Subj: Sunday Morning ... Finally
Date: 03/01/98

In a message dated 98-02-28 10:37:35 EST, you write:

>> I'm suffering from separation anxiety. Our phone conversation was too

short to satisfy my maternal needs! >>

I know. I feel the same way.

Work is still the best place to reach me, even though it's impossible to predetermine a good time to call. Some days are crazier than others ... something I'm sure you can identify with. Calling me during lunch (12:30-1:00) or during one of my breaks (10-10:15 or 3-3:15) usually works.

As usual, I had grand plans for the weekend in TicTac. I wanted to take the kids someplace nice for lunch ... visit with you ... maybe stop by and say hi to Dad and Valerie ... maybe *visit* the grandparents over at Riverton Crest ... as well as get all the paperwork finished with Ray & Chris, do some work on the kids' computer & go upstairs to the attic to get some more of my stuff.

{Yeah, RIGHT ... }

We wound up meeting the kids (plus Jason) at Southcenter on Saturday afternoon. I handed them each a twenty dollar bill to buy a hasty lunch, and then we drove up to the house, leaving Tim behind at the mall to fend for himself. Kyle rode with me: we took a slight detour and drove around a little, just so I could have him all to myself for a few minutes. Once we got to the house I spent an hour deleting junk files, defragging the hard drive and attempting to restore some order to the computer: Kacie kept me company. With Ray's permission, I took my childhood photo album, a few of the framed photos from (your) living room bookcase, and some clothes that had inadvertently been left behind. Chris showed up at 2:30, and the paperwork wound up taking almost two hours to wade through. By the time I finally got back down to Southcenter, Tim was horribly upset, convinced that I'd "left without him." We hit the road for Portland immediately after that.

And that was my big weekend in TicTac. I cried most of the way home ... I kept thinking about Kyle, standing in the big picture window waving "goodbye" to me as I drove away. (It STILL gets to me, thinking about it.)

I'm beginning to realize that the only way I'm ever going to be able to enjoy a "real" visit is if I come to TicTac by myself. The logistics of that happening are a bit confounding right now, but I'll work something out eventually.

Ray and I seem to be in agreement about virtually everything, legally speaking. This seems to be turning into the amicable divorce I had always hoped for but never really believed possible. The irony, of course, is that I feel friendlier towards him right now than at any time in the past ten years.

What else? (I only have a few minutes, as usual, so I'm trying to cram two weeks' worth of news into one e-mail.) I've been at Benchmade for three months, as of last week, so my health insurance has kicked in: the first thing I did was go out and get a new pair of GLASSES. Yay!!! What a treat to be able to *see* across a room again ... not to mention being able to look down at my shoes and not have my glasses slide off my face and crash to the floor.

Tim is still looking for work. He's registered with Olsten Temporary Services, but they don't seem to be doing much for him so he's going to try a couple of other places this coming week. In the meantime he's been using this down time to work on the legal stuff and to do some things around the apartment. (I came home from work the other day and he'd built me a shelf in my bathroom for my electric rollers & hair doodads. Now he's growing wheat grass on top of the fridge and collecting windchimes for the patio.)

Outwardly everything is fine. I'm healthy, Tim and I are happy, my job is great. I just don't have very much time for myself. This is an ongoing problem that needs to be resolved sometime soon. Lately I've been getting myself out of bed at 5 a.m. just so I can have an hour of solitary computer time, but that makes for one loooooooooong day.

I don't know if it's everything that's happened in the past year, or the fact that I just turned forty -- or a combination of both -- but I'm hearing a huge internal call lately. Words are churning inside of my head, every minute of every day ... and something is telling me that I need to find an outlet for them.

Anyway ... I've got to bring this to a close. Tim wants to use the computer, and I want to hike over to the laundry room and get my clothes ready for the week.

I love you a lot. Even when you don't hear from me, you're in my thoughts. I'll try and write more often.




Subj: P.S.
Date: 03/01/98

Have you heard of a book called "The Artist's Way" (and the companion "Morning Journal")?

I've been hearing about them and am HUGELY intrigued ... but can't seem to find them anywhere locally.




Subj: Re: P.S.
Date: 98-03-01 14:24:15 EST
To: (SecraTerri)

You wrote:


>Have you heard of a book called "The Artist's Way" (and the companion "Morning Journal")? I've been hearing about them and am HUGELY intrigued ... but can't seem to find them anywhere locally.

This has to be quick--I'm almost late picking Karen up for the movie. Frank just left--were exceptionally lazy this morning.

Arlene White (my hairdresser, emotional sounding board and soulmate) has the book and journal--she showed them to me a year or so ago and I've run across in in my new age book store travels.

I suggest have everything, and their prices are extremely reasonable.

More later, love you. Thanks for the response!



Subj: Re: Hey...
Date: 03/01/98
To: Daughter #1

>> But if you want to send money, I'll use it for Alaska, but if I don't go, then I'll put it towards my warm-ups and uniform for softball >>

I tell you what. I'll put a check in the mail on Monday or Tuesday, for fifty bucks. And then when I get paid next weekend, I'll send you another fifty. Will that help?

I wish it could be more, but with Tim out of work things are a little tight.

In a couple of weeks I'll be sending Kacie some birthday money ... and I'll try and send all three of you a little spending money in April ...

And yes, please send me dance pictures. I'm really looking forward to them.

I love you.




Subj: Re: sheesh
Date: 03/02/98
To: Edmund

>> I'm really sorry about last night...I just couldn't get it together to talk with you. I miss you tho' and I'll make it up. <<

I'll admit I was a little miffed at first. It's a rare Friday night when I actually sign on, and I was surprised & delighted to find you there. I was being hit with three or four other stoopid conversations (Candunder: Hi how are you) but I was prepared to drop 'em all and flee to the safety & privacy of MoNo, just to yack with you for awhile ... but your non-replies sorta made that not-necessary. I just figured -- s.o.s. -- that you were talking to the rest of the harem, as you no doubt do every single day of every single week of every single month, and fine, forget it, I'm outta here, I don't need this, boo-hoo poor little double-standarding-neglected-ME ...

... and then of course you said it was your daughter who was distracting you, and INSTANTLY you were forgiven and I felt like fecal matter and everything was all nice & back to normal.


My weekend was memorable in its non-memorability. Among other things, I

* went out to dinner after work on Friday night, to a local *trendy microbrew* asamatteroffact, where we had chicken nachos and a HUGE mug of Buttface Amber Ale and I got to listen to "Bittersweet Symphony" ALL THE WAY THROUGH without anyone turning it down because they think it's "redundant" and "annoying"

* got my first pair of new glasses in over three years ... I've been at Benchmade for three months & the medical insurance has finally kicked in ... now I can actually SEE what people look like again. (Uh oh.)

* got an e-mail from Daughter #1, politely inquiring after my health & general well-being& the local weather conditions & stuff before asking for a hundred bucks for her softball warm-up jacket

* rented "The Matchmaker," starring someone named Janeane Somethingorother (hahahahahahahaha)

* made a PLATE, at a PLATE-MAKING PARTY yesterday ... sheesh ... one of my co-worker's idea of GREAT SUNDAY FUN ...

Now it's 5:49 a.m. and I've gotta start getting ready for work. You twinkled on & off a few minutes ago --

Edmund: uh ok

Secra: Thankyou.

-- so at least I know you're still breathing.

Let me know if you get your snail mail, OK? And check in from time to time this week, since I'm almost as worried about you as I am about Feef. (I guess it's really up to *me* to keep the 'Grilla flame burning for a few days, isn't it? Watch me tap-dance for everyone's amusement. You can all pay me back later.)

Give Jonah a big fat sloppy kiss from Secra.


* * * *





Subj: I Be Exhausted
Date: 03/03/98
To: Feef, Edmund
CC: Bottle

I am completely *POOPED* tonight ... and I don't care WHO knows it.

My days just seem to be getting longer & longer ... and my stock of Little Internal *Energy Guys* smaller & smaller.

It's only 7:11 p.m., forcryingoutloud, and I am ready already for my melatonin tea and my English muffin (with a big steaming dollop of raspberry jam on it) and my ugly plaid nightgown and my rag wool socks and my library book and my pillow. More or less in that order.

But I could not blip off the radar screen without saying *hello* to you, seeing how I'm The Keeper of the 'Grilla Flame & stuff this week.

So .....




.... hello.

Anyone wanna buy a KNIFE?

The Mel Pardue Model #850 "Gentleman's Knife" is on sale this week for only $80. Let me know how many you want, OK?


* * *



I sent the 'Grillaz a .jpg of The Tots

Subj: Re: The Tots
Date: 98-03-04 18:45:40 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri, Bottle, Edmund

Gosh.........this is my VERY FIRST glance at The Tots!!! Ever!!!

They are absitively BEAUTIMOUS, Sec!!!

Can I be a token Auntie do you think?

If they vote yes, tell them to pronounce that "ON-tee Feef" all their friends will think I'm interesting & exotic & stuff.......[g]

PepperGrl appears to be the apple who fell closest to the least in THIS picture.

She looks just LIKE you!!!

This is so cool........I motion that we all follow Sec's example and send gifs of the other guerrilla offspring!!

(except that I don't have one of Princess Prissy and THE KID just now.........but I shall work on getting one soon.)



Thanks Terri!!! And I MEAN IT!!!!!






Subj: Re: The Tots
Date: 98-03-04 19:52:20 EST
From: Bottle
To: Feef, SecraTerri, Edmund

Yo Sec:

I must agree with Ms. O'Toole that these are most attractive tots. (They all appear to be the sort of tots who would have scrupulously clean feet, however, which causes me to question their parentage.)

Better yet, I could download this photo without crashing my entire Mac. (Ed, you silly bastard! What the hell kind of deadly computer bacteria did you load into that Times Square photo? I STILL haven't been able to view it, even after two attempts, both of which resulted in reducing my beloved Mac to a steaming pile of rubble.)

I may be able to join in this gif-sending madness in a couple of days. Stand by.



PS: If Feef gets to be "ON-tee Feef", can I be Uncle Wiggly?



Subj: Bye
Date: 98-03-05 10:13:43 EST
From: Daughter #1
To: SecraTerri

Well my plane leaves in about 2 hours so I gotta go soon, but I thought I would write to you to say good-bye. I'll send you a souviner or postcard or something, ok?

Love, Jaymi


Subj: (When Else?) Sunday Morning.
Date: 03/08/98

Hi Mom.

I've been up for a couple of hours, cruising the 'Net ... primarily looking for information on Craig Lesley, a local author who teaches the Fiction Writing classes at Clackamas Community College.

Ever heard of him? (Me either. But he's written several books, most of which I found on the library shelves yesterday. Mostly geographical/historical novels based in Oregon, looks like. Lotsa stuff about fish and forests and male bonding.)

Anyway ... I'm trying like heck to scrape together the $ to take his class Spring Term ... not to mention (even more difficult) scraping together the nerve. All my little internal demons are telling me that too much time has passed ... I'm probably not good enough ... I'll never have the time to do assignments ... blah blah blah. I'm trying to tell my little internal demons to take a flying leap, but they're pretty persisent little f**kers ...

CCC is just up the street from our apartment complex -- I pass it twice a day, on my way to & from work -- and it seems somehow ... symbolic. I suppose it will nag at me until the day I finally land on campus.

I'll let you know what happens.

I also stumbled across (on the 'Net this morning) an online course utilizing The Artist's Way book & journal. The next round of cyber classes starts tomorrow, so I don't know if I've submitted my name in time, but we'll see what happens. I found the book at the library & I've checked it out for four weeks, but of course I had to actually buy the journal so I could write in it. I'm planning to start tomorrow morning. I figure that if I really like the program & seem to be getting something out of it, I'll go ahead and pop for the book as well.

Anywho. This was a week filled with emotional speed bumps ... and me sitting in the passenger seat holding a limp Dixie cup full of scalding hot coffee. All I'm really gonna say is that the sooner Tim gets a job, the better.

There's other stuff, of course. I'm just feeling sorta sorry for myself. I miss the kids. I'm finding out ... surprise! surprise! ... that society is NOT exactly *sympathetic* toward women who voluntarily relinquish custody. (Something you could have tried to warn me about, I spose ... but it's one of those things you can only truly understand when you live through it yourself, huh?)

All of a sudden I'm in an extremely unpopular minority. And it sucks.

FOR INSTANCE ... the other day I "accidentally" read an e-mail sent to Tim by one of his cyber friends. (Don't ask. I was snooping. I'm NOT PROUD of that fact.) The friend said something to the effect of, "I have serious reservations about any mother who won't fight for her kids." She said this not once, but in a couple of e-mails to him, even (apparently) after Tim wrote back to her and tried to explain the particulars of the situation. I should have just blown it off, but instead I've allowed it to haunt me for days. And naturally I can't talk to him about it, since I don't want him to know that I was browsing through his personal mail ... this has already been an *issue* between us, once before, with me on the receiving end of HIS snoopiness (and HATING it) ... so I have to sorta feel horrible about this one within the privacy of my own brain. Which sucks.

I see this attitude everywhere I go, reflected in the faces of everyone I talk to, from the lady who cut my hair yesterday to the mail guy at work ... whenever I mention that my kids live in Seattle with their dad. Instant Judgement. Unspoken Disapproval. "What kind of mother is she?"

Which of course makes me ask the same question of myself.

Then there was this ... one of those dopey "cyber quizzes" that make the rounds of the Internet. Maybe you've seen it already. You're supposedly in a desert and you have five animals with you - a lion, a cow, a horse, a sheep and a monkey. In order to escape the desert you must systemically rid of yourself of four animals, one at a time, using any logic you want, until you are down to one animal at the end. The animals symbolize various aspects of your life, which are revealed at the end of the "quiz."

I got rid of (in order) the monkey, the cow, the lion and the sheep, keeping only the horse.

My rationale was, "I want to get outta this frigging desert as quickly as possible & find a nice cool bathtub and a Popsicle ... and a horse is gonna get me out of there faster than anything."

NATURALLY it turns out that the very first animal I disposed of -- the monkey, thinking it would just "slow me down" as I tried to get out of the desert -- represented "my children."


I cried about THAT one all day Tuesday.

(Sometimes I HATE the goddamned Internet.)

Anyway ... that was probably the biggest "speed bump" this past week. This is an issue I'm gonna be dealing with for the rest of my life, so I might as well get comfy with it, and try to find some ways to work through it, or else I'm gonna be a basket case every fucking time I see a mother & her kids in the supermarket.

I talked to Jamie on the phone, the morning she left for Alaska, and I've called and talked to the other two a couple of times this week. They never read (or respond to) my e-mail anymore, so phone calls seem like the most effective way to get their attention. Everyone is sounding healthy & more or less happy.

At least work has sorta become *my* island of sanity in an insane world. The moment I plop down into my chair and strap on the dorky little telephone headset thingy and flip on the 'puter ... I'm OK.

Tim interviewed last week with a company called Chrome Data -- they make software for national automotive dealers -- and I think he's got an excellent shot at it. We'll know something later this week. The issue of him getting a job has now become mega-critical, for all kinds of reasons.

I've gotta get off the computer now ... I've got a date this morning with Miss Clairol, followed by a trip or seven to the communal laundry room ... how's everything with you? Sorry to yammer on & on about MYSELF for another entire e-mail ... but I suppose by now you're used to it.






As usual, I sent a version of the above e-mail to several people ... here are some of the responses I received:

Subj: Re: (When Else?) Sunday Morning.
Date: 98-03-08 17:11:48 EST
To: SecraTerri

So, OK--it's my turn. I've been feeling sorry for myself since about 4:00 yesterday afternoon when Frank still hadn't shown up with his half of dinner and a bunch of flowers in hand (which has become fairly usual on either Friday or Saturday when he's in town and which we had agreed on Friday afternoon was a date). I called his apartment and left a message to call me and let me know what time to expect him, then called a second time half an hour later, still no answer. The second message must have communicated my mood because he called back in about 10 minutes. He was already crocked--drinking beer while he cleaned his apartment. I asked if he was coming down and he said he couldn't drive (which was already apparent) so I went up and got him. Every time he gets a little drunker (why should that come as a surprise to Madame AA???) and a little less really "here." I become an emotional basket case and this morning I sat him down and told him that after a year (I can hardly believe it but it has been), there were some things I needed to change. He was very agreeable and said he'd do better. We'll see.

I've given up on the rosy idea that being around me would make him get sober just from my shining example. I'm also so nuts about the guy that the idea of telling him to sober up or take a walk isn't possible because I'm pretty sure he'd take the beer. The infuriating part of this whole thing is that he can go to Canada to work on the project and not take a drink for a week. He only drinks at home or here and he won't drive when he's drinking. I've asked him for some of his sober time (other than the week-nightly phone calls) and he agreed to do that. I repeat, we'll see.

OK--now you know that emotional maturity isn't a promise by almost 59 either. On the other side, without Frank's urging, I wouldn't have gone back to school and I'm so glad I did. If my little demons will let me do it after all this time, you can just kick yours in the nuts and get registered (Mother!!!).

The hardest thing I've done in the last thirty years was learn to deal with the issue of "leaving my children." No matter how often I told myself that it was because I thought you were both better off in a stable, secure environment than living in the back seat of a 1949 Studebaker with your alcoholic, nymphomaniac mother, I still had to deal with all the evidence of public opinion that tells me I'm a worthless piece of shit.

Well, public opinion didn't live in that Studebaker and the time I've spent in therapy and communing with the God of my understanding, tells me that I did the best I could with what life presented me at the time and I'm the only person who can ever understand the stuff that went on in my head and heart. It had nothing to do with loving or not loving my children--it had to do with surviving. I guess I would have taken the horse too (my children did NOT look like monkeys and neither do yours!)--the quiz said I was alone so the remark about children is so much bullshit.

Uncle Tim took Kyle and Kacie snowboarding yesterday. I've either had the phone off or been on the net all morning so haven't heard how it went. He hadn't discussed it with Aunt Debi who felt she had to stay home and take care of laundry and housecleaning since she'd been working 10 to 12 hours a day all week at the office. So it was just Uncle Tim and the kids :-).

Guess I should get off here and get some of my own laundry and housework taken care of since I have a couple of 10 to 12 hour days of my own coming this week--class on Tuesday and Thursday and a school board meeting on Wednesday.

Keep your chin up, I love you.



Another response ... this one from Mizz

Subj: Re: Speed Bumps
Date: 98-03-08 10:45:40 EST
From: Mizzle
To: SecraTerri

Dear Terri,

Just get used to the people being critical. No one can ever know your situation, and the knee jerk reaction is to react the way that woman did you mentioned.

I know you miss your children and that you love them. I was with you, and I could see that, and I could see them, and I know that they must miss you as much and that it has to be very painful for you. THe stereotype is that mom has run off and is gallivanting about without a care in the world, while the poor tots cry in their gruel every night. Ha ha. Everything has a price. If there is anything to regret -- and I am not a big one for regret, because you can't undo the past, obviously -- it's that you weren't able to get out a lot sooner. No one has the right to judge you, except you.

I didn't realize that you were still OFF the cigs (and I am thrilled to hear that) and that the nights of cheap chab have also been left aside.

Everything takes work. I know you know that.

I love the fact that you plan to go back to take a course. You are an excellent writer, and you should keep on writing regardless of whether it leads to fortune or not. That ability often comes from pain, and writing becomes a way to crystallize and exorcise that pain. So use it.

I've gotta run in a few minutes.

Thank you for the letter -- I want to read it again; I might have another round of comments for you.

Be good.




Subj: The Monkey Chased the Weasel
Date: 98-03-09 01:44:30 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri

>>I am such a Goobette.

My problems are NOTHING compared to yours right now. Forget I said anything. (And yes, I insist on feeling guilty. "Guilty" is what I do best.)<<

Okay. Feel guilty. But you oughta' know by now that it won't do a thing except give you gas. (Hey -- you Catholic or something?)

