Monday, March 28, 2016

Diary of a Divorcee

Life's a journey.

It has its ups. Its downs. Its sharp turns. Its sudden screeching halts.

Okay, from the sounds of it, maybe life is more like a roller coaster...

One of those big, rickety, wooden ones.

The ones that are simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating and leave you with a slight nauseating headache and a giant grin on your face.

The ones where you're not sure if you loved it or hated it, but either way you need to find a place to sit down for a second, sip some lemonade, and reassess what the hell you were thinking getting in that line in the first place.

That description is pretty apropos for me lately.

While 2014 was a tough one, 2015 was one for the books... Probably the only book I'd support burning to ash.

2015 was the year my marriage crumbled into ruin.

I'm not going to go into the 'hows' and 'whys' and all the nitty gritty details, so go ahead and put away the popcorn. None of that matters, in the end. Mine is a story that has been played out by millions of people before me, and will be muddled through by millions in the years to come. It's nothing anomalous or noteworthy, with the exception of where it has brought me to within myself.

And that's what this post is about.

Everyone who has gone through a divorce has experienced this highly strange dichotomy: your experiences are both singular and universal, unique and commonplace. And it is in that swirling, consuming polarity that one finds their true self.

I've blogged before about living your truth, being your authentic self, and enjoying the journey. And I will admit that this past year, I've struggled hard core with taking my own advice. It became far too easy to get caught up in the daily grind, in the hustle and bustle of this new version of normal, in just trying to keep the ship afloat.

For months following the split, my sole focus was on survival. Just trying to get through each day. Keep my chin up, tick off the boxes on my mental To Do list, and keep my wits about me.

And I'll admit. It was hard as hell.

Some days I rocked it.

Others... well, I got rocked. Badly.

I lost a few friends. Gained a few more.

I thought I had it all figured out, and then found myself literally and metaphorically collapsed on the floor, utterly walloped by the latest curveball.

I felt strong. I felt broken. I was vulnerable, yet completely closed off.

I laughed until I cried. I cried myself to sleep.

I screamed into my pillow, wondering how the hell I wound up in this place, and questioning whether or not I'd ever feel okay again.

And slowly-- painfully slowly-- I started putting myself back together.

I have historically always been a guarded person. I have never trusted easily, so when I do finally let that wall down, I'm even more vulnerable because of it. I have been called Stoic Sarah more times than I can count, and it used to be something I wore with pride; a badge of honor, if you will.

After all, if you keep people away, they can't hurt you. That means you're strong, right?

I am a rock. I am an island.

Or so I thought.

But I am not a Simon & Garfunkel song (despite my adoration of their music!).

I am a human being. And contrary to my public persona, I am an emotional, vulnerable, breakable one at that. I put on a facade of strength. I smile despite hurting. I laugh even though I'm crying inside. I flip sarcasm and jaunty wit constantly, creating an airy, easygoing image. People assume I don't care, or that nothing fazes me, but my reality couldn't be farther from that. Especially this past year.

And therein lay my struggle.

How do I convey to those around me my personal truth? How do I let my wall down, knowing how badly I've been hurt and wanting more than anything to avoid ever feeling that way again? How can I be strong if I let myself show weakness? How can I let those around me know the turmoil swirling beneath the surface, behind my bright smile and sparkling eyes?

I didn't think I could. I didn't know how to balance that need for connection and emotional support with the compulsion for self-defense. I've never been good at letting people in. Those closest to me can attest to that. My emotional wall is arguably my biggest flaw.

But here's something I learned along the way...

You can be broken and whole. You can be strong and vulnerable. You can let your walls down while still feeling guarded and afraid. You can be brave in your fear. And you can let people in without it destroying you.

I've been blessed to welcome some incredible people into my life this year. People whose love, support, humor, and wisdom have helped me not only find my strength, but have helped me heal along the way.

There is no light without darkness. There are no rainbows without storms. And there is no roller coaster without the stomach-churning twists, drops, and halts.

