March 1985 - December 1985
Age 27

"When I look in a mirror, especially in daylight, I see someone
I've never seen before."

March 7, 1985
Thursday afternoon

A sunny, pre-spring afternoon, slowly winding to a close. Kacie, fresh from her nap, dips her fingers into a plastic mug of Pepsi Light ... Jamie, desperately in need of a nap ("I don't take naps anymore!") leafs through a storybook on the sofa. For this brief moment, there is quiet. No TV, no stereo, no arguing, no dogs barking. Sunlight pours through the window and spills onto the floor; Kacie tentatively sticks a toe into its golden warmth. "HOT!" she says, looking to me for confirmation. "Sunshine!" I tell her, and she tries to repeat the word: "Shhuh-shuh."

I offer a quick prayer of thanks to God for even this brief moment of quiet. There aren't many of them these days. This house is usually exploding with noise ... little arguing voices, my big authoritative voice telling them to "KNOCK IT OFF!," the TV blaring nonsense, ordinary household noises ... stop and let me off for a minute!!!

Highlight of my evening: Jamie, thumbing through my old, beloved "Little Book About God": " 'Dis is a beyoo-ti-full book, Mom!" 

Diary Entry:

Beginning to feel a little bit like spring.  Clear, sunny day  --  still cold, though.  Jamie played outside for a long time this afternoon.

Woke up with a sinus headache, which persisted all day.  Called Ray at work and asked him to bring home some sinus medicine. Maureen was here again  --  I finally gave her the $7 I've owed her since December, and placed a small Avon order.  Terry also came to visit, loaned me her Avon Fashions catalog.

My diet isn't going too well  ...  I find I've lost some of my motivation.

My girls, Spring 1985

March 8, 1985
Friday morning

Just out of bed ... groggy from jumbled dreams. I am a "serial dreamer" ... every couple of weeks or months I go back and pick up the thread of a previous dream, continuing the storyline. Does everybody do this? Or is it just me? This would be great if the continuing dream was pleasant, but in this case it's just the opposite: it borders on being a nightmare.  In the dreams, my old high school/college boyfriend, Scott  -- in real life we went together from 1976 to 1978 --  and I are secretly married.  No one knows about the marriage but our immediate families.  In the dreams, he is Jamie's real father. Ray doesn't suspect a thing. He thinks that he and I are legally married, and that he is Jamie's dad. I can't bring myself to tell him the truth. Scott and I have been separated for years, and until recently he has shown no interest in Jamie, which makes it easier for me to keep my secret. A couple of dreams back, however, he decided that his parents should be allowed to see their granddaughter, so I was forced to make a very unpleasant call on them, Jamie in tow. They were cold towards me, but at least they were very warm towards Jamie.

Last night came a new and horrible installment of the dream series, when Scott announced he was suing for custody of Jamie. I was stunned and angry but prepared to fight. No way was I going to let him take Jamie! Unfortunately, he had a "secret weapon" ... somehow he'd gotten hold of my old diaries and journals, written during our wild college years. They contained a lot of things I wouldn't want the judge to know about. In other words: Scott had me backed into a corner. Now I was terrified, but I retaliated: I found some OTHER journals that had a lot of incriminating stuff about Scott in them -- mainly the fact that he'd been absent from Jamie's life for so many years. On my way to court, a gang of thugs stole the journals from me & then tried to kill me! I ran and hid in a public restroom until they went away. I was sure Scott had probably hired them, and I was more furious than ever. Now I had no evidence left. Jamie was as good as gone.

We didn't make it to court. Not in this dream, anyhow. The way I left things dangling, I'm sure the story will be continuing another night in the not-distant future.

Dreams have always fascinated me. I wouldn't mind learning more about them. It might be helpful to understand why I dream the things I do.

By the way: to forestall any speculation or confusion, this was just a dream. Ray is very definitely Jamie's father! And the whole two and a half years that Scott and I were together, he never even breathed the word "marriage," let alone marrying me in some secret ceremony. (Plus he was a very nice, good-hearted person ... not the kind to send out a "gang of thugs" to kill an ex-girlfriend.) 

Gorgeous morning. It really and truly is beginning to feel like summer around here. It has been a long, cold winter, and even I'm beginning to look forward to springtime.

The only problem with warmer weather is getting the kids outside to play. It's such a major undertaking. Getting them dressed in play clothes ... socks, shoes, coats, hats ... it takes twenty minutes, just to get them both ready. Then I have to herd them out the door and out to the back yard. Jamie hates having the big gate closed, but it's the only way I can keep Kacie from dashing out into the street. The back yard is a muddy mess, and by the time they've finished playing, they both look like a couple of mud monsters. Then I have to peel off the dirty clothes and get them dressed all over again.

What a pain!

I'm hoping that this summer Ray and I can get them a swing set and a new, bigger swimming pool. Then they'll have something to keep them occupied in the backyard, besides slinging mud at each other.

Diary Entry:

Another beautiful, spring-like day.  The girls went and played in the backyard for awhile this morning  --  it's a mess back there, but they don't care!  Still have a sinus headache, but kept it tempered with Sine-Off.  Unfortunately the medication made me soooooo sleepy!  I kept taking kitty naps, all day long. 

In the afternoon I found the energy to clean out the fridge and clean and chop vegetables for salads and snacking.  Burned the girls' supper accidentally (chicken wings)  --  had to substitute hot dogs. Cooked chicken and rice for Ray and I, but once again he didn't come home!  I ate my dinner alone, took two Sine-Off, went to bed.  (Too sleepy to even watch my beloved "Miami Vice.")


* Private time in the bathroom
* Tabletop plants
* Clean walls
* Clean windows
* Matching silverware
* Unchipped dishes
* A room without toys in it
* Magazines with covers


March 9, 1985
Saturday morning

Another lovely spring day. Jamie has already asked if we can go to the park ("Puh-WEEZ??"), but Ray is working and I don't have a car. I told her that she and Sissy can go outside and play, though, as soon as I wake up enough to get them dressed. Now the two of them are sitting in Kacie's room, playing with toy dishes and some water (which they caught from the dripping bathtub faucet). "The Smurfs" are on in the living room but no one is paying any attention to them.

I made a nice low-cal dinner last night -- baked chicken, rice and salad -- so I was more than a little irritated when Ray didn't come home for the second Friday night in a row. I should amend that: he DID come home, I guess, but it was sometime early this morning, while the girls and I were asleep. There is evidence that he slept on the couch for a while, and he left a couple of bags of coffee on the kitchen counter. But now he's at work (I assume), and it's just as though he was never here. I am furious with him, but I'm not surprised. I've written about this before -- how it goes in cycles. Right now he's at the point in his "cycle" when he's really crummy about coming home. He's drinking too much again, too.

I have very few plans for this day. After I shower and wash my hair, I'll pick up the house a bit and take the kids outside to play. Tomorrow I'd like to go shopping. I've got $227 stashed away, my share of the income tax refund. So today I'll make up a list of things to shop for.

Half an hour later:

Now it's just Kacie and me. Jamie has gone off on one of her Saturday morning excursions to Rebecca & Erica's house, up the street -- she'll probably be gone for hours -- so I am alone with my littlest daughter. She is sitting here at the table with me, gnawing on a yellow crayon ("Not in your mouth, Sissy!") and babbling happily in her special language. I will attempt to transcribe a portion of it here:

"Eh! Oh! Siguh figuh foh. FLOWER! Oh. When la sickah! Ouch! Hu huh. Dee ga ouch."

I'm showered. I even put conditioner on the ends of my hair (thinking, all the while, about how out-of-date my hairstyle is, and how I really ought to cut it). Now I'm sitting here with my hair in a towel and my face covered with a goopy layer of almond clay mask ... feeling a little foolish ... what if somebody knocked on the door right now??

A vague, numbing depression is washing over me. I'm not sure why. I suspect that the sunshine may have something to do with it ... it's a gorgeous day, and here I sit in this house.

" ... I know a woman
became a wife
These are the very words she uses
to describe her life:
She says ‘A good day, ain't got no rain.'
She says ‘A bad day's when I lay in bed
and think of things
That might have been."

Diary Entry:

Ray must've been home briefly sometime in the night, while I was asleep: I found evidence of his having slept on the sofa, and some new coffee in the kitchen.  Felt mildly angry at him all day.  I feel as though he's been letting us down a lot lately. 

Jamie went to Ericka's for a few hrs., then Ericka came here and played (for a change of pace  --  Jamie was ecstatic). 

Heard a new song that I love, "Emotion" by Barbra Streisand (whom I don't ordinarily like much).  Must try to get it on tape!

Ray was home in the evening, tired and contrite.

March 10, 1985


Diary Entry:

Excellent day.  I left Kacie at home with Ray, and Jamie and I went shopping for several hours.  We went to Value Village  --  bought a couple of shirts, some books (I found "The Mirror"  !!!) and a pair of pants for Ray.  Bought Jamie lunch at McDonald's, then went to two Fred Meyer stores, where I bought several picture frames, two pair of pants for myself (Levi's and a nice pair of blue slacks), a toy for Jamie (Rainbow Brite Colorforms  --  she loves it) and a bunch of new house plants, large and small. 

Jamie was almost hit by a car in the parking lot of the Totem Lake F.M.   That was the only bad thing that happened the whole day.  We were both badly shaken afterwards, so I took her to Baskin-Robbins and bought her an ice cream cone to cheer her up.

We got home at 4:30.  Lazy and pleasant evening  --  the house is a shambles!  --  Ray cooked dinner, I read a pile of "new" (used) magazines I got at Value Village.

March 11, 1985

Diary Entry:

I'm not used to days as busy as yesterday! ... I was extra-tired all day today. Still, I managed to get a few things done  ...  most notably, I put up all the old family photos (in new frames) in one large grouping on the panelled wall in the living room.  Also set out my new plants, all around the house.  I think everything looks very nice and "homey."

Ray was home at 5:00, picked up the dirty laundry and took it to the laundromat.  Fixed porkchops for the kids (told Jamie it was "Rhode Island Chicken" - she ate every bite!)  Cooked porkchops for Ray, too, but had a small TV dinner myself.

I did very well on my diet today, and I'm proud of myself.

March 12, 1985
Tuesday morning

Well, hello there. Three days have gone by, and now it's Tuesday morning, 8:30 a.m. First cup of coffee is steaming merrily in front of me ... Kacie is watching "The Polka Dot Door" (easily the most annoying children's show on TV) and pretending to "drink" a cup of rubber bands. Jamie is lurking somewhere in the hallway; I'm still in my nightgown, marveling at what a pretty day it is - again - and at how (relatively) neat and pretty my house looks this morning. Actually, all things considered, I'm feeling just fine today. My horoscope said I'd be "at my peak" today, and although I've only been up half an hour, so far that's been accurate.

I read something in a book about dreams the other day that said, "Dreams which are so vivid to the dreamer are almost always boring when retold." Is that true? If so, I suppose I'm fortunate to have this journal to write about my dreams in. Anyone else would be bored shitless.

I have another "serial dream," by the way. This one is different from the "Scott S. series." It doesn't have much of a storyline, but I do go back to it from time and time and add new details. That's what happened last night. In the dreams I'm about 20 years old and I have no place to live. Apparently I have no family, either. So I rent a room in the big, noisy, happy home of a large family ... the Bradford family of the old TV show "Eight Is Enough." Don't laugh! It's not the house from the TV show, though. We live in a huge, multi-level home on a densely-wooded street; the house and the neighborhood are always the same, in every dream. Sitting here in the light of morning, I can see that house just as clearly as I can see this kitchen table. I feel as though I've seen this house somewhere before, in real life. It is so familiar. But where?

That's about all there is to it. In the dreams, I interact with the rest of the "family" ... we converse, argue, play, share bedrooms, do regular "family stuff" together. Last night I practiced gymnastics with Elizabeth and listened to Nicholas tell me a joke. I always feel very secure and happy in these dreams, and I'm always reluctant to wake up and "leave" my adopted family ... I'm afraid I'll never be able to find my dream-way back to them again.

There is one other serial dream I'm involved in, one that isn't as pleasant as the family dreams nor as clear as the Scott dreams. This dream has more sinister overtones, but I think I'll wait to write about it, until I've dreamt it again and it's clear in my mind. (Susan Hope Merrick ...)

I suppose I really ought to mention my shopping trip last weekend. It was definitely one of the highlights of the week.

Sunday morning I left Kacie with Ray, while Jamie and I took off for a day of shopping. To tell you the truth, I really didn't want to take Jamie with me, either: I wanted to spend the day alone. Jamie was broken-hearted ... "Please, Mama! I want to go SHOPPIN' wif eyoo!" ... and I had no choice but to bring her along.

We went to the Redmond Value Village first. The clothing selection that day was poor: I bought four shirts ($1.50 each) but it turns out I can only wear one of them - I gave the rest of them to the girls, for dress-up. I did find a pair of blue corduroy pants for Ray that he likes. And I had wonderful luck in the book department: I found a hardcover edition of "The Mirror," my very favorite book in the whole world! I was so startled and happy when I found it, I let out a yell. I also bought several paperbacks, including "Centennial," "Ordinary People," "Terms of Endearment," "The Thorn Birds," and an excellent biography of Judy Garland, "Over The Rainbow." I also picked up a stack of McCall's and Woman's Day magazines (about a year old, most of them) for 15 cents apiece. So there's lots of good reading material.

Jamie started getting edgy and impatient while I browsed through the books -- it took me a good 45 minutes -- so when we left Value Village I treated her to lunch at McDonald's. She had a Happy Meal and I had a large diet cola. She loves McDonald's, and she was a perfect little lady: I was very proud of her.

We went to two Fred Meyer stores: the Overlake store (in Bellevue) and the Totem Lake store. At the first store I bought myself a pair of Levi's, size 34, which are too big for me already! But they're comfortable. I also found a terrific pair of blue slacks that I love. I tried on a few shirts, but nothing appealed to me. Jamie discovered the Toy Department, right next to Ladies' Clothing, so I let her do some "browsing" of her own and I ended up buying her a set of Rainbow Brite Colorforms.

I got my picture frames - 13 of them! They were on sale. I also bought several matching mattes. At the Totem Lake store I bought the houseplants I wanted. I bought two large Wandering Jews and two baskets to hang them in, and five other large tabletop plants.

By that time we'd been shopping for nearly four hours, and Jamie and I were both tired. That's when disaster almost struck. As we were heading for our car (I was pushing a shopping cart full of plants, and Jamie was walking beside me), Jamie suddenly darted directly into the path of an oncoming car! The woman driving the car hit her brakes and stopped just two feet in front of Jamie. Thank God no one was hurt, but Jamie and I were both badly shaken. She was in tears, and I was so rattled by the incident, I made a wrong turn on the way home and we were lost temporarily. Jamie was so unhappy that I stopped at Baskin-Robbins and bought her an ice cream cone. That helped her forget about the scary moment in the parking lot. (Of course, it hasn't been so easy for me to forget.)

I had $30 left over by the time we finished shopping, so I gave it to Ray for groceries.

On Monday I spent several hours brightening up the house. I hung one of my new plants in the living room, and found places around the house for the other plants. The "touch of green" has gone a long way towards making the place look brighter, prettier and more spring-like. I put family photos in the picture frames and mounted them, in one large grouping, on a living room wall. That wall (the paneled wall) has been bare for so long that it's taken me awhile to grow accustomed to all the pictures. But I've lived with it now for a couple of days, and the more I look at it, the better I like it: it gives the living room a whole new look.

Diary Entry:

CRAZY-busy today  ...  my energy level soared.  I flew around this house all day long  --  cleaned the girls' bedrooms, folded and put away a ton of laundry.  Sent the kids outside to play for a long time today  --  made meatloaf and salad for dinner.

Is it my imagination?  Or am I truly beginning to lose some weight?  To my mind, my clothes feel a little looser  ...  my face in the mirror doesn't have that bloated appearance.

March 13, 1985

Diary Entry:

Jamie has come down with a rotten cold.  I gave her children's cold medicine all day, which made her drowsy and kept her quiet.  She kitty-napped most of the day.  Kacie doesn't seem to have caught it yet.

Sent a letter to Judy.  We still didn't have a phone, so most of my communication to/from the 'outside world' (including my favorite sister-in-law) was conducted by mail.

March 14, 1985

Diary Entry:

Period started early this morning: awful cramps.  The kids had me up at 7 a.m., against my will  ...  Jamie is still sick, so we all stayed indoors all day.  I spent my day reading "Rainbow: The Stormy Life of Judy Garland."  

My father-in0law dropped by for another of his unexpected visits this afternoon, to tell us that Sheryl's new baby boy Michael is in the hospital with an upper-respiratory infection.  The girls visited with their Grandpa a bit, he gave them a new storybook about kittens.

Payday.  Ray was home around 9 p.m. with a few groceries.

March 15, 1985
Friday morning

The girls both have colds ... Jamie's is the worst. They've been cooped up in the house with me all week. My period started yesterday and I'm feeling "crampy." More so than usual. It almost feel like I've pulled a pelvic muscle: it even hurts to walk.

Kacie has a new method of waking me up in the morning: she stands in her crib and shouts, "Door! Door? Door! Door?" until I finally give in and go "rescue" her. We've all been getting up earlier lately ... 7:30, usually. But then again, we've been going to bed earlier in the evenings, too. I'm worn out by 10:00. I think it has something to do with all my recent dieting. My metabolism has slowed down?

Diary Entry:

Didn't even want to get out of bed this morning  ...  I'm going through a very mild bout of depression this week, and I was loathe to face another day of the "same old stuff."  Kacie finally got me up: she stood in her crib and shouted "Door!  Door!  Door!" until I came and got her up. 

I was right  --  this WAS another day of the "s.o.s."  ...  dieting, cleaning house, reading, wiping little runny noses. I let Jay play outside for a little while this afternoon; she's feeling a lot better.

Ray didn't come home tonight  --  that's three Friday nights in a row  --  which only fueled my depression.  I had a solitary dinner (Weight Watchers TV dinner) and watched "Miami Vice."  Blah.  (Not 'blah' about my show!  Just 'blah' about life in general.)



March 16, 1985

Nicest day we've had yet: it's 11:00 in the morning and already the temperatures are up in the high 50's. I've got the doors open and the sun is streaming through the windows.

Ray didn't come home at all last night. This now makes three Friday nights in a row. I'm beginning to feel the knot of anger and despair tightening inside my heart. What makes it especially infuriating is that he promised he would be home -- on Thursday he swore to it. ("Please don't stay out all night Friday," I begged him, and he promised he wouldn't.) But he did, anyway.  I feel rage ... and helplessness. A miserable combination. Like emotional acid, eating away at my insides. It's as though I have no control over anything that happens in my life. (The rational part of me knows that isn't true, but living my life around the whims and weaknesses of my husband often makes it FEEL like I don't .... )

I need to find my center again. I've forgotten where it is. I've been sublimating myself for too long ... burying Terri under the weight of other peoples' needs. Where is my focus? I seem to have temporarily misplaced myself.

Well. I'll tell you one thing that is helping: my diet. It's been almost four weeks now, with only a brief lapse here and there, and I feel very good about it. I feel like I'm doing at least one positive, well thought out, successful thing for myself. I'm not sure if it's my imagination or a fact, but I'm beginning to feel thinner. My face has lost some of that bloated look. I'm wearing pants (the old Brittanias and Ray's white slacks) that I haven't been able to squeeze into for ages.

Diary Entry:

Jamie was gone all day today!  Terry came and got her at 9:30 this morning to spend the day at Rebecca and Ericka's, and she wasn't home until 4:00.  Kacie and I had a lot of time alone together.  She is such a sweetheart: very sociable and agreeable.

I was angry with Ray all day.  When he came home this evening at 8:30 I'd worked myself into a royal rage.  I told him that this business of staying out all night has got to STOP, "or else."  He brought me flowers and was deeply contrite.

March 17, 1985

Diary Entry:

Wonderful day.  Jamie and I went to G.O. Guy and did some shopping for Kacie's upcoming brithday  --  we bought her a "corn popper" toy, a chattering telephone and a new cup.  Also got a nice teddy bear for Sheryl's new baby and some typing paper for myself. 

When we got home, Mom stopped by for an unexpected visit.  Debi came also, along with her boyfriend Kevin.  The first thing they said to me was "You've lost some weight!"  Mom brought each of the girls a new puzzle, plus a "Cabbage Patch Kids" outfit (blouse and pants) and a card for Kacie's birthday.  She brought me some more of Great-Grandma DeGrasse's journals to read, too.  We visited for a couple of hours.  I love my mother.

Ray did some grocery shopping tonight, then cooked steaks for our supper.  Watched a re-broadcast of "The Burning Bed."

Jamie & Kacie  ~ March 17, 1985

March 18, 1985

Diary Entry:

I took the day off today  --  no housework at all, even though the house was messy  --  I spent the day watching my soaps (Tad & Hillary are back together) and looking at the photo album and journals that Mom dropped off for me yesterday.  There are lots of pictures of Great-Grandma DeGrasse in the album, taken at all stages of her life.  I find them fascinating.

Pauline Lamb DeGrasse

I felt drawn to my great-grandmother Pauline, who
(like me) kept diaries and journals for most of her life.

March 19, 1985
Tuesday 11 a.m.

Surveying the disaster area that is my home ... wishing I had the energy to begin cleaning.

Ray finally came home at 8 p.m. Saturday night, carrying a bouquet of flowers (69¢ green carnations from the grocery store), full of quiet apologies and the usual promises not to ever do it again.  I forgave him, against my better judgement.  But I gave him a warning. "You've used up your quota," I said. "No more all-nighters -- or else." He humbly agreed, and that was the end of the discussion. I know in my heart, of course, that it will happen again. I also know that my "or else" is an empty threat. What's worse: Ray knows it too. I haven't the gumption nor the desire to leave, and we both know it.

Mom came by for an unexpected visit on Sunday -- it was the highlight of our weekend. A personal triumph for me: the first thing she noticed was the weight I've lost. That was the validation I needed, and I've been glowing from her praise ever since. She brought each of the girls a new puzzle, and a new outfit for Kacie -- lavender pants and white blouse with the Cabbage Patch Kids motif. This was an early birthday present, since Mom can't be here with us on the 21st. Kacie really needed one nice, dressy outfit, so I was thrilled.

We had such a nice visit. I adore my mother. It's so much fun to talk to her now. I just wish she lived closer than Federal Way, so she could visit us more often. As close as I'm beginning to feel to her, now that I'm an adult, I know we could be even closer if there weren't so many miles between us.

Diary Entry:

Sore throat and headache.  I think I'm (belatedly) coming down with whatever it was the girls had last week.  Still, I managed to get a lot done today  --  cleaned house, did some mending, sorted through a big pile of magazines.  I'm trying to read "Terms of Endearment," but for some reason it's going very slowly. Shampooed the girls' hair and trimmed Kacie's bangs.  Made Ray some cube steaks for his supper  --  a skinless chicken breast for myself.  (What willpower!!)

Jamie has a painful fever blister on her lower lip  --  it hurts her to eat.

March 20, 1985

Diary Entry:

When I walked into Kacie's room to get her up this morning, I found her standing stark naked in her crib!!  Little monkey loves to take off her clothes and her diaper  ...  what a funny sight, first thing in the morning!

Jamie's fever blister is sill very sore.  She has hardly any appetite at all, and tonight she complained of pain in her left ear.  Ray said her earache was probably due to the weather  --  "A high pressure system," he said  --  but I think it's just because of the cold she's had.  She was awake (and in pain) most of the night.  Poor little puss.  One of the earliest instances of the "Puss" nickname!

Wrapped Kacie's birthday presents.  Ron bought the wrong kind of cake mix (mocha, instead of regular chocolate) so I had to send him back to the store.

March 21, 1985

Diary Entry:

Baked Kacie's cake, first thing this morning  ...  the house had a delightful chocolatey smell, all day.  This was a nice day all the way around.  Dad and Valerie stopped by unexpectedly this afternoon for a visit  --  they brought Kacie a pretty new rag doll, and stickers for both girls.  I picked up the house and set my hair  --  everything looked good, me included!  Made a banner for the archway that says "HAPPY B.DAY KACIE." 

Tonight we had a great little party for our girl  --  a lot of the in-laws were here.  Kacie was delighted with her cousin Tanya, and the two of them played together all evening.  I held my nephew Michael for a long time  --  he was smiling and cooing at me.  Kacie got some pretty new clothes, as well as the toys Ron and I gave her.  When we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Kacie, she positively BEAMED  --  she ADORED being the focus of attention!

I love my Kacie dearly.  Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

March 22, 1985
Friday morning

Kacie P., a dazzling vision in her new pink and white candy-striped pants and T-shirt ... fuzzy braids, bare feet, new rag doll clutched in one arm ... bursts into the living room, jabbering a mile a minute, stops directly in front of me and BEAMS at me. "Oooh!" she says, admiring my porcelain coffee cup, the one with the paisley apples on it. She pokes a tentative finger at it.

"Hot coffee!" I warn her, and she purses her lips and says "F-f-f-f-f" ... as close as she comes to saying "coffee" at the moment.

I stop writing for a minute and just sit here, admiring my little daughter. She is here, there and everywhere ... one minute gazing out the window, lost in thought ... the next minute crawling on all fours shouting "Osh! Osh! Osh!" (meaning unknown) ... a minute later she disappears into the kitchen, and almost immediately I hear Jamie's anguished cry: "Sissy's got the plate of butter on the floor!" Kacie emerges bouncily from the kitchen, licking butter off her fingers, vigorously nodding and saying "Mmmmm!"

The next minute she is laying on the living room floor, tangled up in her blanky with her feet waving in the air, drinking the last drops of grape juice from her bottle, not a care in the world. My cute, friendly, sweet-natured little Bumblebee ... my Kacie P. ..

Mommy with her birthday girl.
[I'm deliberately posing sideways so you can see how "thin" I am.]
March 1985

Yesterday was Kacie's second birthday. Remnants of yesterday's festivities remain, this morning: balloons taped to the walls (I wrote on them in black felt pen, things like "Happy Birthday Kacie" and "We Love You Sissy!") ... the huge banner hanging above the archway (it says "Happy Birthday Kacie! Love, Mama, Daddy & Jamie") ... bits of wrapping paper on the floor, cake crumbs smeared on the kitchen table, a pile of cake plates sitting unwashed in the kitchen sink ...

Kacie had a very nice birthday, I think. She was in a wonderful mood all day long, almost as though she sensed it was her special day, and she was at her friendly, funny, charming-the-socks-off-everyone best. My dad and Valerie showed up, quite unexpectedly, early yesterday afternoon. I was glad - but surprised! - to see them. Dad ordinarily isn't all that consistent about acknowledging birthdays. Valerie must be nudging him. They gave Kacie the new rag doll. Dad was in a relaxed and friendly mood for a change; both of the girls took turns snuggling on his lap. Kacie discovered his big shiny wristwatch and immediately ran to check Grandma Valerie's arm, to see if she was wearing one, too. (She was.) Later, we had a little party for the birthday girl. Kacie and her cousin Tanya, age sixteen months, immediately took to each other, and they played happily for most of the evening. Kacie opened her gifts; the toys that Ray and I gave her (a chattering telephone and a "cornpopper" toy) were a big hit. The best moment was when we all sang Happy Birthday to her - she just sat in the chair and beamed.


Kacie (with a favorite cousin) on her second birthday
March 1985

Ray stayed out until 2 a.m. tonight -- my fourth lonely Friday night in a row. (He says he went out with his sister Sheryl and Janet K.)

Diary Entry:

An interesting thing is happening   ...  I'm beginning to feel attractive again.  I'm starting to "feel" thinner.  Both my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law commented on my weight loss last night, which was thrilling.  I'm starting to care more about my appearance:  I did my nails today and put on makeup.  When I felt fat and sloppy, I didn't bother with that stuff.  It feels good to finally be dropping some weight after so many years.

Maureen stopped by and dropped off the face powder I ordered and the $7 she owed me.  I worked on Kacie's scrapbook for a long time.

To my extreme annoyance, Ray didn't come home again tonight.  Am I a complete fool to be putting up with this?  That's FOUR Friday nights in a row.

P.S.  He finally came crashing in at 2 a.m. with some story about going out with his sister and Janet.  I am unbelievably pissed.

March 23, 1985


Diary Entry:

Sheryl came by this morning to apologize for keeping Ray out so late last night  ...  so he was telling the truth!  He really WAS out with his sister until 2 a.m.!  I never would have believed it.  He had to work today, but he was home at 3:00, dead on his feet.

I spent most of the day typing.  This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I'm writing my "memoirs."  Please don't think me hopelessly conceited!  I'm doing it for my kids  --  for fun  --  for practice.  For all kinds of reasons.  It may never be read by anyone but myself, but at least it's getting me back into the swing of things, writing-wise.  It's also great fun! 

Ray and the girls konked out fairly early  --  I sat up until 1:30 a.m. and finally conquered "Terms of Endearment."  The ending surprised me by making me cry.

Sent a letter to my childhood pal Anita Brown.

March 24, 1985

Diary Entry:

I've been hit by a rotten head cold  ...  sniffling and sneezing all day.  

Ray took the washing machine out of the bathroom and put it out in the carport, tinkering with it all day until he finally  --  HURRAY  --  managed to get it working again.

Peg and Barbara stopped by this morning to drop off an old (but nice) living room.  It's actually quite nice  --  beige with brown stripes, matching foot stool.  We're invited to a birthday dinner next Saturday at Sheryl's. 

While they were here, Barbara whispered to me that she went to a keg last night.  ("Mom thought I was at a slumber party," she said), and that she was 'real hungover' today as a result.  This was somehow meant to impress me, I guess.  I like Ray's little sister very much, and I'm flattered that she thinks enough of me to tell me her little secrets.  I just hate to see her making the same mistakes I made at her age.

March 25, 1985

Diary Entry:

I "hurrayed" too soon.  When I tried to use the washer this morning, it sputtered and died.  I was so mad, I kicked the damned thing.

My cold is worse.  Didn't even bother getting dressed today.  The girls and I took it very easy, laying around watching TV.  I read my old favorite, "Go Ask Alice."

Got a letter from Karen today.  She's pregnant!!  (Due Nov. 17th!!)

Academy Awards tonight.  Sally Field, Best Actress; F. Murray Abrahamson, Best Actor; Haing S. Ngor and Peggy Ashcroft, Supporting; "Amadeus," Best Picture.  Prince got an Oscar for Best Song Score; Stevie Wonder for Best Song ("I Just Falled To Say I Love You").

Ray worked on the washer again tonight, bought me some cold pills.

March 26, 1985

Diary Entry:

Boy, talk about a stinker of a day.  This one gets the prize.  The washing machine died on me again, Jamie was an absolute pill, it rained, my cold is worse, and Ray drank my only Diet Pepsi!  I got some books from my new Book Club, but even that presented a problem  --  they screwed up my order, sending me a book about Bess & Harry Truman (??) rather than the Stephen King anthology I'd ordered (???).  Peg and Barbara stopped by, I gave Peg a load of kids' laundry to do for me.  The ultimate humiliation: having my mother-in-law do my laundry for me.

Ray was supposed to come home early with Peg's vacuum cleaner and some dinner for everybody, but it was 11:00 before he came strolling in.  We had a horrible fight and I went to bed in tears.  He started snoring and I had to go sleep on the sofa.

March 27, 1985
Wednesday morning 9 a.m.

Good grief. What a crappy day yesterday was, and so far today has been no great shakes, either. I've only been up for twenty minutes and already I've felt like crying twice. I don't know if I can take another day as rotten as yesterday was, but I seem destined for one, anyway ... sigh ...

Rainy, gray, pukey weather. I've had a head cold for the past three days, and my head feels as clogged as our broken garbage disposal (the latest appliance to malfunction around here). I slept horribly: I had to spend the night on the couch because of Ray's snoring. When I finally did drift off to sleep, I had an awful dream about my brother shooting someone  ...  only my brother turned into my three year old daughter, but the authorities were going to prosecute her anyway in spite of her age ... yuck. I woke up moaning.

On Sunday, Ray got the washing machine working again, and he ran a load of towels. Unfortunately, every time I've tried to get it to work since then, it's died on me. Yesterday morning it ran for all of thirty seconds and then - nothing. It just died. I tried everything I could think of to get it started -- I even tinkered with the fuse box -- but nothing worked. Ray's got electrical cords hanging out the bathroom window, and the washer is plugged into an outside outlet, but with all this rain I'm afraid to fool around with any of that stuff. I know I'm a boob, but I just don't know enough about these things to feel safe handling them. In the meantime, the laundry situation has grown critical. The kids had NO clean socks, T-shirts or pajamas. I was so pissed off at the washer, I swore at it and gave it a good swift kick. Then I did a load of kids' underwear by hand in the kitchen sink, swearing under my breath the whole time.

Nothing unbearably awful happened yesterday. I had a persistent headache, and my new Book Club screwed up and sent me a book about Bess Truman instead of the new Stephen King I'd ordered. There is very little food in this house, and I had to scrape together makeshift meals for the kids (although lately they never seem to eat what I fix them anyway). I just felt BLUE yesterday, and I couldn't shake it. The kids could tell something was wrong. Jamie kept asking me if I was "in a good mood yet?"

Peg and Barbara stopped by around 5:00. Barbara is learning to drive, and on a whim Peg let her drive to our house. This was the second unexpected visit from my mother-in-law in three days (she stopped by on Sunday, too) and although it wasn't unpleasant, it still left me a little rattled. You know how I am about drop-in visitors.

Ray promised me he would stop by his mom's house last night to borrow her vacuum cleaner. I mentioned it to Peg and she said sure, we can use it for a couple of days. I also told her about the washing machine, and she offered to take a load of the girls' clothes home with her. I feel embarrassed about always having other people doing my laundry for me, but I really have no choice. Peg and Barbara went home -- I said, "When you see Ray, please ask him to bring home something for dinner." I was assuming they would see him before I did, hopefully at their house, picking up the vacuum.

It was 11:00 p.m. before His Majesty finally put in an appearance.  By then I was starving and had just cooked another stupid pot pie for my supper. He said he ran into his "best friend in the whole world" (Kurt) and that was why he hadn't come home earlier. No vacuum cleaner, either. I was so sad and mad and depressed that I jumped all over him. I sat in my armchair and cried, while he angrily threw things around the kitchen and muttered. The bad feelings between us were so tangible, you could almost taste them. I went to bed, thinking "OK, this horrible day is over. Nothing else can happen to me tonight." But, as usual, I was wrong: Ray immediately started snoring, and drove me out of our bed to the living room sofa. The final indignity.

This morning Jamie is in one of her imperious moods. "Put milk on my cereal!" she ordered me. For some reason this had me in tears, and I refused to do anything for her until she "asked me nice." That completely ticked her off, but I held firm, and finally she said "Scuse me, Mom ... you can put milk in my bowl ... please?" It's another soggy day and there's nothing to do. I can't do laundry ... can't vacuum ... can't clean house because I have no cleaning supplies ... can't cook anything because there's no food in the house. Tomorrow is payday, but even that doesn't help. I can't call anyone because I have no phone ... can't go anywhere because I have no car. They say it's always darkest before the dawn. If that's true, then "dawn" should be here in about five minutes because it sure can't get much darker. I hope.

