Can’t Take That Away From Me

When I was a teenager, going through my first breakup (oh, the angst), I was absolutely addicted to Mariah Carey’s “Can’t Take That Away From Me.”  Back then, when I was seventeen, the worst thing that could happen to me was a breakup.  I can’t get angry with my young, innocent self, because when you are a teenager and so blessed, you of course don’t know any different.

My 20’s were a violent, difficult, turbulent decade.  I have no idea what is in store for the remaining years of my life, or even for the last nine months of my 29th year, but I imagine that I will not be too sorry to shut the door on my 20’s on September 12th, 2013.  Or to embrace my 30’s.  When I was 21, a car accident nearly ended my life…and that set the tone for my 20’s.  There have been some soaring highs, and some crushing lows, but there has been turbulence through it all.

This year…this year has been difficult.  2012 was a year of unhappiness.  There were some bright spots, of course, but most of the year was difficult, and dark.  There are some happy pieces of it that will remain etched in my memory forever:

– Watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico from the decks of the Carnival Imagination, hot chocolate in hand.
– The feeling of dumb, blind joy when the Patriots made it into the Super Bowl (they didn’t deserve to go, I fully cop to that).
– Going back to graduate school in January.
– Spinning fire poi for the first time at May Wildfire.
– Having my thesis idea approved and getting my adviser assigned.
– My first-ever straight-A, 4.0 semester.

And there’s where it is.  In the last few days (after I emerged from the worst cold on record in the history of ever), every time I think about that 4.0, I get a little misty.  Because, for the rest of my life, no matter what happens, nobody can take that away from me.  Not ever.  I did that.  Me, on my own.  Nobody helping me, nobody assisting.  Just me.  Despite the hardships, despite the emotional pain of losing my husband in extraordinary fashion…I did that.  It wasn’t even so much getting the 4.0…that was big enough.  But doing it in spite of everything else that was going on in my life, that was the biggest accomplishment.

Early in my 20’s, I attempted graduate school.  In spite of some MAJOR red flags, I enrolled in graduate school a mere four months after my car accident, while still suffering physical debilitation and accident-related post-traumatic stress disorder.  You should have seen my grades, guys.   People this year have given me a lot of shit for “being too hard on myself” and being surprised that I have managed to pull off nothing lower than an A- since returning to school, but you should have seen my report cards from 2006 – 2008.  My finest semester was a string of B+’s.  I don’t think I ever even saw an A.  And a 4.0?  Not even on the radar.

There is no way I could have gotten through this year without medication (been on the same thing for two years and it still works like a charm), therapy (my therapist, Crazy Bruce, is pretty much my favorite human being ever), and the love and support of my friends, who have stood by me through thick and thin, fielded some pretty epically terrible 11 PM crying phone calls, and encouraged me the entire way.  True, this will be the last full year in which I was married (at least, this marriage) but I didn’t just survive it, I succeeded in school when years ago I would have broken if faced with this same situation.

No matter what happens for the rest of my life, I did this, and nobody can take it away from me, ever.

Let’s move into 2013 with hope, love, laughter, and light.

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As Our Eyes Fill With Wonder

Christmas has officially begun!  Fifteen minutes stand between me and two and a half days off.  Presents are wrapped, family is here, and I’m safely ensconced in my parents’ house until they leave on December 26th.  The move has been a little bizarre, but in the long run, not totally unwelcome.  I can’t tell you how much a big, noisy house full of exuberant (and inebriated) people is keeping the sads away.

I find I don’t even miss David as a husband, but I do miss my friend.  And I miss his family.  Though it’s more difficult to miss them when my own family is so raucous, loving, and joy-filled.  I wish they were here all the time.

And my friends.  My friends have been my rocks for the past year.  2012 has been a trip to hell in a handbasket, but I am working my way back to really enjoying life, with the help of my friends (okay, and some moscato).

(Clockwise from lower left): Drea, Christina, me, Joe, Sam, Pat, and Tina — Yule 2012

I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through all of this without these amazing people in my life.

God only knows what I’d be without you.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

On Yule, With Joy

The last entry (hell, the last couple of days) have been rough, so I wanted to post something a little happier.

Today is Yule, the winter solstice, and this is the day my friend Jess throws her annual Yule party.  It’s a winter celebration of all faiths, where 10 of us will get together, exchange presents, cook and eat delicious food, and just altogether have an amazing time.  It’s the high point of every year, and we look forward to it.  This is the seventh year that we’ve had Yule (although only Jess and I were part of the original and have been to every single one).

2006: Paul, me, and Jess, with the World’s Ugliest Yule Tree.

 

2007: Ryan, Jess, Paul, Rain, Katie and me, just before dinner.

