A Lot Can Happen in Ten Years: February 17th, 2011

February 17th, 2011 was a Thursday… three days after Valentine’s Day and four days after the one year anniversary of the death of a baby I loved. I was 23 years old and living in a mostly empty apartment, after drunkenly throwing out, quite literally, everything I owned, save for my clothes, my bed, an 80s dining chair, and my TV and television armoire, on Christmas Eve. I had no real furniture, no dishes, and no kitchen appliances that didn’t come with my apartment, because he’d touched those things. Life was bleak, as I drove to the county seat, where I sat alone in a judge’s office, tearing up because my life wasn’t supposed to be this way.

At 23, in the South, I was bombarded with social media posts of engagement rings and wedding portraits and announcements of new jobs and new homes. I was even beginning to see a regular flow of ultrasound pictures and self-righteous mommy wars posts… and here I was, listening to a surprisingly compassionate judge explain my state’s laws for remarriage after divorce and thinking about all of the plans I’d had for my life, five years earlier, and how this so very much was not one of them. I was utterly humiliated and completely defeated.

I’d filed the paperwork for my divorce almost three months earlier, but had waited to finalize them until my taxes and FASFA were submitted. I was hyperaware that I’d screwed my life up plenty and, as a graduate student who has always excelled at delayed gratification, wasn’t about to put my educational financing in jeopardy, even if it meant remaining legally married to a psychopath for a little while longer. I hadn’t seen my ex since the day I both bribed him with a cellphone and threatened to call in his warrants, just to get him to sign my car over to me and sign the divorce papers. I was aware that he’d been breaking into my apartment, during the 60 hours I worked each week on top of school, to steal anything of value… but didn’t have the energy to care much or do anything about it, other than drive around with my valuables in the trunk. I’d spent close to my last dime having a paralegal draft the paperwork, to make sure it was done correctly, and was focusing every ounce of energy on keeping my head above water and scraping together the funds to finish the process. That was easier said than done, as I handed over what little cash I had in exchange for as many certified copies of the divorce papers as I could afford.

I left the courthouse and went straight to the Social Security Office, where I officially reclaimed my maiden name on my card and followed it up with a trip to the tag agency, where I did the same with my driver’s license, before stopping by the bank. With no time or money to eat, I barely made it to Walgreen’s to get a new passport photo and requested a name change on that, too. If I recall, it took the last of my budgeted divorce money and cost me $110. Every other 23-year-old I knew had Spring Break travel savings and here I was draining my divorce fund. I went home, defeated and heartbroken, and changed into pajama bottoms and an old high school team t-shirt… yes, I remember what I was wearing that day… and instead of having a good cry, I went to work. I’d already taken off from substitute teaching to run those weekday only errands. I couldn’t afford to lose a day’s worth of minimum wage earnings from my job cleaning rec equipment at the Community Center with my hard-earned bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science education. I couldn’t have chosen a more ironic specialization if I’d tried.

That was exactly ten years ago and it simultaneously feels like someone else’s life and also not that long ago. I remember parts of it so vividly and others are a haze. Within a few months, I moved into my single girl apartment, where I felt safe for the first time in far too long. I didn’t recover overnight, though. I slept with a .357 revolver in a pink gun sock, for several years, in fact. I’m actually not sure if I put it away until I met Jake, the first man to share my bed, and realized how very, very dark that looked. I had nightmares. I developed the occasional stutter, which all research tells me is trauma induced.

In the beginning, I felt like I was taking three steps forward and two steps back, emotionally and financially, but that still equated to progress. I got my first half-time circulation job with the library system, but found myself inexplicably entangled in a lie of omission to my coworkers, deliberately letting them believe I was a spoiled white girl who’d never known a day of hardship in her life. I lost a bunch of weight and started dressing cute and dating, but had no idea how to go about it and never did quite learn how to spot when someone was flirting with me or return the exchange. I slowly built up my credit score, while also taking out the maximum in student loans just to get by and consolidate the debt left over from my divorce.

