Friday, September 30, 2005

And into the Present

The divorce hearing went well enough, as such things go.

My mom went with me this morning, which was nice because I was so nervous. I was so glad I didn't have to go alone. My mom absolutely hates driving to Detroit, and she was shocked that I did it with such ease!

We got downtown to the courthouse with plenty of time to spare, but then had to wait for what seemed like an hour for the elevator. (The courtroom was on the 16th floor, which is why we didn't just walk up!) It turned out fine, though, because the courtroom hadn't even been unlocked yet.

The 9:00 time which I had been given turned out not to be our hearing time, but registration time. There were a few more papers I needed to fill out, and then we waited. My mom and I sat and chatted quietly, while the ex sat just behind us.

When the judge was ready to come in, it was just like on TV! The bailiff actually said, "All rise!" and we all stood up, and then she said, "The Honorable Judge Youngblood presiding in this Third Circuit Court. You may be seated."

There was one case before ours, a small custody issue, and then the clerk called our case. The judge (who was super nice) asked us to verify our identities, then swore me in and asked me to testify that I'd lived in Wayne County for 180 days before filing, that the marriage had broken down, and that there was no chance of reconciliation. She confirmed that I wanted my maiden name back, then asked the ex if he agreed with all the papers he had signed. He said he did, then the judge granted the divorce. And it was done.

It was much easier than I had thought it would be. But I truly hope I never need this information for future reference. I'm glad it was so simple and didn't have to be drawn out, but then some part of me thinks that getting a divorce should not be so simple, if that makes any sense.

Now I get to start work on the part of my life I should have done years ago, the part where I figure out who I am and who I am becoming. Time for rebuilding.

Monday, September 26, 2005

To the past....

On Thursday morning, my final divorce hearing will take place. I’m nervous. I keep thinking of things that could go wrong. “What if I didn’t fill out the papers right and the judge makes us wait longer? What if there’s bad traffic and I’m late? What if the judge is just in a really bad mood?” (Because presiding over divorce cases can’t be good for a person’s long-term mental health!)

Most of the time, I manage a semblance of calm. I will be very glad and relieved to have this done and over with.

I’ve been kind of surprised at some of the very strange things people have said to me when they found out I was going through a divorce. One woman started a long lecture about how she could have told me the marriage would never have worked because I’m a Taurus and he’s a Cancer and that just never works out. Another person asked, “What happened? Were you shopping too much or not cooking enough?” Strangest of all was the one who said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. The first marriage is just for practice anyway.” I’m pretty sure they were all trying to be helpful, but help like that I need like I need an extra hole in the head!

The best advice I've gotten yet came from a lady at my church. She's not a whole lot older than I am, though old enough to have a 13-year-old-son, and she told me, "You feel whatever you need to feel. Don't let anyone ever tell you that what you're feeling is wrong."

Finally, someone who can understand how mixed I sometimes feel about this!

The STBX and I have split everything up ourselves. Things should be very simple on Thursday, I'll be glad to have it over, and yet I'm still nervous and sad.

I know I’ve found a wonderful friend who has helped me through so much of this pain, and that this friend will be much more than a friend to me as time goes on.

I know that I should have never gotten married in the first place.

I know that I have very clear memories of being afraid of my husband’s anger.

I know that I was discontent with the marriage from the beginning.

All this I know, and I believe in my heart that we will both be better off separately than we ever could have been together.

Yet I also remember other things—he took my guinea pig to the emergency vet for a wheezing cold and didn’t flinch at the bill. He sat and played video games with my baby brother for hours. He would bring me food or take me to dinner every time I said I didn’t want to cook. There was care given, and something which was once love before it became confused duty, but in the end love alone can not sustain a marriage. There was no room for either of us to grow, and so we grew apart.

One other thing I know: I know that by not knowing my own mind and heart a year and a half ago, I have caused pain. And I know that for this, I am sorry.

So here’s to the past. May we learn from it, and may the future be better for both of us.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A few random things....

Today I am going to be helping out at my church's Fall Fun Fest. All of us volunteers are supposed to wear a particular t-shirt-- it's bright purple and says "Grace Episcopal Church Fall Fun Fest" on the front. The shirt also has a "Jesus fish" on it. Is it bad of me that I'm tempted to get a white fabric paint pen and draw little feet on the Jesus fish?

The really cool part, though, is that probably no one at my church would mind in the slightest if I did. :-)

Here is an old poem I resurrected for filler in the church newsletter. (I usually write a monthly article, but didn't have time this month, so the parishioners are being subjected to my ancient poetry.) This is from 2/11/97-- a lifetime ago! But it's sill relevant to me, so why not?

