Today I was enjoying the bright Utah sun. It was in the fifties on March 5th and I was loving it. The sunroof of my car was open and I was wondering what Michigan’s weather was like. We moved to Utah on January 15th and I have not looked back once. My spirits were up and I felt like a free bird, literally. One thing occasionally weighs me down though. I still have my house. My house. Ugh. This is the house that I lived in with my ex. This house has been haunted since he took his shit out of it in about January of 2006. When Jeff and I moved into this house after a ridiculous cascade of events in 2007, it felt haunted. I remember moments in corners of this house that made me break down, literally. The ghosts of my past would not leave me alone. The neighbors who took sides in my divorce with their utter lack of understanding and compassion still were there with their utter lack of understanding and compassion. The ghosts and the neighbors tormented me in my soul. I couldn’t get rid of them.
Jeff and I did everything we could to make it ours. We painted, we partied, we furnished, and we were us in that house…Jeff and I. Everything we did there should have canceled out the ghosts and their dreary experiences. For a while it felt like it did cancel those memories out. We redid the bathroom, we had amazing moments with friends and family and we became ourselves in that house. Three years spent there canceled out many, many things. But I couldn’t let the past go and I didn’t realize it until today.
As I enjoyed the Utah weather on this spectacular day, I also realized that I needed to tie up some loose ends to truly be free. I’ve been avoiding the subject of my Michigan house. As people asked about it, I would just explain that we are getting it ready to sell. The major problem here is that I still own this haunted house with my ex. My ex. The man whose ghost lies there in that place. This man won’t speak to me, he won’t speak to his children and he surely won’t acknowledge that he has anything to do with this house that his name is still on. This place that is worth nothing compared to what we owe on it. The fact is that this is the only place left on earth that legally admits that he and I were ever a “we”. Today as I walked in the beautiful Utah weather, I realized that I needed to do something about this house. If I ever want to legitimately enjoy the Utah anything, I need it to be gone. The real estate papers are in my files and, as I opened the mailbox of my Utah house, I wondered if I could get them in the mail to him by the end of the day. Unfortunately, higher powers than me had something else in mind for me today. As I was sliding the key into the mailbox I thought to myself, “I do need to get this going because this house is going to catch up with me soon”.
The two envelopes from my Michigan hometown contained water bills. One water bill was about right and the second one, dated just a few days later was in the amount of $1140-something. Once you hit the $1100 mark for a water bill, I don’t think the “ones” place matters so much, do you? I chuckled, thinking that obviously these idiots have really screwed up and I’m going to tell them about it. Right. Now. Unfortunately they had quite a bit to tell me. As I described my situation to the township lady, she quickly asked me, “Are you on Woodcreek Trail?”. Realizing that I hadn’t even given her my name, I hesitantly said, “Yeah”. “We received a call from Detroit Edison saying that water was coming out of the house at this address so we shut off your water. The bill reflects the amount of water that flowed through your meter”
Water was coming out of the house? I mean what could this mean? Coming out of a pipe attached to the house? Coming out of the WHAT? The house? Luckily Dad is close. It’s not a good thing when you know Dad has walked into the house and all you can hear from his muffled phone is, “Oh fuck”. Apparently the note on the door of my haunted house said that water was pouring out of the siding. As Dad walked in, he saw that the CEILING of the kitchen and family room had fallen onto the wood floors. The wood floors themselves have buckled and look like mud. As he attempted to go outside onto the deck (that Jeff and I just stained for Chelsea’s graduation last June) to see if a tree had fallen on the roof or something, he was unable to remove the 2X4 that was laying in the track of the sliding glass door because it was too swollen with water. There is water in the ceilings of the second floor where I just paid $500 for someone to paint and touch up so that we could easily sell the place for $100K less than the ex and I owe. As Dad is describing all of this to me, all I can think is, “You had me at oh fuck”.
Water poured out of my haunted house. How many times did I curse that place? How many times did I wish that house would disappear off the face of this earth? How regretful was I that I signed papers to refinance it at the height of its’ worth, knowing that my marriage was about to implode? How much did I hate the fact that I had to move back into that prison-house with my brand new beautiful husband during our first year of marriage? And now here it is, under water, literally and figuratively and I can’t believe the symbolism of it all. As I told this to Chelsea she said the perfect thing: “Omigawd, it’s like our house just died.”