I've struggled. I've hurt. I've been broken. But I still find myself thankful. Because I've learned. I've grown. And I'm stronger for it.

I'm excited to see what this next year holds, and I welcome it with a trepidatious but open heart.

So bring it on, 2016. And you better play nice!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Annus Horribilis

Latin for "horrible year".

Also, the title of a speech given by Queen Elizabeth in 1992. 

And while it's safe to say that Liz's year at that time was arguably far worse than mine has been of late, I'm still commandeering the phrase for my own purposes. So there.

As you can tell through a simple comparison of dates, it's been almost a full year since I've blogged. My personal life took a fairly distinct sideways turn. 

Or several, as it were. 

(I'll address those in further detail in subsequent posts.)

As I bobbed and weaved and tried to get my life back on track, I fell away from writing for awhile. Partially because I was so busy. Partially because I didn't have the mental or emotional wherewithal to give it its due diligence. 

As time progressed, I eventually worked my way back toward writing. A bit of freelance here and there (time and exhaustion permitting). A bit of my personal WIP, more recently. But it wasn't until this past week that I felt ready to get back to blogging.

Probably sounds weird, right?

But writing is such a personal endeavor. It is something you pour your heart and soul (and a lot of caffeine) into. And with where I was at mentally and emotionally, I wasn't ready (or, honestly, willing) to open those gates again. First, because I didn't want my WIP to be associated with this tough time for me, risking tainting it with bad memories and negative emotions. And second, because blogging is so personal, and I needed to process my own crap before attempting to jauntily parlay that into a series of posts that didn't sound like they were written by a hyper-emotional Crazy Cat Lady with a twitchy eye.

So, eleven months later, here I am, bitches! Back and better than ever! Let's do this!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quick update

Life has been a little bit (lot bit) hectic lately, which hasn't left much room (or sanity) for blogging. While today is no exception, I wanted to post a quick blurb-y update.

We decided not to sell our house after all. The idea of selling and moving again was breaking the kids' hearts. They love this house, they love our property, and with everything they went through moving halfway across the country 18 months ago, we just decided it wasn't fair to them.

Besides that, Hubs' job is going to keep us here for a few more years (at least) anyway, so what's the point in selling a house we love, only to move into a rental we'll just have to tolerate, when we'll be here in Cheyenne anyway?

So that's the scoop. It may not be the wisest financial decision, in terms of the drilling and property value and whatnot, but we're letting future Mommy and Daddy deal with that.

Besides, once I'm a hot shot novelist, it shouldn't matter, right?



Why are you laughing and walking away?!?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Not in on the joke

So life has been... a little nutso lately. In some ways, good. In other ways... well, see above.

As I discussed on here in a few previous posts, life has apparently had a sense of humor lately. Unfortunately, no one let me in on the joke.

First, the broken dishwasher saga really and truly turned into a saga. We just had it fixed this week for the FIFTH time. Yes. In the past seven weeks, my brand new dishwasher has worked for a total of about four days. I spent Thanksgiving hand washing dishes because the super-awesome customer service at B&B Appliance couldn't be bothered. I get it, they're probably super annoyed at us by now. But maybe if you fixed it the first damn time. Or the second... Or the third...

It got to the point where this past week we got our home builder involved. We only bought our appliances from this store because she convinced us of their stellar customer service and quick response time. We made it clear that has been anything but our experience, and reiterated what has been going on. She promised us (and yes, we got it in writing) that if this last time didn't fix it once and for all, she'd personally buy us a new dishwasher.

So we'll see what happens.

On top of that, Little One is sick again. For one, he has a double ear infection AGAIN (second time in under a month, poor dude). But the bigger issue is his tonsils. He has had overly-swollen tonsils for two years now, and no doctor, neither here nor back in Washington, took it seriously. I've taken him in to be seen several times, and every single time I was told that since he wasn't running a fever and they weren't impacting his ability to eat, breathe, or speak, they were fine for now.

Well, both ear infections he's had occurred without a fever. So clearly that's not necessarily a telling factor in my child's wellness.