>>I'm just feeling sorta sorry for myself. I miss my kids. I'm finding out that society is NOT exactly *sympathetic* toward women who voluntarily relinquish custody: all of a sudden I'm in an extremely unpopular minority.<<

C'mon Terri. You already knew this. People can be so damn fact, wouldn't you be rather amazed if they weren't? I would. Fudk 'em.

>>FOR INSTANCE ... the other day I "accidentally" read an e-mail sent to Tim by one of his cyber friends. (Don't ask. I was snooping. I'm NOT PROUD of that fact.) The friend said something to the effect of, "I have serious reservations about any mother who won't fight for her kids." She said this not once, but in a couple of e-mails to him, even (apparently) after Tim wrote back to her and tried to explain the particulars of the situation. I should have just blown it off, but instead I've allowed it to haunt me for days. And naturally I can't talk to him about it, since I don't want him to know that I was browsing through his personal mail ... this has already been an *issue* between us, once before, with me on the receiving end of HIS snoopiness (and HATING it) ... so I have to sorta feel horrible about this one within the privacy of my own brain. Which sucks.<< are a GLUTTON for punishment! You wanna feel even WORSE??? Just think about all the things that are said to him that you DON'T know about! whut HE thinks and feels that matters, right? And he obviously does NOT have reservations because there you are! Sharing a home and Jimmy and wind chimes and kitchen privileges.


>>Thing is ... I see this attitude everywhere I go, reflected in the faces of everyone I talk to, from the lady who cut my hair yesterday to the mail guy at work ... whenever I mention that my kids live in Seattle with their dad. Instant Judgement. Unspoken Disapproval. "What kind of mother is she?"<<

So quit TELLING everything you know. You don't owe some lady who cuts your HAIR any freakin' explanation, for crissakes!!!!

>>Which of coarse makes me ask the same question of myselves.<<

There's nothing sacred about motherhood, Terri. That's one of those myths that gets perpetuated by a society that pretends to worship moms just slightly above hot dogs and baseball, but was hard pressed to allow women to vote and still doesn't necessarily believe in PAYING them as much as it would pay a man (father) for the same job.

We're people just like everyone else........and sometimes we have feet of clay.


>>Then there was this ... one of those dopey "cyber quizzes" that make the rounds of the Internet. Maybe you've seen it already. You're supposedly in a desert and you have five animals with you - a lion, a cow, a horse, a sheep and a monkey. In order to escape the desert you must systemically rid of yourself of four animals, one at a time, using any logic you want, until you are down to one animal at the end. The animals symbolize various aspects of your life, which are revealed at the end of the "quiz."

I got rid of (in order) the monkey, the cow, the lion and the sheep, keeping only the horse.

My rationale was, "I want to get outta this frigging desert as quickly as possible & find a nice cool bathtub and a Popsicle ... and a horse is gonna get me out of there faster than anything."

NATURALLY it turns out that the very first animal I disposed of -- the monkey, thinking it would just "slow me down" as I tried to get out of the desert -- represented "my children."


Haven't seen this particular quiz.........but at least it proves you aren't schizophrenic. <g> did whut you HAD to do. Your children are not being abused, are they? You didn't SELL them into SLAVERY did you? In fact, truth be known, it may have been KINDER to allow them to stay in their familiar they could stay at their schools and stay with their friends. God knows you were not in any shape to hold up four people when you left Tic Tac. You could barely hold yourSELVES up!


>>Anyway ... that was probably the biggest "speed bump" this past week. This is an issue I'm gonna be dealing with for the rest of my life, so I might as well get comfy with it, and try to find some ways to work through it, or else I'm gonna be a basket case every fucking time I see a mother & her kids in the supermarket.<<

Yup. But while you're learning to get comfy with it, don't forget to ask yourself how things would BE right this minute if you had make the tots come WITH you. That ALONE should be a big help to working through it!


>>Everything else is more or less OK. I've been up for a couple of hours, cruising the 'Net ... primarily looking for information on Craig Lesley, a local author who teaches the Fiction Writing classes at Clackamas Community College.

Ever heard of him? (Me either. But he's written several books, most of which I found on the library shelves yesterday. Mostly geographical/historical novels based in Oregon, looks like. Lotsa stuff about fish and forests and male bonding.)<<

No. I haven't ever heard of him. But I'm not terribly into fish and forests and male bonding maybe that's why!


>>Anyway ... I'm trying like heck to scrape together the $ to take his class Spring Term <-- (NOT a plea for help ... unless you wanna) ... not to mention (even more difficult) scraping together the nerve <-- (NOT a plea for help ... unless you wanna).<<

How much is the tuition for his Spring class, Goobette? This would be something cool for you to do just because it's something separate from Tim and it would be your "own" thing. You don't wanna get stuck in the same old quagmire again.......making your life a mere "extension" of your significant other's.

And who knows..........maybe if you told your story and wrote about fleeing Tic Tac you could publish something that would help COUNTLESS other women. Not only would it most likely would be marvelous theraputic for you and help shed some light in those shadowy areas.

As for getting up the "nerve" -- I'm willing to bet LOTS of money that old Craig Lesley puts his pants on one leg at a time.......same as you. Look at it as an even trade........he needs the need the diversion and inspiration that hanging around a published author can give you. And I can assure you that all the OTHER people who enroll will have like motives. Some of 'em may write better than you........many of them will not be able to write as WELL as you. But bookstores are FILLED to the brim with volume after volume by good, bad and mediocre authors who have one thing in common: they all had the guts to give it a shot.



>>All my little internal demons are telling me that too much time has passed ... I'm probably not good enough ... I'll never have the time to do assignments ... blah blah blah. I'm trying to tell my little internal demons to take a flying leap, but they're pretty persisent little f**kers ...<<

Uh huh. Well........whether you take the class or not, NEXT year you will STILL be another year older, you know? You might HATE the class and NOT do the assignments. Or you might LOVE it and turn in assignments that absolutely SHINE. But you WILL, for sure, find out something about either way, you come out ahead.


>>CCC is just up the street from our apartment complex -- I pass it twice a day, on my way to & from work -- and it seems somehow ... symbolic. I suppose it will nag at me until the day I finally land on campus.<<

Go ahead! Find out whut it's LIKE to be a student again! If you HATE it, drop the class. You won't be any worse for the wear.

>>Whut else? I've started a new journal this weekend.<<

Whut happened to the OLD journal?



>>I've embarked on a diet, since I've put on more than a few "New Relationship Lbs." in the past few months.<<

Yeah.....I've gotta start watching it too. Since Pop's been sick I've been so frustrated! I get to a point where I NEED to CHEW something vigorously! My only saving grace is that I've tried to keep mostly fruit & veggies in the fridge.


>>Tim interviewed at a local software company last week, and we'll know on Monday or Tuesday whether or not he got the job (pleeeease, God).<<

Fingers (and toes) are hereby CROSSED!



>>Some stuff is pretty darned good right now ... so I'm gonna shut up and quit my bitching for now.<<

Yeah. Some stuff is pretty darned good here too. But this "death watch" with Pop.......and that's whut it is -- a ghoulish and hideous experience for all concerned -- is the pits, so it's hard to focus on the good stuff. My whole personality is going to hell, and sometimes I get scared I won't get it back.

He's miserable on the rare occasions when he's coherent and more owly than an owl when he's not. And speaking of guilt......I find myself feeling guilty (do you BELIEVE that?) when I catch myself laughing at something someone says at the office (totally UNrelated to Pop) and also feeling guilty if I go a half hour without thinking about him. If I catch myself enjoying the day I immediately starting thinking I'm being selfish because Pop can't enjoy any more days.

I always thought it was kind of neat that he thought I was perfect. But now it's not so neat anymore. I'm having a tough time living up to it.

Worst of all, I can't take him home, which is where he wants to go. But he's weak and getting weaker......he can't stand up, won't incontinent..........and cannot be left alone. We can't swing round-the-clock private care for him........even if I COULD find 3 dependable people to work 8 hours each.

He can't withstand any more chemo........he's down to 130 it's only a matter of time now. The doc has told me six weeks max. And honestly Sec.......I love this old man so much that I wish he could just go to sleep tonight and not wake up. I've pretty much already done the grief thing. I lost him right after he was admitted to the hospital. His keen mind and marvelous sense of humor disappeared right away and it's been downhill ever since.

Every once in awhile I look at his face and think maybe I see a smidgen of awareness there.....of who he used to be.......and I think he grieves I'd prefer that he remain incoherent as much as possible.

The only thing he cares about is seeing me. He asks the nurses 25 times a day if it's time for me to come yet. He doesn't want anything special when I get there........he just wants me to hang out with him for awhile. Doesn't even care if I talk......just so I'm there. He doesn't "remember" that I live an hour and a half away.......probably thinks I'm out goofing when I'm not there with him.


And christ, do I hate going to see him. I think my heart is gonna break if I keep going.........but his will break if I stop.

You got any clout with that "loving and merciful God" everyone talks about? If so, pray for my Pop to hurry up and die, will ya? That doesn't seem to me like a lot to ask of that sort of God.


If it weren't for the guerrillas, I'd probably burn myself at a stake somewhere.

And whutever you do........keep writing when you can. (But DON'T -- repeat DO NOT -- feel guilty when you can't because I'd HATE that.)


Love you,



Subj: How Was Alaska??
Date: 03/08/98
To: Daughter #1

Hi Sweetie.

If you're reading this, you must be home from your trip. I would LOVE to hear all about it, whenever you get a chance. (What'd you buy me? What'd you buy me?)

And what did you think of flying??? Did you love it or hate it?



I begin The Artist's Way program ... three handwritten pages in a journal, every morning.

Monday morning
March 9, 1998
My first "morning pages" ... and already I have questions and reservations about the whole process. How will I be able to resist going back and re-reading the things Ií ve written, for one thing? Ií ve always been such a "fan" of my own work. And how will I be able to resist going back and editing the things Ií ve written? Ií ve always been such a stern critic of my own work. (Already Ií m halfway thinking about how Ií d like to go back and "fix" this first paragraph ...)
Getting up at 5 a.m. was a little tougher than Ií d anticipated. Tim watched TV in bed until late last night - until I finally politely (I think) had to remind him that I needed some sleep. I woke up about an hour ago - 4:15 a.m. or so - and considered getting up then, but it seemed excessively early and I knew I would be dead on my feet by noon if I did. So I allowed myself to drift back to a sort of semi-sleep, where I dreamed about cocaine. I dreamed that I found an old stash of Rayí s, on top of Grandma V.í s piano, and that even though I knew I would be late for work I snuck the stuff upstairs to my bedroom and started to prepare it, while Jamie and Kacie watched me w/o comment or expression. It was only after I used some of it that I realized it WASNí T coke - it was some weird harsh foreign drug, something that might kill me. I woke up right then, feeling
1.) Surprised and ashamed to be dreaming about something like that ... what would Tim think? ... wondering what could have prompted it, but then recalling that I did consciously think about cocaine this past weekend. It was while Tim and I were in the car, driving to or from somewhere ... I was thinking how strange it was that Ií ll probably never do drugs again, merely because Ií ve managed to distance myself from their availability ... but maybe not yet completely distanced myself from their allure. If they were here, if someone offered them to me, would I accept? Yes. So is it a good thing that I live far, far away from the source ... not only geographically, but also emotionally? Yes. And do I feel surprised and embarrassed that Ií m even talking (or thinking) about this? Yes and yes. Part of me wants to consider that portion of my life gone forever, dead and buried. Part of me knows that it will always be with me - the psychological craving, the addiction - and that the very best thing I ever did was to move 300 miles away.
(My hand is falling asleep! Ií m not used to writing so fast & furiously with a pen. I gaze longingly at the computer sitting in front of me ... )
Had a nice, relaxing, mentally-healthy weekend, getting some important "little" things done (got my hair cut, bought this journal, wrote e-mail, went to the library, had a long-overdue conversation with Edmund), Tim and I got along w/o any major emotional upheavals - I cleaned my bathroom, just to please him - sex on Friday night was interesting and fun, although I still long for more kissing and caressing, some murmured words of endearment after. Writing this, I am very conscious of his presence here in the apt., a couple of rooms away, and I know it is influencing my writing - wondering/worrying what he would "think" about the drug stuff, wishing he would read about the kissing stuff - how am I going to be able to truly relax and write w/o reservation here, when Ií ve got this sense of him being nearby?
My hand is seriously cramping up now and so is my neck. I keep watching the little clock on Timí s computer, wanting to get this written as quickly as possible so Ií ll still have time to check my e-mail before my shower. Maybe I should be writing this somewhere else - AWAY from the 'puter - but the fact is that there are only two places to sit in this whole apartment right now - the sofa, or here at Timí s desk. I wish I had a desk of my own. Tim has promised me one after he gets his income tax return, but my experience with men is one of promises never realized, so ití s tough for me to truly believe him in this. I have lived more than six months w/o a computer of my own, btw. Amazing. Wonder if Ií ll have either (desk, lquote puter) by the time this journal is completed. Wonder if Tim will get that job at Chrome Data this week? He should get a call today or tomorrow. Please, please, please God, please, Higher Power, let him get this job. He deserves it. His self-esteem needs it. I doní t want to end up the breadwinner here. I want us to both have jobs that we enjoy and are good at, to spend time apart from each other in "different worlds" all day/all week, so that the time we have together is more fun and more special.
OK. I canít stand it anymore. My hand is about to expire completely. Three pages?
Alrighty then.
Tuesday 5:04 a.m.
March 10, 1998
No coffee waiting for me when I climbed out of my nice warm bed a few minutes ago ... wahh. Usually Tim has it all set up & measured out from the night before, and all I have to do is slip the switch on the coffeemaker ... but this morning, nothing. So Ií ll have to be content with one of those abysmal "coffee singles" things, nuking itself in the microwave even as we speak ...
Kacie called me at work yesterday, horribly distraught because the old piece of shit computer is acting up again and she caní t sign onto AOL. Tim and I both tried to help her over the phone, but nothing seems to be working -- Tim thinks the ancient modem may just be shot. Naturally I am very unhappy about this - it means Ií m going to be even more distanced from my kids, now that we caní t communicate via e-mail (even though lately weí d sorta slowed down as far as e-mail goes) - and naturally my first instinct is to want to comfort my daughter, FIX THIS RIGHT NOW, make everything "better," ease her pain. So I wrote her a dopey e-mail late last night -- "If youí re reading this," I said, "I assume you either got the computer fixed or else youí re over at Angelaí s, borrowing hers" -- and then I went on to promise her that somehow, some way, I would figure out a way to get her a working lquote puter. Even though I have almost zero money in the bank --- and zero idea how Ií m going to accomplish such a miracle.
(Drinking my hot "instant water" now, dammit. When Tim is right, heí s right -- the stuff really is "swill.")
Ií m sitting here in my little red nightgown, fighting the cramp that is growing in my right hand already -- the room is deathly quiet, except for the hum of Timí s computer and the occasional pop of my neck. I slept OK. I dreamed that I quit my job at Benchmade and went back to B&C Telephone, but as usual in those dreams B&C had changed drastically, and everyone was either taking me for granted or else ignoring me completely. I also dreamed about my mother -- that she was married to some handsome blond man, with whom she had a little daughter named "India" -- she showed me a photo of all of them laying together in bed @ "Indiaí s" birth.
Got some e-mail last night, notifying me that Ií m on the Artistí s Way mailing list now ... a group of people who, like me, are embarking on the Morning Pages system. Basically it looks like a glorified (albeit more focused) version of The Pet List, with everyone contributing e-mail randomly. I sent something slightly goofy, to the group at large, about how Iím glad to be a part of it, and does anyone else have to fight the compulsion to "edit" themselves ... ? Weíll see if I get any sort of response, or if I make some new cyber friends. Iíve got to admit, it would be nice to find a new "niche," socially. Ií m sick to death of the Boomers, with their silly clique-ridden, banal back & forth ... and I abandoned the SOS group once I finally felt I was beginning to heal, after last yearís disastrous the doc Incident. Of course Iíve always got my beloved 'Grillaz -- Edmund, Feef and George -- Iíll be writing to them forever, since theyíre my three best friends in the world. But it would be nice to have some new pals to play with. (That is, IF I ever have a computer of my own. Here I am, promising Kacie a computer, and I havenít even had one for six months. And if I ever have the energy to sign on in the evenings, after work.)
Speaking of signing on - thatís what Iím going to do now. Iím almost afraid to, since once again I have humbled myself and asked Feef to help me financially with something ... this time, the Writing class at CCC. I always seem to ask her for this stuff at the worst possible time, too -- right now, her beloved "Pop" is dying -- but she always insists that she loves helping me, especially when sheí s helping me to further a goal. Tim thinks Iím taking advantage of her -- playing the "poor little me" card, he calls it -- and I think I know thatís the truth. Whatís more, I think Feef knows it too.
My hand is in agony. Canít write anymore.

Tim's jobsearch efforts were bearing little fruit, and he was becoming very discouraged.

Subj: Just Checking
Date: 03/11/98
To: TimCM

You do know that I care about you very, very much ... don't you?

I do.

And you do also know that I believe in you, and that I think you're wonderful, and that I'll stand by you no matter what happens ... right?

You stood by me during my nightmarish job search last fall: I feel a debt of love and gratitude that I am more than happy to "repay."

Have a good day. I'll be thinking about you.




Wednesday 5:05 a.m.
March 11, 1998
Just woke up - lots of crazy, jumbled dreams w/mixed "themes" (work, the kids, going "home" to TicTac, etc.) - very tired. The hand cramps are becoming a serious annoyance. I woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night and my entire right forearm and wrist were numb. Wish I could type these Morning Pages on the computer, but the author seems to have something against the idea. Maybe after Iíve been writing in longhand for a few days, the muscles will strengthen and it will get easier.
Tim has not heard from Chrome Data yet about that job, and he is clearly beginning to lose heart. I donít know how much longer I can play the emotional cheerleader here, either - his gloom & pessimism are rubbing off on me. Maybe he really IS "too old," or "too overqualified," or whatever other reasons heís got for not having landed a job. I donít know. Iím still secretly furious w/him for quitting Starbucks immediately after we moved into this bigger, more expensive apartment ... expecially w/o a new job, or even a new job PROSPECT to fall back on. What shitty timing!! I understand his reasons for wanting to leave Starbucks, and Iím trying to be supportive here - he was supportive of me, when I went through my nightmare job search last fall - but itís become increasingly difficult. Iím starting to panic about money.
No word from Feef yesterday, so I still donít know whether Iím registering for that Writing class or not. It starts three weeks from tonight, and Iím beginning to have some serious doubts about it. Itís "Advanced" Fiction Writing, for one thing. Itís been twenty years since Iíve taken a college writing class (although I KICKED BUTT in that class, if I do say so myself). I have no finished or nearly-finished work to bring to the class. Hell, I donít even have any "STARTED" "work." Iím just plain not sure Iím good enough, or that I would fit in w/the other students. (Cramps are bad ...) Iíve called the teacher, Craig Lesley, and left a couple of mssgs for him to call me so I can discuss the class with him, but havenít heard anything back.
That seems to be the "theme" of this week, doesnít it? "Waiting To Hear Back." Tim, waiting to hear from Chrome Data. Me, waiting to hear from Feef and Craig Lesley about the class. Waiting, waiting, waiting. (Tim waiting for his income tax refunds: thatís another one.)
One nice thing happened yesterday. Edmund called me at work, sorta out of the blue, just to tell me that Iím a great writer. (In fact, he said "You are the BEST writer I have ever known.") The timing was just so perfect - I was sitting there thinking about affirmations when he called - he is definitely the #1 person on my list of supporters ... people who believe I have a gift, and who want to see me use it.
    • Edmund
    • Feef
    • Mom
Anyway, that gave me a real lift. The only real affirmation that emerged, yesterday, was this one:
    • I am a gifted writer.
"Blurts" were less distinct, but they seemed to revolve around the following ideas:
    • Ií m not gifted "enough"
    • Ií m too lazy - and that caní t be changed
    • Ií m not creative enough on my own - I have to "borrow" other peoplesí ideas
    • Ií m too old
    • Ití s too late
The only couple of people I could think of who "inhibited" me at all creatively, in my early life, were Kimberly Houk (she was so talented at art that I just gave up trying) and Grandma (who encouraged my writing but discouraged my interest in art).
OK. Off I go - numb hand and all - to spend another day "waiting."


