Category Archives: F Bombs

Four Years

I have officially been divorced four years.

The day – March 3rd, to be exact – came and went without incident. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me until this morning that another year had gone by. It feels so damn good to have that time behind me.

March 3, 2011

I’m guessing Marjorie must have gotten tired of signing her name.


The past four years – six, really, if you count from my discovery of X’s infidelity – have been the most difficult, refining, tragic, incredible, horrible, deep, dark, elating, wonderful opportunities of growth. What is more, they have been saturated in grace.

I never mean to treat or speak of divorce flippantly, nor do I advocate running out and getting one to find new meaning in your life. But I do think any arduous road or suffering, if faced with honesty, vulnerability and grace, will inevitably bring surrender, acceptance, peace and maturity.

But it’s fucking hard. And there are consequences; results. I still have questions.

Did I marry the wrong person?

Given the fact my husband cheated on me and got remarried four months before we were divorced, my knee-jerk reaction is, “Absolutely! That guy was and still is the worst kind of idiot douche!”

(Side note: as initially painful as it was, the fact I had a Sister Wife will always be ridiculously funny. And true!)

I can argue that I was young and immature when I got married. Sometimes one will make choices that aren’t conducive to marriage. People change. I can also say all the work I have done in therapy over the years has helped me identify my own issues, how to deal with them and exactly what type of person/relationship to avoid.

Yet I have seen young people get married and stay married. People change for the better. I have seen couples stay together after an affair (or two or three). Staying married is a daily choice. Love, itself, is a choice. It takes two people to make it work, long after the romance has faded; when the cellulite is harder to battle; when it takes more than one match to cover up the foulness in the bathroom; when arguments and disappointment are a daily occurrence; when the snoring gets louder and a good night’s sleep is infinitely better than sex.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes,

“Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are looking for a marriage partner who will ‘fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.’ And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that you will ever find the right person to marry.”

As much as I want to re-write history and celebrate the fact I have been given a second chance at love (and perhaps marriage), I do not believe I made a mistake in choosing the person I first married. I walked down the aisle in 1999, excited about my future. The young man I married that day had great potential. I loved him. He was my friend. We saw life as an adventure, together. That was enough.

But people make choices. X chose his path and I chose mine. And because God is good, there is a copious amount of grace for us both.

What about the children?

I did not have babies with X. For that I am truly grateful because I would forever be tied to him. I would have never been able to pick up and move to New York on a whim. I wouldn’t have the freedom to travel and do what I love for a living. What is more, I would have to co-parent with someone I do not respect. Most of all, the children would suffer the effects of divorce, perhaps more so than I.

I will never feign to understand what it truly feels like, but I mourn with those of you who have kids and are enduring divorce. I hope each party can be kind to one another. I pray personal issues or suffering will never, ever be used to manipulate children into turning against the other parent. It is child abuse.

I still mourn the loss of my sisters and brothers-in-law, and my nieces and nephews. I was in the operating room when two of them were born, via C-section. Unless the photo albums have all been thrown out and memories erased, there are fourteen years of documentation I was their aunt. I was X’s wife. I was a daughter-in-law. I was a sister-in-law. They were my family.

But they are now strangers. That is deeply sad.

Will I ever marry again? Have a family?

Hell if I know the answer to that question. I have days where I am beyond grateful to be single and childless, living some watered-down version of a Sex and the City episode. There are other days when I wake up to the noise on 5th Avenue and desperately wish I were being smothered by the weight of a good man. If I had a baby, I can assure you I would be the biggest offender of saturating social media news feeds with his or her every waking moment. Ad nauseam.

But marriage is not the answer to life or its problems. It is not the completion of self or fulfillment of happiness. Nor is birthing or even adopting baby humans. I worry for people who are waiting with bated breath to start enjoying their life when marriage and/or family happens. These things are no more guaranteed than the next minute of time.

I sincerely wish we – especially the church – would stop placing marriage and family on a pedestal. Isn’t it enough to be alive, demonstrate love to those around us and acknowledge we, too, are loved?

Easier said than done. But it should be.

When will I fully heal from my divorce?

I believe healing happens in process, and is different for everyone. I was an absolute insane person the first six months after I recognized my marriage had fallen apart. Looking back, I wouldn’t necessarily blame X for wanting out since I reacted to every little thing he did. I felt mortally wounded. A nonstop rollercoaster of fear and emotions drove my words and deeds.

I was a different kind of hot mess after I filed for divorce. I needed to feel free and allow myself to act irresponsibly. I needed to explore what it meant to be single in my thirties, after having been married for the majority of my adult life. I needed space and time to ugly cry, get drunk or laugh heartily. I needed to feel safe. I needed my community. I needed support. I needed therapy. I needed to experience healthy relationship. I even needed to withstand more breakups.

And then I needed to pack my bags, move across the country and start my life all over again.

I’m not sure anyone is ever fully healed from divorce. It is an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual trauma. Initially it is a huge, gaping, seeping wound that needs constant monitoring and care. Sometimes it requires life support.

But eventually the wound scabs over. It becomes a scar. And whereas that scar may never go away, it – along with the memory of the trauma – fades.


So, wow. Divorced four years. Separated for six. Soon enough, I will have been divorced longer than I was ever married. The scar remains, but is slowly fading.

X and I have both moved on. We have completely different lives now, and I (think I?) genuinely wish him well. It still strikes me as odd that I was married to someone for ten years, yet I cannot remember the sound of his voice or the touch of his hand. Sometimes he has a cameo in my dreams. Other times I will regale a funny story about my old life with one husband, two cats, three dogs and four chickens in an old house on a rocky hill in sunny Los Angeles.

“That’s so not you!” my new friends gasp, as the Chrysler Building twinkles behind us in the warming spring sunlight.

And they’re right. It’s not me — anymore.

X was my first love. He hurt me deeply, but in no way did he destroy me. Neither did my divorce. If anything, I am free to love more fully and deeply now, and without fear.

Divorce has not defined me. It has refined me.

Spring is Coming

I am absolutely transfixed by the snow falling out my window at present.

Huge flakes gently drop to the earth. Some dance in circular motion before standing completely still, then change direction. Each is individual and dances with purpose. Some attach themselves to the bare trees, decorating them with leaves of crisp, frozen white. The rest fall to the ground. Eventually, the accumulation will be shoveled aside or melt. The unluckiest flakes become curbside slush, dirty ice or – gasp – yellow.