Diary Entry:

This day was only slightly better.  Jamie is so crabby and bossy I can't believe it.  ""Put milk on my cereal!" she shouted at me this morning, and I burst into tears!  I must be losing my grip.  I shirked the housework and spent the day working on my memoirs.

GOOD NEWS from my mom  --  I'm an aunt!  Gina and Dick had an eight lb. baby girl on Sunday, Karen Viola.  (I don't know yet if the baby's last name is Vert or Barnett.)

Ray and I launched into each other again when he got home tonight (still no vacuum cleaner).  The house was a mess and there was no dinner, so he started slamming doors and stomping his feet in irritation  --  that's as close to an actual temper tantrum as he ever comes.  I told him that I was just too depressed to do anything.  He thawed a couple of degrees when he heard that, and said that he's been feeling down, too  --  we agreed to stop taking it out on each other.

March 28, 1985
Thursday noon

Poor, poor Terri. No one has it as bad as you, do they, kiddo?  

Well, it's true that my life isn't exactly going according to plan -- if I ever HAD a plan, that is -- but I suppose things could be worse. Ray could be hammering at me to get a job.  I could be trying to support the kids by myself, like my mother was doing when she was younger than I am now. A hurricane could hit us. We could be bombarded by cosmic ice!! Instead, my biggest problems are not having a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine. Not too earth-shaking.

I have some big news. I'm an aunt! A real, by-blood aunt. Dick and Gina had a baby girl on Sunday! They've named her Karen Viola, in honor of Mom and Grandma.

 Diary Entry:

Better.  Cleaned the kitchen, cleaned out the fish bowl (my least-favorite job), wrote several letters.  

Speaking of letters, I got a lovely one from Grandma Vert, along with a $20 check.  

Ray was home at 5:00  --  he finally brought his mother's vacuum cleaner, also the load of laundry she did for me  --  he picked up Jamie and the two of them went out and did some grocery shopping.  Lots of food in the house now.  Ray also got me a new Family Circle magazine, some Liquid Paper, a ream of typing paper and a new typewriter ribbon  ...  also a new shampoo I've been wanting to try, "Halsa."

Briefly blew my diet in order to enjoy a few beers and three slices of pepperoni pizza.  Determined not to feel guilty about it!


March 29, 1985
Friday noon

A little better. Yesterday was payday, and that always helps. There's plenty of food in the house, and I've finally got Peg's vacuum cleaner to use until tomorrow.

Ray has sworn he'll be home by 5:00. Last night I told him, "I don't care who walks into Dave's Place  --  Sheryl or Kurt or SANTA FUCKING CLAUS HIMSELF  --  I want you HOME." He said fine, fine, but only time will tell if he'll keep if his promise or if this will be Friday #5 spent alone.

Kacie is in an awful mood today. She's a mess -- her nose is running, her hair is matted and sticky, she's got food all over the front of her shirt. Definitely a face only a mother could love! She bursts into tears every three minutes, and I'll be darned if I can figure it out.

Note: Ray did come home early. Miracle.

Diary Entry:

Sure wish I hadn't had those beers last night  ...  not only did it blow my diet, it made me feel weak and sleepy all day today.  I tried to get all the housework done and just go about business as usual, but underneath it all I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep it off until tomorrow.

Ray was finally home on a Friday night!  He got home early in the evening.  Frankly, I almost began to wish he HADN'T come home  ...  he made snide comments all through "Miami Vice," which he doesn't like.  

March 30, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray had to work this morning, but he was home early, shortly after 1:00.  Jamie and I took the car and went to G.O. Guy  --  bought birthday gifts and a card for Billy. 

At 2:30 Ray, the girls and I went to Sheryl and Jeff's for the family birthday party.  Had a nice time  --  we celebrated birthdays for Peg, Billy and Kacie, with cake and presents.  I gave Peg the book about Harry Truman  --  she liked it!  Kacie got a yellow sweatshirt from Judy, and a shorts and T-shirt set from Barbara.  Jeff gave us a Studio II Home TV Programmer, which hooks up to our TV and plays all sorts of video games.  (I guess they'd gotten two of them for Christmas.  I was really touched.) 

We came home and after the kids went to bed Ray and I stayed up until past midnight, playing games, drinking beer and listening to music.

Low point of this day was stepping on Sheryl's bathroom scale and discovering that I still weigh 160!!!  How can that BE?!?  All of a sudden I feel fat all over again.

March 31, 1985

Diary Entry:

My second hangover in as many days  ...  so much for my resolution to stay off beer.  This was a completely wasted day  --  I felt soooo bad.  Ray went to Burger King this morning and got us some breakfast, but then he went back to bed for the rest of the day.  I layed around the house in my robe, played some video games, cuddled with Kacie and the kittens.  (Jamie was at Ericka's all day.)

Late in the afternoon Ray went out and got a few more groceries, then cooked steaks for our dinner.


April 1, 1985

Diary Entry:

Housework, housework, housework  ...  such a THRILLING and CHALLENGING life I lead!  I cleaned the place from top to bottom.  It looks great, but I know that by tomorrow morning it'll be a mess again.  I think I need a vacation.

Mailed Easter cards to all of our nephews and nieces.  Got my other new bra from Lane Bryant.  (It's ENORMOUS.)

Ray was home at 4:00.  He rented a lawnmower and did the front and half of the back yard.

Cooked a corn beef brisket for the family supper  --  everybody liked it.  Watched the first installment of a new PBS series called "Ancient Lives," about Ancient Egypt.  (Ron thought it was boring.)

April 2, 1985

Diary Entry:

Kacie is such a crab!  The "Terrible Twos" have begun in earnest, I'm afraid.  She's also got a continual runny nose and a rash of bumps on her back and chest  --  an allergic reaction to something?  I'm giving her extra doses of love and attention, but nothing helps.

I worked on my "child care" notebook for awhile.  Unexpected visits from my mother-in-law at 2:00, Maureen at 2:30  --  Maureen brought me my new nail polish (Oyster Pearl) and mascara.  Got a birth announcement from Dick and Gina  --  Karen's last name is Barnett, not Vert. 

Ray was home at 4:30.  He fertilized the yard and took the clothes to the laundromat.  Teriyaki meatballs and white rice for supper.  Watched a good murder mystery, ""Guilty Conscience" (Anthony Hopkins, Blythe Danner, Swoosie Kurtz).

April 3, 1985

Diary Entry:

I'm going to be honest with you here: in reality, I'm writing this on April 6th because I've been lazy for a few days and forgot to write in my diary, and to tell you the truth I don't remember a single thing that happened "today" (Wednesday).

Wait a minute.  Yes I do!  I made Ray some stew for supper, and he complained because it was canned.

April 4, 1985

Looking out my kitchen window this morning, I can see the most amazing collection of colors ... the sky is charcoal gray, the cherry tree is covered with brilliant pink blossoms, and the lawn and foliage are deep emerald green. Everything looks spectacularly lush and vivid.

("Ba-ba? JOOCE? Ba-ba?" Kacie)

I wasn't in the greatest mood when I first got up, but gradually I seem to be feeling a degree or two happier. It only took me five minutes this morning to clean up last night's dinner dishes, so my kitchen already looks neat and tidy. The radio just played "We Are The World" by USA For Africa. It's not my favorite song, but it always gives me a little "lift" when I hear it.

The major worry on my mind at the moment is my diet, which has been floundering this past week. Last weekend we went to Sheryl & Jeff's for a birthday party (a combined celebration for Peg, Billy & Kacie). While we were there, I went into the bathroom and weighed myself on Sheryl's electronic scale. I expected to weigh in somewhere around 140; I've been dieting for a month, and I was sure I'd dropped at least 15 or 20 pounds. To my complete dismay, Sheryl's scale said 160!!! (I even asked if her scale was accurate, and she said it was.) That sent me into a profound funk, and I've been cheating on my diet ever since. I just sort of figure, "What's the use?" I put in so much effort with no results. It's just not fair.

Ray doesn't work tomorrow, so he's offered to take me out for awhile tonight. If he would have asked me a week ago, when I was feeling so thin and proud (and delusional!), I would have said yes. As it is, today I'm back to feeling ugly and dumpy, and I doubt very much that I'll go.

Diary Entry:

Ray took me out tonight  --  we went to a new place in Kirkland called R. Gyle's for one drink, then went to Dave's Place for a couple of hours.  (Chris Harlan babysat for us.)

This, as you may have guessed, was also written on April 6th.  Thursday wasn't an inspiring day, either.

April 5, 1985

Diary Entry:

Wasted day.  I'm ashamed to tell you how hungover I was.  (At least I wasn't alone in my misery  --  Ray had the day off from work and he felt just as rotten as I did.)  I spent most of the afternoon reading "The Mirror" by Marlys Milhiser  --  last time I read it was five years ago.

Late in the afternoon Ray went out and bought Chinese food for everyone's supper.  He and I and the girls sat together at the kitchen table and feasted on chow mein, egg rolls, almond chicken, prawns  ...  "the works."

Watched "Miami Vice," of course!  When I went to bed tonight I actually had a dream about Don Johnson.  He has become my favorite person on the show  ...  my favorite person on TV, for that matter.

April 6, 1985

Diary Entry:

Gorgeous spring day; temperatures got up into the 70's.  The cherry trees are in full blossom    -- spectacular to see  --  and the skies are as blue as robin's eggs.  I cleaned up the kitchen a bit, folded laundry, sent Jamie over to play at Terry's for awhile.  Ray finished mowing the back yard, went over to the folks' and had them cash my $20 check so we can buy Easter candy for the kids.

Finished reading "The Mirror"  ...  how I do love that book!  I hated to have it end again!

Kacie's runny nose is worse and now she's got congestion in her chest.  Her temp this evening is 101°.

Ray brought home some good candy for the kids  --  also some cake mix.  I baked 27 cupcakes for tomorrow, Jamie helped decorate them.  Terry was over for awhile.

Spent most of the evening writing in this damned diary, trying to get caught up!!

April 7, 1985

Diary Entry:

Easter Sunday  ...  a day of surprises, family, rain, sticky children with runny noses  ...

At 6 a.m. Jamie was waking me up with her excited "Mama!  Mom!  The Easter Bunny was here!"  He was indeed!  By breakfast time (or what should have BEEN breakfast time), both girls had eaten their way halfway through their baskets.

To my dismay, just as we were getting ready to leave to go to the in-laws' for dinner, my mom, Ken and Grandma St. John showed up! Our visit was hasty, and I was embarrasssed and disappointed because I'd really been looking forward to it but it had to be cut short because of our dinner plans.  Besides that, the house was a MESS.  I'd really wanted to clean the place up for Grandma's visit, and kind of "show off" my house with the new pictures and plants and everything.  Instead, she saw it at its very worst.

Dinner at the folks' was exactly like every other P. family gathering  --  predictable and without highlights, but pleasant.  The kids got toys  --  Kacie also got a belated present from Gram S., pants and a blouse.

April 8, 1985

Diary Entry:

Not a great day.  Ray and I sat up until 11:00 last night watching "Superman II" (I was amazed by how much I enjoyed it!)  This morning when I woke up, my voice was gone and my chest was packed full of sludge.  I was so sick and weak that I couldn't even get out of bed.  Feverish and aching, I spent most of the day laying on the sofa, depressed by my messy house and boring life.  I've really been "down" lately.

Kacie shattered a glass and cut her thumb open.  Half an hour later, Jamie punched her sister in the face and gave her a bloody nose.  It was just that kind of day.

Ray came home early with diapers, leftover ham, a bag of hardboiled eggs  ...  he'd gone to his Mom's, and she gave him all the leftovers from yesterday's dinner.

In the evening I crabbed and barked at everybody.  I feel like the Wicked Witch.


April 9, 1985
Tuesday morning

I did go out with Ron (last) Thursday night, after all. I squeezed myself into my tightest pair of garage sale Brittanias, brushed my hair until it was soft and fluffy, and piled on the eye makeup. I felt reasonably pretty, but then again I was drunk so even if I'd felt ugly I wouldn't have cared. We had one drink at R. Gyle's, then spent the rest of the evening at the tavern (where a drunken letch named Dave put his hand on my leg under the table). I barely remember coming home. Chris H. from next door babysat for us, but I was so gassed by the time we got to our place, I don't even recall seeing her. I went straight to bed and woke up the next morning with
Jamie laying next to me and Ray asleep in Jay's bed,  with the expected raging hangover.

The weekend was OK. Ray had Friday and Saturday off, which gave him a nice three-day weekend. We had a little money -- enough to splurge on Chinese food Friday night and keep us in groceries until Sunday. This was Easter weekend, by the way. Friday and Saturday were beautiful and balmy (by April standards), but Easter morning we woke to sodden drizzle. Saturday night I baked two dozen cupcakes. I used white cake mix and frosted them with homemade buttercream frosting. Then I dyed some coconut green and made little "nests" on top of each cupcake, with two or three jellybeans in each nest. I thought they turned out really cute, and I was proud of myself. We couldn't afford to buy the girls the deluxe Easter baskets I wanted, so I used the baskets they got last year, filled them with plastic grass, and filled them with candy from the grocery store. By the time I was finished, they looked just as good as anything you would find in a store. On Saturday night, after I'd finished most of the cupcakes, I sat Jamie at the table and gave her two cupcakes to decorate all by herself. She made one for her cousin Tanya and one for the Easter Bunny, and she had a lot of fun putting on the little candies and sprinkling the coconut (chattering the whole time about the Easter Bunny). At one point she asked me how the E.B. gets into peoples' houses. I said we would leave the door unlocked for him. "No!," she exclaimed in horror. "Den dose bad mans can come in our house!" We finally agreed that Mama would get up and let the E.B. in, and then I would lock the door behind him when he leaves.

On Sunday morning Jamie was standing beside my bed at 6 a.m., saying "MOM. The Easter Bunny was HERE, Mom." I pretended I was asleep, and she went away. I knew she was probably out in the living room eating candy, but I couldn't help it: I needed at least one more hour of sleep. She gets up an hour or two before I do most mornings these days, anyway. When Kacie woke up and began hollering "Door! Door! DOOR!" from her crib, I dragged myself out of bed, picked Kacie up and went out to the living room. The girls just loved their baskets, and I let them eat more candy than I should have, but they were so cute and excited that I couldn't resist indulging them a little. They had chocolate all over their faces and p.j.'s ... of course Kacie had it in her hair, too ...

I tried to get Ray out of bed so he could watch the girls have fun with their Easter baskets. "You've gotta come see this, Honey!" I said. He grumbled and groaned and protested, but eventually he got up for about three minutes.

When I finally had to put the candy up and get the kids cleaned up, I met with stormy and tearful protest. I bathed the girls and shampooed the chocolate out of their hair, then got them dressed in casual but pretty outfits. We were due at Peg & Don's for dinner at 1:30. In my rush to get everyone dressed and ready, I just ignored my messy house. There were three days' worth of dirty dishes in the sink, and tons of junk everywhere. The rug was especially bad ... I haven't had a vacuum cleaner since forever. But the worst part of all was the pervading smell of cat pee. We've moved CeCe and her three kittens outside, but the odor lingers. Anyway, I had my hair up in rollers and I was trying to finish my makeup so we could leave, when the unthinkable happened ... a car pulled up in the driveway! I looked out the window and was TOTALLY HORRIFIED to see my mother, my stepfather Ken and my Grandma St. John emerging from the car!!! My heart sank right out of my chest and through the floor and halfway to China ...

Their visit was awful on several levels. First of all, it was completely unexpected. Well ... mostly unexpected. I knew Mom was planning to bring Grandma for a visit sometime this month, but Mom wasn't specific about it and I never in a million years expected them to drop in on Easter. I had REALLY been looking forward to the visit, too. I was planning to start cleaning house on Monday (yesterday) and getting the house into top shape. I wanted it to sparkle for Grandma's visit. Instead, she saw the place at its disgusting, smelly worst, and I was mortified. Mom added to my embarrassment when she looked around and said, "Still no vacuum cleaner, huh?" ("How nice of you to point that out," I said -- it got a big laugh -- but secretly I was wounded. I guess Mom doesn't realize how sensitive I am about these things, nor how much her little 'comments' hurt me.) I was also really embarrassed and disappointed that our visit had to be so brief. We were already late for dinner, but I stretched the visit out as long as I could. I had been looking forward to a nice, long, relaxed visit, but it was exactly the opposite.

Mom brought some pictures of Dick & Gina's new baby. As thrilled as I am to have a niece on my own side of the family, I recognized within myself twinges of jealousy and resentment. I'm fighting it, but it's there, childish but unwavering. Until now I had provided Mom's only grandchildren, and now I feel my position being usurped. This is all connected somehow to my lifelong craving for Mom's attention and approval -- giving her grandchildren was my most successful effort to date -- but now I have "competition" again. My usual method of dealing with competition (real or imagined) is to just fold, but this time I need to be more mature and positive. More on this another time.

Mom gave each of the girls an Easter basket filled with candy (just what they needed), and Gram St. John gave them each a card and a little stuffed animal. Grandma also gave Kacie a belated birthday gift -- lavender pants (more lavender!!) and a ruffly blouse. That makes two pairs of lavender pants, a pair of purple shorts, a purple T-shirt and a sweatshirt trimmed in purple that Kacie received for her birthday. AND a lavender rag doll!

Easter dinner at the folks' was pleasantly routine. Same old faces, same old dinner conversations ... same old tension between Don Jr. and Judy ... same old everything. I feel like I'm fitting in a little better, and that helps.

Diary Entry:

Still sick.  My voice is really jagged, my chest is tight and sore.  It was hot and sunny today  --  I sent the kids outside to play for a long time this morning, and Jamie spent almost the entire day outside.

I folded the clean laundry, cleaned the bathroom and my bedroom, and made a big pot of bean and ham soup.

I tried to go back on my diet today, and managed successfully to avoid temptation until Ron got home from work at 4:00 with a bucket of beer on ice  ...  something inside of me just snapped.  I had four beers, two bowls of soup, Easter candy, a hot dog  ...  I am so damned depressed, and eating is a consolation.  Of course in the long run my overeating only adds fuel to my depression.  Sigh.

Watched "Coalminer's Daughter" for the zillionth time.

April 10, 1985

Diary Entry:

A teensy, tiny bit better  ...  emotionally, I mean.  Knowing that tomorrow is payday helps.  I sorted through a lot of recipes and cookbooks today, looking for ideas for our April 20th barbecue party (for Ray's birthday).  Typed new captions for my new photo album, drew up a grocery list, taped a Bruce Springsteen song that I love called "Trapped."  

(Every once in awhile a small voice inside of me says that all the things I do are just 'busy work'  ...  just a means of passing time.  Today I told that small voice to shove it.)

April 11, 1985

I have been SO depressed for the last couple of weeks ... today it seems to be leveling off a bit. This is payday. I know that in three days we'll be broke again, but at least we can stock up on groceries and live comfortably until the money runs out.

My period is due today but I feel none of the usual symptoms. I wonder if I'm pregnant ... ? I'm afraid that if I get pregnant again now, it might be misinterpreted as a pathetic bid for attention ... Sheryl and Gina have just had babies, and then along comes old Terri, unable to stand all the attention they're getting ... trying to worm her way back into the spotlight the only way she knows how ...

Diary Entry:

My period was due to start today but didn't; already I'm wondering if I might be pregnant!  Geez, that would be all I'd need.  Hacking cough and head cold are driving me nuts.  

Got a sad letter from Beth in Maryland  --  she and Wayne have split up after 5 years of marriage.  She caught him having an affair and is disconsolate.  I'll write back to her tomorrow.

Ray was very late getting home tonight  --  I ran out of milk and diapers early in the evening.  (Tried giving the girls water in their bottles, and Kacie got MAD at me!)  Ray finally home at 8 p.m. with no groceries, just the bare essentials.

"Cheers" and "Hill St. Blues" were especially good tonight.  The ending of "HSB" was brutal and shocking, though  --  Jennifer Tilly's character shot to death.

April 12, 1985

This is ridiculous. Here my period is only one day overdue and already I'm convinced I'm pregnant. I woke up this morning and it was practically my first thought: Maybe I shouldn't be drinking coffee because of the baby?  If Ray knew I was thinking this way, he would blow a fuse ...

My husband, the medical expert. Last night he told me he read an article (an amazing fact in itself) that said men who get vasectomies become impotent. Actually, the delicate way he phrased it was "Guys who get their nuts cut can't get it up anymore." When he delivered this astonishing piece of medical wisdom, I had to fight to keep a straight face. I swear, I wonder sometimes what the guy uses for brains ...

Poor Ray. He's just not on my list of favorite people this morning. I got maybe ten whole minutes of sleep last night because he was doing his buzzsaw number next to me in bed all night. When Ray P. snores -- EVERYBODY listens.

Diary Entry:

Hey!  What do you know?  In spite of a poor night's sleep (Ray snored all night), I woke up in a sunny mood.  Wrote a six-page letter to Beth, worked on Kacie's scrapbook a little. 

Kacie has begun to talk!  I can understand almost everything she says now.  She has also started calling me "Mama."

Ray was supposed to be home early and spend the evening with me, but instead it was past 11 before he got here.  We sat up all night partying and talking.

April 13, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray got Taco Time for our supper.  The girls and I sat out in the backyard for awhile, enjoying the feeling of bare feet on new mown grass  ...  Jamie blew some bubbles  ... 

Stayed up late again watching a creepy horror movie, "The Legend of Hell House."

Oh!  Geez, I almost forgot  --  my period started today!  I'm not pregnant!

April 14, 1985
Sunday almost noon

OK, so it was a false alarm: yesterday morning my period started. I'm not sure if I'm relieved or disappointed. I guess a little of both. (Last night I dreamed that I baked a cake with tiny little penises in it, and if you ate a piece of it you got pregnant. I was serving Jamie and her friend Erica a slice, and I looked at Jamie's piece and said "Oh sweetheart! You're going to have a little boy!" She started to cry because she wanted to have a girl.)

The house is another Sunday morning disaster area, and here I sit in my p.j.'s, drinking coffee. I'm looking out the window, wondering who will drop in today. Judy -- my sister-in-law, not my neighbor -- is supposed to bring my Avon order today. I suppose I really ought to get off my posterior end and start making this place look like human beings live here ... or else hop in the shower ... but I can't bring myself to move yet).

Silly movie on TV this morning, "The Black Shield of Falworth." Tony Curtis as a knight! What a hoot. It's a gray, nondescript morning ... the wind is blowing cherry blossoms from the tree and they are falling like snowflakes ... it's really lovely, like being inside a snowglobe. Kacie is running around the house with two dirty forks in her hand and peanut shells in her hair.

Diary Entry:

Don Jr. and Judy and the boys stopped by briefly today  --  Judy had some Avon to give me, we discussed next week's birthday party for Ray.  Judy seemed more like her old self  --  she was so sullen and withdrawn on Easter, but was very friendly and "up" today.

Ray went grocery shopping and got me some more Slim Fast so I can go back on my diet tomorrow!  No one felt like cooking tonight so we just got some Kentucky Fried Chicken for the girls and us.

Watched "Poltergeist" tonight  --  that's two scary movies in a row!  (Last night and tonight!)

I can't believe how well Kacie has suddenly started talking.  Her favorite things to say are "Ow-ow-ow" (A-L-L, from the laundry detergent commercial), "Sorry Charlie!," and "bye-bye Daddy!"

April 15, 1985
Monday noon

Well, I'm back on the diet as of today, after two weeks of moderate cheating. The house is the pig pen, and I'm the pig.

Diary Entry:

I'm so ashamed of myself.  I made a feeble attempt this morning to go back on my diet.  To say that I "blew it" would be the understatement of the year  ...  I BOMBED OUT!  Late in the afternoon I went on an eating binge that lasted long into the night  --  I just couldn't seem to stop myself.  Ray didn't come home this evening (he was watching some big boxing match on TV at the tavern) so I just sat and ate  ...  and ate  ...  and ate  ...

The only really worthwhile thing I did today was polish the piano and the rocking chair.  I used Liquid Gold and it really made my antiques shine.  I can't believe what a difference it makes.

The kids are fine. Kacie talks more every day, and Jamie has learned how to fix her own glass of Tang in the mornings.

April 16, 1985

Diary Entry:

I did a little better today  ...  that is, until this evening, when I baked cookies for the girls!  Actually, that was a very dumb thing to do, considering that I'm on a diet, but I just wanted to do something nice for my kids.  Baking them was a lot of fun  --  Jamie and Kacie stood on chairs and "helped" me.  We made three dozen "Peanut Maple Yummies," and I probably ate about ten of them during the course of the evening.

OK day otherwise.  I made beef stew and salad in the evening  ...  started letters to Melinda and Mom  ...  visited briefly with Maureen when she stopped by to drop off my Avon order (foundation and lip gloss for me, a little girl's lipstick for Jamie that she loves, some aftershave for Ron's birthday).  Ray wasn't home until 8:30.

April 17, 1985


Diary Entry:

Ray is getting bad about coming home in the evenings again  ...  tonight it was past 10 p.m. before he came home, saying something about a "birthday party" he'd been to.  (There's always an excuse.)  I tried a new tactic  --  I was completely nonchalant.  He said he was going to drive to Burger King (I had been too mad to cook him any dinner), and I just shrugged and said "I don't care what you do."  At first that made him mad, and he started slamming doors and muttering, but the next thing I knewe he was laying next to me on the bed, crying!  The man is really a mess.  I love him, but his inconsistencies are tearing me apart.

Cleaned out the fridge and also my battered old desk.  (Used some Liquid Gold on the desk, and again the results are amazing.)  Mike Ross stopped by this afternoon to borrow our garden hose.

Kacie said a sentence today:  "I got ba-ba!"

April 18, 1985
Thursday morning

This hasn't been a terrific week. For that matter, it hasn't been a terrific month. Ever since I weighed myself at Sheryl & Jeff's and subsequently slid off my diet in despair, things have gone steadily downhill. I feel rotten about myself. I'm eating like a pig again, and I feel fat and ugly. All attempts to go back on the diet are futile. The other night I started baking cookies for the kids, and it wasn't until I'd started the second batch that it occurred to me I was committing "diet suicide" ... of course I ate one, and then another, and another, and another ...

Ray's birthday party is in two days. The closer Saturday gets, the more I eat. It's as if I'm deliberately sabotaging myself. Last month, when I first started planning for this party, I was really looking forward to it. I was sure I'd be down to about 130 lbs. by now, and I felt really positive and optimistic about the whole thing. Now I wish I had never come up with the idea in the first place. I've put every single gloppy pound back on, and I know everyone at the party will be smirking at me behind my back.

This party is proving to be a pain in other ways. At the moment my house is filthy. I don't mean it's just "cluttered," as in millions of toys laying around ... I mean DIRTY. It has now been months since I've had a vacuum cleaner or a washer (same old song and dance, I know), so the carpets are disgusting and the dirty laundry is piled to the ceiling. The house smells, too ... a lingering combination of cat odors, diapers, Kacie's dirty wet crib sheets piled in the laundry basket, cigarette smoke ... it's positively gagging. Today is the day I know I must roll up my sleeves and begin cleaning in earnest, but I just don't have the heart for it.

Ray promised to help me this week. He was going to do all of these wonderful things to help me out ... washing the kitchen ceiling and walls, which are thick with grease ... clearing out the carport ... picking up the back yard  ...  etc. etc. etc. Last week he began fixing up an old vacuum cleaner we had out in the shed. It's an ancient Kirby that weighs about a ton, but he tinkered with it and cleaned it up and said all it needed was a new belt. He promised to buy one this week and get the vacuum running before our party. 

Instead, he has been an asshole all week. Every night it's been 8:30 or 9 p.m. before he's gotten home -- last night it was 10:00. One night it was a boxing match that he just "HAD to see" ... another night, a Mariners game ... last night he said he went to a "birthday party." I haven't had an ounce of cooperation from him, and I'm feeling very sour towards him at the moment.

His attitude about the party really stinks, too. He keeps trying to rearrange the plans I've made, without consulting me. Last night he suggested we change it to next Saturday! I honestly felt like slugging him. We don't have half the groceries I need for the barbecue, and the thought of asking him about it gives me a headache because I already know what he'll say: he'll roll his eyes and shrug, in that infuriatingly dopey/mopey way of his, and say "I don't KNOW." Meaning that we're broke again, and he doesn't know how we can afford potato chips and beer, but then at the last minute on Saturday he'll come up with some way to afford them (after I've spent three days in total anxiety).

I don't KNOW, Journal. Right now the whole thing is a mess. I know it will probably turn out just fine, but at the moment the last thing in the world I feel like doing is throwing RAY a PARTY!!!

He was crying in bed last night. I was giving him the cold shoulder for coming in late. I heard him opening and shutting the oven door and muttering because I hadn't fixed him anything to eat. Then he lurched drunkenly into the bedroom and announced he was "gonna go to Burger King." I stared straight ahead at the TV, shrugged and said "I don't care WHAT you do," in the coolest voice I could muster. 

That sent him into total apoplexy, and he went slamming out the door. In truth, I really hated the idea of him driving anywhere in that condition, but I was determined not to let him get to me. 

A few minutes later he was back. Curiously, he didn't have any Burger King with him: he started making himself some dinner out of stuff in the fridge. After he ate, he came into bed and layed down next to me. I was pretending to be asleep. That was when I heard him sniffling and weeping. I ignored it for awhile -- I lay perfectly still and silent -- but then he began sniffling harder, then moaning a little and tossing around next to me on the bed. Actually I found the whole thing amusing: the more I ignored him, the more exaggerated his "performance" became. I knew it was just booze & guilt. 

Finally, he said in this choked-up voice, "I'm sorry, Mom." I HATE it when he calls me "Mom," but I let it pass. I reached over and patted him on the back -- that was all -- but it was like releasing the floodgates. All of a sudden he was sobbing all over me. 

"I'm an OLD MAN!" he sobbed. His thirtieth birthday is in two days, right? "No one loves me anymore," he said. Etc. etc. 

I was more than a little disgusted with him, but I gave him a hug and told him to go to sleep. That seemed to pacify him a little, and he promptly dropped off. Almost immediately he started snoring, and that drove me out to the sofa for the rest of the night.

Today I just feel BLAH about everything ... my weight, my messy house, Ray. It's 12:30 now and I haven't done a thing yet. It all seems so pointless.

Diary Entry:

I stewed all day, about everything under the sun  ...  my messy house, my weight, Ray, the kids, my life, (most of all) the party this Saturday  ...  I am becoming very good at worrying.  I wish I had never thought of this stupid party in the first place.

My father-in-law dropped by unexpectedly this afternoon.  We talked about the party a little.  At one point he asked me if Ray was "taking anything?" (meaning drugs, I think)  --  I said "no."  (Conversation really jumped around, as you can see.)

Ray was home at 8:00.  The kids hadn't gone to bed yet so they got a chance to play with their Daddy.  He picks them upside down and "sweeps the floor" with them  ...  they adore it.)  He apologized for last night  --  he said that Charles was buying him drinks all night and he got a little more screwed up than he intended to.

Had tacos for dinner.  No "Hill St. Blues."

Kacie:  "Moh sish?"  (More cereal?)

April 19, 1985
Friday morning

The next day. Some things are a little better, some things are just the same. I just found a slug crawling across the kitchen floor ... the cherry blossoms are all gone, replaced by the boring red leaves of late spring ... Wendie Kitty has suddenly shown up on our doorstep after a two week absence, enormously pregnant and frantic to find a dark closet to have her kittens in. (This is depressing because we still have the three kittens from CeCe's last litter! I'm beginning to feel overrun again.)

Ray was home at 8 p.m. last night. He apologized for Wednesday night -- actually, he was pretty civilized about it, and I decided to just let it go. His birthday is tomorrow, and it doesn't seem right to be harboring any grudges. He is supposed to get off work early today and come home and do a laundry for me. That would be a GIGANTIC help: if he keeps this promise, I will probably be in a lot better mood.

I asked him about the groceries we need for Saturday, and his reaction surprised me. "Yeah, OK," was about all he said. No shoulder shrugging or eye rolling. I do know, however, that we're bordering on broke, and that it's going to be a real tight squeeze. Maureen is going to stop by today to pick up the $10 I owe her, and for the millionth time I'm going to have to tell her I don't have it. That is always so embarrassing.

Today I have ALL of the housework to do. TOP TO BOTTOM. I don't really have the energy, but I've put it off & put it off and today is my last chance. The party doesn't start until 2:00 tomorrow, so I can do a few things in the morning, but the bulk of it must be done today. I still don't have a vacuum, so I guess I'll have to borrow one somewhere.

Diary Entry:

Busy day.  I had to clean the entire house for tomorrow's party  ...  I scrubbed walls and polished furniture and disinfected the bathroom, among other equally disgusting but necessary tasks.  Very odd weather today, everything from snow (mixed with rain) to thunder and lightning. 

Ray was home at 3:00  --  he got off early so he could do the laundry for me (nine loads of it!!)  --  he also went next door for me and asked to borrow the Harlan's vacuum so I could do the rugs.

Ray went out for awhile tonight to round up some money that people owe him.  He was home at 9:30 and we had TV dinners and watched "Miami Vice" (Gregory Sierra instead of Edward James Olmos again, blah).

April 20, 1985

Diary Entry:

The "big day."  Ray turned a reluctant 30, and I threw my party!  It was a nice sunny day, and I think the BBQ was a success.  Peg, Don Sr., Barbara, Sheryl & Jeff, Don Jr. & Judy, Billy, Nathan, Tanya, Michael, and an unexpected guest  --  Janet K.  --  were all here for steaks cooked on the grill, cold beer, my potato salad and Barbara's chocolate cake. 

Ray got a new puppy!  From Terry Solo   ...  it was a last-minute inspiration.  He's a black Lab and we've named him Yogi. 

Janet brought me two bags of clothing for the girls --  all very high quality, excellent stuff.

The party was fun.  As usual, I drank too much and got a little silly, but then so did Don, Sheryl and Ray.  Even the folks got a little fuzzy; Ray and his dad were playing baseball in the street.

After everyone left, we listened to music and played video games.  Wendie had a kitten in the carport  --  we moved her into the hall closet.

April 21, 1985

Diary Entry:

Very sleepy, drowsy day.  I am hungover, and Ray and the kids are exhausted.  We had a good day yesterday, and the party was a lot of fun, but I'm sure glad it's OVER.  I hadn't really noticed how tense I'd become over the whole thing.  Entertaining is NOT for me.

We are flat broke and the house is a mess again.  Yogi pooped on the living room rug several times, and now we've got another messy litter of kittens in the hall closet.  (Looks like there's three of them.)

Spent the day quietly  ...  napped, played some video games, read yesterday's mail (letters from Karen and Deanne, both are preg), ate cold steak sandwiches, played with Yogi, read the Sunday papers.  Sorted through all the kids' clothes Janet gave us  --  I can't get over how nice everything is.

Back to normal tomorrow, Diary?

April 22, 1985
Monday morning

Well ... we made it. Not only did we get through the party in one piece, we also had a fairly decent time! In spite of everything.

It took me all day yesterday to recuperate physically. This morning I'm still feeling some residual tiredness. Today is the day I get the house back to normal ... I've got a stack of dirty dishes left over from the party and several baskets of clean laundry to fold.

