I texted JB to see when he’d be bringing Tom home. He said 8:30 tomorrow morning. He’d received the latest round of divorce papers from my attorney on Friday. I asked if he’d be dropping off signed papers. He said yes!!!
My mother and I’ve been talking about going on a trip after my divorce. I suggested going to Germany, her motherland, but she said she didn’t like going to foreign countries. I said how about the redwoods and Yosemite? She said it would be too cold in the spring. This morning, I got a smoking hot deal for a vacation package to Ireland emailed to me. My father and mother had discussed going to Ireland when he was alive. It was an English-speaking country. I called my mother.
“I just got a great offer for a trip to Ireland that includes airfare, a car, and vouchers for a week of B&Bs anywhere we want to go. I can be your tour guide and chauffeur.”
“Let’s do it!” she said. “But let’s go during the summer, when the weather is good.”
My mother bought us the trip! We’re going to Ireland!
Shana creeps me out. We began attending monthly Kabbalah classes at the same time and after we were partnered together once, she began sitting next to me and sizing me up with her shifty piercing eyes.
I attended a Purim party at the Kabbalah center not long ago and everyone dressed up in costumes. I wore a suede fringe hippie vest, a loud pink shirt, and torn jeans and found a seat for the service between a woman wearing a generic white paper mask over her face and a person dressed as a either a harlequin or hangman. The harlequin/hangman wore a black polyester sack with the eyes and mouth cut out over his or her head and a harlequin mask on top of it. He or she was draped in a long black robe and refused to speak and rarely moved.
“I tried to get him to talk but he won’t,” the woman with the paper mask whispered loudly. “He’s been sitting there a long time and he won’t talk to anyone. I was glad when you sat down.”
I looked directly at the harlequin/hangman. He or she stared straight ahead, folded gloved hands resting in their lap. I turned toward the woman with the paper mask. I raised an eyebrow.
“Creepy, huh?” she asked.
“Want to switch seats with my husband? I’ll make him sit there.”
I didn’t want to hurt the harlequin/hangman’s feelings, but I didn’t want to sit next to it either. I switched seats. The harlequin/hangman got up and left.
“I’m feeling kind of bad now,” the woman said.
“They knew they were creeping us out,” I said. “They could have put an end to it.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
After the Purim reading everyone began socializing. The Harlequin/hangman stood near the hotdog stand and slid the harlequin mask to the top of his or her head and began fiddling with the head sack. No way a hotdog was fitting through that mouth hole. The harlequin/hangman pulled the sack off. It was Shana.
Feeling guilty about hurting her feelings, I walked over. “You gave everyone the creeps,” I said.
“Yeah, well, you know.” She mumbled.
A man walked over and complimented Shana on her costume and I bolted.
This morning, all the tables were filled at Kabbalah class by the time I arrived. I sat in a chair in the back. Ten minutes later, Shana walked in, moved a chair next to mine, and sat so close we could touch. The presentation ended and we were asked to write twelve goals and share them with our group. Ruth walked over to Shana and me.
“Move your chairs to a table,” she said. “Get in a group.”
“I just want to share with Brenda,” Shana said.
Ruth looked uncomfortable. “I’ll move,” I said, relieved to be ditching Shana.
“Thanks,” Ruth said.
I dragged my chair to Mike and Angie’s table and Shana found space at another. When class ended, I bolted, drove to the indoor driving range on my way home, and hit balls for an hour. As I was getting ready to leave, Golf Guy walked over.
“How’d it go?” he asked.
“Better, but not good,” I laughed. “Thanks for the tips. They helped.”
“Why don’t I give you a few more?” he asked. “I can take some video, too.”
I grabbed one of my Zohar volumes and began scanning the ancient texts written in Aramaic and Hebrew. Scanning was supposed to bring miracles and blessings, like taking vitamins, Yosef said. He sent me instructions on how to scan certain volumes for various issues—one was good for legal challenges.
