Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Changes and Chances

Velvet went back to school early yesterday morning. Finally I can relax and reflect in the quiet. There is plenty of reason to be hopeful about both our futures, but change is coming soon - mostly because I've started packing to move to back to Austin.

If my calculations are correct, then the party will officially start in Texas in the summer of 2011. Not coincidentally, that's when my alimony runs out and I can no longer afford to maintain Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters on Central Park West. The fact is, though, that I don't even want to be here anymore. I want to go home with the armadillos.

Gary P. Nunn was a Texan stuck in London not New York City, but the sentiment remains constant. When I think of leaving Velvet in Syracuse, sometimes it feels like I've been kicked in the gut. That's me anticipating the loss, though, not reality. The fall semester showed that anticipating the loss is much worse that peace and quiet that comes once he's out on his own. I can rest easy, I think, because his attitude was great, and his friends were well-mannered and smart. What more can a parent want besides gainful employment?

Starting to pack brings up the question of what to keep and what to toss. I've always jettisoned the clutter at least once a year because I hate to be buried by shit I don't need. Clearing out the clutter from a place where you intend to stay is one thing. It's another thing entirely to sort through Christmas ornaments with your child so that you are sure to save the things he loves in one box and save in another box the things he'll need to when it's time to decorate his own home for Christmas. That's as big a milestone as the first time the tooth fairy comes.

For these first few weeks of 2010, Velvet barely left the house. Naturally there were kids here all the time, and after a week or so, I was tired. Velvet and I were talking about how to balance his needs and mine when I asked him how he wanted to spend the rest of his break at home. He said that he loved this home and wanted to spend as much time here as he possibly could since it would be gone soon.

It's the only home he's ever known, and I feel proud that he loves it. I made it, after all, and I saved it from Buzz Kill's foolishness. Now that Buzz Kill's business, which he owned with his mother Vagina Dentata, is in corporate bankruptcy, the IRS is making some noise. Frankly, I'm surprised it took the IRS this long to catch up to him. Sometimes he waits a few years to file his personal taxes and does them all at the same time. When we were married, though, the IRS was the least of our financial troubles.

In the 22 years I've been messing around with Buzz Kill, his behavior patterns are determined and fixed. He's one of those people who do the same things over and over and over again and think there will one day be a different outcome. This bankruptcy was in sight six or seven years ago. When it was clear that he would not make any changes to his business structure despite hard financial realities, it was clear I needed to get divorced to protect the apartment - our only asset. I tried to manage this transaction by simply getting a separation because I really wanted to stay married. Sometimes, you need the cooperation of others in order to successfully implement our plans.

At that point, it became clear that Buzz Kill had to be jettisoned so that he couldn't bring down me and Velvet. The good news is that since there is a lot of distance between Buzz Kill and me now, when he starts pulling some shenanigans about Velvet or about the child support, I can respond to him like an adult instead of reacting like an adolescent. I've been firm, but I haven't raised my voice - which shows I've been able to change my own pattern.

We can't ever control another person's behavior - the only thing we can control is our own response. When we change our response, the steps in the dance with that person must necessarily change. He can try to revert to the old pattern, but it will never work in the same way again because my pattern is different. Changing my patterns was the whole point of 15 years of therapy.

Meanwhile, I've started working on the feng shui. It's been a few years since I addressed the feng shui, and I absolutely need to focus my energy on the future. Last month, I discovered that my pink quartz crystal was stashed in my antique bronze cash register. I used the rock to symbolize my heart.

I got that cash register back when I sold antiques in Austin, Texas during college. I love that cash register and must have put the pink quartz inside it for safe keeping. I'm sure it made sense at the time, but the result is that my heart has been locked up. Probably for the best since I haven't been interested in a relationship for a long time, and it doesn't make sense to get mixed up with anyone now that I've started packing.

It's hard, though, because Buzz Kill has a girl friend and he's bankrupt and missing a front tooth. That just goes to show you how few Fifty year old, single, straight men there are in New York City. Women are hurling themselves at Fixer-Uppers.