Saturday brought a fair share of surprises. For one -- we have a new dog!  A puppy, actually. His name is "Yogi" and he's eight weeks old. On Saturday, before the party started, Terry brought him over. He belonged to some people down the street, and she was just showing him off. Jamie and Ray immediately fell in love with him. He's very cute -- he's some sort of Labrador/Malamute mix, with lots of fuzzy black fur, a stubby nose and curly tail. He's also got very gentle brown eyes and a tiny patch of white fur on his chest. We all played with him and enjoyed him for a while, and then it was time for Terry to take him back to his owners. I got busy with last-minute party preparations. Twenty minutes later, Terry was back with the puppy. Did we want to keep him? Apparently his owners had decided not to keep him -- I'm still not sure why -- and they were looking for a new home for him. Against my better judgement I said OK. Terry taped a red bow to Yogi's ears and handed to him to Ron, saying "Happy birthday," and that was that. We had a new puppy.

I should add that Wendie Kitty had her kittens late Saturday night -- three of them -- which brings our current animal population to twelve. Two dogs, two cats, six kittens and two goldfish.

I'll write about the party a little later. Right now I need to shower and get started picking up the place.

Diary Entry:

Somewhat back to normal.  I felt some residual tiredness, but I get get the house cleaned up from the party.  Peg dropped in on me unexpectedly this afternoon while I was folding laundry  ...  she brought Ray's new tennis shoes (she had to exchange them for a larger size) and also a new pr. of shoes for Kacie, lavendar tennies with Velcro closing.  Her very first pair of new shoes!!

April 23, 1985
Tuesday morning 8:30 a.m.

We're up EARLY this morning. I was having one of my usual convoluted dreams ... Kacie yelling in her crib finally wrenched me out of it, and I felt so good that I decided to give the day an early start.

The girls are laughing and dashing around the living room with Yogi in hot pursuit. He has a peculiar fondness for the hems of their nightgowns! He's such a sweet little doggy: we have all fallen quite in love with him. Last night he snuggled with Ray in bed, and even hard-hearted old Mom has developed a soft spot for this little guy. The only thing that terrifies me is knowing how big he'll eventually be. He's going to be HUGE, isn't he? Right now he barely reaches the top rung of the rocking chair!


The girls and "Yogi"
Spring 1985

You can probably tell by the fuzzy way my thoughts are flowing that I'm not really awake yet. My coffee should soon remedy this. It tastes WONDERFUL this morning ... a new can of ground roast, made properly with a nice coffeemaker (recently cleaned) and "real" coffee filters instead of paper towels. It's a gray, blustery morning ... the wind the past two days has been powerful. Looks like today will be another day of storms. Perfect weather for the kind of day I've got planned ... a "writing day." I'm behind in my diary, I owe some letters, and I've got a number of other projects in the works requiring my attention.

You probably want to hear about Saturday's party, don't you? I'll give you a brief account.

The day was clear and sunny, perfect barbecue weather. Every inch of my house sparkled ... even the girls' bedrooms! In the morning I made a huge bowl of potato salad. I also made BBQ sauce, onion dip and pink lemonade, and I set out bowls of chips, crackers, carrot sticks and black olives. Our guests were Peg & Don Sr., Barbara, Don Jr. & Judy, Sheryl & Jeff, Billy, Nathan, Tanya and Michael. We also had one unexpected guest -- Ray and Sheryl's old pal, Janet K. The atmosphere was light-hearted and festive. We drank cold beer and barbecued steaks on the Webber, and afterwards we sang Happy Birthday to Ray and he blew out the 30 candles on his chocolate cake. He got a pair of white Levi's, a "Rainier Beer" T-shirt and a pair of white tennis shoes. Kacie gave him some Avon aftershave, and Jamie made him a "Happy Jar" (an empty Slimfast can, decorated with crayon drawings & a photo of Jamie glued to the lid, for Ray to keep his spare change in). He also got cards in the mail from Patty, Bev & Henry and Dora & Helene, with a little money in each.

The kids had a ball. Jamie and Kacie played happily with their cousins and with the new puppy. At one point, some of the adults started up an impromptu softball game out in the street. The highlight of the party for me was an unexpected gift from Janet ... two grocery bags FULL of children's clothing for Jamie!! I think they used to belong to her niece. It's incredible. There are at least 25 or 30 shirts and blouses, all of them adorable ... also four dresses, two nightgowns, pants and shorts, a couple of sun suits, a yellow rain slicker (Jamie loved that one so much that she wore it during the party, even though there wasn't a cloud in the sky!) and a beautiful lavender Pacific Trail ski jacket. I was speechless with delight over Janet's unexpected thoughtfulness. The next day I spent a happy hour going through everything. Jamie now has the most incredible wardrobe ... she won't wear the same thing twice for weeks!

The party broke up around 7:00 ... everyone left feeling full, happy and slightly squiffed. (I know *I* was!)

Diary Entry:

Nice day ...  nice in "little ways," that is.  It was windy, and I love windy days.  I wrote two excellent letters today  --  to Mom and Melinda  --  said a lot of things that needed to be said.  

Yogi piddles on the rug every ten minutes  ...  I found myself stepping in little wet puddles in my bare feet all day long!  ...  but he is such a sweet baby that I don't have the heart to be angry with him.

Kacie has an awful diaper rash  --  it extends all the way down her thighs.  I think it might be from the Tang she's been drinking.  We let her run around with no diaper for an hour tonight.

Ray was home while the kids were eating supper.  We are so broke, we had to count pennies tonight.

April 24, 1985

Diary Entry:

Dark and stormy day  ...  thunder in the afternoon.

I learned a lesson in love and forgiveness today when Kacie ruined one of my very best cassette tapes.  I was really mad at her, until I saw the look on her little face  ...  then I knew I couldn't make a big fuss over it.

April 25, 1985
Thursday 8:30 a.m.

Hmph. Here I was, looking around the kitchen for my journal and a decent pen, preparing to sit down and write about how nice our new puppy is ... when what should I spot but yet another pile of poop in a corner of the living room?? That makes three this morning!

Oh well ... I'm finding it very difficult to stay angry with Yogi for long. In the five days he's been with us, he's brought much laughter and happiness into our home. "You make everybody happy," Ray said to Yogi last night. And it's true. The girls adore him ... they play with him all day long. At this very moment he's chasing them both around the kitchen, nipping at their heels.

When Ray gets home in the evenings, Yogi is practically the first "person" to get a hug and kiss. "How's my guy?" Ray murmurs in his ear. Even I'm smitten. He's got such a kind little face ... so open and trusting. He looks at me with those big puppy eyes and I just melt. When I pick him up and hug him, he makes these little "oooh, ooh!" sounds of pleasure. And he's so soft and FUZZY! I just love the feel of him.

I have to admit I'm not crazy about cleaning up after him -- I have enough disgusting jobs in my life as it is, thank you very much  -- but it seems a small enough price to pay in return for the joy he brings us. I look at him now ... he's so small and baby-clumsy, chewing on a tennis shoe and wagging his little tail happily ... it's impossible to imagine what he'll look like by summer's end. Ray predicts he'll be at least waist-high. So BIG??

Jamie: "I love BACON it's my FAVORITE, nice good juicy BACON."

Kacie: "ACK! ACK! ACK! ACK! BUP-UP! BUP-UP!" (Translated: Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Puppy! Puppy!)

In the past couple of weeks I have opened myself up and mailed myself.

(What?? That doesn't make any sense! I'll try again.)

(What I'm trying to say is) I have sent out a few letters to people recently  ...  letters that I'm nervous about for one reason or another. In each letter I have exposed something personal and left myself vulnerable. Now I sit and wait for replies ... nervously, anxiously ...

  • On a whim, I wrote a letter to my childhood pal, Anita. Although we were the best of friends in grade school, by high school we were worlds apart. We haven't talked in years. For some reason, though, I feel compelled to try and bridge the gap. So I wrote her a letter, including a picture of my kids, and I mailed it to her parents' house. Now I'm feeling nervous and a little embarrassed. She'll probably think I'm some kind of nut, writing to her out of the blue like this.

  • I sent a letter to my mother the other day  ...  probably the most personal letter I've ever written her. I actually admitted to her my ambivalent feelings about my brother's new baby, and I expressed my own insecurities about her love for me. I have no idea how she'll reply.

  • A couple of years ago I told a horrendous lie to my favorite penpal, Melinda. The lie has been eating away at me ever since. I probably could go on forever and she would never know the difference ... she lives on the other side of the country, and it would be next to impossible for her to find me out. But I can't. So yesterday I sent her a letter and confessed the whole thing, begging her to forgive me. I may have done the right thing ... or I may have lost a friend (something I can't afford to do). Only time will tell.

April 26, 1985
Friday 7:30 p.m.

Hearing a new Prince song for the first time, "Paisley Park." Makes me think of The Beatles.

I have been lost in the past for two days, and it feels like I've just now returned to 1985. Writing my memoirs is proving to be an unexpectedly engrossing task. I spend my whole day reading old diaries and journals, then try to assimilate all of the information and the memories into written form ... I'm amazed by how fresh some of the old hurts are when they're exhumed. (Who would ever guess ten years after the fact, Steve P. would still have the power to move me?) After spending six hours in my past, it's hard to suddenly snap back into the 80's. When I finally manage it, I can see how far I've come ... and how far I have to go.

Geez! Another new Prince song. ("Raspberry Parade" ?)

Will a Terri of the future be scrutinizing this journal someday, adding things to her memoirs ...? And be touched and envious of how young I appear to be now?  

When I look at my reflection in a window, I still look like the same me I've always known ... but when I look in a mirror, especially in daylight, I see someone I've never seen before. I keep forgetting how old I am.

"When I drink alone
I prefer to be by myself."

11 p.m.

Where is RAY???!?!? Is this a repeat of two weeks ago?? GET HOME NOW!!

Diary Entry:

Still back in the 70's  ...  I finished writing about Steve P. (in the memoirs), and am now up to Summer '78.  Jamie and Kacie are very impatient with me for spending so much time hunched over the typewriter.

Ray was supposed to be home early tonight and party with me a little.  I called him twice at the tavern and he promised to be home, but by midnight I grew sick of waiting and went to bed.

Met some new neighbors tonight, two young Christian women who live across the street.  They're really nice and I am thrilled to have some friends.

Heard a fantastic new Eric Clapton song that I love, "She's Waiting."  (By the way, the tape deck is broken.)

April 27, 1985

Diary Entry:

It was 6 a.m. or so when Ray finally got home: he slept in Jamie's bed, Jay slept with me.

Jamie and I drove to Burger King and bought some breakfast; later, she and I went shopping at G.O. Guy.  I bought her some new crayons, four color books, a pair of purple sunglasses and a little yellow umbrella that she saw and HAD to have.  ("Please MOMMY please??")  For myself, I bought a new purse and some earrings.

Terry visited with me most of the day and into the evening.  Ray went out to run some "errands" and he didn't get home until 10 p.m.  My new neighbors  --  I don't remember the chubby girl's name, but the pretty blonde is Chris  --  came over for awhile.

April 28, 1985

Diary Entry:

It was dawn when Ray and I finally went to bed!  We slept for three or four hours, until Kacie woke up crying; I fixed her a bottle and brought her into bed with us, and we all got another hour or two of sleep.  I felt horrible all day  ...  this has been one heck of a weekend.  The house is a mess and so am I.

My new friends were here again today.  (I STILL don't remember the heavy-set girl's name!!  But I'm too embarrassed to ask her again.)  They've invited me to go to their church next Sunday with them  --  Jamie and Kacie too.

Pizza for dinner.  Sat up late and watched "King of Comedy" (Robert DeNiro, Jerry Lewis).

April 29, 1985
Monday 11 a.m.

Blah. I feel like I've been "away" for several days and have just now returned. This weekend was intensely strange. I didn't do any further work on the life history, because for most of the weekend I was either too looped or too hungover. I just felt this need to go crazy and get it all out of my system -- so I did precisely that. This morning I've got a rotten stomach ache, and the house is a grungy nightmare.

Diary Entry:

Ugh.  Woke up this morning to five piles of puppy poop, and the rest of the house in a state of general grunge.  Rather than sit and feel depressed about it, I rolled up my sleeves and dove headfirst into cleaning.

A clue!  To my new neighbors' names  ...  the heavy one is Christine!  The pretty blonde stopped by alone today and referred to her roommate.  (OK  ...  so what is the blonde's name??)  It's beginning to look like I really will be going to their church next Sunday.  Nervous!

Fun letter from my pen pal Deb DeVaney today.

April 30, 1985
Tuesday 10 a.m.

Things are a degree or two more normal today. I've still got a stomach ache, but at least the house is cleaned up. My plans for this day, after I drink some coffee, are to make a pot of spaghetti sauce, write a letter to my pen pal Debbie DeVaney, and send the kids out for a good long romp in the yard.


Sunday -  nothing

Monday - "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes," "Kate & Allie,"  "Newhart," "Cagney & Lacey"

Tuesday -   nothing

Wednesday - "Charles In Charge," "E.R.," "Dynasty"

Thursday - "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers," "Night Court," "Hill Street Blues"

Friday - "The Best Times," "Dallas," "Miami Vice"

Saturday -   nothing

Mom: "I'm gonna sit down and write and little and drink a cup of coffee, and then I'm going to take a shower, and then I'm going to clean my house."

Jamie: "Wow! That's gonna be a WOTTA work! Cuz this house is all MESSY?"

Diary Entry:

Just another day in the life.  Made a big pot of spaghetti sauce.  Tried to write some letters today, but the words just wouldn't come.  Got a letter from Mom today  ...  she said "I never for one minute looked for reasons to love you  --  you provide me with them every one of them just by being you."  She gave me a real emotional pep talk.

Ray came home at 7:00 and took our clothes to the laundromat.

Dinner was incredible  ...  the greatest salad and THE greatest spaghetti sauce I've ever made.

Kacie words:

"appo" (apple)
"appo jooce"
"guy, guy, guy!" ("sky, sky, sky"  --  whenever an airplane flies overhead)

May 1, 1985
Wednesday morning

This journal is growing a bit patchy and ragtag ... I keep starting and stopping. Sorry.

My day is getting off to a late start. At 7 a.m. I got up to check the garbage cans. Kacie was awake and hollering at me from her crib -- Jay was still asleep -- so after I made sure the garbage cans were out at the curb, I took Kacie into my bed with me. This is something new for her, and I was afraid she'd wiggle around and make a lot of noise, but to my amazement she layed right down beside me and fell asleep. We both slept for another three hours, until 10:30! The extra little bit of sleep was fabulous ... just what I needed. I feel better physically than I have in days ... rested, clear-headed and energetic.

When I finally got up, I heard Jamie's voice coming from the front yard! I peeked out the window and discovered her, sitting in the middle of the yard in the old denim stroller, blowing bubbles! She'd "dressed" herself -- a striped shirt that was inside out and backwards, a pair of pink jeans that are miles too big for her, and her black velvet dress shoes, unbuckled and on the wrong feet. Yogi and Dink were crowding around her, trying to push their doggy noses into the bowl of soap sitting on her lap. She was blowing bubbles and talking to the dogs -- I couldn't quite make out what she was saying, but I gathered that she was irritated with Yogi because he wouldn't chase the bubbles, the way Dink does. 


Blowing bubbles
Spring 1985

I made some noise in the kitchen, clattering plates and picking up garbage. Immediately I heard little footsteps on the porch. "Who's makin' dat noise?" Jamie shouted happily -- she was very pleased that I was finally up. Although she loves getting up all by herself in the morning, she's always happy when I get up.

Yogi is also glad when I get up in the mornings! He chases me around the kitchen and nips at the hem of my nightgown. (Those sharp "baby teeth" of his really hurt!) Then he sits in the middle of the kitchen and looks up at me, waiting for his Puppy Chow.

While I was in the shower, Jamie came bursting into the bathroom. "Sissy went out-SIDE!" she announced gaily. I had to rinse myself off in a hurry and dash into the kitchen wearing only a bath towel, my hair dripping wet. "GET IN THIS HOUSE!" I roared at a startled Kacie, who was puttering around in the carport. She was wearing one of Jamie's black velvet shoes and her other foot was bare. She clambered up the steps and back into the house, and I paddled her bottom twice. "You were very naughty!" I told her. Going outside while Mama is in the shower is one of life's biggest no-no's around here. I'm always terrified that Kacie will wander out into the street. After I spanked her, Kacie turned her face to the wall, silently, and I went to get dressed. By the time I was halfway down the hall, I heard her begin to wail.

I hate punishing Kacie. Of course I hate punishing either one of my daughters, but somehow it's harder with Kacie. She is so sensitive ... I feel like I'm crushing her delicate little spirit, and I hate myself for it.

When I was dressed and had my wet hair wrapped in a towel, "All My Children" was just starting on TV and Kacie seemed to have bounced back. She was sitting on the floor, playing with my pendant watch, and she gave me a big smile. All was forgotten and forgiven. I gathered her up in my arms, stroking her messy braids and kissing her sticky face.


Nothing to say, I guess.

Diary Entry:

Kacie got into bed with me early this morning and we slept together for nearly three hours!  Yogi bit her on the right ear today  --  she didn't seem to be in any pain, but the puppy's sharp teeth left an ugly puncture mark.  I cleaned it thoroughly and bandaged it, but Kacie keeps pulling the bandage off.

Folded five baskets of clean laundry.  Maureen stopped by to drop off my Avon  --  I owe her $15 by Friday.  (Shit.)

Sunk into one of my blue moods this evening.  Jamie said, "You not happy?  PLEASE be happy, Mama!"  I don't know what's the matter with me.  Ray didn't come home until very late, as usual, and I felt so alone.

Kacie: "JUCK!"
Mom: "Yuck!"
Kacie: "GOES!"
Mom: "Gross!"
Kacie: (dissolves into giggles)

Kacie: "Moh FOWRS, Ma-ma!" (bringing me another clump of wilted dandelions)

Astonishingly clear new "Kacie words": bay-bee, appo, appo jooce, Bup (puppy)

New nickname for Kacie: "Kitty Whiskers" 

May 2, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray called in sick this morning and took the day off from work  ...  he's got a bad cold, complicated by hay fever.  I was in a great mood all day and got a lot of things accomplished.

Later in the day Ray got up and rented a lawnmower.  While he mowed the yard, I made teriyaki chicken and herb & butter rice for supper.  

Took pictures of Yogi and the girls today.

The girls & Yogi ! May 2, 1985

May 3, 1985

Diary Entry:

Another lost, wasted day  ...  why have there been so many of them lately?!  The place is a mess, and I just let it stay that way  ...  the kids and I watched TV all morning and napped all afternoon (1:30 to 5:30!)  The only remotely interesting thing I did was to make an omelet for our lunch  --  it was my first attempt at omelets, and it turned out pretty good.

I don't know if Maureen stopped by because we slept all afternoon.

Ray was home at 9:00.  I watched a new show at 8:00 that I really like called "The Best Times"  --  and of course my dearly beloved "MV."  What would I do without my weekly "fix" of Don Johnson??  "The Best Times" is another one of those series I had to look up on IMDB because I have zero memory of it.  In this case, it appears to have been a one-hour drama starring no one you've ever heard of, about an idealistic young female teacher at a California high school.  It came and went in the blink of an eye.

May 4, 1985
Saturday morning

Jamie has gone to her little friend Erica's for the morning ... Ray is home today, but he's still asleep. Kacie and I are sitting here at the kitchen table -- I just gave her some colored pencils and a sheet of paper so she could "write," just like Mama. Sunny, windy morning. As always, the house is a mess and I plan to spend most of my day restoring it. I'd also like to go to the library, later, maybe with Jamie when she gets back.

Mom wrote to me a few days ago. Her letter is warm, reassuring and special ... as I knew it would be. I worry about the most ridiculous things sometimes. Here is some of it:

" ... You asked me to comment on any portion of your letter I care to. I care to comment on several parts of it. I'm sorry to hear you sounding so frustrated with your marriage and wish I had some wise words of hope and encouragement ... the best I can do is empathize and share some insight ...

You are a beautiful, intelligent, talented, loving young lady, and I want you to know it and demand from life the very best, because you deserve it ...

There's no need to feel apologetic to me, or to Grandma or to anyone else, if we catch you by surprise ... we visit to see you and the girls, not your house ...

I haven't seen Karen since the Friday before we visited you. I know how you feel about her though. I felt the same way when your cousin Greg made his appearance. I was the producer of grandchildren and it gave me a value with your grandparents ... please don't measure your worth to me in terms of progeny. There is no way to express how much I love you just for being you. You're my first born child, Terri, and the only one that was truly planned and prepared for. You're the one who shares my interests in family, in writing, in fantasy and all of life's beauty -- my alter ego. I never for one minute looked for reasons to love you -- you provide me with every one of them, just by being you ... "

Diary Entry:

Nice day.  Terry came by early this morning to take Jamie to Ericka's for the whole day.  (I took a picture of Jay, Terri, Rebecca and Ericka as they were leaving.)  I finished my housework in a hurry so I could have the rest of the day free.  Wrote  --  and mailed  --  a letter to my old friend Phil Rehberg, read some of the book I'm working on ("The Thorn Birds").  Later in the afternoon my new blonde neighbor dropped by.  HER NAME IS JEANETTE.  (Whew!)  She stayed for nearly two hours  ...  we talked about everything under the sun.  She is great.

Watched "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" tonight  --  Ron made BBQ-dip sandwiches for our late supper.

Jamie and friends ~ May 1985

Jamie (sitting in the toy car), with Rebecca & Ericka on the right; babysitter Terry Solo is hiding in back behind the car.

May 4, 1985

May 5, 1985

Diary Entry:

Pleasant (if slightly hungover) day  ...  I felt more peaceful and unconcerned about problems than I have in weeks. Read a lot today (Sunday papers, a new magazine, "The Thorn Birds").  Only housework I did was to wash the dishes, late in the afternoon.  Terry came by to visit.

Oh, by the way  --  I didn't go to church with Jeanette this morning because she had other things to do, and she suggested that next week might be better.

May 6, 1985
Monday 11 a.m.

New morning ... new week. New game show on TV that I really like ("Scrabble"). Fried egg and coffee taste lingering in my mouth. The living room floor is wall-to-wall newspapers and toys; I'll get around to the housework in a little while. There is a good, solid, warm feeling in the pit of my stomach this morning ... a new feeling of "home" and "family." A feeling as solid as the fried egg, as warm and delicious. I am miraculously content this morning, for no reason other than the girls' hair looking clean and well-brushed, the coffee tasting good, Ray fixing my vacuum cleaner yesterday ... knowing I'll be busy with housework all day ... and that when the housework is done, I have a good book I'm halfway through, and a little bit of good bud stashed away for later tonight ... things just seem to have fallen into place overnight. Even Kacie's temper tantrums aren't throwing me this morning.

On Saturday night Jeanette, one of my new neighbors, dropped by for a two hour chat. It was so, so, so nice! I've got a friend! I can hardly believe it. We're still in the beginning stages, and I'm not 100% relaxed around her -- am I ever, with anybody? -- but I intend to persevere. It's been TOO LONG since I've had a good close female friend, and there is a hunger in me for that kind of companionship.

Diary Entry:

Made breakfast for the girls and I (fried eggs and sausages)  ...  it just seemed like a good way to start a new week.  I felt kind of chirpy and lighthearted all morning.  Cleaned my house  --  the old Kirby vacuum runs beautifully.

Got a great letter from Melinda.  Maureen stopped by, I told her I'd give her the $15 this Friday  --  she didn't appear to be mad.

Ray didn't come home tonight.

May 7, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray stayed home from work today  --  he wouldn't be specific about what was wrong, just said that he had "the flu" and that his ears were bothering him.  He slept all day, until past 6 p.m.  I spent the day rather quietly  --  read more of "The Thorn Birds," worked on my new letter to Melinda, sorted some magazine clippings.

Made a great dinner tonight  --  chicken-fried roundsteak, mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, salad and sourdough rolls.  (The diet is a thing of the past  ...  I'm feeling guilty about it.)

May 8, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray went back to work.

May 9, 1985
Thursday 11 a.m.

A few days later. That bloated and deceptive sense of well-being I felt on Monday has dissipated. I'm not depressed ... it's more like I've hit the center of the road. Not left and not right.

Diary Entry:

Pay day!  Thank goodness.  Ray left me an irritating note this morning, telling ME to call Puget Power and Kirkland Utilities and make arrangements for payment.  I resent him leaving it to me at the last minute like that, but at least we won't get it all shut off.

Kids played outside for a long time today.  I finished writing Melinda's letter and wrote two more, to Sue Miseroy in Florida and to my step-mom.  Made a grocery list too.  Ray brought home a few things this evening but hasn't done the major grocery shopping yet.  (Bought me a new pen.)

Letter from Deanne today.  Wrote Mother's Day cards to Valerie and Mom.

May 10, 1985
Friday 10 a.m.

Shit. I just woke up from the greatest dream. I was young and in love, and at the very end of the dream the man I loved (my junior high Science teacher?!) was beginning to return the feeling. I woke up feeling warm and happy ...

...  and then reality set in.

"Reality" for me today is rain, puppy poop, wet crib sheets, Fruit Loops, and a whopper of a hangover. I'm so disappointed to be awake, I could cry. 

Diary Entry:

Lazy day.  Made steak sandwiches for the kids' lunch (yes, I had one too!) and then we all took a long nap this afternoon.  What a dull life I'd led recently.

Judy and her boys stopped by this afternoon and stayed for an hour and a half.  Judy had some Avon to drop off for me (pink lipstick, children's shampoo) and then we sat and gossiped for a while.  (Ray's sister Patty and her husband John are planning another baby!)

Ray was home early for a Friday night, brought McDonald's food for supper and balloons for the kids.  

I love Friday night TV now.  8:00 is "The Best Times," 9:00 is "Dallas," 10:00 is you-know-what.  Don Johnson is now my complete and utter favorite.  (Edward James who???)

May 11, 1985

Dear Diary:

Maureen stopped by first thing this morning to collect her $15 (I took it out of Ray's pants pocket while he slept!), and to tell me she's quitting Avon.  What a relief!  Now I can buy from my sister-in-law Judy exclusively, and not feel 'disloyal' to either of them.

Terry and Jeanette both stopped by to visit this afternoon.  At Terry's urging, Ray and I decided to go out for awhile tonight while she watched the kids.  We had a couple of beers at Dave's Place and watched a movie, "Tank" (James Garner).  We left the tavern around 11:30 because we were hungry  --  stopped at Albertson's and picked up some TV dinners.

May 12, 1985

Diary Entry:

Mother's Day  ...  the nicest I've ever had, so far.  Ray took the girls and I to dinner at Denny's this afternoon  --  it was so much fun!  The kids had a ball.  We all had jumbo burgers and fries, Ray and I had a couple of Bloody Marys.

After dinner we came home, took off our shoes, put on shorts and went out in the backyard to cool off and relax.  Ray tossed the football around and the girls ran after it.  

Read the Sunday papers, had a submarine sandwich for a late supper.  Watched the first part of a good movie, "A Death in California" (Cheryl Ladd, Sam Elliott).

May 13, 1985

Diary Entry:

Felt a strange but wonderful burst of energy today  ...  cleaned out my bedroom closet, sorted through my old 45's collection and threw out a third of it (shrieking noises from the future!!!), cleaned house, helped Jamie make a "Happy Jar" for a belated Mothers Day gift.

Ray was home early  --  he took our clothes to the laundromat.  While he was gone, I drank some beer and sorted magazines.  Made sloppy joes and french fries for dinner, watched Pt. II of "A Death In California" (the first part was better).

May 14, 1985

Diary Entry:

A day that started out awful ended well, thanks to Ray.  

I woke up feeling tired and crabby.  I spanked the girls for getting into my jewelry box and breaking my earrings, then felt terrible about it afterwards.  Had no energy at all: napped most of the afternoon.  My nerves are shot, and everything seems bleak: the kids are driving me crazy, we have no money, I'm putting on weight again, the house is always a mess  ...

...  Ray saved it all by coming home in an optimistic, cheery mood!

May 15, 1985

Having one of those rare "high energy" days ... flying around the house, cleaning out closets, sorting toys, rearranging dresser tops ... all the stuff I normally don't have time for. Hot sunny day ... feels almost like summer. I can hear a million lawnmowers in the distance. I look HORRIBLE -- can't find my mascara anywhere, so my eyes simply disappear into my pale, puffy face -- I'm wearing a shirt I despise -- my hair is pulled back into a messy ponytail. I'll clean myself up in a little while, so Ray doesn't die at the sight of me.

Tall glass of ginger ale on ice ... mmm. I can't believe all the work I've done in the past two hours: I've really worked up a sweat!  I'm almost proud of my house at the moment.

Life hasn't been all that terrific lately. I've been fighting one of those creepy depressions I get occasionally ... the kind where I feel like the best part of my life is over already, and there's nothing left to look forward to. Reading all my old journals and diaries lately has something to do with it. I read about all the fun and exciting things I did as a teenager, the places I went, the romances I had -- even the heartaches sound more interesting than anything that's happening in my life now.

I feel so empty. There simply isn't anything to feel good or excited about. I've been rotten to the kids lately ... taking my frustrations out on them, I guess. Poor little guys. They deserve better than me. *I* deserve better than me, for that matter.

6 p.m.

Jamie and Kacie are splashing in a tub of bubbles: after a long day of playing barefoot outside, they managed to get completely grimy. They also worked up a real appetite, and ate their whole dinner without complaint. I hope that once they're out of the tub and into their pajamas, they'll konk out early.

The lawnmowers are still going. It's really a nice evening ... everything outside looks green and lush. My house is very clean. I brushed my hair and did my makeup as best I could without mascara and changed my blouse. I hope that Ray comes home pretty soon. I would love a cold beer and a little conversation.

Diary Entry:

If I thought I felt energetic on Monday, that was nothing compared to today!  I FLEW around this place and cleaned every room, doing a lot of "little" things I don't usually have time to do  --  sorting toys, rearranging dresser tops, etc. etc.  A couple of times I tried to stop and take a break, but I was so jazzed up that I couldn't slow down.

While I worked, I dreamed of the ice cold beer I was sure Ray would bring home for me later.  (So when) he walked in at 8 p.m., stoned, with ONE can of beer in his hand but none for me because we're "broke,"  I burst into tears!  There was tension between us for the rest of the evening.

"Dynasty" season finale tonight  --  it was terrible.  Right in the middle of Amanda and Prince Michael's wedding, terrorists broke in and machine-gunned everybody to death!!  The final scene was a pile of bloody bodies.  We have to wait until fall to see who's alive.

May 16, 1985

Diary Entry:

HOT  --  up to 82°.  The girls played outside for a long time today.  I gave them a bucket of water and some old margarine tubs and let them play "dishes."  Kacie got a sunburn on her shoulders, and later in the day one of CeCe's kittens gave her a nasty 6" scratch on one leg.  Ouch.  

By late afternoon the heat was unbearable.  Jeannette came over to visit for a couple of hrs. early in the evening  --  brought me a book to read called "The Lost Princess" by George McDonald. 

Ray wasn't home until around 10.

Cute new Jay words:

"Lemon-lade" (lemonade)
"Caj Pach Kids" (Cabbage Patch Kids)

May 17, 1985

Diary Entry:

Cooler today, and overcast  ...  that meant it was warm enough for the kids to play outside (extra sunscreen for Kacie!) but cool enough for me to feel "human." 

WONDERFUL mail today  --  letters from two dear old friends, Anita Brown and Phil Rehberg!  Anita is still married to (fellow Glacier High School classmate) Phil Bennett; they have two children.  Phil is a lawyer now!!  He wants to come visit me sometime and meet my kids.

Jeanette came over for an hour or so.  Jamie went over to Terry's house this evening for dinner. 

Late this evening I watched "Dallas" (Bobby Ewing died!!) and "M.V." 

Ray was home at 10:30.

May 18, 1985

Diary Entry:

An unusually nice day  ...  as Ray puts it, "Nothin bad happened."  I cleaned house a little, read the book Jeanette loaned me ("The Lost Princess"  ...  it is so good, I'd like a copy for myself!)  The kids played outside most of the day  --  Jamie took the new sleeping bag Terry gave her outside and layed in it in the middle of the front yard.

Ray was gone for a while this afternoon, trying to scrounge up some money.  He could only come up with another $5  --  that gave us $12 altogether. He bought a pint of vodka for $3 and some orange juice,
so we had screwdrivers tonight.  (For a change, I used some common sense and stopped when I reached my limit.)  Made an OK dinner out of odds and ends  --  rice meatloaf, carrots, instant mashed potatoes and gravy.

My period is one week late now.

May 19, 1985


Diary Entry:

I'm not pregnant.  Hurray!  Period started this afternoon while I was laying on the sofa listening to the radio (KISW, "100 Top Album Sides Of All Time").  I'd almost begun to believe I might be preg again, so this comes as a relief.

Sleepy, pleasant day  ...  in spite of the fact that we have NO money and NO food in the house.  Ray's parents are in Reno so we couldn't ask them for a loan.  Things were beginning to look bleak  --  I had nothing to feed the kids, even  --  but I decided to put on a brave cheerful face (that helped keep everyone's spirits up) and trust the Lord to help us out.  Judy S. gave us a dozen eggs and a cube of butter, Ray used his "free" QFC coupons to get a loaf of bread and a head of lettuce, and with his spare change he also got some ground beef.  We had hamburger sandwiches for supper, and maybe because I was so hungry they tasted like heaven.  Ray and I spent a sweet and loving evening together watching TV and laughing.  Watched "Deadly Intentions" (Pt. One).

May 20, 1985
Monday noon

The last few days have been bumpy.  There has been tension, pleasure, worry, relief, surprise, hunger, laughter  ...  a little bit of everything.  I’m not complaining.  “Bumpy” beats “boring” any day.  It just feels great to have one comparatively slow, restful day in which to mull things over and put everything into perspective.   Today is that kind of day.

First of all -- I thought I was pregnant (again). I realize this is a very unoriginal worry, and that by this time, Journal, you are thoroughly sick of reading about it. I'm sorry. My period finally hit yesterday afternoon, though, which put the worry to rest one more time.

We are very broke -- another unoriginal worry! -- and there is very little food in the house at the moment. Half a box of rice and a can of tomato soup in the cupboards ... some popsicles in the freezer. Still, we've managed to scrape by with odds and ends. Last night Judy S. gave us a dozen eggs and a cube of butter, and we used our free QFC coupons to get bread and lettuce.

Diary Entry:

This is going to be a LONG week.  Next week Ray is taking some vacation time, and we'll have money again, but this week is going to be dull and broke.

Scrambled egg sandwiches for lunch.  Housework.  Got another good letter from Melinda, and a card and some pictures from Grandma Vert.  (She said that the Pitchers' house is boarded up now.)

Judy S. offered to loan us $15 until payday, which we gratefully accepted.  Ray was home early to watch the Holmes/Williams fight on TV; afterwards he went and got a few groceries.  So we won't starve.  Hot dogs for dinner.

Watched the second part of "Deadly Intentions."

May 21, 1985


Diary Entry:

Feeling a little "homesick" today.  I've GOT to get down and see Grandma Vert next week while Ray's on vacation.