Subj: A Thought
Date: 03/11/98
To: Edmund, Bottle

George ... I don't know if you're cyberly incommunicado at the moment or not ... but if you get this e-mail within the next day or so, I think it would be MAJORLY appropriate if the three of us sent Feef some flowers from the 'Grillaz.

What do you guys think?

I don't have one of those new-fangled *credit card* thingies, but I'd be more than glad to kick in my share of $ to pay for it if someone else wants to do the ordering.

Let me know, OK?


Thursday 5:15 a.m.
March 12, 1998
Exhausted and grumpy. I doní t even really feel like writing my Morning Pages - I would rather crawl back into bed, frankly - but Ií m not going to be a quitter this time.
One of the things that has me upset? The beautiful wooded forest outside of our apartment - one of the MAIN THINGS that made me fall in love with this apartment - is being cleared away to make room for a fucking MOBILE HOME PARK. I just found out about it yesterday, and I am shocked, furious and disgusted.
Other stuff is threatening to suck, too. Tim still hasnít heard from Chrome Data, and now even I have begun to lose hope. He rode his bike over to my office yesterday afternoon, after heíd attended a job fair. I looked up and saw him coming through the door in his natty little bike clothes, looking cute and flushed, and my heart soared ... for a moment. But then he started going on & on about how he was "too fat and out of shape," too "old," heís "never going to get hired anywhere," blah blah blah blah ... he mentioned that my bank statement had come in the mail, which gave him an opening to start in on his #2 favorite "Letí s Get Terri Trained" topic - my checking account (which I am steadfastly refusing to allow him to "manage.") And then he topped it all off with the lovely news about the woods being torn out. I felt my good mood completely dissipate... and I told him so. He left w/o even saying goodbye, while I was on the phone with a customer, and I spent the rest of the afternoon alternately hating him for wrecking my focus and hating myself for allowing him that power.
I know heís feeling insecure and powerless and worried right now - but Iím running low on sympathy. Heís the one who quit his job. I keep telling him that Iíll support him through all of this, and I will ... as long as he remains proactive and at least TRIES not to let gloom and doom overwhelm him - and us.
After work I went out for drinks with Jill & Nicki, at The Wichita. It was supposed to be a "girlí s night out," but Tim showed up at 6 p.m. to drive me home. I can tell that Jill and Nicki werení t pleased. Not looking forward to seeing them this morning. Will they understand that I was merely attempting to forestall another evening of gloom and arguments? (Even so, Tim and I argued anyway when we got home - about my checking account, AGAIN.)
Bad news on the Writing class front, too. I called the school yesterday - for the third time - and finally spoke to someone (Rita) in the English Department about the prerequisites for the class. According to her, Fiction Writing (the Winter Term class I wanted so desperately to take but couldnít afford because we were moving) is required ... that, or approval from the teacher. And so far "the teacher" hasnít returned any of my phone calls. So now I donít know if Iíll be taking the class or not, even though Feef wrote to me yesterday and said that the tuition money is on the way. ("Shut up. I donít want to hear about it," she wrote at the end of her e-mail. "You can dedicate your first novel to me.")
I dunno, Journal. Last weekend I felt so upbeat and postive and charged with creative energy ... and today I just want to go back to bed.
    • Are things evern going to get easier between Tim & I?
    • Is he ever going to find a decent job?
    • Am I ever going to go back to school?
    • Will I ever again have my own little "space" to work in?
    • How am I going to resolve the problem of the kidsí computer?
Oh well. I donít feel much better, but at least Iím waking up a little ... AND I just noticed that my hand hasnít cramped up as much as Iíve been writing this. Guess Iíll go to work and throw myself into the process of mailing catalogs and try to forget about everything else for a day.


Subj: Morning
Date: 03/12/98
To: Edmund

I have two and a half minutes to write.

Hope you don't mind me copying Bottle on last night's *e,* but I was tired and in a hurry and wanted to communicate all pertinent info as EXPEDIENTLY as possible. (And I DID go back and remove all "Shmoop" refs ... just so he wouldn't feel weirded-out or anything.)

I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to take the writing class or not. $ is an issue .. so are class pre-requirements .. I'm trying to contact the teacher so I can discuss it with him (and convince him of how brilliant I am & stuff) but he isn't returning my numerous phone calls. Grrrr. I've decided to be tenacious and annoying about this because it's something that I REALLY REALLY WANT. I think.

Talk to you later. I'm going to try and do some writing stuff tonight after work, but that all depends on my level of tiredness and/or Someone's Mood when I get home.




Subj: Hi mom
Date: 98-03-13 20:03:44 EST
From: Daughter #1
To: SecraTerri


Sorry that I haven't been able to write to you, but as you probley know, Kacie did something weird to our computer. Alaska was lots of fun. Me and Jason took lots of pictures and we just got them back so I will send you some. Plus, I did get you a little souviner and a few postcards so you can see what the town looks like. Plus, I still have to send you our Tolo pictures.

Thank you very much for the money.. it helped me and Jason out a lot. We had our room free for two nights but had to pay for the third and that was $150 and I would rather have paid that than shared a room with Jason's parents!!!! Plus my pay checks have been really small because of softball and I'm trying to get this one scholarship for Highline C.C. so I have been really busy doing stuff for that.

I decided to quit soft ball cause there's no way I can work and play, especially since they fired Solana, our main office manager Kary is leaving, Debi dosen't know what the hell she is doing, and me and Kary are trying to train a new office manager so that Debi dosen't do it. But when I get my refund, I'm gonna put it aside for my car... A really good frind of Tim's, Joe, now owns Burien Toyota. He's really cool and nice and me and him talk a lot. As soon as I start drivers Ed in June, I'm gonna start looking around at Bruien Toyota with dad and Tim so we can work something out with Joe, (remember Dad got approved there a while ago?). So I will be able to pay about $400 a month on a car which Joe says is good, if (hint, hint) I get a little help from a few people for my insurance, but thats another story and a little bit down the road. Well, me and Jason are going to see The Man In the Iron Mask tonight and I'm going to get my haircut in a few minutes, (real short and layered) so I'm gonna let you go but I'll talk to you later.



Friday morning 5:06 a.m.
March 13, 1998
I feel stalled and frustrated.
Tim got his income tax refund yesterday, but now heí s saying that we caní t really "afford" to buy me the new desk, as promised. Why in hell am I even surprised, Journal??? Broken promises are the background music of my life. I am so disappointed, I canít even talk about it with him.
No word from the college. No word about a job for Tim. No word from the Morning Pages online group. (Am I on their fucking list or not???)
One year ago right now I was flying across the country, on my way to that final disastrous weekend in PA with the doc. One year ago today we conceived a child together. This is weighing heavily on my mind, and it probably will continue to do so over the weekend. I canít talk to Tim about it, of course. Yet ANOTHER thing I "canít talk to him about."
Iím depressed. Iím worried about money. I miss my kids. I donít feel especially good about myself right now - Iíve put on weight since Iíve moved in with Tim, and Iím losing that nice rosy glow of self-confidence that Dr. A gave me. I feel like a failure at the two things I do/did best in life - motherhood and writing. And except for the steady, comforting presence of my friendships with Edmund and Feef and Mizz ... I feel quite alone these days.
I keep coming back to the issue of my desk. Why am I making such a big deal over a piece of furniture? Is it because Iím sitting here at Timís desk ... in Timís chair ... looking at Timís computer, using Timís pen ... ? All of HIS neat tidy little piles of stuff, here and there ... his painfully organized bulletin board above the desk ... it all belongs to HIM. Itís all about who HE is. There is no place in this entire goddamn apartment that is "all about who I am." (Except for my bathroom ... but even so he is constantly ragging on me to maintain it according to "his" standards. Weíve come to blows on this issue several times.)
I just long for a little corner of the apartment that is all mine. A place where I can sit and scribble my Morning Page and listen to music and look at pictures of my friends and family and draw and type and twirl around in my chair and dribble food on my keyboard and download funky .wav files and work on my webpage ... and just be me. Is that so much to ask?
Donít know what else to write about. I slept OK, I think - I took a couple of Melatonin before bed, and Timís snoring didnít drive me to the couch, the way it does sometimes, and my dreams were fairly uneventful. Itís Friday the 13th, but as long as I donít pick up any tails-up pennies or hear "Marakkesh Express" on the radio, I should be OK. [g] It should be just another day at work ... one bulk mailing ready to go out, another one right on its heels ... at least I really like my job, and that makes things a lot easier. (Now if only they would give me a RAISE ...)
Iím going to close for now and write to the Grillaz quickly before my shower. I donít feel "better," exactly, but at least I got some of this stuff off my chest. I hope itís all worth it.



Subj: ** Saturday '98: The Itinerary **
Date: 03/14/98
To: Edmund

Morning, Shmoop.

I've started this new journal-writing program that requires me dragging my adorable ass outta bed every morning at 5 a.m. It started last Monday, and so far I haven't missed a day ... which is why I'm sitting here at 5:57 a.m. on a SATURDAY forcryingoutloud, shivering and slopping instant coffee onto my lap and trying to make the world's QUIETEST clackety-clack-clack noises, in the fervent hope that someone doesn't wake up and HEAR me ...

I have a buttload of stuff to do today, starting almost immediately after I write & send this. My favorite thrift store ("Value Village ... Why Buy A Mattress Anywhere Else?") is having one of their infamous 50% off everything sales this morning, and I like to be the first person through the door at 8 a.m. ... heading straight for the designer CLOWN SUIT rack ...

... then we've gotta go back to the fucking MALL and return the fucking BROKEN GLASSES that I just bought two fucking WEEKS ago ... grrr ...

... and somewhere along the line I've gotta buy a sneaky present for "him," since tomorrow is his 45th He wants a masticating juicer. I'm thinking ... socks.

So I'll sorta be in & out for most of the day ... with an emphasis on "out." But as usual I'll be thinking about you.

Oh. Here's a reply I got from Sharlie yesterday, re: Feef.

IIn a message dated 98-03-11 08:53:59 EST, you write:

> Feef's dad died yesterday morning ... thought maybe you might want to

> encourage some of her other friends to write & offer their sympathies. I

> know how good you are at organizing these things.


> (And thanks again for letting me know I had AJ's name blocked on the PetList.

> )



THANKS so much for letting me know this. I think the WORLD of Feef and have always loved her "Dad Stories". I will get a card off to her tomorrow and will make sure "that old gang of ours" are notified. Just sorry I didn't dial in last night to get my mail.

You're more than welcome for the AJ notice.....I think he (altho he'd never admit it) had his feelin's hurt justa tad....but when he realized whut had happened, you brought a big smile to his face. He's really had a tuff time of it lately, but seems to be doing okay. We all seem to get bumped and bruised from time to time, but always seem to get to the other side of it. Being involved in 12 step programs for more years than I want to recall, allows me to understand and appreciate his observations and sharings.

I CANNOT begin to tell you how good it is to see you "back", I really have missed you Terri. Seeing you "back" (as seldom as it seems :-) lets me know you're healing and on the mend. While I don't know any of your "details", I just knew you were hurting and kept you in my prayers.

Again, thanks for thinking of me about Feef....I'm off to dash off a note right now. Take care...plez stay in touch, and know I hold you close to my heart.

Fluffy Hugz and Love,


(OK OK OK ... she's a nice person. I love her to pizzas. But I would STILL like someone to explain to me precisely whut the HELL a "fluffy hug" is.)


Saturday 5:13 a.m.
March 14, 1998
I caní t believe Ií m up and out of bed at 5 a.m. on a SATURDAY MORNING, writing in my Morning Pages ... but I am.
Now thatís dedication. Or lunacy.
Actually, the reason Iím up this early on a non-work day is because my favorite thrift store is having one of its half-price-off-everything sales today, starting at 8 a.m., and I like to be there when the doors open. Now that Iím working in an office again - and am expected to dress the part - I have to maintain a work wardrobe. And this is the only way I can really afford to do it.
Yesterday was an extremely bumpy day emotionally ... I felt myself on the verge of tears all day long, remembering that ill-fated trip to Pennsylvania one year ago. (Ironically, at the very moment marking one year since Dr. A conceived ... my period started unexpectedly. It was as though my body weeps for the loss.) Ií m hoping that once this weekend is over - this "psychic anniversary" of the very last time he and I were together - Iíll be able to put it all behind me finally and move on. The fucking bastard does not DESERVE this kind of dedicated pining.
Anyway, yesterday was definitely not a picnic in the woods. Tim showed up at my office two or three times, including lunch, and each and every time he managed to irritate the shit out of me. Now I realize that a lot of it was hormonal - my period was starting and I didní t even know it - but yesterday I was about ready to kill him. ("Gee Terri, you have a LOT of gray hair on the sides!")
After work we went to The Wichita for drinks and munchies. I had a tall glass of cold beer, and I felt a lot of my anxieties drain away. I still felt extremely weepy and emotionally fragile, though, and Tim couldnít help but notice. ("Why are you crying now?") Ií ve decided not to even mention this one-year-ago-I-was-in-PA business to him. It would just hurt him if he knew how much itís on my mind, and I donít know if I could explain that it isnít the doctor that I weep for now as much as I weep for the person I used to be ... and for the way my life changed forever the day I got off that airplane in Atlanta ...
Anyway, after The Wichita, we came home and Tim drew me a bath, complete with bubbles and candles and soft "nature music" on the boombox - and I felt a lot more of my tension melt away. I fell asleep early but woke many times during the night. (I dreamed I was in a restaurant looking for The Asshole, but I got lost on a rickety metal staircase.)
Today weíre going to run errands - to the mall, to have my brand-new glasses fixed, as well as to the thrift store. Tomorrow is Timís 45th birthday so somewhere along the line Iíve got to buy him a sneaky bday present or two.
I am feeling so guilty and horrible about the kids, and about their computer being down. Somehow, some way this weekend, Iíve got to come up with an idea to help "fix" the situation.
Iím not sure what else to write. Other areas of my life are as "stalled" as ever - I never heard from the writing teacher, so Iím taking that as a sign that I should just wait for the next Into class instead of trying to force my way into the Advanced class. Tim talked to someone at Chrome Data yesterday, but they put him off by saying they "still hadnít made a decision" (which he interprets as polite rejection). I got some e-mail from the Artists Way group yesterday, saying that the server has been down - thatís why the e-mail group hasnít been able to start. Truth is that now Iíve lost momentum and may just quit it altogether, plugging through this program alone. Weíll see.
Iím supposed to do an "Artistís Date" this weekend, but Iím resisting the idea. (Not enough time/not enough money/I would have to "explain" it to Tim ... etc. etc.)
Oh well. Off I go to read a little e-mail, take a shower and start my Saturday. (Every day, incidentally, I find I can write a little bit longer before my fingers spasm.)
I deserve an Artistís Date ... because Iím an artist.


Subj: Hello. . .
Date: 98-03-15 11:07:46 EST

It's Sunday morning--7:45--and I logged on to see if there was a message from you. Nope. Well, OK--I'll send one to you. Not much to say. I was home with a chest infection on Thursday and Friday, drinking Alka Seltzer Plus and feeling sorry for myself. Frank left for Canada on Thursday because there was no school in Auburn on Friday (teacher workshop day).

Yesterday I got a perm and a haircut and went to a show at the Paramount with Bobbi and Rhonda. We saw "Smokey Joe's Cafe." Loved it!

Your brother stopped by my office last Tuesday. He was in hot pursuit of a steady job and needed permission to use my phone number as a contact. He called yesterday to say he got the job and asked if we could go out for lunch today so he could talk about something else. I get the impression he's thinking of marrying Marcie.

I plan to give him the same advice I gave you--wait a year. Think he'll take it either?

I haven't seen or heard from any of the kids all week. I understand Jaymi loved Alaska and had a great time.

Deb and Tim are at Tahoe for an extended weekend ski trip. They flew down on Thursday and should be back today. I swear to you, I never saw the golden spoon!

Have you checked out my "Personal Portrait" yet? Well, here's another net adventure for you. Go to and see another of my works of art. Read some of it--it's pretty interesting stuff. Frank wrote most of it when he was 34 years old and a student at Harvard. I typed it, put it on disk, lost my cd-rom putting the cover picture on and we sent it to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks to have it put on their web page so Frank's correspondence course students can access it (it's required reading for the course and out of print).

That's all the babbling I can do for now. I love you.


Sunday morning 5:44 a.m.
March 15, 1998
Slept in a tiny bit this morning ... Tim wanted me to stay in bed with him, and as this is his birthday I found it hard to refuse him ... in fact, Ií ll probably go back when Iím finished writing this ...
We spent all day yesterday driving around town, going to different stores and browsing for his birthday present. I finally wound up buying him a tool set at Sears, something he seems to have really wanted. (I gave it to him on the spot, of course, since he was standing right there when I bought it - but I did manage to sneakily buy him a card, which he hasnít seen yet. Iíll give it to him when he wakes up.)
While we were at Sears he ordered me a desk!!! It will be here in a few weeks. I burst into tears, right there in the store, which seemed to both confuse and delight him. I tried to explain that it isnít just about a piece of furniture -- itís about someone loving me, and wanting to help fulfill a dream & a need for me -- but I know he doesnít "get it" completely. Thatís OK. Iíll just have to show him -- by actions, not words -- how enormously much this gift means to me.
I do love him. Itís not exactly the love I was expecting, or planned, or even wanted, I donít think. But everything that happens to me -- especially in the past two years -- seems to be happening for a reason, to get me to some predestined place. And Tim is a big part of that. He "rescued" me from myself. (More on this another time.)
We got home from shopping at 5 p.m., utterly exhausted -- at least, I was -- my period started on Friday night (as previously mentioned) and itís one of those slow, leaky, lethargic periods that make me feel like Iím draining energy & brain cells along with blood. Tim made us a couple of very potent martinis -- my first, ever! -- and we curled up on the couch and watched rental movies all evening. There was a message on the answering machine from Jamie, asking for my new address (again) ... I listened to it twice, loving how cute and bouncy her voice is ... but I didní t call her back, yet.
I miss my kids. I wish their computer was running so I could send them e-mail today. I wish I had the $ to run out and buy them (AND me) a brand new system.
Timís son Dwayne is flying up from San Diego in a couple of weeks, and heíll be staying here with us for a week (April 4-12). Tim is very excited - he hasnít seen his kid since last summer - I have some reservations and concerns, but Iím keeping them to myself. (The lack of privacy and the inconvenience will only be temporary, so itís not worth making an issue over ... and the fact that having D. here will merely exacerbate my own longing for my kids is just something Iíve got to deal with like an adult.) Iím not going to say or do ANYTHING to spoil this visit if I can possibly help it. Mostly I just plan to stay in the background and smile quietly a lot and let them have their father/son time together.
Speaking of time ... I have not been able to squeeze in an Artistís Date this weekend, and frankly I donít know if I will, today being Timís bday and all. But I will try and read Chapter Two, and Iíve got a few exercises from the past week to print out. Iíll plug away at them as best I can. At least I managed to write in my pages successfully for a whole week, and Iíve got a clearer idea of what my "goal" is now -- where I want all of this soon-to-be-enhanced creativity to lead me -- and thatís writing for the Internet, specifically (or beginning with) my webpage. I want to turn it into a real forum for my words and my art ... not for $ but for joy.
Looking forward to Week Two.
    • Iím getting a desk! A special creative place, all my own. Iím filled with joy over this.
    • Iím a good writer! Words love me! And the feeling is wayyy mutual!!