The song of the Angels is being sung.
I hear them in my sleepy dreams,
or in the twilight place
between asleep and awake.
Celestial voices rising,
rising to the stars.
It is the song of all glory,
all love and all life
are contained within it.
It is the song of creation unfolding,
of diversity of creatures,
and of the similarity
between a galaxy and an amoeba.
It is the song of all names.
It is the song that makes us all ourselves,
and it is the song that makes us all part of each other.
God's pattern is sung in the song,
intricate harmonies and melodies,
counterpoint and chords,
woven somehow all together
to make us all a whole.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


The sigh you hear is a collective sigh of relief and rightness emanating from Detroit and the surrounding areas. You see, last night was a TV broadcast of a Red Wings hockey game. The first one since spring of 2004! (Stupid lockout….) Oh, sure, it was only a pre-season exhibition game and it doesn’t count for a thing, but… but… it was hockey! And it was against the Colorado Avalanche! And the Red Wings won! My favorite goalie (Manny Legace) was in net, and my favorite skater (Brendan Shanahan) scored the only shootout goal.

And so my poor hockey-deprived brain began to relax.

Even better, I had someone special to watch the game with. First broadcast game of the pre-season, and I get to watch it curled up on the couch cuddling with my sweetie. Can life get much better?

It’s kind of a strange thing. My sweetie doesn’t know anything about hockey past the basic, “It’s good when the guys in red and white score and bad when the other guys score.” So I was trying to teach and explain things as they went along, which was a trick with all the rule changes that were instituted during the lockout and all the player moves that happened once the new salary cap was brought in.

(“Why did they do that?”
“Well, because they…. hmm, I don’t know why they did that at all!”)

My sweetie’s a diehard football fan. Football? Hmm. I can take it or leave it. But we have a sort of sports cultural exchange program planned. I’ll explain hockey to him and help him enjoy it, and he’ll explain football to me and help me enjoy it. I guess I can accept this. Besides, an NHL team has 82 games in a season. An NFL team has 16 and a college football team has…. um…. some small number. 12, maybe? Anyway, the balance clearly favors my and my ability to brainwash… I mean, convert…. I mean, help someone to appreciate hockey!

Everything was a bit rusty last night, of course. The players’ timing was off, as it always is in the preseason, and my ability to follow the game is a bit rusty as well. Hey, it’s been over a year, and this is a quick-paced game!

But snuggled like that in my sweetie’s arms, all warm and loving?

Rust or no, I don’t think it could have been a better game experience. :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Things I Never Thought I’d Say

You know how sometimes you’ll just be having an ordinary conversation, and you’ll say something that makes perfect sense in the context of that conversation, but would seem more than a little strange if taken on its own? A string of words is coming out of your mouth, and it’s truly bizarre, yet somehow it fits? That seems to have happened to me a lot over the past few months. I thought maybe I would share some of these phrases with you, without any of their explanatory context, just so you can see how insane random passers-by might think I am! Here are 10 of them.

1. Why is there an action figure in the freezer?
2. No, you can’t use the dog dishes as shoes.
3. Well, um, there was this badger….
4. Oh, yeah, some of my best friends are sea otters.
5. You mean, I’m supposed to enjoy it?
6. You know, tomatoes are completely overrated.
7. Why are my keys in the freezer?
8. Oh, so that’s what possums look like before they get hit by cars!
9. No, we are not naming the dog Satan!
10. Excuse me, where are the naked mole rats?

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Stream-of-Consciousness Hymn to the Forest Gods

I walk in an afternoon
in a land where bright light is green,
slanting through leaves and leaves.
A friend leads me down these quiet ways;
hushed voices and quiet steps.
A great green canopy,
an incongruity,
a wilderness in the middle of a city.
We speak softly in this cathedral of ancient trees,
daring not raise our voices, nor wanting to.
A strangeness—the woods are watching me,
inspecting me, and I hold my breath.
Acceptance? Yes, it is given;
I am welcomed into this sacred place
where the forest gods still speak.
Power is here,
rising from this ancient earth,
and I see strange visions of ancient days
when the forest gods ruled over all.
How strange, how strange to see such things,
city-bred as I am, granted visions of the eldest of trees,
the deepest of northern woods.
Yet I dare to speak, and my friend has also seen.
In olden days, we may have been there,
priest and priestess of the strengthening trees,
of the forest gods and their green-lit realm.
And so they recognize us now
and welcome us home,
their wayward children from days long gone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What to do afterwards?

I’m developing a theory that the true test of a person’s purpose in life is to ask them what they would do if they won the lottery. The really big who-could-possibly-spend-that-much-in-one-lifetime lottery. Let them get past the parts where they would travel, buy lots of neat stuff, take care of their families, and so on. Get past all the standard lottery winner stuff. Ask them what they would do once that’s all done and the novelty’s off. What would they do with the rest of their lives if they had such ability, such financial freedom to do so?

If I were the one fortunate enough to have all the numbers come up, of course I would do the standard stuff. I would travel everywhere. I’d make sure my family was all set. I’d take college classes in interesting subjects that have nothing to do with any sort of overarching goal—anthropology, filmmaking, sociology, art. Just for fun.