 

Unbelievably, I don’t have a single picture from Yule 2008, but that was the day my Aunt Nancy died, so I think I just forgot to take pictures.

2009: I don’t have a group shot but this one is hilarious. Drea and Jess opening presents.

 

2010: The TURDUCKEN year! Jess (right) made a turducken. It was amazing.

 

2011: David, me, and our friend Jim.

I’m very much looking forward to tonight…good food, good friends, and commemorating another trip around the sun.

And the fact that the Mayans were wrong.

2012 In Review — Part III

This is the third of four recaps of the 2012 Review Extravaganza.  I’m joining up with other bloggers, recapping the past year, three months at a time.

Have faith, guys.  This is the last three-month post of hell and crap!  After this, it gets better.

July: I’m not proud of July.  I moved out on July 1st…and moved back in four days later.  I don’t really have an excuse for my weakness or frame of mind.  I can only say that…living in an old house in the middle of the woods, the house where my grandfather died, while trying to figure out if I should end my marriage, didn’t work so well.  I moved back in, David and I decided to give our marriage another shot.  It didn’t work, needlessly.

In other news, I took a five-week course on the American Revolution from July 2 – August 5.  It was a really, really interesting course.  I learned a lot, I got to take two field trips, and got to cook authentic colonial-era food.  It was a great time.  I have never studied as hard as I did for that final, and I ended the class with an A-, keeping my GPA up.

August: August is pretty much a blur.  I know we went to Wildfire again, and that would have been a great time, except that it poured the first night and our tent got soaked.  So that kind of sucked.

September: A week into September, I found out that David had lied to me about going out of state, for the third time.  I couldn’t ignore the signs of infidelity anymore.  On September 11, the day before my 29th birthday, I told him that I wanted a divorce.  It was ridiculously terrible timing (worst birthday ever, right?) but at the same time, I turned 29 making a definite decision.

We went to Falmouth and Boston at the end of the month, with the intention of telling my MIL that we were splitting.  Unfortunately, David didn’t find a way to tell her until October, so that’s a story for another time.  I got the all-clear to rent the apartment that I’m living in now, back in September, but it would be two months before I could move out.  Living with your estranged husband for two months is…difficult, but we made it work.

I also threw myself into (what else?) graduate school, which was entirely necessary and helpful considering the emotional wreck I was inside.

Next week: the (somewhat) happier conclusion to what really, now that I look at it, was a rough year.  2013 promises to be better though 🙂

That’s How You Know

Rough night turned into a rougher morning when my mom called me at work to remind me that my parents are flipping out because I’m separated, not divorced yet, and I’m turning 30 in nine months and getting older and don’t I want a family and shouldn’t I be thinking about these things?

Holy shit.
I’m almost 30?
I’m separated?
I’m getting older?

Guys, I’m begging you…if you have friends that are separated/getting divorced…please don’t remind them of the fact.  Trust me.  They know.  Most days, it’s impossible to get out of your head.

But honest question…how do you know when it’s time?  Maybe it’s just difficult because it’s the damn holidays and all, but I’m having a bitch of a time throwing in the towel and making a statement about this.  I haven’t deleted D from my FB, I haven’t filed for divorce.  We’re calling a divorce lawyer to mediate all of this in January, so I mean, that’s a certainty.  But…when do you start all this shit?

People are giving me crap for not being done with it already.  It’s weird.  I know there’s nothing left in this marriage for me to work for.  At the same time, I’m terrified of going forward.

How do you know it’s time?

 

“I can’t go on living this way.
And I can’t go back the way I came.”

– Evanescence, “My Heart Is Broken”

Now The Days Seem To Fly

I am DONE with this semester!

(Happy Rapunzel gif totally appropriate right now)

I’m not 100% bouncing off the walls because I’m nervous as hell about my grades.  I never got a grade in one of my classes, and I never got a grade in the other class that was below an A-…but I’m still freaking out.  I have NO IDEA how this is going to pan out.  Especially when, in both classes, the final paper counts for 60% of the final grade.

I have no idea when final grades are due in to the registrar, or when they’ll be posted, so THAT’S FUN.

I will be okay with straight A-‘s.  I will be fine if I get two B+’s.  If I don’t get a B+ in 501, it means I have to retake the course this upcoming semester.

…I can’t find a gif for that.  There is no gif labeled “crawl into a hole and die.”

But this one?  Is pretty close.

ANYCRAP.  This means that I have from now until January 14 for blessed, blessed freedom.

(Side note?  What is this January 14th shit?  Since when do colleges and universities open BEFORE the MLK Jr. holiday?  I miss undergrad.  For more reasons than one.)