And last week his tonsils suddenly poofed up so big that they were touching and he was talking like he had cotton shoved in his mouth. And he started snoring like a logger. And the right tonsil has this nasty vein running across it (I swear, it's like they're starting their own colony or something).

Finally, the doctor is taking me seriously.

Right now Little One is on uber-antibiotics to deal with the ear infection and to hopefully clear up whatever made his tonsils turn into monsters. Otherwise, it's looking like surgery. But, of course, we will have to make a separate appointment with a Ear, Nose, & Throat specialist. And because Wyoming has refused to acknowledge the Affordable Care Act, our insurance company is being... well, less than ideal.

So we're dealing with that.

There's really no stress like that of having a sick child. Especially when you're afraid he will stop breathing in his sleep.

In terms of work, my freelance writing has started taking off, though as they say, be careful what you wish for!

Two weeks ago I was hired to ghostwrite a two-part supernatural romance series. You know, fallen angels, ancient pacts, lost souls, the usual love story!

It's been a blast writing it so far. Much more fun than those medical articles I was doing for the difficult web clients. Who, by the way, pretty much fell into radio silence when I got sick last month.

(Did I forget to mention? I spent the first two weeks of November so sick with the flu that I couldn't get out of bed. It was the sickest I've been in years, and it was awful. Hubs got it after me, so he can attest that I wasn't just being a baby; it really was terrible.)

Anyway, so I haven't worked with those clients in awhile, and to be honest, I don't miss it. Writing this romance story has been so much less stressful, and has allowed be to exercise my creativity, rather than regurgitating dry medical data.

Well, this week I was invited to submit a proposal for another romance series, this one four parts. I was hesitant (hell, I'm still hesitant!) because the style of writing is much different than I'm used to, and the time frame is quite short. However, taking Tina Fey's advice, I went for it.

My proposal was accepted, and now it looks like I'll be ghostwriting two novel series! The first book of the current series is due by the end of January. The entirety of the second series (all four books) are due by the first week of February.

Suffice it to say I'm losing my mind a little bit. But in a good way. Mostly.

Finally, the biggest things we're dealing with right now is this little gem. Go ahead and take a sec to read it, I'll wait...

*twiddles thumbs*

*tries whistling*

*remembers can't whistle*

Oh you're back! So yeah, basically, powers beyond our control have essentially screwed us over. Like, big time.

After taking several days to process, we decided our plan of action was to try and sell our house before the drilling starts, because once it starts, the odds of someone wanting to buy right here drop significantly, to say the least.

If the house sells, we will rent a house in town for now, until we figure out where we are going to end up. Living in Cheyenne was never a long-term plan. It was only supposed to be for two or three years, and then we were going to find Hubs a new, fancy-schmancy job back in our beloved Seattle. However, his job here is really good, so it may keep us here longer than expected. Or not. We have no clue.

What we do know is that if we don't sell our house now, we will for sure be stuck here for several more years, until the drilling is done and property values increase enough to give us our value back.

If the house doesn't sell in the next month or so, we've accepted the fact that this means we're sticking it out here much longer than planned, and we'll just make the best of it at that point. We'll finish the basement, landscape the yard beautifully, develop the land more, build outbuildings, and basically make our 40 acres so damn desirable that the pump jacks won't deter buyers.

So besides spending my weekend working feverishly on my writing projects, finishing decorating for Christmas, attending my daughter's choir concert, and baking cookies, Hubs and I will be frantically getting our house ready to show. It went on the market last Thursday, and we have the photographer and countless local agents coming out on Tuesday to see the property. Gotta make it snazzy before then!

Because, you know, no pressure.

Like I said, life has a sense of humor. It'd just be nice to be in on the joke.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Handle your sh*t

Aaaaaaannnndddd I'm back!

I know, I know, my last post was a bit of a Debbie Downer. I apologize.

Actually, no, I don't, because everyone has experienced those days.

Those days aren't pretty, but they're real.

And you've just gotta figure out a way to handle the fistfuls of crap life throws at you sometimes. So I did just that.

