About this Blog

About this Blog: Divorce is something you do, not something you are. It is not easy, but it can be funny. I know hanging on to my humor gave me hope and courage. Divorce shouldn't cramp your style. There are whole industries devoted to helping brides plan their weddings -- why shouldn't we have a style guide for divorce?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanks, but I don't need any more Material!

For my memoir, that is.

It's November, and it's National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo (nan-o-ree-mo for those of you in the Midwest, and Naah-Noe-Rhy-Mo, perhaps, if you are in another part of the country, or Canada, except for Montreal*)

* If you live in Quebec, you are not allowed to enter the New Yorker cartoon caption contest, for reasons unknown to me.  Is it because you might write your entry in French?  What if you promise to enter an english language only caption?  Is humor really different up there in French Canada?

So anyway, I began anew a book called The Style Guide to Divorce.  I used some of the material I had pulled together for the actual "Style Guide" as a guide.  But then since the goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 fresh words, I had to create an actual new novel with that title out of previously unwritten words.

And so I began as if I were a character editor from the guide, but living her post-marital life and then getting inspired to write a guide for other people.  It was fairly meta, at first, and I couldn't figure out which was the real-time me, the character in the novel, or the character inside the character, the one that "Katie" would create to be a fictional editor of the guide.  But you have to keep writing whether you know the answer to that or not, and so I kept writing.  Eventually I ran through all the sections from the guide that I'd previously pulled together - spirituality, exercise, fashion, diet and re-invented the copy as an episode in "Katie's" life.  Pretty soon Katie was in therapy, talking through a lot of the information with her therapist, "Justine" and with her sassy friend "Shirley," and of course butting heads with her daughter "Zoey."

That pretty much got me into Week 2, when I stared at the computer screen and ate a lot of brownies that I kept jumping up to bake when I couldn't handle that I didn't have any literary ideas to write down.  But then I had to come up with more new material, and then more after that.  And I had no "new" material, I just had all the stuff in my head about things that had happened to me.  Up until now, I thought they were boring and pathetic.  Now, they were a way to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Funny, when I posted the initial description of my novel on the NaNoWriMo website, I called it a memoir.  Now I am trying it on for size, seeing if I can put down these various episodes without falling off a steep literary cliff into nothingness.

Now that I am into Week 3, and more than 30,000 words, I am encouraged.  And again, please folks, I don't need any more material.  I have enough trials and tribulations in my adult life to make up the remaining 20,000 words in the month, and even if I'm a little short, I've got a few doozies in my childhood that will fill in the gaps.  So please folks, here are a few tips.

My memoir attempts to lay out in a meaningful way about my personal challenges, the ones leading me to go to law school at the end of a marriage, then return to the same small town with the degree.  As you might imagine, things didn't all fall nicely back in place.  They got more complicated.

I've got people coming up to me saying "what are you doing here" - as if they'd have rather I'd not returned.  I've got people introducing me to others as "she used to be married to . . . . " even though I think there's probably a dozen nice ways to describe me without highlighting that."  I've had people just cut me out of plans, and conversations - which is a total sandbox ploy from grade school.  Enough folks, I've got enough material.  I don't need anymore.

Please stay tuned tho, for my NaNoWriMo progress.  In the middle of Week 2, I thought about not finishing, but now I'm interested to see what happens to my characters at the end of the novel, and perhaps even get a few readers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Helps a Little Bit

It helps a little bit to think it through.  It helps more to write it down.  It helps even more to talk about it.  I shared a lot of wine the other night with two of my "Artist's Way" colleagues, and ended up sharing quite a few of the deepest secrets of my married life and divorce.  I even sounded blase about some of my biggest missteps (let's just say fidelity to me is like a checking account, which sometimes gets overdrawn).  Oops.  Now what?  Should I be ashamed?  Proud?  Indifferent?  More to the point, why did I share?  To help myself?  To help someone else?  To just keep hearing the pleasant sound of my voice yammering on?  In my world, it's never too late to over-analyze something, so I'll do it now.

Whatever it is you went through whatever it was you did, or he did, or maybe it just happened and it sucked, it helps to bring it up and talk about it until retelling it completely bores you.  Until touching the sore spot doesn't make you wince anymore.  It only helps a little bit at a time, though, which is the hard part.  And the hard part is not the difficult part, which is that your friends and family will tire of you retelling the story long before you do, so you have to pace yourself.  But it does help a little bit, each time you do.

