Divorce Stories

Since I have all this time on my hands I’ve decided to share some of an interesting/disturbing/disgusting incident surrounding this divorce process.

It was right around the time that I was finally prepared to tell my spouse that it was time to end our marriage. I had made an appointment with our long-time financial planner so that we could get our taxes prepared- close to the end of March it must have been.

I sat down and before anything else, told him that we had agreed to divorce. The man nearly became unhinged. Now this was a person who had come well recommended years ago. We began our relationship with him when both of my parents passed away within a few months of each other and there was inherited money that needed to be dealt with.

We have kept that relationship going for 20 years or so and have had no complaints about how our money has been managed, or how he has helped us navigate through things like college student loan issues for our kids as they all moved through higher ed. This person has always been soft-spoken, knowledgeable, sort of nerdy, definitely focused on facts, and never pushy about any decisions we have made.

I’m not sure that I can even begin to describe the person who presented himself to me on that day in March. It was not the man I had known for 20 years. I understand and acknowledge concern. I comprehend shock over the news that I had just shared. I can even accept, to some degree on his part, a sense of disappointment or failure that the future we had been growing was going to undergo a significant change. I am still in disbelief that I became the victim of a tirade for most of that tax appointment.

I listened to him tell me, over and over, how he had seen the lives of clients fall apart after divorce, how the process would be contentious; how it would be a struggle at best; how it would go on for a year or more; how no matter what we may believe there would always be something that would come up to cause disagreement or even open warfare.

He stressed, almost vehemently, just how much attorney’s set out to line their own pockets, caring little for their clients, and how they clearly delighted in pitting party against party in a divorce.

He felt the need to assure me, repeatedly, that there would not be enough money to live. I assume he was speaking about me (rather than us) with that comment because of the fact that I no longer work and my spouse has an income.

He felt the need to tell me the story of his own parents horrid marriage…tell me 4 times that they were married for over 50 years and readily admit that the marriage should have ended decades earlier…except that they would never have been able to live. They stayed married, living in separate areas of their home until his mother died.

He liked to stress that line, “you won’t be able to live” along with his constant observation that “I’ve seen this so many times” or that “it always happens this way.”

He shared the horror stories of just how much healthcare would cost me each month, based of course on the fact that he supports a family of 4 and that I had only 3 choices of plans. It made no matter to him that neither of those facts applied to me.

He encouraged, between the dire warnings, that my spouse and I go to counseling. Again, it was no interest to him that with each cajoling plea to seek guidance I stressed that we both clearly know our own mind and our decision would not change.

Intermixed throughout all of this was the clear insinuation that I would do myself a great favor if I simply settled in for the long haul, forgot about my own happiness and needs and rode out the rest of my marriage until, like his parents, one of us passed on. He even, without any subtlety or grace, noted that my only alternative was to find myself “someone with money to take care of me.”

**I must inject a note to my dear blogger pal Alice at this point– calm down dear. I have ranted and raged over this man enough for both of us since this day happened. I am almost to the point that I can find a pitiful sense of amusement in the story now. Don’t waste your time or energy.

I had a rather bad cold that day, so I think that much of what he was spouting off about actually didn’t faze me at the time, or I was just more focused on trying to breathe and not cough myself out of the chair. Believe me, I heard his words, over and over, but it wasn’t until the drive home that they actually began to sink in.

A few times during the 45 minute appointment I remember looking at him incredulously. I asked him at one point, after the 3rd time around with his parents story, if he was honestly telling me that I had two choices: stick it out and be miserable for 30 more years, or find myself a cardboard box to live under the local overpass. After a shrug, and likely his interjection of one of his favorite ‘you can’t live on that amount’ replies, I clearly remember telling him I would gladly choose the box.

The irony of that meeting is evident in the fact that nothing that he predicted, at least so far, has come to fruition. We discussed, agreed, moved forward, continue to make progress without lawyers sucking our money from us or being involved at all, have made quite equitable decisions that will allow us both to live, not in a box, but between walls and with a roof, and remain amicable.