I gave Velvet serious instructions to start taking steps the instant he turns 21 to get his name on the lease of his Grandmother's big, rent stabilized, pre-war apartment with a dead on view of the reservoir.

I found myself passing on little bits of important information each day as if I were fixing to disappear forever. I'm accustomed to living with uncertainty, but lately I've been filled with a sense of vague unease. G*d knows there's plenty of reason to be uneasy in this world, and running headlong into the unknown is unsettling even when the unknown is pretty familiar.

Austin has grown a lot since I lived there in the 80's, and it's not as funky as it used to be with all those Dellionaires running around - but it's still great. I just don't know where I'll be living or where I'll be working or when I'll see my kid. I'd be wondering when I'd see my kid even if I lived in this apartment for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, there are major changes ahead and the last year was filled with major changes too.

When I got divorced, one thing I wanted to make damn certain was that when it was time for me to decide where I wanted to live when we sold the apartment, the decision would be mine alone and based entirely on my needs. I never, ever wanted to build my life around a man again - not even Velvet. The way I figured, I could do Velvet the most good by making sure I was all together fine so he wouldn't have to worry about me. He's already talking about going into the Peace Corps when he graduates - assuming he gets a 2.0 next semester and isn't grounded for life. Who knows - maybe he'll join Engineers without Borders. The point is that if I'm well established with a full life, then he can do as he pleases. So can I. Having the ability to make this decision on my own, without thinking about a man, is most likely why I locked up my heart in the cash register - which, as it happens, came from Waco, Texas in 1911. From a feng shui perspective, my heart has been in Texas for months.

Vagina Dentata asked Buzz Kill to move home when he was about 21 years old. She had some troubles in her business and needed him to take care of her. His sister told him not to do it, but he went. He had already quit college before he moved back in with his mother. He went to work at a department store for some years, then they went into business together in the Rag trade. That's the business that just went bankrupt.

When I think that I might be stuck taking care of Vagina Dentata in her old age, still married to Buzz Kill - all I can say is that I'm glad I'm headed for the hills.


Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Comeback south as soon as you can, even if it is to Texas. We need more kick ass women like you down here.

January 19, 2010 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger lisahgolden said...

That's a lot of change, but you seem prepared. I can't imagine a static life so I think it's all really interesting. Velvet will be fine. I'm sure you've taught him well.

As for that feeling of unease? Me, too. Can't quite put my finger on it, but it's there.

January 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Mauigirl said...

Hope all goes well with the move. You are going through a lot of changes but as Lisa said, it sounds as if you are prepared for them. Glad you are going back to a place you missed, and yes, Velvet will be fine. And you will both find time to see each other no matter where you live.

January 20, 2010 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

You think so, Dr. Von Monkerstein? I feel totally un-datable here in New York.

Lisa - you're feeling it too? Storm clouds on the horizon, I guess.

Thanks, Mauigirl. I still say we need to have coffee whenever you're in the city before I head on home.

January 20, 2010 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Gail said...


Change is never easy -even when it is a change we want and plan for. It certainly seems that you have accomplised a lot in the East, done what you set out to do and I feel kind of warm and fuzzy that you are going "home".

Love you girl

January 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Therer are still some things I hope to accomplish before I go back - some more likely than others - but I still want to come to the restaurant. I'm thinking when the flowers start to bloom.

January 20, 2010 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Gail said...


Yes, when the flowers start to bloom we will meet - for a meal and some wine and hugs and laughs and friendship.

Love you

January 20, 2010 at 11:07 PM  
Anonymous JD said...

Goin' home to the armadillo has crossed my mind a few times lately. As a matter of fact I'm soon headed to San Antonio to attend a conference, where I hope to encounter some good ju-ju that would lead to an open door to the Lone Star State. Sounds like your Life-Change meter is pegging into the red like mine is. Congrats on living the New York life as long as you have. But the way I see it, Texas is an emerging front in the new cultural revolution. You are definitely needed there now. I totally get your feelings surrounding Velvet, but it will work out well and even give him an opportunity to experience the Austintacious lifestyle. It still exists, though you have to hunt for it a bit harder. And you put me on the floor laughing with the Stoner Latin moniker for the MIL. Hang in there, Trish. There's bound to be good outcomes in all these mid-life upheavals.