And a very large piece of me just died with it.Filed under Uncategorized | Comments (3)
One more thing about our Beehive House experience and I will leave it alone, I promise. One of the little sisters that was there, guiding us through Mormon Disneyland (Which exhibit would the Beehive house be, anyway? Haunted Mansion?) was Chinese. Literally from China. Each of these missionaries wear their home country’s flag on their little name tag and this little sister’s English was so broken that we could only understand about a third of what she was saying. She was trying so hard to talk to each of us in the tour and when she spoke to us as a group, you could hear her script shine right through her broken English. One thing I’ve noticed about the missionaries of the Mormon church is that when they speak about things that are supposed to make me feel “THE SPIRIT” there is a distinct cadence about the way they do it. There are definite key words that are said and key questions that are asked but there is also a rhythm and tone about them while they are doing it that I’m sure they have been trained to use. So as this Chinese little sister was speaking I could hear her trained cadence coming through. It was bizarre. It made me wonder where she came from and how she got here.
How does a Chinese person become Mormon anyway? I suppose that there is a plausible explanation; a schoolmate from the states or a coworker or something. But the thing that astounds me as I continue to think of her is that she came from China, where she can’t google shit, all the way here to Salt Lake City, Utah. In Salt Lake City, we can google, but SHE cannot google. She is a missionary. She is told what to say, how to say it and when. She lives in an environment in the United States of America where SHE CANNOT GOOGLE!!! I’m astounded. Really, if you think about it, what is the circumstance that a person, in our country, who is an adult, is not FREE to do what they want? It is voluntary religious prison. Sure she doesn’t consider it that. She is “freed by her religion”, she is liberated from the evil of this world by her religion. But here she is, having come from a world where she was restricted in so many aspects for her entire life, in the United States voluntarily living in a religiously restrictive environment. I wanted to bring her over to me, hand her my iphone and press the little blue G on my home screen. Genuinely, I am not saying that I want her to google anything specific but I think that for her it would be fun. What would she google first? I’m sure it wouldn’t be anything relating to Mormonism or Brigham Young or polygamy. If it were me, I can’t imagine what I would google first…I’ve googled so much now that I can’t imagine life without it. After a solid 62 seconds of thought, with my fingers suspended over the keyboard of my laptop I can’t think of what I would google first. Or at all. I’m so used to access to information as an American-born person with access to technology during every moment of my life that I can’t fathom not having had it. I actually will admit to you right now that I have had my iphone with me in the bathroom and googled on the toilet. You’ve done it too and don’t even deny it.
This has been bothering me so much that I want to go back there and ask her questions about her life. I want to know how she got here, to the Beehive House. I want to have lunch with her and just talk. I guess for her, being here in the U.S. is probably a huge adventure, but shouldn’t she get to go see the Grand Canyon? Shouldn’t she go visit California and drive up the coastline? Shouldn’t she see New York City or Vegas? I mean the girl has been working in Mormon Disneyland all this time, she should DEFINITELY see Vegas. Or at least the real Disneyland. I guess at some point in her life she will be released and maybe have the option to travel the U.S. as a “free” person, unencumbered by a religious task or script. I imagine her in China planning her trip looking up places to see and realize…SHE CANNOT GOOGLE!Filed under Exmormon | Comment (1)
Yesterday Chelsea and I went to the Beehive House. I took her there because when I went on a tour a few years ago I enjoyed the discussion of polygamy that went on. It’s a peculiar bit of Utah history and culture, the practice of polygamy, and as a woman I have a healthy dose of curiosity about what it would be like to be one of many MANY wives. My original tour was conducted by an older woman who had vast amounts of knowledge of the history of the house, the people who lived there and anecdotes of interactions between the wives. I thought it’d be an interesting thing for Chelsea to see and prompt some womanly bonding time between the two of us. I could not have been more wrong.