Half-sunny, half-overcast.  Jamie discovered the sprinkler this afternoon, hooked it up and turned it on, all by herself!  The kids toodled around outside most of the day.  On a whim, I put some training pants on Kacie  --  she loved them!  She stayed dry for two hours!  Guess it's time to get started potty-training.

Puget Power dropped off another 24 hour disconnection notice  --  it says that if the bill isn't paid this time, power WILL definitely be shut off tomorrow.

Terry descended on me this afternoon with a gaggle of her teenaged girlfriends.  I was in a grumpy, silent mood: now we're angry with each other.

Ray was home at 9:30.  I made BLT's for supper.  He's worried about this Puget Power thing, and so am I.

Cute Kacie word:  "bee bee bah-oh"  (baby bottle)

May 22, 1985

Diary Entry:

I spent most of this day waiting for Puget Power to come shut off my electricity  ...  later I learned that Ray had called their main office and made payment arrangements, so we won't be shut off after all.  My worrying was a waste of time.

Terry and I are OK.  She's going to babysit tomorrow so I can go grocery shopping with Ray.

Sent letters to Melinda and Mom. 

The kids kind of fell apart on me tonight, squabbling with each other and getting into everything.  By the time Ray got home at 8:30, I was tense and near-tears.  He brought me some wine coolers, and I baked a potato for my supper and watched a dumb movie about cryogenics ("Chiller," with Beatrice Straight and Michael Beck  ...  he looks like my brother-in-law).  By bedtime I felt a lot better.

Dreamed about Don Johnson again!

May 23, 1985
Thursday 8 a.m.

What a morning (so far). I slept so soundly that I didn't hear Ray get up and leave for work ... I was busy dreaming about Don Johnson. How embarrassing to be 27 years old and have a crush on a TV star! I haven't felt this way about an actor since my goofy teenage crush on Roddy McDowall. Good grief.  The dreams were so pleasant that I was reluctant to wake up ... so I didn't. I willed myself to stay asleep and finish the dream. And it worked! (Towards the end it all started to deteriorate, though: Don Johnson turned into Tad Martin from "All My Children," who started shooting people ... then I ran into Madeline K.P., an old friend from school, and I went over to look at her twin baby boys and inquire about her husband and his brother.)

Anyway. Around 7:30 I finally woke up for real. It was RAINING! A lovely sound we haven't heard in weeks. And Wendie Kitty was up to her usual morning shenanigans ... prowling up and down the hallway meowing loudly, demanding to be let out ... and then, a few minutes later, flying in with a crash through my bedroom window ...

I went and got both of the girls and brought them into my bed with me. I was hoping to have some quiet "cuddle-time" with my monkeys. Alas! Kacie was having none of it, and soon her squirming and babbling drove us all out of bed. I made the kids a hot breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast) and started a pot of coffee, and here I am ...

The rain has stopped and the skies are showing signs of clearing later today. I think I'm OK today. Might be too early to tell. This is payday, and that helps my mood a lot. Ray is coming home at 5:00 and we're going grocery shopping (while Terry watches the kiddlywinks), which I'm looking forward to. Last night when Ray got home from work, he found me in tears for the second night this week. I'd had a looooong day with the tots, and my nerves were dangerously frayed. I need a vacation just as much as Ray does, I think. But today, at least, I seem to be feeling fairly normal, for a change ... even the little frustrations of motherhood aren't wearing me down at the moment.

Kacie is searching for Wendie's kittens. "Bay-BEE? Bay-bee GO? BAY-bee?"  Looking under chairs, behind the sofa, in the bedrooms. Tee-hee. I put the box of kitties out in the carport a while ago ... the house was beginning to smell like cat pee again. Ugh. Kacie has just realized that the kittens are gone, and she can't figure it out.

Jamie is hanging out of her bedroom window talking to Charlie, the little boy next door. ("Cholly? CHOLLLEEEE!")

Now she and Kacie are playing a "duet" on the piano ...

I feel as though I should write something meaningful at this point, about life in general, but the brain is drawing a blank this morning.

Diary Entry:

Hey, what do you know  --  we made it.  Payday at last, and only one more day to go till Rays vacation begins!

Don't you tell a SOUL about this, Diary, but I actually mailed a fan letter to Don Johnson today.  I'm so embarrassed by my silly crush on him but secretly it's kind of fun  ...  I feel like I'm in 3rd grade again and in love with The Monkees!!

Ray and I went grocery-shopping tonight, bought $160 worth of groceries, cleaning supplies and treats for the kids.  Got myself some mascara and an eyebrow pencil, a writing tablet, two magazines and a "Star" newspaper (a rag I ordinarily wouldn't touch with a 10 ft. pole, but it had a picture of D.J. on the cover!)  Ray picked up some sub sandwiches at a little place in Kirkland we've discovered  --  they made a quick and easy supper.

Kacie is having sleeping problems again  --  screamed for an hour when we put her to bed.

May 24, 1985

Diary Entry:

Surprise: Ray left for work at his usual 4:45 a.m., but half an hour later he was home again!  Said that the transformer at W.K. blew, and everyone was sent home.  So his vacation begins TODAY! 

He left to run some errands around noon, then wasn't home until nearly 7 p.m.  I spent the day doing a thorough housecleaning  --  hopefully so I won't have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend.  Also wrote a nice letter to Anita Brown Bennett.

Fun evening with Ray, once he finally got home.  We watched a special 2 hr. Miami Vice, then sat up all night partying, talking.

Cute KPP saying:  "Sy chy."  (Sorry, Charlie.)

May 25, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray and I went to bed around 5 a.m. or so  ...  got a few hours' sleep. 

Around 10 a.m. I awoke to the sound of my father-in-law's voice coming from the living room (he was telling Jamie to "wake up your Mom and Dad").  He was paying us one of his infamous unannounced visits, to invite us over for dinner tomorrow.  It was painfully obvious that Ray and I were wiped out from a night of partying.  God knows what was going through his mind when he finally left.  I'm cringing as I transcribe this for the website, decades later.

Quiet, sleepy day  --  lots of napping, no housework.  Ray bought Taco Time for lunch.  Tonight he watched an old John Wayne Western while I read magazines and relaxed.


"Zert" (dessert)
"Samly" (family)
"Fwigawator" (refrigerator)

May 26, 1985

Diary Entry:

One of those days spent doing a lot of stuff I really didn't feel like doing.

Had to go over to Ray's folks' for dinner, first of all.  (BBQ'd hamburgers.)  I was quiet, tense, not really in the mood to socialize with my in-laws  ...  Judy and I sat quietly on the patio and talked.

When we got home at 5:00, I had no sooner taken off my shoes and layed down on the sofa to relax when Anne Meyers showed up with her 2 yr. old son Jason.  She wanted Jamie and I to drive down to Marymoor Park in Redmond with them.  That was about the LAST thing in the world I felt like doing, but we went anyway because I didn't want to be rude.  Jamie and Jason went on the swings, Ann and I carried on a stilted, uncomfortable (for me) conversation.

Late night supper of corn dogs and onion rings.  I sat in bed reading the Sunday paper and a special "US" magazine Ray bought me with Don Johnson on the cover.

May 27, 1985


Diary Entry:

Memorial Day 1985.  Ray and I spent the whole day WORKING  --  the house was an incredibly filthy mess this morning and it took my entire day to restore it.  (I'm still embarrassed that Ann saw it looking that way last night.)  Ray rented a lawnmower and spent his day cleaning up the yard  --  he also pulled out a bunch of ragged bushes and shrubs from the front of the house.  

Late this afternoon he took the clothes to the laundromat for me, and later I spent two hours folding everything.  

Got some BBQ'd ribs from a take-out place, and I made a salad.  Before dinner I accidentally dropped the salad all over the kitchen floor, got very upset and burst into tears.  Ray stepped in and made a new salad, then took Jamie to the store to get a lemon pie to cheer me up.  

Watched "Brainstorm," Natalie Wood's final movie  --  it was good, but the ending was flat.

May 28, 1985

Diary Entry:

Exhausted this morning after a very poor night's sleep.  (Jamie ended up sleeping in our bed with Ray, I wound up in Jamie's bed with Kacie  --  Ray coughed all night, Kacie chattered  --  the only one out of the four of us who actually slept was Jay.)  Oh well.  Still managed to get a lot of work done today. 

Ray bought Kacie a potty chair  --  it's time to get started training her, but I plan to take the slow and easy approach, just as I did with Jamie. 

Cloudy and overcast. 

I made something new for dinner, Hamburger Helper "Pizza Bake."  Ray brought home some vodka and some Bloody Mary mix, and I had a couple of drinks while watching a re-run of the 1980 "Guyana Tragedy" movie (Powers Boothe absolutely terrifying/mesmerizing as Rev. Jim Jones).

May 29, 1985

Diary Entry:

Felt yucky from last night's Bloody Marys  ...  headache and stomach ache, all day long.  Accomplished virtually nothing.  Made hot dogs and onion rings for everybody's lunch  --  then the girls and I layed on my bed and fell asleep, slept the whole afternoon away!!  When we finally got up it was almost 5 p.m. 

Ray went out to "run his errands," his euphemism for going to the tavern to drink  ...  he was gone for the rest of the evening, leaving me alone with the kids.  I did some mending, clipped a few recipes.  Tried something new for dinner  --  chicken roll-ups, using pre-made biscuit dough, canned chicken and cream cheese.  (God, they were AWFUL.) 

Had a couple of vodka and lemonades, watched the second part of "The Guyana Tragedy"  ...  towards the end, though, it got too grim for me so I switched on the more frivolous Barbara Walters special (interviews with Cher, Diahann Carroll and Racquel Welch).

May 30, 1985

Diary Entry:

Yuckier still.  If I thought I felt bad yesterday, that was nothing compared to today!  I was sick to my stomach all morning, and my head felt like it would split in two any minute.  The whole house smelled like those disgusting chicken roll-ups  ...  god.  Once again we spent virtually the entire day sleeping.  It was 5:30 when we finally woke up, but at least by then I was feeling human again. 

Terry was over for about an hour, just to visit.  She wants one of Wendie's kittens (a black and white one), but her mom won't let her.

McDonald's for dinner.

May 31, 1985
Friday 11:15 a.m.

When my brain "draws a blank," it REALLY draws a blank, doesn't it ... ?! It is now more than a week later: I haven't written a thing in my journal in eight days. This has not been for lack of suitable subject matter, either. Plenty of things have been happening around here the past week. Ray is on vacation, for one thing. Not only that, but I've had a major mental "breakthrough" that I ought to write about, a revelation of sorts regarding my life ... so WHY can't I get anything down on paper?

I will try today. I can't guarantee anything, but I'll try. Every two minutes I have to jump up and check on the girls. Kacie has turned into Little Miss Holy Terror of 1985. If she's not pouring water all over everything, she's emptying Jamie's drawers, eating cat food, stuffing wads of toilet paper into the potty, coloring on the living room window, pulling the stuffing out of my old Deannie Bear ...

I'm also not quite awake yet. We slept in until 10:30, and I'm feeling groggy. But at least I'm feeling human. Yesterday I had a vodka hangover, the throwing-up-and-headache kind of hangover ...  god. What a lousy day. I spent half of it in the bathroom. Today I'm more or less back to normal, and it's a lovely, lovely relief: I'm just not AWAKE yet.

This is the last day of May. The skies are light gray, but some sunshine is managing to break through the clouds. The air is filled with bits of milkweed ... thousands of them, drifting everywhere, like fuzzy snowflakes.

Ray's vacation (this is the eighth day of it: he goes back to work on Monday) has proved to be a whole lot of nothing. Oh, HE'S having a ball -- he slept until 5 p.m. a couple of times, and he's gone to the tavern every single day. We had nice weather the first two days of his vacation so he did a little yard work, but nothing else since then. As far as Ray is concerned, his vacation has been eight days of sheer unadulterated bliss. I, on the other hand, am deeply disappointed with the way things have turned out. I don't know what I was expecting. More "togetherness," I suppose. I was hoping to do more things together  ...   besides sleeping and eating, that is.  Instead, this week has been exactly like every other week of my life:  dirty dishes, dirty diapers, noise, headaches, squabbles ... the same old shit. But then again, I'M not the one on vacation, AM I??

Diary Entry:

More or less back to normal.  (No more vodka for a long, LONG time!)  I spent a while this morning writing in my journal and watching the soaps, then got started on my day's work.  Ray mowed the yard (front and back), did a few other odds and ends of work outside.  He's supposed to paint the house this weekend.

Jeannette stopped by  --  loaned me four more books  --  "A Wind In The Door" and "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine L'Engle (these are companion pieces to my old favorite "A Wrinkle In Time"), and two more Geo. MacDonald books, "The Princess and The Goblin" and "The Princess and Curdie."

Ray bought the girls two shiny new pinwheels tonight: they ran around the yard in their pj's, watching them spin.  Meatloaf for dinner, "Best Times" and "Miami Vice" on TV.  Of course Ray made snotty cracks about my shows throughout the entire evening.

June 1, 1985

Diary Entry:

Fairly nice day.  I was in one of my (rare) "sweet, loving, mellow" moods  ...  patient with the kids, cooperative with Ray  ...  wish I could feel this way all the time! 

Jamie went next door to play with Michelle and Charlie for a couple hrs., Ray went out for a few hrs., Kacie napped  --  I had a little time to myself (wrote letters to Georgia Rodriguez and Michele Manzo, started reading "A Wind In The Door").  When Jamie came home from playing with her friends she konked out on the sofa, so I had some time alone with Kacie  --  fed her some supper, bathed her, washed her hair. 

Terry took Jamie over to her house for awhile tonight.  (Kacie was broken-hearted that she couldn't go: my poor sweet baby.)  Ray barbecued steaks and ribs on the Weber, I made salad and French fries.  Terry brought Jay home, then stayed and had some steak with us.

June 2, 1985

Diary Entry:

The final day of Ray's vacation  ...  I feel both sadness and relief.  It WILL be nice to have my house back to myself.

Jamie went over to play with Michelle again this morning, but those rotten kids were mean to her and she came home in tears. 

Ray finally started painting the exterior of the house today, a color that his parents picked out called "chamois" (it looks kind of like melted chocolate ice cream).  He got the front of the house done; who knows when he plans to finish??  Typical of him to wait till the very last day of his vacation to get started on such a huge project.

I spent my day drinking coffee, reading the Sunday papers, writing to Michele, Deanne, Jennifer James (a columnist for The Seattle Times).  Made tacos and tamales for dinner, watched Jack Nicholsen in "The Shining."

Couldn't get to sleep, so I sat in the living room and read "The Princess and the Goblin" until 1:30 a.m.

June 3, 1985

See? I knew I'd be interrupted. Now it's Monday, June 3rd ... three days (since I started the May 31st "catch-up" journal entry). I despise the fact that I can never finish anything. It is the personal weakness that irritates me the most about myself.

Ray has gone back to work. His vacation lasted a total of ten days. Yesterday -- his final day off -- he finally started painting the house. Typical of Ray to put off such a major project until the last minute!  His parents bought the paint so they got to choose the colors. I'm a little irritated about that -- we live here, after all -- I would have liked a clean white, with royal blue trim. Instead we got something called "Chamois." Blech.

Interrupted (what a surprise)

Diary Entry:

Yucky morning, for two reasons. First, Kacie got into bed with me early this morning after Ray went to work, and a couple of hours later she had a seizure  ...  quick rhythmic spasms that shook her whole body, lasting for about 2-1/2 minutes.  This is the second time in a month that this has happened, and I'm very worried. 

Second reason: Ron left me a note saying that I'm supposed to put Puget Power off again this week, if they stop by.  Damn!!!!

Kacie looked and acted perfectly normal today, but I'm still concerned about her.

Puget Power never showed up.  I did my usual housecleaning, worked on a letter to Deanne.  Letters today from Judy (my sister-in-law), my old friend Karen Pugh Grace, my pen pal Terri Morrison.  Karen is coming to visit the last week of this month.

Ron home around 7:30.  I baked some chicken breasts for our supper, served with noodles and fresh broccoli.  Stayed up late reading "The Princess and Curdie."

June 4, 1985

Funny how everything pales in importance when something really important happens.

I just got home from Children’s Orthopedic Hospital, where we rushed Kacie this morning after she suddenly went into convulsions.  She is OK now, resting comfortably in her crib, but my heart is still beating double-time.  God.  My baby.  I have never been so scared in my whole life.

Kacie was sleeping next to me in my bed this morning when she suddenly went into some kind of violent seizure.

Diary Entry:

Nightmarish day.  Kacie went into another horrible seizure this morning.  I used the neighbors' phone and called for emergency help, but by the time the paramedics got here the seizures had stopped. Ray came home from work (I called him) and Peg drove us all to Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle so Kacie could undergo some tests.  Five exhausting hours later, the doctors still couldn't find anything wrong with her, and we were sent home.  Kacie does have another appt. next week for an e.e.g., so maybe we'll know more then.

Peg treated us all to lunch at McDonald's, then Ray went back to work and we came home.  Kacie (poor exhausted little thing) took a long, long nap.

Tried calling Mom tonight but she wasn't home  --  left a message with Ken about Kacie's seizure.

June 5, 1985

Diary Entry:

Kacie didn't have another seizure this morning  --  maybe because I purposely woke her up early.  In fact, she was just fine today  --  a little "clingy," perhaps  --  she rarely left my side  --  but she ate well, her color is good and she has no fever.  I kept a very close eye on her, but it would appear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her!!   We will still take her back to COH on Monday for the e.e.g., though.  We're not taking any chances.

Did a lot of cleaning  --  Jamie's room was wall-to-wall filth.  Jay and I have nicknamed the ancient vacuum cleaner "Grandpa."   Cleaned the fish bowl and the fridge, made Jell-O and baked some chicken.

Called Mom tonight (borrowed the Solo's phone)  --  she's been very worried.  When Ray got home tonight he said we will finally have a phone put in again, maybe as soon as next week.  Kacie's medical emergency must have finally convinced him of the necessity of it.

June 6, 1985

Diary Entry:

Cold, rainy day.  The kind of day I love!  Kacie is still doing OK.  I woke her up again this morning so there was no problem.  The only time she seems to have these seizures is when she's asleep in my bed. Of course she might have been having them when she was sleeping in her crib, too: I just wasn't there to witness it. 

Sent a letter to Melinda.  She and Bob may be coming to town later this month.

This was payday, but we've been OK for money lately so I hardly noticed.  Ray wasn't home until very late, and he only brought a handful of groceries  --  just the things we really needed. 

I finally finished reading "A Wind In The Door" and have begun reading "A Swiftly Tilting Planet," which is proving to be one of the best books I've ever read.  Must get a copy for myself.

June 7, 1985

Diary Entry:

Another dark, rainy day.  Did some housework, finished reading "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" (the ending was a little disappointing!  Overall, though, it was a pretty good book), got some letters out (to Grandma, for one).  The rain was steady and heavy, made our house seem especially cozy.

Ray was supposed to come home and spend some time with the girls and me, but he didn't get here until 10:45  ...  instead, I spent the evening watching the shows that I like, had a frozen dinner, visited with Terry a little.

June 8, 1985


Diary Entry:

Busy!  Ray left early this morning to play in a company golf tournament  ...  the girls and I went out to Don & Judy's house in Fall City (we got a ride with Ray's folks) to celebrate Don Jr.'s 34th  Had a really nice time.  It was strange to be at an in-law family gathering without Ray, though!  But in a way it was nice  ...  I felt very relaxed.  We had shish kebabs and coleslaw for dinner, the kids played happily on the sprawling grounds surrounding Don & Judy'a mobile home  ...  Kacie was covered with mud!  Sheryl and Jeff were also there with Tanya and Michael.

When we got home at 7:30, I put Kacie to bed and then spent a pleasant, solitary evening watching the 3 hr. "Woodstock" movie on TV (it was simulcast in stereo on KEZX), which I'd never seen before.  I wish I could have been there!  Sometimes I think I was born after my time  ...  I should have been a part of the 60's.
Ray didn't come home at all tonight.

June 9, 1985

Diary Entry:

Very sleepy day.  Ray came home at dawn, and he and the girls and I spent most of the day napping, lazing around the house.

Ray went to Sunshine Pizza and bought pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers for everybody.  (Ah, junk food!)  "Woodstock" was on again (on PBS) altho this time it wasn't simulcast  --  we watched it anyway.

June 10, 1985
Monday 2:15 p.m.

Now it's almost a whole week later again since I wrote in the journal, dammit. I don't know what it is about me and this journal. I can't seem to finish what I start ... worse, I can't even START, most of the time.

Lazy, sleepy, warm afternoon. The girls are both sound asleep -- Jamie in my bed, Kacie in her crib. For awhile I was laying next to Jamie, and I'd just begun to doze off into a pleasant sort of "twilight sleep" when that disgusting little dog next door (Mickey) started barking. So I got up. I'm still awfully tired, but I guess it's really too hot to sleep, anyway. The air is so still and thick and heavy, you could slice it. The neighbor kids aren't home from school yet, and the whole block is amazingly quiet ... even Mickey finally stopped barking, and now all I can hear are a lot of birds, an occasional passing car, the dripping kitchen faucet ...

We had to take Kacie to the hospital again this morning for an EEG.  This is why we're all so tired and off-schedule today: I had to get everybody up at 7 a.m. for the appointment.  Peg drove us to the hospital. Kacie hasn't had another seizure since last Tuesday, and so far the doctors haven't been able to find anything wrong with her. This EEG was the last test they needed to give her. We won't have any results until later this week, probably.

The nurse wouldn't let me go in with Kacie during the test, so I sat in the waiting room with Peg and Jamie, chewing on my nails. Jamie struck up a conversation with a little boy who appeared to be about her age, and soon the two of them were busily playing with blocks together. Peg and I made sporadic and feeble conversation. I was worried about my baby and I didn't feel much like talking.

We'd been waiting for about 40 minutes, when the door of the waiting room burst open and in toddled KACIE!  All smiles and chatter. Her bangs were wet and sticky from the gel they used for the test., and her cheeks were round and red as apples. She was quite pleased to discover us sitting there, waiting for her. I was hoping to get some test results, but it'll be another few days again. This is the way it's been throughout this whole ordeal. We still have no idea what caused the seizure ... or, for that matter, if it even was a seizure at all. Last week at COH I sensed that the doctors either didn't believe my story or else they thought I was blowing it out of proportion  ...  like I was this batty mother, out for a little excitement. I found it incredibly irritating. No one saw Kacie's attack but me, so I have no one to corroborate what happened. Her seizure was so violent and awful -- it just seemed to go on & on, and I couldn't do anything to stop it -- it was one of the worst experiences of my life. And then to have it treated so offhandedly, with no one able to tell me why it happened ... or how to prevent it from happening again ... well, what can I say? It's been the pits.

To look at Kacie now, you couldn't tell there was ever anything wrong with her. Her color is good, her appetite is normal, and she's as busy and full of bounce as always. She's talking a blue-streak these days ... she'll imitate everything I say to her, or else she'll rely on some of her pet words and phrases ("Sorry Charlie!," "OK," "no way," "Mama-Daddy-Sissee Jamie-Terry!") She loved riding in Grandma's big van today. And there were some things at the hospital that she liked -- walking down the huge empty corridors, looking at other small children, climbing the steps in the parking lot. After the hospital, Peg took us to McDonald's for an early lunch. Kacie LOVES McDonald's "fries!" and she enjoyed spying on other people as they ate. You just couldn't guess that this rambunctious, sweet-faced little pixie has anything wrong with her at all. And maybe she doesn't. I keep trying to remind myself of that. Maybe this whole thing was just an isolated occurrence. One of the nurses tried to reassure me last week by telling me that "lots" of small children have strange attacks, for no apparent reason, and that it often goes away all by itself. I would have been vastly more reassured if she'd told me something a bit more concrete ... yes, it was a seizure, or no, it wasn't ... or, it may have been caused by This or Such ... or even, Kacie probably will be just fine once we do This or That for her. But I got nothing like that at all. No one told me what it might be, so my imagination went wild. Epilepsy? Brain tumor? Cancer? Peg said maybe it was a spider bite. (!) Sheryl suggested a food allergy. And what did Ray say ... ? I can't remember. It was something goofy, something typically Ray. Wish I could remember! Anyway, all of this has been adding fuel to my anxiety, and at this point I'm a nervous wreck.

I guess what I want most of all is for someone to tell me it's going to be OK ... that it wasn't my fault ... that Kacie is going to be fine, and that the seizure was an isolated incident. I keep forgetting that I'm the parent now: I'm the one who does the comforting. Nobody comforts the comforter.

Twenty years later, this memory still rankles.  Kacie and I were laying on my bed watching TV that morning when she suddenly went into violent spasms, right there in my arms.  Her whole body shook uncontrollably for what felt like hours (but which was probably less than thirty seconds, altogether).  She hadn't been sick recently, and she wasn't running a fever: it came out of nowhere, and ended just as abruptly as it had started.  The people at the hospital treated me as though I were a lunatic, a liar,  or  --  worst of all  --  one of those wackjobs who make their own children sick in order to get attention.  I was the only one who witnessed the seizure, so I had no one to back up my claim.  My terror over my daughter's condition was made all the worse by the helplessness I felt and the absolute lack of support I received from everybody around me.  Overall, it was one of the worst experiences of my early motherhood *career.*   (The good news, of course, is that it appeared to have been an isolated incident, and Kacie turned out to be perfectly OK.  But still.  No mother should have to go through something like that.)

My sweet Kacie P.

Diary Entry:

Pat and I took Kacie back to Children's Orthopedic Hospital this morning for her e.e.g.  --  the final test to try and determine what caused last week's seizures.  (We won't have any results until later in the week.)  Kacie was very good during the whole thing and actually seemed to be enjoying the big, shiny hospital  ...

Afterwards we went to McDonald's for an early (10 a.m.) lunch, then home for a nap.  I had a few glasses of rosé, got a little silly.  Our former neighbor, Rick Bruff, stopped by for an unexpected visit  ...  I also got into an argument with another neighbor, Naomi (mother of Rebecca and Ericka) over our kittens, who have lately taken to chewing holes in her garbage bags.

Ray came home and we drank a few beers together, talked about my penpal Melinda's visit next week, sat outside in the front yard looking at stars.

June 11, 1985

Diary Entry:

Something is wrong with Ray.  He is moody, grouchy, uncommunicative, short with the kids  ...  when he got home this evening at 7 p.m. (after another very hot day), he started throwing the kids' toys into a big pile, saying that if they didn't learn to pick up their belongings, he would "burn them."  Jamie was three at the time, Kacie was two.  He jumped on me for giving the kids some of the candy he'd been hoarding, then complained about dinner. "Is that all?" he said, looking at his hamburger patty. Then he proceeded to get into the frozen chicken that was supposed to be tomorrow's dinner: when I complained, he jumped all over me.  He didn't touch the potato salad I'd made for him  --  said he "wasn't into it."  He muttered and swore under his breath all evening, about every little thing you can imagine, until I got so sick of him I went to bed, just to escape his foul mood.

Called Melinda (in New Jersey) from a phone booth  --  she'll be here Friday the 21st.

June 12, 1985

Diary Entry:

Busy, busy.  I'm beginning to get things cleaned up for Melinda's visit next week (and Karen's visit, the week after)  --  I finished washing and hanging the first batch of kitchen curtains (bleaching them worked wonders!), then cleaned and polished the exterior of the fireplace until it gleams.  Sent Melinda one final, quick letter with directions to our house and clothing suggestions.  

Got my first copy of "The Letter Exchange," a new pen pal directory.  

Ron was home early, took the dirty clothes to the laundromat for me, washed but not dried.  He is still remote and touchy and I steered clear of him as much as possible.  Dull dinner of hot dogs and macaroni.  Watched a movie called "Our Time"  --  it used to be called something else when it was in the theaters in the early 70's, but I can't remember what?  --  Pamela Sue Martin, Betsy Slade.

Jamie is off the bottle (finally).

June 13, 1985
Thursday 10:30 a.m.

Life is temporarily crappy again. Can you stand some more complaints?

When I was at the hospital last week -- in between conversations with skeptical doctors -- I leafed through an old issue of The New Yorker.  There was an interesting article about diarists and journal-writers throughout history. One line in particular caught my eye, which I can't remember word-for-word but will paraphrase: All diarists, consciously or unconsciously, expect to be read someday. They may not realize it as they're writing, and they may not be able to picture in their mind exactly who it is they're writing "to." But we all do expect to be read someday, by someone. I know I do. I always have.

Who are you, reading this journal? 

(Whoever you are, you're going to think I was an awful complainer aren't you?  Also that I was repetitive, and boring, and mean-hearted ... )

Here is a quick run-down on the crappy state of my life at the moment:

* Ray is moody and remote, short with the kids, complains incessantly and won't tell me what's bugging him.  I can hardly bear to be in the same room with him.

* We are flat broke, and I have nothing to cook for dinner.

* I'm miserably overweight again. I'm also between periods, and you know what THAT means.

Diary Entry:

A high-energy day  ...  more cleaning, particularly in the kitchen and dining area (scrubbed walls, did windows, cleaned part of the ceiling).  Things are definitely beginning to look brighter and cleaner.  Cleaned Jamie's room, also.

Jamie has a "new game"  --  she sits at one end of our sofa with her toy keys in her hand and pretends she's driving her "van."  Just like her Grandma Peg!

Kacie has begun chewing her nails all the time.  Her fingers are always in her mouth.  I'm concerned  --  not about the nail-biting itself, but about what may be causing it.  She seems kind of tense.  Maybe I should be extra gentle with her for awhile.

Ray was home around 8:30  --  we had a makeshift supper of TV dinners, French fries, frozen chicken and steamed carrots.

June 14, 1985
Friday 8 a.m.

Things are an inch or two better. Ray was slightly less impossible last night. (Notice I said only "slightly.") He is still buttoned up tight as a sweater about work, money and/or whatever has been eating him lately. All attempts to engage him in a decent conversation have failed, so I still have no idea what the problem is. This allows my fertile imagination to run rampant ... bankruptcy? unemployment? male menopause??? You tell me. But he did come home at a decent hour, with some milk and a little package of cookies for the kids, and he greeted them both with hugs and kisses instead of bellowing at them to pick up their toys. And he ate his crappy little TV dinner without complaint. 

At 10 p.m. he went into the bedroom to read while I stayed in the living room and watched "Hill Street Blues." When I went into the bedroom to check on him a little while later, he was sound asleep, still holding his comic book. He looked so guileless and vulnerable at that moment -- like one of the girls when they're sleeping. I found myself thawing slightly towards him, against my better judgement. I can't be angry with someone who looks so much like the two little delights of my heart!

Diary Entry:

Cloudy and rainy.  Finally got the rest of the laundry dried, folded and put away  --  washed the rest of the kitchen curtains, too.  

I half-expected Grandma Vert to show up today (her letter said she might), so I got all the work done by noon; when she didn't show up, I spent the rest of the day playing with the kids and writing letters.

An International crisis developed late this afternoon, when Shihite Muslims in the Middle East hijacked a jetliner full of American tourists and diverted it to Beirut.  This evening they killed one passenger, are threatening to kill more.

Ray was home around 10:30.  He'd borrowed a little money so he got us some hamburgers.  I went to bed and had horrible dreams all night about nuclear war, caused no doubt by the hijacking.

June 15, 1985

Diary Entry:

Summer is here  ...  weather-wise, anyway.  Up in the 70's today, with temps in the NINETIES predicted for tomorrow and Monday (shit).

Speaking of temperatures  --  late this afternoon Kacie suddenly developed a whopping fever.  By the time I put her to bed it was 103°.  She is listless and has no appetite.  Children's Tylenol and water.

Ray took Jamie out for several hours this afternoon.  They went to Dave's Place, and then over to the folks.  I am in a blue mood and I cried when they were gone  ...  just kinda feeling like no one knows I'm alive.  Must be the heat and my impending period.

No resolution to the hijacking crisis.  The terrorists have set a deadline (2 a.m. our time) for Israel to release 500 imprisoned Shihite Muslims or "there will be a price to pay."

Steaks for dinner  --  a special treat, considering how broke we are.

Took pics of Jay washing Ron's car, Kacie washing the trikes.

Jamie washing Daddy's car ~ June 15, 1985    Kacie washing her trike ~ June 15, 1985

Pictures I took this day:
Left, Jamie washing Daddy's car; right, Kacie handling trike-washing duties.
June 15, 1985

June 16, 1985
Sunday 9:30 a.m.

One of the "little delights of my heart" is sick again: Kacie is running a fever. It started late yesterday afternoon; Terry remarked that Kacie looked "very pale," and when I took her temp it was 102º. She was listless and had no appetite at all. Ray and Jamie weren't home until after 9 p.m. (he took her with him to run some errands), so while I waited for them I sat quietly in the living room, holding Kacie in my arms. Every hour or so I checked her temperature. At 8:30 it peaked at 103.1º, and I started feeling a little panicky. She was so limp and unresponsive.

When Ray finally got home with Jamie, I told him we needed some Children's Tylenol. As usual, he was annoyed and made a big fuss about it, before he finally went stomping off to the store. He acted like it was such an imposition. When I checked her in the middle of the night, her fever had lowered to 101º and she was sleeping comfortably.

This morning it was back to 102º, and she threw up the Tylenol I gave her. That was about two hours ago. Now she seems to be feeling better. I've got her settled on the sofa with a pillow, blankets, a bunch of stuffed animals and a bottle. She drank 8 oz. of juice awhile ago and she's kept it down, but she still doesn't have any appetite. Her spirits are good, though. Every few minutes she tries to sneak off the sofa and go play.


Well, she ate a little bit of breakfast, and played for awhile with Jamie, but then she got sleepy and quiet and I put her down early for a nap.

Jamie is outside "washing Daddy's car." I can see her, from the sofa where I'm sitting ... puttering around the carport in her little peach colored sun suit, spraying soap suds off the car with the garden hose ...

Diary Entry:

Kacie is very sick.  Her temp hovered around 102° for most of the day, and she was quiet and withdrawn.  I had very little problem getting her to lay quietly on the sofa for most of the day.  Gave her Children's Tylenol every four hrs., lots of juice and water.  She ate a small pancake around noon but skipped dinner.

Didn't get as hot outside as it was supposed to, but it was still a very warm, muggy day.  I watched a movie ("The Red Pony"), read the Sunday papers, put together some mediocre spaghetti sauce out of odds and ends.  

Ray was his usual bloblike Sunday self.  I feel something ebbing here.

Tonight (2 a.m. or so), Kacie's temperature suddenly shot up to a horrifying 104°.  I begged Ray to help me DO something, but he just went back to sleep, the bastard.  I nursed Kacie all through the night.

June 17, 1985
Monday 1 p.m.

We appear to be past the worst. Last night around 2 a.m. Kacie woke up and started to cry. When I picked her up, her little body felt like it was on FIRE. I took her temperature, and it was a horrifying 104º. She vomited the Tylenol and water I gave her, and I was at my wits' end ... I didn't know what to do. I gave her a sponge bath, and that cooled her off a little. 

Ray was no help at all, of course. He stood there looking helpless, and then he went back to bed! I was furious with him.  I still am.