Week One Check In
    1. I did my Morning Pages seven out of seven days this week. I went into it with a lot of hope and enthusiasm: the AW program is something Ií ve been looking for for months, and the minute I saw the books in the bookstore two weeks ago I knew that this was "it." So Ií m going into it with great expectations. The most difficult part of writing in the mornings isní t getting up an hour early (at 5 a.m.) -- I actually am LIKING that, a lot (that quiet, private hour is my favorite time of the whole day) -- ití s the actual physical process of writing in longhand, after so many years of typing everything. The first morning (Monday) my hand cramped up after only a couple of minutes. By the end of the session I was in agony. The second and third days were bad, too, but by the end of the week it had gotten a little easier, as the muscles learn to relax and remember the feel of a pen in my hand.
    2. My Interior Critic is giving me a lot of shit about how messy and inarticulate my journal writing is. And my Interior Censor - "What if Tim reads this?" - is preventing me from writing everything I should. I need to work on this.
      2. No, I didní t do my Artist Date this week ... unless going to Sears and picking out my desk yesterday counts. (Or todayí s extremely pleasant excursion to the library, where I loaded up on two of my newest "passions" -- Celtic music, and books about writing/creativity.) I would love to do my Artistí s Date, but with Tim here & around all the time, I doní t know how I can. I doní t even know how to explain this whole Artistí s Way program to him. But Ií ll try and work on that, too.
    3. Issues this week that I consider significant for my (creative) recovery:
    • Trying to decide whether I will or wonít take the Advanced Fiction Writing class -- waiting for Craig Lesley to return my call, struggling with my private fears about the idea, waiting for $.
    • Deciding (unconsciously, at first) that the first thing I want to do when I successfully "unblock" is to turn my webpage into a forum for my creativity. This gives me a goal.
    • Living through (and surviving) the one year anniversary, this weekend, of the trip to PA. One year ago tomorrow, I was standing on that bridge.
    • Timí s continuing jobsearch -- which impacts all areas of my life, including this new struggle to "unblock." Once he finds a job, maybe (hopefully) Ií ll have a little more breathing room: we can both relax a little and start having fun again.
    • I keep thinking about drawing. My primary focus is on writing - on words - but all of this concentrating on my Artistic Inner Child is making me remember how much I loved to draw when I was a kid. I keep noticing colors and shapes everywhere ... my bathroom shower curtain, the bike store we went to today, the books on the library shelves, an especially cool abstract painting in the lobby at work. I feel the urge to sit down with a pad of thick white paper and a new package of felt tip markers and draw nothing but layers and layers of colorful geometric shapes. Maybe this should be my Artistí s Date for the upcoming week.
    • Cool thing my mom said on the phone to me today, which I will add to my affirmations:
"Being afraid of writing, for you, should be like being afraid of breathing."
P.S. 6:31 p.m.
Just back from a store-and-pizza run with Tim, and Ií m pleased to report that I bought my Creative Inner Child/Artist a brand-new Crayola sketch pad and a shiny new box of markers, in assorted colors! So maybe weí ll have that Artistí s Date after all.


Subj: Guerrilla Presence - A Play on Words
Date: 98-03-16 02:46:11 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri, Bottle, Edmund


Cast of Characters:
Fifi O'Toole (Pop's daughter)
Aunt Edith (Pop's sister)
Uncle Jim (Pop's brother)
THE KID (Pop's grandson)

Setting: It is afternoon on Thursday at a stately old funeral home just outside of St. Louis in Feef's pop's hometown of Kirkwood, MO. A loop of classical music is playing in the background per Pop's instructions ("Don't let 'em play any of that goddamm ORGAN music!" ), and a few groups of people are clustered about talking quietly in the hallway and in "The Greentree Room" where Pop is. From their now separate realms, Pop and Feef muse silently over WHY it is called "The Greentree Room" because its walls and carpeting are blue-gray and they cannot help but notice the distinct absence of any sort of tree in there.

As Feef walks down the hall with Aunt Edith and Uncle Jim, struggling to explain tactfully why the casket is closed -- ("Keep my casket CLOSED, goddammit! I don't want a bunch of people wandering by and saying how 'nice' I look. How the hell can a man look NICE when he's DEAD?" ) -- she notices the funeral director carrying a new arrangement of yellow and white flowers into The Greentree Room.

Feef: "Pop gave me some pretty specific instructions, Aunt Edith. This is how he wanted it."

Aunt Edith: "Yeah, well our big brother WOULD keep trying to RUN things even though he's DEAD!"

Uncle Jim: "Stifle, Edith. It's HIS funeral for crissakes!"

Aunt Edith: "I know it's his funeral.......did I say it WASN'T his funeral? But I think SOME people would like to see him one last time is all."

Uncle Jim: "You wanna SEE him Edith, go shave your head and look in the MIRROR. He looked just like YOU except he was bald! Give it a REST!"

Feef: "I have some pictures from Christmas Aunt Edith. And I'd be happy to send them to you when I get home........"

Aunt Edith (ignoring Feef & pursuing the conversation with Uncle Jim): "Well yeah.....okay.......we looked a lot alike. But I don't think we had the same NOSE did we? His nose was bigger........"

THE KID (coming down the hall from The Greentree Room): "Mom! Mom!"

Uncle Jim: "What, Edith? You wanna SEE him so you can measure his NOSE?"

THE KID (jogging over to Feef with a small piece of paper in his hand): "MOM! Look at this! Grannydaddy got flowers from the Guerrillas!!" he says with a huge grin.

Feef holds the small piece of paper in her hand, reads a typewritten message signed Sec, Bottle and Kaz, and grins back. "Show me," she says to THE KID and off they go to look at the arrangement.

Aunt Edith (eyeing the paper suspiciously as Feef walks by): "Gorillas? I thought Johnny worked at a golf course."






You guys..........


you are something else. Your flowers were lovely........white and yellow pom pom chrysanthemums

and gladiolas. They were the least expected but definitely the most appreciated. Thank you! A lot.



Pop's funeral service on Friday was minister-less. ( "I never met a minister I liked, so for God's sake don't pay one to stand by my casket and emote.") Instead, Dave and I asked that, rather than mourn Pop's passing, everyone join us in celebration of his life. Then he and I each said a few words -- ad lib -- and invited everyone else to do the same.

Aunt Edith said that when she was in high school, she'd never wear a dress unless Pop liked it.

Uncle Jim told how Pop was the oldest child in the family and worked as a caddy to help feed them when their father had "sleeping sickness" and couldn't work for two years. Pop quit school and caddied full time, but he really wanted a high school diploma, so he worked days and went to night school to get it.

Princess Prissy recalled how, when she stayed with him once for two weeks during college, her grannydaddy's light would always be on no matter what time of night she came in. He'd never say a word, she said, but he wouldn't turn out his light and go to sleep until he knew she was home safely.

Uncle Don remembered that Pop once put his fist through our kitchen window trying to hit some guy who'd been "peeping" at Mother, and then chased the guy down the street bare-footed, caught him, and half-killed him before neighbors pulled him off.

Bob Klebolt told about playing in a golf tournament with Pop when they made him putt left-handed and he still won, hands-down.

Cecilia Veech shared the letter of encouragement Pop wrote to her when her husband was missing in action overseas.

Andy recalled how Pop told him that he was proud to have Andy in the family, even though Pop DID think that his and Priss' wedding lasted too long and tapped Feef on the shoulder every few minutes to ask if it was over yet.

And so it went...........a not-so-average funeral. It was good.


Afterward, we followed Pop out Big Bend Road to Oak Hill Cemetary. We left him there with Mother, some roses, and The Guerrilla flowers and then Pop's kids and grandkids headed for the airport. Since we couldn't bring flowers home on the plane, we had most of them sent to a nearby nursing home. But I didn't want anyone else but Pop to have yours. Friday was a beautiful day........I thought you wouldn't mind.


Hey.......thank you all again. It was a such a tremendous gesture to me.........I couldn't believe it......I'll never forget it.











We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.



For starters, could somebody please tell me whut is on page 13 of Billboard Magazine so I'll know whether I need to clear some space on my wall?






Meanwhile ... I was quietly marking a *sacred anniversary.*

Subj: Hiya Shmoop
Date: 03/16/98
To: Edmund

I am in a huge rush, as usual.

I wish I could talk to you. I have a lot of stuff going on in my head right now. Most of it is good stuff ... some of it isn't ... what's new, I guess ...

One year ago today was the worst day of my life ... I was standing on that bridge in Pittsville, contemplating throwing myself into the river. I can't believe how much everything has changed since then.

Feef's e-mail this morning made me cry. How 'bout you?

Talk to you SOON.



Monday morning 5:30 a.m.
March 16, 1998
Shit! I accidentally overslept. Just now woke up, after a nightful of weird jumbled dreams, and I feel grumpy and defensive for reasons I caní t explain. This will have to be brief, therefore ... maybe Ií ll write half now and half when I get home from work (if Tim will leave me alone long enough ...)
Had an OK weekend -- not as restful and contemplative as the weekend before, but thatí s OK -- it made it tougher to sit around and "dwell" on PA, and thatí s probably just as well.
Today, of course, is the one year anniversary of "Standing On The Bridge" Day ... otherwise known as the worst day of my life. I have mixed feelings about it, but the most interesting emotion by far is the tender, protective desire to go back in time, to that bridge overlooking a Pennsylvanian river, and to hug the Terri standing there forlornly looking at the water below her ... she was so sad at that moment, and the terrible thing is that she didní t even know what awaited her when she got home, some twelve hours later ...
Damn! Damn, damn & damn! I wish I hadní t overslept ... now ití s time to get my shower going and start getting ready for work, and I feel like thereí s so much to SAY. I pride myself on never needing an alarm clock -- 99%of the time I wake up w/o one -- but this "morning time" alone has become so precious to me that I hate to miss even a few minutes of it. I feel just as "tender and protective" of this quiet solitary time as I do towards Terri On The Bridge: they both need to be guarded and nurtured ...
Not thrilled about going back to work -- catalogs, catalogs and more catalogs, yippee -- but at least I can throw myself into whatever Ií m doing, and hopefully woní t even notice when 3 p.m. rolls around (saying goodbye at the PA airport, for the last time ever) ... (I caní t help but wonder if he ever thinks about me) ... I want to try and stay focused on the "now" of my life. Ití s taken me far too long to heal from this one. Thereí s one more "psychic anniversary" Ií ve got to get through, in May -- no, two of them, actually -- the anniversary of the day he called and said goodbye, that he didní t love me anymore, and the anniversary (one week later) of the abortion. Once those are past me -- thatí s it. It will be finished. I will be free to let go of it all, once and forever.
I hope.
I really do (speaking of letting things "go") have to get ready for work. Ií ll save the last page today for this evening, and Ií ll just explain to Tim that I have some catching up to do. He seems to be "tolerating" my program at the moment, even if he doesní t understand it.
More later.
I am richly gifted in MANY creative areas.
5:35 p.m.
Tired ... as usual ... but ití s a different sort of "tired" than Ií m normally feeling when I write in this book. This is end-of-the-day tired. Especially a day like today, where I not only am very busy on a work level but also very "busy" mentally and emotionally. The fact that it was Bridge Day never really left my consciousness the entire day. At about 2:45 I felt a moment of wrenching sadness ... knowing that the Terri existing in that parallel One Year Ago Universe was saying goodbye to him in a PA airport ...
... so OK, ití s over, time to move on. No more secret certainty that the story isní t over yet. No more wishing on red balloons. No more looking for him online. Ití s time to say goodbye, once and forever, and get on in my life.
Tim keeps walking into the room as I write this, trying to get my attention ... doing little things to distract me (altho he would deny doing so) ... he seemed surprised to discover me sitting here at his desk, writing. ("Longhand?" he said. "Yep," I said, discreetly closing this book. "Ití s part of my program." "Doní t worry," he said ... "Ií m not gonna READ it.")
Tuesday 5:09 a.m.
March 17, 1998
I dreamed that Tim was urging me to become a prostitute. Howís THAT for strange? "We need the money," he said. At first I hated the idea, and resented him for even suggesting it ... but then I started to warm up to it when I realized it meant that I would have (sexual) power over a lot of different men. I woke up before my "dream career" was ... uhhh ... consummated. But I wonder what the heck THAT dream was all about.
I try not to write about money very much. To me, it seems like an old, tired subject without much "literary value," one that sort of degrades me as a person if I spend too much time and energy worrying and writing about it ... but of course itís one of those constantly running undercurrents in my head. Today Iíll be getting my money from Feef, but at this point Iím so broke (and payday is days away yet) and so disheartened by Craig Lesleyís nonresponsiveness, that Iíll probably just wind up tossing her check into the bank and using it to live on for the rest of the week. Iíve got to send Kacie some birthday money today ... I promised Kyle that I would send him a few bucks, too ... Ray called me at work yesterday and asked me to send the child support check "a little early" ... Timí s got a $56 power bill pinned to the bulletin board above me, with my name on it ... money money money money money money. How can I be throwing away a hundred bucks on something as frivolous as a writing class, anyway?
Of course, YOU know and I know that the real issue here isnít money at all. Itís fear. Iím not going to take the class because Iím afraid. The money is just a convenient excuse.
Edmund and I chatted online for half an hour last night. (Oh yeah: thereís another one. Ií ve gotta send him a check for $25 today, to cover my share of Feefís flowers.) Nothing heavy, no "serious" subjects ... just some fun, silly back & forth, just like the old days. Edmund is truly the best friend Iíve ever had ... and probably the best friend I ever WILL have. I will never forget the way he saved my life last year, after I got home from PA and realized I was pregnant and the doc bailed on me. Edmund stuck with me through all of that, supporting me and forgiving me (for lying to him) and loving me unconditionally ... and making me laugh. He is my biggest creative supporter - "You are the BEST writer I have ever known!" he said to me on the phone last week - and the person who knows me best. I feel very blessed to have him in my life.
Iíll write my third page when I get home from work. Right now Iím going to read my AW e-mail: looks like there are some responses to my "Sitting In The Corner ... Listening & Learning" letter to the group.
6:11 p.m.
Long day at work. My life is one endless bulk mailing. (Sent out 700+ today, and I already have the next one started.) I like my job, I like most of the people I work with ... but I definitely feel like my full potential is not being realized there yet.
Not much else I feel like writing tonight. I just chatted with Edmund, again, briefly - thatís two nights in a row - and read my mail, but I donít really have the oomph to do much more than eat dinner (Tim is barbecuing chicken) and read a little and go to sleep.
At one point this afternoon I gave in to a dangerous impulse and looked up the docí s office number in PA. I had it in my heaad that I would call his answering service and leave a cryptic message only he would understand -- "Tell him Lily called" -- but I didnít go through with it. I hope I can continue to fight the urge. The last thing in the world I need is to give him another opportunity to make me feel like dying. Just wish I could quit thinking about him. Must be one of those internal issues that needs to come out, now that Iím scribbling in a journal once again. After Iíve written about it for awhile, Iíll finally be purged. Or at least thatís how I HOPE it works.
Got Feefís check today. Threw it into my checking account. No decisions made.
Feeling blah and tired and defeated. Think Iíll go eat and relax. Seeya in the morning.

Subj: Re: Feef's Flowers
Date: 03/18/98
To: Bottle, Edmund

Yeah, whut Bottle said. (I put my check in the mail, Ed ... and, thanks for making it happen.)

Nice to know we 'Grillaz can show a little class when it really counts, huh?

Now off I go to steal the next door neighbor's newspaper.




Subj: *ATTENTION ALL 'GRILLAZ* (Especially Those Named George and/or Feef)
Date: 03/18/98
To: Bottle, Feef
CC: Edmund

Don't send e-mail to the SecraTerri scream name.

SecraTerri is snotty and pretentious and she'll never ever ever answer your e-mail. That's because she doesn't like you.

ACTUALLY ... that's because she is busy plowing through & deleting all of the Cyber Gackage that lands in her mailbox night & day. (And if you dare to send mail using an Internet address that isn't on a specially filtered Mail Control list ... AOL will slam it right back in your face.)

In uther words: SecraTerri has become my cyber spitoon. I lift the lid & dump it out only when the smell becomes unbearable.

Direct your "e's," instead, to the warm awaiting embrace of "SecraTerri" ... where a prompt ::snort::, courteous reply is guaranteed.

Thank you.


Once again, Feef comes to my rescue ... this time, sending me money to enroll in a college writing class.

Subj: Thank You. {Insert Sigh Here}
Date: 03/18/98
To: Feef

You know the drill.

I say thanks ... and feel guilty and embarrassed and obliged.

You tell me you're welcome ... and to QUIT feeling guilty and embarrassed and obliged.

I deposit the check ... still feeling guilty and embarrassed and obliged ... and go to school and re-learn my craft and write a best-selling novel and become rich and famous overnight and publicly thank Feef for making it all happen.


Or else I just go to school and re-learn my craft. And see whut happens.


More later. I'm late for work.


Wednesday 4:54 a.m. ß - ack!
March 18, 1998
Still "fuzzy" with sleep and dreams ... waiting for the coffee to brew so I can clear my head.
Tim and I had a nice, noneventful evening ... ate dinner (barbecued chicken, grilled vegetables, rice) and watched TV and talked, then drifted off to bed and sleep. Iím not sure if this really happened or if I dreamed it, but at some point in the night it seems he pulled me into his arms and we hugged in an extremely fierce, powerful way for a moment or two: I felt such an implosion of love for him, it took my breath away. And then we went back to sleep.
I complain about him a lot, not just in this journal but in e-mail to friends, and in my own head. This makes me feel sad and disloyal at times, because he is a good, sweet, wonderful man who has really gone the distance for me ... opening up his heart and his life to me, a virtual stranger when we got together last summer. And I love him, at least as much as I am able to love anyone. (Lately I have come to the conclusion - after looking at my life and my life patterns and my endless collection of failed relationships - that I really am not capable of genuine adult love. This just seems to be a fact Iíve got to accept.) There are just so many fundamental differences between Tim and I ... in the way we think, and feel about things, and deal with life and with problems ... our taste in practically everything, from food to music to home décor ... our life experiences ... it goes way beyond "heís from Mars, Iím from Venus" -- ití s more like heís from PLUTO and Iím from Mercury. And it creates a lot of conflict around here, and in my heart. In a lot of ways heís like the doc - tidy, organized, health-and-money conscious, wanting to change ME, obsessed with his own health and physical condition, extremely controlling under guise of "caring," not really willing (nor interested in) having his opinion changed about anything. In a lot of OTHER ways (mostly related to sex and politics) he is completely different from the doc. I find myself comparing the two of them even when I donít want to. I donít compare Tim to Ray much at all, interestingly enough. Ití s almost as though sixteen years of marriage to Ray were a non-event, compared to ten extremely volatile, eventful, time-compressed months with the doc. Anyway. I think what Ií m wanting to say here is that Tim and I are like night and day, and youíre going to hear me grumble about him a lot - this journal being one of my only "outlets" - but that I do consider myself committed to this relationship w/him, and I love him in my own way, and Iím going to try and make him happy - and to allow him to make me happy. I am absolutely willing to concede that a lot of the "crazymaking" in this particular relationship comes from ME ... not from him.
As far as Tim & AW are concerned ... I am just going to plug ahead with the Morning Pages and the e-mail group until he sees that Iím very serious about it. I still have to figure out a way to incorporate the Artistís Dates into my schedule, w/o him feeling "excluded." And God help us all if & when I ever start a writing class or seriously embark on a writing project: Iíll have to start getting up at 4 a.m. if I want enough time to myself.
This weekís group assignment is to write about three people who were "enemies of your creative self-worth" in the past. I already did this assignment on the computer, but the three I picked were:
    • Kimberly Houk ... my creative rival throughout most of my school years. She was so artistically gifted that I forever gave up drawing.
    • Miss Langlitz, my junior high school English teacher. Cool, beautiful, hip Miss Langlitz, who nurtured and flattered and championed me for my writing talent when she first "discovered" me, in seventh grade ... and then betrayed and abandoned me when I fell out of favor with the popular kids, a year or so so later. Being perceived as The Cool Teacher was more important to her than being seen as mentor to a depressed social outcast. Fuck her and her two-faced behavior.
    • Grandma V.. I HATE adding her to the list, because in so many ways she was my biggest fan and supporter - but the truth is that she always downplayed my artistic talent in favor of what she felt were my "greater gifts" - music and writing. I doní t remember her ever complimenting me on anything I ever drew or painted. Odd when you consider I inherited my artistic ability directly from her.
OK ... off I go.
Affirmation, affirmation ... ummm ... how about this compliment Edmund gave me once? He said, "You paint pictures with words."
(Blurt: But youíre not original ...)
(Counter-Blurt: But I CAN be ...)
P.S. At 6:36 p.m. I registered for the writing class today!!! I canít believe it!!! Details tomorrow a.m.