We walk into the house to find two young “sister” missionaries leading the tour. As we quickly walked through the various rooms of the house I keep waiting for mention of them…the wives. Not only was there no mention of them but the only story that was told was of one wife and her seven children that lived in the house with him. The girls referred to them as “the family that lived in the house”. I’m sorry but you can’t just stand there and refer to “the family” as a nuclear one-man-one-woman-with-kids affair when you are talking about Brigham Young. The man had 55 wives. FIFTY-FIVE! Talk about alternative forms of marriage. I wanted to raise my hand and say, “Ahem, where did the other wives live?”. But I couldn’t do it. I was feeling the redness boil up inside of me and my anger was directed at a place beyond these 21 year-old girls who were given this script and only this script to recite. Their task is obvious. They aren’t there to discuss history, they aren’t there to even know real history, they are there to ask me about my current faith…ummm, none…and make me listen to passages from their Book of Mormon. As I realized that this place is not at all what I remembered it to be I had to acknowledge the change in my own perspective since the last time I took this tour. The last time I was a believer and I was in awe of this place. The last time was before Prop 8, before the Mormon church became a stakeholder in the concept of “marriage” on such a public stage. I mean you can’t do that and then bring people into the parlor of one of your most cherished historical figures and tell the tales of the most massive demonstration of alternative marriage that this country has ever seen without looking like a complete hypocrite, right? I guess not. I think if I would’ve even said the word “Ahem” this entire train of thought would have come straight out of my mouth and I just couldn’t be an ass to these little sisters.
The end of the tour resulted in a captive audience situation as we sat in almost a circle in the last room and listened to the little sisters read and testify. We were then asked individually to fill out comment cards. Each person got a card and questions about their faith…ummm none… I could see the looks on the faces of some of the people in the room that made me fantasize that a few of them were thinking “I call bullshit on all of this”. Not the couple who met in the singles ward in Vernal, Utah, but the Catholics from Ohio who already filled out one of those cards and had some representatives show up at their door last Spring were thinking it for sure. You know THEY googled. Before we could be cornered, Chels and I stood up and looked for the door. The little sisters were distracted by the Catholics. There was no sign that said “exit” or “this way out” or “here’s where you GTFO” or anything. We took a chance that the big front door was the appropriate exit and we did, indeed, GTFO. On the way out I brushed by a table that had a small easel with a single piece of paper on it. The Proclamation on the Family…the document that defines the Mormon church’s stance on marriage as that between one man and one woman. On a table. AT THE BEEHIVE HOUSE. Yeah, GTFO.Filed under Exmormon, politics | Tags: Marriage, mormonism, polygamy, prop 8, religion, Utah | Comment (0)
I can’t believe you are gone. I don’t know if you even realized how much of an influence you had over me, over all of us. There are so many things I want you to know before you really go. Though I no longer am sure that I believe in the thing called heaven, I also don’t necessarily believe that you are gone forever and that this is the end of Dorothy Jean Martin Moe. I hope you are somewhere watching me type this, knowing I’m thinking only of you at this very moment but I know that, even if you aren’t in heaven with Grandpa and your parents, your influence lives in all of us.
The memories you provided me were mostly childhood ones. When I think of being a child, I always think of you and spending precious time with you. The memories are so obscure but so particular only to me that I can’t stop holding on to them right now. I’ve thought of the feel of the sheets on the bed you used to tuck me into at night, the Dove soap and Dixie cups in your bathroom, the beaters full of chocolate chip cookie dough, the doll house we played with, the village on your mantel at Christmas, the holiday meals with ALL the formality of girls in dresses and linen, china and crystal. These memories are all of tangible, physical “things” but your tender voice and specific laughter are in the background. I can’t even describe your laugh or your voice but it is ingrained in me forever.
I remember the moment I told you I was dating a Mormon boy in high school. We were standing in a food line at a wedding and you told me to stay with that boy because he would be nice to me. You were probably the only one in the family who was outwardly proud that I became a Mormon. You were also probably the only one who was so disappointed in me when I left Mormonism and my husband. I really hope you know that this was the only thing I could do to make myself whole, and that you were part of my inspiration to grab onto my life and do whatever it would take so that, on my own death bed, I could say what you did, “I had a good life”.