Her fever seems to have broken today. When I last took her temp at noon it was 99.4º. I was so relieved, I breathed a prayer of thanks to God. She is cool and cheerful today, and she ate a scrambled egg sandwich for lunch. Now she's napping.

"I cold as a whistle!" JLP

Summer has arrived today. The calendar gives us another four days of spring, and the neighborhood kids won't be set free from school until tomorrow. But in every other way that counts, summer is here.

I have just spent the past ten minutes setting up the electric fan. First, it had to be rescued from beneath a pile of junk in the shed outdoors. It was covered with dust and grime, so I sprayed it with Windex and wiped it off, praying that I wouldn't get dirt on the white slacks I borrowed from Ray (and which he doesn't know I wear when he's at work). Now the fan is propped against the open front door, whirring noisily. It is a familiar sound: this will be the fifth summer that I have taken refuge in front of it. (That first awful pregnant summer of 1981, when we were invaded by the Flea Army ... the summer Jamie was two and Kacie wasn't crawling yet ... last summer, when the girls threw little toys into the fan and shorted it out ...)

Jamie hears the noise and wanders in from her sprinkler to investigate. "I remember THAT fan!" she says, and sits on the floor in front of it. The breeze tosses her hair around ... her clothes are damp from the sprinkler and her cheeks are red round apples. I sit next to her on the floor and we enjoy the breeze ... a blessing on this blisteringly hot day.

The sky is as blue as a tropical sea. I remember when I was a little girl, I was allowed to play in my little swimming pool if the sky was "all blue." Every morning during those four- and five-year-old summers, my brother Dickie and I would anxiously scan the skies, praying for no clouds. Now I'm telling my daughter the same thing. 

"I can play in brinkler today?" she asked me earlier. "Dere's NO clouds."   

I checked the robin's egg sky  -- no clouds --  and gave her my blessing.

My dislike of summer is a puzzlement to my husband. He grew up in Tucson, where it is summer all the time, and hot sticky weather is as natural to him as breathing. I, on the other hand, am a product of the Pacific Northwest, where the seasons are more pronounced. I actually like the rain. I come alive in the fall and the winter, when nights are frosty and mornings are misty. In summer, I wither. Ray loves to pull out the lawnchair, slather his body with oil and bake under the sun for hours, or else climb a ladder and sit on the roof of our house, with his beer, and gaze off into the distance until the sun has disappeared for the night ...


Diary Entry:

Guardedly optimistic about Kacie.  Although she woke up this morning at 102°, by noon her temperature was almost normal and stayed that way for the rest of the day.  Yay!

Hot.  I dragged out the old electric fan from the tool shed and it provided some relief from the heat.  Jamie played outside all day.

Sent letters to Mom, Dad and Karen.

Ray was home fairly early, immediately headed up to the roof to catch some sun.  I cooked chicken and French fries for a delicious supper.

June 18, 1985

Diary Entry:

Up in the 80's today.  Too hot for me!  Laid out in the sun for about 40 minutes and got a light sunburn on my arms and chest, then spent the rest of the day indoors front of the fan!

Cut off an old pair of jeans and made them into shorts.  Used the fabric remnants to sew two little "purses" for the kids.

Kacie felt fine today, although the heat has left her a little wilted.

Jeanette stopped by for a short visit, loaned me three more books.

Made a macaroni salad, BLT's for supper.  Ray was home at 5:30.  We're very broke, and I'm anxious for Thursday.

June 19, 1985
Wednesday 8:20 a.m.

My period hit this morning and I am in misery. (Hot tea, aspirin, tightly-clenched teeth.) Waiting for my beloved Don Johnson to be interviewed on The Today Show. Hoping it won't be as hot today as it's been all week. Nervous about meeting my pen pal Melinda on Friday.

9:20 a.m.

Now the kids are settled in with their "Sesame Street." I've just showered, made myself another cup of tea (we're out of coffee). Awful cramps this morning ... the kind I used to get when I was fourteen.

Diary Entry:

Poor Kacie.  It's been one thing after another lately  ...  today she has chicken pox!!!   At least, that's what it LOOKS like, and Judy S. agrees with me.  Kacie's back, neck and arms have erupted into red bumps and she's slightly feverish.  I called Ray at work to let him know, and he was home early.  We were going to take her to Evergreen Hospital, but I talked to one of the pediatric nurses on the phone and she said there was probably no reason to bring her in unless complications developed.  So I'm watching her very closely.

June 20, 1985

Diary Entry:

Melinda is going to be here tomorrow.  I'm so nervous!!!!!  We've been writing to each other for eight years and are very close on paper, but meeting face-to-face is another matter entirely.  Will we like each other?  Will we get along?

Kacie doesn't have chicken pox  ...  at least, it doesn't look that way today.  The bumps on her back have faded to practically nothing, and she has no fever at all today.  I am completely confused.

Payday  ...  you know how happy THAT made me feel!  When Ray got home this evening at 7 p.m., I grabbed the car and went to G.O. Guy, where I bought myself a blue and white shirt, some white Dr. Scholl's sandals, Jamie a pair of "jap-flaps," some Loving Care hair color (reddish-brown) and some QT sunless tanning lotion.

Friday morning 7 a.m.
June 21, 1985

A moment or two of quiet before the kids get up. This is a day I've been looking forward to for years -- I'm finally going to meet my longtime pen pal and friend, Melinda. (She's the one I told the "horrendous lie" to, remember?) I feel anticipation and nervousness. What if we don't like each other, face to face??

Diary Entry:

The big day.  Terry and her girlfriend Vanessa took the kids for a few hrs., leaving me some time alone to get things done for Melinda's visit.  I put the finishing touches on my house (it SPARKLED), made a huge shrimp and olive salad, and made myself "gorgeous."  I'd decided that this would be the perfect occasion to dye my hair for the very first time: Mistake #1.  It came out looking decidedly more orange than "reddish brown."  Plus I'd applied two layers of QT on my face, chest and arms, hoping it would give me a nice faux tan: Mistake #2.  My face and skin wound up looking just as orange as my hair.  I looked hideous.

Terry loaned me her portable stereo, so I listened to music all afternoon, working myself into a festive mood.  Started drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon, too, which proved to be a gigantic mistake  ...  by the time Bob and Melinda got here, around 7 p.m., I was completely smashed. What a first impression I must have made!  Melinda is pretty much as I expected  ...  a little shorter and heavier, maybe, but otherwise her photos do her justice.  We were a bit awkward around each other all evening.   Ray barbecued steaks, and after we ate we talked until midnight, but things felt awfully strained.  Her husband is obnoxious and I'm not sure I like him very much.  As for Melinda  ...  I'm wondering if she'll ever want to write to me again after this weekend!!

June 22, 1985


Diary Entry:

I felt predictably awful today.  What I fool I must have seemed to Bob & Melinda last night!  

In spite of my hangover today, I had to get up early and get everybody ready for today's outings.  Bob, Melinda, Ray, the girls and I spent the day in downtown Seattle.  We briefly visited the Pike Place Market, then the Seattle Center (ran into my father-in-law there!!) and the Space Needle.  Kacie was crabby and sunburned, and neither Bob nor Melinda seemed to be enjoying themselves much.  I'm really upset by the way this whole weekend is turning out.  Melinda and I haven't had five minutes along, Bob is a jerk, I can't seem to come up with anything to do that they enjoy  ...  it's a mess.

They dropped us off at home and went out to dinner by themselves (at my insistence)  ...  we spent a quiet evening at home watching TV.  Ray went out and got us some fish & chips for dinner, Terry was here and ate with us.

Bob and Melinda are supposed to stop by tomorrow sometime.

June 23, 1985
Sunday 1:30 p.m.

Well ... so much for meeting each other face to face. This has been a disappointing weekend, and I am extremely disillusioned. I should have known better, but I was hoping ... I don't know what I was hoping for. Instant rapport, maybe. The same kind of easy, friendly banter Melinda and I enjoy in our letters to each other. I wanted her to be the Melinda I've known for the past eight years via the mail ... witty, funny, sly. Certainly not this dour, prim, uncomfortable person I've been entertaining all weekend. Who IS this person? It sure isn't the Melinda I was expecting.

Fair is fair. I'm fairly sure that I've disappointed her, too. I think she's more than a little shocked by our "bohemian" lifestyle. I was roaring drunk when she and Bob showed up on Friday night. I'd been so nervous at the prospect of meeting her that I guzzled beer all afternoon to combat my nerves. By the time they got here, I was feeling quite "jolly." When they walked in the door, I was so excited that I grabbed Melinda and gave her a huge bear hug. That was my first mistake. She was stiff and unresponsive ... obviously not a "hugging person." That was my first clue that all was not well. Ray barbecued steaks for our dinner that night, but I was so smashed that I didn't eat anything. I kept yakking on & on, about anything and everything, and when Melinda managed to get a word in edgewise she seemed overwhelmed by everything. Me, especially.

She looks pretty much as I expected her to, except that she's shorter and wider. She's also wearing glasses -- a surprise -- and her hair is shorter than it was in any of the pictures she sent me. She looks much older than I expected, although she's Ray's age (30).

Her husband Bob is a fidgety, impatient, obnoxious jerk. Since Melinda has always said as much in her letters about him, this was not completely unexpected. Actually, when I stop to think about it, Bob is the main reason I'm not having any fun this weekend. Maybe if it was just Melinda and me, things would be OK. But Bob is making it very clear that he's Not Having Fun, and this is putting a huge damper on everything. Yesterday (Saturday) we -- Bob & Melinda, Ray and the kids and I -- spent the day in downtown Seattle, and no matter where we went or what we did, Bob refused to enjoy himself. We rushed through the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Center and the Space Needle  --  places I ordinarily would have really loved seeing  --  but with mopey Bob hanging around, looking alternately cross and bored out of his skull, it was impossible to enjoy anything.  When we were at the Market, Bob wandered off by himself. When we finally found him, he was standing in front of a newsstand reading a New Jersey newspaper. At the Seattle Center, Jamie insisted on going on some rides. Who could blame her? We were right in the middle of The Fun Forest, forcryingoutloud: what little kid could resist something like that? So I told her she could go on three rides. Bob looked disgusted and slunk off by himself for awhile.


We did manage to squeeze in a pony ride for Jamie; Kacie was too little, so she kept my penpal Melinda company instead
Summer 1985

Diary Entry:

Melinda's visit, so far, has been so disastrous that I felt I needed to do something to salvage our friendship.  She and Bob spent the day doing things by themselves, so while I had some time to myself I sat and re-read some of her old letters from the past eight years.  It helped remind me, once again, of how fond I am of her  ...  and it filled me with determination.  Tomorrow is our last day together, and it's got to be a good one  --  a day to remember.

Ray worked on painting the house until it started to rain.  Bob and Melinda stopped by briefly to make plans for tomorrow (we're going to the zoo) but they didn't stay for dinner.

Oh yes  --  Don & Judy also stopped by today.  Judy had some Avon for me, I paid her $10.

We made tacos for dinner, watched "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"  --  Ray and Terry got into a food fight!  --  Jamie spent the night at Terry's.

June 24, 1985

Diary Entry:

All is well.  This was a very pleasant day, and by the time Bob, Melinda and I parted this evening (they're heading for California tomorrow) our friendship was reaffirmed and we were sorry to say goodbye!

We took the kids to the Woodland Park Zoo.  It was my kids' first trip to the zoo, and they loved it.  Even Bob seemed to enjoy himself!  (He's not quite the jerk I made him out to be at first.)  Afterwards we had lunch at Kidd Valley. 

Tonight Bob went to a Mariners game at the Kingdome, and Melinda spent the evening with me.  So we finally had some alone together.  She and I left the girls with Ray and we went to dinner at Friday's, in Kirkland.  After dinner we came back to my place (Ray and the kids were asleep already) and talked for a few hours, until Bob got back.  I'm so glad that we had some time together because it helped put things to rights again.  When she had to go, we hugged and cried!

June 25, 1985

Diary Entry:

Slept until 10 a.m.  --  it felt delicious.  I'm sorry that Melinda is gone, but relieved also.  Now things can get back to normal around here maybe. 

Picked up the house, finished reading the weekend newspapers.  (Jennifer James printed my letter in her advice column in the Seattle Times!)   I don't remember what the letter was about, although it might have had something to do with my relationship with my mother  ...  I'm just not sure.

This weekend Kacie learned to say "Mommy" and "Jamie," and now that's all I hear all day long!!  "MOM-mee?  MOM-meeee!"

Awful blister on my right foot from the new Dr. Scholl's sandals.

We have a new UHF channel on our TV  --  KTZZ, Ch. 22.  I fiddled around with our TV and managed to get the new station to come in quite clearly.  Mostly re-runs from the 50's & 60's.

Ray was home fairly early; I cooked him some cube steaks and instant mashed potatoes for supper.

June 26, 1985

Diary Entry:

Karen and her husband showed up this morning around 11 a.m.  After six years, I didn't even recognize my former best friend!  She is beautiful, poised, serene and blissfully pregnant  ...  I am envious!  She could only stay for a moment this morning, but later in the afternoon she came back alone (while her hubby Dick visited his relatives) and we had a nice, long visit.  Everything in her life seems to be going smoothly.  We looked at her wedding album and at my photo albums, gossipped about old friends, laughed about things we did when we were kids.  It was nice.

Made plans tonight to spend the weekend with Grandma Vert.  The girls and I will go down on Saturday and stay with her for a few days.  I just feel a need to spend some time in my childhood home.

June 27, 1985

Now it’s a few days later.  Bob and Melinda have left, and life has returned to normal.

It’s true that their visit began disastrously, and that I was disappointed at first.  I’m pleased to report, however, that things improved.  Melinda and I gradually warmed up to each other, and it became easier to talk.  She began to seem more like the funny, familiar Melinda I’d been expecting.  And Bob stopped being such a complaining jerk  --  by the end of their visit I was actually beginning to enjoy him!  He was a dry sense of humor that I liked.

On Monday we all went to the Woodland Park Zoo, which finally proved to be the activity everybody liked.  Even Bob.  I hadn’t been there in years and I really enjoyed it.  And of course the kids thought it was great.  That evening, Bob went to a Mariners game at the Kingdome and Melinda spent the evening with me.  She and I went out to dinner, and then we sat at my house and chatted quite companionably until Bob got back from the game, around midnight.

It was hard to say goodbye, but I had genuinely warm feelings toward them both when we parted and I’m glad we had the chance to meet.

Today things are not going too well.  This is Thursday, June 27  ...  a week before payday, and we are flat broke.  Things are further complicated by the fact that we have no electricity.  Puget Power shut us off this afternoon.  Ron is doing his best at the moment (it’s 6:30 p.m.) to get the power restored, but I have zero confidence in him.

Diary Entry:

Lousy day.  

Welll  ...  actually that's not completely true.  Parts of this day were lousy.  Other parts were OK.  The girls and I had a "picnic" on the living room floor at noon  --  it was too cold and cloudy outside, so I baked a pizza and we ate on a blanket in front of the TV.  Fun!

Puget Power shut off our electricity this afternoon while the kids and I were napping.  I called Ray and told him, and he had a fit  ...  he came storming home right away.  Later in the evening a friend of us wrote us a check and we got the power turned back on.

I made this very odd "stroganoff" for dinner out of leftovers  ...  ground beef, carrots, potatoes, sour cream, etc.   It was OK, although I was not particularly overwhelmed with it.

June 28, 1985


Diary Entry:

Woke up with the beginnings of a sore throat and a dull headache.  Sure hope I'm not going to be sick this weekend at Grandma's.

Spent most of this day getting ready for our little "excursion"  ...  hand-washed a bunch of clothes, got started packing, cleaned up the house.  I wonder if Ray will miss us while we're gone?

June 29, 1985

Diary Entry:

Grandma Vert and her friend Tony were here to pick the girls & me up at 10 a.m., and we drove to Grandma's house for the weekend.  How lovely to be in my childhood home again!  The interior of the house has changed a lot since I was a kid, but the backyard is the same  ...  so dear and familiar.

Walked the kids around my old neighborhood, down to Sunset Park, etc.  Jamie played with Nicole Chamberlain (Harvey's daughter) next door for most of the afternoon.

Gram made us one of her famous pot roasts for supper.  We spent the evening talking  --  trying to remember the words to "Redwing"  --  reminiscing  --  it was wonderful.

Kids and I shared the sofa bed.

June 30, 1985

I am sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home as I write this ... my head is so full of STUFF that needs writing. But will it get written? I don't know. Between conversations with my grandmother and monitoring my two rambunctious & demanding young daughters, there hasn't been a lot of time for writing during the twenty-four hours we've been here. But I'll try.

The decision to come down and spend some time with Grandma was a spontaneous one. It occurred to me on Wednesday of last week, after a visit from my childhood friend Karen (Pugh) Grace. Talking with Karen, and reliving "old times," kind of made me feel nostalgic & lonely for my old neighborhood. So on a whim I called Grandma and asked if the girls and I could come down for a visit. I guess you could say I invited myself! But she said OK.

Now I'm sitting in "my" backyard. Maybe for the last time, ever. Who knows?  It is a warm, slightly cloudy summer evening. The grass is short and brown and dry. Everything seems more overgrown than I ever remember it being. The apple trees and the cherry trees are so broad and heavily laden with not-quite-ripe fruit, the branches dip nearly to the ground. The girls try eating the pinkish cherries and tiny green apples, but they aren't ripe enough yet.

Next door in the Chamberlin's yard, I can hear my childhood heartthrob, Harvey, talking to his daughter Nicole. Funny that we both have daughters the same age. Harvey is ten years older than me & balding now, but I still feel an odd little "tingle" when I hear his voice. Strange how some things don't change.

This backyard is as familiar and dear to me a place as any I've ever known, and yet I feel so strange being here! First of all, there is the fact that all this is due to be demolished in the fall (by the Port of Seattle). God. My heart just turned over at the thought. The rock wall Grandpa built ... my brother's cedar tree ... the garden ... Dad's tree fort ... how can all of these precious memories be bulldozed in five months??

My daughter pedals her tricycle around on the flat stubbly grass. A sprinkler rains gently on the spot where my childhood swingset used to stand: there are faint indentations in the grass still, where the swings used to be twenty years ago. Jamie asks me, "What's the magic word in dis backyard?" She is big on "magic words" at the moment, thanks to Sesame Street. I look around my huge, wonderful, green, leafy, beautiful yard ... the scene of most of my childhood memories, good and bad. What one magic word could possibly describe it all?

I am absolutely overwhelmed with feeling as I sit here. Everything in this yard is so incredibly dear. The hedge that separates our yard from the Chamberlin's ... Grandma's flowers ...

(Harvey spoke to me! Just now. I was walking towards the house to check on my laundry when I heard him call out "TERRI?" across the fence. How embarrassing to admit how my heart ‘leapt in joy' at the sound of his voice! All he wanted was to return Jamie's doll, which she'd left at his house. Talk about feeling deflated!)

Where was I? Oh yes ... my feelings about this yard. It's funny -- not really funny, more surprising -- I've been mourning the imminent loss of this house, when in fact what I will miss most is the backyard. The house has been fickle. Outwardly it hasn't changed much at all, except maybe for the patio Grandpa built in the mid-70's. But inside everything is different. I was taking a shower last night, and I realized that the only thing in that bathroom that hasn't changed since my childhood was the ceiling! Everything else has been re-done, the floor, the window, the fixtures. And it's like that throughout the entire house ... virtually nothing is the way it was when I was a child. My bedroom is now my step-grandfather's room (and as such is off-limits to me). Even the attic where Dickie used to sleep has been remodeled. But the yard has stayed true. A little leafier ... a bit more overgrown since the days Grandpa Vert fastidiously cared for the yard ... but the trees are all in the same old spots, the rock wall is the same, everything is the SAME.

Diary Entry:

Decided not to go to church this morning  --  partially because I discovered (to my dismay) that I'd left my purse at home and it had some crucial things in it  --  mascara, hairbrush, etc.  Grandma and Ted went to church, though, so I had a little time to myself in my childhood home.  

This afternoon the kids and I walked two blocks over to Dad and Valerie's house.  Dad grilled some hot dogs and got me some cold beer: we sat and visited for a couple of hours, then he drove us back to Gram's.  I sat out in the backyard and wrote in my journal  ...  mostly my feelings and memories of the place.

As much as I've enjoyed our visit with Gram Vert, I think it's time to move on.  The kids are bored and getting on Grandpa Ted's nerves.  Tomorrow we're going to Gram St. John's for a couple of days.

Notes I took while talking with Grandma this afternoon:

  • Her two half-sisters were Alice and Virginia Roberts.
  • Grandma's father, David Luther Roberts, died of lung cancer in 1932 

  • The last time Gram saw her father  -  she was in hosp. giving birth to Aunt Bonnie, she (G) almost died - they sent for Gram's father.

July 1, 1985

Diary Entry:

Mom came and picked up the girls and I this morning at 11:00, and we spent a nice day together.  Went to the Highline School District Museum, where Gram St. John works  --  a fascinating place!  Lunch with Mom and Gram at the bowling alley.  Then Mom and I took the kids down to Seahurst Park, let them romp in the surf and the sand.  Jamie adored it.  Went by my brother's place and finally got a chance to meet little Karen. 

Mom dropped us off at Gram St. John's.  The kids played with a big box of old toys, tore around the yard.  We sat up late watching Monday night TV, drinking, talking.  Kacie slept in my cousin Ben's old crib; Jamie and I shared the guest bed.

July 2, 1985

Diary Entry:

Spent the day at Grandma St. John's.  Very hot and sunny.  Grandma and I took the girls for a walk down the street to Cedarhurst Elementary and let them play on the playground equipment for an hour or so.  I remember Grandma commented on how "red" my hair looked in the sunlight, as we sat and watched the girls playing on the monkey bars that afternoon.  "My mother's hair was that color," she said wistfully.  I didn't have the heart to tell her it was mostly Miss Clairol. 

When we got back to Grandma's, we sat in the shade of her backyard and took a nap.

This afternoon Aunt Ann, Mom and Debi all stopped by to chat.

Grandma fried the girls some shrimp for their supper.  Tonight she and I sat up and watched a movie until late, something with Valerie Harper.  We talked, a little  ...  Grandma is very dear.

July 3, 1985

Diary Entry:

The final day of our "mini vacation"  ...  and the best.  Mom, Gram St. John, the kids and I drove out to Black Diamond for a picnic at Aunt Ann's parents' place.  Beautiful home, set in the woods near a creek.  Jay and Kacie played happily with Ann's nieces Kelli and Kim, swam in the wading pool, rode trikes  ...  the women sat in the sunshine and talked.  Picnic lunch, cold beer.  I remember I found an open fifth of whiskey in the kitchen and liberally helped myself to it all afternoon: by the end of the day I was completely squiffed. 

Mom drove us home late in the afternoon.  I was so thrilled to be back!  Ray was home, seemed glad to see us.  I gave Mom a bunch of baby clothes to take to Gina. A month later I was kicking myself.

Ray went out tonight, left me alone at home  ...  but I didn't mind.  It was nice to have some time to myself.

July 5, 1985
Friday morning

Ah, at last ... the moment I've been dreaming of for nearly a week ... a quiet sunny morning in MY OWN KITCHEN. And no plans for this day except to putter around and clean things. Heaven!

We're home. Actually, we got home Wednesday evening -- tired, dirty and sunburned -- but then yesterday was the Fourth of July and things were a little crazy around here -- it was by no means a "regular" day. Today is the first chance I've really had to settle back into my home and unwind. After being gone for five days and five nights, I cannot believe how wonderful it feels to be home ... my dear, messy, precious little house. Drinking coffee out of my own chipped blue mug ... toys scattered around the living room floor ... the kitchen a mess, as always ... it all feels so right and good. Absence did wonders for this heart.

I had dreams this morning that I was pregnant again  ...  very vivid dreams ... I could "feel" the baby kicking inside of me. When I woke up, sleepy and disoriented, Jamie was laying in bed next to me.  (Ray found her sleeping on the floor in the hallway when he left for work this morning at 5 a.m., and he carried her into our bed.)  Neither of my kids are up yet, although I can hear Kacie beginning to thrash around in her crib. I expect they'll be up shortly. It's a nice morning, sunny but with big fat clouds rolling by, and a decent breeze. The kind of summer morning I like best. I'm very hungry, but I'm waiting until the girls are up to fix breakfast. In the meantime I stole a few bites of cold Chinese fried rice, remnants of last night's take-out, directly from the carton. How lovely to be able to raid my own refrigerator!!

We spent Saturday and Sunday at Grandma Vert's house in Seattle, and Monday and Tuesday at Grandma St. John's. On Wednesday we went to a family picnic out in Black Diamond, and then we came home afterwards. During our stay we also managed visits with Dad & Valerie, Dick, Mom and Debi. So it was a real "family" time.

By Monday I was very homesick but fighting it. I talked to Ray every day on the phone, and he sounded a bit "at loose ends" with the kids and I gone, although I must say he didn't sound quite as heartbroken as I would have liked!!  The kids did pretty well, sleeping in strange beds and all, but I could tell they were lonely for home, too. Kacie had frequent brief flashes of temper that seemed completely disconnected from anything that was happening at the moment, and I attributed that in part to unfamiliar surroundings. Jamie was better able to talk about her feelings. "My Daddy MISSES me!" she'd say occasionally, and I would tell her yes, he does.

There were high points and low points. Grandma Vert's house was a little dull, especially for the kids. Jamie played next door at the Chamberlin's house with Nicole (that's Harvey's daughter), and "Grandpa Ted" bought the kids some secondhand toys at Value Village; but basically there was nothing to do there. I walked the kids down to Sunset Park to play, only to discover that the swings & merry-go-round have been torn down. We spent most of our time reading magazines, drinking tea and watching TV. At night -- bedtime was 9:00! -- the kids and I shared the sofa bed in the living room. I layed there in the darkness until midnight, listening to the cuckoo clock. On Sunday, the kids and I walked the two blocks over to Dad and Valerie's. Dad was hungover but in an otherwise agreeable mood: he grilled us some hot dogs and bought me a six-pack of Rainier, most of which I drank at his house before returning to Grandma's.

On Monday morning I packed our stuff and Mom came to pick us up and take us to Grandma St. John's for a couple of days. We spent most of Monday with Mom ... a definite high point of the trip. We went to Grandma's museum first ... that's the Highline School District Museum, located in the old Sunnydale Elementary School building. Grandma has been instrumental in putting the museum together and she acts as curator. A fascinating place! Afterwards, we had lunch at the bowling alley, and then Mom and I took the girls to Seahurst Park, where Jamie frolicked in the surf and both of the kids played in the sand and rocks. Then we paid a visit to my brother, who lives in White Center, and I finally got to meet my baby niece, Karen. Such a sweet baby! Copper hair ("strawberry blonde," Mom said) and huge, wide-set blue eyes. Dick is on crutches so I offered to change Karen's diaper for her, then I held her for a long time. Then Mom took us to Grandma's and dropped us off. Grandma and I spent the evening drinking beer (me) and wine (Grandma) and watching Monday night TV in the living room. Kacie slept well in my little cousin Ben's old crib, and Jay and I shared my old bed -- a vast improvement over Grandma Vert's sofa bed!!

I'm not as comfortable with Gram St. John as I am with Grandma Vert, but we still managed to have a fairly pleasant visit. We walked the kids over to Cedarhurst Elementary and let them play on the playground equipment for an hour, and I spent some time looking at old family photos and reading. Kacie's temper was really beginning to show by this point and it was an effort keeping her entertained and happy. Jamie discovered Grandma's big front porch and immediately turned it into her "pretend house," playing happily there for the whole two days.

Wednesday was a really nice day. Mom, Grandma, the girls and I drove out to Black Diamond, where my Aunt Ann's parents have a home. Her folks are out of town and Ann is watching their house for them. Ann's sister was there also with her two little girls, ages 6 and 3, so my kids had someone to play with all day. They romped in the wading pool and ran around in the surrounding woods and had a ball. We had a lovely picnic lunch (I got completely bombed on some Black Velvet I found in the kitchen) and spent the afternoon in the sun, drinking and talking.

Mom finally drove us home after the picnic. Ray was here when we got home ... I was glad to see him. But most of all I was just happy to be home. It's such an uncomfortable feeling, being a guest in someone else's house. The pressure was enormous. Washing my hair in a strange bathroom, not being able to eat what and when I liked, coping with the kids in front of other people ... it was all much harder than I'd expected. Neither one of my grandmothers drink coffee anymore, and I missed that. I couldn't smoke at Gram Vert's. I missed my soap operas. All the familiar boring day-to-day stuff I love.

My reasons for going on this "trip" in the first place were never really well thought-out, anyway. I had this vague sort of idea that I needed to spend some time in familiar childhood places. With Gram's house due to be demolished in the fall, I figured I needed one last chance to walk around my childhood home. And there was also a desire to be separate from Ray for a little while. That's SEPARATE, not "separated." Just to put a little distance between us and take a breather from each other. I think I was hoping he would be terribly lonely for us, thus "appreciating" us more when he came home. Finally, I wanted to give my kids a break from the routine and expose them to something different. How much of this I actually managed to accomplish is hard to say. It felt good to spend some time with my family, and Ray did appear to be genuinely glad to see us come home. And the kids had enough "adventures" to last them the rest of the summer.

It's just ... well, you know me. Never 100% satisfied. I feel like I didn't accomplish as much as I should have. For one thing, I rushed out of Grandma Vert's in such a hurry on Monday morning that I think I hurt her feelings. It wasn't intentional: it just worked out that way. And I never had the chance to really say "goodbye" to the house, which was my original goal after all.

Diary Entry:

Felt crummy all day, predictably.  Ray worked, the kids and I spent the day napping, snacking (I made some potato skin appetizers).  I started a new book, a biography of The Rolling Stones.

Ray was home at 9 p.m.  We made cold turkey sandwiches for supper.

I have grown to like my new short hair very much!  Terry helped me even up the back, and it looks a lot neater.

July 6, 1985

Diary Entry:

Swelteringly hot today, without a trace of breeze.  I was sweaty and uncomfortable all day.  How I despise weather like this!!

Barbara stopped  by with one of her boyfriends this afternoon for a quick visit.  Terry was over a couple of times also, loaned us some money.  I can't believe that we're broke ALREADY!

Washed a huge load of dirty dishes, finished drying clothes, finished reading the Rolling Stones biography.  The kids romped nude in their pool all day, which kept them cool and happy.

Kacie said "Mommy I all DONE Mommy!" tonight after her supper  ...  her longest sentence to date!

July 7, 1985

Diary Entry:

Another day in the high 80's.  How will I last through July  ...  August  ...  September????  Fall seems a hundred million years from now.

Of course the kids were outside all day.  Jamie is beautifully tanned, brown as a little Indian princess.  Kacie has my fair skin and burns easily so I have to cover her up after awhile.  Sat outside myself for an hour, got some color on my arms and chest.

Anita sent me two cute photos of her kids today, Kristy and Matt.  Started reading a good book called "Almost Paradise" by Susan Isaacs.  Made the kids some Jell-O, I had a little wine in the afternoon.  Ray was home shortly after five. We have no money at all, and payday is ten days away.

Barbecued chicken on the Weber, I stuffed some potatoes to go with.

Gave away another kitten tonight  --  only one left!

July 8, 1985

Diary Entry:

Sweltering, up in the low 90's.  I can't STAND this.  I could handle temps in the 70's, but this constant, blisteringly-dry heat is killing me.  It was all I could do today to finish a modicum of housework (dishes and beds) and prepare meals for the kids.  My appetite has vanished (the only benefit I can see of this heatwave) and I'm tired as heck.  Tried to nap this afternoon, but too many interruptions, so I just layed in front of the fan and rested.

Terry was over in the evening modeling her new summer clothes (short-shorts), which left me completely depressed.  Our cute, slightly plump little babysitter was morphing into a sleek, lovely teenager, which only served to remind me that I would never be fourteen years old again.

Washed and trimmed the girls' hair tonight; they both look cute.  Cooked cube steaks, corn and potatoes; Ray home at 9:30.

We're going to keep the last kitten.  Now we need a name for her.

July 10, 1985
Wednesday noon

Summertime. We're in the middle of another disgusting heat wave, just like last summer. Seems like no time at all between then and now. Every time I blink my eyes it's JULY again.

The girls are in a perpetual state of nudity these days, and for a change the house isn't littered with toys ... the front yard is. The kids have a new wading pool. It's about four or five feet across, maybe eight inches deep, hard thin green plastic with pictures of dolphins and starfish all over it. Jamie practically lives in it. She has spent so much time in the sun and water lately that her skin is the color of cinnamon toast. I cut her bangs yesterday and put her hair up in round Dutch braids, and she is such a beauty, with her lovely tan and her cute new hairdo, I can hardly take my eyes off her ...

Kacie, too, is a summertime cutie. She refuses to wear clothes this summer, and her chubby little body is pink all over. She is getting some freckles across her nose and cheeks, and she reminds me more of her Daddy every day.

I cut my hair the other day, the shortest I can ever remember wearing it -- just shoulder length. It took all the courage I could muster to cut it, and another couple of days to get used to it. But now I like it very much. It is definitely neater-looking, and decidedly more adult ... not so "high school."

We've managed to give away all the kittens now except for one, a fuzzy gray female. Against my better judgement, I think we'll keep her. That makes three cats (Cecil, Wendie and this kitten, as yet unnamed) and two dogs (Dink and Yogi, who grew to be just as huge as I feared).

Kacie is talking all the time now. Every day her command of language grows. The other night she said her longest sentence to date: "Mommy I all done Mommy!"

Diary Entry:

More hot stuff.  When Terry came over to visit this afternoon she found me in tears  ...  the weather has left me so dried-out and defeated, I can barely crack a smile.

Terry took Jamie swimming at the public pool in Kirkland for a couple of hrs., which Jay enjoyed.  Kacie and Charlie got into a major fracas this evening  --  I looked out the window in time to see Charlie pull Kacie's hair and shove her to the ground!  Angrily sent the little monster home.

Letter from Melinda  --  she's home, safe and sound.  Started a reply.

Ray got home at 9:30, says there's a chance he might get a $400 vacation check this weekend.  Please, Lord  ...

Had weirdly vivid dreams all night that I had another baby girl, and that we named her "Anna Banana."  (I guess we've found a name for our kitten  ...!)

July 11, 1985

Diary Entry:

70's today  --  much easier to handle!  Still, I found myself feeling "blue" today  ...  tired of being broke all the time  ...  sick of ground beef  ...  wondering how in the world we'll make it for another week with no money  ...  

And then came Ray to the rescue!!  He showed up this evening with a carload of groceries.  He got the vacation check, after all!!!!!   Food  ...  shampoo  ...  pet food  ...  fresh vegetables  ...  meat  ...  cold beer  ...  he even bought magazines and wine for me, coloring books and treats for the kids.  It was like Christmas in July!!

July 12, 1985

Diary Entry:

Nice, nice day.  Hot again, but I didn't mind  ...  there's lots of food in the house, we have enough money to get through the weekend comfortably, I am happy.

Borrowed Terry's cassette player and spent a fun day making tapes and drinking beer.  Ray came home this evening and fixed the tapedeck on our stereo, so now I can play my new mix tapes.

