Category Archives: marriage

Salutations 2015

Oh! Hey there 2015! You startled me!
How are you? Five months old already? Wow. Where does the time go….
Me? Oh yeah, well, you can say I’ve been a little busy.

I don’t know if anyone told you, but I enrolled in college last summer. Adults go back to school all the time, I know, but in my case it wasn’t so much the going back thing as it was more the just going to part. I wasn’t picking up from where I left off at 19 or 20, because at 19 and 20 I didn’t believe in the future. I believed in part-time jobs, all night parties and never marrying or (shudder to think) having children. Little Niki was kind of a shithead, but we forgive her.

All these years later, my placement test slated me for college-level English and Dumb Blonde Math. About two weeks into Dumb Blonde Math I posted the following: “Quotients are welcome to shove an integer up their respective prime factorizations.” My attitude has yet to improve.

There are three remedial math classes I need to complete before tackling a mandatory pummeling in college algebra. I knocked out the first course last semester. This semester, however, I floundered hopelessly in what I believe was the equivalent of 11th grade algebra and/or Dante’s Seventh Circle of the X Y Interception of Hell. Somewhere along the way, I started to write a blog called “7F{(6u+4.2c)-13k(4M-12a+1t)+3.7h = F*ckM*th” but the title alone exhausted me and I passed out in a pool of my own dim-witted tears.

You see, I just took on too much this semester. I assumed, because I’d managed an English and Math course last semester, with an A and B respectively, that I was a not only a mega-genius but also some kind of full-time-working-mother-super-hero-lady-pants.

Which reminds me, at our marriage counselor’s office (don’t worry, we’re fine, we simply require a communication tune-up every now and then) there’s this series of mental health statements you have to rate via electronic tablet before every session. Ranging from “I feel good today,” to “I want to stab my boss in his/her yapping face hole,” – Strongly AgreeAgree; Undecided; Disagree; Strongly Disagree.
The one that never fails to amuse goes: “I feel like I have special powers.”
Yet, next time we go in for a tune-up, there will be no giggles from me. Just a reluctant admission of “Strongly Agree.”

I strongly agree that I thought I had special powers when I took on four online courses – to include Biology 100 and Dumb Blonde Math II – while still a full-time employee, still a full-time mother to a kindergartner and a 13 year old (ALL THE HORMONES), all during the months when my husband retired from a 24 year career in the military (ALL THE MID-LIFE CRISIS) and our lives changed forever. But, to my dismay, I did not manifest the necessary super human strength, and it turns out that I also need to sleep sometimes. Who knew.

Oh, guess what else? Within the framework of a self-paced online math course, it seems my individual pace is “NO.”
Intermingled with “Fuck this shit” and “I wish I were dead.”

So yes, you could say It’s been a rough five months. Far more difficult than I thought it would be, even though I’ve seen people struggle through it before. When I think of the friends and family who worked toward their degrees in similar situations, they have my eternal respect. Heroes and martyrs – all of them.

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In other news, life is good. My girls are still happy, healthy, and doing great in school, and my husband is slowly but surely navigating life as a civilian – the first step of which appears to be mandatory beard growth (which I thought I’d mind at first …but it’s kinda hot). We’re planning to move this summer. Whether that means locally in AZ or ending up on one of the coasts is, as yet, unknown. In fact, there are so many unknowns just now that if I dwell on them for long enough my chest starts pounding and it gets harder and harder to breathe so, I avoid that. I’m keeping the “future-tripping” to a minimum, and the “right now” on blast. A greatly matured yet slightly suspicious Little Niki lives on.

Also, I’m taking a break from school. Not giving up, just pausing for air. I’ll be one of the “go-backers” next year.
But, do me a favor, will you?  Please tell 2016 to be kind to me?
Thanks, 2015. You’re a peach.

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Only the Unlonely

It happened just the way I’d pictured it. We waved goodbye to our girls; one tall, one small, hand-in-hand, backpack-strapped, escorted by a flight attendant aboard a plane headed for Nana’s house. And, as anticipated, tears were spilled. We sat at the gate long after it had emptied, awaiting departure, and, an extremely somber 30 minutes later, they were gone.

A few blocks from the airport we dined at our favorite sushi place and gradually I felt the mood begin to lift. Clouds rolled backward, heavens opened up, and to our mutual amazement, something like a choir of joyous angels descended unto earth, banishing sorrow in a sweet falsetto, “Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found theeeeeeee,” and all at once it hit us: we were FREE!

