furniture, particularly onto the end table where the living room lamp sits, and nothing Ray or I say or do will dissuade her. She's just like a little mountain goat. I seem to remember Jamie climbing a lot when she was that age, so I suppose it's a natural instinct babies have. Luckily she has finally learned how to back down off the furniture, so I'm not having to constantly "rescue" her. Still, the continual tumbling and screaming gets a little grating after awhile. She doesn't just scream when she's hurt -- she screams when she's mad, surprised, reprimanded or thwarted. Her normally sunny disposition has given way to perpetual crabbiness. She's thrilled to be moving around and climbing so well, but I think she's distressed by the limitations she still has.

Original cartoon from the journal

I've got a lot of work to do today so I'd better get started.

Wednesday morning
February 29, 1984

Kacie P. is really walking now ... nine or ten steps at a time. Yesterday Jamie took her by the hand and walked her around the kitchen. For the zillionth time I wished I had film in my camera because it was such a special moment; big sister helping little sister take her first steps.

Another cartoon from the original journal

Jamie is glued to the window, waiting for her beloved garbage man; Kacie is crawling around the kitchen floor in relentless pursuit of Wendie Kitty. (Kacie walks for the pure fun of it, but when it comes to moving quickly she still chooses to crawl.)

I'm in kind of a dreamy, spacey mood this morning. I stayed up late watching the Grammy Awards last night (as predicted, the big winner was Michael Jackson, although The Police, Culture Club, Irene Cara and Duran Duran won also). The show wasn't over until 11:30. Then Ray's snoring drove me out of our bed and onto the sofa, where I absolutely could NOT fall asleep. I tossed and turned -- our couch is not the most comfortable world in the place to sleep. In desperation, I finally took a couple of antihistamines, hoping they would make me sleepy. Instead, I just sort of drifted off into weird surreal dreams, half-awake and half-asleep. The odd sleepy feeling persists this morning. I just want to sit here and look out the window ... at the cloudy gray February morning ... at the baby blossoms, sprinkled here and there, on my cherry tree ... at the smoke curling out of a chimney across the street and drifting across the tree tops. I'd like to be sitting on a hilltop right now, something like the Maxfield Parrish print that hangs in our living room. I'd like to be able to just sit and lean my head against the tree in the painting and see for miles and miles ...

Instead, I have laundry to fold and dishes to wash and a shopping list to compose. Thank the Lord tomorrow is payday. We are practically out of food. As a matter of fact, we're practically out of EVERYTHING. (I must remember to put FILM on the list!)


  • Organize coupon file - make new index tabs
  • Label cassette tapes
  • Make "tape log"
  • Clean out our bedroom closet
  • Kacie's closet
  • Jamie's closet
  • Re-organize my chest of drawers
  • Clothes, books, "stuff" to charity
  • Re-organize my desk
  • Make 2 family photo albums (past & present)
  • Frame family photos and make wall grouping

Thursday morning
March 1, 1984

The odd disjointed feeling persisted all day yesterday; I got next to nothing done. (Baked a batch of banana muffins, made the beds.) Today must be different. It's a lovely spring morning ... the first of March. Somehow I must manage to get the girls outside for some fresh air and sunshine.

"Sesame Street" is playing to an empty house in the living room this morning (the Count is happily counting to eight) ... Jamie and Kacie have holed themselves up in Kacie's bedroom. Occasionally I hear Jamie shouting "No-no Siss!," and Kacie responding with indignant howls, but I resist the impulse to open the door and intervene. I must leave them alone to battle it out. These are the beginning days of their relationship as sisters; I have a feeling that the things that happen in these earliest days will have a profound influence on the rest of their lives. I hope that they will be close, and that they'll love each other. I hope they'll be friends. But if that happens, it will happen without any help from me; it has to develop all on its own. I can make suggestions, and smooth ruffled feathers, and prevent them from killing each other ... but I can't make them love each other. They have to work that out for themselves.

Jamie is delighted by Kacie's walking. She runs to grab Kacie's hand and leads her all around the house.

Ever since Kacie began crawling (and now walking), there has been a definite shift in their relationship. Kacie has become more a participant and less a mere observer. Jamie senses that. Kacie doesn't just lay helplessly on the floor and giggle at Jamie's funny antics; now she follows Jamie, and mimics everything she does. She wants to do EVERYTHING Jamie does. Some of the time Jamie is delighted by this, other times it seems to annoy her.

Sunday morning
March 4, 1984

Feeling very, very good today. It is a gorgeous morning. I am freshly showered, shampooed and dressed, and I've just poured my first cup of coffee. Ray is sleeping; the girls are running around the house, Kacie in her long nightie, Jamie buck-naked except for her socks. Stereo is playing, my favorite radio station, KEZX-FM. It definitely feels like spring today, and my spirits are high.

This has just plain been a great weekend. Ray left me the car on Friday, so late in the afternoon I drove to Bellevue and met him at Dave's Place. For once my hair turned out just the way I liked it and it looked pretty; the men at the tavern were flirting with me, and it was tonic for my ego. Even Ray was complimentary: he said, "You look pretty tonight." He and I sat and talked about our favorite subjects -- Jamie and Kacie -- and I felt very good and very close to my husband.

Yesterday (Sat.) Ray had to work. It was a sunny day so the girls and I spent a couple of hours outdoors. I put Kacie in her playpen and let Jamie run around the front yard while I cleaned out the carport. Old Mrs. Pierce from across the street wandered over to chat and get a look at my girls ... now that we've buried the hatchet, we are actually quite friendly to each other. It made me feel glad that I took the initiative last year and made the peace. I felt good about it all day.

Ray was home early last night, and he fixed us steaks and baked potatoes for dinner. I went to bed at 10:30 and slept straight through until 8:30 this morning ... it was heaven. Maybe that's why I feel so good today; my first decent nights' sleep in months and months.

We got our income tax return on Saturday -- $708.91. It comes at a time when we have a huge number of bills to pay, including rent, so none of it will be used "for fun" this year. However, Ray says his next payday will be a good one, and hopefully I might get $200 for spending. I could use some new clothes.

Later today Ray and I left the girls with Terry for a little while and went down to Dave's. To our surprise, though, the tavern was closed. So instead we went and for a hamburger at McDonald's, and then did a little grocery shopping. I picked up three rolls of developed pictures at Safeway, mostly Christmas pictures of the girls. Ray and I packed up the girls and took them down to the Kirkland waterfront for an hour, late in the afternoon.

March 9, 1984

Several days later. This has been an uneventful - but not unpleasant - week. Spring has arrived early and the girls and I have spent a lot of time outside, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. I feel light-hearted, optimistic, content. The winter blues have finally let up, and things look brighter than they did a month ago. The cherry tree is in full bloom: Jamie and I sit here and count the bumblebees.

March 10, 1984

The only problem is that I never STAY "light-hearted, optimistic and content." Today it is completely the opposite. Ray overslept this morning and was two hours late getting to work. He's been on probation lately, for coming in late and missing so many days, and today I'm living in fear that he'll be fired. He was distraught when he left this morning, cursing at me for not waking him up (I slept right through the alarm), so I'm bearing the brunt of the guilt. This will be a long, tense afternoon, waiting to hear if he's been sacked or not.

Even the weather is the opposite of what it was yesterday: today it is soggy, gray and cold.

I'm trying not to let the girls sense how disturbed I am, so we're just going about business as usual this morning. I made pancakes for breakfast, and now the girls are playing in Kacie's room. I'm three days behind on the laundry, and there are enough other little things to do to keep me busy and preoccupied.

I'm playing a tape on the stereo. "99 Red Balloons" (Nena) just came on, and Jamie immediately came FLYING out of Kacie's room to dance around the living room. I can't believe how much she enjoys this song! Next to "Southern Cross" (Crosby, Stills & Nash), it's her very favorite. Even Kacie is kneeling on the floor, bouncing up and down in time to the music. Jamie is whirling and prancing around the room, clapping her hands, singing in her funny little one-note-voice, clutching one of her baby dolls ...

(Another song I've just discovered Jamie is crazy about -- "Baby I Lied," by Deborah Allen. Jay climbed up on the camphor chest and very clearly sang the chorus - "Ba-by ... Ba-by ... BA-BY!")

Incidentally. One thing that makes the possibility of Ray losing his job all the more ominous is the fact that my period is late.

Hand-drawn cartoon of Kacie from the
original journal
Spring 1984

March 12, 1984
Monday morning

Just out of bed. Ray wasn't fired on Saturday -- as a matter of fact, he wasn't even reprimanded. Apparently a couple of his co-workers didn't bother to show up at all that day, so they were glad to see Ray, two hours late or not. We stayed home Saturday night and all day Sunday, doing virtually nothing. The weather was unexpectedly crummy so we just holed ourselves up in the house with the Sunday paper and relaxed. This morning I'm feeling crampy and achy, so I know my period is minutes away. Not much fun on a chilly Monday morning, but at least I'm not pregnant.

Jamie discovered the stereo headphones this weekend. Any time I turn the radio or the tape player on, she sits cross-legged on the sofa and holds the headphones against her ears. (They're too big for her head, so she has to hold them up.) Then she sings along in her funny monotone, oblivious to everything else.

Jamie with the headphones
(Cartoon from the original journal)

This morning she's in a rotten mood. We've only been up for half an hour and we've already had three major skirmishes. Right now she's mad at me because I won't give her some coffee. ("Need fah, peez! Dee-Dee cup!") A minute later, she's mad at me because I won't look at the J.C. Penney's catalog with her for the one billionth time.