Then of course, once it's completely dull, you can add back in some of the more salient and salacious details.  You can prat fall on your ass and make it funny.  You can embroider it until it's simply beautiful.  You can frame it and hang it on the wall for everyone to see.  And then they'll ask to see it and hear about it, and tell you how strong and brave you were.  And you'll be all, well thank you, yes it did take a little effort to get over it, but I just kept trying.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Land of Double Rainbows

I keep thinking about The Style Guide now that it's almost the ten-year anniversary of our breaking up (still another 3 years to go before we reach ten years post-divorce, but that's another story).

In an earlier chapter of the Style Guide, I wrote about how one of your goals should be reaching a point where you have to stop and think about the name of the guy you used to be married to - it's stopped being part of who you are, and he becomes "just some guy," indistinguishable from him, and that one, and what's his name over there. 

In this chapter of the Style Guide, I've discovered a new plane of existence.  After years, years of moving in the same or similar circles and having to either grit my teeth or consciously not roll my eyes in a variety of awkward situations, I've moved on.  Not just emotionally, but out of town.  Into another county even.  Since Purl turned 18, I'm no longer under any legal obligation to give him my new address.  I didn't either.  I didn't even have to do it willfully.  There's a new scope to this absence in my life, and I like it.

My new town could be called the Land of Double Rainbows.  It's a big valley, not very developed.  It's wrapped with hills, not mountains, and there are fewer firs, and they're up higher.  It's sunny.  A bunch of my houseplants got burned over just a few days (in October) from sitting near windows with Western exposure.  And something about the way the light in general bounces around makes rainbows frequently after it rains.  Usually you see the whole bow, not just an arc.  Often they are doubled. 

It's great.  It's a great place to live geographically, and it's a great place to be living post-divorce-wise.  No more forced politeness, which was always completely one-way anyhow.  No more pretending that we just grew apart and get along great.  Just me, my space, and lots of double rainbows.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Last Published When?

Dear fans,
I haven't posted here since last March?  What the. . . ?  What is my excuse?  I certainly have been dealing with my post-divorce life quite stylishly, or so I think, and there's been plenty to write and wine about.

If Allie Brosh can be sorely missed and celebrated when she is up to posting again (yea for her, I missed Hyperbole and a Half a lot), then perhaps I should get up the courage to post again as well.

Purl is graduating high school and moving on to college - a chapter in the co-parenting book is ending, but the co-parenting does not end, because I have to negotiate a whole lot of support from the guy I used to be married to that is not covered by the parenting agreement (ended at 18 or graduation from high-school, yep, that's as much as he would commit to - wish I'd known that much about his dependability when I married him).

Bobble the dog stayed in Indiana.  Steek the cat came with.  There's now a new canine for her to harass, I think her name here should be Bobbin, because she is all wound up at the end of her string.  A cute, shedding Springer Spaniel, whose main talent is peeing on herself when excited or nervous.

I have a new job.

Whoa, I also just got an incoming call from an inmate.  I chose not to accept it.

The new job requires me to work directly with the guy I used to be married to.  Should be interesting.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Read Right for Your Blood Type!

The lists in the next few posts on this blog are offered as general resources for self-education, and are not to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. (Truly, cross-posted from "H is for Hamlet," my other shameless self-promotional).

Good literature may be useful in correcting serious problems of temperment due to misbalanced humours.

Therapy consists of liberal and concentrated application of subsequent chapters of an appropriate supportive (to correct a deficiency) or opposite (to mitigate an excess) novel or anthology.

However, when consumed outside of the appropriate critical context, the content or philosophy of some works may be disturbing.

Therefore, for a most effective cure, readings should be advised only by a certified graduate of a small, preferably midwestern, liberal arts college.

Moreover, if access to recognized works of literature is limited, readers should be cautioned that popular fiction should under no circumstances be substituted in equal amounts, as there are no established minimum standards for literate content in such work. 

Similarly, the use of foreign language literature may result in serious side-effects, such as the promotion of socialist economic theory.

Periodical literature or professional journal subscriptions may in some cases make an acceptable alternative treatment, again, check with your B.A. to be sure.

Katie Kilbridge, B.A.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Oxygen Mask

Ma'am?  Ma'am. . . MA'AM, please.  This is me, talking to you.  Up here at the top of the aisle.  Wearing the flight attendant getup.  Look over here.  See me now?  Right.  Making the safety speech.  Pay attention, this is important.  No, not the pointy gestures toward the exits.  Not the buckle-y strap part.  Right now.  The part that goes "in the event of a loss of pressure in the cabin."