I have had to have email contact with him a few times since that day. I remain coolly detached, ask my question, and move ahead. Today in fact, in a reply to me, he managed to throw in one of his favorite statements when answering my question- the one about how he’s seen it happen before, so many times.

My amateur psychology degree tells me that there’s something underlying these reactions. There are some deeper issues here that this man cannot move beyond, that this man must project on to others. Or perhaps he was just a misogynistic horse’s ass all along…

I have to admit that I find myself feeling rather smug during those moments when I can share with him in an email just how easy this process has been, just how smoothly we are moving ahead, just how things like his dire prediction of an $800+ health insurance bill per month will actually be a mere $25 per month- all thanks to my spouse candidly and openly reminding me that I can take advantage of the fact that I am still covered by the military healthcare system, and will be for life.

The best day, I predict, is yet to come. That will be the day when all of this is over and I walk into his office for the last time. I plan to leave him a small cardboard box and perhaps a tarp as my final goodbye gesture prior to firing him as my CPA.


Wanting…and tasting

Are you familiar with that idiom that goes something like “I wanted it so bad I could taste it…”

I oddly remember my mother used to say that sometimes. Right now, it happens to be a great way to describe this divorce process. The wanting to be finished is palpable. Freedom is so close that I can taste the sweetness on my tongue.

Yet we wait. We start down all those new pathways that one must take when they end a part of their existence, yet still have to start living all over again… but we just can’t quite reach the finish line.

There are things to be done, of course. Lots and lots of paperwork, and changes: removing names and connected identities, all sorts of movement from we to me. Some of that can be done now, during the waiting time. A lot of those things are forced to wait as well, and then be accomplished in a flurry of post-final-decree-I-am-single-and-ready-to-get-on-with-my-life-madness.

I don’t wait well. As I just said to someone yesterday, Patience is not a virtue that I claim. I am being forced to wait. I love the state that I live in, or at least I do in all respects except for divorce. In an uncontested divorce with no minor children, whereby every single aspect of married life has been looked over, divided, listed and assigned…whereby every financial detail has been agreed upon…all without lawyers because both parties wanted the divorce equally…my gorgeous-for-it’s-natural-beauty, liberal leaning  state still enforces a 90 day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized.

I have filed forms that were nothing more than 10 pages of ‘check the appropriate box’ responses all referencing our agreement. They sit, signed and stamped, in a file in my county clerks office. I have completed the remaining forms- again, 20 odd pages of checked boxes referencing that very same agreement…waiting for me to stand in front of a judge, assure him that ‘yes, we both want to end this marriage,’ and then watch him place his name on a paper printed from my computer, releasing my spouse and myself.

Do I feel as if we are wasting 90 precious days of freedom? Clearly the answer is yes. I want my own name on my own accounts. I want to find my own new home and not be encumbered by the fact that no one will believe that I will have an income post-divorce because they have no evidence, only my word that ‘the divorce will be final in mid-July.’

I want to change all the we things and make them me things. I want my identity back, fully and completely. Even though I was a fully functional, independent adult before marriage, maintained personal accounts throughout marriage, have an amazing credit score, continued to work during most of the marriage, and can still be considered mentally competent to pay my bills on time and correctly, I am now fully confronted by my social standing as married female.

And I don’t like. But…I will not go off on a feminist inspired tirade, claiming sexism and oppression and marginalization and patriarchy, even though I really, deeply, and sincerely want to.

I will simply reiterate that a 90 day wait period, in this type of divorce, is ridiculous! I would like my judicial system to come to terms with the fact that some of it’s citizens can very easily think for themselves, come to mutual agreement, and move on with living. Autonomy doesn’t have to be a bad word. It does not have to be a word that strikes fear into the hearts of men who begin to imagine chaos and civil uprising and desperate females crying at their courtroom doors, begging and pleading and claiming that ‘it was all a misunderstanding…I never really meant to leave him…let me go back…I promise that I’ll behave…’

Having no choice, no option, no ability to move on, only to sit and imagine that far off day when pen on paper provides freedom, well that sucks.

