Adele’s Two Cents: My Empty Bucket List

Adele’s Two Cents: My Empty Bucket List

My calendar must be broken, yes, that’s it.

One day it correctly reflects that I am a married 37 year-old mother of two young children; the next, it inexplicably claims that it is 2014 and I am a 59 year old single empty nester. How the hell did that happen? Continue reading

Am I Better Off?

Lately, I’ve been hearing this question a lot:

Of course, no one’s actually asked me this as yet, but I figure it’s just a matter of time before they do. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be you doing the asking. So, I figure, might as well answer it now, on account that I’m chomping at the bit to tell you exactly how I’ve been doing these past four years. Though, you may very well regret you asked. (Oh, you didn’t ask? Well, that’s alright. I’m happy to tell you, anyway.)

Am I better off?

Truth be known, I could be better.

First, there’s the matter of my knee. It started acting up about a year ago when I was taking a class in leadership and someone got the bright idea to split us into teams for a scavenger hunt of sorts, as part of a team-building assignment. Next thing you know, we were plopped smack in the middle of the zoo, where we were given our marching orders. And marching we did! Along with running, trotting, jogging, climbing and descending, not to mention, dripping sweat, and gasping for air.

Because, if you know anything about the zoo in San Diego, you know it was built on a hill. Maybe even seven hills, like Rome. Only these hills are steep, whether you’re going down or up. And scavenger hunts, by their very nature, are designed to have you running around in all directions, willy-nilly.

Right away, the clock was ticking. We had an hour to find all the zoo animals on our list, and figure out the answer to a riddle about each. My friends, what you have here is a recipe for disaster, particularly for a woman of a certain age, who is well past 21.

In no time, my knee began to rebel from the brutal pummeling it was getting in my vain attempt to keep up with my team of thirty-something’s. By the next day, I was sore. Two days later I was aching. On the third day I was limping. All the ice and heating pads in the world did little to avail my pain.

Within a week I was incapacitated and a few weeks after that, my doctor referred me to physical therapy. My therapist took one look at me and I could tell at once he was skeptical I’d ever walk again. After one session, I was pretty sure he was ready to send me to the glue factory.

Completely defeated, I went home with a notebook of knee exercises he’d given me. Little by little, we began to see improvement, but, if you ask me, my knee has never been the same.

Then there’s the matter of the neck. Four years ago I still had a neck. Now, where my neck once was, there’s a mass of chicken flesh, all saggy and wrinkly with mottled skin where smooth skin had once been. The kind of neck that screams, “Look at me! I’m as  old as the hills!”

Now, I know what Nora Ephron meant when she said she felt bad about her neck. And, why Diane Keaton wears scarves all the time and other protective gear to hide her skin. Which is why, I’m thinking of wearing a scuba helmet when I go out. After all, I’d go to any lengths to disguise this neck.

While we’re on the subject, have you seen my eyes lately? Let’s just say, from now on, it’s dark sunglasses 24/7. Jack Nicholson, you’ve got the right idea!

And, we won’t even discuss those extra pounds of late, from all that rich, European chocolate that tastes–OMG, let me see if I have any left! Nope.

Sigh.

So, am I better off? Heck, no!

Not better off, not by a long-shot. So, thanks for nothing, President Obama! Take that, Governor Romney!

Yep, the verdict’s in: I’m not better off!

I beg your pardon? What’s that you say? That’s not what this question is all about? Hmm…

Well then, never mind. I’m fine. Thank you very much.

And I Quote, Part 3

I know what you’re thinking. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted any quotes. Well, fear not. This is your red-letter day!

On the Dissolution of a Marriage:

Incidentally, I also recommend the film version with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson!

