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Happy Belated Anniversary, my Loves!

This is ridiculous. For the third year in a row I have forgotten my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding anniversary. They’ve been married four years. That means I have forgotten EVERY anniversary. I have no idea why I have a block to this significant date. I love Amanda beyond measure and have never had any doubt that she was perfect for Jarrod in every way, but every year this date just flies right by me. It was yesterday.

Their anniversary is the day before my mother’s birthday. A day that I NEVER forget. One would think I would just attach their day to her day, but I don’t and I have no idea why. One might also think I should put it on the calendar. I should! But I don’t calendar important dates like birthdays and anniversaries because I always remember them. Ha!

This morning while perusing Instagram, I saw a rare post from Amanda referencing their anniversary. If not for that I probably would still be going about my day, the day AFTER their anniversary, not remembering.

Speaking of the rare post, this is part of the problem. They aren’t Facebookers. Amanda is on her third fourth (?) break from Facebook and even when she was on it she rarely posted. Jarrod is on it, but the only thing he ever posts about is music and the occasional harassing of his closest friends. They aren’t like the rest of us who broadcast all our important dates with photos all over our newsfeeds. If he had posted a picture of them on their wedding day yesterday morning with the caption, “Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. You have made me the happiest man in the world and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you,” or something like that, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Instead, there was this today:

TextSpeaking again of them never posting, allow me:

Awww... Early in the courtship.

Awww… Early in the courtship.

Popping the question in Budapest.

Popping the question in Budapest.

How could I possibly forget this day!

How could I possibly forget this day!


Last Summer

Their dog Frank last night on their anniversary, which is the Instagram post I saw this morning.

My granddog Frank last night on their anniversary, which is the Instagram post I saw this morning.

Nuts and Bolts

Mike and I are going on six months of living together. I guess we’ve made it over the hump. Not that I really gave the hump that much thought, but I think in the back of my mind I thought that if living together wasn’t going to work out, we would know it in a reasonably short period of time. Like weeks. Maybe a month. Not that it has all been sunshine and rainbows, though for the most part it has, but whatever differences we have about things gets ironed out rather quickly. We don’t let things fester. No silent treatments, no beating around the bush. Thank god.

I had a hard time leaving my cottage. I had carved out my own little space and my own life. I loved it. Then I went and fell in love. I didn’t fall in love with a single guy who’d carved out his own life quite yet. I fell in love with a guy who was going through a divorce, living in his first crappy apartment, and had two little kids.

So. There was that. But I (we’ve) told that story.

Now it’s the nuts and bolts. It’s the sharing of a small two bedroom/one bath bungalow with a kitchen the size of a bathroom and a bathroom the size of a living room. It’s joint custody of a 3 and 5 year old. It’s changing diapers, wiping butts, potty training, teaching one how to use a fork and the other to put the napkin on his lap instead of his head. Then there’s the what did I just step in?, stop chasing the cat, hurry up, you’ll be late for school, let go of your brother’s face, keep the water in the tub, and the laundry, my god, the laundry.

The nuts and bolts. The little dance we first did around each other. More than once he asked if all three of them were too much for me to handle. More than once I thought I would drive him crazy with my clean freakishness. Is he ever going to get that he should put the dry dishes in the dish rack AWAY before putting more wet ones on top of them? Is she ever going to fucking sit down?

In time I fell in love with the boys, too. That came with with their innocence. It came with raising my own little boy and knowing that I’ve always had room in my heart for more. It came with investing myself into their lives. It came with the trust that was placed in me by their father AND their mother. I don’t take that lightly. It came with wanting to be a positive addition in their lives. It came with a thank you text from their mom for making the sacrifice of going into work late because Mondays and Thursdays are my days to do the drop off. It came with one-on-one time and getting to know them as precious individuals.

Their giggles, hugs, and kisses. Their smell when you nuzzle their necks. The way they say my name. The way Mike had to come to me this morning with all the questions about the Thursday morning routine having taken over for me because of a work meeting. “What about Penguin? Does he go to daycare?” he asked. “No, Mike. He does okay without Penguin sometimes now.”

Because I know these things. The nuts and bolts.