90 days of waiting sucks, pure and simple.



There are men that I don’t like very much right now.

There are many reasons that I don’t feel very fond of men in general, and of some men in particular.

I do have a soft spot in my heart for older men though, and I realize that this has been the case for a long time.

So many of the older gentlemen who were patients of mine over the years during my dental career were wonderful. Of course they may have smelled a little sometimes, or needed to trim their ear hair, or those long wiry eyebrows. They may even have said some things that I could easily have taken offense to, sexist things that for the men of their generation were common, and accepted. For those men I would just smile, choosing not to take exception to their off-hand comments.

Those older men were bent, and often shaky. Their clothing hung off bodies that I assume were once strong and healthy and fit. They had a hard time hearing or seeing or both.

I found myself looking at them, and listening to their stories and wondering what life had been like for them. I had a few that were nasty. Curmudgeon is the word of choice for them, but I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that they might simply be lonely, or sad, or fearful of what was coming in the short time they had left.

I often found myself, at one point or another in our conversation, giving these older men a brief touch on their arm or hand. No, I didn’t ask, and yes it was clearly an invasion of their personal space, but I never had one complain or pull away. And I know that non-complaint doesn’t make it right. It did however, seem like it was important to connect with each of them, to say to them “I hear you and you’re important.”

This act of touching happened again for me, just the other day and it has made me wonder, in light of my own views on sexism and inappropriate behavior exhibited by men toward women, if I am just as guilty as I would assume a man to be if he felt it necessary to touch my arm or hand uninvited.

I was in the grocery store. It was the morning of the Super Bowl and the lines were LONG. I didn’t have a lot in my cart and neither did the older man behind me. A lady in the line next to us commented that we both might fit the “20 items or less criteria” and move to the line that had no one in it. Each of us decided to stay put, but we thanked her for her suggestion.

When my turn came I unloaded my cart and placed the divider thingy down. I also tried to move my cart up as far as possible so the man behind me could start unloading his stuff. By that time we’d been waiting in line for a good 15 minutes or longer. He hung back with his groceries and the space on the belt was wide open the entire way before he began unloading. He slowly put one item after another down. Two quarts of milk. Some lettuce. Hot dogs and buns. I had a feeling that he was trying not to crowd me or push forward too fast. I was still stuck, unmoved because the person who had just finished was chatting while having issues with their payment.

Something made me begin rearranging his groceries, moving them up to fill the open space while I rather offhandedly said, “Oh here, let’s get this moving. We’ve been here long enough.”

I can honestly say that I’ve never overstepped like that before. I don’t make it a routine practice to tell people how to put their groceries on the belt, nor do I typically jump in and handle their items either. He chuckled though and said, “When you’re over 80, you have all time in the world. I’m in no hurry.”

It was at that point that I noticed his ice cream tub and I asked him if he planned to eat the whole tub himself. What was I thinking! First I take charge of the man’s groceries then I insinuate that he would seriously consider eating a gallon size tub of ice cream. The final straw to all this was that as I was insulting his eating habits I also, without any thought to him or his comfort, automatically reached out and touched his forearm.

So there it was. I was, apparently without regard, touching another nice older man just like I had done on numerous occasions without considering that I might be offending him or making him uncomfortable.

I can only guess that my actions started during my dental career as a means to try to connect with, or reassure fearful patients. It wasn’t just older men that I would gently touch. I held kids hands. I have placed my hand over women’s hands, or given a female patient the same forearm touch. I’ve even gently patted the shoulder of a patient on occasion. I’ve often wondered though if I feel a connection to older men because I see my dad in these men. Do I feel a need to connect on a physical level, even so very briefly, with them because I miss the ability to do that with my dad?