... I can tell this is going to be one of "those" days. I finally get Jamie settled and pacified at the kitchen table with her catalog, and then Kacie begins to howl because we're sitting at the table without her! Kacie is too little to sit at the table, and she feels excluded. So I pick her up and set her in my lap, and she promptly reaches out and knocks my coffee cup over ...

Saturday morning
March 17, 1984

Several days later. Ray WAS reprimanded, after all ... Western Kraft gave him an official letter and three days off without pay. He was home Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

My period finally started on Thursday. I'm so happy to have escaped pregnancy for another month that I don't even mind the discomfort and inconvenience.

I just took a shower, washed my hair and put on some light makeup. I expect my new Avon lady to stop by with my order later today, but other than that I don't expect (or want) any company.

This is St. Patricks Day, and Terry has offered to sit for us if Ray and I go out tonight. I thanked her for the offer, but I doubt we'll be going anywhere. I'm in a tired and grouchy mood, and all the green beer in the world isn't going to help. My only plans for this day are to clean my house, work on my new photo album and make a big pan of lasagna for dinner.

March 20, 1984
Tuesday 2:30 p.m.

We embarked on a new way of life yesterday ... a way of life that is going to require me to be brave and tolerant and uncomplaining and resourceful ... none of which I feel at the moment. I'm sitting here on the first official day of spring (dark and rainy), trying to sort it all out: Ray has gone on swingshift. He's been talking about the possibility for a couple of weeks now, but I never really expected it to happen. I thought it was just idle talk. Sometimes Ray gets an idea in his head but never actually carries it off, but this time it turns out he was serious. For a long time he's been concerned about his attendance record at work. Three or four times lately he's slept through his alarm and been late to work, and he's been genuinely worried about losing his job. He thinks that going on swing is the answer. There's less chance that he'll be late if he's getting up at 1:00 in the afternoon, he thinks.

If I thought my life was "solitary" before now, that's nothing compared to the way things will be from now on.

Ray is optimistic about his new schedule so I have no choice but to be supportive. I can see the advantages. He's not going to be spending so much time at the tavern -- he won't get off work until 1 a.m., and by then his watering hole is closed. He'll be here in the mornings, so the girls will have a chance to at least say "hello" to him every day before he leaves.

Still ... ever-selfish Terri P. sees only the lonely afternoons and evenings ahead and panics.

It's true that I've always enjoyed my solitude. Having an entire house all to myself was a cherished dream five years ago. I can eat whatever and whenever I like. If I don't feel like washing the dishes after supper, I can let them sit. There is no competition for the TV or the stereo. If I want to put on my bathrobe at 6 p.m. and wash off all my makeup and look horrible, no one is going to know - or care.

Still, my cherished dream of solitude always included having someone special to talk to at the end of the day ... someone to curl up next to in bed. Ray will be home at 2:30 a.m. every morning, and I suppose that's better than nothing. Still. My waking hours, my living-and-breathing-and-existing-time, will be spent from here on with a two year old, a one year old, and myself. That's it. No other adults, no adult conversation, no adult companionship. No phone, no car.

I hope I'm going to be strong enough to handle it, but I'm afraid I won't be.

In all fairness, however, I should say that being alone this particular afternoon isn't so bad. It's storming wildly outside. The house is neat, there is some white wine chilling in the fridge, we have plenty of food and


Wednesday 9:30 a.m.
March 21, 1984

Kacie is ONE YEAR OLD today.

At the moment my big birthday girl is sitting on the ottoman, eating a piece of toast and quacking at me like a duck -- she's wearing only her diaper and one pigtail (the other one fell out). The other day I cut her bangs very short, and it gives her whole face a sweet, elfin quality. Her mouth is covered with toast crumbs. I catch her eye, and she breaks into a devilish smile; the "quacking" was designed to get my attention, and it worked!  She is pleased with herself. I "quack" at her in response and she goes wild. A conversation!

Has it really only been a year? It feels like Kacie has been with us for years & years. She is what makes us complete as a family.

I think back to the various ways I've felt about her over the past year and beyond, before she was born ... how astonished (and initially despairing) I was when I first realized I might be pregnant. Jamie was only seven months old then. Two babies sounded like more than I could handle ... and then when I took the home pregnancy test, and that moment of pure euphoria when the black ring appeared at the bottom of the test tube. A positive! I was pregnant, and I was jubilant! ...

... Kacie's easy Cesarean birth, after attempts to turn her around in utero had failed -- how her dark hair was wet and curly, and I thought she was going to have Ray's wavy hair ... I remember my first glimpse of her, off to my right, as the nurses were cleaning her off. Her eyes were tightly closed. She was very red, and she looked just like Ray: she was beautiful ...

... When she got sick last summer and we took her to the emergency room in the middle of the night -- the frightened helpless way I felt as she struggled to breathe ...

... And the way I feel about her today, right now: proud, amused, tender, protective, deeply loving. I have a crush on my daughter!


Kacie's first birthday!
Celebrating with Mama (left) and with "Wendie Kitty" (right)
March 21, 1984

Saturday morning
March 24, 1984

I'm in a rotten mood this morning, and it just keeps getting worse and worse. The house is unbelievably filthy for a Saturday. We're broke again and running out of everything. Ray has to be at work at 1 p.m. (he says), so I've got another long afternoon & evening alone ahead of me. I HATE Ray working swingshift.

The girls and I are supposed to go to Sheryl's today, for Peg's birthday dinner. I already know we're not going to make it, and I'm dreading the phony excuse I'm going to have to come up with, not to mention the in-laws' reaction to our skipping out on yet another family get-together.

Kacie's birthday was OK, except for the fact that we didn't get so much as a card or a phone call from Bev & Henry, Dora & Helene, Patty & John, Dad & Valerie ... my daughter's first birthday, and no one gives a damn.

I've got the beginnings of a sore throat this morning and I just plain feel crummy. I caught Jamie in the bathroom a little while ago busily slathering my cold cream all over her face, and I came unglued. I whacked her on the bottom and screamed at her as though she'd just poisoned her little sister or something.  My reaction was completely overblown, and I felt awful about it immediately. I just sat here at the table and felt like crying. Jamie came wandering out into the kitchen soon afterward, saying ‘I sorry Mama," and we kissed and made up. Still, I can see that this is going to be a rocky day, and I pray that the girls are quiet and good and don't give me a reason to lose my temper. I don't think I'm capable of physically abusing them, but if they push the wrong buttons today I'll probably be pretty mean. My girls need a mother who is friendly and receptive, not the hostile ugly monster I feel like this morning. Guess I'll take a long shower and drink some hot coffee and see if I can shake the "uglies."

1984 Academy Awards
April 9, 1984

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jack Nicholson, "Terms of Endearment"
BEST LIVE SHORT: "Boys & Girls"
BEST EDITING: "The Right Stuff"
BEST SOUND: "The Right Stuff"
CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Fanny and Alexander"
FOREIGN FILM: "Fanny and Alexander"
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "Flamenco at 5:15"
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin"
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: "Fanny and Alexander"
BEST SONG: "Flashdance (What A Feeling)"
ORIGINAL SCORE: Bill Conti, "The Right Stuff"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Linda Hunt, "The Year of Living Dangerously"
(also nominated: Cher, Amy Irving, Glenn Close) ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: "Tender Mercies"
SCREENPLAY ADAPTATION: "Terms of Endearment"
BEST DIRECTOR: James L. Brooks, "Terms of Endearment"
BEST ACTOR: Robert Duvall, "Tender Mercies"
(also nominated: Michael Caine, Tom Conti, Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay)
BEST ACTRESS: Shirley McLaine, "Terms of Endearment" (also nominated: Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Julie Walters, Somebody Else )
BEST PICTURE: "Terms of Endearment"
(also nominated: "The Right Stuff," "The Big Chill," "Tender Mercies," "Silkwood")

Saturday morning 9:30 a.m.
March 31, 1984

It is a lovely spring morning ... sunny, warm, balmy. I got out of bed early, mainly because the whole house was flooded with sunlight at 7:30 a.m., and have managed to get an astonishing number of things done, even before my morning coffee. I feel light-hearted and optimistic again today. The world ain't such a bad place to be.

Freshly showered and shampooed, I'm sitting here in my kitchen, planning my day. Ray is asleep on the sofa -- miracle of miracles, he doesn't have to work today! Jamie has dragged the huge white wicker basket out to the living room and parked it in front of the TV; now she's laying in it, feet dangling over the side, watching Saturday morning cartoons and sucking on a small bottle. Kacie was up for a while but now she's back in her crib, apparently asleep.

The last couple of weeks have been rough on me. I'm having a difficult time adjusting to Ray's new hours, and never being one to handle depression very well, I've been drowning my sorrows in food and beer. The first few days were the worst. One night I ate three dinners -- one with the girls, one after the girls', and another late at night, while watching TV! I haven't been out of the house, except for puttering around the yard, in three weeks. Today I'm feeling a little better about the whole thing, but that's because Ray has the next two days off. When he goes back to work Monday afternoon, I'll probably slide back into my blue funk again. (Look out, refrigerator -- here I come.)