Subj: Re: Thank You. {Insert Sigh Here}
Date: 98-03-19 08:49:15 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri

In a message dated 3/18/98 8:54:47 AM, you wrote:

>>You know the drill.

I say thanks ... and feel guilty and embarassed and obliged.<<

But that's the whole POINT, you see. To MAKE you feel guilty and embarrassed and obliged.


Because I get OFF on shidt like that.


{insert BIGGER sigh HERE..........andquitbein'suchadohdohheadyoubigQUEER!}


Love you,


Thursday 5:05 a.m.
March 19, 1998
God, Ií m starting to love this Morning Pages stuff! I think about it all day long at work, wishing I werení t constrained to just three pages in the morning ... and ití s WONDERFUL to feel this way, after being blocked in the journal-writing department for so many years. I think that once Ií ve completed the 12 week program, Ií m going to cycle thru again -- a lot of people on the mailing list are on their third or fourth or tenth go-round -- but next time Ií ll either journal on the computer or else Ií ll use something more portable ... and Ií ll allow myself the privelege of extra writing time. But first I do have to "earn" I by getting all the way through this book.
Thoughts of the Doc have died down considerably in the past 24 hours ... the prospect of going back to school has pretty much blotted that out and taken over my thinking. Maybe I just need something new to feel passionate about -- writing? -- and Ií ll be able to exorcise him completely.
I still caní t really get over the fact that I went ahead and DID it. I registered for the class. I had pretty much resolved myself to the fact that Mr. Lesley was never going to call me back - RESIGNED myself, I mean (ití s early) - and that I was just too chicken shit to go through with it. I figured we could use Feefí s money for groceries or something. All I know is that suddenly - as I was sitting there at work, stuffing catalogs - I thought to myself, "I need to do the scary thing." I caní t even really explain it - ití s just that I knew, right then, that I would be happier with myself if I took the leap and did something that terrified me - in this case, calling Craig Lesleyí s office one more time. ("If they doní t answer, it wasní t meant to be.") His secretary answered the phone, and she said "Oh, Terri! Ií m so glad you called back ... Craig lost your phone number!" And the rest, as they say, is history.
Tim took me over to the school to register after work last night. The instant I stepped onto the campus - a far smaller, more intimate, more rustic campus than I'd expected - I felt simply awash with joy. Ií m still very frightened by this whole idea ... I still worry about my abilities, not to mention the $ ... but I truly feel like this is what Ií m supposed to do.
(SERIOUS carpal attack just now - I had to quit writing altogether for a few minutes while I waited for the blood flow to go back to normal. While I waited, I read my AW mail. Right now I doní t really feel much a part of the group ... responses to my contributions are few and brief. Feeling sort of rejected. Oh well. Guess Ií ll stick with it anyway.)
Tim was very calm and accepting of the idea of me taking this class. I sprang the news on him during lunch. If he was at all surprised, he didní t show it. If he was pleased or unhappy or jealous or proud or suspicious or encouraging, he didní t show that, either. I finally had to pry it out of him. "How do you feel about me taking this class?" He said, "I think you should take it." And that was the end of it. (Sigh.) I wish he could be more openly supportive, but thatí s just not the way he is, I guess.
Now Ií m getting sorta depressed. Ií m thinking about this plate I made at Kim Beyerí s plate party a few weeks ago. Ití s covered with little hearts and flowers, and in the middle it says "My heart belongs to you." Yeah, OK, ití s pretty dorky - there werení t a lot of decorative options at the party, and I was just goofing around - but now Ií ve got this plate ... and nobody to give it to. Tim doesní t want it. "I just doní t know what I would ever USE it for," he said. Ití s a little too romantic to send to the kids, or to my mom for her birthday next week. Edmund would have to hide it in his desk drawer at work or something. How ... sad, not having anyone to give my plate (or my heart) to.
Who does my heart belong to, these days?
Gonna get ready for work. Ií m starting to edit myself. Better to switch gears. More later.
5:56 p.m.
Better (moodwise). Tim is leaving tomorrow morning for a trip up to Westport, and he woní t be home until Saturday. A whole night ALONE! I am almost dizzy with delight over the prospect.
Friday 5:04 a.m.
March 20, 1998
Not quite as thrilled to be awake and writing in my pages as usual ... maybe because Ií m going to have a lot of time to myself tonight (and tomorrow), making this 5 a.m. stuff not quite as imperative ... but Ií m up. Ií m here. Ií ll feel better once I get some coffee in me and scribble a few words.
I called "home" last night, to talk to the kids. (I try not to refer to it as "home" when Ií m talking to Tim ... Ií m afraid it will hurt his feelings. But Seattle is where I was born and raised and lived for forty years ... and the house in TicTac still feels a little bit like HOME to me, in my head and heart.) Kacie sounded nearly wild w/desperation over the broken computer, which has me feeling horribly guilty again ... even though:
The computer breaking down is NOT my fault - ití s an old piece of shit that has outlasted its usefulness
Ií m already doing as much financially for the kids as is possible for me to be doing. Still, I know how Kacie feels, being cut off from her cyber friends. Ití s a very painful kind of withdrawal. I want to make her feel "all better" ... ESPECIALLY since tomorrow is her birthday ...
(I sent her a card and a check for $50 earlier this week - I taped a safety pin, a penny and a button to the card, so she could put them in her cake. She thought that was cool.)
So anyway ... Tim leaves for Westport in a few hours, after he drops me off at work, and he woní t be back until early tomorrow afternoon. The trips came up rather suddenly - he has to meet with his lawyer about the house he owns and the ongoing legal problems connected with it. Long story. The bottom line is that we will be spending only our second night apart in the seven months weí ve been together ... and I am deliriously happy over the prospect of a little time alone. Actually ... Ií m going to consider it my first Artists Date - an evening of listening to music and playing on the computer (Ií m not even gonna try and dress it up by saying Ií m going to "write" or "work on my webpage" or other more structured activities, because I KNOW Ií m just going to putter around. And thatí s OK. Ití s a rare enough occurrence these days that I can just kick back and surf ... and I plan to enjoy it 100%.
Ití ll seem weird sleeping in this apartment w/o Tim, of course. Our bed will seem very big and empty. I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and when I came back to the bed he was laying on top of the blankets, white underpants practically glowing in the dark, snoring gently ... and, as always, I felt a wave of tenderness and affection as I slid into bed next to him. That bed is where I feel the closest to him. Not just because thatí s where we have sex once a week, either ... <sigh> ... but because it symbolizes all the things I ran away to find: intimacy, quiet, love, romance, health, acceptance, peace, togetherness. It will be a little lonely here tonight. Ií ll miss him. I admit it.
But ... I get a night alone. Caní t help but be excited about that!!
More tonight.


Subj: Kacie P
Date: 98-03-20 20:43:45 EST

Just got home from dropping some flowers and a birthday card (with gift enclosed) at the house. Wonder of wonders, I caught all the kids at home for a few minutes.

Kacie was flying around getting ready for a church convention. I didn't realize she was still involved with the Assembly of God. What a strange little duck she is. And gorgeous--getting more so every day.

Jaymi was waiting for Jason and Kyle was resting from trampolining with the neighbor boy.

They all looked fat & sassy. KCP said she heard from you last night and expected to talk to you again tomorrow. They're all going snowboarding with Deb and Tim on Sunday. I've been elected to stay down here and attend Karen's party on Sunday afternoon.

Everything else is going fine. Frank will be here tomorrow, so I'll be occupied while the rest of the world is up early on Sunday and off to the mountains.

Love you. Mom


Saturday 6:26 a.m.
March 21, 1998 (Kacieí s 15th birthday)
I never wrote my third page last night, as you can see ... I got all wrapped up in an online conversation with Edmund, and in the sheer pleasure of having the apartment all to myself ... and the night thing I knew I was stumbling, bleary-eyed (from a loooooong day/six bottles of Lemon Lager) off to bed.
I was going to use the blank page to do my check-in today, but I think Ií ll leave it blank. It makes a more powerful "statement" that way, doní t you think? It tells me that
    1. I should do all three pages at one sitting, the way the author intended
    2. AND
    3. My days of drinking and cyber-partying are OVER. Ií m not exactly hungover, but I doní t feel as good as I COULD. And aside from my long, silly, wonderful conversation with Edmund, I accomplished virtually nothing last night. So Ií m glad I quit drinking and just toddled off to bed when I did.
God, the apartment is quiet right now. Except for the hum of Timí s computer, and the occasional bump or swish from the apartment next door, it is as silent as the tomb in here. I have absolutely no desire to fill that silence, either ... no TV, no music (yet), no hair dryer or phone conversation or blender or noise of ANY kind. I can hear myself think so CLEARLY when ití s quiet like this.
Whatí s on my mind today, you ask? Kacieí s birthday, for one thing. My mom wrote me an e-mail yesterday, saying sheí d stopped by the house to drop off Kacieí s birthday present, and she said:
"... Kacie was flying around getting ready for a church convention.
I didní t realize she was still involved with The Assembly of God. What a
Strange little duck she is. And gorgeous -- getting more so every day."
Thatí s my Kacie ... a gorgeous, strange little duck. The child with whom I have the most unresolved issues. The one is who turning out to be the most like me. Happy birthday, Kacie P. I love you more than you will ever know ... or believe.
Also on my mind today: trying not to think too much about the writing class starting this week, or else Ií ll work myself into a first class state of panic ... anticipating the arrival of my new desk from Sears -- it should be here in a couple of weeks -- I just caní t wait!! ... wondering what ití s going to be like, having Timí s son here for a whole week: is it gonna make me crazy?? or will Dwayne and I actually like each other? ...
... and of course Ií m thinking about Tim, and about our relationship, wondering where weí re going (if anywhere) and how weí ll get there (together or separately?) I doubt that weí ll ever get married. Heí s been married and divorced three times, and Ií m still sweating out my first divorce. Marriage is pretty much the LAST thing I want right now: as it is, I caní t wait for my own divorce to be final, so I can revel in the sensation of being not-married. (How odd thatí s going to be! Even though, as Ií ve written in previous journals and in e-mails to friends, that marriage ended in my head & heart years ago. This is merely a formality.) I guess that right now the best I can hope for, for Tim and I, is a gentle and loving coexistence, with him enjoying his life and work and interests and me enjoying mine, and with some middle ground between the two for us to share. I would like to see me work through some of my more painful internal "issues" - maybe through AW & the class - and be more open to love and intimacy. I would like to see him become a bit more flexible and open-minded about some things. And I would like us BOTH to be more open to change. He has changed a LOT of the things about my life (whether he knows it or not) -- everything from getting me to love wheatgrass juice, to paying more attention to politics -- but Ií m not always willing, at first, to accept the changes w/o an argument. I doní t want to stop being "me" - not ever - but I wouldní t mind becoming more gracious and thankful about some things. As for him ... I just wish he would KISS me more. And not those tiny, tight-lipped pecks, either, but real, hungry, right-down-to-the-SOUL, lingering, hands-on-face kisses that I miss so much ... sigh ...
The carpal tunnel is kicking in now. Ií m going to drink some coffee, eat some toast & eggs, and work on e-mail for a couple of hours. Tim will be home around 1:00 and then my Alone Time will be over: gotta squeeze as much out of it as possible, while I can.

Subj: Morning ..... Coffee's Ready
Date: 98-03-21 09:15:18 EST
From: SecraTerri
To: TimCM

Hi there.

It's 6 a.m. and I just woke up ... the coffee's gurgling out in the kitchen, and I'm getting ready to write my Morning Journal pages ... but I wanted to write to you first, in case you sign on before you head back home.

I had fun last night, mostly chatting with friends and *surfing* the 'Net. Didn't accomplish much, but it was relaxing & silly. Cooked my pizza, drank my lemon lager, listened to "tunes," took a bath and went to bed around 10.

Woke up once, around 2 a.m., and felt a HUGE, horrible pang of loneliness because you weren't laying there next to me. (I knew this was gonna happen!!) I grabbed your pillow -- the lumpy one made of concrete -- and smooshed it up next to me because it smells like you, and that helped me eventually fall back asleep.

Gonna write in my journal now and then write my weekly e-mail to my mother. I miss you. Come home to me ... soon. It feels like half of me is missing when you're not here.



Sunday 5:52 a.m.
March 22, 1998
Tim got home at 2:00 yesterday afternoon ... thus ending my magic "Alone Time." Sigh.
Of course, I was glad to see him, and we had a nice afternoon/evening together (watching rented movies/eating Chinese food/drinking gin martinis) ... but the minute he walked through the door, I immediately had to be conscious of things like how the apartment looked, what was on the computer screen, how loud my music was playing, how many empty beer bottles were in the kitchen ... etc. etc. He went around and subtly "undid" things -- moving his boombox back (Ií d scooched it closer to the desk on Friday night so I could hear it better), adjusting the blinds, putting his juicer back together. He looked at the kitchen floor and said (in what Ií m sure he believed was a jolly, just-teasing voice) "What? I go to all the trouble of mopping the floor ... and you SCUFF it?") And now, sitting here at his desk, I see that he has removed all of my computer disks and notebooks and stuff. Wiping out all traces of ME. (If you asked him about it, he would have a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything. He would be surprised you even asked. You would come off sounding petulant and paranoid. Believe me ... Ií ve been through it a thousand times in the last seven months. I doní t even "ask" anymore ... I just roll my eyes, and sigh, and wait for the next opportunity to do things MY way ... even if ití s only for one day.)
I dreamed -- as I often do these days -- that I went back to Ray and the kids. In the dreams, Ií m always going back under some sort of emotional duress: ití s never my idea. And after a while I start feeling resentful and bitter again, trapped with Ray, struggling to get free again. In last nightí s dream, I went to him and said, "This isní t working out. How about if I go back and live in my apartment during the week, and I come lquote homeí to you and the kids on weekends?" And he agreed to the idea -- grudgingly -- even though he and I both knew I was lying through my teeth and had absolutely no intention of coming back, once I shook myself loose from him again ...)
I never "connected" on the phone yesterday with Kacie, so I wasní t able to personally wish her a happy birthday ... had to deliver the message instead through Jaymi. Maybe Ií ll try her again today. Sheí s been on my mind a lot, these past couple of days -- not just because ití s her, but also because of an AOL problem I encountered (Someone using her screen name incurred a TOS violation for profanity) ... and even more because of my motherí s e-mail, and the "strange little duck" comment. That has stuck with me all weekend: it just seems soooo apropos. Kacie IS a strange little duck ... but in all kinds of marvelous, mysterious ways. I am in awe of her.
Plans for today -- #1 plan, anyway -- is to go back out to the mall and buy my own copy of The Artistí s Way manual. Ií ve been using the library copy the past two weeks, but I have to be very careful with it -- and, of course, I caní t scribble in it, or slosh coffee on it, or cram it into my purse. So Ií m going to plunk down the $15 and buy my own copy. This is especially good since I plan to continue cycling through the course over and over again ... as many times as it takes to "take." I imagine my book will be just as battered and war-torn, in a few months, as this poor old library copy is, right now ...
Ií m still amazed by all the synchronicity surrounding my "discovery" of The Artists Way. Waiting for my new glasses at the mall, that day, I just HAPPEN to go into a bookstore ... and there are Julia Cameroní s books, sitting right there on the shelf. Ií d never seen them or heard of them before ... but the minute I picked them up, I "knew." Couldní t afford to buy them that day, but couldní t get them out of my head. On a whim I checked the library computer to see if, by some miracle, they had the books. Voila! Not in stock, but in the sysem. I placed a HOLD and a couple of days later the books were ready for me to pick up. (It NEVER works that fast, usually. Never!) And more synchronicity: discovering the AW group, set to begin the very same week. It just all seems so perfectly planned.
I tried (again) to explain the program to Tim yesterday, as we waited to pick up our Chinese food. He caní t seem to quite get over the fact that Ií m writing the Morning Pages in longhand, for one thing. When I tried to explain about "primal connections" and "hetting my internal toxins on paper so I can lquote createí " -- his attention visibly wandered. He no doubt considers it a silly phase. I doní t care. I know better. I was intended to discover the AW at the precise time and place that I did. Everything is happening for a reason. I am working on fixing, saving, restoring, reclaiming. It will be an ongoing process for the rest of my life.
Monday 5:12 a.m.
March 23, 1999
"Anger Week," huh? OK. Letí s see what this next few days of MP turns into ... or whether ití s merely the power of suggestion.
I am utterly exhausted. Ií ve either got a cold or a wicked case of seasonal allergies, and I feel like shit. I took cold/sinus medicine a couple of times over the weekend, and ití s left me feeling residually thick and slow and sleepy. I could easily crawl back into bed and sleep the rest of the day away. (In my dream, just before I woke up, Ií d been AWOL from work for two days and was trying to come up with a sufficient excuse to save my job. "Ií ll tell lquote em I had an upper respiratory infection," I said to my Dream Partner, "and I was so sick that I just assumed that YOU had called in for me." And my DP mutely agreed to go along with this fiction, even though I wasní t sick at all.)
Tim and I drove back out to the mall again yesterday afternoon. "What are we going there for again?" he said, and I quietly reminded him that it was so I could buy my own copy of The Artists Way. ["Oh yeah," he said, and then he lapsed into silence.] I did buy my book -- $15 -- and then we wound up going to two more bookstores in the area, Barnes & Noble and Borders, looking for a book Tim wanted, "Spin Cycle." While he browsed in the political sections, I took my Inner Artist Child on a delightful "tour" of the Childrení s books at all three stores. Specifically, "we" looked at arts & crafts sets, activity books, and -- briefly -- some Dr. Seuss. I bought a kidí s art activity book that was on sale for two bucks: it will be a future Artistí s Date. Also got a card to send to my mom later this week ... although what I was REALLY hoping to find was some sort of blank greeting card set, so I could design my own. Maybe Ií ll still figure out a way to do this. I was also thinking of designing some bookmarks.
Academy Awards are on tonight. Tim isní t much interested, apparently, so Ií m going to try to get him to rig up the smaller TV here in the office bedroom so I can watch the Oscars and play online at the same time, as I have in years past. Or else Ií ll just watch the show in the bedroom. This year Ií ve actually SEEN a couple of the "BIG" movies that have been nominated -- "Titanic" and "As Good As It Gets" -- so thatí ll make it more fun. No predictions here, really, except that I would love to see Helen Hunt win. Or Kate Winslet.
Ambivalent about going to work today. Ií ll probably have to do a Post Office "run" with the bulk mailing ... and then spend the rest of the day/week preparing the NEXT one. The futility and never-endingness of it all isní t exactly thrilling me at the moment. I suppose I am fated to spend the rest of my life at a job that neither "thrills" nor inspires me ... which would probably be OK, if it at least paid well ... sigh ...
Tim has suddenly decided to try and go back to school and learn Network Technology. Heí s going to make some calls today and see if thereí s any way he can get the Dept. of Labor to foot the bill. (As always, he is completely pessimistic about his chances ... but at least heí s going to TRY.) I had some mixed feelings about the whole idea: at first I felt weirdly resentful, as though heí s trying to "best" me in the going-back-to-school department. ("I see your puny little lquote Advanced Fiction Writingí class, and raise you a two yr. vocational program.") But now I hope like hell that he gets it ... if for no other reason than because it will give him something to DO. Something to focus on. And that would mean greater freedom for me .. w/o feeling as though I am under his constant scrutiny.
Yesterday when we were getting ready to leave Borders Books, we saw a man and woman in the corner of the parking lot, kissing. She was sitting in the driverí s seat of her car, facing out the open car door, and he was standing right outside the car. They were kissing with extreme tenderness and passion -- pausing to look into each othersí eyes, every few seconds -- and he kept touching her face, and running his hands through her hair. It was exquisitely beautiful and painful to watch. I remember feeling that way ... and I miss it. Tim looked at them and said derisively, "Yep .. theyí re still groping." "Noooo," I protested. "Heí s got his hands in her HAIR." But I doubt that he caught any of the wistfulness in my voice. I havení t been able to get those two lovers out of my head.
Time to get ready for work. This is going to be a long week, I can tell right now. Ií m going to attempt to remain calm and focused and rested.