I haven’t begun stalking men over 70, or randomly reaching out to inappropriately touch the arms of senior men I pass so I have hope that I can keep this in check.

By the way, the man behind me in line…he was shopping for his wife who was on crutches and couldn’t walk. The ice cream was for her…

Strength and Pride Personafied

My Monday will be a great day with these images reminding me of the power of Women.

Some of our favorite photos from the NC Editors of the 1-22-2017 Women’s March on Washington and other cities. (Laura Ansley/Nursing Clio)

via Nursing Clio Stands with Equality — Nursing Clio

A Passing of Sorts

Most of you know that I closed out my final career as a surgical dental assistant. If you’ve been around here for some time you might also remember that I’ve also worked with pregnant couples as a doula and educator. I always wanted to be a nurse, then a midwife, but dentistry was quicker, cheaper and more attainable way back in 1978 so that’s the route I took.

I found that I really liked it and was quite good at my job. My rather overt need to be organized was a big plus when it came to working in a structured and procedural oriented occupation. I also really enjoyed educating patients and helping them to have positive, healthy and often extremely life-changing moments and outcomes.

One of the perks of my educational program way back then was that students were almost always guaranteed to be placed in a dental office after graduation. Often we received internships prior to graduation and then simply stayed on as a new assistant in that office. I had one of those internships, but the dentist and office staff, as well as their overall philosophy, just didn’t fit with my personality. I was terrified the day I had to sit down with the dentist and tell him thanks, but no thanks. I did it though because I knew that I would never fit in that office, and I wanted the advantage of my schools support to find a position rather than trying to go at it on my own.

After my decision to forego the elite pediatric dental office I ended up just staying in our schools clinic, finishing out my last few months there, working with the local dentists who volunteered their time to come in, teach us what they needed in a chairside assistant, and provide low-cost care to the community.

Just prior to graduation I was sent out for an interview at a brand new office just minutes from my home. I was totally enthused because I would be the only back office staff person. The office was that new. Plus he was offering an amazing $12.00 per hour, along with incentive bonuses as we grew the practice. I couldn’t believe that I was getting my very own office, so to speak, right out of school, plus a big enough paycheck that I could live on my own. Remember this was early 1980 after all.  

Here’s my graduating class. I’m way over to the right in the end chair.


I worked in that office for 6 years until I was politely asked to leave because I “seemed not to be as focused on my job anymore” which really translated into ‘you’re pregnant now  and I’m not a man who finds pregnant woman acceptable (he used to make really sexist comments about his pregnant wife who was just a few months farther along than me) and so I’m giving you this opportunity to leave.’

He really was an ass, and always had been, but paid well at the time plus let me do what I wanted to set up and run the back office along with performing lots of individual procedures so I chose to overlook his attitudes. I look back and admit that wasn’t how I would choose to situate myself now. In reality, that abrupt end turned out fine, as I had not planned to return there after giving birth anyway.

I went on to be a mom, and an educator, and a doula, and then back to dental assisting in a general dental practice …for another sexist ass, prior to finishing my career in oral surgery. I suppose pondering this trend to associate myself with men who clearly lack any cohesive bond with feminism, as well as my own moral compass and ethics in working for them, needs to be fodder for another blog post.

So, why this clearly endearing walk down memory lane you might ask.

That first office, MY first office, is no longer standing. It has been situated on a very busy corner along a major highway for almost 37 years. I passed it often. The same dentist, my first employer, has been in that location the entire time. We had an insurance office on one side and a deli on the other. The deli owner was also an overt sexist. The insurance owner followed LDS beliefs, but I can’t speak to his views on woman. There have been many changes in the businesses alongside over the years, but the one constant was my dental office.