Two seconds after arriving home the mister was naked. Simply to be naked. And, unless forced to be in public, he ceased wearing clothes altogether. At some point I found him standing in the backyard, basking in the setting sun, a warm breeze blowing through his…chest hair. We giggled like loons. We agreed to have naked breakfast on the patio that weekend, because….what neighbors? Neighbors who? We’re a childless couple now. We’re naked old people in our backyard now; top o’ the morning to ya!

Nudey-dudey breakfast time never came to pass, however, for we did something far greater with our mornings; we slept in. We stayed out late, we woke late, we lounged in bed, snuggled like it was an Olympic sport, made each other laugh, made each other smile, made out, napped, watched t.v., ventured outdoors only for food, came home and did it all over it again. We stocked the refrigerator with kale, fish, coconut Thai tomato soup and stinky cheese. We hatched a plan to scope out recipes; alternating nights in which one would surprise the other with an exciting new dish. We didn’t purchase a single frozen toaster pastry, shitty chemical-flavored cheese cracker, or any product with a character from Frozen on it. It was like living in a dream.

By Sunday I, too, had kicked the habit of wearing clothes. Had we ever gotten along so well? Ever been more in love? Was it as magical back when we were dating? I didn’t think so. And the house! We’d cleaned it just after our daughters left, and days later…it was still clean! I turned to my beloved, bald, giant, hairy nudist and cried, “It’s THEM! It’s always been THEM!”

But at the close of our refreshing weekend, around 10 PM, he learned his father had been hospitalized in Michigan. He spent Monday morning gathering info, Monday afternoon making travel arrangements, and by Tuesday morning I was once more at the airport waving farewell (though I’m relieved to report, his pops is presently on the mend and recovering well).

My 37th birthday followed, the very next day, and every member of my household was in a different state; one in Florida, one in Washington, one in Michigan. I was a little bummed out by this, until I reminded myself how I’d kicked them all out, on purpose, just three weeks prior – for Mother’s Day. That was my gift request: GET. OUT. I only wanted time to myself, without having to go anywhere to get it. I sent my little family out to dinner and just kicked back in silence, soaking in the stillness, and ignoring texts like, “If you change your mind, we’d love for you to join us” and “I wish you were with us mama.” Perhaps the opposite of leaving me in peace, but I didn’t mind. I also didn’t feel bad. I told my preteen, “Someday, you’ll be all grown up and out on your own. Someday you might live a zillion miles away and I will miss you like a crazy person. And someday I’ll thrill to get a phone call from you, I’ll ache to spend time with you, and I’ll count the minutes until I see you again. But NOT today.”

And thus, Life, being funny the way Life insists it’s very funny, said, “Happy Birthday, Niki! Here’s some of that mega-extended ‘me time’ you value so much. We left the cat. Cheers.”

But joke’s on Life, for once, since I’ve been enjoying myself. Between my husband making surprise birthday arrangements before he left town and my co-workers/friends rallying around me, I’ve been quite content. In the week and a half since the fam deserted, I’ve discovered this weird, yet incredible thing called “do whatever you want.” I make whatever I want for dinner, rent whichever movie I please, go to bed at any ungodly hour suitable to my fancy, and I leave the house without announcing where I’m going, or when I’ll be back. I answer to no one! Except the cat.

Dr. Pickles disapproves, but he’s not the boss of me.

Dr. Pickles

The entire scenario has caused me to reflect on the fact that I’ve never lived alone. I talk a lot about growing up alone in the woods – and minus a pack of wolves raising me, it’s mostly true. Between the ages of five and twelve I lived smack-dab in the middle of 17 acres of forest, and because my stepfather hated children (and being that I was a child, sucked to be me) I was forbidden to have friends over. I spent A LOT of time alone. With a cat.

As an adult woman, though, not so much. I’ve lived with my mother, a roommate, a significant other, or, later on, my first born – but never alone. Good thing I got so much practice at solitude when I was small, it made the last several days doable. Pleasant, even. Definitely an interesting and introspective journey, but I’m done now. All done. All caught up on the “me time.” If this is some “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of shit, go ahead and hook Clarence up with those wings, Universe, because I got the message. I’d like my family back now, please.
Posthaste, tout de suite, and hurry the lonesome hell up.
They are my life, and my God am I a lucky woman for it.

The Story of Unconventional Us

The story of the origin of us usually comes up when people calculate our eldest daughter’s age alongside the length of time my husband and I have been married. In response to tilted heads and quizzical looks we launch into a tale we’ve told so many times now it’s like our own very well rehearsed skit.