My attorney had finished the fifth draft of my custody and marital settlement agreements and I scanned passages correlating to legal matters. I want the divorce papers signed. I want to get an April court date and be divorced next month. I set my intention. I asked the Universe, the Great Divine, God, the Greater Consciousness System, whatever you want to label the force of nature we live in, to run the show and let the chips fall where they should. I believe the outcome will be just. But I feel edgy and scared. I need a roof over my head, preferably the one I have, and food in my mouth. Those things are up in the air right now. I believe the Universe has my back, though, and I’m along for the ride.
As I scanned, it occurred to me I’ve been producing large amounts of negative energy. I want to detach from the past. I want to focus on the present. I don’t want my precious energy leaking out on JB anymore. My mind flashed back to a morning I got out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror and thought I’d develop cancer if I stayed in my marriage. I started crying because I saw no way out. My sons would hate me if I left their father, killed our family, because I was unhappy. But JB had given me the golden ticket. I wasn’t going to get sick and die. Yeah, I was going to die one day, but not before the Universe and I had done magnificent things together for a long long time.
I rode BlackJack, ran three miles on a gym “dreadmill,” and unrolled my yoga mat in an empty aerobics room separated from the rest of the gym by a glass wall. I warmed up with sun salutations then laid flat on my back to stretch my hamstrings and hips. I bent my right knee, wrapped my pointer and middle fingers around my right big toe, and extending my leg straight into the air. I lowered it ninety degrees to the right, released my inner thigh muscles, then moved onto my left leg. As I curled my torso up from the floor to grab my left big toe, I saw an old man sitting on an exercise machine with his eyes laser focused on my crotch. His mouth was agape. There might have been drool. I was about to give him the finger but started laughing hysterically. He quickly averted his gaze. I thought, “Some poor woman is married to that.” Then I laughed harder realizing, “I’m that woman, but not for long.”
I checked Power School. More missing work. The assignments Tom handed in were slopped together. He had more U’s. I grounded him from band practice until May and told him he couldn’t be in the battle of the bands. Tom started crying.
“I’m so mad at you,” he hissed.
“I warned you. You were aware of these consequences and you chose them.”
“I know, but can’t you give me a break? I’ll do better. This won’t happen again.”
“I’ve heard that too many times.”
Tom and I argued and argued in this circle.
“I’m not arguing anymore, we’re done,” I finally said.
Tom stomped out of the living room. I walked into the kitchen and began unloading the dishwasher. Tom’s feet pounded down the stairs. He appeared in the kitchen with one of his electric guitars, holding it like an axe. His face was fierce.
“I’m going to smash this,” he growled.
Tom looked at me like I was crazy. Then he looked confused. Then he got his angry look back. “I’m going to do it,” he growled.
Tom raised the guitar over his head and growled like a dog.
“Do that outside,” I shouted.
Tom lowered his guitar and looked at me like I was a madwoman.
“You better not break anything in here or damage the floor. Go smash it on the sidewalk.”
Tom stared at me then stormed upstairs. I sat on a kitchen stool and stared out the window.
Tom was already missing today’s band practice. Terry wasn’t happy about it. He was going to be more unhappy about the latest detail. I got up and sent a group email to the band parents and included JB this time.
“I'm sorry this is affecting you, but Tom will not be able to compete in the battle of the bands or jam through the end of April. This was a consequence for poor grades. I'm sorry. Maybe another guitar player can step in.”
I called Terry to make sure he got it.
“Yeah, I got it,” he said in a clipped, irritated voice. “We’re not bringing anyone new into the band. It’s business as usual. I’ll fill in for Tom until he can come back.”
I grabbed my laptop and emailed JB.
“I hope you will not undermine Tom’s grounding. Tom has been without electronics and screens this week, and that will continue the rest of the month. You got the email about him not jamming until May, not performing at the Cubby Bear. It's the first time he actually cared about a consequence. Maybe this will make a difference. He got mad at me but he’s been doing homework all day.”
“I agree something had to be done given how this trimester has started, and I'm glad it appears to be working,” JB replied. “I give you my word that I will not undermine your decision.