About 2 weeks ago, as I drove by to go to the bank I noticed a chain-link fence surrounding the property. About 1 week ago, I drove by again on my way down the highway and realized that the building had been razed. Huge pieces of equipment were positioned to pull out crushed concrete and metal and load it into waiting trucks. The only thing left today when I drove by was the original concrete slab and a few small piles of rubble. Now only a concrete footprint delineates the place that I began my career. I had to stop for the traffic light, and as I looked over toward the almost empty lot I noticed a few pipes remaining. They were the lines that had fed nitrous oxide and oxygen from our outside tanks under the concrete slab and into our building.

Other memories rushed in as I remembered having to unlock the outside tank storage area every morning and turn on those tanks, then do the reverse at the end of each day.

Some things that stand out include:

The very frightening and totally unacceptable fact that we never wore masks or PPE of any kind, and only used surgical gloves if we were extracting a tooth. Common practice in 1980. Yuck, gross, alarming, and why/how I’m still alive after all that exposure is amazing.

Polyester uniforms and white nurse shoes. As you can note by my grad picture, we were required to wear all white during school, even white nurse socks. The first thing I did when I got my first job was to go out and buy a colored, print top and toss the white stockings. No breathable scrubs back then…no way…only thick polyester. I chose the brightest top I could find. It was orange. I have never worn orange since.

Along the lines of that personal hygiene/safety issue, we cleaned some instruments with alcohol only. No, I wasn’t trying – or being directed – to cut corners or be cheap. It was what we did back then with a few select groups of instruments. It was standard practice in dentistry. It was gross. It was awful. It does not happen now so please continue to go to your dentist.

Unknown, but likely high amounts of scatter radiation from our panoramic dental x-ray machine. Now days those types of x-rays are either digital, or must be in a position in the office where operators and other staff/patients are shielded. Ours sat out in the open about 4 feet from the reception desk and the receptionist herself.

Mercury. Perhaps sharing too much about this topic will push you beyond your limits when it comes to learning what happened in dental offices just a few decades ago, but I’m sharing anyway. Mercury was mixed with a metal alloy to form amalgam, the stuff of silver fillings that so many still have in their teeth. Many offices literally had their assistants physically placing the alloy pellet and the necessary amount of mercury into a tiny capsule that was then inserted into an amalgamator which shook the contents at such a high rate that a soft, pliable substance was formed and could then be pushed into a waiting cavity prep. Even in the offices, like mine, that used pre-mixed capsules, assistants still had to load a tool with the soft amalgam. Remember, we didn’t use gloves. Let’s now consider mercury vapor…along with the repeated, even if inadvertent, contact with mercury that was inevitable with that system overall.

It is no wonder that, as I find myself getting more forgetful, and contemplating if I may be headed for dementia or even Alzheimer disease in the future, I need to reflect seriously on a more likely scenario – long term exposure to mercury and it’s effects. 

Please note – I am not saying it is imperative to rush out and get any remaining amalgam fillings removed and replaced. I will state though that if you happen to go to a dentist that still routinely uses amalgam there are better, safer alternatives. It may be time to question the continued use of this substance, for your sake and the office staff as well.

1st generation Volkswagen Scirocco’s. Anyone remember or every drive one? This was the car my dentist drove. I will always remember being crammed into the non-existent backseat on a 50 minute trip to Seattle for a dental convention.

Hormonal migraines. During the time I worked in this office I was experiencing some of the worst migraines I ever had. I would literally have to force myself to sit upright and assist with patients. The overhead fluorescent lights pierced my eyes like a knife. At lunch, when I had a headache, I would curl up in the dental chair for as long as I could until we started our afternoon. I was the only assistant. I never thought that I had the option to leave.

A patient named Mike. Horrible teeth that we fixed up nicely, along with a partial denture as he was missing many of his molars. He was incredibly nice. He rode a motorcycle. I rode with him a few times. He was also into martial arts. He recommended Tiger Balm…for various uses. Enough said.