January 21, 2010 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger VV said...

Wow, moving back to Austin, That brings mixed emotions to me. I had a lot of fun there, but wanted to be elsewhere, because of a man. I recently had to deal with a great deal of distance from my daughter. She went to Mexico for a week without a cell phone. Part of me inside was in panic, that I couldn't reach her at any given moment and assure myself she was okay. If anything did happen to her, I was too far away to rush to her aid. These were all my feelings. She's never been attached to me (a daddy's girl) and has been chomping at the bit since age 2 to get the hell away from me. I try not to take it personally. Well, she survived the separation and so did I. Judging by the tales she told me when she returned, I would have been screaching like a mad woman and freaking out worse than I was had I only known what she was up to. She,unfortunately, inherited my naivete. It was a miracle I wasn't murdered before 25 because I was so naive, trusting and reckless. She's worse than I ever was. God save her. I've been thinking of where in the world I would like to live, and a part of me still needs to be close to wherever my kids are living. I expect that to change in the next 10 years or so as they grow up some more and prove to me that they don't need me to rescue them. They don't of course, but I still need to be convinced of that. Your impending move is reminding me that I desperately want to down size when Jr. leaves the nest next Fall. I don't want all the material items, work, responsibility. I want to be free to move around, do things, not have to worry about taking care of living beings and inanimate objects. I'm so ready for a "me" life again. Well, I must stop and get back to the work at hand.

January 21, 2010 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

JD, I hadn't heard the word Austintatious in years - and actually the lifestyle still thrives on the back porches of most of my friends. Lots of beer drinking, guitar playing and singing and carrying on. Good luck in San Antone.
V.V. - the "me" time is great, but it's also kind of weird because I never really had a life that was all about my needs until now. High Time, I say, but it's still a bit overwhelming. The good news is that Austin is pulling me home these days. Some years ago, I only wanted to move back when I was dramatically disappointed and wanted to run away from NYC.
Re: kids out of reach - Velvet spent a month hiking in the Wyoming Rockies summer before last and I couldn't reach him for a solid month. It was unsettling but okay. I imagine Mexico has many more distractions than the Wind River Wilderness.

January 21, 2010 at 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I think it's exciting. How many people want big change and don't do it? Sounds to me like you head and your heart are screwed on right in sync.

You and Velvet are gonna do just fine.

January 21, 2010 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Your mouth to G*d's ears, Jen

January 22, 2010 at 4:57 PM  
Anonymous bruce Hood said...

Best of luck with the move Trish..life is for living and this sounds great

January 23, 2010 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

I wish you the best of luck in your eventual new digs and in search of peace within yourself and your life.

It's interesting that Velvet is enrolled at Syracuse. My girlfriend is an alum.

January 23, 2010 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Comrade - I think I may finally be getting there. I'm still thinking of going back to school, but for a PhD in Early Childhood at UT Austin. Velvet is at SUNY ESF. Their campus is adjacent to SU and they share many services, but he's not at SU proper. Did your girlfriend have a good experience there?

January 23, 2010 at 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T - It will be nice to have your closer.

As for Velvet missing his home, tell him I still dream all the time about our first house (the one on the party parade route) and a house my family had in Tennessee. Some places just get under your skin and stay.

Sounds like Austin is your under-your-skin place! J

January 25, 2010 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Jaliya said...

Trish...thanks so much for your thoughts on control, choice, and change ... They really resonate with me right now.


January 27, 2010 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Healthy Houston/J - In my head I'm already there, and at least the Grand Victorian B&B is on the parade route. Nice place Bonnie has there.

Jaliya - it's funny how you and I often find ourselves in the same place. I love it that we connected across the internet because of Mad Priest.

January 28, 2010 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Jaliya said...

Me too, Trish ... I don't always respond to your amazing posts 'cause I end up writing pages and pages -- your thinking fires up mine that much :-)

And MadPriest ... He is a gem :-)

January 31, 2010 at 3:55 AM  

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