Jamie and I watched "The Wizard Of Oz" last night. She liked Toto, the "Mun-kins," and the good witch Glinda's arrivals and departures in her "boon" (balloon). When the Wicked Witch of the West arrived in Munchkinland, in an explosion of fire and smoke - my favorite part of the movie - Jamie looked startled and said "BOOM!" This morning when we were having breakfast, I said "Jamie! We watched The Wizard of Oz last night, didn't we?" and she replied "BOOM!"

Kacie has two real words now. The first word she ever said was "No-no," and a few days later she said "socks." She's very interested in what goes on her feet.

Tuesday 5 p.m.
April 3, 1984

Late afternoon ... I just went out to the carport for a minute and the air was charged with electricity ... it feels like a tremendous storm is brewing. I can tell it's going to be a doozy. Better bundle up my kids, lock all the doors and windows, put a pot of beef stew on the stove and get ready for a "wild" night.

Saturday morning
April 7, 1984

Rainy, soggy, sneezy morning. Ray has the weekend off again -- I'm glad. He won't go back to work until Monday afternoon. When he got home last night I heard him banging around in the kitchen fixing something to eat, so I got up and talked to him for awhile. He was in a jolly mood. Work appears to be going well for him, and he was full of little anecdotes and funny observations. He loves his new hours. (I held my tongue, not wishing to spoil his happy mood with complaints.) Now of course he's sound asleep in bed. I would like to let him sleep late, but we're nearly out of milk and I'm going to have to send him to the store before too long.

Jamie has four favorite songs right now, and every day she literally demands to hear them ... IN ORDER! (She gets very upset if I play them out of order.) They are, as she calls them, "Sun Coss," "Girls Song," "Dee Dah Ah," and "Boon Song." ("Southern Cross", "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", "Baby I Lied", "99 Red Balloons".) She's got me playing them right now -- I'm in a compliant mood.

Some things have been on my mind lately. The first is the way I've been stuffing myself ever since Ray went on swingshift. Food has suddenly become the focus of my life, and in rational moments (like now) it scares me. I see myself becoming obsessed; eating like a pig, and then eating more. I can feel the extra weight hanging from my chin and my stomach. I look in the mirror and what I see is an obscenely bloated version of my younger self ... the hairstyle is the same, the makeup is the same, but from the chin down I barely recognize myself. I look horrible. It has now been a whole month since I've been out of the house, and I'm facing the fact that I don't even WANT to go anywhere, because I don't want to be seen.

Today I'm going to eat very little. I'm going to try and stay so busy that food won't be on my mind all the time. Ray is home today -- that should help fill up some of the empty places in my life.

Still, a larger plan of action is obviously called for.

Also on my mind -- relations with the in-laws, which seem to have reached an all-time low. I may be imagining things, but it seems like Ray and I are on the outs with his entire family. It's not that we're not getting along, so much, as that we're just not seeing them much. (I can't write worth a damn today.)

Wednesday morning
April 11, 1984

Let's see if I can do any better today. What I was trying to say the other day, about relations with the in-laws, is this -- Ray and I haven't been over to the folks' since Christmas. We haven't seen Don or Judy since the holidays, either. Except for Kacie's birthday party, we haven't had anyone in the family over for dinner, for coffee, for even the briefest of visits. Without a phone, we've been unable to keep up any regular contact with Ray's family. Judy and I exchange occasional letters, but the fact is that we seem to have neatly & completely removed ourselves from the family. To be 100% honest, I don't know if it was intentional or accidental. A little of both, I suppose. I've never been comfortable with Ray's family; family get-togethers are full of stress for me. Still, I never intended to withdraw from the family altogether ... the girls need their grandparents. The night of Kacie's party I got the feeling that our absence has been misinterpreted as hostility. We don't go to the folks' every Sunday for dinner anymore. Does that mean we're "hostile" ... ?

I guess we should try and make an effort to get over and see Ray's parents more often, for the girls' sake if for no other reason. I am reconciled to the fact that I will never be the favorite daughter-in-law. I will never be their favorite anything. We rub each other the wrong way. But I'm just going to try to grin and bear it. We'll have to have a couple of big family dinners here at the house, sometime this spring or summer. We must dutifully recognize every birthday and anniversary and holiday (I still feel guilty about missing Peg & Billy's birthdays last month). I've got to get a long, chatty letter off to Judy. The effort must be made, and SOON ... before relations become any more strained.


Jay said this morning: "I goin' pay Dees 'oom now." ("I'm going to play in Jamie's room now.")

Some Kacie favorites: wind-up radio toy, pulling her socks off, Hand-Wrap commercial, Ray's wide leather belt

Some Jay favorites: "panmakes" (pancakes), squirrels, brushing her teeth, "Sun Coss" & "Girls Song"

JAY-PHRASES: "No, MINES!!" "Mom a poo-poo feece!" ("Mom's a poo-poo face.")

Some three-syllable words she can pronounce: "Ba-na-na," "A-pa-sauce"

Thursday morning

A naked Jamie is having her fourth or fifth tantrum of the morning, lying prostrate on the living room floor, wailing in agony because she wants Wendie Kitty to come inside. ("ENNNNNNNN-KEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!")  Kacie, nightgowned and bangs newly trimmed, is bouncing around in her highchair, a cinnamon muffin squished in one pudgy hand. There is a wild wind blowing outside my kitchen window. The trees are all in full bloom; the sky is slate gray; it is a combination of light and dark that I love.

Today is payday ... I heave a deep sigh of relief. I am literally down to Jamie's last diaper, and equally low on the other "essentials" of our lives ... milk, laundry soap, pet food, pop, cigarettes. The freezer is completely empty; the cupboards are bare, except for two cans of corn and a box of Rice A Roni. Payday has come at precisely the right moment.

Ray is meeting his mother at the bank at 2:00 so she can cash his check for him. We didn't even have a bank account.  He'll just have time to run to a store and pick up a few things before he has to leave for work. The bigger grocery shopping will probably be tomorrow. Still, that means that later today I'll be able to put the girls back into disposables (they wear cloth diapers when we're broke & they hate it) and run some laundry and feed the animals. Just knowing this has raised my spirits this morning and made our humdrum morning rituals (Jamie's temper tantrums, the struggle to get the two of them dressed, the morning housework) somewhat more bearable.

I owe a bunch of letters to family (Mom, Judy, Valerie, Gram Vert, Gram St. John) but can't seem to get started writing them.

Early Spring 1984 is:

Trees in blossom ... rain ... french-dip sandwiches ... "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" ... Kacie walking and learning a couple of words ... Kool-Aid ... new lipsticks: Precious Pearl and Sweet Vanilla ... antique glass on the living room windowsill, glimmering in the late-afternoon sunshine ... big photo albums ... white wine ... no vacuum cleaner, no phone again ... nachos ... CeCe, Wendie and Dee-Kee ... discovering Big Country, Kevin Kline and The Pretenders ... Princess Di is pregnant again ... Budget Gourmet Frozen Dinners ... "Mines!" JLP ... Murphy's Oil Soap ... dreaming about a third baby (Kimberley? Brett?) in 1986 ... books on top of the piano ... "Mystery!" on PBS ... our lives, spinning on and on and on ...

Monday noon
April 23, 1984

Twelve days later.

Some days I look at my journal, sitting on the shelf of my desk, and I think about writing something ... but I decide against it because I don't have the time -- or the energy -- or the motivation. That's what has been happening these past couple of weeks. Writing has seemed like too much trouble.

These have not been uneventful weeks, however. Let's see. There was Ray's 29th birthday last week, and a nice visit from my mom last Wednesday night. Ray fixed my vacuum cleaner, Kacie finally got birthday cards from the Arizona relatives, and I got a long and amusing letter from my new stepmother. Kacie learned to wave, kiss and say "hi," and Jamie ran away from home -- half a block. Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and we had an amazingly pleasant and uncomplicated family dinner at Ray's folks' house.

Gretchen was hit by a car early this morning. One of our neighbors, Terri Something (not Terry S., but a different Terri) accidentally hit her. Ray and I were awakened by Gretchen's howling and pounding on the door. Our neighbor was deeply upset and offered to take Gretchen to the vet. Fortunately the vet said Gretchen was fine, except for one of her front legs, which was bruised and bleeding. He gave us some medicine and sent Gretchen home. Right now she's asleep in her doghouse; I peek at her every hour or so, to make sure she's resting comfortably.

I STILL wish we didn't have a dog -- she's been more trouble lately than ever -- but I don't have the heart to be angry with her today. She's obviously in pain, and who knows? Maybe she learned her lesson about leaving the yard.

Thursday morning 10 a.m.
May 3, 1984

Ten days later this time. Time passes. My first cup of coffee sits, steaming, on the table before me. I am groggy from sleep, and from the remnants of a nightful of weird, absorbing dreams. (In one dream, I dropped out of college and took a job swimming nude in the campus swimming pool ... ????)

The girls are playing with bowls of Life Cereal & sliced bananas. Jamie's is nearly untouched, Kacie's is all but gone already. Another long day of motherhood stretches out before me. I wonder: who will be the crab today? Lately they've been taking turns. This morning (so far) they're both in delightful moods ... Kacie is laying on the floor at my feet now, kicking at the hem of my nightgown and giggling; Jamie, naked and braided, clutches a hunk of banana and chatters idly. ("Terry home t'day?" she asks.) The "delightful moods" are destined to disappear by lunchtime, so I enjoy it while I can.