Well I can officially confirm that things are better now!

*happy shimmy*

My freelance project is chugging away nicely. Or, as nicely as can be expected given that the client keeps adding to and changing items on the scope. I'm about one third of the way done with it. Taking a break right now for a cuppa tea and a breather, because I was starting to feel overwhelmed.

(No, I won't attach yet another '10 Things I Hate About You' reference)

(Though, if you didn't automatically make said reference, clearly we aren't meant to be friends)

(I think you can in Europe)

(Couldn't help it, sorry, done now)

I digress.

Work is back on track. Still tiresome. Still thankless. Still waiting for that big break. But in a better state of mind, which makes all the difference.

Dishwasher is still broken. Repairman came out, said 'yep, I can't fix this, have to special order a part' and left.

So in 7-10 business days, I will hopefully get to stop hand washing dishes and wreaking havoc on my poor skin. Because sandpaper knuckles are not pretty.

But, again, attitude is everything. Washing the evening dishes has become a nice time for Hubs and I to chat about our days. Because positive spin.

We also solved the vehicle crisis. Sold the Passat. Less than what I wanted to get from it, but more than Hubs expected to get, so I guess it was a win. Especially for that piece of crap!

And we bought a new, not broken, not-going-to-be-broken-for-a-long-time car!

(Fingers crossed, knock on wood)

It's a Certified Used 2014 Chevy Traverse.

It's white, which is slightly unfortunate, because I always swore I'd never own a white vehicle. On account of almost every single person I've ever known who owned a white vehicle was a d-bag.

But I'm not a d-bag, so maybe I can effect positive change for white vehicles. Or their non-d-bag owners. Or something like that.

Anyhoodle, the Traverse came with a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty, which we quickly and gladly upped to a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty. Because mama ain't gonna play that game of Russian Roulette ever again!

The dealership we purchased from also offers a "drive forever" warranty on all of their certified vehicles. Basically, if anything on the powertrain breaks, ever, it's covered. For as long as we own the vehicle.

Throw a piston?


Engine seizes?


Transmission gives out?

Covered, bitches!!!

Which would have been nice to have this summer with the Suburban.

Or the truck.

Or the Passat.

Seriously, we've had some pretty lousy luck.

Anyway, the point is, we got it figured out. And I love my new car. And its fantastic gas mileage. And its new car smell.

And while, yes, it will tighten our budget for the next few months, we can handle it.

And better yet, unlike with the truck, I actually want to make it work, because I don't resent the vehicle in the first place!

I think this is what emotional maturity feels like? Let me just bask in this moment for a sec....

And it passed.

You're welcome ;-)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Back from the ether... With lemons

So it was brought to my attention quite recently (thanks Boppa!) that I haven't been blogging very frequently lately. Which is... totally true.

Especially here on Muddled Lemons.

About a month and a half.

Eesh, sorry!

Life has been hectic of late. 80% in a good way, mind you. But hectic nonetheless.

Continuing to build my writing career (yes, I still giggle awkwardly at calling it that). Working on the novel that has been bouncing around in my head for a number of years. Producing freelance content for clients. Occasional writing on my other blogs. Applied for my first 'big girl' writing job with a pretty big news/gossip site (which I totally won't get, but it's the putting-yourself-out-there that counts).

On top of that, Hubs has been busy climbing the corporate ladder at his new job, and loving every minute of it (except when he had to fire someone, that part sucked). And the kids have kept me busy with their eight million extracurricular activities. I clearly missed my calling as a chauffeur.

I also was recently hired to produce the content for a start-up website. Well, kinda. It's a long, cluster-f*ck of a story. The first client, K, contacted me to write the content for a site they want to go live in mid-November. I wrote the first article for them, and they were really impressed with it and recommended me to their colleague, S.

S contacted me a few days later, describing two upcoming health projects they are building, both of which are huge in scope, and they said I could have one or both if I wanted.