Yet, in flight, snowfall is the most peaceful, magical sight.

Growing up in California, snow was a rare phenomenon. As kids, we’d be corralled into the car and drive for hours just to touch a few inches of the white stuff. We made crude snowmen with whatever we could find and tossed around a few small balls of ice, but that was about it. Back into the car we went, fighting over our favorite seats. (More often than not, I shrewdly won, threatening carsickness.) We were anxious to get back to the sun, warmth and familiarity of home.

When I moved to New York, it was my first experience living in snow. Everything about it was exciting, even the wind chill factor. As the months dragged on, however, the thrill quickly wore off.

January. Yay, snow!
February. Ooh, snow.
March. More snow?
April. You’vegottobefuckingkiddingme SNOW.

It was cruelly cold and biting, and I suffered the worst: improper shoes. I became frustrated and anxious. I didn’t want to go anywhere. Yet, unlike Los Angeles, New Yorkers don’t cancel anything due to inclement weather. I found myself becoming withdrawn, maybe even a little depressed. I missed the sun. I missed the warmth and familiarity of home.

Just when I was ready to give up, spring burst forth, like your favorite boisterous, bosomy, bellowing aunt. She’s the life of every party and always has good gum in her purse. The ice and snow melted away; bare trees slowly budded again and new life emerged.

This happens every single year.

As the flakes outside have turned into a slanted, steady pelting, I realize I have finally learned to live in – and enjoy – the winter. I even have proper shoes. (Two pairs!) I never truly appreciated spring until I fully endured winter. Perhaps it’s because I had it so easy in California. More often than not, you can drive up PCH with the convertible top down; work on your tan and even swim in the ocean in January.

It’s no wonder why people move west. Winter tests our strength and endurance. It isn’t easy to live in such fluctuating weather. No one hands out awards for getting through the difficult season. You survive it because you know spring is coming.

The metaphor here may be obvious to the point of cliché, but I am in the thick of grieving right now. It is dark. I am no stranger to this season. I have survived before. The odds are in my favor: I will survive again.

But I am exhausted. My heart is worn out. And as the obnoxiously loud sanitation truck plows the snow off 5th Avenue below, I declare my resignation. Love is for the most reckless of fools. I give up.

I don’t want sympathy, encouragement or advice. Fuck the poetry of it all. I’ll be fine. Keep that well-meaning horse shit to yourself. (I just made myself laugh. See?) In fact, I’ll encourage myself. If I write the words, they will eventually mean something.

I trust I can get through this. I can trudge through the dirtiest slush and endure the pain of the most freezing rain, sleet or snow. My skin can take the most whipping wind and biting cold. I hope to find the beauty in this season. This is my home now. I trust the sun will re-appear. I trust warmth is waiting. I trust healing will happen. I trust I can love again.

I trust spring is coming. And she damn well better have strawberry bubble gum in her purse.

I Took a Huge Risk

I’m enduring yet another breakup.

Out of respect and love, I will not share details about the relationship, except to say it was the best one, so far. And he wasn’t even my boyfriend.

Ultimately, the timing was bad. I made the choice to not continue any further, mainly out of self-protection. Post-divorce Leslie (also known as a recovering co-dependent) made a mature, painful decision. That is to be celebrated.

BUT THE GRIEF. Fie on you, grief. FIE.

It comes in waves. One minute you’re quite all right. You can laugh and engage with your roommates while making them dinner, or coo and giggle at silly babies and tiny hamster videos on Facebook. You tell yourself you’ve been through this before and you can do it again. You don’t need sympathy.

The next minute begins with a thick and sticky heaviness in your gut. You sit, stunned, wondering when you’re going to vomit, and how many victims will suffer within its trajectory. You can’t breathe. It travels up your esophagus, causing you to heave and sputter. Out of no where, your eyes are blind with tears; your ears deaf from the sound of your own ugly crying and your mouth hangs agape as you gasp for air in between saliva, sobs, sighs, grunts, groans and the overall horribleness of loss.

And that’s just the first cry of the day.

Son of a motherfuckery fuck. Help.

I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t know how to keep doing this. At the same time, I keep doing it. I keep finding myself on the extreme roller coaster of love and loss. Am I completely insane? Why do I keep subjecting myself to dashed hopes and wretched pain?

I’m like a giddy puppy, so caught up in chasing her own tail she fails to see the ball has been thrown in a different direction. Once I tire of the game, I just stand there, panting and wagging my tail. Inevitably, I begin again. And again. And again.

Yet there’s something so freeing about dating in your late 30s. You know who you are, what you want, and haven’t much time or patience to be jerked around by a string of meaningless makeouts or half-hearted relationships. Fuck the Christianese version, you date with intention simply because you value yourself more than you might have in your early 20s. You want to make careful, informed decisions because you know marriage is not a light at end of the tunnel. You don’t apologize for wanting to be treated well. If a guy is threatened or intimidated by you in any manner, it’s simply not your problem.


This posture, when matched with another mature human being’s, can produce immediate attachment. Add chemistry and compatibility, and presto! Relationship-o.

So you breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing deep down there are no guarantees. You’re excited to take the risk and see what happens, even just for a month or two or twelve. You embrace living open-handedly; wholeheartedly. You now have the opportunity to put into practice all those things you learned in years of therapy. You practice relationship. And it’s good.

But why does it keep coming to an end? Is it me? Am I impatient? Dramatic? Too difficult? Too insecure? Am I finally standing up for what I really want? Or does what I want not exist?

I don’t know.


Six years ago, I was in the thick of my marriage ending. My husband – husband! – said he didn’t love me anymore. Then he told me he was in love with another woman. Today’s Leslie would not stand for that shit. I would rise, turn on my heels, walk out the door and never look back.

Yet I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t hung on for a while. There would be no Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce. Eventually, I clawed my way through – and out of – my marriage. I am proud of myself. And every relationship post-divorce has been that much better.

I’m not sure it gets much better than this most recent one, but that isn’t for me to decipher right now. I celebrate and mourn. I grieve and still hope.

I took a huge risk in loving again. And I won.

Real Respects Real

After meeting a friend for dinner and playing hopscotch in Central Park with two strangers on my way home the other night, I decided I wasn’t quite ready for bed.

I stopped in at the restaurant below my apartment for a night cap.