We are continuing to live the life. So far this has been a peaceful, predictable spring, with only an occasional break in the routine ... the impromptu party Ray and I threw last Saturday night with a few friends; my developing friendship with the new Avon lady, Maureen; Gretchen discovering ingenious new ways to escape the yard. The days appear and disappear with comfortable regularity; it is almost impossible to see the time passing. It's like we're suspended here in Spring 1984 ... not an entirely unpleasant place to be. Each noisy, busy, happy day is much like the last. Still, there are occasional small reminders that time is indeed passing ... quiet little "nudges" that remind me these days are precious, that they must be valued and appreciated. Jamie outgrows a favorite jacket ... the blossoms on the cherry tree disappear, replaced by reddish-brown leaves ... Daylight Savings Time begins, and the days grow longer. The girls get bigger and bigger each day, leaving their babyhood further behind, and I want to preserve these days with them, keep them forever ...

Ray is still working swingshift. It's been seven weeks now, and the most amazing thing has happened ... I have completely reversed my position! It seems incredible to me that I spent the first two weeks of swingshift moaning and groaning about how terrible it was, and about how "lonely" I was. I think that somehow I'd gotten the idea that I was supposed to feel that way, so I did. Once I stopped complaining long enough to decide how I really feel about it, I was pleasantly surprised. At a family dinner a couple of weeks ago, I talked to Judy about it. "I LOVED it when Don was on swingshift!" Judy said, so emphatically that it made me stop and think. Now that the initial nervousness has worn off (being home alone at night, I mean), I've begun to enjoy my solitary evenings. Now I adore them. Before Ray went on swing I hated being home alone at night, but that was mainly because I never knew for sure where he was, or when he would be home (or what condition he would be in when he got here). Now I know exactly where he is, and I can relax and enjoy myself. What Judy said rang a bell with me. The evenings are pleasant, the mornings are nice -- I like having Ray around in the morning -- Ray's drinking has dropped off, everybody is happy. What a dummy I've been! Always so quick to gripe.

Friday 11:30 a.m.
May 4, 1984

I'm actually writing something two days in a row -- amazing!

For fun this morning I sat and re-read my 1981 journal, the one that covers the final days of my first pregnancy, Jamie's birth, and Jamie's first couple of weeks. It has left me feeling nostalgic ... and oddly depressed. I have no idea why. I suppose it might be the same old "bugaboo" about time passing; wishing I could go back and re-live something special, but knowing it's impossible to do so. The final days of that pregnancy were so idyllic.  It was the happiest time of my whole life. What I wouldn't give to go back and live it again!

That's not to say that May 1984 is so bad. Like I wrote yesterday -- it's not an entirely unpleasant place to be.

There is the special magic of having toddlers in the house. I'm able to stay home and take care of my daughters; years from now, when I'm back in the pink-collar ghetto, I may long for the domestic life once again. I'm still young. Twenty-six is still young, isn't it? And most of my problems are of the small-scale variety. I'm probably much luckier - and much happier - than I realize.

4 p.m.

Now Ray is at work and the housework is all done. This is the quiet, shut-down part of the day ... the girls nap, I sit and recoup my energies before the hectic dinner hour.

7:30 p.m.

The dinner hour wasn't so "hectic," after all ... the girls both gobbled down everything I fixed for them (something new -- canned chicken ravioli, along with frozen mixed vegetables and chopped tomato!), and immediately after dinner I popped them both into the tub. For the first time in recent memory, Jamie didn't cry when I shampooed her hair -- as a matter of fact, she SMILED! Not even a whimper. I was amazed. Kacie, on the other hand, screamed bloody murder the minute she saw me with the shampoo bottle in my hand. Now they're both in p.j.'s, hair glistening, happily running around the house with cookies and ba-bas.

Monday morning (noon, actually)
May 7, 1984

A perfectly awful weekend is over now. Whew. I had a Grade-A stomach ache all day Saturday and Sunday, lasting until midnight last night ... the very worst, ever. All I could do all weekend was lay around in bed, or on the sofa, and suffer. We had some "pseudo-Chinese" food for dinner last night (canned/ frozen stuff from the supermarket) and that just made me feel worse. It'll be a long, long time before I'll be able to look a Mary Pang Frozen Egg Roll in the eye again! In the meantime, though, I'm feeling somewhat better today. I've dressed and put on some bright makeup and brushed my hair, and now I'm thinking about picking up the house ... it looks pretty bad. I just let everything slide this weekend. Crud all over the place. It should take me a good four or five hours, at least, until I can even see the floor again.


Whew. (Again!) I've been running around like crazy for a solid hour, and I'm pooped. Guess I don't fully have my strength back yet. At least I made a tiny dent in the housework ... gave the girls some lunch (chicken ravioli again -- they weren't so crazy about it the second time around) and I'm now rewarding myself with a coffee break.

Jamie is playing in the backyard. Every once in awhile she comes and brings me a handful of crumpled violets or a scraggly dandelion. "Here Mom," she says, "I got fowers for you." These funny little bouquets are more beautiful and precious to me than all the roses in the world.

Wednesday 3:30 p.m.
May 9, 1984


Kacie just said "banana," I think. She's sitting in her highchair eating a muffin smeared with peanut butter and a part of a banana ...

The other night Jamie was eating her fried chicken and vegetables, and she paused for a moment, leaned back in her chair and said "Good dinner, Mom." I was startled - but pleased!

The past two nights I've stayed up until 1:30 or 2:00 in the ayem, watching The Tonight Show and David Letterman. I love both shows. I love David Letterman's bizarre sense of humor. At that time of the night the house is so beautifully still and quiet; I curl up on the sofa with my afghan and revel in the solitude. The only trouble with my budding addiction to late-late-night TV is that it plays havoc with my schedule the next day. I'm up to ten cups of coffee a day just for maintenance!

These are some phrases Kacie understands:

Give Mama a kiss-kiss
Where's your blanky-blanky?
Kitty, doggy, cup
Would you like a cookie?
Let's go find Jamie
Get away from the fireplace!
Sit down, Sissy
Comb your pretty hair
Do a little jig-jig! (her funny little dance)

May 9, 1984

Tomorrow is payday, but Ray grimly announced this morning that it's going to be a very slim paycheck after he pays the rent, the power bill and the water bill. That shoots down my plans; I was hoping for some spending money, as a Mother's Day gift. As a matter of fact, I was scraping up the nerve to ask for a hundred bucks. Now I guess I'd better just keep my mouth shut and hope I even get a Mother's Day card on Sunday.

Kacie learned a new "trick" today. If I'm not paying attention to her, she grabs my hand. For example -- she toddles over to where I'm sitting, clutching her toy purse. The purse is shut and she wants me to open it for her. I'm not paying attention, though, so she grabs my hand and lays it on the purse. OK, so it's not exactly an earth-shattering development ... what it is, though, is her pre-verbal way of asking me a question. Requesting something. Communicating with me. And I think that's neat!

Wednesday 10 a.m.
May 16, 1984

A week later. This has been an eventful seven days!

Last Wednesday night Mom stopped by for an unexpected visit. She said she had "bad news and worse news," so I fixed us both a cup of tea and sat with her at the kitchen table. The bad news and the "worse" news were actually about the same thing. It's a complicated and unpleasant story, but the gist of it is this: last week Debby and four boys stole a car and ran off to Idaho. The police are looking for them now. I'll write more about this when I hear more. When I first heard the news I felt shock, and anger at Debby for being such a dope ... but now I just feel sad. My sweet baby sister. She is determined to hit bottom, and this time she may actually have succeeded.

This weekend Mom and Ken moved into the new Renton apartment complex where Ken has been hired as manager.  As a result, we have inherited their dog, Dink. On Sunday evening they came and dropped Dink off with us. My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I feel dismay. Another dog??!?  On the other hand, I'm thrilled to be helping Mom in some concrete way. And Dink is such a sweet old doggy ... a "mutt" in every sense of the word, all hair and tongue and wagging tail. He's been very lost and lonely the past couple of days. It can't be easy to suddenly find yourself in a strange place full of unfamiliar faces! I've been letting him stay in the house, where the girls clamber all over him and shower him with attention, and he seems to like that.

On Sunday we moved Jamie out of her crib and into a regular bed. The transition was amazingly painless. Jamie is thrilled to have a "big girl's bed," and there have been no problems at all.  We gave Jamie's crib to Kacie, and moved Kacie's old $10 crib out to the carport. Recently it had taken to collapsing in the middle of the night, so it's a relief to finally have Kacie in something sturdier and more reliable. Kacie was utterly unconcerned about the change of cribs -- I don't think she even noticed.

Sunday was Mother's Day. As Ray predicted, this paycheck was tiny, so we were already broke by the weekend. Still, Ray got me a small houseplant for Mother's Day, and he made a special dinner -- shish kebobs, onion rings, garlic bread and frozen cheesecake for dessert. We ate dinner and watched Jane Fonda in "The Dollmaker," and it was a sweet, pleasant Mother's Day, just our little family.

I found out last week that our next door neighbor, Lori H., is pregnant again. I forget when her baby is due, but I think it's November. This will be her second; Charlie is 1-1/2, although she and Ben also have the two kids from Ben's first marriage. That means four kids! Any sane person would feel sorry for her, but you know me ... the minute I heard the word "pregnant," I turned eight shades of green. The longing to have another baby comes and goes in cycles. Some days I can hardly stand it. Last week I was sorting through all of the outgrown baby clothes, and the longing for a new baby was suffocating ... I wanted to use all those tiny p.j.'s again!!!