I’m moving out of my apartment in three days.  My grandparents are coming up to spend Christmas with the rest of the family and they’re going to be staying in my place, with my girl kitties.  I’m moving into my parents’ house for the duration.  I’m trying not to be too apprehensive about this.

Tonight is going to be dedicated to shopping, wrapping, baking cookies, and watching “Home Alone.”  I am so excited about the next few days.  This week is going to be fantastic.

Love Each Other

By now everybody has heard about the horrible school shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14th.  We’ve seen the news, we’ve seen the faces of the little babies and the courageous teachers who were killed in the senseless slaughter.  We’ve argued for and against gun control.  We watched President Obama say the names of every single individual killed that day.

I’ve seen many school shootings in my 29 years.  Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech, to name a few…all of them lodged in my memory.  But there has never been one so close to home as Sandy Hook.  Here in Connecticut, my home state, children were walked to their school doors today, accompanied by their parents, to greet an armed officer of the law at the door.  The sky is gray, it’s rainy, there’s a chill in the air that cuts right to the bone.  It’s fitting.  None of us seem to know where to go, what to think, what to say or do.  We talk about this senseless tragedy, and we don’t even know what to say.  How do you respond to something like this?  The meaningless murder of 20 babies, of six brave adults…how do you make sense of that?  You can’t.  It’s impossible.

What makes me more sad is that, for a few days, social media becomes insane, people point fingers, these babies are held up as political statements — for gun control, for the reinstatement of religion in our classrooms — and everyone wants to find out as much as they can about the killer, and why.   The Westboro Baptist Cult of Hate is coming up here (to my state) to picket the funerals of these innocent little babies and  the brave souls who tried to save them.  Everything is chaos.  Everyone is hurting.  And it’s eight days until Christmas.

The only thing I want to say to everyone is…love each other.  Just love each other.  And if you can’t love someone, do the best you can to not hate them.  The greatest thing in this world, the greatest power on earth, is love.  Because if you love someone, everyone, then you can’t bring yourself to hurt them.  I realize that it is a pipe dream, this idea that everyone can love everyone else.

But it’s a beautiful dream, isn’t it?  It would be an equally beautiful reality.  And if dreaming means that we can somehow stave off the anger, violence, hatred, death, and loss that we experienced in Connecticut this week…if we can bring about an age when we don’t have another Jonesboro, another Columbine, another Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook…if there’s any chance that we can make those beautiful dreams a reality, I’m in.

Are you?

2012 In Review – Part II

This is the second of four recaps of the 2012 Review Extravaganza.  I’m joining up with other bloggers, recapping the last year, three months at a time.

April: On April 8th, Easter Sunday morning, my husband D told me that he wasn’t in love with me anymore, and he wanted to separate.  For the first time in our marriage, he took his wedding band off, which to me really said volumes.  I went through the motions that day, which hurts doubly because, as I later found out (and couldn’t have known then), this was to be the last holiday with my grandfather.  My last memory of him is of him sitting in my parents’ den, watching golf on the TV, blissfully happy…so I guess I can count myself lucky.

I think I reacted about the same as anyone will.  I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming.  Our marriage had never bounced back from the crushing blow it took in September of 2011, and although we had been seeing a marriage counselor, DS, since then, things hadn’t been as productive as either of us had liked, and I think D got tired and decided to throw in the towel.

The high point of April was going to Boston (a week after Easter) and meeting some fabulous friends from an internet message board that I’d only spoken to.  They were as wonderful in real life as they are online, and it was a great get-together.

I spent about a week lying in bed watching TV and crying all the time, and then something happened that jolted me out of it:

I got an A on my first major graduate paper since going back to school.

This was the wakeup call I needed.  I had to do well.  I knew I had to do well before all of this happened, but now it was even more critical.  It wasn’t even a case of “I won’t let him take this away from me.”  Because in the end, D couldn’t ruin my graduate career.  Only I could do that.  I couldn’t let me take this away from me, if that makes sense.  What good would it be to let my studies fall down?  Then I’d be divorced and a failure.  No.  So as difficult as it was, I threw myself heart and soul into being the best student I could be.

May: May was another difficult month.  D didn’t want to tell his family until we actually, legitimately separated, and I was having a difficult time finding an apartment.  We lived in a college town, and the housing market is ridiculous (affordable apartments are rarely on the market for more than 24 hours).

On May 12, I was a bridesmaid in my friend Tina’s beautiful wedding:

I spent the first three weeks of May tearing my way through my papers, and took three days off at the end of the semester to go to May Wildfire retreat.  I really wish I could find the video online of me spinning fire poi, because it was awesome.  But I can’t find it.

I came back from Wildfire, and found out that I had gotten an A and A- on my report card for Spring 2012 semester.  Which gave me a 3.85 GPA, the highest I’ve ever earned.  It was exhilarating.  I’ll admit I teared up at my desk.  I couldn’t believe that I had done it, that in spite of it being the most difficult few months of my life, I had rocked it.