The place was fairly crowded for such a late night. Eventually, I was approached by a very attractive man. (“Excuse me, miss, may I join you for some humble conversation?”) We got to chatting. He shared with me he is Puerto Rican, has three beautiful children and is a former Sports Illustrated model. He is also a drug dealer and gang member.

“I’ve been shot twice!” He exclaimed.

“Tell me the story!” I exclaimed, right back, and he lifted his pant leg to show me his still-swollen kneecap, and the crude scar from the hole on the top of his right hand. Both shooting incidents were gang-related. His friend stitched up his hand; he had major surgery on his knee.

“So I have to ask you,” I said. “I was held up at gunpoint once, — in LA — but I didn’t get shot. I told the guy to fuck off. Looking back, I think that was probably a stupid thing to do, right?”

He looked me straight in the eye.
“Nah, man. They wouldn’t mess with you, because you’re real. And Real respects Real.”

Judging By Its Cover

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.

First of all, I’m pretty sure that I have found the ending to my book.  I am excited to write about it. And, of course I can’t give it away here.  You’ll have to buy the book (wink, wink)!

I have had a lot to process recently.  Whereas before, I might have been stricken with grief or pain for weeks upon end, questioning God; fairness; my purpose or path — simply questioning the meaning of it all – I found myself digesting the circumstances, and thanking God that He allows me to live such an amazingly blessed life.

I thank God for my freedom.  I am beyond blessed.

I feel like I’m on standing confidently upon neutral, solid ground.  I’m open.  I’m expectant.  I’m hopeful.  I’m happy.  Holy shit, I got to sing Jason Robert Brown‘s new musical with Jason, himself, and Tony Danza two nights ago (!!!)  So many blessings are being handed to me —  so lovingly — by the Creator of the Universe, and I am grateful to receive them.  And, in writing this, I feel like I’m turning into that Precious Moments-loving, Sunday School-teaching, scrapbooking, squeaky-clean Jesus lover that can’t stop the Christianese talk.  Even the “shit” is holy!

Crank up the Christian radio station, pop open the Martinelli’s and let’s PARTY!

The truth is, God is so good.  He is good, all the time.  And what I’ve learned from the past three years of sheer hell is that He has never forsaken me.  My husband may have left me a long time ago, but God never has, and He never will.  He has been so gentle and loving; slow to anger; quick to forgive, and extends me way more grace than I ever do, myself.

My prayer is that I am growing, transforming and learning to become more like Him.


Amidst the roller coaster of the past few days, I received an email from a friend of mine.

She opened with saying that she was proud of me for not allowing my divorce to define me, and for not having turned my back on God, despite my circumstances.

I knew it was coming – the “but”.  I continued reading.

My friend told me that she was not, at this time, able to “like” my blog’s Facebook page.  She had thought and prayed about it, and even sought counsel from people whom she trusts.  And, whereas she understands my deep love for Jesus, even despite my “rough” language, she was afraid that others may not.

She apologized, and reminded me that she is the wife of a pastor to — in my opinion — majorly conservative and ignorant people, which means she is being watched; open for criticism.  In addition, she and her husband really feel like they are called to be missionaries to those people.  She was sure that if they read even just the title of my blog – bookThe Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce, they would immediately judge us both.

She hoped I would understand, and assured me that she would support me as much as anyone, if she could.

My heart was pumping furiously in my chest when I read my sweet friend’s message, but I immediately responded in kind. Of course I understand.  In fact, I am a recovering “rules and regulations” Christian, myself.  I grew up thinking that if I abstained from premarital sex, my marriage would be stronger and more blessed than those who had put out, or shacked up, beforehand.

Seriously.  Ugh.

I went to a college that placed strict rules against drinking, smoking, dancing and sex (of any kind).  I believed that if I used “rough” language, I’d be a horrifically bad example of Jesus’ love to others, or that what I had to say would immediately be negated because of my foul mouth.  People simply wouldn’t know that I was a Christian if — or when —  I drank, said “crap” (or something much worse), gyrated my pelvis to music, or went “in dark places with boys” (thanks, Mom, for that one).

I have watched couples, whom I have sat down and chastised for engaging in premarital sex, go on to have amazing, strong and loving marriages, and produce healthy, beautiful children. Once, X and I grumbled about and almost refused to go to a couple’s wedding. X was even the Best Man! Together, we believed their marriage wasn’t going to last.  What horrible thinking, and how deliciously ironic!  I have since apologized, and the couple quickly forgave me. Obviously, the old me was extremely ignorant and hurtful, all under the banner of Christ.

Well, look at me now!  I’m divorced.  I’ve been in jail.  I even performed in a “strip show” on Broadway.  I’ve made out with men: in private, in public, and even on an airplane.  I say “fuck” sometimes.  Loudly.  (FUCKITY FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!!)

And I love and believe in Jesus more than I ever have in my entire life.

Christian or not — we are all covered in God’s amazing, loving, tender grace.  Obviously that isn’t an invitation to live carelessly, but we don’t have to be afraid of strict judgment from the only One who truly has the right to judge us.

And so, the more I thought about my friend’s email, the more frustrated I became. I want her to not care what people might think.  Of course I would never want to do or say anything to jeopardize our friendship, and I certainly don’t think that defending my flippant, hilarious, yet real use of foul language is worth the battle.  Sadly, I do understand my friend’s position, even though I would have never known if she “liked” my blog page or not.  I’m not keeping tabs, but maybe I should start. (Kidding.)

I realize that The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce is not for everybody.  Perhaps the title is offensive, or misleading.  Perhaps it alienates readers who are not Christians, or simply those who aren’t interested in reading about divorce.  Most certainly the subject matter is provocative, but it is definitely not limited to Christians.

My book just might get judged for its cover, alone.


Divorce is a taboo topic, especially in the Christian community.  Nobody really talks about it, except for the standard, “God hates it.”   Additionally, any books out there on divorce are either ways to avoid or recover from it; extensive psychological analysis of why/how it happened; or success stories of how people patched their marriages back together because they were both willing to do the hard work.

Although I am sure those books are helpful, some of them make me want to vomit.  What about the relationships that don’t survive?  Can those people end up happy?  How do they get through it, in a real way?   Furthermore, I guarantee that anyone who has been through a marital crisis, a breakup, or a loss of any sort, has dropped an F-bomb here or there.  And what about grace?  Where are those stories?  Where is the reality; the true expression of humanity?  Those of us who are separated, divorced or going through a divorce — regardless of fault or blame —  need to know we are not lepers; outcasts; alone.  Especially in Christian culture.