Invited Don Jr. and Judy to come out on Sunday afternoon and go to the fair with us  --  BBQ afterward  --  Judy said OK.

July 13, 1985

Diary Entry:

Hot, lazy, hungover day  ...  Ron worked, the kids and Terry and I spent the day hanging around the house, watching the marathon "Live Aid" concert on TV.  Ate like a pig all day long: the kids and I had a special breakfast together around the table (scrambled eggs, sausages and blueberry muffins), then later Terry and I had a pizza delivered!  Must have put on 10 lbs. today!

Ray went down to the Moss Bay Days Festival for a few hours tonight by himself, as he does every year.  Tomorrow he will take the kids and I, but tonight was his night to howl.  When he got home at 1 a.m. (he walked to and from the fair) he was bouncing off the walls.

New Prince song that I love: "The Tears in Your Eyes."  

July 14, 1985

Diary Entry:

Don and Judy didn't come out today after all  ...  Judy called the Solo's early this a.m. and left a message for me that they couldn't make it.  I'd already begun cleaning house and making dinner preparations, so it was a bit of a let-down.

Took the kids down to the Moss Bay Days Festival.  They went on all the kiddie rides, then we walked around and looked at things for awhile.  The fair was hot and crowded, but we had a nice time.  Bought the girls their very first Sno-Cones  --  they loved them!

Came home, let the kids splash in their pool while I read the Sunday papers, drank a few cold beers.  Ray and I worked on dinner together: I made a salad and he broiled some round steak.

July 15, 1985

Diary Entry:

I'm not having much luck with my feet this summer.  Walking around at the fair yesterday in the new Dr. Scholl's, I developed more of those god-awful blisters, this time on both feet  ...  and then today I stepped on something sharp in the driveway, which appears to have become mildly infected.  My whole right foot is a swollen, painful mess.

Mind-numbingly hot this afternoon.  The girls napped most of the afternoon (Kacie in bed, Jamie on the living room floor), both of them exhausted from the heat.

Vacuum cleaner is broken again  --  my fault this time.  Washed a load of kids' clothes by hand, baked some chicken breasts for supper.  Ray wasn't home until 1:30 a.m.  --  says that he's on "swingshift" for the week.

July 16, 1985


Diary Entry:

Ray slept all morning and long into the afternoon  ...  the kids didn't even know he was here until he got up!  I did my work early in order to beat the heat.  This damned hot weather is fouling everything up: my energy level virtually disappears.  If I don't get things done before noon, they don't get done at all.  What I couldn't give for a nice rainstorm  ...

Terry leaves tomorrow for two weeks in Eastern Washington (to visit her father)  --  she came by and said goodbye this afternoon.

Mom and Ken have moved back into their old house!  Got a change-of-address card.  New phone number is 243-8431.

Nice evening  ...  Ray was at work, I took a long shower and washed my hair, drank a couple of beers, played with Jamie, watched "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."   I like it when Ray is on swingshift.

July 17, 1985
Wednesday noon again

A week later, and the hot weather goes on ...

Jamie is running a slight fever this morning, and her nose is plugged up. I gave her some Children's Tylenol and made her a bed on the sofa, but trying to keep her "quiet" is proving to be impossible.

Terry left this morning for a two week visit with her dad in Eastern Washington. We're going to miss her!!

Ray is working swingshift this week. It all came up very suddenly and will only last for a few days, so it isn't causing the sort of emotional upheaval we went through last summer when Ray was on swing shift for four months. That time, I hated him working nights ... I hated it at first, anyway: towards the end I grew to like it. This time, I love it. It's so nice having my evenings all to myself, knowing exactly where Ray is the whole time. Of course, I've always been alone in the evenings a lot around here, on those nights when he's hanging out at the tavern until all hours ... that's been a pattern since our relationship began ... a pattern I'm not crazy about but have managed to get used to. This is different. For some reason, being home alone at night when I know for certain Ray is at work and not at the tavern gives the whole thing a different feel. I can relax and enjoy myself, knowing he isn't out somewhere wrecking his car or laying in a ditch ... it's as though I've been given permission to enjoy my evening. No worry and no guilt.

Diary Entry:

Jamie woke up with a slight fever (100°) this morning  --  she was flushed and sleepy most of the day.  Even though it was another hot day, I wouldn't put any water in the wading pool because she was sick.

Named the kitten "Mitzi."

Summer 1985 is ...

Cherry Coke (new this summer) and boxes of wine ... old friends Melinda, Karen and Phil visiting us ... Mitzi, our new kitten ... Don Johnson ... Power Station & John Taylor ... Joe Montana ... "Jumpers," Jamie's horrible new swimming pool game ... Channel 22 ... "Dallas" re-runs ... Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune ... 

July 18, 1985

Diary Entry:

Period started.

Payday.  Ray got up early to go pick up his check and get it cashed, then he brought a few bags of groceries. Bought me a typewriter ribbon, typing paper, some other little odds and ends I needed.

Up in the 80's again today.  I started drinking white wine early in the afternoon, later switched to beer.  Listened to music, watched the Thursday shows.  The kids splashed in their pool until almost 9 p.m., when it finally began to cool off. 

July 19, 1985

Diary Entry:

My drinking is getting out of hand, I think.  When I woke up this morning I discovered a deep and painful gash, just above my left eye  ...  and had NO idea how or when I got it.  Must've been last night.  

Had the surprise of my LIFE this afternoon when my old friend (and former boyfriend) showed up on my doorstep, Phil Rehberg.  I looked like hell and felt very embarrassed about it at first, but talking to Phil was so easy and so wonderful that I soon forgot all about my appearance and just enjoyed his visit.  He stayed for four hours, and I loved every minute of it.

July 20, 1985
Saturday 9:30 a.m.

A lot on my mind this morning. This is going to be another blisteringly hot day -- up in the 90's again -- and I'm trying to convince myself to do the housework NOW, while it's still relatively cool. So far it's not working. (And neither am I, har har.)

Ray is sleeping, and the kids are watching their Saturday morning cartoons. I made coffee, but somehow drinking coffee on a hot summer morning doesn't feel right ... it's like drinking a milkshake during a snowstorm. Besides, I've got one of my rotten stomach aches this morning, the second day of a particularly nasty hangover. So the coffee is just sitting there untouched.

I woke up yesterday morning with a huge bloody gash above my left eye  ...  and absolutely no memory of how it got there. It's incredibly sore, not to mention ugly. It scares me to think I could hurt myself like this and not even remember doing it. Thursday night I was drinking beer and listening to music through the headphones ... and that's all I remember. The next thing I knew I woke up in the morning and found my eye like this. I was horrified. I've had blackouts before, but I've never woken up with an unexplained black eye! I must have fallen and hit my head: it's a wonder I didn't kill myself. I'm such a jerk.  To this day I  still have a faint scar in the middle of my left eyebrow.  Every morning I look at it in the mirror, as I'm putting on my makeup, and it reminds me yet again how very glad I am to be sober.

The kitten is sitting on the table in front of me, watching me write. She seems to be making herself right at home these days. Does she know we're thinking about keeping her? She's such a pretty little thing ... fur the color of ashes, eyes the color of amber ...

One of Jamie's goldfish died ... the red and white one she named "Billy." I found him sprawled across one of the shells in the fish bowl this morning, and sadly broke the news to Jamie. She said, "Oh, my fishy died, like Rudy's fishy?" (the little girl on The Cosby Show). She seemed to accept the finality of it without much trouble. I gave her Billy in a cup of water and told her she could "flush" him. She went into the bathroom, and a minute later I heard her flush her dead fish. "Bye bye Billy," she said. "I'll see you in Heaven." At that point I had to suppress the urge to giggle, but Jamie was very serious about it and I wouldn't have offended her for the world.

I didn't sleep well last night. I woke up in the middle of the night and had a sudden panic attack about Grandma Vert's house being torn down. I was literally in a cold sweat ... it was awful. The prospect of the house being destroyed is something I've had to live with for a few years now, and I thought I'd managed to accept it. I guess I haven't, after all. I was awake for hours, turning it over in my heart. I am so sad about it.

When I did fall asleep finally, I dreamed about airplanes crashing -- one of my more frequent nightmares lately.

But time for the really BIG news. I had a surprise visitor yesterday ... none other than my longtime pal, sometime-boyfriend Phil!

Diary Entry:

One of Jamie's goldfish was dead when we got up this morning  --  "Billy," the red and white one.  Jamie gave him a brief eulogy ("Bye bye Billy, we'll see you in Heaven") before flushing him away  ...

God DAMN this fucking heat!!  Excuse my language, but it's driving me nuts.  95° today and more of the same predicted for the NEXT FIVE DAYS.

Ray had to work tonight so I had the evening to myself.  Watched all the dumb Saturday night TV shows, ate a makeshift dinner of frozen chicken nuggets and French fries, enjoyed some quiet, private time.  Ray mentioned that he might get off work at 11 p.m. and be home early, but I guess he decided to stay out and "play" instead.

July 21, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray didn't come home until early this morning  ...  the girls and I found him asleep in the lawnchair in the front yard!  He slept most of the day.  

Jamie and I went to G.O. Guy and I bought a few little things for the kids and myself; typing paper, magazines, inflatable swim rings for the kids and a big plastic ball for them both to share.

Drank some beer this afternoon and managed to get myself all worked up, into one of my "weepy" moods  ...  picked a whopper of a fight with Ray, mainly because he was ignoring me  ...  I know I'm drinking too much lately.  What is driving it?  Boredom?  Depression?  Heat?

July 22, 1985

Diary Entry:

Typical day.  Cloudy and overcast, but very hot and muggy  ...  in some ways the mugginess is worse than the heat.  I felt tired and draggy all day.  Managed to get most of my housework done, though, mostly because housework helps keep my mind off my problems.  I'm lonely, bored, frustrated  ....  I keep blowing up at my kids  ...  I need something, but I don't know what.  Reassurance?  Validation?  Scope?

Made dinner for Ray this evening but he didn't come home.  I am diving headfirst into one of my Class A Blue Funks  ...  I can feel it coming.  Look out, everybody!

July 23, 1985

Diary Entry:

Cloudy and overcast again, with slightly cooler temps (low 70's) and not as muggy as yesterday.  I spent the morning working on my cookbooks, getting some things ready for mailing (a listing for The Letter Exchange, a letter to Sue Miseroy).  Kind of bored with life at the moment.  The kids are arguing with each other all day long, the dirty laundry is piling up (and no way to wash it), the vacuum is broken again  ...  the same, same, SAME OLD SHIT.

July 24, 1985
Wednesday 10 a.m.

Still summer ... still hot ...

Everyone is marveling over what a "great" summer this has been so far, weather-wise. We haven't had a drop of rain in over a month, and temperatures have consistently been in the 80's and 90's. The past couple of days it has been overcast but muggy as hell. How can people stand it?? Am I the only person alive who finds this weather oppressive?

Just out of bed. Dreamed all morning about Dan F., my high school Stage Band teacher & friend. Second time I've dreamed about him this summer. Wonder what he's doing these days? Last time I saw him was in 1980, when I ran into him at a Bellevue nightclub, The Saratoga Trunk. I hope he's happy. I tried looking him up in an Eastside phone book this morning but couldn't find anything. I don't know what I would have done if I'd found him listed ... write him a letter, I suppose, just to say "hello."

Kacie has a new way of getting us out of bed in the mornings: she stands in her crib and shouts, "MOM-MEE! OPEN-EE DOOR, MOM-MEE!!" I'm very pleased with the way Kacie's verbal skills have improved this summer. She was a little slow in the talking department to begin with, but now she's making up for lost time. I can understand 90% of everything she says these days ... her requests for cereal and juice, her complaints about Jamie, her funny new way of "counting" ("two, FEE!") ... and it's such fun to be able to talk to each other.

Not as much fun: Kacie's new habit of getting into the toothpaste and rubbing it all over her legs. She thinks it's suntan lotion!  What a sticky, awful mess it makes.

Diary Entry:

Dreamed about high school and college all night  --  woke up feeling a little nostalgic.   Got out the yearbooks and looked at them for awhile this a.m.

I must be getting acclimated to the hot weather.  It was in the 80's again, as usual, but I never felt overly uncomfortable.  Michele and Michael Inman, cousins of the Harlan kids next door, came over to play with my girls for a couple of hours.

Sent a letter to Sue Miseroy in Florida; worked on my cookbooks again.  Ray was home early, took the dirty clothes to the laundromat.  Made hot dogs and macaroni salad for dinner, watched a "Dynasty" re-run.

Finally finished "Almost Paradise."  Need something good to read now.

July 25, 1985

Diary Entry:

A bit more energetic than usual.  Got all the laundry folded and put away; cleaned my bedroom; wrote a letter to Georgia.

The Inman kids were here again for a while.  Jamie and Michelle play together pretty well  ...  Michelle is the pretend "Muther," Jay is the "Dodder."

July 26, 1985

Diary Entry:

Brought the kids into bed with me this morning; when the two of them are asleep together, they look like a pair of angels  ...

OK day.  Terry came home from her dad's unexpectedly early  --  she came over to visit, show off her tan and her new bathing suit.  (Sigh.)   Leslie, our neighbor across the street (next door to the Solos) brought over a half-case of beer, to repay Ray for some help he gave her last week on her car.  The Harlans (next door) are having a garage sale.  I've got no money, but I went over and browsed anyway, had them set aside a few items, hoping they'll extend me credit until Thursday.

Ray was home around 9:00.  I spent my evening fruitlessly waiting to tape a new Power Station song ("Bang A Gong"), but the radio station never played it.  Ray bought some Burger King stuff for a late supper.  No Miami Vice tonight.

July 27, 1985

Diary Entry:

Woke this morning from dreams of massive tidal waves, destruction.  In the dream I managed to save Jamie but couldn't get back in time for Kacie.  Woke up sobbing.

HOT and stuffy today.  Finally got my Power Station song, "Bang A Gong."  Went next door to the Harlans and negotiated a Thursday payment for the garage sale stuff I wanted (ceramic things, six albums, slippers). 

Jamie's favorite game this summer: jumping off the picnic bench into her pool.  She calls the bench her "Jumper," which is supposed to mean diving board, I guess.

No Ray tonight.  Jamie and I sat up and watched a scary movie, "The Haunting of Julia" (Mia Farrow, Tom Conti).  I went to sleep with the lights on!

July 28, 1985
Sunday 11 a.m.

Frightening dreams, two nights in a row.

Friday night I dreamed about tidal waves and floods. It started out as a flood -- we were knee-deep in water. I picked Jamie up and carried her to an apartment building where Sheryl and Jeff were living; I wanted to warn them about the flood. When we got to their apartment, I looked out the window and saw a massive wall of water headed directly for us. As it crashed through the window, I threw myself on top of Jamie and Tanya, trying to protect them. I was sure we would all die, but somehow we survived it. The next thing I knew, I was driving around town in a jeep, looking for survivors. There were piles of dead people all over the place, including a lot of small children and babies. Suddenly I started screaming, "Where's KACIE? Where's KACIE???" And that's when I woke up.

Last night's dream was even worse. My mother-in-law called me on the phone and said that Ray had been in a car accident. "Is he OK?" I asked, and she said very brusquely, "No, he's dead." Someone had hit Ray's car from the rear and his neck had snapped. I was sick with grief. "I want to SEE him!!" I kept screaming at everyone, but they had taken his body away already and I wasn't allowed to see him. I knew I would never see my husband again, and I was so sad that I woke up in tears.

Ray came in very late last night. Jamie was sleeping in my bed with me, so he crawled into her bed. When I woke up from the nightmare about him dying & realized it was only a dream, I was so relieved that I ran into Jay's room and threw my arms around him. He woke up, startled. "I LOVE you!" I sobbed, and I'm sure he thought I was completely nuts. 

Diary Entry:

Awful dream last night that Ray was killed in a car accident.  I woke in a sweat, filled with feelings of love, worry, relief.  I do love him!

Made a complete and total fool out of myself tonight.  Judy S. isn't speaking to me now.
Another dream:

I am shopping in a grocery store with Jamie and Kacie; we're picking out frozen breakfasts. 

"Stay here a minute," I tell them. "I'm going to get some milk." 

I walk across the rear of the store toward the dairy section. In one corner of the store there are three teenagers, dressed in bizarre punk outfits and sporting Mohawks. They are stuffing cans of beer into their jackets and laughing. I pretend that I don't see what they're doing, but they see me and immediately surround me, grabbing me by the arms, and pushing me towards the front of the store. I realize I'm being abducted. I try to ease the situation with humor. "Hey, do we have to walk around like Siamese twins?" I say, jokingly, but no one laughs.

I realize then that one of the punks is Theresa, a humorless, black-hearted girl I went to school with. I try to reason with her. "I've got two babies!" I say to her. "They're only one and two years old!" 

Down the aisle I can see Jamie and Kacie, still waiting for me. They look the way they did in September 1984, the day we visited Grandma Vert; Jamie is wearing her red sailor dress and braids, Kacie is in the white overalls with anchors on them. They look so little and almost unbearably dear to me. 

"I can't leave my babies alone!" I plead with Theresa.

"This will be nice and quiet," Theresa says, grinning, and she shoves a gun into my ribs and squeezes the trigger. A bullet enters my heart and I begin to die. In slow motion I see Jamie and Kacie skipping down the grocery store aisle towards me, pigtails flying, and I am filled with an awful, wrenching grief ... I don't want to leave my babies ...

July 29, 1985

Diary Entry:

Awful day.  Most of it, anyway.  I woke up this morning feeling monumentally hungover and incredibly stupid.  What a scene I made last night!  Judy will probably never forgive me.  Terry deliberately avoided me today  ...  I have a feeling her mom has probably forbidden here to come over anymore.  Sick with shame.  And no, I don't remember what this was all about, although I can guess  --  me getting shitfaced drunk and picking a fight with Terry's mom about something ridiculous.

One of the few things that went right today: Lori Harlan came over to visit this afternoon.  We sat and talked for almost two hours.  She is very empathetic and bright  --  I have grossly underestimated her.  A new friend!?

When Ray got home this evening he didn't, as I had expected, berate or ignore me.  He gave me a gentle kiss and told me he loves me  ...  and that was it.  No scolding, no criticism.  I've been doing enough of that myself.

July 30, 1985

Diary Entry:

Feeling a little better, physically, emotionally.  Terry is still avoiding us, which hurts, but until I can scrape up the nerve to go over and apologize to her and her mom, I guess I've lost a couple of friends.

Bev and Henry (Ray's grandparents) have arrived from Tucson for a one-month visit.  Ray came home early from work and drove the kids and I over to his folks' for a visit.  His grandparents are very dear to us  --  we sat and talked with them for a few hours.  (Sheryl and her kids, Don and Judy and the boys were there also.)  Bev gave each of the girls a "pop-up" storybook. 

July 31, 1985

Diary Entry:

One of my rare "whirlwind" days.  Worked super-hard all day long  --  Lori loaned me her vacuum cleaner and I did the whole house.  Cleaned bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathroom.  The house looks fantastic.

Cool and rainy today!  What a relief from the heat.

Still no communication with Terry or her mom.  Letter today from Mom  --  she says Dick and Gina have split up, Dick has the baby.

Ray came home in a good mood tonight.  We had a glass of wine together, watched a "Dynasty" re-run.  I made a good dinner: round steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, zucchini from Lori's garden.

August 1, 1985

Diary Entry:

Rainy, cool again.  Jamie spent some time over at Terry's, and I had some time alone with Kacie.  Kacie is becoming interested (truly interested) in dolls, language, imitation.

Spent a long time today clipping and sorting coupons, drawing up a grocery list.  Today is payday.  Ray will be gone for five days next week on a fishing trip with his dad and brother, so we need to budget very carefully  --  I'd hate to run out of food and/or MONEY while he's out of town.

Terry came over this evening, and we finally got some things straightened out.  There is still the hurdle of apologizing to her mom, though  ... 

Ray picked up a few groceries.  Pepperoni grinders from Athens Pizza for dinner.  

August 2, 1985

Diary Entry:

Charlie Harlan came over to play with the girls this morning (another rainy day).  It was a disaster  --  Jamie was bossy and crabby, and he finally left in a huff.

Wrote a long letter to Melinda, which I may or may not mail to her  ... 

August 3, 1985

Diary Entry:

One of my "wiped out days"  ...  didn't even get out of my bathrobe.  Spent the day watching TV, reading (my old favorite, Sylvia Plath's "Bell Jar").   Ray bought some Dairy Queen for our lunch, then he went out and did some grocery shopping.  Pizza for dinner.

August 4, 1985

Diary Entry:

Pleasant day.  We were supposed to go over to the in-law's, but I managed to persuade Ray to wait till tomorrow  ...  I wanted to spend the day at home, just our little family.  Am I becoming reclusive?

Ray mowed the lawn, front and back.  I cleaned the kitchen, changed bedding, finished reading the Sunday paper and "The Bell Jar."  Hydroplane races on TV today.  Barbecued steaks for dinner, watched "The Blues Brothers."

August 5, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray had the day off.  This is the first day of his vacation (again!)  ...  the difference is that he will be spending most of his vacation fishing with his dad and his brother, rather than hanging around the house driving me crazy  ...

He was busy today  --  mowed the backyard, took our clothes to the laundromat, packed for his fishing trip.  I just puttered around the house doing my usual "stuff."  Good mail today  --  letters from Debbie DeVaney, Karen, a new penpal in Nevada named Sara Graves.

Went to the folk's tonight to visit with Bev and Henry.  Jamie is going to spend the night at her grandparents' tonight, her first time.

Ray, Kacie and I went to Fred Meyer and bought him a new pair of shorts for his trip, then to Dave's Place for a beer.  Kacie LOVED the tavern.

August 6, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray left on his fishing trip; he'll be gone until Saturday, if all goes well.  At noon today we drove over to the folks' to pick up Jamie and to drop Ray off.  We had to wait a couple of hours for the boat to be ready, but finally at 3:30 Ray, Don Jr. and their dad took off on their trip.

I drove the kids home, stopping on the way at Albertson's for $10 worth of groceries.  Once home, we were all hot, tired and hungry  ...  I made a big spaghetti dinner that tasted like it came straight from Heaven.

Kacie went to bed early (6:30).  I put a sign on the door that says "MAMA IS ON VACATION!"  Lazy, lovely evening  --  no housework, no company but Jamie  --  we watched TV and snacked all evening.  Watched a new show for the first  time, "Moonlighting."   Jay slept with me.

Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
August 7, 1985

It's been ten days since I've written in my journal. Something embarrassing and awful happened to me on July 28th, and I've been feeling too ashamed of myself since then to write much of anything. All I'll say about the incident is that, once again, it was a case of me drinking too much and making a fool out of myself in front of people I value ... and, as usual, I find myself in the position of asking for forgiveness. Seems I am always apologizing to someone about something.  

Things are better now ... enough time has passed, and I've forgiven myself, which may be the most important thing.

Ray has left on a five day fishing trip to Port Angeles with his dad and his brother. I have the car and $30 to tide me over until Saturday, when he is due to return.

Diary Entry:

Good day.  Peg has loaned me her vacuum cleaner for a couple of days, so I cleaned house from top to bottom  ...  I figured that if I did an extra-good job today, I won't have to worry about it until the weekend's over.  Folded laundry, froze some spaghetti sauce, played with the kids.

Late in the afternoon I drove them to the 9th Avenue park, let them play on the slide and swings  ...  then to Albertson's for diapers, milk, gum. 

Drank beer and listened to music tonight until very late.

August 8, 1985

Diary Entry:

Except for a couple of minor worries, I am really enjoying myself this week while Ray is fishing.  Cloudy, cool weather  ...  a little money in my pocket  ...  the car is mine to use as I please.  The kids and I are having a ball, playing and eating and staying up late.  I took them to the park again this afternoon, then to 7-11 for pop and milk.  I've got about $15 left now, enough to get us through until Saturday, I hope.

Made hamburgers and French fries for dinner, watched Thursday night TV.

August 9, 1985
Friday night

My daughters have matching rag dolls, gifts from their Grandma Beeson last Christmas ... beautifully crafted dolls with pretty embroidered faces and brown yarn hair. Jamie's doll is "Maggie," Kacie's is "Mollie." For many months, Maggie has been Jamie's constant companion. When Jamie has a cracker and juice snack, Maggie must have one also. At the park (which we have visited several times while Ray has been on his fishing trip), Maggie has ridden on the swings and gone down the big slide. Most of the time Jamie treats Maggie with great tenderness; occasionally, though, when Maggie gets out of hand, Jamie is forced to reprimand her.

Until now, Kacie treated her "Mollie" much the same as any of her other dolls ... with total indifference. This summer, however, she has begun tucking Mollie under one arm and carrying her around the house ... just like Jamie.

Jamie with Aunt Debi and "Maggie"

Diary Entry:

The last day of our little "vacation from Daddy"  --  Ray comes back tomorrow!  This week has been fun, but I do miss the comfortable presence of my husband  ... 

Cleaned house, did some odds and ends  --  the same old stuff.  At 4:00 I took the kids to Albertson's to pick up a few things: milk, pop, two bottles of wine (on sale, 2 for $6.00), a new box of crayons for the kids, two magazines for me.  Down to $8.00 now.

Pleasant evening.  Bathed and shampooed the girls, put them in clean soft p.j.'s  ...  they were delicious to cuddle with tonight!  Drank a little wine, watched "M.V.," listened to some music.

August 10, 1985

Diary Entry:

Ray came home from his fishing trip today  --  the kids and I drove over to the folks' this afternoon to pick him up.  He was happy to see us  ...  didn't catch any fish, though!

Took the kids to Dave's Place for a little while  --  the girls drank Coke, ate potato chips and pretended to play video games; Ray and I had three beers and talked to Dave McKee and Scott Ward.

When we got home there was a washing machine sitting in the driveway!  I'm not sure, but I think Ben and Lori dropped it off for us.  It's an old machine but a good one: let's pray that Ray gets it running!!

Reheated Tuesday's spaghetti sauce for Ray's dinner.  Junk TV tonight, so we just read a little, went to bed at 11:00.

It's good to have Ray home.

August 11, 1985

Diary Entry:

Jay spent the night on Kacie's bedroom floor.  This morning they woke up together, and soon Kacie had managed to climb out of her crib and the two of them were tearing madly around the house.

CeCe presented us with a horrible surprise today: another damn litter of kittens!!  Two of them this time, ugly gray RATS.  Just when we'd gotten the cat population around here down to a manageable number.

Ray tinkered with the washing machine the Harlans gave us and got it running.  Can't put it in the house yet, though  --  it needs one $5 piece of plastic to keep it from leaking.

Went over to the in-laws' at 5:00, stayed until 8:00.  Don and Judy were there, too.

August 12, 1985

Diary Entry:

Life is back to normal.  Ray returned today to work, I went back to life without a car and money   ...

Cleaned house, folded laundry, made beds: the same old stuff.  It got very hot again this afternoon, so the kids spent the day in their pool. 

Baked some chicken for supper a new way, with powdered spaghetti sauce mix.  Ron was home at 9:00, complaining of back pain  ...  we didn't talk much tonight.

Saw something awful on the late news  --  it bothered me so much I couldn't sleep.  Two little girls (approx. ages 3 and 4) died on Lake Sammamish when the boat they were riding in caught on fire.  Firemen on the scene had to restrain their distraught mothers from jumping into the boat after their little girls.  I layed in bed until nearly morning, crying for the dead children and thanking God for my own two healthy daughters.

Tuesday morning
August 13, 1985

Ray is home from his fishing trip (he didn't catch anything!) and has gone back to work. My life, also, has gone back to normal. It was fun while he was gone. Having the car was especially nice. The girls and I lived like bohemians ... no housework, eating whenever we were hungry, staying up late watching TV, sleeping all together in my big bed ... it was relaxed and pleasant. By the time Ray came home on Saturday, though, the girls and I were ready for things to settle back down into a normal routine. We are creatures of habit, and I was ready to clean house and serve regular meals and go to bed at a decent hour. And I MISSED Ray while he was gone!  So did the kids. One evening while he was away, Jamie climbed into my lap and whispered a "secret" in my ear: "I miss my Daddy." I thought that was cute. Anyway, they were very happy to see him come home.

We had a week or two of cool, rainy weather, which was a lovely reprieve from the summer heat. This week, though, the hot stuff is back ... and then some. I will be very glad when autumn gets here.

Jamie has suddenly developed an aversion to sleeping alone, and I think it's partially my fault. I've been letting her sleep with me in my bed a lot lately, especially while Ray was fishing. It's just so NICE to wake up and find this little sleeping angel laying next to me in the mornings. Now that Ray is home, though, Jamie has been sleeping on the floor in Kacie's room. I moved a mattress in there and made her a little bed, and she's very pleased with the arrangement. So is Kacie! They love waking up in the mornings and "discovering" each other ... I can hear them giggling and chattering before they get up. Ray thinks we ought to make it a permanent arrangement, by moving them both into Jamie's room (which is slightly larger). That way they could be together, and we would gain a spare bedroom. I'm thinking it over.

I've put on a lot of weight this summer and I look awful again. Ray hasn't said anything, but I'm sure he must be worried. I feel no motivation to diet, though ... food is too comforting.

Too many dreams about death and dying lately! Is something troubling me, just below the surface? I dreamed that I was shot, I dreamed that Ray died in a car wreck, I dreamed that Kacie drowned ... all such sad, morbid dreams. During the daytime I am not preoccupied with death ... it only comes out in sleep.

Last night I watched the late news before bed, and I truly wish I hadn't. Two little girls, about Jamie's age I think, were killed on Lake Sammamish yesterday afternoon. The newscaster said the girls were about three or four years old, but that hasn't been confirmed. The boat they were riding in exploded and burst into flames.  The girls' mothers and an older child were thrown clear of the boat, but the little girls burned to death. Rescue workers had to restrain the hysterical women to keep them from jumping into the boat after their children. When I heard that, I burst into tears. I then spent most of the night laying in bed, wide awake. Those poor women. God. What anguish they must be feeling. It all happened so fast: one minute they were having a pleasant afternoon on the lake with their children, the next minute ...

I thought about those little girls, too, and all of the things they'll never enjoy again. No more Saturday morning cartoons. No more tricycles. No more McDonald's. No more dolls and no more Sesame Street. Writing about all of this, I'm crying again ...

God, I love my children. Please, please don't let anything like this ever happen to Jamie or Kacie: I don't think I could handle it.

Today I am going to be sweet, patient, approachable, tolerant and loving towards my kids. I'm not going to get upset about untidy bedrooms, cookie crumbs or smeared toothpaste. I won't raise my voice or make comparisons. I won't bully them, or play favorites. Kacie can get food in her hair, and Jamie can ride her trike in the house, and I won't say a single unkind word. These are my precious daughters. I love them more than words can say. They're ALIVE, and they're healthy and here with me today, and I'm going to appreciate every minute God gives me with them, while I have the chance. 

Diary Entry:

Hot.  Tried to get as much stuff done in the early morning as possible, before it got too hot  ...

Wrote a long letter to Deanne, a shorter letter to Terri Morrison (an old friend who lives now in Arizona), a little in my journal. 

Watched the noon news: the two little girls who died yesterday in the boat fire were named Elizabeth and Danielle, and they were both three years old.  My heart is still very heavy over this tragedy. 

Michelle Inman came over late this afternoon to play with Jamie.  Ben & Lori gave us a bag of green beans and some cucumbers from their garden, also loaned us three diapers.  Ray wasn't home until past 9.  He says he's working until 7:00 this week  ...  ?  (Do I believe him?)

Hot dogs in BBQ sauce, fried potatoes, fresh green beans, chocolate ice cream.

Moved Jay's mattress onto the floor in Kacie's room  --  they're still "bunking" together.

August 14, 1985

Diary Entry:

Very hot again  ...  I felt damp and grumpy all day.  Terry came over to visit, but I dismissed her with "I'm not in a good mood."  ("You NEVER are anymore!" she sulked, and then she left.)  Frankly, I'm just not in the mood for 13 yr. old "company," with its endless litany of boys and clothes and complaints  ...

Wrote to Michele Manzo, sent away for a couple of catalogs, added captions to Kacie's photo album.  Frittered the day away.

Ray wasn't home until late again  ...  the stew was overcooked and mushy by the time he got around to eating it.  (For that matter, I feel "mushy and overcooked.")

August 15, 1985

Diary Entry:

Hot, hot, hot.  At least there was a breeze, though.  (A HOT breeze.)

Spent a long time putting together a grocery list.  Ray didn't come home tonight.

Friday morning
August 16, 1985

Don't really feel much like writing, but I will anyway.

Ray didn't come home last night, and this morning I am angry. You would think I'd be used to this shit after almost five years, but the fact is I'm not. How do you get "used" to neglect? And worry? And sleepless nights, spent wondering where on earth your husband could be ... ??

I have about two cups of milk and three diapers to last until whenever His Majesty deigns to make his appearance.

Lori (next door) said, "Why don't you kick his butt?" Why, indeed?

I'm in a surly, touchy mood. 

Diary Entry:

Angry with Ray all day for not coming home last night.  Went next door to explain to Lori why I didn't have her $10 yet.  When she heard that he'd stayed out all night, she said "Why don't you kick his butt??"

Spent the day sorting magazine clippings, writing letters, trying to beat the heat.  Terry came over to visit  --  brought us some milk.  Moved the living room furniture around.

Ray finally came home at 5:30 with all the apologies in the world and several bags of groceries as a peace offering. 

Tuesday morning
August 20, 1985

Things between Ray and I don't seem to be getting any better. When he finally got home on Friday, around 5:30, I instantly forgave him for staying out all night. Don't ask me why. I haven't the faintest idea. I should have come down on him, hard, but I didn't ... I folded up instead. He of course was apologetic and remorseful, as always. It was the same old story: he had too much to drink and couldn't drive home so he slept on somebody's couch. I know he's telling the truth, but that's not the point. I shouldn't be allowing this shit to happen in the first place, and by "forgiving" him, time & time again, I am giving him my unspoken permission to do it again ...

Well. Anyway. Sunday was another doozy of a day. Ray went to Jim B's "bachelor party" at noon on Sunday, and he came home at 9 p.m.  ...  drunk, belligerent, horny and itching for a fight. Jamie and I were having a quiet, pleasant evening watching "Superman" when he came barreling in. When I didn't immediately hop into bed with him (he'd spent the whole day watching porno movies and he was all revved up), he threw a tantrum. He put his coat on and announced that he was "leaving." At that point, there was very little I would have liked more! But I couldn't let him drive in his condition, so I took his car keys and hid them. For the next two hours, he alternated between ordering me into bed and ordering me to give him his keys ... neither of which I would do. This just infuriated him more. I called him a "jerk" and told him to shut up, and then I went to bed. Right away he followed me into the bedroom and started pawing at me. His breath was horrible, I was exhausted, and most of all I was totally disgusted with him. The last thing in the world I felt like doing was making love to the bastard. So I pushed him away and screamed at him to LEAVE ME ALONE. With that, he pushed me out of the bed and told me to sleep on the sofa. Frankly - I was delighted.

Last night things were very strained between us. We barely spoke to each other, except for some polite chitchat about dinner and what was on TV ... we made love, but I hated it. Midway through I realized that my teeth were clenched so tightly, they hurt. He rolled over and went to sleep, but I laid in the darkness for a long time, despising myself for my weakness, my poor judgement, my dependencies ... for all of the things I am powerless to change ...