The dentists wife. Nice enough to your face, but I always had my suspicions. She was also a dental assistant. I swear that she would come into the office after hours or on the weekend and rearrange things to suit her idea of proper dental order. I could never prove it, and the mercury hadn’t clouded my memory that soon. I knew how I left things and they were not always as I left them. As I noted earlier, she and I were both pregnant with our first child at the same time. I remember concerns in her pregnancy centered on the possibility of spina bifida. The child was fine. It shocked me though, to find out many years later that the younger brother of this child – who had attended the same high school as my son and graduated in the same class – died. I somehow stumbled upon an obituary and was truly saddened for their family.

Well, let’s call it a wrap. That’s enough reminiscing for one post, and probably more than any of you ever wanted to know about pre-stringent dental infection control standards.

There are no informative signs up, or indications of future development plans, so I have no idea what is going to go up in place of the old building, if anything. It is on a weird corner though, sort of a triangle, with the closest business being a Bucky’s Muffler Shop, or maybe it’s a Jiffy Lube. Something automotive anyway. Geez, you think I’d remember the name of a business that I drive by so often…

Anyone for a few drops of shiny mercury. It forms lovely little silver balls…





Ancestral Reflections

I think that we’ve put to bed the immediate ancestral search. At the very least the fervor of the chase has dulled considerably and now we move on to filling in the family lineage as we can, or as the mood strikes.

Alison worked her butt off getting the majority of the lineage in place on a family tree. Even after my last post, that one where I reflected on the cad that was my maternal grandfather, she managed to reach the 1500’s and some Dutch ancestors. Their records show that they arrived at some point during early colonization in America.

We seem to have run into quite a few members, both contemporary and in the recent past, who were married a number of times. I guess those are the little inconsequential aspects of family life that don’t really get shared with a child as they are growing up. What’s in the past stays put because it really is unnecessary to a kids worldview at the time. Many of those marriages also resulted in children, some who would be fairly close cousins to me, but that I had no idea existed.

And, a point of clarification from a previous post, only because I think this bit of news is really rather important from the standpoint of women’s history.

I mentioned that a great+ grandfather – Sabrevoir De Carrie -on my maternal side had married a high ranking female in the Winnebago tribe settled in Wisconsin. I thought originally that she was the daughter of a chief and that is why she refused to leave with great+ grandpa De Carrie for Canada. Well, Alison confirmed for me that this woman, Hopokoekau (Glory of the Morning) was not simply a princess. She was THE chief. Now that absolutely ROCKS to know that I have a great+ grandma who was the chief of an entire tribe. Here’s a picture of her, along with some info Alison found:


From the Wisconsin Historical Society website:

Ho-poe-kaw, or Glory of the Morning, was the first woman described in the textual record of Wisconsin.

The last known Ho-Chunk female chief, Ho-poe-kaw was chosen to lead her people around 1727, when she was 18.

The following year she married Sabrevoir Descaris, a French officer who resigned his commission to become a fur trader. At the time, the French and their Indian trading partners were harassed by the Meskwaki, or Fox, Indians, who commanded strategic points on the Fox River, demanding tribute from everyone who passed. Under Ho-poe-kaw’s leadership, the Ho-Chunk sided with the French against the Meskwaki in several battles during the 1730s and 1740s.

After seven years of marriage and three children, Ho-poe-kaw and her sons were abandoned by her French husband. He left Wisconsin to re-enlist and took their only daughter. In 1760 he died of wounds suffered in battle at Quebec.

While Descaris himself became but a footnote to family history, other family members became famous bearing an alternate form of his name, Decorah.

Ho-poe-kaw continued to lead her people, though how long is unknown. English traveler Jonathan Carver visited her in 1766 at modern-day Neenah-Menasha and left an account of her in his book.

She was never reunited with her daughter, who lived among whites in Quebec and eventually married a trader in Montreal. Ho-poe-kaw’s two sons succeeded her as chiefs of a Ho-Chunk village near Portage that later became a town called Dekorra. One son signed the first peace treaty with the U.S. in 1816, shortly before he died.