I am quite sure that we didn’t ask, or plan, to be in the position we are in.  Some are victims of cruelty, abuse, abandonment, addictions or infidelity.  Some just got married too young.  Some, like X, don’t know who they are or what they want, but don’t want to be alone.  Some bear the weight of the scarlet letter, and don’t want to be reminded of their mistakes.  Others are miserable in dead-end marriages, and just want out.

God’s grace covers us all.  Nothing is irreparable.  Nothing can separate us from Him.  God offers reconciliation and redemption, for each individual person. How do I know this?  I’ve experienced it.

I understand my friend’s feelings about her and her husband’s ministry.  I am not a pastor or a theologian, but, guess what?!  I have a ministry, too.

It’s called The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.

My prayer for this blog-turned-book is that people will see Jesus, even through my self-proclaimed bad behavior and language; even through my own judgment of myself and, at times, — gasp!! — other people.  (Did you read the paragraph about scrapbooking and Martinelli’s? That one is sending me straight to hell.)

I realize that I will face criticism or judgment no matter what I say or do, but I’m OK with that.  I’m real. I’m human. I make mistakes.  My “good behavior” or glossy Christian appearance isn’t going to save me from anything.  It certainly didn’t save my marriage.  Clinging to God, who so fiercely loves me, is the only answer.  Keeping my eyes focused on Him, and my heart aligned with His, keeps me moving forward and growing into the woman who He created me to be. That is my belief, and I will proclaim it loudly, using the voice that He has uniquely given me.

God is the only reason I have survived divorce, and divorce is but a tiny hiccup in this amazing adventure called life.

“Where Can I Find Happiness?”

As I waited for the divorce lawyer to return my call regarding Bigamy and Contempt, I had another court case to tackle: my DUI.

When I first got out of jail, I immediately called a friend who just so happens to be a judge.  He was extremely kind, sympathetic and nonjudgmental upon hearing my plight.  He pointed me towards a good (expensive) criminal attorney.  I hired the firm right away.

It was suggested that I take a proactive stance in my case.  I did have a good chance of getting the DUI dismissed, but I had to show some earnestness in my “desire to be rehabilitated.”

I was definitely earnest.  I would do just about anything to lessen my punishment.

“You should probably attend some AA meetings,” my lawyer advised over the phone one afternoon. She went on to explain that some judges require defendants to attend meetings, or work in the morgue.  It was a fairly standard punishment.

“I’ll send you a court card and you can get started.  You just have to get the secretary to sign off on your attendance and you’ll get credit for the meeting.  Try to get five or six meetings in before your court appearance next month.  I can’t guarantee anything, but it certainly won’t hurt your case.”

I hated the thought of having to attend an AA meeting.  I couldn’t believe that I had found myself in a situation where Alcoholics Anonymous was involved.  It was humiliating.  Furthermore, I was way more interested in going to the morgue to see dead bodies.

Nevertheless, I obliged.  I wanted to get it done – out of the way – and show the judge assigned to my case that I was a GOOD girl who had made a mistake, and would never do it again.

I’ll never forget that first AA meeting.  I rose early to attend the 6:15 a.m. gathering.  It was held in a Fellowship Hall at a Presbyterian church.  I pulled up a chair and sat in the back, and listened to people mumble for an hour.  The room echoed and it was difficult to hear.  Occasionally the attendees shouted in unison, and a few pounded their fists on the folding tables.  They laughed, listened, hugged one another and repeatedly sipped coffee from little styrofoam cups.

I brought my own coffee.  I sat with my arms folded tightly against my chest for the hour and didn’t say a word.  I dropped my court card and a crumpled dollar bill into the basket as it passed.

After the meeting adjourned, I raced to the front to find my signed card.  Several people sought me out to welcome me, congratulate me for being brave, and offer me literature.

I just smiled, nodded and reached nervously for that damn card.  One down.

I didn’t need salvation from alcohol or drug addiction.  I didn’t need to make any new friends.  I didn’t need any more suggestions on how to live my life, even if it had been excessively hard lately due to circumstance and/or poor choices.  I just needed to endure the punishment and get the hell out.

I found a noon meeting to attend.  After about four gatherings, I realized I was learning something.

I had to write.


The familiar smell of “thrift shop” wafts through my nostrils as I enter the darkened room.  Cushioned folding chairs are aligned with care, and icicle-like Christmas lights hang over the main table.  The wall is adorned with wooden placards, and old felt banners read, “ONE DAY AT A TIME!”  I am positive the room was decorated in 1974. I find a seat along the western wall and clutch my phone, as if it will save me from…what?

I’m five minutes early, which can be a good and bad thing.  The smell of cigarette smoke drifts in and out of the room, as the men gathered at the front of the building inhale their last bit of carbon monoxide before the meeting begins.

I glance around the room.  Directly in front of me sits Justin Bieber.  He is hunched over his phone, furiously texting with one hand and biting his nails on the other.  I do about seventeen takes and cannot actually figure out if it is Justin Bieber or not. Regardless, it makes me chuckle, and I relax a bit.

A small Chinese man storms through the center aisle, hugging everyone in his path.  He is fierce in his intentions, and laughs extremely loudly as sarcasm drips from his lips.  I didn’t realize that such a loud voice could come from such a small body.

At the main table sits a doughy woman whose arms are adorned with tattoos.  She cracks open her first of two sodas (that she will drink in the span of one hour) and looks at the clock.

The meeting is called to order, and people straggle in at 10, 15, even 30 minutes past the hour.  One latecomer plants himself right next to me.  He’s a soccer player in his early 20s. I notice his freshly shaved head and manicured toenails.  He sniffles throughout the entire meeting, keeps his back turned away from the main table and barely listens to what anyone has to say.  At times I think he might be crying, but I soon realize that he is just wiping his nose and snorting the mucous back up into his brain.  Later, I remind myself to wash my hands, since I end up holding his, reciting the Serenity Prayer.

It is time to reward achievement, so the little Chinese man jumps up and jubilantly passes out little chips, screaming, “Chips from the Chino!”  I laugh at his unabashed racism, and relax a little more.  I decide that if they make “Hangover 3”, this guy could give Ken Jeong a real run for his money.