The thing I feel the worst about is what all of this is doing to Jamie. Kacie is too little to pick up on the tension -- at least, I hope she is -- but Jamie can see and hear some of the things that are going on around here, and I'm afraid for her. I'm afraid she's developing negative feelings about men and about marriage. From me, she is inadvertently learning that men aren't to be trusted ... that they break promises, hurt our feelings, make us cry. I know that my disillusionment and mistrust must be filtering down to her. Sometimes she's very loving and affectionate towards her Daddy, but more and more often lately she won't sit on his lap or kiss him unless I insist. And where are those "romantic feelings" a three year old is supposed to have towards the parent of the opposite sex? There is nothing like that in evidence at all.

August 23, 1985

Interrupted. Now it's two days later. I will leave this subject for a while, if you don't mind. Last night was a perfectly OK night with Ray ... things are once again at their normal level of comfortable mediocrity.

More dreams about Dan Fosberg last night! I just can't figure it out. When he was my teacher in high school, I liked him well enough -- we had a close friendship -- but I never had a "crush" on him or anything. So why am I dreaming about him all of a sudden? (This morning's dream: it's the last day of school, senior year. For some reason I can't remember where my locker is, and Penny Thomas, Mark Grieve and David Lusby are helping me look for it. As we are walking down Senior Hall, I bump into Mr. Fosberg. He looks at me and says, "Terri, I've changed my mind." My heart soars: this means that he's decided to ask me out!  End of dream.) Of course, I should mention that the man was absolutely gorgeous ... blond hair, blue eyes, dimples to die for ... he wasn't hard on the eyes at ALL. Half the girls in school were secretly in love with him. I was in the enviable position of being his Girl Friday: I took attendance for him in Stage Band and in sixth period Study Hall, and very often I would tidy up his office for him or help him with paperwork. Other times, I stayed after school and we would sit in the empty music room and talk about the piano, or about religion. He was an extremely devout Christian. He invited me to go to his church but I never did. As I said, I liked him a lot, but I never felt "that" way about him. All things considered it's probably amazing that I didn't fall in love with him, but I didn't.

This is what he wrote in my annual at the end of our year together:

"Terri -

The world goes around in circles and doesn't know where it's going. It is my hope that you always will know where to turn away from it in times of need. Continue to be as sincere and sweet as you are. It has blessed me and made my year at Glacier just that more tolerable. Be empathetic. I love you.

D. Fosberg."

Sigh ...

OK. Enough about THAT. Here I am chasing shadows again. Time to face the realities of my life ... two chattering little girls sitting on the living room floor in front of "Wheel of Fortune," surrounded by a sea of coloring books and crayons ... "No, PRETEND!" Jamie admonishes Kacie ... the house this morning smells of scrambled eggs, Snuggle Fabric Softener, coffee. Sunny. I have that vague feeling of let-down I always feel after a night of dreams.

My period is one week late.

Saturday 10:30 a.m.
August 24, 1985

Busy morning. Today the girls and I are going to another family get-together, this one a combined "surprise" anniversary party for Bev & Henry and Peg & Don Sr., over at Sheryl's house in Bellevue. Sheryl will be here to pick us up at 1:00. I was up this morning at 8:30 a.m., making a big dish of au gratin potatoes for the party (they turned out great) and getting the kids and I ready to go. Ray has to work this morning and he'll meet us at the party later.

Monday 9:30 a.m.
August 26, 1985

Amazingly ... the whole weekend turned out much better than I had anticipated! You can't really tell from by reading my last journal entry -- the one I wrote on Saturday morning -- but I wasn't looking forward to Sheryl's party one single bit. I had nothing decent to wear, we couldn't afford gifts for anyone, Ray wasn't going to be there until late in the afternoon so I would be alone in a sea of in-laws ... I was sure I would have a rotten time. But I didn't! The whole thing was actually very nice. Barbara, God bless her, bought some pretty tea towels and wrapped them for me to give Peg and Bev as anniversary gifts, so I was able to save face. The prevailing mood was festive. We drank champagne and ate Cornish game hens and talked, and everyone was very warm and friendly, the kids all had a ball playing together, and it was a really nice afternoon all the way around. Even Ray, when he showed up around 5:00, was in good spirits.

Of course, every in-law family get-together has to have its melodramatic moments, and this occasion was no exception. Don Jr. smacked his son Nathan, hard, in front of everyone (because the little guy was crying). Judy was livid. Then, Don Sr. got into an ugly row with Jeff, which threatened to spoil the whole party and had poor Sheryl in tears. Fortunately, by that point the party was just about over anyway, and the folks left before things got any uglier.

The biggest surprise, for me, was how well Sheryl and I got along. I honestly enjoyed talking with her: something I've never been able to say before. Ray and I stayed for an hour or so after everyone else left.

(Jamie would like me to tell you that she had fun at Sheryl's party playing with Tanya's red wagon, but unfortunately the "Go Driver" toy had no batteries so they couldn't play with that. She also rode on the toy horsey, "goes like dis, go go go!"Jamie was becoming aware of the fact that Mama was writing about HER sometimes, in the ever-present spiral notebook  ... 

Yesterday was chicken and noodles over at Peg & Don's. Chicken and noodles is Bev's specialty and she makes it every year for Ray. Everyone was there, except Jeff, who I gather is on Don Sr.'s shit list at the moment. We were all in rather subdued moods, hungover in varying degrees. The kids all ate together on the patio, the adults around the dining room table ... after dinner Ray and I brought the kids home, and we spent a pleasant Sunday evening reading the papers, doing some laundry, watching "The Sting," visiting with Terry. I got an excellent nights' sleep, and this morning I feel rested and pretty good.

One thing is bothering me, though, and that's my overdue (by eleven days) period. I'm still having painful cramps but there has been no flow, and I'm concerned. If I'm pregnant, my concern is the all the stuff I've been taking lately -- diet pills, aspirin, not to mention alcohol. If I'm not pregnant, I'm concerned about why I'm feeling so much pain. Either way, something is wrong.

Tuesday afternoon
August 27, 1985

I'm pregnant. I just know I am. What am I going to DO?

Well ... that's a pretty stupid question. I know what I'm going to do: I'm going to have another child. The alternatives aren't even worth thinking about, let alone writing about. I'm going to have a third child, probably sometime next April, and that's about all there is to it.

This is all I've been able to think about today.

Wednesday morning 11 a.m.
August 28, 1985

Terry said to me yesterday, "Are you going to have an abortion?" and I just about snapped her head off. The question irritated me, but not for the reasons she might imagine. I guess she just touched a nerve.

Ray went bowling last night. He left me some beer in the fridge to drink while he was out, but I could only manage a couple. For some reason they tasted "off" to me. When he got home, he asked me why I didn't drink my beer. "Because I'm PREGNANT!" I snapped at him. Lately I can't seem to control anything I say or do. I'd already promised myself not to say anything to Ray about my suspicions for another week or so, but it just popped out of my mouth before I could stop myself. He looked stricken, and then he got mad. I could hear him slamming and muttering out in the kitchen. Part of me wanted to run out there, throw my arms around him and hug him ... but the foul-tempered, mean-hearted part of me that seems to be in control of things these days whispered "Forget it!" in my ear and glued me to my seat. I let him stew in his private misery for awhile, without offering any support. I took a perverse pleasure in his pain: it seemed only fair that he should be sharing it with me.

After awhile he seemed to compose himself. "You're not really pregnant, are you?" he said. My rock-hard heart softened a little. "I don't know," I said. "It's really too soon to tell." And that was all we said on the matter. I was suddenly overcome with drowsiness, and I slid off into a deep, dreamless sleep.

I'm a mess today. I didn't get up until 10:00 (Jamie and Kacie were up an hour & an half earlier; they watched TV in the living room while I got some extra sleep ... I paid Jamie 30 cents for being my "babysitter") and I've skipped my shower. I'll take a bath this afternoon. But in the meantime I feel generally grungy and I hope no one drops by today. The house is fairly clean so there won't be a lot to do today ... if Puget Power doesn't cut me off today, I'll cook a roast. I owe some letters, but with this cloud of uncertainty hanging over my life at the moment, it's hard to talk to anyone but you, Journal.

Let's be honest here for a minute. The thought of having another baby isn't all bad. At least, not to me. I've been saying all along that I wanted one more child someday. Although I never pinpointed an exact year and time to get pregnant again, I had the general idea that I ought to wait until Kacie was three. I wanted at least a three year age difference between Kacie and another baby. If I am pregnant now, the baby's due date would be April 23rd of next year ... one month after Kacie's third birthday. Hopefully she will be potty-trained by then, too. So yes, I would have three children under age five, but only one in diapers. It could be worse.

Of course, I'm jumping the gun. There's still the possibility that my period is simply taking it's time arriving. I'm still feeling those vague aches and pains. You never know.

My worries are specific ones. How would we break the news to our families? Would I have to have another Cesarean? How could I handle the pressure of raising three little ones? What would this do to my already troubled marriage? And -- the most insidious worry of all -- what about all the chemicals I've been putting into my system lately?

Thursday 11:30 a.m.
August 29, 1985

A pigtailed two year old in a Snoopy T-shirt just brought me a bouquet of dandelions ...

Sunny morning. The kids are riding trikes in the driveway. Actually, only Jamie is riding a trike -- Kacie's little Tyke-Bike was accidentally run over last week when Ray backed his car over it, so she's riding the old pink toddler car. This is my fourth wedding anniversary. It is also payday. I'm in a peaceful, dreamy mood this morning ...

Odd dream this morning. The girls and I were all dressed up and getting ready to go to a wedding. We were standing on the banks of a great rushing river, when I suddenly saw something brown bobbing in the water. "Oh great!" I thought. "Kacie has dropped one of her toys into the river." Then I saw it wasn't one of Kacie's toys at all, it was Jamie's beloved doll, Maggie. She was being swept along by the current and was heading for certain "death" at the falls ahead. My heart fell. If we lost Maggie, Jamie would never get over it. It would break her heart. I shouted at a man on the opposite shore, begging him to try and grab the doll as she floated past him, but he couldn't hear me. I realized then that I was the only one who could rescue Maggie, so I plunged into the icy water, fully clothed, and started swimming. Just before the falls, I caught up with Maggie and grabbed hold of her. End of dream.

I've been Terri Polen for four years today! And even though it hasn't all been smooth sailing lately (to say the least), today I feel just fine about things.

September 4, 1985

When I lay in bed late at night, my head swims with things I'd like to write about in my journal ... and then in the morning, when I'm finally sitting here with pen in hand, all inspiration goes flying right out the window ...

It's so hard to keep from being repetitive. In the last five years or so, my problems have all been the same. Pregnancy. Fear of pregnancy. Boredom, isolation, loneliness. Separation from my extended family. Not ENOUGH separation from Ray's extended family. My weight. My clothes. My messy house. No money, no car, no phone. Kid troubles. Depressions that come and go without warning. The same old stuff, day after day, year after year. Eventually I just get so tired of writing about it that I stop writing altogether. (At least, that's one of my excuses ...) Oh well.

I've been running a low-grade fever and have had a recurring stomach ache for several days now. Dairy products in particular make the stomach ache worse. I feel a distinct tiredness in the afternoons. Coffee, cigarettes and beer make me queasy, and my appetite is dwindling. These are all indications that I'm pregnant -- the same symptoms I had with Jay & Kacie. I haven't had any real morning sickness yet, thank goodness, although that can't be far behind.

Last week I felt almost happy about being pregnant. This week I feel nothing but a low level despair.

Thursday morning
September 5, 1985

I had a very strange experience last night that I'd like to share with you.

Ray is sick with the flu. He stayed home from work yesterday, and he's home again today. Last night I slept in Jamie's room so he wouldn't be disturbed. 

Shortly after midnight I woke up and started thinking about being pregnant again. My mind began ticking off all the reasons why having another baby right now would be disastrous: the financial burden, the added strain on an already troubled marriage, the work, the fuss, the effect on the girls, the extra weight I'll probably never lose. It all adds up to disaster, I thought. In the dark and quiet of night, the low-level despair I've been feeling all week began to grow into full-scale panic. I fell asleep again finally, but I was very deeply troubled.

An hour or so later, something jolted me out of my sleep. My hands were folded across my tummy, and as my eyes fought to adjust to the darkness, I felt a sudden ripple of movement across my belly. Astonished, I pressed my hands harder against my stomach and waited. A moment later - there it was again. There was no mistaking what it was: the baby was moving!

At five weeks??

Wait a minute ... something wasn't right!  I must be asleep, I thought to myself. This is a dream. But my eyes were open. I knew I was laying in Jamie's bedroom; I could see the outlines of her furniture, through the dimness. I couldn't be asleep!

I pressed my tummy again, and there it was ... distinct, unmistakable, and VERY real. The baby was definitely moving inside of me. I just layed there for a few minutes, loving the familiar sensation of a living being, rolling and turning inside of my body. It was wonderful. Suddenly it dawned on me that I must be much further along than we'd suspected  ... maybe fourteen or fifteen weeks. There was no way, now, that I could consider ending this pregnancy. This baby WILL join our family, and it WILL receive all the love and consideration our other two children receive.

Excitedly I thought, "I've got to tell Ray that the baby is moving!"  I tried to sit up, but for some reason I found I couldn't move. I was flat on my back and I couldn't move a muscle, and all of a sudden I realized why: I was asleep, after all! 

And at that moment  ...  I woke up.

I pressed my hands against my flat tummy and felt ... nothing. It had been a dream. I have to tell you, though, that it was the most weirdly vivid dream I have ever had in my life. I swear to you, my hands actually FELT that baby moving. Even now, as I sit here in the light of morning, I have complete sensory memory of the way it felt.

I wish that I could tell you I got up this morning full of resolve and optimism ... that my experience, marvelous and weird and magic as it was, "fixed" everything in my heart. ‘Isn't so. I still feel doubts and fears about being pregnant again. I'm still wondering how in the heck we're going to manage it. My dream last night was entertaining, but it didn't produce a miracle ...

... Or did it?

I don't know. There is part of me that thinks God had a hand in the dream, giving me a brief sensory taste of things to come ... reminding me that there really is a person in there. I'd love to think that He allowed me to feel the baby moving for a few dreamy minutes, while I was in a twilight sleep, just to let me know the seed inside of me is precious and viable and deserving of life.

Maybe it was a miracle, after all.

Sunday morning
September 8, 1985

Sitting at the table with coffee, "Sky Pilot" on the radio, (Ray's friend) Tony Ramos sleep on the sofa behind me. I got up an hour ago -- showered, washed and dried my hair, put on some makeup -- and now I look (and feel) presentable. Unheard of for a Sunday morning! Of course, the main reason I've gone to so much trouble is because Tony is here ... otherwise I would be schlepping around the house all day in my ratty bathrobe. The kids are up, playing on the floor with some of Jamie's Avon "makeup." Jamie is still in her yellow nightgown, her hair a pretty mess ... Kacie is wearing a light blue blouse and multi-colored pants, her hair pulled up into her crazy "rooster" hairdo (one ponytail on the top of her head).

Sept. 16, 1985

One week later. Windy, stormy morning. I feel pretty good today, on all levels. Last week I had an awful cold, but this week it's gone. I've quit smoking for the duration of this pregnancy, and that helps. Still no morning sickness. I'm tired all the time, and my appetite is weirdly up and down (Ray's ham sandwiches on Saturday night turned my stomach, and I'm back to craving burned toast again), but otherwise I have no complaints physically. Yet.

The really good news is that Ray and I have talked things over, and have come to a mutual acceptance of my pregnancy. He's not out buying cigars, but he's not contemplating suicide, either. At this point he's making his usual mock-despairing "jokes." In the car yesterday we passed a young woman walking along with three little girls, and Ray said, "There's Mommy next year ... three GIRLS." We've agreed that although this is unexpected, and may prove to be difficult financially, it isn't the end of the world. I am ENORMOUSLY relieved.

Yesterday we went over to the folks' to celebrate Barbara's 16th birthday. While we were there, Peg informed me that Patty is two weeks "late" and they suspect she's pregnant! I pasted a big phony smile on my face and said, "Oh, that's wonderful." But inside my heart sank. I am still annoyed about it today. I was hoping that for this pregnancy, at least, I would have the spotlight all to myself. I don't know. It's hard to explain without sounding so incredibly childish & petty. It's just that last time I was pregnant, when I was expecting Kacie, all three of my married sisters-in-law were also pregnant. It felt disgustingly like being on an assembly line ... there was just something creepy about it. I was hoping that this time there would be no week-by-week comparisons, no competitiveness, no sense of "Who's gonna pop first?!" But things seldom turn out the way I expect them to, do they?

I slipped a note to Judy yesterday while we were sitting at the folks' kitchen table. "Four weeks late," the note said. 

"I thought so," Judy murmured. She'd noticed I wasn't drinking beer, and she said she'd "had a feeling" that I might be pregnant. She promised to keep the news to herself, but things like this always seem to get around.

Now I'm starting to worry a little about breaking the news to my family ... specifically, to my mother.

Wednesday 9:30 a.m.
September 18, 1985

Well ... Mom will know about it by the end of the day! I took the plunge yesterday and wrote her a letter. I was honestly going to wait until Christmas before I told anyone, but I got a letter from Mom on Monday and it made me long to confide in her. I know she's probably not going to consider it good news, exactly, but I'm trusting her at least to be supportive ... and that's something I could really use right now.

Feels almost like fall today ... sunny and cool. Jamie woke me up an hour ago. I could hear her in the living room, frantically shouting "It's GARBAGE DAY! Mom, it's GARBAGE DAY!!," and I suddenly realized that we hadn't set the dumpster out. That's why she was so frantic. I dashed out to the carport (in my robe and disheveled hair and smeared mascara) just as the garbage truck was rumbling past our house. Luckily I managed to flag the guy down, and he stopped for me. Jamie is feeling pretty smug now for having saved the day.

Dying for a cigarette, but I threw them all away a few days ago. The kids are dancing around the living room -- Kacie is naked, as usual -- in time to The Honkers' "Honk Around The Clock" on Sesame Street. Kacie has learned how to open the kitchen drawers, where I keep some of their rainy day toys, and she's carried a whole armload of cardboard puzzles out to the living room ... the pieces are scattered all over the floor. Jamie is valiantly trying to sort the pieces into related piles, but it's a frustrating task and she's about to give up in disgust. (Yep. Now she's got an old paintbrush and is pretending to "paint" the walls.)

I've had a lot of problems with Kacie lately. (Mom: "You guys are gonna stay out here in the living room." Jamie: "WHY???" Mom: "So I can keep an eye on KACIE, that's why!") She's 2-1/2 this week, and I keep waiting for some of the obstinance & negativity to level off, the way it did with Jamie at this age. Instead, she seems to grow more balky and stubborn every day. The worst part is her destructiveness, which gets worse all the time. She has single-handedly destroyed the entire set of Walt Disney storybooks that Barbara gave us, drawn huge crayon murals on the walls of every room in the house, peeled the plastic cover off her crib mattress, pulled the ears off most of her stuffed animals and mashed all of the crayons into waxy dust. Dolls, books, soap, crayons, photo albums, houseplants and stuffed animals are only a few of the many items currently "off-limits" to her. "Mischief" has become her middle name.

To be fair, I don't recall exactly what Jamie was like at this age. I just seem to remember an overall lessening of the negative stuff, once she reached 2-1/2. I may be wrong. Maybe Kacie is behaving perfectly normally. I think I should check in my journal for June 1984 and see what it says.

A few minutes later:

Well ... scrap that. It turns out that I was right in the first place: Jamie was a little bit ahead of Kacie at this stage, at least where lessening of negativism is concerned. Oh well. I love Kacie. I know that eventually she will grow out of this. She's still my little Bumblebee! If I may express one hope, however, it is that Kacie has changed a little by the time the baby's born ... I hope that by then she'll be out of diapers, off the bottle, and in better overall spirits than she is these days.

Thursday 10:30 a.m.
September 19, 1985

Ray was horrible last night. He didn't come home until 10 p.m., as usual, and the very minute he walked through the door, he was griping. ("How come no one took this garbage out?" "Where's dinner?" "Where's my clean underwear?") Then, once we were in bed, he started making some very un-funny remarks about my pregnancy. First he was talking about some show on PBS about abortion - he watched a little bit of it while he ate his dinner. I didn't really care to hear about it, understandably! Then, a few minutes later, he said "Guess I'd better save up $150 so we can get rid of it. We can't afford another kid." This was meant as a "joke." My first instinct was to slap him squarely across his stupid insensitive face. I didn't, of course ... instead I just rolled away from him and wept a little, in the darkness. He is such a jerk. Why do I give him so much power to hurt me?

He wasn't serious about abortion -- he honestly thought he was being "funny" -- but I still feel like we've taken two giant steps backward. After Friday I thought we'd gotten things settled. Now I don't know where we are. I'm just as worried about how this baby will affect us financially as Ray is, but I still won't consider abortion. Not after my vivid "dream" of a couple weeks ago. And I think it's appalling that he would joke around about something like that. His lack of sensitivity is constantly amazing to me.

The past couple of nights have been very chilly, and the kids have stuffy noses this morning. The Western Kraft picnic is coming up in a few days (on Sunday) so I'm trying to get them over their colds in time. I'm not looking forward to the picnic much ... mainly because I have no idea what to expect. Two years ago we had a marvelous time, but then last year it was a complete fiasco. Who knows what will happen this year ... ?

Friday morning
September 20, 1985

Ray was gentler and nicer last night. I really wanted to bring up the subject of the baby, but I figured it would be better not to rock the boat. I would like to be clear on his feelings. Am I doing this thing alone? Or do I have his support?

Wednesday 11 a.m.
October 2, 1985

Almost two weeks later. Well ... make that twelve days. As usual, I've wanted to write but just haven't felt motivated enough to pick up a pen.

My favorite month is here! Something about the arrival of October invariably lifts my spirits. It is a dark, cloudy morning ... occasional gusts of wind blow a scattering of leaves across the yard. The autumn colors are just beginning to appear, a random patch of yellow here, a cluster or reds and oranges there ...

The girls on top of Daddy's car
Directly across the street is the "big tree" I used to write about in my journals
Autumn 1985

Jamie is running a fever today (102º when we got up) so once again I've got her bedded down on the sofa. I don't have any Children's Tylenol so I've had to give her some of the adult kind, mixed with honey to disguise the taste. She's being very quiet and good, but it's obvious from her flushed cheeks and ruby red lips that she doesn't feel good. Poor little Puss.

("TANK-oo. Moh-MEE!" Kacie)

The Western Kraft picnic (on Sept. 22) was definitely more fun that last year. It was a lovely, sunny day, the girls had a good time, and Ray won a brand-new VCR in the drawing! 


Kacie at the Western Kraft picnic

The only low point of the day is that we lost Maggie, Jamie's beloved doll. We didn't even realize she was missing until that night, when I was tucking Jamie in. Jay said, "Where's Maggie?," and I realized with a sinking heart that she hadn't come home with us.

Jamie was devastated. For a few days we held onto the hope that Maggie had been left at Sheryl & Jeff's house, since we stopped off there on our way home from the picnic. (Ray wanted to ask Jeff how to hook up the new VCR.) But after a week or so with no word from Sheryl, we gave up hope. I was at my wits' end. How on earth could I help assuage Jamie's grief? She loved Maggie so much. It was like a death in the family.

Never underestimate a child's ability to heal, I guess. Jamie's resiliency is amazing. While I was stewing and worrying about how to help her, she went ahead and helped herself ... she simply adopted Kacie's doll, Molly, a twin of the missing Maggie! For the first few days she merely "borrowed" Kacie's doll. "I'll take care of Molly until Maggie comes home," she said. I kept a close eye on Kacie through all of this. Would she care? She didn't. She was far too busy playing with her new fire trucks to worry about a doll. Gradually, day by day, Molly has become less Kacie's and more Jamie's. Jamie has even re-named her "Maggie." I'm still not entirely sure that this was the right way to handle this, but everyone seems to be OK with the arrangement, so where's the harm? Jamie once again has her "best friend" to love and fuss over, I'm relieved, and Kacie is either too young or too busy to care.

Another picnic anecdote, this one concerning the baby. At one point during the festivities, all expectant mothers were asked to come forward and get a new toy for the baby-to-be. I was talking to someone and I missed the announcement completely. Ray heard it, though, and he went up and got a stuffed animal, a little dog. When I got back to the table and he told me what happened, I was momentarily speechless. RAY WENT UP AND GOT A PRIZE FOR ME. This was like publicly admitting that we're pregnant! I was so happy, I felt like crying. Later, in the turmoil over Maggie's disappearance, some of my happiness was misplaced temporarily. Now that things are back to normal, Maggie-wise, the good feelings are returning. I'm allowing myself to feel good. Happy, almost.

A couple of nights ago Ray and I were laying in bed. I had my head on his shoulder, and I felt very close to him in an emotional as well as physical sense. Not a feeling I have very often! He said, "Next year there'll be five of us." I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head. Then he hugged me and said, "I don't know why I'm letting you get away with this," and he laughed. I had to turn my face away so he couldn't see me grinning like a lunatic.


Me at the company picnic. I'm three months pregnant with Baby #3.
Autumn 1985

October 21, 1985

So much to tell. Three weeks have passed -- three very eventful weeks -- and a lot has changed. Where do I begin?

First things first. Maggie is home!!!  Believe it or not, Jamie's long-lost doll has come home. A few nights ago Ray came home and said, "I have an announcement to make." Then he reached into the grocery bag he was carrying and pulled out MAGGIE! Jamie's mouth literally dropped open in surprise, and me, big sentimental dope that I am, I burst into tears. I honestly thought she was gone for good. As it turns out, she was at Sheryl & Jeff's house all this time, under Tanya's bed. If Ray had called Sheryl, we could have avoided weeks of heartache. All's well that ends well, though. Maggie is home and everything is back to normal. She seems none the worse for the wear, and Jamie is elated to have her favorite friend, back in her arms.

Jamie had an adventure this weekend ... she spent three days at her Grandma and Grandpa P.'s house! They stopped by unexpectedly on Friday morning and invited her for the weekend. I hastily packed her bag and sent her off with hugs & kisses. She was so excited! I was secretly a little dismayed at the thought of her being gone so long ... three days seemed like an eternity. Would she be able to handle it? (More importantly, would I??) But as usual I underestimated her ... she had a ball. Billy, who is now five, was there for the weekend too, and the two of them had a wonderful time. The folks took them shopping, to restaurants, out to Fall City for a visit with Aunt Judy, even to a high school football game. She was cheerful and excited through it all.

I was a different story. Late Friday afternoon, when she'd only been gone for a few hours, I was suddenly hit by an overwhelming case of "the blues." Some of it was external -- some depressing mail, a persistent headache -- but mostly it was loneliness for Jamie. The house seemed so quiet and empty with her gone, and since Kacie was napping, I found myself completely alone. It was an unfamiliar sensation, and I was very uncomfortable with it. I guess I've evolved into a total Mommy. Several times during the weekend I felt the wave of loneliness wash over me, usually when Kacie was sleeping. TV shows about children brought tears to my eyes, and one afternoon just the sight of Jamie's little red tricycle sitting forlornly in the rain made me break down. Ray was gentle and amused. "She's having fun, Mom," he said whenever he caught me with that mournful look on my face again. "Don't worry about her."

The weekend was interesting, though, because it gave me some time alone with Kacie. We don't get much of that. I learned, among other things, that my littlest daughter can count to ten, knows her last name, doesn't like raisins, and likes to lean her head on her hand when she's thinking. A couple of time she dissolved into lengthy temper tantrums over nothing at all, which I attributed in part to Jamie's absence. She would literally lay on the floor, kicking and screaming, for upwards of twenty minutes at a time, while I alternated between trying to soothe her and completely ignoring her. (Neither tactic worked.) But for most of the weekend, she was good. She rarely left my side. To be more precise, she rarely left my LAP. She wanted to sit on me practically every minute, and when I was laying down, well, then she would just climb onto my stomach and sit there, grinning. We talked and played and watched TV and snacked. Occasionally she would ask me (without a trace of concern) where Jamie was, but for the most part she seemed to find the situation eminently satisfactory. She had my full attention (and Ray's, when he was here), and she gobbled it up. I think the weekend was very good for our relationship. Even now, with Jamie home once again and things back to normal, I feel an increased closeness between Kacie and I. Maybe it's more accurately a heightened awareness of each other. I catch her eye from across the room, and we smile at each other. Every once in awhile she leaves her toys and sits next to me on the sofa for a minute, neither of us saying anything, simply feeling pleasure in being near each other.

October 28, 1985
Monday morning

This journal entry written between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1

A week later. Much news to share about the pregnancy, as well as a few other odds & ends.

It's Monday morning, clear and almost-sunny after a weekend of wild storms and rain. The front yard is littered with fallen leaves, and the world has a nice "freshly laundered" feeling. The house is dressed for Hallowe'en ... two grinning jack o'lanterns sit on the front porch, and the kitchen and living room windows are plastered with Hallowe'en cutouts, most of them Jamie's creations. The house is in its usual state of post-weekend chaos. After I shower and drink a little coffee, I'll spend the day restoring order. The kids have been up for a couple of hours already. We put our clocks back an hour yesterday, and we're all feeling a little turned-around today, still ... everything seems later than it really is. I feel like it's almost lunchtime but the clock only says 9:30!

News of my pregnancy has finally leaked. Some of the "leaking" was deliberate ... the letter I wrote to Mom, for instance, and one day when Dad & Valerie were here for a visit, I told them. Mom didn't respond to my letter for several weeks, and I started to worry. Usually she answers my letters so quickly, but this important letter went unanswered! I started to think maybe she was more upset by the news than I'd expected. My fears were put to rest on October 11, when she and Debi stopped in for an unexpected visit. Mom hugged me and wished us well, and that was more or less that. I told her I've only had one day of bona fide morning sickness (as opposed to the persistent nausea I felt with both of the girls), and she said, "Then it's going to be a boy this time." She was calm and accepting, just as I knew she would be.

Dad was quite blasé about the news, actually. I think he said "Oh really?," or words to that affect. Again, this was pretty much what I expected.

Ray's parents found out about it accidentally, a fact that still irks me even though it happened two weeks ago. It was Ray's fault. He stayed out drinking all night one night, and the next morning he was too hungover to go to work. So he called his boss and told him that I was having a miscarriage! I don't mind Ray using me as an excuse once in awhile -- telling his boss that I'm sick, for instance, and that he needs to stay home and take care of me. Even that is stretching the truth, but at least it isn't as farfetched as saying I'm having a MISCARRIAGE, for crying out loud. That's something you don't even want to joke about. Well, anyway, Ray's boss said sure, take the day off ... hope your wife feels better. Ray comes back from the phone booth happy as a lark, hops back into bed for the rest of the morning, and things are just hunky-dory as far as he's concerned. Unfortunately, he forgot that he'd made a date with his mother that day: she was going to swing by Western Kraft in the afternoon and pick up some boxes. They'd arranged to rendezvous in the WK parking lot at 3:30. Apparently this slipped Ray's mind. Of course, when Peg showed up and couldn't find Ray, she went into the plant to ask about him. And of course Ray's boss said "No, Ray didn't work today ... his wife is having a miscarriage."


Well, as mortified as I am whenever I think of Peg hearing such a thing, I STILL would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that moment and seen the expression on her face. She was probably thinking, Oh Christ, what are those dippy kids up to NOW?? Half an hour later she and Barbara were pounding on my door in the pouring rain. Ray had gone out to run a few errands, the kids were at Terry's, and I was alone when they showed up. Peg started by asking me how I was feeling. Right away I knew something was wrong. Then she said she'd been to Western Kraft and that Ray wasn't there, and suddenly all the pieces fell into place and I knew what was going on. She'd heard Ray's stupid miscarriage story, and here we hadn't even told her I was pregnant yet!! I tried to smooth things over as best I could, mumbling something feeble about feeling "sick" that morning and Ray staying home to take care of me. "We're pretty sure I'm pregnant," I said, trying to look simultaneously wan and radiant ...

"So you're not having a miscarriage?" she said, and I felt my heart drop down to my ankles. I said that Ray had "exaggerated a little" when he called his boss. A few minutes later we were past the worst of it and Peg was offering to take me to the o.b., but I was still so embarrassed I could have throttled Ray. What a horrible way to break the news. Peg was pretty nice, but I could hear the wheels turning in her head ... two more points against Ray and Terri: can't believe ANYTHING they say ...

So, OK, the news is out. Not one single person has congratulated us! Reactions generally have run from blasé to blasé! The only person in the entire world who seems pleased about it is Jamie, and even she is fickle: one day she's bursting with questions and ideas ("Let's get our new baby THAT toy") and the next day she absolutely refuses to discuss anything to do with it. Ray and I are the only people more or less consistently pleased about this.

And we ARE pleased about it. It took awhile, but we've both finally come to terms with the idea. When Ray went forward in front of everybody at the Western Kraft picnic and accepted the toy for the baby-to-be, that was the first moment I knew everything was going to be OK. From that point on, except for an occasional despairing comment about our finances next year, everything he has said about the baby has been optimistic and positive. One night he came home from the tavern and his face was aglow. His friend Sherrie had just given birth to a baby boy ... Ray had just heard the news. He said, pointing at my tummy, "I'm starting to feel happy about this!" What he lacks in finesse, he makes up for in sincerity.  Another night we were talking about girls and boys. "It'll be another girl," he said. But this time he added something different. "That's OK," he said. "I really LIKE having girls." I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

My feelings are pretty consistent. Whenever I think that there's a baby growing inside of me  ... another child that I will know and love someday, the way I love Jamie and Kacie ... I actually get goosebumps. Amazing how intense the thrill remains, even the third time around. The wonder of it is as fresh and exciting as ever. Other people may be blasé, but I'm not: I'm rejoicing in the miracle.

Physically I feel just fine. Some of the fatigue I felt all through September and most of October has worn off, and I'm not a bit nauseous unless I wait too long between meals. My breasts are very tender and sore, though, more so than in the other pregnancies. The girls are constantly bumping and poking me in the chest, and each time it happens I practically go through the ceiling.

The other night when I was laying in bed I thought I felt a faint movement inside of me ... just one quick flip-flop, nothing more. Baby?

My first appointment with the o.b. is on Monday morning, Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. Peg is taking me. Considering the awful way she found out about the pregnancy, I think it's pretty decent of her to offer. I'll have a new doctor this time. I don't know his name yet but I probably will after my pregnancy test (ha ha) on Monday. The good Drs. Heffron & Pheiffer have moved their practice to Lynnwood, so I picked a new place out of the phone book. I really liked my last doctor, but seeing someone new might add a little variety to this final pregnancy.

Sniff. I think Jamie is beginning to grow up, right before my very eyes. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this! If I had played this song for her a year ago - "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, which she used to request a dozen times every day - she would have been right here in the middle of the living room, dancing her heart out. This morning I played it, and do you know what she said to me?? "Oh no, not Cyndi Lauper! I'm sick of Cyndi Lauper, Mom!"

Good grief.