There is a fine line between telling your story and not telling the whole story and that is exactly what I am struggling with at the moment. I have so much to tell, but I’m not the only person in my story. I keep going back to one of my favorite quotes:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

Easier said than done. I know I can’t wait until everyone dies before I write about them, but I do know that if my first husband were still alive, there are many things on this blog that wouldn’t be here. That would be a case of self-preservation.

I’m not talking about that extreme, but when I began toying with the idea of writing my story I was very concerned how my son would feel about what I wrote about his father. The picture is far from pretty and there are many details he knows nothing about. We talked about it and he said, “It’s YOUR story, mom. Write it.”

I feel I need to write what brought me to that traumatic time in my life. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. I didn’t have a terrible childhood or awful parents, but relationships are complicated, and while there is absolutely NO ONE to blame about what choices I made as an adult because I believe we are all responsible for our own lives and I have ZERO patience for people who want to blame others for the shit that happens to them (taking a breath and sorry for the run-on sentence), there was a path I followed and I want to write about my path without hurting those I love.

Yeah, them!

Yeah, them!

By the way, my father is perfect, and how I ended up marrying someone so completely opposite from him is, well, who the fuck knows?

Even day to day blogging would be fun because my mother has never had much of a filter and as she has gotten older, there is absolutely none. Not long ago she asked me this about Mike’s kids, “Why do they live with you? Why don’t they live with their mother?” Needless to say I raised my voice slightly in my response to her.

As much as she likes Mike, she is still having a hard time processing my life. She’s not quite sure of the “older woman, younger guy thing.” She’s still upset about my (second) divorce.

Okay, so what I just wrote right there about my mom was EXTREMELY difficult for me. Please, don’t anyone show my mother this blog.




Who do you think you are coming into this place? This place occupied by me, only. The door was closed. “But you left it unlocked,” you said. You, with your damaged spirit, threadbare and see-through. So open. So goddamned open. Laying your soul bare. Lifting it high into the air and letting it fall to the ground with all four corners of your heart showing. Not one corner tucked. And mine. Cracked. An open fissure mending slowly on it’s own. Your words, a cool, soothing salve. We suffered indifference. Like sand clinging to our skin we gently brushed it from each other. We were hungry. So very hungry.

Another New Year

October 1, 2014 - Dry Creek Valley

October 1, 2014 – Dry Creek Valley

Today begins another round of 40 Days of Writing which always serves as a good swift kick in the ass to WRITE. It’s also October 1st and I am not afraid. October and I have a better understanding these past few years. It won’t mess with me and I will continue to love it as I always have even though it has thrown me many curve balls throughout my life.

I just went back and read a blog that I wrote two years about October. Sort of. Well, that and a few other things. Not much has changed about the way I feel about this time of year or the stuff that I do right about now. I’m planning to call the doctor for an overdue mammogram and a redo of that colonoscopy that wasn’t. I also just got new tires again!

But a lot has changed. A lot. I now have a cat! And a few other things going on. So yes, 2013 did turn out to be a good year just as I mentioned in that two-year old blog. My heart was very open.

Here we go! Day One is done.

Funerals and Weddings

Another uncle has passed. My father has lost all four of his brothers now. I suppose it is the way it should go when you are the youngest of eight. It’s just he and one sister left. Despite (save for one) all of them living well into their 80s and beyond, it’s still sad.

Yesterday was Uncle Andy’s funeral. Though the circumstances aren’t the best, I look forward to seeing my cousins. We used to say, “Funerals and weddings.” Lately, it’s just funerals.

Uncle Andy, second from left, with my parents on their wedding day.

Uncle Andy, second from left, with my parents on their wedding day.

There was a slight hiccup before I was to make the one and a half to two-hour drive (depending on traffic). After delivering one kid to daycare, one to school and then getting my car back from Mike at his work, I decided to stop for gas in Santa Rosa at the gas station next to the Starbucks so I could get coffee for the road. When I pulled up to the pump and reached for my wallet, I realized I didn’t have my ATM card with me. Nor the one credit card I have for emergencies. Both were at home in a different purse. Crap. I sat for a second wondering if I should drive the 20 minutes back home and then decided to ask Siri where the nearest Wells Fargo Bank was. It was 9am, banks are open, and I was a little ahead of schedule.