A Day In The Life
May 1984

8 a.m. I am deeply asleep, snuggled warmly under the brown comforter. If possible, I am prepared to sleep another two hours ... I was up until 1:30 a.m. again last night watching David Letterman, and I could use the extra sleep.

Suddenly Ray leaps out of bed and dashes into the bathroom. I am instantly awake. "Please don't let him flush the toilet!" I silently implore The Fates. A flushing toilet will wake up the girls, and I am simply not ready to face the day yet: even another half hour of sleep would be a blessing. I burrow further under the covers and listen to my husband thrashing around in the bathroom. Just when I believe I may saved  ...  there it is. CRRRR-EEEEE-AAAAAK, GURGLE GURGLE GURGLE, SWIIIISH, SPLASH!! The plumbing noisily springs to life, and my heart sinks: I know there will be no reprieve now.

I'm right.

Seconds later, I hear Jamie happily announce to her Daddy, "Dee Dee up now!" Jamie is sleeping in a regular bed for the first time this week, and she has discovered the delights of getting up and down whenever she feels like it. Ray crawls back into bed and I glare at him. "Thanks a lot!" I mutter blackly, but he doesn't hear me. Enviously I watch him snuggle under the blankets and hear him heave a comfortable sigh. I sit in bed for a minute or two and listen for further communication from my two year old. Nothing but ominous silence. OK folks, this is it. Ready or not, gotta heave the ol' bones out of bed. No telling what Jamie might be getting into ...

Jamie, amazingly, is very quietly standing in front of the sofa, waiting for me. I yawn and give her a sleepy "Good morning!," and we hug and kiss. She chatters at me while I plug in the coffeepot, take off her soggy diaper ("I take T-shirt off now!" she says) and try to shake the cobwebs from my brain. We turn on the TV and watch all Jamie's favorite shows ... the nauseating "Polka Dot Door," "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood," "Sesame Street." Mr. Rogers is visiting a nursery school today, and I tell Jamie that when she's a big girl, she'll go to school, too.

After a while the kiddie shows start getting on my nerves, so I pour myself some more coffee - half the pot is gone already - and I sit at the kitchen table with my little tape recorder. Jamie is instantly standing at the table beside me, munching on toast and watching me intently. For the next hour we play with the tape recorder. We listen to an old tape of Jamie and Kacie, and then we tape a new conversation between the two of us.

At ten o'clock Kacie wakes up. I hear one long, anguished howl from her room. There is a lot of fuzzy black dog hair all over the living room (our new temporary dog, Dink, slept in the house last night) so I hurriedly run the vacuum around ... otherwise Kacie would be taste-testing the dog hair within minutes. Kacie is delighted to see me when I go to her room: she's anxious to get up. I lift her out of her crib and plant a huge kiss on the top of her head. She's not in a cuddling mood, though - she rarely is, these days - and she wiggles and squirms, trying to get out of my arms. I set her down and she toddles off in a big hurry to find her Jamie ...

Kacie has her toast, and I change her diaper. She rubs the toast, jelly side down, all over my nightgown. "Icccckkk!" I say, playfully, and pop her into the highchair to finish her breakfast.

Time for a long, hot shower ... one of the highlights of my morning. I wash my hair with chamomile shampoo, standing under the shower head and letting the hot water envelope me. It is heaven. Kacie stands by the edge of the tub and grabs at my legs, giggling every time I "scream" in mock terror. Jamie doesn't watch me shower anymore, but when she hears me turning off the water she runs into the bathroom and hands me a towel. I call her my Good Helper, and she beams.

Ray is sound asleep when I tiptoe into our room to get dressed - my one & only pair of jeans, and a black polo shirt I've owned since college. A few minutes later I dress the girls: red coveralls and a flowered shirt for Kacie, a clean T-shirt and training pants for Jamie. It's a cloudy, chilly morning so I put slippers on both girls. They disappear into Jamie's room after they're dressed, and I sit at the table with one more cup of coffee and a cigarette.

I put on some light makeup while I watch "Ryan's Hope." (Siobhan had a baby yesterday; Roger is terrorizing Maggie again.) The rest of the morning passes in a familiar and comfortable way. The girls drink bottles of juice. Kacie plays with the empty Avon boxes, until Jamie takes them away from her. Later, Jamie appears at the table with an armload of Sesame Street books and sits next to me, "reading." Kacie tosses her toys out the door, into the front yard. My favorite soap comes on, "All My Children."  Today we learned that Ross is actually Palmer's long-lost son, Edna is burned up because Zach turned out to be a male prostitute, Hillary went out with Tony, Tad quit his job as a gigolo, Erica had her daily temper tantrum. The girls fight over toys. Kacie climbs onto Jamie's bed, but then she can't get back down. I finish the pot of coffee and make another one. Johan, the old basset hound from down the street, pays us a visit. Kacie brings me her empty bottle and hands it to me, wordlessly requesting a refill: the first time she's ever done this.

Jamie pees in her training pants.

We are perilously low on food. I open a can of beef stew for lunch, adding some leftover carrots and corn to make it stretch a little further. The girls and I have big bowls of it for lunch, with bread and butter, and it tastes surprisingly good. "Good dinner now!" Jamie says. "Lunch," I tell her. "Munch," she agrees. Both girls eat every bite and ask for seconds. After we're done eating I wipe their messy faces and fingers, and put the lunch dishes in the sink to soak.

It is 1 p.m. - time to wake Ray up for work. I go into our bedroom and lay down next to him on the bed. The girls are right behind me, and within minutes they are happily climbing Daddy Mountain. Ray pretends to be annoyed, but it's all a front: where his girls are concerned the man is a marshmallow. He tickles Kacie under the chin, and teases Jamie about her training pants ("Pew!" he says). When he gets up and shuffles out to the kitchen, the girls follow him. I rest for a minute or two, fantasizing about how lovely a "real" nap would be.


Ray showers, and I sit with Kacie in the rocking chair. She is getting sleepy and cranky, and the rocking soothes her. Jamie finds an old Band-Aid (from my bee sting last night) and puts it on the nose of her Pink Panther. I hear the mail truck up the street and suddenly remember I have a letter to mail, to my sister-in-law Judy. (We have no phone again, so letter-writing is my only means of communicating with the outside world.) Barefoot, I dash across the street to the mailbox. The girls stand at the window and watch me. Jamie waves; Kacie looks astonished to see Mama outside. Later, Ray checks to see if we got any mail. "Maybe I got a check for a thousand dollars," he says wryly. No such luck. (No mail at all, as a matter of fact.)

Kacie willingly goes down for a nap with a cold bottle of milk and her blanky. Ray takes our last two dollars and goes to the store. I snap off the TV, wash the dishes and listen to more tapes of Jamie as a baby.

Jamie suddenly becomes intolerably cranky, so I carry her, kicking and screaming, to her bed. "Need COX!" she screams, so I obligingly put socks on her feet. "Need CUZ!" she screams, and I "cover" her with a blanket.

I have some quiet time in the afternoon while both girls nap. I listen to more old tapes, read the newspaper, plot how to get my hands on some Pepsi. (We only had enough money for milk and a newspaper.) I go next door and ask my neighbors (the Bruffs) if they have any pop I can "borrow." Phyllis says no. I ask her to send Rick over when he gets home from school ... maybe he'll go to the store for me. I have 35 cents in pennies and one Canadian quarter.

The girls nap long and hard. It's 4:15 before I hear the first stirring ... the music box in Kacie's crib, which plays when she pulls a string. I'm feeling a little lonely, so I go in and get her. She's wide awake, sitting up in her crib, jabbering at me a mile a minute. I let her scamper around the kitchen for a while; she plays with her beloved Avon boxes and some empty cassette cases, climbs onto my lap once or twice, then walks down the hallway and stands outside Jamie's door, waiting for her sister to wake up.

Jamie is up not long afterwards, and I begin fixing dinner for them both. I boil two hot-dogs and a handful of spaghetti noodles, and I warm up half a can of leftover green beans. Jay turns on the TV, and we watch an old "Eight Is Enough" re-run. I pour a little tomato sauce on the noodles and franks and call it "Hot Dog Spaghetti." Personally I think it's revolting, but such is the depleted state of our cupboards. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all that. The girls like it, though. Jamie sits at the table and Kacie sits in the highchair next to her, and they happily suck spaghetti noodles and smear tomato sauce all over themselves.

After dinner I pop them both into the tub. Kacie doesn't want to take a bath - she's afraid of having her hair shampooed - and she runs in terror when she hears me turn on the bath water. I wash their hair quickly, with as little fuss as possible. Kacie screams at the top of her lungs, but Jamie is pretty good about it. After the trauma of the hair-washing is over, I let them splash and play for half an hour. While they bathe, I finish up the dinner dishes and fold the laundry. Rick from next door comes to the door with two cans of Shasta Cola. I offer him my 35 cents, but he tells me to "forget it."

When the girls are out of the tub, dried off, diapered and p.j.'d, I put a spritz of instant conditioner on their hair and comb it through. It makes their hair incredibly soft and shiny. Jamie's bangs needs a good trim, so I sit her on the camphor chest and spend a frustrating fifteen minutes trying to get them even while she wiggles and howls in protest. The results are so-so ... a little crooked, but a definite improvement; I can see her eyebrows again, anyway.