Later, the little Chinese man shares his story.  He is an alcoholic and a drug addict.  He begins speaking in anger towards a few other relapsed alcoholics whom he had helped find jobs.  Subsequently, he lost his, and needs prayer to deal with both.

The room nods.

Little Chinese Man opens up about his days as a “skilled outdoorsman” (homeless man).  He would stand outside the local 7-11 and beg for money.  Once he made $5.00 he knew he’d be able to get a “fix”.  He finally checked himself into rehab.  A few days into his sobriety, Little Chinese Man offered to wash his counselor’s car.  He detailed it with precision and care, and, in the end, his counselor handed him a crisp, five-dollar bill.  His eyes fill with tears as he describes the realization that he had earned every penny of that $5.00.

He goes on to explain an old Chinese parable of a puppy that asks his mother where he can find happiness.  The mother tells the puppy that his happiness is in his tail.  So, the puppy spends years chasing his tail.

Frustrated, the puppy goes to his mother again and asks, “Where can I find my happiness?”

“I told you,” his mother replies, gently.  “Your happiness is in your tail, and it will follow you wherever you go.”

The room sighs.

Little Chinese Man thanks “the rest of you low life’s” for allowing him to share.

A big, fat biker guy in the back demands his time to share.  He curses and speaks with authority, and talks about “these rooms”.   He wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for “these walls”, so we’d all “fuckin’ better fuckin’ keep coming back, because it fuckin’ works if you fuckin’ work it!”

Later, he falls asleep.

A former dentist speaks up.  His drug of choice was crack cocaine.  Little Chinese Man gasps.

A slender, tan and weathered woman speaks up.  She is dressed in a striped mini-dress with matching espadrilles.  Her nails are painted lime green, and look like they are straight out of a travel advertisement for Thailand.  Her nails keep clacking her soda can.  She sheds tears over the years she lost, drowning her sorrows in her wine glass.  She doesn’t want to feel bad anymore.

Justin Bieber has switched from texting to playing “Words with Friends”.

As the hour passes, more and more people share their stories.  Some share the same story they did the day before.  Some shed tears.  Others sit in stoic silence.  But, all in all, they come together as humans with a purpose:  humans who are wanting to end their addictions; humans who are seeking God.  Humans who are broken, ashamed, torn up, spit out, rejected, abandoned and hurting.

Human beings who are beautiful, precious children of God.

I will return to “these rooms” for a few more hours, out of an act of service.  Preventative action.  Punishment. Hope.  Perhaps I will share my story, perhaps not.  One thing I have learned so far is to face my fears.  I may not identify completely with the people who attend the meetings, but I am just as broken and hurting as the rest.  And, for that, I say, bring on the styrofoam coffee cups and the stale sugar packets; bring on the strip mall parking lot adorned with the stunning view of the San Gabriel mountains.  Bring on Justin Bieber and his Honda.

I will laugh and cry with my fellow human beings, and I will even hold their snot-ridden hands.  It feels good to be alive.


Bada$$ Motherf@*ker

The only thing left unresolved in the divorce was my share of my ex-husband’s retirement.  He had agreed to cash it out.  I knew it would be easier on both of us if he did so.  For me, it meant less paperwork in the “do it yourself” divorce.  I surmised that, for him, it represented quick, fast cash. Most of all, I didn’t want anything more binding me to him.

Being made an involuntary sister wife was enough.

I had patiently been waiting for him to follow through with his agreement.  The last I had heard about the status of the cash-out was that it would be available in December, 2010.

It was now April, 2011.

Suddenly, I wanted the money. I was legally entitled to it.  Deep down, I knew it would be another battle, but I was willing to fight – just once again – for what I wanted.  I was tired of being nice.

I emailed him, asking what was going on.  He responded, and wondered why I was after his money.  It had nothing to do with me.  I had done absolutely nothing to earn it, even theoretically.

I was furious.  I was not going to be made to look like a greedy ex-wife.  At best, I would come away with $10,000.00.

It’s standard in a divorce, I replied. That is all. Nothing personal. I’m not interested in you or your life.

He told me I’d get the money.  He was just having trouble with one account.

I’d just like to see the checks in the mail, I wrote back, trying (unsuccessfully) to conceal my heightened emotion.

I hardly believe that accounting departments are dragging this out. This divorce could have been over MONTHS and MONTHS ago had it not been for, well, your laziness.  Please give me a weekly update on the progress of it all. Please mail me a copy of the letter. I am tired of asking, but I will keep doing it.  Just get it done. Finish it. Hallelujah, free at LAST!!!!!!

He responded, telling me that we were, actually, divorced.  He had gotten the papers in the mail.

I know!!!!! It’s the most amazing thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Too bad you got married four months too early. High fives to the sister wives!!!!!

He did not respond further.  I half-hoped that he had laughed at my sarcasm, too.  (I mean, COME ON.  How much more ridiculous could this circus get?)

A week later, I got word that he would be mailing my half of the proceeds.

To my surprise, I did receive the check in the mail.  He even included the balances on the accounts.  I was elated; overjoyed.  I kindly thanked him.  It was finally over.  I couldn’t believe it, really, so I double-checked the paperwork.  Sure enough, there was one account missing.  Two, actually — but one barely held $1,000.00.  I decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

Still, my heart sank.  A couple thousand dollars more was at stake.  I needed that money.  I most definitely had earned it, even theoretically.

Adrenaline and anger overtook me.  I had a little bit of downtime at work, so I decided to engage the “enemy” again. We re-assumed our battle stations, and shelled out piercing, quick dialogue.

Spoke with a woman from (your retirement company) today, I wrote, calmly.  There isn’t a good reason why the (last) account is taking so long.  Please get on it.  It is — again — beyond time for this to be done.  Make it happen.  I know you can.  I would appreciate it if you would please acknowledge that you received (this) email.

He had gotten it.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?  So, are you working on it?

He asked me to not talk to him that way.  He had just sent me a check for a lot of money, and, yes, he was on it.

Look, I just want this to be over with.  As I have said before, I want you out of my life.  You have dragged every single possible part of this divorce out as long as you possibly could.  It doesn’t take six months to cash out a retirement.
I don’t trust you, I don’t believe you, and I certainly do not respect you.  Just follow through to your end of the agreement like a man.  Thanks so much.
(Or, as some would say, “Money talks, and bullshit walks.”)