I wish I could say that May ended on a high note, but it didn’t.  In the same week, my grandfather passed away at the age of 90 from what the doctors believe was an embolism.  And two days after that, my guinea pig, Milo, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.

June: I found an apartment, and at the last minute, I let it go.  My parents told me that my aunt, as executor of my grandfather’s will, would be willing to rent me his house, out in the woods, until it got a buyer.  With trepidation I agreed, because the house was so remote and out in the middle of nowhere (as my BIL said when  he saw it “People commit murders in places like this”), and I tried to find something else to occupy my brain.  I signed up for a five week course, starting the first week of July.

 

Okay, I wish I could say it gets better from here!  It doesn’t, but Week Four will, at least I hope, be slightly more uplifting!

Another One Bites The Dust

One paper down, one to go!

(Granted, this one is bigger, and more important, but it’s already finished except for the revisions, which I NEED TO WORK ON)

I don’t have that much to write about, so we’ll do bullets.

– Adult cooking.  I discovered potato gnocchi and holy hell, my life will never be the same.  DELICIOUS.  I boiled them for 2 minutes, then tossed them in melted butter and roasted garlic, sprinkled them with Parmesan cheese, and had grilled chicken with Montreal seasonings on the side.  OH MA GA.  New favorite meal ever!  I seriously can’t get enough, and I’m going to gain like 10 lbs.

This is my REALLY PROFESSIONAL picture (i.e. taken with my Samsung Stratosphere) of my dinner from two nights ago.

dinner

Could seriously eat it any day of the week.

– School is so close to being done!  At some point I have to do the aforementioned edits, but I am getting so close!  There is a bottle of moscato in my fridge AS I TYPE THIS, waiting for December 18th and the end of the semester.

– Snow.  Look, white crap.  We’re scheduled for an unwelcome visit from you and I DAGF how many New Englanders sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, as far as I am concerned YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE at least until December 23rd.  This Christmas is going to be difficult enough.  Snow before or on December 22nd means that my grandparents will more than likely cancel their flight and won’t be in on Christmas, and…yeah.  I just can’t do that.  Please.  This year has been sucktastic enough.  The promise of the entire family being here for Christmas was the thing that was keeping my Christmas spirit going.  Please please please please don’t come next weekend.  Please.

The 10 day forecast says that we only have a 10% chance of snow on the 22nd.  Please stay that way.  (I feel like I can’t stress this enough)

Shopping.  I am ALMOST done!  A couple of friend presents and putting together the finishing touches on my last family presents, and then I’m set!  Pretty happy with what I put together this year.

I also got my package from Sephora yesterday!  Because of the Beauty Insider $15 off a $50 purchase, I was able to justify picking up Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector (I got a sample in my It Kit a month ago and after squeezing the last little bit out of it, realized that I can’t live without it) and the Sephora Collection Smoothing Translucent Setting Powder.

My only complaint about this is the packaging, not the product.  This is TINY.  You’d think I wouldn’t be such a moron about reading the amount in the packaging, but I am.  For almost $40, this should be a much bigger product.  The good thing is that a SAMPLE of it lasted me a month, so this should last me quite a bit longer.  It’s amazing the difference.  I don’t usually get massive dark circles but a lack of sleep (and let’s be honest, crying in the last few weeks) has wreaked havoc on my eyes, leaving them dark and puffy.  A tiny little dab of this stuff (applied with the ice-cold metal applicator) de-puffs and lightens my undereye circles.  It’s brilliant. (Rating: 8/10, mainly because of the package)

The powder was a gamble because I’ve been having issues matching face powders to my incredibly pale skin (increasing since my already-less-than-impressive “summer tan” has faded).  I decided to take a chance on the translucent powder because it was supposed to just matte-ify my face, not put color into it, and figured I’d compensate with blush.  Well, this is a winner!  It matte-ifies my face, seals my makeup, and doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing a mask.  Bonus: the container is BRILLIANT.  When you pop the lid open, it allows just a small amount of powder free into the top level for brushing.  If you need a little more, close the container, turn it upside down and then back up, and re-open, to replenish the powder.  Love it!  (Rating: 10/10!)

– Knitting.  I have two projects that DEFINITELY need to be finished, one for this weekend, and two for next Friday.  I have one more that I MIGHT do for actual Christmas, but we’ll see, since it’s not a big deal if it isn’t done, I have other gifts for the recipient.  We’ll see!  I’m going to Knit Night tonight and hopefully I’ll bang out the last few rows of the one I’m working on for Saturday!

And I think that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  We’ll see how the weekend pans out!