The evening passes with the same comfortable, routine familiarity as did the afternoon. The girls run up and down the hallway, dashing from Kacie's room to Jamie's and back again. Doors slam, toys are fought over, voices rise and fall. Kacie is in a hot-pink blanket sleeper, Jamie in powder blue. I watch them run and play, and I feel a powerful surge of love for my children.

Kacie goes to bed at 8 p.m. I fix myself a hot dog and some french fries for dinner, and then I eat while Jamie and I watch "Benson." Jamie sits with me on the sofa for the rest of the evening: we watch "Webster" and "Dallas." Kacie gets back up once, for a couple of minutes, but goes right back to bed. I munch on peanuts and sip a weak rum and Shasta Cola while we watch the season finale of "Dallas." (An unknown assailant accidentally shoots Bobby Ewing!)  At 10 p.m. Jamie announces that it's her "bedtime," and goes to her room. Surprised (but pleased) I tuck her in. She kisses and "squeezes" me and says "Ni-night, Mama."

I'm asleep by midnight.

Saturday afternoon
May 19, 1984
"Dirty Laundry," Don Henley

Yesterday wasn't really a "typical" day, by the way ... usually there's a LOT more housework! I was pretty lazy yesterday, as a matter of fact, but once in awhile I guess everybody needs a day like that.

Ray tried to get a draw on next week's paycheck but his work wouldn't let him. We have about one dollar in change to our names, but I'm not worried ... Ray said he would "figure something out," and for some reason I believe him. Rainy day. I feel pretty good today. My only complaint in this damned bee sting, on my left index finger ... I got it on Thursday night. Jamie and I were sitting on the floor watching "Cheers" when I felt something fuzzy crawling up my leg, under my bathrobe. I swatted at it, and that's when I got stung. My first bee sting since I was nine? ten? It's swollen and hot and it itches like a sonofabitch. I had forgotten how unpleasant a bee sting actually is.

(Little daughter, nose pressed against the window, clutching her coat, waiting for her Daddy to return from the phone booth so she can go bye-bye with him ... if he disappoints her, I'll kill him.)

Sunday morning
May 20, 1984

Ray spent most of the day yesterday trying to get hold of his folks on the phone so he could negotiate a small loan, but there's been no answer. Later in the evening Judy S. loaned us five dollars for milk and cigarettes, but of course this morning we're back to being broke. I'm still not worried. I just know we'll be taken care of.


Ray finally got in touch with his parents, around 9 p.m. tonight ... they've been "clam-digging" all weekend. Even though it was late, he bundled Jamie up and popped her into the car for a quick trip over to their house. (Kacie was in bed already, so I stayed home, monitoring the pot roast and watching "The Mystic Warrior.") The two of them were home at 11:00 with a small box of diapers and a few badly-needed groceries. Jamie finally got the "bye-bye" she'd been promised all weekend, and her eyes were shining as I tucked her into bed.

The day before payday is always the poorest  ...  but somehow the easiest to endure. The girls have to wear icky cloth diapers because I'm out of disposables, we're down to the bottom of the barrel food-wise, and I'll have to borrow laundry soap from one of my neighbors this afternoon again. But knowing we'll have money tomorrow night somehow makes it bearable.

We had a rough night with Jamie last night after Ray got home from work. She absolutely would not stay in her bed! We battled with her until 5 a.m. This morning I'm exhausted and headachy, and Jamie is uncharacteristically solemn. I'm going to fix her a little milk and coffee and see if that doesn't jolly her up a bit.

Kacie has an irritating new "game" ... she pushes the ottoman around the house and uses it as a step-ladder, mostly to get up to the stereo and fiddle with the knobs. I took one of the wheels off the bottom of the ottoman this morning so it won't roll freely anymore. You should have seen the look Kacie gave me when she tried to push it and it wouldn't budge. It was almost as though she was saying "Why did you spoil my fun, Mama?"

Sometimes I worry about Kacie ... I worry that she doesn't get enough of my time and attention. Jamie can be so demanding, and a lot of the time Kacie sort of gets lost in the shuffle. I've been making a concerted effort lately to spend time alone with Kacie, to give her a little of my undivided attention ... I walk around the house with her in my arms and we look out the windows. She has this funny little whispery thing she does in my ear ("Cussa-cussa-cussa"). She points at the dogs in the backyard and barks ("Ack!") Sometimes we sit in the rocking chair and just rock back and forth for twenty minutes ... for a wiggly one year old, she's amazingly still as we rock. I want to get to know this daughter for herself, not as part of a "matched set." Kacie is a completely unique, special little person, and I love her dearly.

One reason it's so difficult for me to recognize Kacie's individuality is because she and Jamie are so much alike. If it weren't for the fifteen months' difference in their ages, they could be fraternal twins. Developmentally, physically, emotionally, verbally ... they are so alike, it's spooky. I look at Jamie and I can see precisely where Kacie will be fifteen months from now. Similarly, I can look at Kacie and see the way Jamie used to be. They have so many of the same quirks and tricks and little games. They even sound alike. Sometimes it takes me a minute or two to figure out which one is crying  ...  or laughing. The two of them are so wonderful together, so perfectly matched, that sometimes it's hard to mentally separate them -- they're "the girls." "The girls" do this, "the girls" do that ... and that's not fair to either one of them. I must consciously differentiate between them. I've got to start looking for the differences.

Impromptu Poem
Jamie P., two years old
Sits in her wading pool eating a popsicle
On the first fine day of summer.


Sunday evening
May 27, 1984

I haven't written in the evening in a long time, have I? Usually I'm writing in the morning over coffee. It's Sunday night, though, and there's nothing worth watching on TV (a dismal TV movie with Stella Stevens as a lady sheriff in the Old West, the Indy 500 or the obnoxious CBS comedies). I've been reading some of my old diaries today, and as always when I spend time re-reading thing I've written in the past, I get a sudden urge to write something current.

Ray is bustling around in the kitchen, watching the Indy 500 and fixing our dinner ... we're having lovely thick steaks and baked potatoes. I just put a drowsy Kacie to bed; Jamie is sitting at the kitchen table in her Strawberry Shortcake shortie pajamas, eating butterscotch ripple ice cream and keeping an eye on her Daddy. I'm woozy from a codeine pill and a small glass of white wine, but it feels good. Friday night I had an accident; Jamie pushed the TV off its stand it fell on my arm when I tried to catch it! At first we thought my arm was broken. Our neighbor, David, took me to the hospital for an x-ray, but fortunately it's just a bad sprain. The doctor wrapped it up in an Ace bandage and gave me a prescription for codeine for the pain (which has been considerable). Today my arm is covered with the most amazing collection of purple bruises, very tender and sore to the touch. (Kacie inadvertently bumped my arm this today and I hit the ceiling!) Considering the fact that the TV weighs 150 pounds, I guess I'm lucky I didn't break anything.

I didn't do much of anything today ... I've been slightly hungover. Ray and I went to Dave's Place for three hours last night, while Terry and her friend Jeannie watched the girls. The tavern was practically deserted -- I spent most of the time talking to Pam about hair -- but it did feel good to get out of the house. We stopped at Godfather's and bought a pan pizza on our way home, sat in bed eating and watching TV until the wee hours.

Terry and Jeannie took the girls out for a walk in the double stroller today, and later they went to the park and had a picnic. While they were gone I worked on my photo albums and read the Sunday papers. The house is kind of a mess, but I didn't feel much like cleaning.

I got the wading pool out of storage and Jamie splashed around in it for an hour this afternoon. If it's sunny again tomorrow I'll let Kacie have a little swim. She's never been in the wading pool and I bet she'll love it. 

My favorite pen pal (Melinda Z., in New Jersey) got married today. I thought about her all afternoon; I hope the wedding turned out as planned. Now she's Melinda R. That'll take some getting used to! Right now she and Bob are probably off on their honeymoon.

Jamie is trying to climb up on my lap, so I'm going to have to close and spend some cuddle time with my pumpkin.

June 4, 1984
Monday afternoon

Ray just left for work ... the weekend is officially over. Sigh. I'm always a little sad to see the weekend end, particularly when it has been as pleasant as this weekend has been. We didn't do anything wildly exciting -- Ray brought home Chinese food Saturday night, I watched "How Green Was My Valley" and a PBS special on Princess Diana, Terry got Jamie over to play with the little girls down the street (Rebecca & Ericka), Ray worked on the car, I took pictures of the girls -- but I felt very happy and very much in love with my little family, and the girls & Ray seemed to pick up on that. A lot of the time I tend to take our lives together for granted, but this was one of those weekends when I was acutely aware of how blessed we are.

Ray's fortune cookie said, "Happiness through the joys of home and marriage." We both liked his fortune so much that I stuck it into the frame of our wedding picture ... it's still there.

I'm being lazy today. I've got potato soup in the crockpot and a sinkful of dirty dishes.


June 5, 1984
Tuesday 8 a.m.

A wrenching dream woke me up much earlier than usual this morning ... a dream I can't get out of my head:

My old boyfriend, Steve P., was living in a house up the street from my grandparents. I was dying to see him, but  -- given our tortuous history  --  I wasn't sure how to approach him. I sent him a couple of notes saying that I would like to see him, but he never answered them. Finally, on Christmas Eve, I took a walk past his house. He saw me from his window and excitedly ran to the door to invite me inside. He seemed very pleased to see me, and I could feel all those old feelings begin to stir inside myself again.

