Viewing category ‘Tentative Steps’


I hate you, Harry

Categories: Tentative Steps


This is super.

I am downward-facing Jenny. I am on my belly on the rough porch roof, clinging to an air conditioning unit by its electrical tail. The asphalt shingles scrape my abdomen as I clamor for the slipping appliance. I manage to dig the sweaty fingers of my right hand into the vents, but still, the AC slips some more, precariously close to the edge of the roof. Both the AC and my skull are on a collision course with the sidewalk two stories below, or, possibly worse, the roof of my car.
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This is how it will be

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


He first wooed me by asking me if I would collaborate with him.

I did not know then, nearly 14 years ago, that our collaboration would eventually include two daughters.

It is that time of year, the time of awards and ceremony and graduation and promotion to the next grade.

The girls wanted us to sit together, so they could find us easily. I wish we could have found each other easily.
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See Mommy. See Mommy act. See Mommy smile.

Categories: Best Practices, Tentative Steps


See Mommy. See Mommy act. See Mommy smile.

Good Mommy! Playing is fun!

I did it, you guys. I got the part.

I really did. Those orange shoes did the trick.
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Break a leg

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


I haven’t been onstage since I was pregnant with my firstborn. And I’ve missed it.

My MFA was one of those superduper useful ones: an MFA in Acting. When we were first married, I was doing the aspiring actor thing in NYC, working crappy day jobs and doing occasionally good, more frequently crappy plays by night.

But I was happy.

I loved acting. I had to leave it behind when the girls arrived and we moved out of the city to a rural country-mouse setting. They needed Mama, and Mama needed any spare time to breathe and earn a paycheck.

But there are theatres, where we are, small ones, that do some good work.

Theatre was a shared love for me and my ex. We met at theatre grad school, and got to witness each other’s colossal creative failures, as well as exciting successes. If that’s not a fast track to bonding, I don’t know what is. It was a gorgeous time in my life, a time of great hope and creative energy and powerful love.

Since the split, I’ve been trying to get my creative mojo back. Writing Breed ‘Em and Weep for five years has been a gift, but I have missed the immersion into character, the fun of devouring a new script and absorbing every syllable of it into my bones. But I didn’t know when or if I would have a chance to do that again.
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Spring cleaning

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


So I have a few years to either buy out my ex, or sell the house and start over.

Financially, neither is an option at this very second. Trust me. The people at the bank smile when they see me coming. “Uh, not yet,” they say.

So I’ve been doing what I can.

I finally paid these people? A strange breed? Apparently, they are called “contractors”? I paid them to remove the remaining hideous wallpaper throughout the house and paint nicely over the old plaster, to repair water damage and peeling paint, and to sand and stain and poly the original 1901 pine floors.

Not cheap, this venture. Not the worst I could do, either, but in my world, a world in which I agonize over which bargain brand of mac-and-cheese to go for, this was a big Money Ouchie.

And yet:

Wow. It’s lovely.
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Alternate routes

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


You know you live in a small town when you see a flashing sign says, “BRIDGE CLOSED, USE ALTERNATE ROUTES,” and it prompts you to yell inside your moving vehicle, “WHAT alternate routes?”

This is divorce, you think.

When you get to the “Parents in Transition” seminar that your state says you must attend, for the sake of your children, whom you have already ruined by divorcing, you are shocked to find the room filling up quickly. How can there be this many people divorcing in your county? Where are they, and why do you know none of them?

The room is packed. For every soul here, you think, there is at least one child affected, at least two extended families who had the news broken to them, at least…what? What else? How many numbers can there be, in a divorce? Infinite, it seems.

The co-leaders—social workers—who run this seminar are like an old married couple themselves. They cluck and joke as they fuss with the overhead projector and the ancient VCR and the extension cords. They have been running this seminar for more than 35 years, and perhaps it has made them immune to the stink of the walking wounded who shuffle into the room. Perhaps it does not, and they simply know by now to keep a professional demeanor when addressing the soon-to-be divorced, lest the soon-to-be-divorced spill their ugly, sad stories and turn the room into chaos.
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Life, 1. Moxie, 0.

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


Psst. You guys.

I think I got nothin’.

No, seriously. If you were here, I would just pour you a lot of red wine and ask you questions so I could sit back and listen hard and maybe surreptitiously take some notes, if I thought it wouldn’t freak you out.

Because I get the feeling most of you who read this column have been at this single ma thing longer than I have, and that you have come to terms with it in a way that I have not — at least, not yet.

When I started writing this column, I had hoped to be a Really Helpful Columnist. Spunky. Savvy. Full of moxie and all sorts of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed anecdotes!

I am feeling pretty moxie-less. I feel about as moxie-ful as a droopy, molting hen.

I tried to borrow a little moxie from Beyonce in last week’s column. That helped, a little (but if I had those skyscraper legs it would no doubt kinda help more).

So I ask this of you, of you former marrieds who find yourself on a different path now:

When does the moxie come back?

How long did it take for you?
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A desktop of one’s own

Categories: Business tripping, Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


I have a desk.

It’s blue and squat, with a wide top drawer, and a row of drawers on the right side. World War I era. The owner of the antique store where I found it was happy to let it go for a song—$60, if I recall correctly.

“Can you believe someone painted it blue?” he said. “Ruined it.”

I am all for colorful ruin. The blue is lovely, and is the only reason I could afford to buy the desk. Inside the top drawer, someone carved the initial “W” and “1914.” That charms me.

Virginia Woolf wrote about the necessity of a woman having “a room of one’s own.” Space is scarce. I dream of a room of my own—not a bedroom, but a room for writing, for creating. A room with images I love, tacked up all over the walls.

For now, I settle for a desk of my own.
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So I’m pretty sure I can’t dance

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps


What I want to know is, why didn’t some wise elder woman of the tribe park my late-teen (or earlytwentysomething) still-shiny new moons down on a bench somewhere, to point out that if I wanted to pirouette, there was still time to get those pins and glutes twirling? Why, oh, why, did it take Sun Chips and brownie bites and a striped couch that sinks in the middle and smells like dog farts to make me realize, twenty years later, that the kids on TV could have been me?
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C me naked? CUL8R: Sexting a single mom

Categories: Colleagues and Comrades, Fighting the Stereotype, Tentative Steps



I find that a lot of us Re-Singled Folk turn to Facebook and other social networking sites to expand our sphere of friends again. It makes sense. If we’ve been in a relationship for years, really “in” it, we may have forgotten to surface for some time. Our friendships may have evaporated like a vodka gimlet on Aunt Betty’s lips. No! you gasp! Not I!

Ah, friend, the unexamined single life is not worth living. I’m not convinced the examined one is worth the trouble either, but, anyhoo. Maybe you were just quietly, modestly, demurely coupled, like my idol, Caroline Ingalls. Maybe you kept in touch with all of your friends — single or married, kids or no kids — and did your part in life. You smooched when it was smoochin’ time and milked when it was milkin’ time and shot bears when it was bear-shootin’ time, amen.

But consider this: Most of us are no Caroline Ingalls, sirs and mesdames! Face it, many of us who were in partnerships left irritated friends by the wayside over the years. Once, we were the ones saying about our single pals, If only they could be happy, like us!
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