Last Saturday, I made sure I was punctual in meeting Bob at the community gardens. This was part of the picture of my new life—growing veggies and canning again, so I wanted everything to work out perfectly.

Bob wasn’t there. He was sick. Carl met me there. I had my $20 for my 20’ x 20’ garden plot. He had the list of the ones available. He also had the map.

Number 227 is available.

Bob had told me during our phone conversation that it’s important to get one near water, because he said that some are far from the spigots.

We walk through a crazy quilt maze of aisles and fencing, some framing the chaotic giving up in the Fall of 2013 and others holding the newly turned promise of Spring 2014.

Parts of numbers; faded numbers written in pencil on plywood. 473 next to 104 on the map; 181 next to 222 in real life. Each garden has a haphazardly-placed storm door as its entrance. Most plots have chicken wire fencing in varying stages of rusting between metal and wooden poles of any-old heights. A few of the fences are uniform, home-quality, and showing off.

Carl is apologizing for things not being organized enough. I’m loving it!

Someone pulls up on a bike. I think it’s a teenage boy, offering to help. As he comes closer, I see a 70-something-year-old guy. Will gardening keep me young?

None of these numbers make sense, Carl tells him. I’m making her walk all over the place.

I love to walk, I say. This is fun.

The bike guy knows where 227 is. He also knows where the 20 by 40 that can be divided is. It’s by 386.

We get to the plot that will be subdivided. Its distance from the water is not good.

We find 227. Another long winding path to water.

Ralph joins us. He tells them why he’s pissed at one of the garden officers. No name, but they all know who. You know what would really get back at the guy he’s mad at? Giving me Plot 470!

Yeah! Let’s do it, they all agree.

Wait, I don’t want to get into a controversy.

Don’t worry– it won’t be your responsibility.

No! I don’t want to tick anyone off! I’m the new person.

Don’t worry.

I worry.

But when all was said and done, there was plot 491, which had been given up freely by its former tenant. A plot to be subdivided. A foot from the water source, right next to the main entrance road. I can back my truck up right next to it to haul off the weeds and debris, a project that I started the next day.

The front chicken wire fence needs to be replaced. Between YouTube, Lowes associates, and everybody I know, I’ll get what I need to know about mending literal fences. I’m going to order a Mantis tiller, which I will also use for weeding during the summer. I found out where the dump is and am headed there today to get the sticker for my truck so that I can clear all the junk (old metal tomato cages, rusty pieces of chicken wire fencing, etc.) away from my soon-to-be 20 by 20 piece of Eden.

This $1 a square foot treasure is the kind of thing that people twenty years hence will talk about:

Remember when the community gardens looked all ghetto and went for 20 bucks a year before (Insert a serious-sounding company name here.) took them over? I’m surprised nobody ever got sued with all that rusty chicken wire. And that nobody’s stuff ever got stolen, either. I kind of miss the messy way the gardens used to be. I think the tomatoes tasted better then, or maybe the happy memories make it seem that way.

I see the happy now.


Every Christmas, the people who are spiritual but not religious have to figure out what this all means. Like me, for example.

Each kid responds differently to religious upbringing. As adults, neither my latex (late-ex-husband) nor I ended up as fans of organized religion. While the Catholic little girl had desperately tried to fit as many Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s in before falling asleep to help the poor souls in purgatory, the Lutheran boy had been bored with services but happy with the church strawberry festival.

Who knows what combination of Catholicism, environmental pressure to do everything correctly, and genetic predisposition toward perfectionism shaped me.

Our church was old and beautiful in an inorganic way. Its spiritual feeling felt other-worldly, like a lonely trip into space. I would go there for confession, when I would list the human things I did that were called sins. I would dwell in the sacred atmosphere, feeling elevated as I left in the state of grace.

You can cognitively reject doctrines, but it’s amazing how you can continue for years reacting to the normal imperfections that make up the fabric of Life and of you and of others as if they were sins.

Last night, my daughter and I hung the ornaments on our Christmas tree. Some represent times in North Carolina. Some are from when my latex and I were dating. Rural North Carolina was not a good fit for me. My husband divorced me. A lot of imperfection. But those same ornaments represent a lot of good things, too. And those bittersweet ornaments will proudly be on the tree with the sweet ones, because Life is like the tag on the pocketbook that knows that the imperfections in the leather are natural and in no way should be seen as flaws.