Idon'thavetimetowritea*real*e-mail ...
Date: 03/23/98
To: Feef

... butI'mthinkingaboutyou. Asusual.

Class starts in two days. Tension mounts.




Subj: Me neither......
Date: 98-03-23 11:17:40 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri


In a message dated 3/23/98 9:16:36 AM, you wrote:

>>Class starts in two days. Tension mounts.<<


Hey! It does? (That seems right I IS spring.......but it seems quick. I think my internal clock is in need of new batteries.......)

Break a LEG.........or perhaps "break a thumb" would be more appropos.


And fudk the tension before it fudks you!


You gotta share this class btw.........I'm in dire need of some fun!



-Feef (playing hooky so I can work on a freelance job)



Subj: Re: Me neither......
Date: 03/24/98
To: Feef

>> Hey! It does? (That seems right I IS spring.......but it seems quick. I think my internal clock is in need of new batteries.......) <<


The class is on Wednesday nights, 6:30-9:30 p.m., beginning tomorrow night & running until the beginning of June, I think.

My *mission* today (Tuesday) is to try and figure out where the HELL Room 221 is. (And if I need to bring anything with me. Like a notebook. Or samples of my "work." :::snort::: Or a bag to wear over my head.)

Tim is upset because I've been making a few decisions lately without discussing them with him first. Deciding to take this class is just one example. I didn't even get around to telling him about it until the day after I deposited your check and set up my registration appointment. I knew that if we "discussed" it first, he would have come up with all sorts of calm, rational reasons why it wasn't a good idea .... and I would have allowed him to talk me out of it. I don't want to live that way anymore. From now on, I've quit asking (ANYONE) whether I can do something ... and am saying instead that I AM doing it. (This is just one *wisdom nugget* I've acquired from the journal-writing program I'm doing. I'm on Week Three and it's been incredibly insightful, difficult, fun and painful, all at once.)

How are you doing this week?





Subj: Insights & opossums
Date: 98-03-25 05:00:12 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri


However do you manage it? You're so CUTE when you snort! But bag the bag, willya?


I LIKE the "I AM doing it" in place of the "can I do it?" I like that a lot, and personally subscribe to it on a regular basis.

Unlike you, however, I did not NEED a 3-week journal writing program to learn how to do that. *I* merely required the first 16 years as the daughter of an alcoholic mother plus the first 10 years and 2 months of being Mrs. Bozo Q. Sociopath. Then one day when I was feeling particularly trodden upon, I began to notice that other people did the "I AM" thing all the time! Whut's more, they got away with it! So I started holding dress rehearsals until I could pull it off. But you know whut? Sometimes even NOW I have to stop and REMEMBER to do it!


So tell me about this journal writing thingy. I get off on stuff like that.......the "Know Thyself" approach, so to speak. You've piqued my curiosity. Where'd you latch on to it? How does it work? How long is the total deal? Do you just keep writing or is there a specific time frame at the end of which you are supposed to notice results?

And do you acquire *nuggets* on a regular basis......or is it more of a random thing?



As to how I am this week........

Moving slowly and deliberately probably sums it up best. I was running pretty dammed hard for those six weeks that Pop was so sick......not to mention that I couldn't sleep when I did finally reach the end of a day.

I was really freaking, Sec.........couldn't spread myself thin enough to be with Pop and handle my job and do the mom thing and be with Beau, etc.. Everything was headed totally out of control and it didn't seem that I could do a damn thing about any of it! Things at work got LIGHT years behind (because I couldn't focus or make decisions when I WAS there -- all I could do was agonize over how sick & how miserable Pop about OBSESSION! Gawd!).

So after Pop's funeral I resolved that in order to get things BACK in control I needed to move slower.......not faster. Easier said than done for me, unfortunately. Whenever I feel like I have way more to do than one person can handle, I have this tendency to try to use up huge stores of adrenalin and rush to make it all happen. Like the hare. Seems logical.......doesn't work for me though. I can fly through life most of the time......until there's an overload. And then, for some reason that defies quantum physics, I get a lot more done when I go at stuff in a very s l o w a n d m e t h o d i c a l manner. Like the tortoise. It's that or lapse promptly into an extreme state of panic.

It's hard to rein myself in though. The list appears to be about a hundred seven miles long and I have this "hurry up" mindset.


PLUS......there is ANOTHER goddammed OPOSSUM in my cellar! (I can hear it lurching around down there right NOW!)

I'm thinking yoga maybe..........or perhaps transcendental meditation. For me, not the opossum. (Guerrilla therapy has also been known to work wonders.........long live the guerrilli!)



I'm going to bed now.......




Tuesday morning 5:04 a.m.
March 24, 1999
    • I dreamed that I was in the basement of a house, trying to do my laundry, when suddenly I noticed that were huge black RATS all over the place ... eating out of the catí s food dish, nestled into a chenille bedspread, "grazing" near the washer and dryer. I leapt into the air and tried to fly my way out of the room so I could avoid them, but I kept bouncing back down to the floor and landing on the rats ...
    • I "unsubscribed" from the AW mailing list last night. Two days away from the computer, and there were almost 300 e-mails in my mailbox last night after work: it was just too much. I figure Ií m going to have enough on my plate when the writing class starts tomorrow: I doní t need to feel guilty and obligated about not answering 200+ e-mails every day, regardless of how "supportive" they were. I sorta wish Ií d written to the group to say goodbye, but Ií m out now and Ií m going to stay out. And Ií ve gotta admit ití s a relief.
    • Work is a rather perilous place to be at the moment. Yesterday they unexpectedly layed off and/or transferred a handful of key people, including Kim in Purchasing. It came as a huge shock to EVERYBODY. And it sort of reinforces my growing suspicion that the company is in some sort of financial trouble, and that my own job (not to mention any chance of promotion and/or salary increase) are anything but secure. I love working there, but Ií m not counting on having much of a future there. Ití s a good thing I always have the Clackamas County job center to fall back on. They still have my application, my test scores were amazing, and they still occasionally call me about job openings. I know that if I have to, I can get a job through them with a minimum of fuss. So although it isní t exactly "fun," sitting at the knife factory wondering when/if the ax is going to fall in MY direction ... I know I can dodge it, if need be, and walk away with my head still attached ...
    • Tim is upset with me, I think, because Ií ve been making some decisions without him ... going back to school, for one, and placing an ad in a local computer magazine, for another (looking for a cheap computer for the kids). I got a call last night on the ad -- if I can scrape up $99, I might have a lquote puter for the kids to use! -- and I could tell that he was surprised and miffed that Ií d placed the ad w/o consulting him. If I HAD "consulted" him, though, he would have come up with some calm, rational reason why it wasní t a good idea ... and would have talked me out of it. Ií m not living that way anymore. From now on Ií m going to follow the idea (Chapter 3 of the AW) that you should "never ask whether you can do something; say, instead, that you ARE doing it. And then fasten your seatbelt." I know heí s just trying to bring us closer together and help us work together for a shared future ... but the truth is that right now Ií m just trying to figure out MY future. Ií m not really thinking in terms of "we." I love him, and most of the time Ií m happy to be with him ... but I doní t think about us in terms of lifelong commitment. (I wonder if he does?) And right now my #1 priority is to fix some of the things in me that are broken, and get on with my life ... and that means following the AW program, being diligent about writing my Morning Pages, taking my writing class, staying focused on my job (and staying alert for signs of trouble), taking care of my children (as best I can, long-distance), and otherwise acting in a pretty self-absorbed manner. Ií m sorry if this hurts him, or if it interferes with his plans or his tidy little idea of what our relationship should be ... but thatí s just the way it is.
Ií ve spent an entire lifetime being "self-absorbed" ... constantly monitoring my moods and my health and my happiness, putting my own needs first, doing whatever gave me pleasure at the moment ... so I feel sort of guilty and selfish here. All I can say is that this time I am deliberately choosing to focus on my own life, and Ií m trying to do it in a healthier way, for different reasons and (hopefully) with better results.
Oh well. Ií m just sounding like my usual self-indulgent self here, arení t I? Ií m not liking Terri very much at this moment. Me, me, me, me, me ... thatí s all ití s ever been about. Disgusted with myself.
Going to get ready for work and see if I can shake some of this mood off. Guess I need an affirmation. How about ...
"There is nothing lquote selfishí about wanting to develop my creative gifts?í
Iíll think about it today.


Subj: Re: Insights & opossums
Date: 03/25/98
To: Feef

>> So tell me about this journal writing thingy. <<


I'll tell you lots more about it in the next day or two -- when I'm not quite so strapped for time -- but in the meantime you can find info on it on the 'Net, using search criteria "The Artist's Way."

I discovered it by accident ... or at least I thought it was by accident ... lately I am coming to believe that nothing that ever ever happens to me is an accident. It's more about synchronicity. All I know, anyway, is that the program is changing my life.

Tonight is the first writing class. I'm not nervous yet -- I won't be, until the minute I walk into the building this evening -- but I do sorta wish I had some writing samples to take with me. Unfortunately, the only things I've written in the past 3+ years are e-mails, shopping lists, the occasional journal entry ... and the 'Grilla novel. Somehow I don't know if Courtney & Frank & gang are quite whut Craig Leslie would consider "Advanced Fiction Writing" ... or maybe they ARE ... we'll just have to wait and see.

Basically I come to this class empty-handed ... and empty-headed. I'm pretty sure that the words and ideas will come to me when I need 'em to. They usually do.

Gotta run. They really should invent the 26 hour day, I believe.


Wednesday 5:05 a.m.
March 25, 1999
Waiting for my coffee '85 waiting for my head to "open" '85 waiting for the fog to lift '85 waiting for the blood and ink to flow '85
Yesterday was not a great day. You can cut the tension around the office with a dull automatic knife. You walk into a room and there are little knots of people everywhere, whispering and glancing furtively at the doorway. No one really seems to have any idea whatí s going on, except that the company is in trouble. I hear whispers of impending company meetings, but as usual Ií m out of the loop and havení t been officially informed.
Ií m not going to sit around on my butt and do nothing. If theyí re getting ready to lay me off -- fine. Been there, done that. THIS TIME, I will be prepared, emotionally and vocationally. (If not exactly financially. Ií m dead-broke, and thereí s no way around that one. I doní t earn enough to "save" anything.) Ií m back in touch with Clackamas County Employee Services; preparing to submit a new application packet, and Ií m going to update my résumé this weekend. I woní t allow myself to be the Devasted Little Victim this time.
In the meantime, Ií m just going to try to stay busy and focused at work, and not let paranoia and resentment get to me. Never mind that theyí re piling a ton of new job responsibilities on the person sitting at the desk next to mine, while I sit there stuffing catalogs all day. It doesní t matter. It isní t whatí s important. Ití s only a job. Whatí s IMPORTANT is getting reconnected to my muse .... and seeing whether or not I have any sort of future with "words."
Tonight is my first class. I'm not nervous, yet. I won't get nervous until I'm walking into the building tonight. But I DO wish I had something to bring with me ... some "sample" of my work. But all I've really written in the past few years have been e-mails and the occasional journal entry. I come to the class empty-handed ... and empty-headed. I figure that the words (and the ideas) will come when I need them to.
[My hand is "tingling" a little more than usual, this a.m.]
It's really weird, by the way, signing onto AOL as "SecraT" and not finding hundreds and hundreds of AW e-mail messages waiting for me in my cyber mailbox ... in fact, I'm not getting much of ANYTHING in the way of e-mail these days. A letter from Feef this morning -- that was it. Considering that I used to be the absolute Queen of the Cyber Universe -- at least, in *my* own head -- this is quite a change. Funny thing is: it's a change that I instigated. I just couldn't keep up the frenetic pace of reading and answering tons of e-mail. Things feel so much simpler now. Feef, Edmund, the occasional "George" ... a tiny handful of other online friends, from whom I hear once a week or so ... my mom, and (when they have a computer again -- hopefully in a week or so, if I can get someone in the family to help me with $) -- the kids. All the important players in my life, and nothing extra. No stupid "cyber romances," no ridiculous online cat fights with people like Knowing 1 or Ragette. No trying to juggle four or five i.m. conversations every night. No dumb chat room obligations. My cyber life -- like the rest of my lif -- has been pared down, simplified, stripped to only what is essential. And I like it that way.
Alright ... time to begin another day. A very LONG day, at that: I won't be home from my class until 10:00. I am deliberately going to try and stay very calm and pleasant and IN CONTROL at the office. No more Dan O'Brien looking at me in alarm and saying, "Are you OK??" No more letting my worries and problems affect my phone voice. Calm. Calm, calm, calm, CALM, CALM, CALM. Serene, even. The calmest, most serene, most FOCUSED catalog-stuffer on the face of the planet ...
Wish me luck in class tonight. I'm gonna need it.

Thurs(ow ow ow)day 5:07 a.m.
March 26, 1999
I am an idiot. With a capital "ID."
My class doesn't start until NEXT week. Duhhh.
Tim and I had a huge, stupid fight about fifteen minutes before I thought I was due to leave for school. He pulled his sad-eyed "You don't love me" routine, out of the clear blue. It then spun off into two distressingly recurrent themes:
* You only love me because of the things I do for you
* If you really loved me, you wouldn't be so messy/so noisy/so careless/so this/so that/so the other thing ... and I wouldn't have to keep picking up after you/turning the volume down/gluing stuff back together/undoing everything you do
I was furious with him -- not only because I am sick to death of hearing this stuff, but also (especially) because he was pulling this crap at the worst possible moment ... right when I was trying to mentally gear up for class. (Never mind the fact that it turned out to be the wrong night. That's beside the point.) When he dropped me off at school, I was a wreck ... fighting back tears, mad and nervous as hell, feeling anything but confident and excited ... and I blamed Tim for all of that. How DARE he start a fight and get me all in knots, right before an event that was of such enormous importance to me??
Well, by the time I discovered that the Arts & Humanities building was locked (and I spoke to some guy who told me that the campus was closed because of Spring Break), I had calmed down considerably. In a way, of course, it was a relief ... I was in no shape emotionally to walk into a classroom filled with strangers. And now I have an extra week to throw together that sample of my writing. (I think I'll take "My Vitamin Collection" and tweak it a bit, making it sound less autobiographical and more fictionalized.) But this meant tha I was going to have to turn around and go home and face Tim again ... and the prospect of that filled me with dread. I was still angry with him, and I was embarrassed that I'd fallen apart the way I did, and I was angry with myself for allowing him to push my buttons again.

6:30 p.m.

SHIT. I fucked up. I got so riled up this morning, writing about Tim and our dumb argument, that I suddenly switched gears, put this journal off to one side, and wrote him an e-mail. By the time I was done it was time to start getting ready for work. Journal-writing time was over. I felt guilty about this all day ... breaking my perfect Morning Pages record and all. So now I'm trying to play catch-up ... sitting here in the living room, watching a "Grace Under Fire" re-run, sipping a beer, waiting for Tim to finish cooking dinner (BBQ'd Cornish game hens, mashed potatoes). But of course it's not the same thing as writing during that golden hour of quiet and solitude, first thing in the morning. Sigh.
At least a couple areas of my life have calmed down a little: my relationship with Tim, and work. Tim finally got the approval from the state for his knee surgery -- after MONTHS of struggle and red tape -- and even though this throws yet another monkey wrench into his job-search efforts, it seems to have put him into a hugely more optimistic mood. And today we had a Quarterly Employee Meeting at work, and although we are clearly cutting back (the job lay-offs ... a new lock on the office supply door ... a new vending machine for COFFEE), it doesn't appear that my job is in any jeapordy. Yet. I'm taking a few big mental cleansing breaths.
I mailed the doc a piece of paper with the music & lyrics to "Barges" on it. No signature, no return address. It was my final message to him.
David called me at work this afternoon. Edmund sent me a quick silly e-mail ... Ray also called me today ("I heard you bought the kids a computer?") ... lots of litle isolated incidences of communication and connection, reminding me that I'm not alone in the world ...


Subj: It's Official. I AM An Idoit.
Date: 03/25/98
To: Edmund, Feef

So I show up for my first writing class tonight, all nervous and lost and cute and hopeful and shidt ...


... and the building is locked.

The class doesn't start until NEXT week.


I'm applying for that lobotomy, first thing in the morning. (Either one of you care to FUND it?)



I'm going to BED.



Subj: Re: It's Official. I AM An Idoit.
Date: 98-03-25 23:44:56 EST
From: Feef
To: SecraTerri, Edmund

Well. See there??

I tried to TELL you I thought it seemed awful early for a class to start..........but did you listen?


No-ooo. You did not!



This is good though. Now you have a whole nuther WEEK to get all psyched............



and be all nervous and stuff. :::g:::







Edmund! Was that YOU? STOP that snickering at ONCE!





(It wasn't ME, Sec.......I SWEAR!)




:::g::: xo!



Subj: Horriblescopes
Date: 03/26/98
To: TimCM


PISCES (February 19-March 20):

Work will go very well today, with some opportunities included for advancing your career goals. The day's emphasis on romantic encounters also goes well, working for you in a special way. Your sensitivity helps you to perceive the real messages sent your way by a romantic partner, even if they seem awkward and uncertain. This should make you pretty happy, Pisces, unless you pay more attention to the words than to the intentions.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22- December 21):

Today is a better day for domestic bliss. You're in a good mood yourself. It's funny how that affects everyone else's behavior, isn't it? Well, the vibes are so good at home today that you're pretty safe with discussing an expenditure of family funds now. Oh, and you know that incoming accent on your love life? It kicks in today. You should be able to find a way to enjoy a little hot romance in your life tonight.

A personal note:

I'm sorry about last night.

Believe it or not, I really have been trying to make an effort to be a little neater & more organized around here, since it seems to be so important to you ... maybe the improvements are too subtle to be noticed? ... but *I* was sorta feeling proud of the changes I'd made. That's why it stung last night when you made it seem like I'm not improving fast enough, or well enough. It's like bringing home a report card with mostly A's and having someone only notice the single B- in Chemistry ...

I dunno, Tim. I guess I just figure I'm not going to be spending those thirty seconds before I die wishing I'd spent more time folding laundry. I'm going to be wishing I'd painted more rainbows. Or hugged my boyfriend more. Or written more bad country song lyrics.

I appreciate (and am willing to contribute to) a certain level of tidiness and cleanliness, but the fact is that I spent 25 years obsessing over housecleaning ... as recently as a couple of yrs. ago I literally used to lay awake at night, worrying about how clean my living room carpet was ... and I just don't care to be that way anymore. I'm not that same person anymore.

I'll try harder ... for you. I'll sort of "meet you in the middle" on this one. But it ain't gonna happen overnight. And occasionally you're gonna have to ask yourself: would you rather be living in a neat, tidy little apartment - alone - or sharing your space with someone who sheds ... but who loves you? That's a choice only you can make.

And of COURSE I love you "because of all the things you do for me." What's wrong with that? This is the first time in forty years that someone has EVER wanted to take care of me, the way you do ... not even in sixteen years of marriage ... and I've been finding it all very new & lovely & wonderful. I've considered it a real gift of love. But it's not the only reason I love you ... and for you to keep insisting that it is is demeaning and hurtful.