Ultimately, I graduated from the MLIS program at 25 and was promoted to half time librarian. I had a thriving social life and plenty of hobbies, though I was still working two jobs and rarely got any sleep. I spent the school year saving every dime I could to survive the summers without substitute jobs, the first time I’d find myself with any real free time. I think those summers might have been the best thing for me, as I read by the pool in my $20 drugstore lounge chair, took the dog on long walks, and had dinners of snack foods while yarn bombing the living room during a Vampire Diaries binge.

In time, I made my peace with God and went back to Church. I continued to date, while I tried to figure out if I really wanted marriage and family or if I’d just been told so all my life. I still remember the day I realized, with 100% certainty, that I wanted to get married again and have children. I was subbing an elementary music class during the last week of school. I never subbed young children, unless I really needed the money, but I was looking at three months without jobs, so I took what I could get. That day, there was an assembly, seemingly just for entertainment, where Ronald McDonald did slapstick comedy as the kids roared with laughter while their parents watched from the sidelines. I realized that, although the comedy was childish and stupid, the parents were enjoying their kids’ delight so much, that they were laughing, too. I looked around the gym I’d spent my own elementary school years loathing (never the athletic type) and wondered if I was going to miss this, having children and watching them enjoy moronic assemblies, my husband by my side. I decided to get serious about dating and met Jake approximately one year later. Six months after that, I got my first full time position in the library system and a year later, I had an engagement ring.

Jake and I have been married for almost four years now, together nearly six. We own our own home, in a different town unique to us both, have little debt, and promising careers where we plan to stay, exactly ten minutes from our front door. We have great friends and close family relationships. I still have the occasional nightmare about that time in my life, when I didn’t know what the future held or even what I wanted it to hold. Getting divorced at 23 was easily one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I was not emotionally or financially equipped for it… but I did it anyway. I shudder to think where I’d be if I hadn’t had the nerve and now, ten years later, I know that I would have been 33 regardless. This way, I’m 33 and have an amazing life. So, for anyone reading this, trying to drudge up the courage to change your life, be it by filing for divorce or going back to school or starting a new career or relocating, just know that time is going to pass either way. It’s up to you where it takes you and a lot can happen in ten years.

Textersation Tuesday


Halo 5 came out today. When you’re single, you don’t even know that more than one Halo exists.
10-27-15 2

I interviewed for, and was passed up for, another full time librarian position. Gail tried to say the right thing…


I texted Jake the news, as well. He texted back once and called twice. I couldn’t bring myself to answer. I didn’t want to interrupt his video game fun with attempts to console his girlfriend in a dramatic mood, so I let it go to voice mail as I randomly wailed into my frozen pizza. Sigh. Here’s hoping that I’ll read this in a year and smile, because it all turned out okay, just as I’ve been doing with last year’s terrible date stories.

Why are we reading this crap? (What Twenty-Somethings [I] See in Christian Grey)

Working in a library, it is impossible not to recognize the title Fifty Shades of Grey or the name Christian Grey. Frankly, living on planet Earth in 2012, it is impossible not to recognize either. Never in history, has any book been more overdone. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be a librarian. I do not care if you read smut. In fact, personally, I encourage it as a healthy expression of your own sexuality, in which no actual person is degraded in any way, unlike in pornographic films and magazines. In short:

Me: “I don’t care if Christian Grey wants to string Anastasia Steele up from the ceiling and gut her because it’s sexy. It’s still pretend.”
Gail: choking on soda “I DO!”

They’re make-believe. No real daddy issues are present. More power to you. End disclaimer.

The sex in 50 Shades of Grey is redundant and dry (pun fully intended), the writing atrocious, and the entire premise of a well-hung over-protective billionaire is just, for lack of a more fitting word, silly. Reading reviews for this title is a far more entertaining venture than actually reading said book. There are also much better ones out there than I could bother giving that much thought to, so I’ll avoid competing and address another issue all together.

What exactly is Christian Grey’s true appeal for women in their twenties?

I know that the primary audience for 50 Shades is women in their forties, but I also know a number of women my age who are reading it and swooning. So what’s the draw?