I usually say…
“Oh, well I brought a child into the relationship. I was previously married.”
And he usually says…
“And the only reason I got to meet her daughter was because Niki decided she wasn’t going to date me.”
“His life was a mess at the time….”
“….I was going through a divorce….”
“….wasn’t going to touch that with a ten foot pole….”
“…..she decided I wasn’t dating material……”
“…..I made it clear he was going to be my new best FRIEND…..”
“……and so I got to meet her daughter, which wouldn’t have been the case if I’d been a romantic interest….”
“….I kept my love life separate from my ‘real’ life. I didn’t want to be the mom with all the boyfriends…..”
“….but since I wasn’t ever going to be a boyfriend, I met Maddiroo right away….”
“….to this day I don’t know who fell in love with him first; her or me…..”
“…we joke that’s how I snuck in under the radar….”
“….and he we are. Happily ever after.”

And we smile; take the opportunity to gaze into one another’s eyes. And everyone smiles, and thinks whatever they think. “How sweet” or “Oh puke.” And now we won’t even have to tell the story anymore. I’ll just say, “Ya know, I wrote a blog about it.” And he’ll say, “Yeah. Like to hear it? Here it goes….”

2005

Just Like Heaven

Home. He’s home. Back from a year spent in South Korea. One long damned year wherein I thought I’d write more, but every time I went to put words to keystrokes those words ran whiney. Some would say I had the right to whine and some would say I’ve had it amazingly easy, as far as military families go, and I should shut my boo-hooey trap. And it doesn’t matter what people say, I just didn’t feel like whining. Wining, as always, another story all together.

Maybe I’ll revisit those days in a later blog, but for now I’m quite content living these new days. After three weeks vacation he’s gone back to normal work-a-day duties. But even those are slight, until he gets into the rhythm of things. Which means he leaves late and comes home early. Which also means he sucks me into a crazy vortex of laziness. “Come cuddle, and eat delicious snacks, and watch more episodes of The Big Bang Theory,” he beckons. “If the kids are at school/napping we can totally have sexy grown up time, then eat more, and watch more TV….and sleep…sweet sleep. You know you want this.”

And I do. I do want this. So much. I can taste the snacks now.
It’s heaven.

Feats of Fancy

Because I’m missing him, I remember this: our feet made out before we did.

The first time we slept together we did not “sleep” together, we merely slept beside one another. We were friends then. We’d come back from a night out dancing and it was four in the morning before we reached my apartment. It would be another twenty minutes for him to drive home to his. I told him he could stay, and I oh-so-cavalierly quipped, “You can sleep on the couch or sleep in my bed, whichever.” He chose my bed, and was a perfect gentlemen.

And it went on like that for over a month. Weekend sleepovers at my place, graduating to weeknights, sleeping next to each other, without a single improper pass. I used to giggle some mornings when he woke complaining of his sore neck and his stiff back, because it was a small double bed and he is a tall, robust man – and to keep from touching me meant he had to keep his body absolutely ramrod rigid, ALL night. Yet he came back for more uncomfortable nights of sleep with me and he complained little. SUCH a gentleman.

I liked him (like, “like-liked” him), but I didn’t want to and refused to admit it to myself. His personal life was a mess: he was only just extracting himself from a marriage gone sour and he was supposed to be leaving the state soon. Every sensible aspect of me screamed not to like him – like that. Regardless, I introduced the cuddling.

Again, in the aftermath of another Seattle night out we headed to my bed in the wee hours, ready to assume our Catholic school dance measurement of distance in the bed, when I (was tipsy enough that I) grabbed his arm and pulled it over top of me. I remember he said, “Oh! Is this cool now?” And I said, “Yes”, when I wanted to say, “Shut up!” And after that small gesture the cuddling was ON!

It was a mega cuddlefest of snuggly proportions for about two to three weeks. How close could we smoosh our bodies together without being overtly sexual? How much of a joint human burrito could we nightly create while acting like this was the behavior of the purely platonic? How close could our lips be to one another’s, for eight long, oft-times sleepless hours, without ever touching? We tested all these limits. We pushed the boundaries of friendly affections. We blazed some serious snuggle-time trails!

But our feet were the main culprits. Our feet were at each other in ways we were not yet brave enough to be. Our feet mingled, moved, maneuvered and motioned amongst themselves, constantly. Our feet flirted, our feet fell in like, our feet fell in love, and our feet told the truth about our feelings LONG before we ever did.