I'm dealing with some issues right now. I know you don't understand this Artist's Way stuff that I'm working on, and I find it difficult to explain to you (or to anyone, for that matter) what it's doing for me ... but please just know that it's important, it's HELPING me more than I ever thought possible, and the end result is going to be good for both of us. But right now it's forcing me to confront some old hurts (and a few not-so-old hurts) and work through them, in order to unblock the part of me that wants to create and learn, and it's leaving me feeling very raw and vulnerable at the moment. These first three or four weeks are critical. Once I get past some of the "crud," all sorts of good stuff is supposed to happen ... and I have committed myself to getting to that point.

In the meantime ... this also is one of the "reasons" why I love you: the fact that you're helping me to evolve into the person I always wanted to be. No one else has ever done that for me, either.

This is the first genuine, adult relationship I've ever been in. My marriage doesn't count. Neither does the Doc, the balding aluminum siding guy, or any of the other relationships from my past. This is the one that counts. It's all brand-new to me. I'm still trying to figure out how it works. Be patient with me. We'll get there.

Gotta go take my shower.




Friday 5:04 p.m.
March 27, 1998

This is definitely one of those mornings when the last thing in the world I feel like doing is climbing out of bed and writing ... yaaaawn ...
I had a dream about the Doctor. Something about being at camp together and discovering that he'd been fooling around with Laurie Quinette (my teen nemesis) behind my back. When I tearfully confronted him with it, he began to "explain" (in a sonorous, condescending voice) why I had been foolish to believe he loved only me. That was the gist of it, anyway.
I don't know why I gave in to the impulse to <--- (lie) mailed him those song lyrics ... but at least I can say it wasn't a last-minute impulse: I'd been thinking about doing it for months, ever since I stumbled across that copy of "The Oregon Handbook" in a grocery store last fall, and turned to the page that had that song printed on it. It just seemed so ... >karmic, discovering that the little song he sang to me in New Orleans (and which I've heard in my head, ever since) originated right here, in the place I "escaped" to ... Oregon. There was so much ironic symbolism to it ... and he was the only other person on the planet who would understand that. I suppose I want him to open the envelope and see the song and burst into tears of sorrow and regret and shame for the fucked way he treated me ... and then go hurl his porky ass off that bridge. In reality, I suppose he'll just throw it away and have his WIFE write me another nasty e-mail. But at the very least, I get another shot at having the last word. And I feel weirdly, blissfully relieved about having mailed it finally. It was cathartic, if nothing else.
Tim's mood has taken a definite upturn since finding out that his surgery has been approved. I don't know any of the particulars -- he's going to try and set a surgery date -- but I do know that this has him feeling better about life in general. I know he's been in a lot of pain lately. (Although I must say that his "pain" manifests itself interestingly: he can ride his bike up and down the hills of Oregon City, but the instant we're finished having sex, he's rolling off me and groaning in agony. Hmmmm.) He's also happy about his son Dwayne being here next week ... planning what we'll eat, what they'll do for fun, etc. Money worries are still ever present, of course, and now he's wondering how he can afford to go back to school since the state denied his request for vocational rehabilitation ... I mean, there's always plenty of stuff to worry about, around here ... but his emotional upswing, even if it's only temporary, lightens MY load considerably. It's just easier to be around him when he's not in Gloom & Doom Mode. It helps me remember the things that I want to love about him.
I'm hoping against hope that I can carve out some creative time this weekend. I would LOVE to polish up the Vitamin Collection piece, if I can scrape up the motivation. But I don't know. I have a feeling this may be one of those weekends when we're "joined at the hip." (Or is that just an excuse to get out of writing?) Guess I'll just have to be firm and resolved -- but kind -- and explain to Tim that this is part of my recovery process. That I need a little time alone once in a while ... and not always at 5 a.m.
Going to write some quick uninspired e-mail to friends, finish my cup of icky instant coffee, and crawl into the shower. It's Friday, but it doesn't feel like it -- yet. If my money shows up today, Tim and I will be picking up that old computer for my kids this evening: then we'll spend the next few days getting it "ready" for them. Maybe I'll tuck a few "surprises" into the hard drive for them ... some silly .wav files or a screensaver or something ...

Saturday morning 5:26 a.m.
March 28, 1998

Yep, that's right ... I'm even getting up early on the WEEKENDS now. In this instance, though, it's not only to write in my Morning Pages, it's also to snag a little computer time. Tim's computer is going to be unavailable for most of the weekend, so it's sort of "now or never" ... this will be my only chance to write a little private e-mail and cruise the Internet. I bought the kids that used computer after work last night, and we're going to spend the next couple of days configuring it and getting it ready for them. Since it didn't come with a monitor or a keyboard, we'll have to borrow Tim's; that's why his computer won't be "available" for anything else this weekend.
I dreamed that Benchmade completely remodeled the front lobby of the office, placing Jill's desk strategically in the center as you came through the front door ... and my desk was sorta shunted off to the side. Guess you don't have to be Freud to figure that one out, huh?
Too early to tell what sort of mood I'm in or what kind of weekend this will be ... I would LOVE to just read and write and watch TV and listen to music and have sex and do very, very little else ... don't know if that's the way it'll go down, though. (SHIT! Tim is up already!! I can hear him coughing and grinding coffee. It's only 5:55 a.m. Damn, damn and DAMN ...)
I don't have anything in particular on my mind and nothing I really want to write about. I guess I just sorta feel blah and uninspired by lif itself at the moment. Maybe this would be a good time to do some of the Exercises from Chapter 3, since I didn't get around to them earlier.
My favorite childhood toy was ... my dolls. Drawing materials. Books. Grandma's typewriter. Etch-A-Sketch. Roller skates. DOLLHOUSES!! PAPER DOLLS!! Coloring books (inside cover).
My favorite childhood game was ... spinning myself around and around until I was completely dizzy ... and then collapsing into a heap on the ground. Wheeee.
The best movie I ever saw as a kid was ... "The Pied Piper of Hamlin" with (I think?) Danny Kaye. I remember I was so moved by the music... the twinkly, haunting little tune that the Piper played. My first real experience of having movie music stir my soul.
I don't do it much but I enjoy ... swimming. I adored it as a kid. As an adult, I am too embarrassed by my weight and my breasts to do it in public anymore. [The Doc managed to coax me back into the water, a couple of times last year. He did have a way of making me feel secure ... damn him.]
If I could lighten up a little, I'd let myself ... go back into the old Boomer chat room again, just to play ... and to see if I'm as amusing and popular sober as I was cranked up on cheap chab.
If it weren't too late, I'd ... redo the autobio -- making it more concise, funnier, less ponderous and apologetic, more current (post '81).
My favorite musical instrument(s) ... right now are Celtic instruments, flutes and strings. And I will always love all of the instruments involved in making rock and roll.
The amount of $ I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is ... negligible. A magazine, here and there. An occasional rental movie or library fine. That's it.
If I weren't so stingy with my Artist, I would buy her ... a state-of-the-art computer with ALL the bells and whistles. Or else an Etch-a-Sketch.
Taking time out for myself is ... difficult because of my particular Crazymaker.:(
I am afraid that if I start dreaming ... I'm eventually going to have to start "doing" -- and inertia is soooo familiar and comfortable and safe.
I secretly enjoy reading ... my old journals and diaries. And other peoples' journals and diaries. The day-to-day human experience.
If I'd had a perfect childhood, I'd have grown up to be ... happily married, college degree, fun career, materially comfortable.
If it didn't sound so crazy, I'd write or make a ... 1.) Magazine for women in *cyber* 2.) Time-travel novel 3.) Published autobio, revealing EVERYTHING.
My parents think that artists are ... what *I* should be.
My God thinks that artists are ... same as above.
My most cheer-me-up musicis ... the tapes that my friends have made for me ... especially Edmund. Weird and wonderful mixes of rock, surf music, novelty stuff, pop.

Sunday Morning 7:07 a.m.
March 29,1998
I wonder where I was one year ago today ... ? Probably still existing in that hellish fog of misery and alcohol, after Dr. A blew me off. God. [Shudder.] I wouldn't want to go back to that period of my life for a bazillion dollars ... not even if it meant I had a chance to do things differently ...
Yes I would. I would go back. I'd no sooner scribbled the words above -- strident, defiant words -- then a little voice inside my heart said:
"... What about me?
Would you come back and save me?"

... and the answer, a "bazillion" times over, is yes, yes, YES, YES ... I would go back and save you, Sweetheart. The abortion would never happen. You would be in my arms this morning.
"My heart is low
My heart is so low
As only a woman's heart can know ... "
[Crying. Shit.]
Of ALL the terrible things I've done in my life -- whether by choice or necessity (and this was a mix of both) -- I regret that abortion the most. Dr. A may have turned out to be a coward and an "A" in the end .... but the truth I cannot escape is that that child was conceived in love. I should have found some way to go through with it, even without his support. This will haunt me, I'm afraid, until the day I die ... and beyond.
Sitting in the living room writing this, btw. I chose to sleep late and snuggle a little with Tim, this Sunday morning: with any luck, I'll have some time later to use the computer and write some e-mail. (He's in the back room right now, downloading .wav files.) I'm taping a CD I borrowed from the library, "Celtic Moods," drinking Starbucks coffee, rubbing a hand over my fuzzy legs, thinking about the computer we put together for the kids, thinking about what else I can do with my Sunday ... I'm reading a good book, "But You Know I Love You Anyway" by Sara Lewis (and thinking that *I* could have written this book), and I still have most of the Sunday paper to read ... it's lovely to have no real plans today, knowing that I can just putter around a little and relax.
Take a look at your habits. Many of them may interfere with your self-nurturing and cause shame. List three obvious rotten habits. Hmmmm. This is a tough one. In the last year I gave up three of my worst "rotten habits" -- drinking to excess, drugs and smoking -- so I feel fairly virtuous in this area right now. Of course, there's my poor eating habits (even though I've been better about THAT lately, too) ... I add a little too much margarine and salt to everything. Does that count? Sheesh. I honestly can't come up with three genuinely "obvious rotten faults habits" <--- [interesting slip, huh?]. Watching stupid TV shows instead of writing? Not getting enough exercise? I don't know. I get plenty of slep these days, for the first time in years and years. I'm taking care of my skin. I'm committed to my creative recovery, including these Morning Pages. I just don't have a lot of obvious bad HABITS right now.>
Some rotten habits are more subtle. List three of your subtle foes. What use do these forms of sabotage have? Be specific. OK ... now we're moving into a different area altogether. "Subtle foes?" I got a million of 'em, including:
    • Inability to accept criticism graciously
    • Regret
    • Laziness
    • Impatience; wanting what I want, RIGHT NOW
    • Self-absorption, to the point of putting my own needs and comfort ahead of everyone else's
    • Procrastination
It's a weird mix of people living inside my head these days ... the "me" that feels fresh and new and filled with possibilities, vs. the "me" who is convinced it's too late for anything else wonderful to happen ... the "me" who knows I'm good at what I do, vs. the "me" who expects to be laughed at if she tries her hand at something ... the "me" who wants a mature, synergistic love relationship with Tim, vs. the "me" who perceives our differences as fatal flaws ... the Heroine "me" vs. the Victim "me" ... the "me" standing on an ocean beach in Westport, weeping over the beauty and magnificence and infinite possibility of life, vs. the "me" standing on that bridge in Pennsylvania, weeping because the universe had closed the door ...
The next Artist Way week -- "recovering a sense of integrity" -- scares me shitless. "I am SUCH a bad, unredeemable person," says my little Inner Demon. "Integrity?" What a joke. People like me don't know the meaning of the word. I can tell that the next few days of "recovery" are going to be a real minefield. Stay tuned.

Week Four: Recovering a Sense of Integrity
Monday 5:07 a.m.
March 30, 1998
I do NOT want to be sitting here, writing in this notebook. I had a terrible night's sleep and I'm exhausted ... but even more than that, I'm feeling very uncomfortable with some aspects of the Artist's Way right now. This whole "integrity" issue, for one thing: the very word strikes fear into my larcenous heart. How can a woman who shattered her family because she was "lonely" know anything about integrity?
I feel very ... unworthy of blessings and healing. And this is making me resent the Artist's Way right now, wishing I'd never started the program in the first place, because it's offering me things I cannot have ... absolution ... success ... peace ... joy ...
And then there's this STUPID "reading deprivation" nonsense. Not read for a week?! Reading is one of the newly-rediscovered pleasures of my life, these days. I am ten pages away from th conclusion of a fine novel. I got two brand-new magazines in the mail, just yesterday. I'm supposed to just set everything off to one side and not read it? I don't know if I can do that. Or, at least, I'm going to have to modify the program slightly: newspapers, OK I'll (grudgingly) forego the magazines, and no TV. I won't even watch the news in the morning when I'm putting on my makeup ... if Tim comes in the room and turns it on, I'll try to be very subtle and leave. (No WAY do I want to tell him I'm undergoing a week of "media deprivation" ... he ALREADY thinks this whole AW stuff is Looney Tunes.) But I'm going to finish my library book, dammit. And I might even start another one, when this one is done. I'll just try to make sure that it's a book that feeds my recovery in some way.
Of course, now I feel like I'm fucking up, AW-wise. Can't play 100% by the rules, can you, Terri? Always gotta switch things around a little to fit your particular comfort zone. First you cut yourself off from the mali malling JESUS - mailing group ... and then you find ways to avoid your Artists Dates ... and now you're balking at the reading deprivation period. A little voice inside of me says, "That's it -- you've ruined it. The program won't work for you now because you won't follow the rules." And I just feel like chucking the whole damn thing ... the same way I chucked college, jobs, friendships, projects ... and my family.
Never finishing what I start. Never sticking it out when things get uncomfortable. Always looking for an "easier" way to do things.
That's me. Miss Integrity 1998.
"But it's only a dumb journal-writing program ... a book you bought at Waldenbooks!" the little voice wails. "Who the fuck CARES if you bend the rules a little? Or if you just quit altogether?? You're making a huge deal out of NOTHING!!"
But the other little voice -- the Artist Child in me, I guess -- is saying, "What about me? Would you come back to save me?"
And suddenly I remember why I'm doing all of this in the first place. It's the same reason I had to leave TicTac last year: to save my life.
To save myself. Before it's too late.
To "recover" the abandoned little kid in me who figures everyone has given up on her.
To give her back her power ... and her voice.
In the past few months I have worked very hard at giving her back her health. The divorce and the job are means of giving her back her freedom. All that's left now is to give her back her voice ... and some new songs to sing.
So I'll keep plugging away at this "stupid" program, which in reality is not so "stupid" after all. I'll cut way back on reading for a week. I'll see what I can do to cut back on TV. I'll keep writing in my Morning Pages, even on mornings (like this) when I feel bone-weary and despondent. I'll figure out some way to have an Artist's Date this week ... maybe before my class on Wednesday. (I could go half an hour early and walk around the campus or something.)
I'll hang in for a while longer.



Subj: Fine.
Date: 03/26/98
To: Edmund

In a fit of *pique* last night, I cut myself loose from both of the string mail lists that have been clogging my cyber arteries the past couple of months ... and I went into Mail Controls and blocked just about everybody else in the world, with the exception of

* you
* Feef
* George
* Mizzle
* my MOM
* the TOTS
* one or two OTHER people
* that's about it.

So now my malebox is empty, empty, empty.

And it SUCKS.

(Shnoopy: "Make up your MIND whydontchoo?")

WRITE TO ME! Tell me what's going on in your life these days. Tell me what you had for dinner last night. Tell me about the *busty* new receptionist. I don't care. Just write something. Anything. I'm feeling all adrift & stuff here.



Subj: 5:39 a.m. Oregano ... Birds Chirping
Date: 03/27/98
To: Edmund

Morning, Shnoop.

I get up at 5 a.m. every morning now, so I can have an hour to write in my journal and check my e-male (whut there is of it, anymore). I have to write three journal pages every morning ... in longhand. It's excroooooooociatingly slow & painful, but The Program says this creates a more "primal connection" than typing ... (think we might wanta ask Banal Boy & Pool Party girl about THAT, huh?!)

It's one hour of quiet, solitude, birds chirping, bad coffee and pleasantly buzzing brain activity, and lately it's become my very most favorite time of the whole day.

It's also one of the times of day I think about *you* the most.

I'm still looking forward to a time when I can be online as much as I want to (AND have access to a 'puter whenever I need one). I just don't know when that's gonna be. By the time I get home from work in the evening, I am dead on my adorable ass .... "he" requires the pleasure of my company .... I have stuff to do to get ready for work the next day .... blah blah blah blah blah. I eat dinner and watch TV for a minute and a half and fall asleep and that's IT for the evening. And then there's the matter of not having a computer. I had a little bit of $ stashed away, sorta secretly saving up for one, but then the Tot's piece-of-shit computer crashed and burned last week so I'm using the cash to buy them an old 486 I found in the newspaper. We'll be driving up to TicTac weekend after next to install it for them. (Right now I am REVERED in TicTac.) So for the time being, I'm stuck sharing The Royal Computer ... whenever it's available. Which sucks, but that's just the way it is ...

Otherwise ... things are OK.

* "He" is going to be having his knee surgery sometime in the next week or two, followed by six weeks of "recovery." (Just shoot me now, please.)

* Since I suddenly have a whole 'nuther WEEK until my STOOPID writing class starts ... (grrrrr) .... I think I'm going to try and tweak "My Vitamin Collection" a little bit, so I at least have SOMETHING to bring to the first class. Will you help me?

* They're laying people off at work, and I'm sorta getting the impression that my job might not be my job for much longer. So I'm already putting some spit & polish on the resume & renewing my application with the county for a government job. This is not necessarily a bad thing: I'm getting sick to death of catalogs, catalogs, catalogs. *I* am better than that. Plus *I* should be making a LOT more than nine measly bucks an hour.

* Whut else? Oh yeah ... did you say you're going to send me the Johnny Cash thingy? My new desk is supposed to arrive from Sears any day now, and I need all-new icons & souvenirs for "The Shrine: 1998." (I may not have my own 'puter ... but at least I'll have my own little "space" to sit and write and color and listen to toons again. VERY happy about this.) Mr. Cash will be given a place of honor, believe me.

* That's about it. It's 6 a.m. now and I've gotta hop in the shower & get my day going.

I think about you a lot during my morning quiet time. The only other time I think about you as much ...




... are the other 23 hours of the day.





Subj: 7:30 PM Shell Pile ....Spring Peepers Peeping
Date: 98-03-27 19:35:18 EST
From: Edmund
To: SecraTerri

>> Since I suddenly have a whole 'nuther WEEK until my STOOPID writing class starts ... (grrrrr) .... I think I'm going to try and tweak "My Vitamin Collection" a little bit, so I at least have SOMETHING to bring to the first class. Will you help me?<<

That was a great one. You don't need my help silly one. But if you want, I'll help you. But honestly, I never EVER saw anything that I could even REMOTELY criticize about your writing. It is positively amazing.... seriously. And BESIDES...I haven't written anything in longhand in 20 YEARS at least!




* They're laying people off at work, and I'm sorta getting the impression that my job might not be my job for much longer. So I'm already putting some spit & polish on the resume & renewing my application with the county for a government job. This is not necessarily a bad thing: I'm getting sick to death of catalogs, catalogs, catalogs. *I* am better than that. Plus *I* should be making a LOT more than nine measly bucks an hour.


That sucks about the job, but you're DARN RIGHT. I see you as getting a better job AND THEN supplementing your income with you GODDAM GREAT WRITING.


* Whut else? Oh yeah ... did you say you're going to send me the Johnny Cash thingy?

OLO! You got it!

>>>My new desk is supposed to arrive from Sears any day now, and I need all-new icons & souvenirs for "The Shrine: 1998." (I may not have my own 'puter ... but at least I'll have my own little "space" to sit and write and color and listen to toons again. VERY happy about this.) Mr. Cash will be given a place of honor, believe me. <<<<


Isn't the Cash thing funny as hell? I suppose I'll send you some more *icons* for your new area.....let us not forget that your Penguin Underwear cartoon is still happily perched right in front of MY DESK at home.....and the goldfish bowl is at work.


>>>I think about you a lot during my morning quiet time. The only other time I think about you as much ...