Grandma, I will never forget that you bought me my first pair of Jordache jeans, that you always made sure you had Golden Grahams and smokey links in the house when I came over…even in pretty recent years. I’ll never forget that, when my sister was born, you were the one to tell me the news. I’ll never forget the standards you wanted for our family and to close my mouth when I eat Doritos. You were the rock of our family, the matriarch of all of us Moes. I’m not sure how we’ll go on without you, but we will. We’ll all have years of life still to live, if we’re lucky. We’ll have laughter, joy, beauty, other sorrows. We’ll have more deaths and, likely, births. In every single one of these moments, you will be with us. You will always be part of who we are as human beings, as a family.
I love you so much, Grandma. You will live in all of us forever.
My posts, of late, have been so philosophical and zen and all about the lessons I’m learning in life. If anyone were to read them, they’d think I have pretty good perspective about things and am open to accepting the aforementioned lessons as they roll into my life. The thing is, this is mostly true. I’m generally a pretty open-minded and accepting person. I HAVE learned that the more I consider all aspects of a situation or person before judging, things end up better. At the very least, I am happier. I can take it all in, process what I need to and then let it go.
Lately, I have realized that this is not the case when it comes to HER. Before you get too excited, HER is not someone you know. It’s not someone I am related to, not someone my kids are related to, not someone you are friends with on facebook or someone you know in any other area of your life. It is not the HER that anyone, who doesn’t intimately know me very, very well, could imagine it would be. This HER is a person that has done me wrong. End of story. There is no “HER side” of the story. There is nothing but HER BEING EVIL, and that is the only way I can see the thing. It was easy to hate her from afar because the hate meter was never stimulated by her presence in my proximity. Though she is somewhat proximal, my mental zenicity would convince me that she didn’t matter and I should move on. Yes I freaking should. Move on. I should consider the freaking source. I should realize that she is the spawn of the devil and stay-a-way.
Then one day, I could feel it. My hate-meter was being tickled in a way that I’d never felt before. I sensed the presence of HER. It was like when Luke Skywalker said, in The Return of the Jedi, “I’ve endangered the mission. I shouldn’t have come.” I closed my eyes, inhaled and realized that Darth Freaking Vader was standing right behind me. All of my zenicity was gone. All of the negative feelings flooded in. My arm was being simultaneously sliced and cauterized by her red lightsaber. Nothing can be done at this point but stare at my stump of an arm and use all my anger to…continue to hate HER.
It’d be easy to follow the force and maintain my zenicity if I could walk away from the fight with my stump, get my robotic arm and never face HER again but I cannot. Unless something drastically changes, the HER will be maintaining an unavoidable proximity in my life for the next few years. And here I remain with my stump, unable to unload my hate. HER is the first person that I can pretty much genuinely say I hate. I hate hate. I hate that I hate. But yet I hate…and it’s all her fault.
As I was explaining all of this to my amazing husband I had to warn him that a smackdown is most definitely pending. There will be a time when HER-Vader will approach me and I will whip it out (my beautiful green saber) and I will do it. I will knock her over, cut off her arm, smack her face, pull her hair, screech obscenities and repeat until I collapse from exhaustion. One day, he will see a side of me that will only exist in my perfect storm of proximity, hate, PMS, sleep-deprivation and hunger. I had to warn him and then, very hesitantly ask, “Will you leave me when this happens?”. As long as he doesn’t leave me, I think the smackdown may cure the hate and zinicity will solely reside. If he leaves me because of what he’s witnessed, it will be ALL HER FAULT.Filed under Uncategorized | Tags: bitch, hate | Comment (1)
My oldest kid is getting ready to graduate. There is so much to do that I’m getting buried and overwhelmed. I’ve started this monster thing by planning an open house for her. How am I supposed to feed dozens of people when I can’t even feed my family without major head-scratching? The most overwhelming thing isn’t the food, though. It’s the fact that my kid is GRADUATING. She’s got a prom dress. You can’t graduate without that. She’s taken all of her AP exams. She’s chosen a college. She is *this* close. This is exciting and scary for her but for me it is petrifying. In that it makes me feel as if I am as old as petrified wood.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’m watching my two remaining grandmothers go through possibly their final challenges. For both of them, it seems as if they are winding down. How do I type that? My grandmothers are dying. They seem to be ready for it. Grandma Moe just wants us to take her home, let her sit in her chair facing the lake and watch the sunset while she goes. Yia Yia (on the Greek side) has entered hospice care and knows that her time is limited. Even though they are both ready for this and they have both had full lives, it’s very hard to think about them dying because it seems as if it automatically signals the end of something big in my life. I guess it’s my childhood. I have so many childhood memories of my grandparents. They are ALL good and they are all about the indulgence of being a child.