And then, he basically told me to, well, fuck off.

Brilliant response.
But, no, I will not “fuck off”.  This is a binding, legal document, which you are obligated to fulfill. If you’d like to not keep hearing from me I can hire a lawyer to ride your ass, but then that will cost you more money in the long run.  Your choice.

No need to get pissy.  Just get the money.  End of story.  End of a long, long story.

I finished typing the last sentence, quite proud of the Spinal Tap reference, my attempt to appeal to his emotions, and my ability to hold back at least some anger.
Moments later, I saw a new email pop up in the conversation thread.
I was shocked at what followed.
It was an email from Sister Wife.  She told me I hadn’t earned or deserved X’s money, and was disappointed that he had sent any to me at all.  It was of her opinion that I needed to get a job and fuck off.  I was the only thing standing in the way of closure.  She defended her “husband’s” character traits and informed me that I had failed at my my shot with him.
I was not allowed to contact him ever again. If I did, I’d have to deal with her, and she claimed she was one badass motherfucker.

White Girl (Jail, Part 4)


A different officer was standing in the open doorway.   I lifted my head from my hands and looked up at him through bleary eyes.  A couple of hours had passed, and my body and soul felt every minute of them.

I helped myself off the bench, and silently followed the officer.  I guessed that the more jovial night shift had left.  The morning crew was less friendly.

He led me back to my original cell.  I wanted to grab his neck and wring it.  Surely I had served my time.  I finally spoke up.

“I’ve been in here a while, do you know when I’ll be able to leave?”

“You’ll be out of here soon,” he answered, flatly.

“That’s what they all say,” I murmured, under my breath.

And there I was, back where I had started.  My original cellmate was long gone. Over the next hour or so, I would have a few more.  Enter a pretty, young gang member dressed in 5” heels and club attire.  She paced the room and threatened to kill her cousin for landing her in jail – again.

“What happened?” I asked her, calmly.  I definitely needed the energy level in the room to feel less threatening.

“THAT FUCKING BITCH GOT DRUNK AND DROVE MY CAR INTO A TREE!”  she screamed at the door, presuming that she could be heard.

Her cousin was being held across the way, and was, indeed, drunk.  She was laughing, cursing, and wailing in the solitary cell.

“I SWEAR I’m going to kill her.  I am going to MURDER that bitch!  She is GOING TO GET IT!”

Ohh, boy.

“But why are you here, if she was the one driving?”  I asked, genuinely curious.

The girl sat down and adjusted her tight, tiny skirt.

“Because I beat her ass up, and the neighbors called the cops.  I have a prior, so I’m fucked.”

“Oh.”  I didn’t want to know what her “prior” was.

“So, what the fuck is some white girl like you in here for?”

I chuckled, albeit nervously.

“Um, I got arrested for driving under the influence.”

“Psssshhh.”  She dismissed me.  “That ain’t nothin’.  Sucks for you, though.”

“Yeah,” I nodded.  Never a truer word spoken.  “It sucks.”

The pretty young gangster was held for about 30 minutes, then taken straight to arraignment.  I was almost jealous of her quick turn-around.

My next cellmates were rounded up and deposited into the concrete room.  We huddled together on the bench, awkwardly.  One woman was arrested for a DUI because she was smoking pot on her way to work.  She lit up at a stoplight, right in front of a police car.

“Why’d you do that?!”  I inquired, incredulously.

“I dunno, gurrrrl, I jus’ felt like it,” she responded.  “It was stupid.  Annnn now I’s here, instead of at work, and that’s some fucked up shit.”

I twisted my lips in sympathy.  Fucked up shit, indeed.  I couldn’t judge the woman.  After all, we were all equal.

I turned to the frightened Hispanic woman on my left.

“What happened with you?”

She stared at me with terror in her eyes, pursed her lips, and vehemently shook her head.

I tried again, in elementary Spanish:

”Uhhhh, ¿Por qué estás aquí?”

Fear turned to sadness.  “Yo vendía tamales, “ she replied.

“Tamales?  You sold tamales?”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  “That’s why you are here?  You’re in JAIL for selling TAMALES?”

“Hooooooo!  That’s some fucked up shit, lady,”  the pot smoker cackled.

Tamale Lady giggled nervously.  Then we all laughed, and the room relaxed.

The two women stared at me, expectantly.

“Oh, I was drinking and driving,” I offered, apologetically.  “El borracho,” I pointed to myself.

Sigh.  Wish I had a tamale right about now.

Footsteps.  Keys.  Door opened.


I got up, and wished goodbye and good luck to Pot and Tamale Lady.

“Bye, gurrrrl!” Pot Lady yelled, as the door closed and locked shut.

The officer led me down the hall, past the holding cells.  We continued up the stairs.

Oh, my goodness!  I’m finally going home!  HOORAY! 

“Grab a blanket and a sheet, Spencer.  You’re going to the beds.”


“I’m sorry, what…what are ‘the beds’?”  I asked, trying not to panic.

The officer was clearly annoyed.

“You could be here for the weekend.   It’s Friday, and the courts close.  So, grab your bedding and let’s go.”

“But, but…” I sputtered.  “I’m supposed to be getting out of here now.  I’ve been here all night.”  I waved my Prisoner’s Receipt in his face.

The officer took it from me but barely glanced over it.

My breathing became labored.  I couldn’t be there all weekend.  I had a life to live!  I couldn’t bear the thought of one more minute in that jail, regardless of how many friends I would try to make to help pass the time.

“Please, sir.  I need to get out of here.”

“Well, Spencer, you have to sober up,” he retorted.  “And it takes a while for you to be processed.”

I will never live this down, will I. 

“I blew a point 1-0, probably about eight hours ago,” I said, as the panic rose in my voice.  “I really need to get out of here.  I need to go home.”

“Well, Spencer, you shouldn’t have been drinking and driving, then.”  He motioned towards a large laundry vat.

“No kidding,” I muttered.  I angrily grabbed a blanket and a sheet, and bit my lip hard to hold back my tears.

The officer led me into a much larger cell.  In it were fresh, new faces.  As soon as I walked in the door, I realized I was very much the minority of the group.  For the first time all morning, I felt afraid.

“Heeey, look at the pretty white girl!”  A pock-faced young woman called to me.  “Ooooohie, look at that great ass!  Wow.  If I were a lesbian I’d eat you up!”

Oh, God.  Please don’t kill me.