We talked. He was living with a girl (DB?) in what appeared to be -- or what I hoped was -- a platonic arrangement. She sat in the corner watching us, and I sensed that she disliked me. There was also a baby in a bassinet, sleeping on one side of the room, but I ignored it. "Did you know I have three kids now?" I said to Steve, and he said yes, he'd heard.

To my immense excitement, he asked me if I would like to go to a party with him that evening. Some of the "old crowd" was getting together for a keg at a friend's house. Happily I accepted, saying that I would have to go home (to Grandma and Grandpa's) first and change my clothes. I promised to return shortly, and in a fog of sheer happiness I ran back down the street to my grandparents' house. I could hardly believe my luck!  I knew I was being given one last chance to make this relationship work.

At my grandparents' house, many of my relatives had gathered for Christmas Eve. Grandma was busily making Christmas dinner. "Take off your coat and wash your hands, Sister," she called out to me. "Dinner will be ready soon." My heart did a flip-flop. How could I tell her I wouldn't be staying for Christmas dinner? Most of my happy feeling evaporated. I set my hair on electric rollers, and when Grandma saw the rollers in my hair, I told her that I had a "date." I asked if she was angry. She said, in a very cold tone of voice -- I could tell that she was deeply hurt -- "I wish you people would just come visit the weekend before Christmas, instead of dropping in for only five minutes on Christmas Eve."

At this point in the dream I heard my own voice saying, as if I were the narrator, "Here is your chance to do the noble thing, Terri." And that's when I woke up.

The dream is bothering me on a couple of levels. First of all, it has brought Steve back to mind, and there is still more hurt than pleasure in the remembering. Secondly, there is the business of "doing the noble thing." Believe it or not, I've actually been spending a lot of time lately thinking about things like honor, and about doing what is honorable and noble. I don't know what started it, or why I've been dwelling on it, but it has occurred to me recently that I've never done a really honorable thing -- a really altruistic, selfless, courageous thing -- and for some reason that has been bothering me. My dream this morning reflects this. Choosing between a date and a family dinner may not sound like the weightiest decision in the world, but actually it's symbolic: a choice between the selfish and the selfless. Most of the time I choose the selfish. If this dream had really happened, I know exactly what I would have done: I would have gone on that date. (But I would have wallowed in guilt all evening ... )

Maybe I'm being prepared for a time when I'll have to do the noble thing ... perhaps the Lord has purposely started me thinking about it, because I'm going to be called on to do something truly honorable soon?  The thought is scary ... and exhilarating. If the time comes, would I be brave enough? Selfless enough?

When I think about doing something "honorable," I think of squaring old debts, settling a long-standing argument, apologizing for a past wrongdoing ... but I know it could mean more than that. What if, for instance, I were called upon to risk my life to save someone else? What if I had to give up my life in order to save one of my children? Would I be strong enough -- honorable enough -- to do that? In the case of saving my kids, I think I would. I believe I would die to save Jamie or Kacie. I can't say whether I'd be willing to die for anyone else, though. But I guess that's something you can't really speculate about in advance ... it's impossible to know for sure what you would do in such a situation.

I've just never really thought much about these things. It's always been easier not to think about them.


Wednesday 11 a.m.
June 6, 1984

24 hours later, and there's enough distance between yesterday's dream and today to make the dream seem totally insignificant. All that stuff I wrote about "honor" doesn't seem insignificant, though. I know it probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but I wasn't kidding when I said that the concept of altruism and honor has been on my mind a lot lately, long before I had the dream. I think it may be a sign that I'm growing up. I'm concerned about the person I am, and I'm ready to make the break with the thoughtless, self-centered girl I've always been. Having children is teaching me about responsibility. Now it's time to learn about honor. How can I teach my children, after all, if I haven't learned the lesson myself?

Late evening:

As of yesterday, there is a terrible war going on in the Middle East, between Iran and Iraq. Walter Mondale yesterday won the Democratic Primary, and this is Donald Duck's 50th birthday.

Is it any wonder I feel as though the world is standing on its head?


June 15, 1984 (nine days later)
Friday early

Today is my "spiritual birthday."  Fourteen years ago today, in Long Bevch, Washington, I invited Jesus Christ to be my personal Lord & Savior. I realize that my journals have not always reflected my faith ... indeed, it might be impossible for anyone reading my diaries & journals to detect that I'm a born-again Christian ... but I am. Underneath it all, I do still believe.

It's been eight years since I've set foot into a church for any reason other than a wedding or funeral. Throughout my teen years, church was very important to me: Boulevard Park Presbyterian was like a second home to me. I had my happiest times there, with the other kids in the youth group ... retreats, the Bus Caravans, roller-skating parties, the youth choir. I still feel linked to some of the people I loved there, especially Karen and Phil, and I will through all eternity. I stopped going to church during my senior year in high school. In my journals I blamed it on a series of fallings-out with some of the people in the choir -- disputes which, looking back, I think I probably engineered myself, to give me an excuse to leave. Actually, it was the lure of "the wild life" that led me away. I had a new, non-Christian boyfriend (Scott S.) and we were interested in drinking parties, recreational drugs, sex, rock & roll ... all very powerful lures. I can't say that Scott "introduced" me to these things, because I'd had a taste of them all before I met him, but with him as my steady boyfriend they became a regular part of my life, and church was abandoned.

In high school I lived a sort of double life. There was The School Terri and The Church Terri. At school (and in some of my free time away from school) I did a lot of things I'm not proud of.  There were too many boys, too many beer parties. I dabbled in drugs, and began binge drinking on occasion. Doing these things gave me a dangerous, exciting feeling. Still  --  even when I'd been very, very "bad"  --  I could go to church and be with my Christian friends and feel loved, accepted, forgiven, clean ... my Christian friends and youth leaders were aware of some of my non-Christian activities but they were never judgmental. I was still one of them, underneath it all, and they gave me love and support.

But by the time I started going with Scott and graduated from high school, the hold that the world had on me was too strong to resist. Scott made fun of me for going to church, so I turned my back on it and walked away. In the years between that time and now, I've often thought about finding a new church and re-establishing myself as a member of the Body of Christ. I've never completely lost sight of my relationship with Jesus, even during my darkest and most troubled moments. Still, something holds me back. Fear, maybe. Attachment to the world. Addiction. Lethargy. I want to make a new commitment, but I'm frozen in one spot.

Today, fourteen years after that day beside the ocean, when Tom Horton led me to Christ, these things are on my mind.


June 18, 1984
Monday afternoon

My journal has been so serious-minded lately, hasn't it? Almost grim. I don't know why.

Today is a lovely, sunny day, and I am cooped up in the house with a rotten cold. Ray came home sick one day last week and, one by one, the rest of us have all come down with it. First Kacie, then Jamie, and now me. My whole head is stuffed up, and I feel groggy and out of sorts.

Yesterday was Father's Day. I got a couple of little gifts for the girls to give their Daddy -- soap-on-a-rope from Jamie, musk after-shave from Kacie. In the evening I made a big dinner for Ray, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed corn. He had a fairly nice Father's Day, he said, even if we were all feeling lousy.

Got some new jeans last week -- size 16. Yikes.

My period is one day late.


June 19, 1984
Tuesday morning

This is Day Three of my cold ... I'm carrying a roll of toilet paper around the house with me this morning to blow my nose with. Mrs. Kennedy gave me half a bottle of liquid cold medicine yesterday, and that appears to be helping: I don't feel as achy and feverish today.

Kacie has climbed up onto the kitchen chair next to mine and is happily swiping at my pen ... she's happy now, but her climbing is becoming a major source of irritation around here. I know that climbing is as natural to toddlers as breathing, but Kacie really isn't very good at it yet and I'm afraid she's going to fall and hurt herself. So I pluck her off the chair and plant her safely on the floor, where she bursts into angry tears ...

Jamie has taken to sleeping with her bedroom light on at night. Last night she fell asleep in my bed while the two of us were watching TV, so I carried her to her own room and tucked her in -- without turning her light on. She woke up at 2:30 a.m. in hysterics. "TURN MITE ON!!!" she screamed, over and over, until I rushed into her room and hit the switch. Then she quietly went back to sleep.

The neighborhood kids got out of school for the summer yesterday. Terry came over and talked to me for awhile in the afternoon while I baked cookies; her conversation is full of boys, boys, boys. Next fall she starts junior high. I look at her and I feel light-years removed from her ... the summer I was twelve was a million years ago.


Oh wonderful ... Kacie has diarrhea, I've just discovered. At the moment she is sprawled on the kitchen floor, sound asleep. (But only temporarily -- Jamie walked past her pushing the toy shopping cart, and Kacie woke up in a blink.)


July 6, 1984
Friday morning

Almost three weeks later. And would you believe it -- I am still sick. Actually, I'm in the final stages of my SECOND summer cold, a cold that followed right on the heels of the first one, with only a day or two of health in between. This second cold has been ten times worse than the first one, too. And, just like me, Ray and the girls also got sick a second time. We were so sick last weekend that we had to cancel our plans to go to the folks' for dinner. (Jamie was feeling pretty good that day, though, so Peg came over and picked her up for the day.)

Today I've got a rumbling cough and my nose is peeling from three weeks' worth of blowing ... but I am getting well. At last.