Women who’ve never been abused seem to consider Christian’s psychotic obsession with Ana appealing. He wants to protect her… by controlling every move she makes. He puts tracking devices on her phone pretty much from the moment he learns her name. Guards follow her everywhere once they begin dating. That’s insane, but whatever. Women who’ve never had someone manipulate and control them probably just don’t see this as manipulating and controlling, so they can continue reading with one hand under the covers. Protective is clearly not the only motivator here, however, or pretty much any romance novel would do. I, myself, read plenty of paranormal romance, in which the lead male character is usually some powerful alpha male, so this is hardly specific to Christian Grey.

50 Shades of Grey is erotica on a good day, plain Lady Porn on a bad one. I don’t care if there’s a picture of a tie on the cover; erotica is the nicest and most accurate description for this book. So, clearly, the sex would be a consideration of what makes Mr. Grey so perfect. However, not only is the sex redundant, unrealistic, and awkward, but the actual mechanics of it seem to be so… specific… that it’s unclear why this would appeal to such a wide demographic. I, myself, do not want someone to stick his thumb in my bloody vagina and then into my mouth. Nor do I want to be strung up like a deer and denied orgasm as punishment for disobedience. Soooo, for women in their twenties, who were probably subjected to better sex scenes than this as tweens secretly watching Sex and the City, Christian Grey’s stamina and technique probably just seems unrealistic, weird, and even inconvenient.

Even outside of the bedroom, Christian Grey is talented at everything. He’s a concert pianist, he flies gliders (didn’t know those were a thing until this book) and actual planes, has a taste for art, is multilingual, knows every martial art ever, is extraordinarily well-read and well-dressed, dances, and I think even sings. If there were a way to make it sexy, I’m pretty sure we’d have seen Christian Grey knit himself a sweater from the fur of the angora rabbits he raised from birth. However, I’m not so sure this level of skill is attractive to women in their likely competitive twenties so much as it would be daunting. If he’s better than me at everything, then what do I bring to the table? Why am I even here? That’s not sexy. That’s threatening and makes me feel insecure.

He’s protective, he’s well-hung, has the stamina of a Mack Truck, is a connoisseur of everything, but most of all, Christian Grey is unrealistically wealthy. I’m pretty sure he sells Black Market unicorn blood, because at 26-years-old, he owns Seattle and apparently most of the geographically scrambled Northwest. He has a plane, 43 cars, eleventeen houses, all the clothes ever, several salons, and oh yeah… a publishing company. Now we’re getting somewhere.

I cannot speak for every twenty-something out there, but I can speak for myself. The only thing I see in Christian Grey lies in his ability to give Anastasia everything… particularly her dream job. Anastasia graduates college with a generic degree and no basic knowledge any 21-year-old should possess. She wants to do Something With English, but she doesn’t have her own computer or E-mail address. She’s spent the last few years working in a completely unrelated position at a hardware store and has a few hundred dollars in the bank. She has no future, when along comes Christian Grey with the gift of a new car that is apparently pretty needed and tons of fancy gadgets. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t really care that much about the car and the technology. I’m an easy gal to please when it comes to physical possessions. Christian, however, doesn’t just buy her every new toy she wants (and some creepy ones she doesn’t), he buys the entire publishing company that hired her… then promotes her… and gives it to her. That is FUCKING AWESOME. I’d let a man string me up and stick anything in my ass he wanted if it meant he’d give me a library to run. I totally get it now. She graduated college with a pretend degree and no concrete plans and now she gets an entire publishing company? Keep your damned car and that British Library on iPad. I just want the dream job.

Security. That’s what I see in Christian Grey. It’s not the protectiveness, the sex, the talents, or even the luxury for me. It’s a girl with the murky future that always accompanies the end of college (particularly with no skills or specific goals) and a man who is going to give her total control in the career she most desires, with no experience at all. Later she gets a husband and kids and that’s all fine and well, but my greatest envy is a permanent position in her field. Considering my entire generation grew up swooning when an abusive Beast gives Belle a library, I am seriously doubting I’m alone here.

I had this jacket specially tailored to cover the handcuff bruises.