“Now, as his father I am entitled to a heads up at the very least. I should not be learning that Tom is grounded from Terry. I should not learn that he's banned from participating in the BOTB at the same time as everyone else. I hope you can appreciate my point of view here.
“Lets please try to communicate better when it comes to Tom. I would really appreciate it.”
I emailed Terry that I’d grounded Tom and he wouldn’t be at band practice. I didn’t CC JB. My text alert dinged.
“I need to look up our self-defense classes!!!” Tanya texted.
Tanya and I had gone out for coffee after a recovery meeting this morning. She’d watched a self defense video on public access the night before.
“I felt sorry for the padded up guy getting kicked in the crotch, Tanya laughed. “They were making these old ladies really nail him. They didn’t want those ladies to hesitate for a second. ‘Kick him! Knee him! Poke him in the eyes! Now! Do it now!’”
“I want to do that!” I said. “I want to kick the shit out of a padded person. Might help me stop fantasizing about maiming JB.”
“We didn’t get to gossip about Colleen this morning,” Tanya sent in a second text.
Colleen had been at the recovery meeting this morning, too. She's a none-too-bright know-it-all--a lethal combination--and the last person I wanted to waste time on. Colleen had spread a rumor last spring that I was drinking again. It occurred after JB and I'd met with an attorney to draft a will. The attorney had asked me to name a durable power of attorney and I'd frozen, felt like vomiting. The attorney stared at me. JB'd nervously laughed and said, “You can name Blake if you want.” We left my part blank. JB drove to work and I sat in my car crying knowing JB would never fight for me and I didn’t want to be married to him. I'd driven to a recovery meeting looking like hell and run into Kat. She, again, told me being a single mom sucked. Later, while I was sitting in a Jiffy Lube getting my oil changed, my phone rang.
“I have to ask you,” Kat said breathlessly. “Have you been drinking?”
I started laughing.
“Have you been drinking?” she repeated.
“No. Are you serious? Why are you asking me that?”
Kat sighed with relief. “I knew it, but I just had to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Colleen told me she thought you’d been drinking. She said one of her sponsees saw you at a meeting and said you didn’t look good and you smelled like alcohol.”
I started laughing. “Probably after JB and I met with the lawyer.” Then I got angry. “I was broken that day. What a malicious thing to say!”
“I figured it was something like that. I just needed to talk to you first before I called out Colleen for spreading that around.”
“Give me Colleen’s number.”
“I have not been, nor am I drinking,” I texted Colleen. “Malicious gossip.”
Kat called me later. She’d lit into Colleen, Colleen had gotten angry, and they were no long speaking. Colleen approached me at a recovery meeting days later and asked if we could talk.
“I’m listening,” I said.
In her slow, I’m-combing-my-mind-for-words, breathy way, Colleen leaned in and condescendingly said, “Brenda, I only shared information with Kat out of concern for you…”
“Interesting you didn't come to me directly,” I cut in. I turned and walked away.
"Colleen has said, in meetings, that you're unforgiving and wouldn't accept her apology," Tanya told me days ago.
I started laughing. “Colleen didn’t apologize. She began justifying herself.”
“I can totally see that,” Tanya said. “I can totally hear it. I just love how she sits in meetings and pulls everything out of her huge purse, rattles her keys around, chugs out of her water bottle, says, ‘Uh huh,’ or ‘Yeah,’ or ‘Mmm hmm,’ to every comment being made. Her legs totally sticking out. Trust me, I have it down pat. She drives me insane. She is the worst behaved person in a meeting. And she has 25 years of sobriety!
“I get very catty about Colleen with Kiki,” Tanya continued. “It's not right, but yes, we have Colleen down pat. You have to be around us when we imitate Colleen. ‘Oh, I know that,’ or ‘Oh, I did that too!!!’ You can say something like, I jumped off the Empire State building and did a 360 and she would say, ‘Oh I did that!’ Kiki and I are going to deliberately make things up to see if Colleen claims she did them, too. We're so mean.”
“I don’t want to talk about Colleen,” I texted Tanya.