The first time I read Nora Ephron’s book, Heartburn, I cried when I came to this passage. As far as I was concerned, Nora hit the nail on the head. It was as if I had written this, not her. For, she seemed to be describing my life at the time, and those thoughts were my thoughts, too:

“I am no beauty, and I’m getting on in years, and I have just about enough money to last me sixty days, and I am terrified of being alone, and I can’t bear the idea of divorce, but I would rather die than sit here and pretend it’s okay, I would rather die than sit here figuring out how to get you to love me again, I would rather die than spend five more minutes going through your drawer and wondering where you are and anticipating the next betrayal and worrying about whether my poor, beat-up, middle-aged body with its Caesarean scars will ever turn you on again. I can’t stand feeling sorry for myself. I can’t stand feeling like a victim. I can’t stand hoping against hope. I can’t stand sitting here with all this rage turning to hurt and then to tears. I can’t stand not talking!”—Nora Ephron, Heartburn

In the Blogosphere:

Now, here’s what I love about blogging: I’ve met so many bloggers and have enjoyed perusing their posts and comments. Here are a few that I absolutely adore:

On Aging:

This blogger never ceases to crack me up. Here’s her take on getting old:

“Now I dash from one low lit area to the next to camouflage the vicious effects of age…a zoo mauling if you will. It’s as though my body got caught in a twister and hasn’t touched down.”Annie Off Leash

On Relationships:

I admire the blogger who wrote this, for her spirituality:

“People are not mean to us because they do not like us. They are mean to us because they do not like themselves.”

Jodi, Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace

This next one is from a blogger who seems to question whether she can write poetry. Well, if you ask me, poetry is her forte.

“Each memory once wrapped
delicately in layers of pink tissue paper,
then stored,
now savagely exposed,
dropped in haste
clothes strewn at our feet
our renewed passion
spent
on the sheets
of the rented bed in
room 619.”

— From “When the Heart Decides,” a poem by Brenda Moguez, Passionate Pursuits

On Being Female:  This has to be one of my favorite comments left on a blog, ever, and it happens to be in reference to a poem written by Brenda:

“I so love visiting your site, Brenda. Whenever you write about womanhood, I hear a chiffon dress whispering, smell lipstick and strawberries, and feel like I glimpse pieces of my soul. Thank you.” – Beverly Diehl, Writing in Flow

On Writing a Group Mystery

One of my favorite lines, in the recent mystery on the high seas story that Bella and I asked for your help in writing, was from Bella, herself.  She posted this to the story on her blog, and when I read it, I couldn’t stop laughing.

“Raoul!” The deep, booming voice of Captain Alvarez Mendoza Santiago Perez sliced through the tension-filled room like a knife! “I’ve got two women engaged in a cat fight on the Lido deck, another snapping pictures and spilling her drink everywhere, Bartholomew fighting off the crowd single-handedly, and the dead woman on ice in the dining room. What the hell are you waiting for?” – Bella, One Sister’s Rant

On Crime & the Law Not Mixing:

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey.”

This next one is from Weeds, a TV series centered around Nancy Botwin, a suburban single mom who sells pot for a living.

“Babe, these are cops. I’m a drug dealer, you’re a murderer. We can’t all play on the same kick ball team.” — Nancy Botwin to her young son, Shane, on why he can’t befriend a police officer

On Mothers

I chose this one because, well, dammit, it’s good. That’s all.

“I wanted you to love me—no, I wanted more than that: I wanted to be like you, just like you, wanted to wear those scarves and that scent, to hang that pendant around my neck, to put on those stockings and pearls, to dress in silk dresses the way you did, and wear your favorite shade of lipstick on my lips. You were all beauty to me, Mother. You were everything female, everything woman. I loved you so much that I wanted to grow up to be exactly like you, and the thought that I had done something bad choked me with guilt and grief.” – Mary Mackey, from I’ve Always Meant to Tell You: Letters to Our Mothers – An Anthology of Contemporary Women Writers

A Chuckle with a Dowager Countess

Earlier this year, PBS’ Masterpiece aired a new season of Downton Abbey, one of my favorite British series. Maggie Smith, as Violet, the Dowager had some delicious lines. Here’s a sampling:

 “Will someone please tell me what’s going on, or have we all stepped through the looking glass?”

“Don’t be a defeatist dear. It’s very middle class.”

