Friday, February 4, 2011


it's such a strange thing. as i go through the administrative changes related to my new-old name, my new-old identity. every time i sign a paper, visit an office or chat with a clerk, the conversation ends with one word that increasingly strikes me as a strange reaction to the nature of the business at hand:


now, don't get me wrong. having this done is certainly something worth celebrating. i am thrilled to the gills to be on my way to resetting my life. but, really, isn't that such a weird thing to say to someone? it's not like this is such a pleasant undertaking. the end of a marriage is never pretty. it's rough around the edges at best and harrowing, bloody, acrimonious at worst.

but then again, maybe it's not so weird. on louis c.k.'s fabulous new album hilarious, there's a routine about his recent divorce that made me laugh way harder than i thought i ever would. first off, the man is absolutely killer funny. but more importantly, he said perhaps the most bluntly true thing i've ever heard in my life, and it was just what i needed at that moment: "divorce is always good news. i know that sounds weird, but it's true, because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. it's really that simple."

holy hell, talk about finding wisdom in unexpected places. the reason i am no longer married to the ex is because our marriage was bad. bing, bang, boom. the event hurts, it feels awful. but i am in so much of a better place than i was one year ago today. i feel free. i'm happy as hell, right down in my core, the short-term pain of recent events notwithstanding. the divorce, really, was good news.

so yeah, clerks/registrars/assorted other government-agency minion people. congratulations it is.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

made it, ma. top of the world.

i never called my mother "ma." my dad will occasionally call my grandmother that when he's annoyed with her, but it was never my style. i called her "mom." short, sweet, to the point. there are a lot of things i want these days, first and foremost a job. but today, three years to the day after getting that call, all i really want? well, it's her.

i've been told that she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up. she worked for lawyers when i was a kid, and she was a damn fine paralegal. but she always wanted to be the one arguing the cases. when i was a little kid, all curled up in her office with the code of alabama as a toy, i told her i was going to grow up to be a lawyer, and she would encourage the hell out of me. when i argued my "cases" in my high-school mock trial programs, she'd challenge me, help me refine my points and sharpen my analyses. i was good. and i was good because she made me good.

but the bitch of it is, she never got to see it happen for real. i was halfway through 1L year when i got that call. i hadn't talked to her in forever. i can't even remember if she knew i was in law school or not. i think so. but that's the way these things work when reality, complication, etc. set in. the night before my divorce was finalized, i lay in the arms of my man, a boy she always loved when we were kids, and cried like my heart was broken (because it felt like it was). i wept for the loss of my marriage, even though it was what i wanted. my heart broke for the mistakes i made, the sorrow i caused us both, all of that. and when i was able to choke out a sentence, what did i say? "i want my mom." because i did. who else do you turn to when your walls are crumbling, when you're hurt, sad and confused? wounded babies cry for mama. apparently, so do wounded women.

today i wore black, i played our old song. i looked at myself in the mirror and noticed all the ways i've grown to resemble her. with my hair red, it's uncanny. i celebrated the legacy of the woman who made me who i am. it just sucks beyond belief that i reached her goal, attained her dream, and she didn't make it to see. all i can do is make damn sure i live up to the standards she set. no time to rest on my laurels now.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

je ne regrette rien

i've made a lot of decisions in the last year, and it's safe to say that i've blown up my life and rebuilt it, basically in front of the watchful eyes of the internet. but the last piece of the biggest decision came through today: my name change. i went from magnolia [married name] to magnolia [birth name]. for the first time since 2002, i don't have his last name anymore.

along with the huge administrative headache, there's a strange cocktail of emotion swirling around this one. this is it - it is OVER. once and for all, the break is complete. no retreat, no regrets, it is all said and done. i'm relieved, anguished, thrilled, angry, pleased and disappointed, all at once. the whole thing is shot through with exhaustion. the last year has been a heavy burden. even though i know it's not warranted, the guilt and anger my ex has thrown at me has been hard to handle. it's been rough on the man, too, having to deal with me like this. and now that it's over... well. i don't even know where to begin.

but i am certain of one thing. i am 100% on the right path. this is the life i chose, it's the life i want. the transition hurt like hell, twisted me into shapes unimaginable and made me ache with sorrow and rage more times than i care to consider. but i regret NOTHING. i got everything i wanted. i am free. and now, with the coda written, the symphony is over. time to start a new magnum opus.

and non, je ne regrette rien.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

out of many, one

"we are living with and living in the national rot wrought by the bleak, selfish sentimentality that says our troops are out there solely to insure our continued comfort."
 - david roth, the awl, 1/28/11 

in case you haven't noticed, this little liberal is pretty passionate about the proper use of our nation's military. i think it's just of the utmost importance to respect people who choose to serve. part of that is being extremely careful with what wars we go into. i mean, that goes without saying; you don't want people getting shot at for no reason. but there's more to the story than that. see, there's nothing i hate more - and yes, that includes jewelry commercials - than the largely empty, fake platitude that is "i stand with our troops." it's seen on buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts and campaign materials. it's a favorite right-wing trope, and when it's used that way, it's also used to convey the message that a) the speaker "stands with our troops," so b) anyone who disagrees with the speaker does NOT "stand with the troops."

leaving the despicability of using troops as political tools aside, there's something more distressing about this whole construct. have you ever heard anyone who says "i stand with the troops" actually define what they DO to support military members and their families? anyone can say anything. but do these people actually propose and lobby for policies that help? by and large, no, they don't. in fact, a lot of these people act in ways that directly HARM troops. they're in favor of endless war without a real objective in mind. they don't support benefits for the families left behind and the veterans when they return. they worked so, so hard to keep patriotic people out of the service because of who they love. now how is that "standing" with the troops? it's not.

which brings me back to the quote. we really do have a venal, selfish view of our lives as a nation. selfishness is most assuredly our national malaise. we don't think in terms of a collective national identity, something worth fighting for. we should change our motto from "e pluribus unum" to "MINE! MINE-MINE-MINE-MINE-MINE!" instead of taking a step back and noting that big, giant ammunition clips are really just not necessary, especially in the light of the arizona massacre, some among us cling to those things as if mama was coming to take their blankies away. it's not about what's best for all of us as a whole anymore; it's just about what's best for me, and maybe my family if i'm feeling generous today. what kind of foolishness is that?

we're supposed to be better than this. it's happened before in our history. we used to be really good at banding together and sharing sacrifice in the face of struggle. somewhere down the road, though, we lost that. it's one of our finest qualities as americans - the recognition that we're a crazy-quilt collective of radically different people, connected through our shared belief in that nutty little piece of paper called the constitution. when we remember that it's not all about us (sarah, i'm looking at you), we'll get back to the good stuff again. i know we can do it.