This virus affected the girls in a different way than it hit Ray and me ... it went right to their eyes. For several mornings in a row they woke up with conjunctivitis -- little eyes practically "glued shut" with a crusty film. Kacie had it the worst. She also had the highest fever. Today her nose is running, but her eyes are clear and she appears otherwise to be feeling fine.

We had a pretty nice Fourth of July ... we went over to Peg & Don's for a hamburger barbecue. (Sheryl is pregnant again -- due in January.) All of the regulars were there ... Judy looking tanned and trim, Sheryl just beginning to "show" in a striped bathing suit, Don and Peg both sick and dopey with summer colds ...  it was overcast and hazy most of the day but very hot, and the little kids spent the afternoon running in the sprinkler while the adults sat around the patio drinking beer.

Ray was still very sick that day, so we came home fairly early -- around 7:00. Kacie went to bed without any fuss, and Jamie got into p.j.'s and sat on the front lawn with me, watching the neighbors shoot off fireworks.

We had cable installed a couple of weeks ago -- HBO, Showtime, The Playboy Channel (ick) and MTV.

My period started finally, over a week late, but it started.


July 10, 1984
Tuesday evening

Summer evening ... the sun is just going down. Doors and windows open, cool and breezy.

Conversation With Jamie:

Jamie: "Moy," (her name for me) "Solid Gold on now!"
Mom: "Yah."
Jamie: "That not Solid Gold, that Star Search now!"
Mom: "That's not Star Search, it's Solid Gold."
Jamie: "Oh, dat Solid Gold."

(It's actually a dumb Solid Gold "special," the top forty summer songs of all time or something like that. Something's wrong with the color TV -- the cable is on the fritz, and the TV doesn't work at all -- so we're reduced to watching Channel 11 on the black & white.)

JAMIE HAD HER BOWEL MOVEMENT IN HER POTTY CHAIR TONIGHT!!!! The big event of the evening!  (I think she did, anyway. I didn't actually see it. She came running up to me, shouting "I went pooy Moy,!" and I just accepted it at face value. There is no evidence that she actually went, if you know what I mean, but she is so adamant about it that I want to believe her.)


July 17, 1984
Tuesday evening ... one week later

I'm not writing much this summer. I think about writing, but it's either too hot or I'm too busy ... or too lazy. (Old Mary Tyler Moore re-run on TV / Tropical Punch Kool-Aid / Chicken TV dinner in oven / Jamie chattering at the dogs out front)


July 22, 1984
Sunday 10 a.m.

It is a beautiful summer morning ... sunshine, blue skies, just a hint of breeze ... and if I weren't so exhausted and so down at heart, I might be able to enjoy it. ("Somewhere In Time" just starting on Showtime -- the girls milling around the house with bananas and bottles of apple juice.) Ray went out early yesterday evening, ostensibly to get a pizza and make a few phone calls, swearing that he would be "right back." When he finally got home at midnight, of course, he was so drunk he was literally bouncing off the walls. It's been a long time since I'd seen him in such disgusting condition, but I didn't say anything ... I kissed him, ate a slice of (cold) pizza, told him goodnight and went to bed. I was dead tired. I'd been asleep for about ten minutes when he suddenly burst into the bedroom, turned on all the lights and started picking a fight with me. I told him I didn't want to sleep in the same bed with him (he smelled TERRIBLE, for one thing -- like empty beer cans and full ashtrays), and I went out the living room and layed down on the sofa. He followed me out there, once again throwing on all the lights, and told me I "had a choice" -- to either go to bed with him or to "get out." I ignored his drunken tirade, and he eventually went back to the bedroom for a little while  ...  only to emerge a few minutes later, ordering and threatening me. All I wanted was a little sleep, but he wouldn't leave me alone. By 2 a.m. I was exhausted and sobbing. "JUST LEAVE ME ALONE AND LET ME SLEEP!" I yelled at him, but that just provoked him all the more. He tried to act like he was sober, and he got very sarcastic and ugly - I have never seen him like that - he was utterly repulsive. I pray I never see him that way again, because it has left me feeling very cold towards him today. I did absolutely nothing to fuel the argument except to ask that he leave me alone and let me sleep, but for two hours he made my life hell and I'm still mad about it this morning.

I finally did go into our room and lay down next to him. He mumbled an apology and passed out, and then I went back to the sofa and spent the rest of the night.

The house is a mess this morning, and I plan to spend the entire day (unless it gets too hot) immersing myself in housework and ignoring Ray. It's possible he may not even remember his disgusting performance last night -- or pretend he doesn't remember -- but I'm not letting him off the hook for this one. He gets my coldest shoulder today.

Kacie is in a rotten mood. She's got a diaper rash and she's crabby as hell. Jamie won't leave my side. She heard most of last night's fight, and today she's sticking to me like glue, saying things like "Mama take care of me now?" We've got two litters of kittens running around -- CeCe's and Wendie's -- a total of seven cats altogether -- and this morning Gretchen broke off her chain and ran off for the third time this week. I feel claustrophobic. All of these living things, crowding me ... dogs, cats, kids, drunken husbands. Kacie is crying, Jamie is crying, huge fat houseflies are buzzing around three bulging sacks of garbage in the kitchen, the house smells like pizza and dirty diapers. I feel wrung-out from all the crying and from (when I finally did sleep) a lot of weird & meaningless dreams. It is going to take every ounce of character on my part to be Mommy today, and not Atilla the Hun ...

1:30 p.m.

I relented. You knew I would, didn't you? Two hours of chilly silence were enough; I asked Ray for an apology and he readily gave me one. "I was too high," he said (needlessly) ... "I'm sorry." I still feel a little down, but I'm fighting it. All the turmoil of the past 24 hours has given me a rotten stomach ache but I'm fighting that, too.

NOTES ON JLP 7/10/84

"Gee you" (Thank you, Mom - when I gave her aspirin)
Little green bug in her hair (mythical)
Spider on ceiling in kitchen - I told her it was a little girl spider named Charlotte
Smurf Cereal - spreads towel on table beneath her bowl
"Dat pree good Moy!" (That was pretty good, Mommy)
Little yellow radio - "DAT TOO MOUD!"

Mom: "What's your name, little girl?"
Jamie: "Big Girl."

"Jus' doon some fings." (Just doing some things)

"Jis' ONE now." (holds up index finger)


When Jamie gets angry and hits Kacie, Kacie comes running to me and begins hitting me and babbling at me.

Jamie trying to sit on my lap as I'm writing: "I want oo, now. I needs oo, NOW. Take care me NOW!!!"


July 28, 1984
Saturday a.m.

Another thrilling report on the state of my house: "Disheveled and dirty today, with prevailing grime and odor and slight chance of condemnation by State Board of Health ... "

Not funny, I know. I just tired of writing the same old thing all the time -- "The house is a mess today" -- housework is not the most fascinating topic in the world.

This might be one of the last -- if not THE last -- entries in this journal. I'm getting the itch to take off in a whole different direction and begin something new. We're down to our last $26, but the larder is full, so to speak -- plenty of food in the house -- so hopefully there will be enough to buy me a new notebook. I've been really bad about writing this summer, but with two full-fledged, rambunctious toddlers, my life is peppered with interruptions. Writing time is hard to come by. Kacie has turned into a mini-cyclone, twirling ceaselessly around the house from the moment she gets up in the morning until she collapses at night, leaving in her wake disorder, destruction and diapers ... her moods are approximately two and a half minutes in length, shifting from giddy delight to total anguish in the blink of an eye. Jamie is alternately aloof and demanding -- one minute pleading to sit in my lap ("I want talk-a yoo!") and the next minute holed up in her room, shouting at me to "Go 'way, MOM!" She is forever helping herself to things, and I must forever monitor her to make sure that what she's helping herself to is Smurf Cereal and NOT Murphy's Oil Soap ... her own toothbrush and not my makeup ... her coloring book and crayons and not the drawers of my jewelry box. Her moods are longer in duration but just as sudden to change  ...  from idolizing me to despising me  ...   from being my sunny, cooperative "helper" to an angry, stubborn changeling  ...  from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde ...

With all the moods and mischeviousness and mayhem -- ah, alliteration -- I'm lucky if I can squeeze in five minutes writing time per WEEK. I think that a new journal might "rev me up" a bit, get the old creative juices flowing again. It sure couldn't hurt.

Summer 1984

This summer I am twenty six years old. Ray is twenty nine, Jamie is two and a half, Kacie is sixteen months. We are a young family. There are some days when I feel old and "weathered," but more often than not I can't resist the impulse to get down on hands and knees and play dolls with Jamie ... my childhood feels only minutes behind me. I view that as a distinct advantage when it comes to caring for two little girls.

This has been a pleasant enough -- if uneventful -- summer. The weather, for the most part, has been warm and sunny. Jamie has been able to spend lots of time playing outside, with a minimum of supervision. Kacie at the moment is too much of a "wanderer" - she toddles out into the street whenever she gets the chance -- so mostly she stays in the backyard with the gate shut, or stays in the house with Mama ... neither of which she's exactly thrilled about, but such is life when you're one year old. Next summer she will be afforded greater freedom.

Jamie loves the Bruffs next door, and every day she wanders over to their house to visit. As our yards are adjoining and our houses are very close to each other, I don't really mind. The boys are always very kind to Jamie. Sometimes Mike will take her by the hand and walk with her to the mailbox.

(Journal ends abruptly here)

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