“Wasn’t there a masked ball in Paris when cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before they left the ballroom.”

“Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would ever dream of dying in someone else’s house, especially someone they didn’t even know.”

 

Now, it’s your turn. Any of these thoughts quotes strike a chord with you?

Do you have one of your own to share?

 

Songs in the Key of Divorce

When I was a kid I’d imagine a soundtrack to my life, just like the people in the movies. When Audrey Hepburn goes traipsing through the streets of New York, Henry Mancini‘s haunting melody, Moon River, follows her all the way to Tiffany’s. It’s the same for John Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, only this time it’s Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’.

So why not a soundtrack for me as I jauntily made my way through the streets of Flushing, New York? No such luck.  Henry Mancini wouldn’t give me the time of day. Ditto for Harry Nilsson. And forget John Williams. My Star Wars theme song just wasn’t in the cards.

But then something happened when my divorce was larger than life—consuming every waking moment—and haunting my dead-of-night dreams. Hands down, this was one of the most agonizing, unforgiving chapters of my life.

And so I invented my own soundtrack.  One created out of necessity, to help me cope and find sanity—and a bit of comfort, too. There are many stages in divorce and, lucky me, I didn’t miss a single one. So herewith are the songs that accompanied me during each of these phases:

Phase One: Shock, Denial  – Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You

Whitney Houston’s songs in The Bodyguard soundtrack got me through this stage. I was still having strong feelings for my ex, despite his shameless ways. I was still in denial that my marriage was over and my damn heart wasn’t ready to believe the worst, let alone move on. Perhaps, I needed Cher to yell at me to “SNAP OUT OF IT!” Sans that, Whitney voiced my emotions best.

Phase Two: Mourning – Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again

This was the period when Carly Simon’s songs from the film, Heartburn, became my constant companion. In Heartburn, Meryl’s character is pregnant and married to Jack Nicholson, a louse who cheats on her. Boy, could I relate! I wasn’t pregnant but, at the time, my youngest was still in diapers. A lot of the songs on this album are empowering, including my favorite, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is a twist on the childhood ditty. Coming Around Again gave me the kind of hope that springs eternal, representing my “I’m-a-survivor-like-Meryl-Street-in-Heartburn” period. It also showed me that the only solution to my divorce hell was the one that involved leaving my marriage behind, and moving on.

Phase Three: Rebuilding and S-l-o-w-l-y Moving On – Sting’s album, Ten Summoner’s Tales.

Can you believe I never listened to Sting before my divorce? Sure, I was familiar with The Police, but  Sting was already on his own and my marriage was unraveling around the time that this album came out. These songs put me in a different state of mind, making me feel like I was worth something. Sting’s music helped me rebuild my shattered self-esteem. Songs like, She’s Too Good for Me and Fields of Gold.

Phase Four: On My Own – U-2’s Joshua Tree

Pre-divorce, the only Bono I knew of was Sonny. But Bono of U-2 fame became my latest obsession after hearing a duet he sang with Frank Sinatra on, I’ve Got You Under My Skin. And boy, did Bono get under my skin, with his ultra sexy, bedroom voice.  I couldn’t get enough of this guy and then my friend Hellen, told me about U-2 and gave me the Joshua Tree CD. One play and I was smitten. Three songs made all the difference for me:  Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You.

Phase Five: The Single Life—or to Hell with Being Married! – Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II

Some may find this hard to believe, but during this time, I became a Meat Loaf junkie. Bat Out of Hell became my anthem.  Thanks to a gym I belonged to, where they’d play Meat Loaf constantly during some intense step classes, I became a dancing queen, finding new joy in my singleton life.  Best songs on this album include: I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire, and Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere).

The songs I chose to listen to became a part of my therapy and ultimately contributed to my healing.  So for all of you currently going through your divorces, or just thinking about it, now you have my “Divorce is Hell” playlist to add to your iTunes library.  Consider it my gift to you. Trust me, you’ll feel better.  And, you’ll also owe me one. So, you’re welcome.