And I would write. I wouldn’t have to worry about making a living, and I could just write stories, as much as I wanted to.

The problem with that, though, is that I seem to write my best when I’m under pressure, when I’m doing something useful. That’s the key, there. I can’t just be keeping myself busy; I have to have an actual focus, something helpful and useful I’m trying to do that will take the random bits of poetry and prose which float around in my brain and refine them into some sort of cohesive whole. If I had so many gifts, and didn’t find a way to help others, I’d probably never be able to write anything proper again. It’s just the strange way my brain, heart, and soul seem to be hooked together, that my writing ability is linked in some strange way to my sense of purpose.

So what would I do?

If I could, if I had these sorts of nearly-unlimited funds, I think what I would do is try to get medical treatment for people who couldn’t afford it. I would start clinics in inner cities and have mobile clinics in poor rural areas. Free or reduced cost services. I would spend my time trying to get grants (because with a project of this scope, even lottery winnings don’t last forever), trying to get health care workers to volunteer to help, trying to get the word out to the people who needed services that there really is help for them. I would deal with public relations, regulations, administration, and education. And then if I had any time left, I would go into the clinics myself. I would help change bandages or hold children getting booster shots, or hold the hands of someone who was sick and scared. I would listen to someone's story, or carefully and gently wipe away the tears of a hurt child. I would try to help them feel safe and cared for.

It is in this, the human face of what I would do if I could, that I would find my inspiration. My heart would be full, and the poetry would flow like water.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I have a fascination with maps.

When I was a little kid, I would spend hours looking at the maps in the encyclopedia set. Strangely-shaped islands, mountain ranges, mighty rivers—who knew what dreams these unknown lands might hide?

When I was a little older, I encountered a travel atlas, and maps took on a whole new meaning for me. They weren’t just pictures of where things were, I realized, but ways and plans to get from here to there. With the map, I could find all these places of mystery. It was more than realizing that other places existed—it was a sudden lightning flash of illumination that not only do these other places exist, but I could actually go to them.

Older still, out on my own and able to travel in my own car, and I had a travel atlas of my own. I am very proud of my own travel atlas. When I travel a new highway, I very carefully highlight that highway on my map. I want to know where I’ve been, of course, but even more so, I want to know where I have yet to go.

I see a map as something which tells a story. The lines on the map are symbols of journeys, and the journey is the story of a life—city to city, river to river, and all the fascinating stops in-between.

I know very little about my father’s family, but I sometimes suspect that they may have been of the Gypsy blood. For the road calls to me, and my heart yearns to follow—I wish to see the places I have never seen, the road that curves up and up through the highest mountains, the place where it slopes down to the western sea, the vast desert beneath the stars, woodlands and swamps and enormous prairies with their open sky-- small winding roads through small towns, the roads shaded gray in my travel atlas, the roads few people will travel. The road calls me to follow, to hear its story and the stories of all the lives who wander and intersect, and ever I seek to create this story, my own tale carefully marked out on the great map which is my life.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I have been avoiding TV coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans. I can imagine it far too vividly just from what I read in newspapers and on the web. I do not dare to look at the desolation reflected in the eyes of real people.

What haunts me is not the disaster itself, not the storm, the wind and rain flooding and destroying a vibrant city, not the people driven from their homes or the destruction of so many things. Nature is capricious. Such things do happen, and they are tragic.

What truly haunts me are the stories flying northward now, carried over wire and air and fiber-optic cable, stories of further devastation caused by humans.

Looting I expect. I do not care about looting. If people need food, fresh water, blankets, in cases like this, it is better in the hands of those who need it than stocking a store shelf waiting for a recovery that may never come.

Darker stories there are than of theft.

People are fighting, killing each other, raping each other. A sniper stood shooting people trying to evacuate a hospital. People have stolen guns and are trying to shoot at the police, the National Guard, and the emergency medical personnel.

I have no answers. I do not know why this is happening. A part of me points calmly to events in history, studies in sociology and psychology, of what happens when terror and stress take control of people who have nothing left. Another part of me recognizes this as evil and cries out in fear. And yet another part is kindled to bright fires of anger, but all of it together is confusion, wondering what I might do to help drive back this darkness of souls which threatens.

Because, you see, if it happens in New Orleans, it can happen anywhere. The fury of the storm itself will play out and end, every time. The descent into madness, though? Of that I cannot say.

Today where I am, the sky is a pure bright blue, the brightest blue of bright September. And yet it still seems dark today. The world is not what it was.

Abundant light and ordinary civilization are locked in battle with desperation, somewhere many miles to the south and in other cities all over the world.

And this is why I cannot watch the TV news. Hand me a sword and I will battle bravely, give me light and I will shine it, bring me those who are hurt and I will do what I can to comfort them. But I cannot bear to see the raging of those darkened souls reflected in those eyes.