I smiled at the group.  I could feel their eyes boring holes into every inch of my body.

Next to the pock-faced girl sat a beautiful African-American girl with smooth skin and perfectly formed lips.  Her thin frame was covered in a short, glittery dress.  She chewed a piece of bright pink gum and casually played with her hair.  I walked towards the pair and sat down, right between them.

Pock-faced girl was missing a few teeth.

“Mmmm, girl, you are in the wrong place,” she glared at me.

“Not really,” I said.  I didn’t look at her.

The pretty girl to my right laughed, and snapped her gum.

“She damn straight – she in jail.  She did somethin’.”

Another woman spoke up.  She was pacing the room, tugging at her midriff.

“She probably druuuuuunkkkkk!  Look at her!  She in here because she fucked up, jus’ like the rest of us.  You – (she pointed at Pock Face) be in here for possessin’ some kinda whacked out drugs, and you (Pretty Gum Chewer) be whorin’ youself on the street.”

The girls bristled. I tightened my grip on my blanket.

Oh, no, please don’t get in a fight.

The pacer continued, and her voice got louder.

“I be in here because I be sellin’ CRACK.  You know, I don’t need to be sellin’ no drugs, but I did it, and I’s got caught.  And now what am I gonna tell my two-year old baby guurrl?  Who gonna take care of her?  Crack ain’t gonna help nothin’.   So I’m ownin’ my shit – just like all y’all should be.  When I get outta here, I’s goin’ ta make some CHANGES to my life.  Dayyyum.”

I felt inspired.  I was proud of her.

“Amen!” I cried.

Everyone stared at me.


Pock Face started laughing.  “Damn.  I like this white girl.  She funny.”

I turned towards her and smiled.

“Thanks.  I like to think so, too.”

She flashed me her near-toothless smile.

“You gonna get outta here soon, white girl.  They always let the DUI’s go first.”

The door opened, and a female officer called to all of us to gather our bedding and wait for our name to be called.  We formed a line in the hallway.

The female officer separated the women into groups of eight, then marched us a few feet down the hall.  Pock Face and Pretty Gum Chewer were in my group.  When the officer opened the door to our “bedroom”, the women rushed to the bunk beds, grabbed the mattresses and immediately pulled them to the floor.  A couple of women used the toilet, which was concealed by a low, brick partition.

At least there’s some privacy in here.

I walked to the bed closest to the door, carefully placed my sheet atop the plastic mattress, and lay down.  I was too tired to think about what germs or diseases were crawling along the bed or mattress.  If I were to be there for the weekend, I’d have to get some sleep or I would lose my mind.

I pulled the blanket up to my face and shut my eyes.  I listened to the girls chatter on about their lives.  Pock Face and Pretty Gum Chewer both had young children.  They were young, themselves.  Barely 20 years old.

“When I get out, the first thing I’m gonna do is find me some good tweek, and then sleep for days!” Pock Face announced.

Oh, Lord.  Help me.  Help these girls.  I know You’re here.  You are here with me, in this jail cell. 

A few minutes passed, and then the female officer’s voice came over the loudspeaker.

“Spencer?  Spencer!”

Pock Face mimicked the voice.  “SPENCER!”

Pretty Gum Chewer giggled.

I sat up.

“Spencer, you’re going home,” the voice over the loudspeaker said.

The room burst into applause.  Pock Face shouted.  “SPENCER’S GOING HOME! YEAH, SPENCER!”

Women laughed.  I grinned, and tears of pure relief flooded my eyes.

Pock Face continued.  “Hurry up, Spencer!  Get your white ass on outta here!”

I couldn’t get up fast enough.  The key turned in the door and the female officer motioned for me to follow her.

I paused, and turned around.  I looked at Pock Face, and Pretty Gum Chewer.  I looked at the five other women’s faces. I wanted to remember this moment.

I wanted to say something poignant – memorable.  Something inspirational, perhaps?  I was so overcome with joy to be leaving that jail.  I took in a deep breath.

“Well, goodbye girls,” I squealed. “Be good!”

“Get outta here, Spencer,” Pock Face waved her hand at me.  “And don’t ever come back, or I’ll beat yo ass.”

I smiled.  I was going home.  I had made it through a night in jail.

But the greatest surprise was yet to come.

Jail, Part Two

My immediate reaction was to make friends with my cellmate.  After all, we’d be hanging out together for at least eight hours, so I might as well make the most of the situation.

“Hi,” I said, still clutching my Prisoner’s Receipt.  I carefully sat down on the bench next to her.

The woman flashed her wild eyes at me, stood up, pulled her pants down and peed in the toilet.

All right, then.

She finished her business, sniffed loudly and curled herself up into a little ball on the bench.  Within two minutes, she was snoring.

Okayyyyy.  Maybe we can be friends when she wakes up.

I shifted my sit bones on the hard bench.  Then, I realized I should probably call someone to let them know I was in jail.  I would eventually be needing a ride home.  I picked up the receiver to the payphone and dialed my dad’s home number.  It was well past 2:00 a.m., so the phone rang and rang.  Finally, the answering machine picked up my call.

I took in a deep breath, about to leave a message, but an automated recording from my end of the line interrupted me.

“Hello.  You are receiving a collect call from A PRISONER in the Los Angeles County Jail.  Please say ‘yes’ or press 1 to accept charges. This call WILL BE RECORDED.”

Wow, way to rub it in, people.  I’m a prisoner with zero rights, who can only make COLLECT calls. 

I couldn’t leave a message, because no one was available to accept the charges, so I called back.  Someone finally answered, but immediately hung up.

Come on!  Somebody answer the damn phone! 

I called again and again, but the phone kept ringing.

My cellmate kept snoring.

I sighed, and tried my mother.  I hadn’t spoken to her in a while, so it was humiliating to have to have a conversation with her like this.

She answered on the fourth ring.

“Hello?” I obviously had woken her from her sleep.  I started to speak, but that damn automated recording stopped me.

“Hello.  You are receiving a collect call from A PRISONER in the Los Angeles County Jail…”

I heard my mother say “yes” about a thousand times, and then, finally: “Leslie?”

I swallowed whatever pride was left in me.

“Hi, Mom.  Um…obviously I’m in jail.”

“Oh, Leslie…what happened?”

I burst into tears.


I started to laugh through my tears.