In my opinion, religions have a lot to offer if they aren’t taken literally, and the symbol of God in human form is no exception.

Maybe God is in our trying, not in our trying to not make mistakes.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that this means I’ll live until 121.

I’ve stopped. The blur of the last five years is winding down.

I’m in a place ripe for planting a new life. But I’m like the North Carolina farmer who wants to continue planting tobacco even though nobody wants to smoke it.

I’m a homebody with a daughter who is balancing needing me, trying to find her own way, and rejecting me for all her problems. I am there for her, but it feels like I’m hugging a cactus. Besides, the ultimate goal is that she, like any kid, become an independent person. When you’re widowed, divorced, or both (as in my case), where does that leave you when you’re wired as homemaker? I enjoy making a home for myself, so I guess I’m not really a homebody for nobody, but I’m feeling an aching hole.

I’ve begun looking into volunteering. I think that would help me as well as others, but then you always hear how family is what really counts in life. So if you’re rejected by a spouse due to death or divorce, and your kids are supposed to be independent from you, is that really true that family is the most important thing? Aren’t we all destined to end up alone? Or am I “supposed to” remarry just to get a family? I don’t feel like it.

I know I’m “supposed to” get with people with similar interests. I am making attempts to connect over and above going to work every day. I get it. I’m doing it.

It’s just that my homemaker job turned out to be a temp position, and I’m pissed and upset with the layoff.

Since an incident in October of 2008, I’ve gone through separation, family therapy, therapy with what became left of the family, pouring my thoughts onto paper, pouring my thoughts into cyberspace, lawyers, divorce, realtors, job interviews, moving companies…

I love where I’ve landed.

The visual of my experience is no longer the streaks from motion. I’ve stopped and things look different now.

I am starting to see through the eyes of a realistic woman. I am not a cynical woman. I am a woman who wanted to see magic and who got hurt by that.

I am a woman who knows that the world is already magical, and that it is best experienced while looking through clear lenses.

You know the beginning of the Lifetime movie where they show the perfect neighborhood?

The movie ends when the guy across the street’s freezer that’s chock full of severed limbs and heads is finally defrosted.

No, I’m not really of that superstitious mindset.

I am simply overwhelmingly happy. Everything fits in the house. The backyard is cozy and beautiful. The neighbors are great. The house has no flaws. A cool breeze continuously flows through my being-decorated-with-my-quirky-taste home while the fully functioning air conditioner remains unneeded. Thanks to my brother-in-law’s shortcut recommendation, my commute to work has been cut 10 miles a day. Perks such as free bus transportation, games (including billiards which my daughter and I have already enjoyed together), and other activities. A nearby lake we haven’t yet checked out. A community garden I can use to grow veggies.

I’m holding off on Internet, landline phone, and TV until my finances get settled. But I know I can make this work.

A happy life.

Plan B

This evening, my daughter and I went to the store to buy bagels, and she showed me this decorative spatula. I started crying and put it in the cart. I told her I hadn’t been able to post on my blog for almost two months, but that I’d take a picture of this and write. I finally was able to see what’s been happening through the haze.

After a stressful clinical, I finished my phlebotomy course. A few days later, I was offered a job (not in phlebotomy—maybe part-time someday?) that is right for me that has good benefits, bought a house with an iffy closing date which I need to move into before the closing on this house. Our family dealt with all the issues of the house I’m living in now (the homeplace owned by us siblings) going on the market and being sold. My new job is interesting but stressful since I don’t know what I’m doing yet. When I look at my finances, I see that things will be very tight, which is wonderful because a few days ago, before I decided to apply for early retirement benefits from my last NC job, they looked impossible. In the middle of all this, I flew out to South Dakota for my brother’s wedding and had a fun weekend.

Plan A was security, security, security. Which I found was a f**king lie.

Plan B is real life. Which I’m finding I’m pretty good at.

The spatula will hang in the entrance of my new home, welcoming all to my “Plan B”. It will have a special, sacred, dedicated place.

Then, as real life gets real, I might find I need to take it down from time to time to help me scrape by.

When it comes to trying to end my love affair with control (unrequited due to control’s nonexistence), I may be talking the talk and writing the writing, but I am struggling with living the life. From my sneaky subconscious, a  loop of tape keeps playing in my head:

When I get things under control, I will be able to relax and be happy.

Perhaps I could upgrade to new media and enjoy streaming reality.