And the lovely thing about that is, they still do. While in marriage we’ve maintained the same sides of the bed as we did in those early days, I can no longer cuddle him face to face, for any extended period of time, for all the goddammed breathing he does (did he not breathe back then?). And while we can only snuggle down for a good half hour of drowsiness before we settle into our more comfy, separate, sleepytime reposes, our feet are still at each other. Like it was their first night together. Like they’d just met and were completely smitten.

And we laugh about that. We have no doubt that they’ll retain their footsie-friskiness, and enduring mutual adoration, well into the their sunset years.
We suppose we’ll be dragged along with them, but we don’t mind.

Crazy Socks

I’m 1/64 Native American. Lily-white as I appear to be, my great-great-great-great-great-great (I believe it’s just the six greats, give or take a great) grandmother was full-blooded Snohomish Indian, back when they still called her “Indian” anyway. Again, to look at me – and be blinded by the white, almost holy glare – you might find yourself skeptical. Honestly, I doubt I’d have believed it if the lineage hadn’t been so well documented.

I’m not a percentage “Indian” enough to be accepted into a tribe, or apply for an ethnicity-based scholarship, or even enough to really appreciate dream catchers (I make sour faces at most beige, feathered and fringed art) but I do think it qualifies me to have a Native American name. And if that’s true, I’d like to be known as “Crazy Socks”.

My husband buys me crazy socks. He always has. And we’ve been together long enough that some of the amusing socks he’d gifted me with in the beginning of our relationship are now on their last…feet. Each eccentric pair represents a novelty I would never have purchased for myself. But I love them, all of them. It reminds me of his influence on me.

Things I considered too silly, too geeky or wholly uncool before him are, these days, not. He encourages my inner-child to lighten up, and in doing so I have more fun in life. I smile and laugh so much more. I make corny jokes and do dorky dances. And I now feel sorry for those who don’t. Those who are too hard, or too reserved, or too distinguished, or too aloofly cool to – at least from time to time – not give such an uptight shit about being any or all of those things.

Not that I’m entirely uninhibited. My husband will always be a bigger dork than me. And I will continue to occasionally shake my head when he grabs his right ankle, puts his left hand behind his head, and breaks it down in the middle of a crowded nightclub à la Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. While he’s doing the Carlton Dance I will still turn to a friend and dryly state, “I have sex with him.”

But I love it. I do. I love his free spirit, sense of humor, inner-clown and the trickle-down goofonomics it has on me. I love my life with him and all the crazy, crazy socks it brings.

Game Cheats for Lovers

Commiserating with an old friend today, I remarked that the most valuable token of wisdom I’ve received of late, from some brief marriage counseling last fall, was the revelation that our subconscious minds choose the mates we marry. And that same subconscious will purposefully choose a person who will poke at ALL of your sublevel sore spots. Every last one. In order to heal them. We choose partners who will pick at the concealed yet open wounds, forcing us to recognize and remedy them, rather than the easier route of leaving them to linger (and fester) in the dark recesses of the mind.

Aint’ love GRAND?!

For example, my counselor noted that though my first husband – on the surface – seems so very different from my second, he said, “They may seem night and day, but you still married the same man. The first one was chocolate flavor and this one is just strawberry flavor.” And he was right: nail, meet head. Because, despite the seeming disparity between my first spouse and my second, they both possess that special somethin-somethin’ that happens to hit on all my inner-turmoil triggers. That, and they’re both Virgos – which doesn’t mean anything (which totally means something).

But the part that excited me about this information is that we do this to ourselves so we can heal. There’s a POINT to the madness. And the point is to fix what is broken inside ourselves, not suffer and exacerbate that suffering. The silver lining is that you can mend what requires mending and move forward into a happy, healthy, truly loving relationship.

And, the real kicker is, if you don’t make it work with chocolate flavor, or figure out your bullshit with strawberry flavor, you’re doomed to repeat the heartbreaks with somebody named vanilla.

(And nobody wants that)

It makes great sense to me, since I believe we’re here on the planet to evolve and grow inwardly. It’s why I believe in kooky things like reincarnation: ain’t no way you’re gonna get it all right (or be able to soak it all in) the first time around. No. Way.

Anyhow, I’d mentioned to my friend that I wasn’t attempting to preach or dispense sage advice. It was more that this bit on the wiley ways of the subconscious (which feels true as blue) was like passing someone a helpful game cheat. Someone stuck on a particularly grueling level of the game called LOVE. Press Up, Double B, Right, Left, Left and then Start……and you can finally level up!