... are the other 23 hours of the day.<<<<


Sheesh Terri! You tryin' to make me SOB or something? It's just the right atmosphere for it too! I'm sitting up here in my room, with the window behind me wide open (it is HOT here today) and playing the new Dylan album....which is almost EXCLUSIVELY about how love sucks......."I try to get closer but I'm still a million miles from you......"




OK SO I'M NOT CRYING but I AM feelin' kind meloncampy......


(ya like that one?)



ANYWAY, I miss you, but you know I'm always around the perimeter somewhere in the night..............whatever the fuck THAT means.






Subj: Belated Cyber Birthday Wishes ... and The Inherent Scarcity of *Me*
Date: 03/28/98

Hi Mom.

Hope you got my voice mail message yesterday, wishing you a H.B. I wanted to call you from work, but it proved to be one of *those* days ... the only time I had completely ALONE was when I was sitting in the ladies room, and they don't have a phone in there ... yet ...

Anyway. Happy Birthday (again). Hope you had a wonderful day.

I won't be around much, cyberly, for the rest of the weekend, so I figured I'd better write to you now. Tim and I picked up the new computer for the kids last night, and we're going to spend the next few days configuring it ... and since it didn't come with a keyboard or a monitor, we'll have to use his ... this means I'll be cut off from cyberland for awhile.

I called Kacie P. last night and told her that I was looking at "her" new computer. I swear that even if I'd hung up the telephone, right then & there, I would still be able to hear her squealing, all the way from TicTac.

It's nothing fancy - an old 486 with not a whole bunch of RAM or memory or anything - but it'll put them on the Internet for the first time, AND it's got a CD ROM drive which will also be a *first* for them.

We'll be driving up on Sunday, April 5th to install it for them. (Driving up & coming home the same day.) We'll have Tim's son with us, so my hope is that Kyle and Dwayne can amuse themselves playing video games or something while Tim and I set up the computer and visit with the girls. Ray is OK with this, and I assume he'll elect to be somewhere else that afternoon. Will you be able to swing by? It would be a great opportunity to finally meet Tim, at least. And it's been almost eight months since I've hugged my mother ...

Everything else is going OK. Tim's surgery has finally been approved, and he's trying to schedule a surgery date ASAP. He's also trying to go back to school and take some computer networking classes -- looking for financial aid to help make that happen -- plus he's STILL looking for work.

I start my Advanced Fiction Writing class, over at Clackamas College, this coming Wednesday night. I'm thrilled and terrified.

Gotta run. Thinking of you, as always. Say hi to Deb and Tim for me. I'll try and give you a call sometime this week.

Love you!




Subj: Re: Belated Cyber Birthday Wishes ... and The Inherent Scarcity of *Me*
Date: 98-03-28 10:24:16 EST
To: (SecraTerri)

Quick response--hope you get it before you can't.

Got your telephone message--sorry I missed it, I was having dinner with Tim and Deb. Glad you found a computer. I was planning to e-mail you in the morning and let you know Bobbi was looking for one--but that might have gotten a little more complicated, since it would have been up here. Harder for you you to configure, etc.

Speaking of which--I will be traveling in the opposite direction on the 5th. I have to drive down to Vancouver for a meeting on Monday, the 6th. Unfortunately, I won't have time to drive across the river for a visit because I'll have to drive back home after the meeting and won't get here till late as it is. Here's a cyber hug - xxxxxxxxxxxxxx!!

My birthday was full of pleasant moments--got lots of cards and nice little "gifties" from the folks at work. The kids took me to dinner and gave me a pair of earrings. Frank stopped by and left a love note on the table and will be here later today. He frequently brings flowers so I'm thinking he'll probably do that today.

It's COLD up here this morning! I no sooner took the heavy quilt off the bed than I needed it again. I start class on Tuesday. I'm taking microcomputer applications (5 credits) and another 5 credits worth of cooperative ed. studies which I will earn on my regular job, doing a couple of special projects. Fortunately, they are special projects which had already been assigned to me so I get to kill two birds with one stone.

Anyway, I'll be thinking of you on Wednesday. You have nothing to be nervous about, you'll knock 'em dead with you writing ability!!!

Tell Tim hello. I love you.



Subj: Re: Where are you, Fellow Oregonians?
Date: 03/28/98


>> My Fellow Oregonian members of the Introverts Club, Are you still with

the list? I haven't seen you lately. <<

Hi Dean & Annie.

I feel horrible admitting this ... but I bailed out of the AW group a few days back.

Even worse: I "bailed" without saying anything to anyone. Sorta exited out the back door, as it were. It was an impulse decision: I came home Monday night, from a hugely stressful day at work -- after not having checked my e-mail for a couple of days -- and there were over FOUR HUNDRED messages from the AW group. (This on top of the "regular" e-mail I get from my kids, my mom, my cyber friends, a couple of newsgroups AND another group e-mail list I'm on.) It was just ... too much. I fired off a quick sneaky "unsubscribe" message to and have revelled in the peace & quiet ever since.

* * * Disclaimer Time * * * * * * Disclaimer Time * * *

The people in the AW group, obviously, are wonderful, sincere, supportive, etc. etc. etc. ...

... I just don't have enough room on my plate right now for quite that MUCH wonderfulness, sincerity, support, etc. etc. etc.

I was actually LAYING AWAKE at night, feeling GUILTY about not having written to the group! That was when I knew that it was hurting more than it was helping my recovery.

I'm plugging away at the morning pages, though ... haven't missed a day in three weeks, in spite of some interesting almost-obstacles ... I sneak in an Artist's Date whenever I can ... and I start my Advanced Fiction Writing Class this coming week.

So I'm still working the program. I've just completed Week Three, which I believe was supposed to be "Anger Week," right? A lot of old hurts (and a few not-so-old hurts) coming to the surface and manifesting themselves in unusual ways. (A screaming match with my Significant Druther the other day, over -- of all things -- me leaving my tea bags in the kitchen sink ... an outbreak of ACNE, at age forty, which I find both appalling and amusing ... weird twisted dreams about broken staircases and overflowing toilets ... sheesh.)

Anyway, I'm still here.

>> And I was going to propose meeting -

my idea was Silver Falls park, the waterfalls should be fantastic now, and

it isn't very far for anyone. Am I striking terror into the hearts of shy

introverts? <<<

I'm not really as much of an *introvert* as I made it seem ... only in certain situations. I've met quite a number of cyber friends, over the years -- only once with bad results -- in fact, my S.O. and I actually met each other last year on AOL. So the concept of meeting face-to-face ain't as intimidating to me as it might to others. Let's definitely give it some thought.

Silver Falls is a GREAT place, btw. Last fall I stood on the walkway under the (third? fourth?) waterfall for an hour, simply absorbing the sound and fury and magnificence of it. I came away from it feeling fed and energized.

Write to me anytime, either/both of you. I think I can handle the more personal, one-on-one (or three-on-three) sort of e-mail exchange. It was just the Big Group Hug Stuff that began to squeeze all the juice outta me.

Take care!



Subj: Re: Texas Rangers -- they're no Earl Peterson, Michigan's Singing Cowboy
Date: 98-03-28 18:08:47 EST
From: Michael in Chicago
To: SecraTerri

T - first a reply....then I'll go looking for you now and later; I'm touched to be included in the snmall list of inavders who can still reach you.....your writing is as sharp as ever and as direct as ever and as sweet -- I have told you before that that's part of your charm -- saying things clearly, often with humor and always with purpose and truth.

Your e-mails are longer -- you know that? Not that I count the words but you are using more of them....and using them crisply and well....Say, the college writing cours sounds like fun and sounds as if you want some "training" help.....I'm a believer in school, adult ed., correspondence, papers, magazines, journals, newspapers, words and information and great conversations and notes -- they help me write to others. to speak about things the way I hope to speak about them and, most of all, re-training and new course are all about the future and possibilities and help me to keep both brain and eyes and ears open...later I'll start the t-search -- on the one hand I'd like to pass along some Garrison for your reflection but more importantly I'd like to catch up with you in all the splendor of the electronic present which AOL gives us...

See ya



Subj: hey
Date: 98-03-29 18:58:17 EST
From: Daughter #2
To: SecraTerri

do you think you can come up for april11 ,cuz its my instilation for rainbow , im going in as worthy advisor , its like THE biggest day of my life. I can understnad if you cant:)




Subj: Re: hey
Date: 03/29/98
To: Daughter #2



>> do you think you can come up for april11 ,cuz its my instilation for rainbow , im going in as worthy advisor , its like THE biggest day of my life. I can understnad if you cant:) <<


Ummm ... I'll certainly try. I know it's important to you. But I honestly can't promise anything at this point: we're going to be really low on "funds" here for awhile, plus Tim is having his knee surgery, plus we're already coming up to TicTac to bring you your new computer, the weekend before that. It might be kind of tough to get up there two weekends in a row.

I would LOVE to be there ... I hope you know that. We'll talk about it some more when I see you next weekend.

How (and where) did you manage to go online, anyway? Your friend Angela's house?





Subj: Re: hey there!!!
Date: 03/29/98
To: Mizzle

>> Lest you think I have forgotten about you... NOPE, NO WAY!! 8-) <<

Extreme *mutualness* here, Mizzle. I think of you every time I go online ... even (especially) when it's impossible to chat.

Thank you for the little update: it was the best e-mail I've gotten all weekend. I always love hearing what you're up to ... your garden, the weather, your job (even the bad stuff) ... it makes me feel re-connected to you ...

And thanks also for the update on your shoulder. Did I tell you that Tim is having arthroscopic surgery on his knees? He just got approval from the Dept. of Labor, so it should be happening sometime in the next week or so. I read him that part of your e-mail and he commiserated with all the stuff you're going through.

I only have a couple of minutes. He's barbecuing chicken and veggies on the patio, and it's almost time to eat ... just wanted to acknowledge your e-mail and let you know how MUCH I appreciate you checking in on me from time to time.

Basically things are OK. The job is sorta stressful at the moment -- business is down & the company is laying people off -- I'm waiting to see if my job is in jeopardy. Tim is still unemployed, but now he's got the surgery coming up so it's just as well, I 'spose. He's thinking about going back to school & learning how to be a network administrator ... maybe finding a part-time job while he's going to classes ... I dunno ... it's all up in the air still, and changes from moment to moment.

Speaking of classes, I signed up for that Advanced Fiction Writing class at the college. First class is this coming Wednesday night. Scared shitless, frankly.

The kids seem to be doing OK. The piece of shit computer finally bit the big one, a couple of weeks ago ... they haven't been able to go online or get the printer to work or anything else ... so I took my last $ on earth this weekend and bought them a used 486 I found in a newspaper ad. Tim spent some time yesterday configuring it, putting in a new modem & a new floppy drive, and next weekend we'll drive up to TicTac and put it in for them. I HOPE they APPRECIATE all of this ... but they won't. They're kids. :0)

The divorce papers are "in" and all there is left to do now is wait for everything to be final. Ironically, Ray and I are getting along better right now (albeit via long-distance) than we ever did in sixteen years of marriage.

Shit ... I've gotta run. He's worked hard on this dinner, and I've gotta look appreciative. (Altho truth is that I think I'm coming down with the flu & the very last thing in the world I feel like doing is eating a big dinner ... blecchh ...)

Write me anytime. I will always make it a point to answer right away ... even if it's just a few hastily-typed words.

I love you. Say hi to Mr. B for me. Take care of you.



Subj: Re: hey there!!!
Date: 98-03-29 21:53:23 EST
From: Mizzle
To: SecraTerri

In a message dated 98-03-29 21:20:43 EST, you write:

>> Speaking of classes, I signed up for that Advanced Fiction Writing class at the college. First class is this coming Wednesday night. Scared shitless, frankly.


I am REALLY thrilled that you are doing this. I want you, want you, want you, want you, to do something with your writing. You are such a natural talent. I don't blame you for being scared about it, but you will get through it, and I hope you will get something out of it. It always is scary to stretch and do the new stuff, but you can't stop growing and challenging yourself. Believe in your ability.

Speaking of which, I am expecting to be totally screwed on a raise this time out (this is raise time), because Michael has been such a drek-head (drek is Yiddish for shit) and the technology part of the business is not doing well. (Thank goodness the other group that reports to me, pharmaceuticals, is doing great.) I'll know soon. The precursor is that Ken, the man whose name is on the door, is awarding me only 12 of my 15 profit shares. (Everybody who's in the plan gets a range of shares, and it's totally his discretion as to how much you get.) The reality is that it's NOT that big a deal from a monetary point of view, but this was symbolism. I have NEVER gotten less than 100% in the plan.

I did though, meet with Ken on a follow-up from the review, and was able to tell him what I would want to do (job-duty wise) in the firm, and it was an excellent meeting. Stuff, basically, that would be more interesting to me, such as more involvement in the strategic planning for the firm and the whole business side of it. If I got the chance to do that, I would be giving myself a chance to learn more things -- and I am kind of bored among other things -- and give myself skills that would truly enable me to take the kind of job that I flirted with a few months ago. He was happy with what I had to say -- though sometimes the man scares me, because even though I keep the private side of me very private, he has worked with me long enough to know what my demons are, even though he doesn't know WHY they are my demons. He KNOWS that the one skill that has been the hardest for me to "get" is confrontational ability. He also said one other thing that, I swear, he does not know how close he came to my own basic insecurities (yes I have many...). He said to me, when again for the umpteenth time telling me I am one of the brightest people he has ever worked with, and that he has seen me overcome things that he would never have dreamed I would -- that I should start to believe in my own abilities. Scary, huh? Someday, kiddo, when we meet again, to be the subject of at least a bottle of wine...8-)

Anyway, it's quiet around AOL tonight, so it's good to just sit around and write. I will probably head off and go to sleep early tonight. Did I mention I ran 3.75 miles yesterday? And 3.5 miles today. So I'm a bit on the pooped side. I MUST figure out a way to get a third running session in during the week. It just hasn't worked. I can't get up any earlier than I do (6 ish a.m., more or less, and I can't move in the morning anyway), and I usually get home too late to run and then eat dinner and then go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Actually, last year, I did figure out how to do that. Oh, well.

I'm gonna go. I know you're gonna be surprised to get another long letter from me so quickly on the heels of the other. You have a good week!!!! OH. And I would recommend you start to get your antennaes out for another job, because the situation you described doesn't sound real secure. If you DO stay on, you won't have lost anything, and if it does fall through, you won't have lost much time. Why not come to New York? The job market here is outrageously good for job-seekers, almost in every sector.

Take care.

Bye for now, and love,


Tuesday morning 5:04 a.m.
March 31, 1998
"Media Deprivation Week" struggles on. I seem to be spending a great deal of time, thought and energy trying to figure out ways around it. I'll sit here on the sofa next to Tim while he watches TV, but I won't put my glasses on so I can't actually see the screen ... or, "I'll just finish the last ten pages of this library book, but I won't read ANY newspapers or magazines." And I alternate between thinking "What a stupid idea!! What a stupid program!!" and "This is probably the smartest thing I've ever done for myself" ...
It's clear to me that I'm not going to be able to avoid all forms of media this week. My job and my lifestyle with Tim simply make that impossible. But I WILL steer clear of as much "junk" as possible, and I'll try to remain conscious at all times of how much of this crud I'm allowing to interfere with my recovery. I know it isn't following the rules 100% ... but I've decided I'm not going to beat myself up over it. There can't be anything "wrong" with tailoring the program a little to fit my lifestyle better, can there?
I don't know if I'm imagining it or not, but once again things around the office seem very tense. Jill continues to be given new job duties every day, while I sit there and stuff catalog after catalog. And some of the people there just seem a little "funny" around me ... DeeAnna, head of Customer Service, for one, and a few of the other management types. It's almost as though they can't quite look me in the eye ... like they know something I don't ... specifically, that my job may be in peril. Part of me thinks I'm being ridiculously paranoid, but the fact is that I worked for companies in trouble before, and I recognize a lot of the warning signs. I just don't want to get caught off guard again, the way I was two years ago at B&C Telephone. If I'm going to be layed off, fine ... but I want to hit the door running, new r'e9sum'e9 in my hand.
Yesterday I realized that I am indeed experiencing some of that "spiritual chiropractic" that the author predicts will happen this week ... and it's job-related. Reluctantly, I am understanding that my future most likely is not with Benchmade Knife Company -- unless I want to stuff catalogs for the rest of my life -- and that I'm probably going to have to do something about it soon. As comfortable -- as comforting -- as it is a lot of the time, having a no-brainer job I could probably do in my sleep (but which has few unpleasant surprises, impossible challenges, or ways to seriously fuck up), I realize that it's going to become a dead-end eventually. Or maybe it already is. Point is, I've had super-stressful jobs that totally sucked ... and no-stress jobs that only sucked moderately ... somewhere, on this great big planet of ours, there MUST be a low-stress, moderately-challenging job that doesn't suck much at all. (I'm smiling as I write this.) Some place where I could enjoy both autonomy and "teamwork." Some place where I have a nice balance between easy, routine stuff to do and more challenging, creative stuff to do. AND some place where I make more than nine measly bucks an hour ...
Tim is excited because his son will be here in a few days, and bcause his surgery has finally been scheduled for April 9th. (I've already given notice at the office that I need that day off.) Plus he's going over to "his" college, day after tomorrow, and registering for his classes. (I'm paying the $50 registration fee for him.) He is so much easier to be around when he's excited (or as "excited" as is possible for him to get) and optimistic (ditto). It's like the proverbial huge weight lifts. And this helps my creative recovery, of course, because it frees me to focus on all of this internal shifting and rearranging that's taking place ... instead of having to *focus* on keeping him from sticking a gun in his mouth ...
Today I'm going to concentrate on listening to that inner voice some more. No TV, no radio, no media "junk food." While I'm stuffing catalogs or typing warranty cards or answering phones (or any of the 1,001 "sleepwalking" chores I do at work), I'll listen. Maybe my inner voice will give me the perfect new opening for "My Vitamin Collection." Maybe it will tell me what to do about the job situation. Maybe it will give me a song lyric or a cartoon idea or a memory from childhood, long suppressed. Whatever it decides to "give" me -- I'll be listening.
Affirmation: I will wear my creative gifts like a necklace of unique and lovely beads ... each one different, each one fully formed, each one precious.


Subj: Re: Adrift ... Alone ... Abandoned ... <sniff>
Date: 03/31/98

To: Edmund

In a message dated 98-03-31 19:50:21 EST, you exasperatedly screech:


I'm ONCE AGAIN, goin' NUTS at work........I am BURIED!!!!!! I come home to collapse.....I've lost the will to live...... <<



OK. Good.



I don't mean *good* that you've lost the will to live ... again. (Seems to me like you "lose the will to live" every 3.6 months or so, yet somehow you always manage to find it eventually. Perhaps this time it's wedged under a sofa cushion or something?)



I mean *good* as in I'm glad to know that there's a REASON why I'm not hearing from you.

(Not a VERY GOOD reason, mind you ... but a REASON.)



I'm sorry Edmund. I don't mean to be such a big pain in your butt all the time.






Yes I do.

I LIVE for being a GREAT BIG PAIN in YOUR BUTT. It seems to keep you ... energized.

But I am sorry that I keep having to be reassured, over & over again. Please understand: in the last six months I have *streamlined* my life down to practically nothing. The big messy sprawling noisy TicTac life I lived a year ago is gone forever. Everything is very neat and tidy and quiet and organized these days. And now I'm doing it some more -- cutting myself off from a couple of mailing lists, blocking all but a *select few* people from my AOL lists, cancelling that nude Gallery photo ... I guess I just want to make sure that I don't do such a thorough job of STREAMLINING that I wind up sitting here in cyberland, talking to myselves ...



Me: Do we Have Mail?

Me: Nope. We forgot to write to ourselves this morning.

Me: Shit.




* I guess I'll wait as long as it takes for things to get *normal* again

* I'll wait about that long for the HOSPITAL VIDEO too, apparently

* I miss you too. But that's hardly news.

* Did I tell you about the lovely i.m. conversation I had with CKDuBois?









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