Well, of course I jumped at the chance. I know little to nothing about the topics of these projects, but that's nothing a little research can't remedy. You can't turn down that kind of an opportunity! As Tina Fey says, "say yes and figure it out later".

So things were chugging along all fine and dandy, when the second client, S, emailed me asking if they could contact me via my personal e-mail, rather than through the host site.

I politely said no. Because privacy.

They then asked if I would be willing to produce this content via another host site, citing cheaper commission rates on the other sites.

Again, I politely said no.

Because here's the thing: the site I write through has incredibly stringent author protections in place, reducing the likelihood of being ripped off by a client. Which is a huge issue in the freelance world, and the exact reason I don't just query clients on my own.

(Yes, you could make more money querying on your own, but there's no guarantee of payment, so you could have wasted your time and had your work essentially stolen.)

By asking to contact me outside of the host site, and asking me to move to a competitor's site, this client not only basically asked me to break protocol, but was also essentially putting my standing with the host site (standing which is quite high), as well as my personal security and chances of even getting paid at risk.

All to save them two percentage points (maybe $20) on the host commission.

So now I don't know if I will be continuing with these projects. I'm currently working on the first article for the first health project, because the client had already deposited the money into their client account (one of the assurances the site takes for their authors as guarantee of payment).

After that? Who knows?

The whole thing left me feeling pretty dejected. For every decent freelance client out there, it seems like there are a dozen shady ones looking to score as much free or low-paid work as possible. It's quite disheartening.

Yes, I am technically a paid writer. Yes, you have to claw your way up in this industry. Yes, you have to pay your dues. Yes, there will always be lousy clients or rejection letters or doubters or people looking to take advantage of you. Yes, you will eventually make something of yourself through sheer hard work and determination. But some days it honestly doesn't feel worth it. Some days, I feel like I'm just wasting my time and getting paid peanuts in the process.

(Aren't I just a sparkling ray of sunshine?!?)

So for now, I plug away at the menial tasks of being a newbie freelancer. And for now, I just hope that at some point, preferably sooner rather than later, someone will give me a chance to prove my worth. And make a livable writer's wage in the process.

On top of dealing with the emotional quagmire associated with freelance writing, we've had a few other out-of-left-field curveballs. Because life has a sense of humor, apparently.

Our dishwasher broke this week. You know, the brand new dishwasher that's less than a year old. Yep, that one. So I've been 50s-housewife-ing it up this week.

I know, I know, First World Problems.

But it's annoying nonetheless.

Especially since the only reason we bought our appliances through this particular store was because of the apparent "wonderful customer service" as assured by our builder.

Well that customer service apparently means you have to wait over a week for them to even come out and look at the appliance in question.

I swear, if they try to renege on the fact that it's still under warranty, I may be inclined to throat-punch someone.

Just sayin' is all.

Then, the other day my husband's car finally gave out. It's a 2004 Passat. And if you know anything about VWs, you know that they tend to crap out pretty epically.

We've dumped more money into that damn car over the last few years than it's even worth, most recently paying almost $1000 last month to replace the fuel pump.

And then it just ups and dies.

Bastard car.

So we're figuring out what to do now. We can't go into winter without two reliable vehicles. However, we just bought that damn truck this summer because our Suburban blew up. Can we really take on ANOTHER car payment? Or can we really keep dumping money into a piece of shit car that has virtually no trade in value or financial worth?

I'll be honest. I'm damn sick of dealing with vehicle issues. We've dealt with more vehicle issues in the last, what, four or five months, than we have pretty much ever.

Pretty much sums it up.

I've also been incredibly anxious for the past few days, but not in terms of the writing stress or the car stress. It's another beast entirely. I can't quite put my finger on why. And it's made it near impossible to get a good night's sleep or have much of an appetite.

Some days I feel like the gods look down on me and smile. And point. And laugh. And throw things.

Life's little curveballs keep things interesting. But sometimes life's little curveballs get pretty tiresome. And sometimes there's nothing more soothing than a good cry. Or six.

Usually I'm like this:

And some days I'm like this:

But today? I'm like this: