Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Busy backson

It's been almost two weeks since I last posted and I apologize! This is what my life has been full of:

1. My regular full-time job.
2. My new part-time job as an Arbonne consultant! (Consultant ID: 19557175)
3. Classic episodes of The Twilight Zone that I watch on Hulu.com.
(Mostly the first two. Hardly any of the third.)

Having successfully completed the legal divorce process, I've realized that I've become accustomed to a standard of living that I can't afford with just my regular job. I need more income. Enter Arbonne.

Arbonne is a Swiss skin care company that only distributes its products through multi-level-marketing, also called network marketing. You can only get their products through independent consultants (yes, like Avon and Mary Kaye).

This is where I'm supposed to pitch Arbonne hard and pique your interest in either buying products from me (Consultant ID: 19557175) or getting into the Arbonne business yourself. Instead, I'm too tired to do much more than write that I've been using Arbonne moisturizers and hair care items since 2010 and they transformed my skin and hair. My hands used to crack and bleed through these Chicago winters, plus my face would feel like it had a thousand tiny cuts in it because it would get so dry. With Arbonne moisturizers, lotions and creams, my skin feels great, even with this polar death winter we've been going through this year. My hair is healthy and soft, too. I became hooked on Arbonne long before I decided to peddle it.

Okay, that's all the sales pitch I have the energy for tonight. Check it out for yourself. I'll post again before the end of the month, I promise.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Post-divorce Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day. I finalized my divorce last Friday. I had oral surgery on Tuesday and sometimes my mouth hurts. But I'm still in a good mood.

Happy Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Don't be afraid of oral surgery

My gum graft surgery went well yesterday. A gum graft takes flesh from the roof of the mouth and grafts it into the gumline where it’s needed (I’ve scrubbed away part of my gums by brushing my teeth too hard). 

The only pain was when the periodontist injected me with the anesthetic. After that I felt nothing! The doctor told me that for the rest of the day I could only eat liquid-y cold things like ice cream and smoothies. They also recommended not doing anything for the rest of the day. So I took a sick day, had a long nap, then sat down to a big bowl of ice cream as a meal completely guilt-free because the doctor said so. It was great. 

Now I’m on a soft diet for two weeks (eggs, soup, hummus, cake frosting, etc) and then the doctor removes the stitches.

Let me recap: I got a day off work, a three-hour nap, doctor-prescribed ice cream for dinner and almost no pain. And here's the best part: I get to do it all again two more times! I have three places that need grafting, but he only did one yesterday. Since several weeks have to go by in between surgeries, it’ll probably be some time in April and in June that I get to do it again: sick day, ice cream galore, long nap, etc. Pretty good deal, eh?

Don’t let anyone tell you a gum graft is a bad experience. It’s really not bad at all!

Monday, February 10, 2014

I go up and down. Here's up.

Being divorced as of last Friday kind of feels like a dream come true right now. When I was married there were many things I missed about being single and now I get them all back: spending my money however I want; being in complete control of my sleep schedule and grocery list; walking around naked in my home; being able to cry or sing or scream or dance and there being no one to disturb or upset. I can vacation exactly where I want to go, decorate in my favorite colors and not take care of any pets at all. There is no one on the planet who can track how much I'm eating or sleeping or how often I'm washing my hair or how many empty boxes of Ho-Ho's there are in my garbage. I can go swinging down the street completely unattached, a free electron, an uncontained force, an unmanifested wish. I am me for me.

I'M FREE.

This isn't "looking on the bright side." These are things I missed and longed for while I was married (for five years), but I didn't know when I'd get them back. I'm so glad to get them back now!

Remember my digital album!

On my divorce day, several songs helped me through. Just in time, a friend introduced me to Rilo Kiley's song that repeats the words "It's so good to be free." I also played some of Paul Simon's songs about divorce and I got stuck on Josh Groban's "You're Still You" which I played over and over, interminably. It was like balm for my sore ego.

But two songs that came up on my iPad's "shuffle mode" surprised me by how much they helped. They were my originals. I wrote "Not So Bad" about a terrible depression I had years ago and how surprisingly well one night, in the middle of it, turned out. It's an upbeat song with conga accompaniment that concludes that maybe life isn't so bad. "Solterona" is my anthem for women who have purposefully chosen not to marry and it's my only song with a chorus that's in English and Spanish (my mother helped me translate it). "Solterona" is the song I really heard with new ears on the morning of my divorce day because its pro-independence, feminist lyrics support my current determination to stay single from now on and be who I really am.

This weekend I've been playing "Going of Age," which expresses how it feels to grow out of youth, lose the attention of a certain part of the population, but gain a different appreciation for oneself in this new stage of life.

(Here's the story of my music career. Here's the explanation of why I didn't release this album until 2013.)

If you'd like to hear my original songs, there are links to them at the bottom of my blog home page. If you can't see those links, you can find my songs on iTunes or the CD Baby website (if this link doesn't work, go to www.cdbaby.com and search for "Rodriguez-Martin"). Because it's a digital album there are no physical copies of a CD: you can only purchase this album by downloading it to your computer, phone or other device.

Although these songs were written by a chronic depressive, it's a remarkably optimistic album. Take a listen. You can purchase them individually or pay $9.99 for the whole thing (14 tunes). Buying my digital recordings supports the publication of my dog ebook, which will be happening in 2014. I just have to fund it!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Divorce party


This is my divorce cake. I've always wanted a black cake and this one also features my favorite color (pink). It's from Bennison's Bakery in Evanston, Illinois USA because I didn't want to drive an hour each way to my favorite bakery in the snow. Divorce party tonight!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Divorce Day

The judge was much nicer than I expected. I watched a few court procedings before they called my name, and when one woman began to cry, the Honorable Nancy Katz whipped out a box of kleenex. She earnestly wished each petitioner and respondent good luck and looked me in the eye when she gave her decision (to support my petition for a divorce). I had expected a mumbling, paper-shuffling judge who wouldn't look anyone in the eye as he passed his decrees, so I was pleasantly surprised. Judge Katz also made sure I wanted to keep my name "Rodríguez-Martin." When she asked me about it, I felt so impressed by her that I almost wanted to say, "Do you think I should go back to my unmarried name?" But later my attorney explained that the judge just had to make sure because it would be much easier to switch my name back today than in the future, after everything is finalized.

Because my attorney had drawn up papers that my post-husband signed, Bob didn't have to appear in court. I stood with my shoulders back and my voice strong as I answered my attorney's questions that confirmed our wedding date, ages, if we'd had any children or bought any property during the marriage, etc. Mine was a quick one. Others before me had many more questions about agreements to sell property, custody of children and alimony, so my life seemed nice and simple compared to those tangles.

The tears didn't come until later, as my friends sat with me over food and coffee. Two friends (for whom I was very grateful) accompanied me to court for moral support, and they saw how calm I was as I approached the judge, spoke and walked out. It was a speedy procedure, although since Bob and I had a civil ceremony, the divorce took longer than the wedding. At the end Judge Katz (looking me in the eye) told me that I'm divorced as of today and the only step left is for the transcript to be filed, but I don't have to return for that (my attorney will). I left with my original copy of the judgment of dissolution of marriage y se acabó.

My marriage is dissolved. I have to resist thinking I'm back the way I was before I got married. I keep thinking, "I'm single again" and getting a vision of my apartment from ten years ago, but that's wrong. It's not 2004. Today I have confidence and belief in myself that I didn't have at all when I was 37. My relationships are healthier, my friendships are stronger and my self-esteem is solid. I treat myself 100% better in every way. In short (and at 5 feet two inches tall, how else can I be?), my life today is a hundred times better than it was before I got married and divorced.

Still, it smarts. The sorrow and anger are there. It'll be a while before it really sinks in that I can no longer refer to "my husband." It'll take some time for me to own the descriptor "single," with all its social implications. It'll be who-knows-how-long until I truly unplug from Bob emotionally. There's bawling yet to be done, but maybe I'm done for today.

I don't know if anyone is reading this post who has been following my blog since the mid-2000s, but if you have, you've now witnessed my frustrated dating years, my wife experiment and my divorce day. Now we'll see how my second shot at the single life goes. I'm glad to be single again, and this time I'll try not to screw it up by getting married. I think it's going to be great, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

All the single women, all the single women...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

One day til divorce

Because of my impending divorce, my blog will now descend into personal reflection, whining and boring details. I hope this will not last more than a few days. Please stand by for better content.

I'm continuing to let the emotions roll through me as they come up. I'm giving the baby who lives in the apartment below me some stiff competition for Llorona of the Week, but at least I do my bawling before 10 p.m. When I feel bad I stop whatever I'm doing and let the emotions out. I do this by focusing on the anger or sadness or guilt, tapping and often crying. This means I'm spending extra time in the women's room at work, but I get some of my best crying done on public transportation. When you're among strangers who don't want to get involved, weeping in public is as good as doing it in a private room.

I feel angry at my post-husband for never letting me in and giving me a real chance.
I already miss all the wonderful things I love about him.
I'm heartbroken about the great times that aren't coming back.
I feel guilty about moving out and leaving him (even though he initiated our split).
I still feel responsible for making sure he's okay.
I even feel guilty about abandoning his dog, can you believe it?

And I'm furious about recently realizing that I never completely knew who this man was. Since we split, I've been getting to know him in a new way and I now realize that for the duration of our dating and marriage, he never revealed certain things about himself that I revealed to him about me. I don't know whether that was because he wasn't comfortable with himself or because he was afraid I'd reject him or what, but it feels horrible to realize that I did not fully know who I was married to. It's actually kind of humiliating. So why am I blogging it for the world to see, for christ-sake? I guess to let other women in the same situation know that they're not the only idiots.

So this is divorce. Fascinating. Eye-opening. Icky.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Two days til my divorce

I've got about 45 hours left to be a married woman. Then I'll be divorced and single. It'll be a new adventure that I'm looking forward to, although the end of the marriage is also sad. Right on cue I'm also feeling anger at my post-husband today, but that's probably a psychological coping mechanism. It's too hard to part from someone you love, so we often vilify our spouses as we get closer to the court date. It makes it easier to end what we expected to last longer.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Divorce is not failure

I found out last Thursday when my court date will be for my divorce. It's shudderingly soon: Friday, February 7th. On that day I will answer a few questions before a judge, and about five minutes later, a guy named Bob and I will no longer be married. I've cried a lot about this because I loved my husband very much and really enjoyed being married to him. The end of our five-year marriage is very sad and I'm grieving it.

As I've talked about it with my excellent friends and family, they've been very supportive. The most interesting thing that other women who've been divorced have said to me is that divorce feels like failure. I tell them my divorce doesn't feel like failure to me. It just feels sad the way the end of a vacation or finishing a really good book feels sad: it's a shame that it's over, but that's life. Wonderful things end and you go on.

One divorced friend insisted that I was wrong about this. Keep in mind, I often tussle with this woman as if we were bickering cousins. I'm rough with her and vice versa, but it's all in fun. This exchange might sound rude to you, but believe me, it really wasn't. 

She wrote that if my marriage is ending, it means my husband and I failed to keep our marriage going. I replied that keeping our marriage going for the rest of our lives wasn't my intention.

She wrote, "So did you want to get a divorce?"
I wrote, "I married Bob with the intention of being 100% committed to the relationship until it didn't feel right anymore. Divorce was an option from the beginning, so it doesn't feel like I failed. It just feels like the adventure is over."
She wrote, "You failed."
I wrote, "To do what?"
She wrote, "You failed in being a married woman, whatever that means!"
(At this point I think she realized her argument wasn't air tight.)
I wrote, "I also failed to stay 10 years old. You pass out of things as you grow up."
She wrote, "Yes, but marriage is something that you work on."
I wrote, "I did work on it. I gave that marriage 100% until Bob said it was over."
She wrote, "You and Bob [like other divorced couples] didn't do such a good job."
I wrote, "My purpose wasn't the same as that of other couples. I never believed in til death do us part. Not for a second.
She wrote, "Yo tampoco. But that doesn't mean it's not a failure."

I believe the basic difference in how I look at marriage is that I see it as a rite of passage in the truest sense: it's a state that you pass into and then pass out of. I see marriage as just one experience in a lifetime. The length of time it lasts doesn't matter. What matters is learning from it and leaving it behind maturely, without anger or pettiness. Bob and I were only married for five years, but I benefitted greatly from that time and so did he. Now we're ending our marriage peacefully. That feels like success to me, not failure.

It makes sense that women who look at marriage as a state that should last a lifetime, validated by double-digit anniversaries, feel like failures when their marriages end. They're measuring the value of marriage by whether or not it lasts until someone drops dead. This reduces marriage to a relationship with only one metric: length of time the union lasts. But if a requirement of marriage is til death do us part no matter what dammit, then what are we setting it up to be? We're setting it up to be either a good/tolerable experience that doesn't end or a miserable one that doesn't end. I might coin the phrase marriage of attrition to refer to unions that last purely because the partners believe marriage should last forever no matter how empty or painful the relationship becomes.

I used to look at couples celebrating 25 or 50 or 75 years of marriage and think that to be together that long, they must really love and enjoy each other. Since then I've learned that some very long marriages are also quite miserable. Length of time is no indicator of happiness. Would I rather hit those anniversary marks with a lifeless or painful marriage or would I rather sacrifice those accomplishments of attrition (yes, the word attrition again) for a happier life as a divorcee? To all women disappointed by how long their marriages didn't last: don't look at long-lasting marriages and assume those marriages are better than yours was. Length of marriage indicates nothing about the quality of a marriage or the people in it.  All it shows is that they are still agreeing to stay married.

I believe marriage has become a rite of passage in American society, but we haven't admitted it yet. At least half the time, marriages only last for a period of time. It's similar to when we outgrow a job or house or lifestyle: when that happens, it's time to move on. The end of a marriage doesn't mean the couple has failed, it means they've outgrown that relationship. There's nothing wrong with outgrowing things. 

That's why when my friend wrote to me, "You failed in being a married woman," I responded, "I also failed to stay 10 years old. You pass out of things as you grow up." Lifelong marriage attempts to cement two people together who are constantly changing. Why can't we accept that when a relationship has served its purpose, it's time to move on and that's not failure? That's just life.

I realize marriage is a timeless universal institution that anchors communities and nations, organizes property and inheritances, and harbors child-raising. For those purposes, it has been critical that marriage last until death. But we now have other ways to organize societies and more creative ways to form families and raise children. Lifelong marriage is no longer the bedrock of society or the U.S. would have fallen apart a few decades ago. Let's ease up on the stigma of divorce. We're complicated and ever-evolving and we've developed a perfectly reasonable process for ending a marriage and moving on. Pressuring everyone who marries to stay in that marriage no matter what, is cruel. You can't control or predict how a person will grow and mature. Sometimes someone gets married, the marriage stops fitting her, and she has to move on. That is not failure.