I turned on the navigator and and drove to a Business Park in Santa Rosa where there was no sign of a Wells Fargo. In the process, and in my confusion, I was honked at by the car behind me following me into the parking lot. Okay, Jeez! I stopped my car in the lot to give Siri another chance then turned around to go. The woman driving the car that honked at me took a moment to scream obscenities at me as she walked through the parking lot. I love people.

The next Wells Fargo was in the Lucky store and it didn’t open until 10am. After asking a clerk is they could cash a personal check and being told no, my eyes began to sting with frustration. Back to the car, back to Siri, and on to the third location. An extremely friendly young teller helped my mood. I didn’t have an ID with me (also in the purse at home), but after we determined my identity through a series of questions and a correct pin number, he handed me $60 in cash. There was even fresh coffee on a table in the bank. And cookies! Thank you, Wells Fargo.

As I was pumping gas I wondered if I was meant to go at all. I wondered if all that was a sign that I should turn around and go home. Or just go to work. I thought about the two bald tires I’m driving around on. Maybe I’m going to have a blowout on Lakeville Highway and veer into the path of an oncoming semi. This is how my mind works. I’m the one on the overbooked flight wondering if there is a reason they are offering a free round trip ticket to anyone willing to give up their seat. This must mean the plane is going down. I should take the ticket. I will be interviewed on the news as the woman who survived because of a twist of fate. But I don’t take the ticket. I stay in my seat and the plane doesn’t crash. And my tire didn’t have a blowout either.

It was great seeing all of my cousins yesterday.


This is a rough draft excerpt from that book I’m attempting to write:

I sat across a table from a young police officer in uniform. He had a yellow legal pad in front of him and he was taking notes. We were in windowless room devoid of any color at the city of Monterey’s police department. A friend suggested that I inform the police of the exact day and time that I was planning to leave my husband. When I called to do that, it was suggested that I meet with an officer first. D-Day was still a week or so away. My husband was not someone that I could sit down with and say, “I want out.” He was someone I had to leave like a thief in the night.

I was on autopilot. My decision had been made. I had awoken to a thought the week prior that had solidified my escape and there would be no wavering. Part of me was completely numb and the other part of me sat shivering under florescent lights. The officer asked if I was cold. It wouldn’t have mattered how warm the room was. He left for a moment and then returned with a blanket; gray, the kind found in all the trunks of cop cars. He picked up his pen. He wanted to know my history with the man I was married to. He told me the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence was when she tries to leave. I said, “I know. That’s why I’m here.”

He had questions. “Where will you go?” he asked.
“To a friend’s house,” I said.
“Will he look for you there?”
“He doesn’t knows where she lives.
“Does he know her?”
“Yes, we work together.”
“Then you can’t go there. What about family?”
“They live too far away and I have to work.”

I had questions. “What about my son? I can’t keep him from his father, can I?” I asked.
“Is your son in danger?” he asked.
“No. Absolutely not.”

“Here is my best advice,” he said. “You need to take at least one week off of work and you need to go to a women’s shelter. You can stay there longer than a week, but you shouldn’t go anywhere for at least a week. You and your son need to be someplace where he can’t find you for awhile and a week will hopefully allow him to cool off. You need to leave him a note telling him that you are not taking his son away from him, but that you need a week to breath and then you will make arrangements for him to see your son. Make a copy of the note.”

“Okay,” I said. He took out his card, wrote a number on the back and handed it me.

“If you can’t safely leave on your own, call me. Call me anyway on that day. The number on the back is to the shelter. You can’t call them until you are on your way. Then they will give you the address.”

How sad that he has that number memorized, I thought.

Thursday Mornings

There was no coffee in bed this morning. I nudged my cat off the back of my neck and dragged my ass from the warmth of my down comforter at 5:45am. Not necessarily because I had to be up that early, but because I could hear kitchen noises and knew that Mike was busy with his morning routine and I wanted to be sure I had enough time with him to talk about the boys’ schedule.

Thursdays are my mornings with them and it’s new enough to still leave me in a slight state of panic. I’m responsible for getting a two-year old and five-year old up, dressed, and delivered to daycare, and then to get myself to work never on time. I’ve been doing this now for about a month, but today there was the added stress of delivery to daycare in time for the school bus to pick up Liam. Yes, we have a kindergartener as of yesterday!

I think my trepidation with the morning thing comes from my experience with my own son. He was an absolute bear in the morning. From day one he was a good sleeper and by that I mean every morning of his life I would have to wake him up. I never had a problem sleeping in on Saturdays when he was a little guy because I always woke up first. You can imagine what school mornings were like with him. Oh, the different things I tried. When he was in 5th grade I bought him a ridiculous alarm clock that was a gorilla one-man-band and I put it across the room. That thing could wake the dead. I told him he was on his own. From downstairs I could hear that stupid thing blaring. He slept through it. I figured he would sleep through college.

Ha! I found it on Ebay.

Ha! I found it on Ebay.

The past few Thursdays have gone really well. The boys are easy to wake up, but the clock wasn’t ticking then. Sure, I still had to accomplish all of the aforementioned duties, but if I was late, I was late, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Also, daycare feeds them breakfast so I didn’t have to worry about that, but with Liam off to school instead of slacking off with his brother, I now have to feed him before we leave the house and be on time for the 7:45 bus.

Mike greeted my sleepy, smooshed face with a smile and told me I was beautiful. Ha! Now I will never believe anything he says. Since it was close enough to 6 I wondered if it was too early to wake them. Maybe we could get them up and dressed before Mike left the house at 6:35? These were just thoughts rolling through my head. Silly. I can do this! I got a cup of coffee and sat at the table. Mike joined me. Then we went down the list of things I needed to do:

Okay, lunches are made. Let’s put them in the backpacks now so I don’t mix them up.
Take these diapers to daycare for Finn. They’ve run out.
The daycare lady is going to tell me where to find the monthly invoices.
What clothes should I dress them in? Put extra underwear in Liam’s backpack. And a t-shirt.
Extra pants in Finn’s.
Make breakfast for Liam. How about a breakfast burrito? Just give Finn a yogurt if he wants something because he’ll eat at daycare.
Feed Maeby.
Feed Forrest.
Scoop Maeby’s litter (still watching the urine output).
Get myself ready.

At 6:20 I went into their room and turned on the light, adjusting the dimmer because I’m sweet like that. Then I rubbed their backs and whispered it was time to start waking up. They are so cute when they are sleeping. They are always cute, but especially cute when they are sleeping. After that, I did as much as I could without them, like more coffee, feeding cats, brushing my teeth, and kitchen clean-up. When I heard Mike say, “Gotta go,” I turned from the sink with soapy hands and yelled, “NOOOOOO!” Not really. I didn’t do that. I kissed him goodbye and said, “I’ve got this.”

Two little boys were safely delivered to daycare at 7:35am and the only thing I forgot was Liam’s hair. I looked at his little face in the rear view mirror as I was driving and there he was with bedhead. Oh, jeez. I wondered if I could tame it with spit. Instead I just did my best with a finger comb when we arrived at daycare. I was still there when the bus arrived so I snapped a few pictures to text to his mom and dad.


“Good job!” he said after buckling himself all up.

More Laundry

There once was a time when I lived in a Ritz-Carlton hotel and had my laundry delivered folded in square wicker baskets. My panties were wrapped separately in pink tissue paper.

I thought of this as I drove two little boys to daycare this morning in my boyfriend’s old beater. I thought of the towels I had taken from the dryer and quickly folded as I called to the five-year old to wake up. I had already gone in several times to tousle his hair, kiss his cheek, and throw back the covers in an attempt to get him up. The two-year old was already up and dressed. The second time I went in to wake his brother I found him hiding in the closet doing his business. With his diaper changed and a few minutes to spare, there was always laundry to fold in this house. Always.

While chatting with the boys about the hot air balloon that was rising in the western sky, I was thinking about laundry. I thought of those pretty square baskets being delivered to my room all those years ago, and then I thought of the three hampers we have going in the house now. The hampers that are never empty because the minute you’ve emptied them they begin to fill up again.

I wondered about the progression of life. Don’t we work toward making life easier? Shouldn’t I have been doing loads of laundry for three guys years ago and living in the Ritz-Carlton now? I smiled to myself because I know that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. Yes, I was happy when I was unwrapping my panties from the pink tissue paper, but I’m also happy now.