Between the kid going away and the grandmas trying to go away, I find myself being very pensive about time and life and the concept of being here now. I truly believe the lessons I’ve been given so far by whatever universal power that may be out there (or that may be inside of myself) have all been trying to teach me to do that. To enjoy this moment right now, even though right now Kate is practicing her clarinet and having a really hard time hitting those high notes which makes my teeth feel like needles.Filed under Death, Family, Love | Comment (0)
Recently, my husband and I were sitting on our couch watching American Idol (the kids make us). I was comfortable laying next to him, my head leaning on his arm, my hand on his thigh and feet touching his. Suddenly I realized that what was happening at that very moment was something I, at one point, thought may never happen again: complete and utter comfort with another human being. It was the simplest, most imperceptible of moments to anyone else but that one moment brought the biggest joy to my heart…
Almost five years ago, before I tore myself away from my ex-husband, I did a little test. One day, when I found myself needing to go to the emergency room for what turned out to be an anxiety attack, I decided to go alone. I didn’t call a soul, not even my Mom. I thought that if I could handle a trip to the ER by myself, I could tolerate the inevitable aloneness that divorce would bring. I did it. I drove there, got told to take a chill pill, got discharged and did it all BY MYSELF. So I was set. I realized that I would not die if I were alone and off I went on my journey into solitude. It was actually nice for a while. His laundry wasn’t all over my floor, I could turn the light on when I was getting ready for work and not wake anyone, I could sit on the couch and watch whatever I wanted without having to always listen to him breathe, for the love of mike. The absence of continuous conflict in my life was so worth any loneliness I may occasionally feel when there was no other adult to talk to for DAYS.
The hope of a future relationship was there, of course, but I wasn’t very optimistic. Of course I could get “dates” and find someone to hook up with on my free weekends but I soon realized how fleeting and empty this all was. It was quickly becoming clear to me that finding a quality individual, worthy of actual space in my life would be almost impossible. The point was driven home to me one day when picking up my son from a friend’s house. The parents were sitting on the couch watching television. Her head was against his arm and they were utterly comfortable. It was the simplest, most imperceptible of moments to anyone else but that one moment brought the biggest ache into my heart. It made me run from the garage up to my bed and flop face down with belly sobs pouring out of me. I realized that, as much as my new life was the right choice and as much peace that had entered since he vacated, I risked never having that utter comfort ever again. My little ER visit test had not prepared me for this. It hit me hard that to get to that moment with someone, the moment where you are sitting on your couch comfortably leaning against each other watching television, a person would have to be invested in me. Who would want to sit there with ME on the couch? He’d have to like me, be attracted to me, listen to all of my stupidity, put up with all my kids, like the way I kiss, like the way I dress, like the way I smell…and I’d have to like all of those things about him. No way. Never, ever going to happen. Even if it could happen…how long would all of that *take*?
I can tell you now that it takes about four-ish years. As of last Tuesday.Filed under Divorce, Marriage | Comments (3)
We travel to Iowa on occasion to visit Kurt and Annie and one of our favorite stops is Cuppa Joe. This is an ecclectic, quirky coffee shop with plenty of atmosphere and wonderful drinks. Their latte has a deep flavor and they always make a pretty swirl with the foam. They give us brightly colored cups and saucers, they use fair trade beans and have a tip can that says “Tipping makes you sexy”. It’s just a fun place to stop in Cedar Falls with the kids. Today they’re doing homework while we sip and soak in the utter coolness of the place.Coffee, Family, Step Parenting, Travel | Tags: Coffee, parenting, Travel | Comment (0)
It’s amazing how quickly, when I see a picture of my ex, I just want to rip his face right off of the print. Right off of his head, actually. Recently my youngest son asked to see his baby book. Knowing full well that no book exists, I had to scramble to come up with an excuse…still scrambling… Anyway, I shortly thereafter decided to break out the scanner and start digitizing some prints. It has been a lot of fun. I’ve been all wistful about time passing and the meaning of life and all of these types of things. Of course, I decide that I must get out this boy’s baby pictures and scan them so I can at least make him a digital baby book. The other kids have scrapbooks with carefully trimmed pieces of coordinated paper and momentos carefully cemented in with the most delicate of adhesives. Screw that. This kid is getting a book that I very carefully auto-create from blurb.com.