Thank goodness for Kacie.  At least I've got one little girl in pigtails, whirling around my living room this morning. (I look at her, and she smiles and kicks up one chubby leg; "I DANCIN'!" she shouts happily.) This winter, I guess Kacie will be Mama's little dancer ... God bless her heart.

Mommy's crappy homemade "ghost" costumes.
[Frankly, they look more like plague victims than ghosts.]
Halloween 1985

Tuesday morning
November 5, 1985

I seem to be experiencing a temporary (at least I HOPE it's temporary) run of bad luck. The past couple of days have been awful. Everything seems to be unraveling at once. This morning I feel sad and old and headachy, wondering what could possibly go wrong TODAY ...

My doctor's "appointment" -- I use the term loosely -- was a huge disappointment yesterday. Hell, I didn't even SEE the doctor. In fact I never even left the lobby. A pink-cheeked nurse took my urine specimen and my $122 and said, "That's it. You can go now." I left feeling totally flattened. I was hoping yesterday would be the "official" beginning of the pregnancy ... that I would meet my doctor, listen to the baby's heartbeat for the first time, get an official due date, then come home with my vitamin samples and my "Baby Talk" magazines. Instead I came home empty-handed and let-down. I am also worried. This new doctor has a payment-up-front policy that I'm sure Ray isn't going to go for. That means I'm probably going to have to drag out the phone book and go through all of the doctor-hunting shit all over again.

Thursday noon
November 7, 1985

A couple of days later, and things are much, much better.

Yesterday I called the doctor's office for the results of my pregnancy test. Of course, by this point there was no element of suspense ... I'd had a couple of fleeting thoughts along the lines of, "What if I'm not pregnant? What if I've got cancer instead?" ... but I already knew I was pregnant. And still, when I heard the nurse say, "The test results were POSITIVE," I felt a surge of joy I hadn't expected at all. It caught me completely by surprise. I'm pregnant! It's official! And I'm thrilled!!!!!

I was right about Ray. He said "No way" when he heard about the doctor's billing policy. It would just be too hard on us, having to pay cash every time I saw the doctor, especially with Christmas coming up. Reluctantly, I had to agree. I hated the idea of having to find another new doctor and going through the whole rigmarole again, but I knew he was right.

Happily, I managed to hit pay dirt with the first doctor I called yesterday, Dr. Bell in Totem Lake. His office assured me that they bill the insurance company directly. Hooray! I immediately made an appointment for Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. I felt so relieved after I made the call, I practically floated through the rest of the day. When Ray came home last night, I threw my arms around him and told him I'd found a doctor, and he was just as relieved and happy as I was.

Today I feel light hearted and a little silly ... humming Christmas songs, munching on stale French bread, teasing the girls ("Is that a caterpillar on the stove??") The sun is shining and the autumn colors on our street are so vivid, it looks like the trees are on fire.

November 19, 1985

Another two weeks later.

We had our first snow this morning. The kids and I woke to find a very light covering of snow in the front yard, which (to their disappointment AND mine) melted within an hour. Later in the afternoon we had a thirty minute snowfall, glorious to observe but more rain than snow. Now, at 3 p.m., it's simply raining. The Winter Wonderland we were hoping for has been reduced to one big gray puddle.

Jamie is unhappy and bored. She doesn't like being cooped up in the house, especially while Kacie is napping, and I've been hard pressed to keep her entertained. (I put some of my makeup on her ... made her a special cup of tea ... turned on "The Flintstones" ...)

Last night she and I watched "Dumbo" on TV. I was afraid she might not be able to sit through a full-length movie, but as always I underestimated her. She not only watched the entire movie, she also followed the storyline better than I did! Her reaction to the movie was very emotional. When the mother elephant went crazy and started attacking people, Jamie was very frightened ... and then when Dumbo was separated from his mother, she burst into tears. (Of course, so did I.)

Yesterday I had my first appointment with Dr. Bell. Actually, the appointment was with Dr. Bell's nurse -- I won't meet the doctor until next time -- but I am not disheartened, the way I was last time. In fact, things went very well yesterday, and I'm feeling really good about it. The minute I walked into Dr. Bell's waiting room, I knew I'd finally found the right o.b. Whereas Dr. A.'s office (that's the place I went on Nov. 4) was cold, sterile and unfriendly, Dr. Bell's office was just the opposite. Lots of bright cheerful colors, tables overflowing with magazines, bulletin boards covered with notices about childbirth classes and car seat rentals, other pregnant women sitting around ... it was a cheerful, messy jumble, and I felt right at home. My appointment lasted almost two hours. I had more paperwork to fill out, and then I spent an hour with Jan, Dr. Bell's nurse. She took my medical history, checked my weight and blood pressure, took blood, etc. I watched a short film about complications in pregnancy. The nurse gave me a stack of literature to read (a book called "While Waiting," the latest issues of "Baby Talk," "American Baby" and "Expecting" magazines, some brochures) and some vitamin samples. I asked her about the numbness in my right hand, and she advised me to cut back on salt and drink more water. And then my appointment was over.

Peg kept the girls out in the car with her while I was in the doctor's office. By the time I finally emerged, with my armload of reading material and a big silly grin on my face, everyone was restless and hungry, so Peg treated us to hamburgers at McDonald's.  After lunch she dropped us off at home. Kacie immediately went down for a nap, and Jamie went outside to make mud pies. I spent my day contentedly reading my magazines and enjoying the natural "pregnancy high" I always get after a visit to the o.b.

I was dying to tell somebody about my new doctor. Terry stopped by in the evening and I tried telling her about my day, but I might as well have been talking to a wall ... it was the usual boring vapid conversation about clothes and boys and clothes and boys. When she left I felt nothing but relief. Sure will be glad when she's a couple of years older and turns back into a human being. Oh well, I thought, I can talk to Ray when he comes home. He'd promised to come home and watch "Dumbo" with us  ...  so naturally it was almost midnight before he finally came crashing in. So much for his promises. He was obnoxiously drunk and silly. I was already in bed -- not yet asleep, but pretending to be -- and all he wanted to do was talk about chili dogs (?) and breathe beer fumes in my face. Miraculously, he did remember to ask about my doctor's appointment, but by that point I was feeling too let-down and angry to discuss it. "Do you really care?" I snapped at him, and then I rolled over and held my breath until he finally passed out. My feelings were hurt, although I'm not entirely sure why. I came home from my trip to the o.b. feeling on top of the world and anxious to share my happiness with someone ... anyone. But no one would listen. I should know better, of course. This is the third time around for ol' Terri P., and no one gives a flying damn!! Why do I keep trying to get other people involved and interested, when it's clear that I am in this thing all by myself??


A notch or two better, although I'm still a little hurt about not having anyone to share things with. I keep telling myself that as long as I am happy about the baby -- and I am -- that's all that counts. But I'm not convinced. Not 100%, anyway. It just doesn't feel right, going through this pregnancy all by myself.

Thursday 9 p.m.
November 21, 1985

A day later, and our wish has come true: the snow returned today, and this time it MEANT BUSINESS! Would you believe we are totally snowed-in?!?!!?

The snowfall began again early this morning and continued steadily all day, and by nightfall we had almost six inches. Even now (at 9 p.m.) it is still falling, gently but persistently. The whole world has come to a standstill. Traffic is non-existent; our neighborhood is hushed and frozen. Ray finally made it home around 8:00, thanks to a kindhearted friend with a truck. I didn't expect him to make it home at all, so I was surprised and relieved to see him. Now I feel free, finally, to kick back and enjoy the snow, now that my whole family is safely assembled here under one roof. There is plenty of food in the house, and we are warm and cozy, and everyone is in a silly, exuberant mood. Right now Ray is down on all fours, giving the kids "pony rides," while I sit here writing, watching the snow ...

Monday 9 a.m.
November 25, 1985

A few days later. The weekend was cold and wintery, but there was no additional snowfall: the six inches we got on Thursday stuck fast all weekend, and our neighborhood had a remote, isolated-from-the-world feeling. Ray and the kids and I stayed warm and cozy here in the house. Ben from next door drove me to the grocery store on Saturday morning, and a couple of times Ray walked down to QFC for extra supplies, so the cupboards were well stocked. Last night Ray built a huge blazing fire.

Now it's Monday morning, and another heavy snowfall has just begun! The skies are filled with millions of lazy, drifting snowflakes ... I'm sitting here with my mug of hot coffee, watching them fall. Looks like we'll be snowed-in again tonight. Sure hope Ray can get home from work.

I've NEVER seen this much snow in November. We must be breaking all kinds of weather records.

Time to shower -- clean house -- do laundry. See ya later.

Things I Am Thankful For
Thanksgiving 1985

1. My husband. For all his faults (as I may perceive them), he is still a loving, loyal, gentle-hearted man. And he makes one helluva chili!

2. My beautiful, healthy, bright-eyed, sweet-faced little daughters, whom I adore wholeheartedly.

3. The baby growing inside of me, whose movements I am just beginning to feel, and whose presence I feel already in my heart.

4. Our home ... for the warmth, comfort, cheer and peace it provides.

5. Smooth, hot black coffee on winter mornings.

6. The beauty of our neighborhood this past week, blanketed in snow.

7. Cold turkey sandwiches with cranberries.

8. Things we have acquired over the past year which have enhanced our home and/or simplified my life: the washing machine, the collection of family photos on the living room wall, the armchair Ray's folks gave us, the new vacuum cleaner, the coffeemaker, the paint job in our bedroom, Kacie's new bed; Mitzi Kitty; the thriving plants, scattered around the house.

9. Freshly shampooed hair.

10. The opportunity - the blessing - of being able to stay home with my children while they are little.

Part of the 1985 Christmas Letter to myself.

November 30, 1985
6 p.m.

It's not officially December yet, but I've dragged the boxes of Christmas stuff down from the attic, and I'm letting the girls dig into them ...

"Is this a real candy cane?" Jamie says, holding up a ten year old plastic trinket. Oh heck ... I'm even playing the Christmas tapes. Holiday music we haven't heard in a year fills the air.

"Oh no!" Jamie suddenly exclaims. She has accidentally broken the treetop ornament -- the silver and blue one that The Balding Aluminum Sales Guy and I bought for our first Christmas together, back in 1978. "I'm so sorry, Mommy!" she sobs, as though her little heart will break. 

I debate for a split second. Which is the more important: memories or children? The latter wins by a landslide. I sweep away the pieces of cheap broken glass (the memories will be with me forever, anyway) and watch my daughters whirl around the living room to "Frosty The Snowman" ...

There are three stockings on the stereo tonight: two large ones, one tiny one. Jamie points to the littlest stocking. "That one's for our baby!" says Jamie. I lay a hand on my four-months-pregnant belly and smile at her.

Thursday a.m.
December 5, 1985

Well, my "favorite" month has arrived, and Christmas is just around the corner, and here I sit without a shred of holiday spirit. I feel grumpy, sick, worried and sweaty ... a real holiday Mama, all right. Ho ho ho. Stuff it in your ear.

(A few minutes later, after a shower)

Good grief. I just realized who I sound like ... old Oscar The Grouch on "Sesame Street." I have all his joy for life.

Well. Part of my grumpiness is justified. I'm in the throes of a rotten cold -- my head feels like it's filled with wet cement -- and, to make things even jollier, both kids have it too, coming and going. (Kacie's cold is coming, Jamie's thankfully is going.) All I want to do is climb into bed with a stack of magazines and a pitcher of o.j. and sweat out my cold. Instead, I'm playing nursemaid around the clock, ignoring my own pounding head and throbbing sinuses, without a bit of help from ANYONE ... meaning Ray, of course ... and I'm justifiably unhappy about it. I don't mind caring for my children, but just once I wish someone would take care of ME, just a little ...

Ray comes home every night at 10 or 11, either wobbly from beer or else all pumped-up about his day -- or both -- and he's expecting a hot dinner waiting on the stove and me to be in a conversational and cheerful mood, eager to listen to his boring anecdotes about the box factory and the tavern. Instead, I'm usually a weary mess by that hour, and when I try to explain that I'm just plain too sick or EXHAUSTED for talk or for sex or whatever, he gets all indignant and wounded. "I try to be a nice guy," he says -- this is one of his favorite new lines, implying that since he's been WONDERFUL enough to bring home a half-gallon of milk at 11 p.m., why aren't I falling at his feet?? Or else it's, "Nobody loves Daddy anymore." Which may be closer to the truth than he realizes. Hell ... Kacie hasn't even seen him since Sunday, and when he sees Jamie he picks at her and teases her until she's in tears. As for me, well, one hours' worth of husband per evening isn't what I'd call the basis of a solid marriage. He doesn't listen to a word I say ... he doesn't lift a finger around the house, not even to take out the garbage or feed his dogs ... the little niceties I do for him go unnoticed ... and sex is a definite one-way street (HIS way).

On Monday I saw Dr. Bell for the first time, and I had a very uplifting, interesting appointment. Among other things, I heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time, a wonderful, exciting moment ... and then, as usual, I came home afterwards and had absolutely no one to share it with. When Ray finally got home at 10:30, he was so full of his own problems that he didn't even bother to ask about my doctor's appointment  ...  not until he noticed how sad and withdrawn I looked. Then, when I started telling him about hearing the baby's heartbeat, he interrupted me mid-sentence to ramble on & on about his own feelings. All of my joy evaporated. I felt like, "God, why do I even bother? He's not going to listen, and if he does listen, he's not going to understand." And a door inside of me slammed shut forever.

Oh well. I told you I'm grumpy today. Everything I say or do ... or write ... is colored by my temporary depression. And I'm sure that it will be temporary. Once my cold dissipates and I get some Christmasey things done -- once the money materializes, as I'm sure it must -- I'm going to bounce back. I'm not feeling much holiday spirit right now, but I'm bound to eventually. Christmas always has a way of infiltrating even my darkest mood. This happens every year. I begin December worried and unhappy, certain that the whole month will be a disaster, and yet by Christmas Eve I'm ho-ho-hoing right along with everybody else. At this point in my life I also have the added incentive -- or is it more a responsibility? -- of bringing Christmas alive for my children. No grumping & moping in front of them. They don't need to know how Mama sweats and worries over money and shopping and all that other stuff. I don't want them to pick up on ANY of that. I just want the holidays to be fun and joyous and special for them. One way or another, whether it happens naturally or whether I MAKE it happen for the sake of the kids, Terri P. will be alive and kicking once again, before too long. I'll put on the Christmas music, and get my cards written, and make some paper snowflakes for the windows. I'll teach Jamie a few Christmas songs, and watch Kacie's delighted reactions to everything, and I know that some of the old holiday magic will wear away at the edges of my gloom.

The baby just nudged me. I've been feeling his movements for about a week now.

Sunday 3:30 p.m.
December 8, 1985

Late Sunday afternoon. My despair has turned into rage and helplessness. This has been one of the worst weeks of my life, and I am at the end of my rope. I haven't seen Ray since Friday morning, when he left for work. He didn't come home Friday OR Saturday nights, and I have no idea where he is. Right now I hate that goddamned motherfucker so much, I can barely stand to write his name. Coming home at 10 or 11 every night is bad enough, but not coming home at all, for over 48 hours ... well, that's something else again. Honest to God -- if I weren't pregnant -- if tomorrow weren't Jamie's birthday -- if it didn't mean uprooting the kids -- I would pack our bags and walk out the door this very minute. I HAVE HAD IT.

Monday morning
December 9, 1985

A new day. The sun is shining on our frosted neighborhood, and my heart is bright and hopeful. A new day ... and a new beginning? It has been so long since I've tasted hope. Is this it? It tastes sweet ... so why am I still looking for razor blades in the apple ... ?

Ray and I have struck a tentative peace. I will write more about this another time -- maybe later today -- but right now I'm involved in putting Jamie's birthday together (she just climbed onto the sofa next to me and leaned her head against me ... my sweet little four year old Puss), and there's no time.

With my sweet daughter on her fourth birthday
December 1985

Wednesday 10:30 a.m.
December 11, 1985

There's a little bit of "time" this morning, but not much: the house is a shambles, and I have a full day of housework ahead of me. My last two entries have probably left you confused, though, and I feel I ought to clarify things briefly before I plunge into my cleaning.

Ray was gone for three full days -- from early Friday morning until 8 p.m. Sunday night. I won't go into all the details, mainly because I don't feel like rehashing it this morning, but it was a horrible weekend for everyone. The first night he didn't come home  --  Friday  --  I was annoyed and worried, as usual, but I held it together for the sake of the girls. After all, he has stayed out all night plenty of times before. I don't like it, but I live with it. However, when he didn't come home on Saturday night, either, or all day on Sunday, I finally came unglued. This was the point at which I wrote about hating that "goddamned *!#%@!" (such was the depths of my pain, loneliness, anger and fear). I cried out loud, I threw things, I pounded pillows, I called him every name in the book. If the girls were concerned about Mama's behavior, they didn't show it ... mostly they just sat at the table quietly coloring pictures. I kept explaining to them that even though Mama was angry with Daddy, she still loves him, and Jamie just nodded as though this was perfectly normal and no big deal at all.

Well, to make a long story short, he finally came walking through the door on Sunday night. He looked like Walking Death ... sick, hungover, rumpled, unshaven. We had a nightmarish, screaming argument - I did most of the screaming - I kept demanding apologies and explanations, he kept mumbling about how no one loves him anymore anyway so why should he bother coming home? After awhile things calmed down a little. I didn't let him off the hook completely, but he was so wrecked and depressed that I didn't have the heart to flatten him any further.

Tuesday 9 a.m.
Dec. 17, 1985

(Continued a week later)

Ray made a lot of promises after his three-day "indiscretion," and to my amazement he has managed so far to keep most of them. He wants to turn over a new leaf. I've heard stuff like this coming out of his face before, but nothing ever really changes. Promises are just words, after al. Maybe that's why I'm so jaded now where Ray is concerned ... and why I've been so surprised this past week to see him actually follow through on his promises.

Specifically: he has come home at a decent hour (6 p.m.) every night this week, and he spent the whole weekend at home with his family. We've been provided for (groceries, diapers, etc.) in a consistent way. And his drinking has been sharply curtailed. I haven't seen him drunk since the night he came crawling home. He's been spending time with his daughters, he got us a Christmas tree on Saturday night, and he made me a huge sumptuous breakfast the morning of my birthday. When he's sober, he has a sense of humor and an awareness of things that you never see when he's drinking. He has cleaned himself up and gotten over the flu he had when he got home, and now he looks healthy and well-rested and clear-eyed. A whole new man.

How long this amazing transformation will last is anyone's guess. I'd like to believe it's permanent, but ... well ... seeing is believing. My guess is that he'll be reasonably "good" through the holidays, but that there will be more problems between now and the time the baby is born. I seem to recall that every time I'm just about to have a baby, Ray goes off the deep end. I hope that doesn't happen this time, but with Ray you never know.

Some updates. We have celebrated two birthdays -- Jamie's fourth, my twenty (gasp) eighth. Jamie's was by far the most fun and eventful. It fell on Monday of last week, the day after Ray came home. He left me the car that day so I could do some shopping, so I left Jamie with Mrs. Kennedy and took Kacie with me to Bartell Drugs and Albertsons. I bought Jamie's presents: some Tinkerbell cosmetics for little girls (peel-off nail polish, a powder compact and some lip gloss) and a deluxe ($20) Mr. Potato Head Family playset. I also bought balloons, party hats, noisemakers and wrapping paper. When we got home from the store I wrapped her presents, then I got out the gifts that Peg and Don dropped off for her last weekend, on their way to Arizona. Altogether she had TEN presents to open! Barbara stopped by briefly that afternoon with a pretty cake -- it said "Happy Birthday Jamie" on it -- so we had everything we needed for a decent little party.

Before the festivities could begin, though, we had to go pick up Ray at 4:00. He was waiting for us at Dave's Place (drinking a Coke!). The girls walked into the tavern wearing their party hats and honking their noisemakers ... it was so cute! Ray had two beers  - I set the limit and Ray agreed - while the girls raced around the tavern, fiddling with the video games and spilling potato chips on the floor. On our way home we stopped once again at Bartell Drugs so I could pick up two boxes of Christmas cards, $2.50 a box. When we got home, we had Jamie's birthday party! She opened everything as fast as she could. In addition to the things we gave her, she also got a dressy pants & sweater set from Peg & Don Sr., a Barbie doll (her first!) and accessories from Aunt Sheryl, a Care Bears cup from Aunt Barbara, candy & gum from Terry, Christmas coloring books and crayons from her Aunt Judy, and several prs. of new underpants that I took out of her Christmas stocking & gave to her early because she needs them. She was so excited about everything, it was a struggle to get her to put her toys to one side long enough to blow out her candles and have a piece of cake!


Kacie sobbed uncontrollably throughout the birthday festivities
(as Jamie blithely ignored her)
December 1985

I should mention that the day before Jamie's birthday (Sunday the 8th), Mom and Debi stopped by for a nice, long, pre-birthday visit. Mom gave Jamie a little orange dragon and a storybook called "Dragons Make The Nicest Friends"; Debi dazzled Jamie with a really extravagant toy, a "My Little Pony Pretty Parlor." Mom's visit came at a time when I really needed a little cheer. It was the third day of Ray's drinking binge, I still hadn't heard a word from him, and I was really in despair. Mom was calm, sympathetic and funny. She also did not forget my upcoming birthday, and she and Debi gave me my gifts early - a set of beautiful blank books, the kind you can use to write poetry or personal thoughts in, and a bottle of my favorite perfume, Tabu. For some reason these small material tokens of my mother and sister's love for me moved me deeply. It gave me just the lift I needed.

My birthday this past Sunday was the same as always ... nothing at all. I felt a little blue and disconnected from things all day. There were no presents to open, no candles to blow out ... no celebration of any kind. There never is, and you'd think I'd be used to it by now, but every year I expect something and get nothing. I guess I still have some growing up to do. (I don't expect hearts and flowers, but doggone it, even a card from my husband would be nice ... )

We put up our Christmas tree on Saturday night. Ray and Jamie went to pick it out -- a lovely, full, fragrant six-footer. I made an ornament for the top, to replace the one Jamie accidentally broke a couple of weeks ago. It's a silver dove of peace (the front of an old Christmas card), mounted on a large silver star (cardboard & tin foil) and trimmed with dried baby's breath. I'm kind of pleased with it. Anyway, the girls and I trimmed the tree while Ray made our traditional tree-trimming supper, tacos and tater tots. The girls adore the Christmas tree. Each night now Jamie watches out the window for the neighbors to turn on their porch light ... her signal that it's OK to turn on the Christmas tree lights.

Jamie is really throwing herself into the spirit of the holidays this year. When she isn't making Christmas cards for the mailman or drawing holiday pictures for the windows, she's humming "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph" under her breath or wrapping "pretend-presents" for Maggie and putting them under the tree. She sits through every Christmas cartoon on TV without blinking, without breathing, practically. Her favorites are "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Rudolph." Every day she requests a re-reading of "The Grinch" ... we know whole portions of it by heart. She loves all the little treats of the season: the gingerbread men Judy S. baked for us, candy canes, tangerines wrapped in crinkly paper, hot cocoa with marshmallows, cranberries, homemade jam ... she loves everything. (Well ... almost everything. Last week we got a big fruitcake from Helene and Dora, and she gamely tried a piece of it - but spit it out.) She's all caught up in the fun and the mystery and the specialness of the holidays. Best of all, her belief in Santa is absolute. None of the discrepancies bother her yet. She accepts my explanations without question ("Santa visits the stores in the daytime and flies back home to the North Pole every evening") and loves him with a pure, wholehearted, unwavering faith that is lovely to behold. It is making my Christmas this year.

Kacie is enjoying things too, in a sweet wide-eyed way, but for her it isn't as personal and as important as it will be in another year or two. She'll watch a Christmas cartoon for all of about three minutes before she's off in search of juice, kitties, crayons ... she loves candy canes, but she would rather play with them than eat them! She likes the tree, especially when the lights are on, and she'll dance to any Christmas music I play on the stereo. I know that next week she'll love "going bye-bye" when we visit all the relatives on Christmas Eve. And of course it's a sure bet she'll like opening presents! But to her, I think, it's all a lot of nice but unconnected fun. She hasn't grasped the idea that it all adds up to CHRISTMAS. Still, this year Kacie is my baby, and Christmas without a baby isn't Christmas to me.

We've all got rotten head and chest colds today, and unfortunately Kacie has it the worst of all. At the moment she is laying on the sofa, covered with a blanket, drinking a bottle of juice and listening to music with the headphones. She's got a nasty, rattling cough and a drippy nose - no fever, thank goodness - I've got her greased up with Vicks VapoRub and periodically I force a half-teaspoonful of cough syrup down her throat. I've got the same thing she has, but to a lesser degree, and Jamie, who had it last week, is the healthiest of all of us.

More of the 1985 Christmas letter:

I don't know how much you recall specifically about the 1985 holiday season, Terri in the Future, but it's the week before Christmas and I am horribly sick. I won't give you the whole litany of complaints - it's just a nasty cold, centered in my head and chest - you know the drill. For two days I've been going all-out in my campaign to Get Well By This Weekend. So far, no good. To make things worse, Kacie's got it too, and she's just about as miserable as I am. (Jamie, fortunately, has already had it & is on her way to being healthy again.)

It's a dark, quiet evening -- "quiet" being a relative term -- Kacie just got up from her nap and is howling for no reason in particular, and the omnipresent Sesame Street is blaring from the living room ...

Jamie flits back and forth, from the kitchen table where she is coloring a picture, to the living room to catch a bit of Sesame Street, then back to the kitchen again. She is in fine spirits this week in spite of her (sick) grumpy mother. Christmas is almost here and she is positively aglow.

Mama: "What would you like Santa to bring you this year?"

Jamie: "You makin' a list? Ummm ... a See & Say. Some new paint. A new bubble baff. And a ... for my sister would be ... Baby Kickee. Um, for me and Kacie, Kacie gets a Go Vin Driver and I get a fire engine. One more ding for me and my sister - a new colorbook."

The house is (to coin one of my favorite descriptive phrases) a "moderate shambles." I haven't done much at all for the past two days, and things are on the verge of falling apart. It's all pretty much the usual stuff ... dirty dishes cluttering the kitchen counters, toys strewn across the living room floor, garbage sacks stuffed to overflowing, my writing materials covering the kitchen table ...

... still, from beneath the clutter, a sort of homey holiday beauty emerges. The Christmas tree sparkles and glows by the front window; Christmas and birthday cards hang in rows from archways and doorways; little touches of the season are scattered here and there, around the house. This looks like a place that is well lived-in and enjoyed.  It looks like a home.

The baby inside of me gives one well-placed kick. A reaction to the half-cup of coffee I just had, or to my persistent cough? I think ahead, to Christmas one year hence, when I will be the mother of THREE. At this point it seems less a reality, more a far-off dream. The two munchkins I have now are such a handful. (Kacie, running around the house with a bare bottom and a greasy chicken bone in her hand ... Jamie, gabbing a mile a minute about hairdryers and My Little Ponys and candy canes ...)

How in the world will I ever manage with three??

But manage we will, I feel sure. Ray and I have just come through a terrible time in our marriage and have survived - maybe even triumphed. I feel certain that we can handle the year ahead ... the addition of our third child, whoever he/she will turn out to be ... and anything else Fate throws in our direction. Another child will simply be a blessing heaped on blessings.

My wishes for Christmas 1985 are, in no particular order: for Kacie and I to get over our colds ... a gold watch ... a record player for Jamie ... a relaxed Christmas dinner ... new maternity pants ... no hangovers ... a clean house on Christmas Eve ... one decent photo of the four of us together ... a better recording of "Happy Christmas," and the Bing Crosby/David Bowie version of "The Little Drummer Boy" ... mince pie ... George C. Scott's "A Christmas Carol" on TV again this year ... a new diary (which I promise to write in faithfully, every single day) ...

Here's hoping that you in December '86 are as confident and happy - but HEALTHIER! - than I am tonight.


Friday noon
December 20, 1985

Ray and I are going Christmas shopping tomorrow, and while we're at Fred Meyer I think I'll treat myself to a new journal. This one has just about run its course, and it's time to wrap things up.

I don't know why I always feel so sad when I must bring a journal to a close. When you think about it, it's really kind of silly ... this is only a dimestore notebook, after all. Not a flesh and blood friend. Still, I feel a little pang of regret whenever the last page has been filled ... as though another chapter of my life has been finished and now it's time to say goodbye to someone who has been important to me for a period of time. My life has been filled with goodbyes. So why the silly regrets over a silly orange notebook?

Well ... this journal ends on a happy note, anyway. Things have been so wildly up and down since March: it's nice to end things in an upbeat way, for a change.

This is Friday morning, five days before Christmas, and I am feeling my first genuine stirrings of holiday spirit. Between our usual financial worries, Ray's horrid behavior a couple of weeks ago, and this case of winter flu we've been passing back and forth all month, I haven't been feeling too "jolly" about anything. It's hard to muster much Christmas cheer when you're broke, sick and lonely  ...  which is how I spent the first part of this month, basically. Things have gradually begun to improve, though. Ray has been home with us ... we've had a little money, and yesterday was payday so now we have a lot of money ... my house is so beautiful to me, with all the Christmas decorations and little homey touches everywhere, that I can hardly bear it ... I don't know, things just seem to be finally falling into place. And this year there is the special added joy of being pregnant at Christmas. It gives everything a depth and significance that I find very moving. I sit here, looking at the Christmas tree, and suddenly the baby gives me a thump. It's a little reminder -- physical proof of the blessing within me -- one blessing upon many other blessings this holiday season ...

Now it's early evening. The house is warm and well-lit and pretty, and it smells of frying chicken (my new specialty) and the lovely fragrance of pine. The girls are crouched in front of the TV watching their millionth Christmas special of the season, a silly thing with the unlikely title "The Leprechaun's Christmas" ... Jamie, wearing Ray's floppy Rainier Beer T-shirt and clutching Maggie (as ever) in her arms ... Kacie, rolling on the floor with her legs in the air, chortling and giggling over some private silliness ...

There's a Seahawks game being televised at the moment -- plus it's Friday night, the day after payday -- so I have a feeling it may be hours before we see Ray. I'm sure he's sitting down at Dave's Place this very minute, watching football and swilling beer without a care in the world. However. Nothing, not even Ray, can ruin my good mood tonight! If he comes home, he comes home. If not, no big deal. I have my own plans for this evening. Nothing world-shaking ... certainly nothing like the Friday nights I used to have, back when I was single and childless and employed and footloose, but nice plans nonetheless. I'm going to serve my children a special supper -- my good fried chicken, broccoli, blueberry pie for dessert. I'm going to run one more load of laundry and fold the clean clothes I did earlier. I'm going to admire my Christmas tree, and play Barbies with Jamie, and sing "Old McDonald" to Kacie again, just to hear her giggle. I'll mediate five or six sibling battles ... feed the cats ... review my Christmas shopping list for tomorrow ... watch all my favorite Friday night TV shows ("The New Twilight Zone," "Dallas," "Miami Vice"). I'll eat odds & ends, whatever I find in the fridge, and I'll drink one cold beer (and not feel guilty about it) while "Dallas" is on. At the end of the evening I'll slip unto bed, snuggled under the new electric blanket, and read "Baby Talk" magazine until sleep overtakes me. Then I'll dream. (Maybe, in my dreams, I'll finally give that good-for-nothing Scott S. a long-overdue divorce, thus ending the "series"! Or maybe I'll have another dream like I had last night, where some kind of celestial being informs me, in a voice that sounds like my mother's, that the baby I'm carrying "will be a BOY.")

And such will be my Friday night.

But you know ... it's funny ... Friday night used to be the cog around which my week revolved -- the party night, the happening night, this big exciting part of my life -- I depended on this one night of the week to make up for the excruciating ordinariness of the preceding week. And now, at age 28, my whole life is excruciatingly ordinary, and you'd think I would need more than ever for Friday night to give me something. You'd think I'd be dying for it by now. Instead, I'm not one bit interested in excitement, male attention or glamour. The things that turn me on tonight would probably have been beyond my comprehension five or ten years ago. A kiss from a two year old with a runny nose and a cookie-smeared face. A neatly folded stack of clean towels. A crayon picture of a Christmas tree, taped to the fridge. I've traded in the black slacks and tight sweaters for maternity clothes and bathrobes. Instead of rock music blaring in the background of my Friday night, it's "Rudolph's Shiny New Year." The boyfriend of the week has been replaced by a preschooler, a toddler, two cats and a vacuum cleaner. To say I've mellowed over the years would be like calling Santa "an OK kind of guy."

And so this journal ends. Without fanfare. No one else in the entire world knows that Terri's orange journal is coming to a close right now. It certainly won't be on the 11:00 news. And yet, I do feel as though something ends tonight ... just as something will begin in 1986. Endings and beginnings. I know I am a hopeless cornball, but isn't that what life is? starts and stops? beginnings and endings? This journal, incomplete and piecemeal as it may be, chronicles a portion of my life I will doubtless cherish always ... the time when my kids were little. For that reason alone, this orange journal is important. The next journal will be equally important -- Christmas 1985, the birth of our third child, the continued growth and change of our small family -- it goes on & on. This is the beauty of being a lifelong diarist. There is always something ahead to write about.

I've got to go. "Dallas" is about to begin, and Jamie wants me to draw some "fictures" on the cardboard box that is Maggie's new "bed" ...

I leave you happy -- anticipatory -- full of peace and warm feelings for the year ahead.

Terri Polen
December 20, 1985


  • herbal tea
  • mending
  • starting a new book
  • writing to Melinda
  • "Dallas" re-run
  • playing with Kacie
  • marijuana
  • crying over a sad Twilight Zone episode
  • pizza, Cherry Coke, hot buttered popcorn
  • "Miami Vice"
  • looking at baby pictures of Jamie

BOY NAMES: Kyle, Brett, Jeremy

GIRL NAMES: Kimberli, Lindsay, Kari

Journal ends when? December 20, 1985 (nine months after it began) ... Friday noon

Your frame of mind? Good - filled with holiday spirit, excitement about the baby, love for my family.

Biggest worries at the moment:
A. Shopping tomorrow: will we get it all done?
B. Getting the girls & I over our colds

What are you looking forward to? Shopping tomorrow; Christmas party on Sunday; Christmas Eve on Tuesday; CHRISTMAS on Wednesday.

Are you pregnant? YES!!

How big is Yogi? HUGE.

Washing machine? Yes

Vacuum? Yes

Turntable? Nope

Tape deck? Yes

Phone? Nope

She's driving me right outta my mind

Songs I Like During This Journal:

"Emotion" - Barbra Streisand
"Run To You" - Bryan Adams
"Radioactive" - The Firm
"Strut" - Sheena Easton
"Trapped" - Bruce Springsteen
"She's Waiting" - Eric Clapton
"Glory Days" - Bruce Springsteen
"The Never-Ending Story" - Limahl
"Only Jesus" - Silverwind
"So Far Away From Me" - Dire Straits
"Crazy In The Night" - Kim Carnes
"Diana" - Bryan Adams
"Summer of 69" - Bryan Adams
"The Tears In Your Eyes" - Prince
"Bang A Gong" - Power Station
"Take On Me" - A-Ha
"Dancin In The Streets" - Mick Jagger & David Bowie
"Goin Down" - Bruce Springsteen

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