I find myself smiling to myself a lot lately. I thought of the housekeeper we just hired to come in and clean every two weeks. She makes me smile. With my boyfriend’s new job, we can now afford that luxury. But she doesn’t do laundry, and that’s okay.

The Other Shoe

It’s no secret to most of you who read my blog that this past week was rough. Really rough. My cat was on death’s door and not expected to survive, and I’ve been suffering with lower back pain that began after a run just before the July 4th holiday. It started getting better, but then I lifted a struggling two-year old last Thursday morning and felt an instantaneous pain like I’d never felt before.

As if those two things weren’t enough, there was a third element. I couldn’t exercise. As most of you know, running or biking is my therapy. The inability to take off and let my body help my mind process and deal with my suffering cat had brought me to a low point that I haven’t seen in myself in a very long time. I wasn’t eating or sleeping.

Maeby’s ordeal reads like a chapter out of A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket. It began with a bouquet of flowers that were never intended for me in the first place. And yet they were beautiful, so I put them in a vase on my dining room table. I watched my curious little cat jump up to sniff the flowers. I even saw her chomp on the orange tiger lily not knowing they were deadly to her. I shooed her away, but then left the vase on the table for the next two days where she was free to inspect the flowers when no one was watching.

The flowers showed up on Saturday. By Sunday we could see that she wasn’t feeling well because she tried to throw up and didn’t have an appetite, but she was still resting comfortably and purring. We resisted the costly emergency visit, but we did call and were told it didn’t sound like a dire emergency so we decided to watch her and wait until Monday morning unless she got worse. We woke very early on Monday to the sound of her vomiting and what came up where hair ties. Mystery solved. Or so we thought. I took her to the vet and an xray was inconclusive as to whether there were any more in her stomach. He sent us home and told me to try to get her to eat. She wouldn’t.

Little did we know that the hair ties were the least of her problems. We also didn’t know when she ingested them. We were told they could have been there for awhile. I’m not even sure where she found them because I don’t let her play with them for fear of her swallowing them. I may not have known about lilies, but I do know cats like to swallow stringy things.

I stayed home with her on Monday and saw her declining. After two scary episodes where she tried to hide from me and was foaming at the mouth, I took her back to her vet that afternoon. He kept her overnight. The next morning she seemed better but he felt she probably still had hair ties in her stomach. Given the choice of him doing surgery or referring her to a bigger facility for the non-invasive endoscopy, I opted for the latter. Pre-procedure bloodwork finally identified the real trouble she was in. “Is it possible she ingested lilies?” I was asked. “Fuck. Yes.” I said.

Here we were at 72 hours without any treatment started to rid her kidneys of the toxins. The prognosis was grim. The doctor told us that she had never seen a cat survive with kidney values that high, but she followed up that statement with, “but she isn’t acting like she’s sick,” which prompted me to ask, “Then can you please try to save her?”

Does something bad always have to follow something good? Are we conditioned to believe that when things are going our way that it won’t last? When will the other shoe drop?

I don’t really believe any of that. Sometimes, shit just happens, but it’s interesting to look back on a conversation that I had with Mike few weeks ago. He had just been offered the job of his dreams, and we talked of all the wonderful things that had happened in our lives over the past year. Then he said, “It scares me that things are so good,” and I knew exactly how he felt. I think we can all relate to that.

I know we didn’t do anything to bring that awful week into our lives, but I think it’s important we keep our thoughts in check. Even when I was beginning to resign myself to losing Maeby, I was trying to put negative thoughts out of my head. I found myself wondering what I was going to do with that six-foot cat condo. Should I put it on the curb with a Free sign? Should I take it apart and save it for the next cat that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting? Then I would chastise myself for thinking that way. I closed my eyes and brought up images of her sleeping in my arms like she does every night. I thought about all my friends who were holding her recovery in their hearts.

Perhaps the other shoe did drop, but not for any other reason than a series of unfortunate events. The flowers, the first sign of trouble on a Sunday, the hair ties that delayed diagnosis, things that just happened the way they happened. We learn from these things. We learn life is precious. Any life. We learn we are a community rich with love and support. We learn that a feisty little tortie can win the hearts of her doctors and nurses and beat the odds. And finally, we learn to pick up the other shoe and keep going because life is still wonderful.


Carrie Cariello

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