It’s not that I don’t love him. Nobody can doubt this. But I am working full-time and raising four-slash-six kids to be wonderful human beings, all the while trying to be a worthy wife to my husband. All with NO help from my ex, which brings me back to my point: his face.
Rifling through these pictures was lovely. I realized that in my hugest belly pic, taken days before this child’s birth, I was wearing both horizontal and vertical stripes. I remembered his birth and the hours leading up to it as a time of great realization that natural birth may not be all that once believed it to be-even though I did not have the benefit of any drugs. I recalled the look on my oldest daughter’s face as I looked over and saw the tears that were streaming because she had just witnessed her brother’s birth. Then I SAW IT. The picture of my ex holding his newborn son. Of course, now, as I see it, I have the knowledge of what happens after this picture is taken. I know that he will choose to live a different life, away from his children. That he will choose an old, mean woman to share his life with instead of them. Ooops, I digress…
I made a conscious decision to include pictures of him in my digital files because he, quite simply, is their father. He was a part of those moments and he deserves space on our network drive and in their memories. When I look at his image with his children, though, there is so much there that I never allowed myself to really see until now. Maybe only I can recognize the apathy on his face, the utter distraction and laziness, because I was the only one that got to live with it day after day. When I look at these photos, it’s like I am allergic to bee stings and I just got swarmed with bees. I want to rip them off of me. I want them to never have existed. I want to rewind time and make better choices. None of us can do that, though, can we? As much as any of us want to rip our ex’s face off (and I know many do), we can’t. We can’t even toilet paper their house when we’ve had way too much tequila. Or tell our kids really what an ass they are. Well we can, but we really shouldn’t. And I won’t. I will continue to scan his icky face into my digital memory. I will make a blurb book for my boy that includes him and I will continue to say, “Yes, that’s your Daddy holding you.”Filed under Birth, Divorce, Family | Comments (4)
Since about 1983 or so, I have been part of a Greek family. My mom married a Greek man and brought us into a different world. Now my heritage is all northern Scandinavian so we’re a bunch of light-skinned blond people. Imagine us entering this Mediterranean world. My first memories of Easter with the Greeks are full of bowls of octopus, plates of sweetbreads, bottles of ouzo and loud, boisterous people speaking a totally different language. It was a strange place that didn’t make me feel comfortable or at home. As the years went on, I integrated bit by bit and all of the Greek traditions began to seep in and just become my own traditions. I now can’t imagine Easter without them. I haven’t seen an octopus around these here parts in quite a while, sweetbreads may have happened only once and ouzo is pretty scarce these days too. We white people probably have diluted many of these traditions down quite a bit but those that have stuck around are pretty near and dear to my heart. The cracking together of red eggs while repeating, “Christos Anesti” and “Alithos Anesti” (“Christ Has Risen” and “Indeed He Has Risen”), the Easter bread, singing of the Christos Anesti song before dinner and the loud, boisterousness of the family are all precious.
This year when I heard that the Greek side of the family was going to gather its remaining few-ish members and go to a buffet for Easter dinner, I decided to offer up my house. I couldn’t imagine having an Easter without these few traditions that are still hanging on in our family. We’ve lost a lot of members over the years and sometimes it feels like we’re really hanging on by a thread. Of course things will never ever be the same as they were in these old, loud days with so many people speaking Greek and eating exotic things but I just can’t let go of what is left. I’ve come to realize that this holiday in particular doesn’t have anything to do (for me) with its “Christian” purpose. I can genuinely say that I don’t believe in any of the miracles that are taught in relation to Easter. The magic I do now believe in, more than I ever have before, is family. These traditions link my childhood to my children. They link us through generations. They are a shining example, through us white people joined to the Greeks, that family is what you create with those around you, not the biology and happenstance that created you.