In the event of a loss of pressure in the cabin your oxygen mask will miraculously fall down from the ceiling into your lap.  And if you are sitting next to a small child, then MA'AM, this is the part I wanted you to listen to.

PUT YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST.  [ahem].  FIRST.  I'm going to say it again now.  OXYGEN MASK.  YOU.  FIRST. 

Before taking care of someone else take care of yourself.  Harder to do than you think, huh? 

You're out there, trying to figure out which bills to pay, and maybe you're even freaked out because even though your mother told you to be responsible about money, you're thinking way too far ahead and you're worried about college savings for a six-year old.  And because of that, you're throwing out the registration form for the class you have been wanting to take for a couple of years now, the one you need to take so you can meet the people you need to meet to get the job you want.  Or you're thinking about settling for the next [job, man, apartment] you find instead of taking the first job opportunity that comes along, just to have something, something for them, instead of getting the good one that you really deserve.

Try not to panic.  Put your own mask on first.  Do that five minute meditation you've keep thinking you "should" do.  Get your hair done.  Hire some cleaning help.  Take that lunch meeting.  The kids can do without.  In fact, they will turn out fine, or even better, because you'll be able to take care of them.  Solid.  Oxygen filled.  Put your mask on first.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Second Mile

A couple of weeks ago I made it to the gym, so good for me.  I can go on the treadmill for 4-5 miles if there is something good on the TV monitor, and I can actually do a not totally crappy 10k if I am trying hard.  But that night my head was not into it and after about a mile (11 minutes, but who's counting), I started to wheeze, so I stopped.

Now generally that is a fairly common occurrence for me.  After about a mile or so two things happen:  first, I get bored, and start telling myself to just stop, because this is stupid, and you're not having a good time anyway, and you're slow, and it's not as if it's going to make a difference in your figure, and you have a lot of other work to do that is more important.  Second, my body starts to cramp up, and I start hearing these noises as if the treadmill needs maintenance, except then I realize that it's my lungs.  I get a tightness across my shoulders, and I feel my chest stop expanding right about at my armpits.  My mind picks up on the physical issues, and gets all excited:  see, you're not well, you'd better stop before you hurt yourself, it's not safe to stress yourself beyond your limits like this.

Normally, I come prepared.  An energetic song begins on my ipod, and distracts my brain.  The "ooh!  I love this song" part takes over for a few minutes, and then a few more.  During that time, my hamstrings stretch, my chest warms up, and I stop wheezing.  The most important part seems to be to stifle the critical, neurotic part of my brain until I'm relaxed and having fun.

But the other day, this did not happen.  I got more and more discouraged as the seconds passed.  I was not able to talk myself out of slowing down, walking, and then pretty much just stepping off in disgust.  I hadn't even broken a sweat and I did not care.

Why is that?  Why is the second mile so hard?  And I say this thinking of that feeling you get sometime after you pass the one-year mark of your divorce.  When you expect it to be more of a breeze, except it's not.  Right about the time people stop cutting you some slack, because it's been a year already, I mean, really.  You shouldn't you be able to handle [fill in the blank] event now (holiday, anniversary, tax returns) that you've done it once already.

But that's precisely why it is so hard to start that second lap - this time it's all you.  There's no momentum spurring you on like there was when you started.  During the first year, all you had to do was make it to the end.  When you arrived, ta daah!  Good for you!  But this second time around - in case you hadn't figured it out it's the first year all over again with just a slightly different date on every check you write.  All your cheering fans are attending to somebody else's crisis.  Here I am, starting the second year of moving back to town where TGIUTBMT still lives, and certain days are so surprisingly hard.  Sometimes all I can hear is the skepticism inside my own head, and I think, where's the deafening silence when I need it?

Distraction, as I mentioned, has been the key for me (but not drinking to distraction.  Tried it.  Doesn't work).  It's that ipod song that keeps me going for a few minutes until the doubt passes.  It's that pottery class I pre-paid for, or that women's event I agreed to bring the spinach dip for.  Something external to myself that I can blame for keeping me moving instead of letting me sit in my rut.  A few of these, and then a few more, and at some point when I check in with myself, I find that I'm moving through that second year, looking forward, not minding the effort.