My mother’s voice sounded tired, worried and empathetic.  I regaled the details of the story to her.  She tried to encourage me, and expressed that she was glad I wasn’t hurt, or had hurt anyone else.  I hadn’t even thought that far ahead.  She offered to come pick me up, but she lived almost three hours away.  I asked her to call my dad at a decent time to let him know where I was.

Then, an officer opened up the door.  My cellmate stirred in her drug-induced sleep.

“Spencer.  Time for your mugshot and prints.”


“I gotta go, Mom.”  I hung up the phone and wiped my tears away.

The officer flirted with me.

“So, how’d you get here?”  He asked, as he rolled my right pointer finger from the ink pad onto my rap sheet.

I have a rap sheet.

“I mean, I know you were drunk, but…”

I sighed.

“I made a mistake, man.”

“What’d you blow?”

Why is this guy so curious? 

“Point 1-0.”

He smiled at me.  “It happens to the best of us.  Next time you should really get one of those mini breathalyzers.  It’ll save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.  Or just wait a little longer before getting in the car.”

NEXT TIME?  There will be no “next time”, thank you very much.  Furthermore, why is everyone being so nice to me?  I’m a fucking criminal.  I’m a piece of shit.  I must be some sort of alcoholic, too, because I’m a drunk driver.  I deserve what I got.

He then snapped my mug shot.  I smiled for the camera.

Might as well make the best of it.

The officer showed me the picture.

“You take a pretty good mug shot, Spencer!”

I studied it.  My hair fell perfectly to one side, and my smile was golden.   A small smudge of mascara had streaked across my right cheek.  My eyes were red and swollen from crying, yet they were present; bright.  I peered closer.  I could almost see the deep pain in my green eyes.  Oddly enough, there was also a sense of total surrender.

“Yeah, I guess it’s not so bad,” I shrugged.  “Wish it were under different circumstances.”

He smiled at me again.

“You’ll be all right.  You’ll be outta here soon.”

Again, what’s with the nice? 

“Thanks.  Oh, by the way, what is the address of this place?”

The officer looked at me.  “How are you going to remember an address?”

“Because I’m good with numbers?” I raised my eyebrows and shot him a sly smile.

“7600 South Broadway.”  He flashed a smile back.

“Oh!  So I’m downtown,” I said, thinking aloud.

He laughed, looked at me almost incredulously, and shook his head.  “Something like that, yes.”

The kind officer deposited me back into the concrete room and locked the door.  I quickly called my mom back and gave her the address.

My cellmate was awake.

“Hi, again,” I offered.  I smiled, feebly, and kicked a tuft of hair away from the toe of my boot.

“Hi,” she replied, nervously.

“Soooo, what are you in here for?” I asked.

Did you REALLY just ask the crackhead what she was “in here for?”

“Domestic violence,” she replied, and scratched her head.

“Oh.  I’m sorry.”

I started to ask her more about herself.  To this day I wish I could remember her name.  She was 41 years old, and had twin boys.  They were 20 years old.  She had gotten in a fight with her boyfriend, she explained, and mumbled some other inaudible details about how she landed in jail, AGAIN.

“We should be getting food soon,” she sniffed.

I listened as she continued to talk, and marveled at how life behind bars (or concrete walls, rather) was so commonplace to some people.  At the same time, I started to realize that I was no different from this woman who had pain in her life.  She didn’t mean to hurt anyone.  I could tell that much just by carrying on a five-minute conversation with her.

She finished answering my questions, and then said, “If you don’t mind, I’m really tired.”

“Oh, of course.  I hope you feel better.”

“Thank you.”

She lay back down and fell asleep, almost instantly.  I decided that sleep might not be such a bad idea.  I lay down opposite her, and curled my legs up as close to my body as possible.  I covered my head with the hood of my fancy sweater, and hugged myself tight.  I shut my eyes.

The halls echoed with the sounds of the system.  Keys rattled, doors opened and shut.  The television down the hall blared and faded.  Officers talked and laughed loudly; prisoners occasionally yelled and pounded on the door.  Perhaps the sound that was most deafening was that of footsteps: back and forth, back and forth. Each time, the footsteps passed me by.  It was agonizing.

I just wanted out, but no one was coming for me.

Christians Aren’t Supposed to Take Each Other to Court

The second week in January, I moved into an apartment in Old Town Pasadena.  I had found a place on that advertised a “take over” of the remaining four months of a year lease.  I didn’t necessarily want to continue living in Pasadena, but I gave it a shot.  I met the girl who lived in the apartment.  She was a singer, moving to New York.  I tried to contain my jealousy. I fell in love with the wood floors, the price of the place, and view of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains from the window.

It all happened so quickly.  I knew I couldn’t live with Curt and Kathy forever, and I was antsy to have a place of my own.

The tiny studio was perfect for me.

At the same time, I felt terrible leaving Curt and Kathy.  Curt had lost both of his parents in a matter of three months, and a week after I moved out, their beloved dog, Max, died.  It was a difficult season for the Gibsons, and I felt as if I had abandoned them during their heightened time of need.

What kind of friend was I?!

I started to panic and wonder if I had made the right decision.

Jesus, I cried out, I need You.  I need You, need You, need You.  I need Your help, Your Peace.  I am so scared; scared (that) I am doing the wrong thing, or that I am out of Your plan.  But how could that possibly be?  You will take care of me. I just don’t want to be wasteful…I do not want to make mistakes.  I am…weak!  I need work.  I am settling in – I am so thankful, so grateful and blessed.  Will it go away? I’m re-building my life. Starting over.  Building again; beginning anew.

Almost immediately, I got a job.  I found work in a tax office, for the season.  I would work six days a week until April 18th.  It was daunting at first, but I knew I needed the money to pay for my newfound bills and rent.  I also needed the distraction.

I found myself praying a lot.  This time, I prayed for other people other than myself.  It felt good and necessary.  My neighbor, Boo, unexpectedly lost her beautiful, sweet two-year daughter, Emileigh.  Eme was born with a tendency towards seizures, but had been getting better.  And then, like that, she was gone.  The autopsy provided no explanation, and we were all left feeling robbed; empty.

I know how to put into words my feelings of pain and loss regarding my marriage.  It is like a death, but I cannot imagine the unspeakable pain of losing a child.  I attended the open-casket funeral and it was almost too much to bear.  I gazed upon Eme’s tiny, lifeless frame, and wondered why God allows such things to happen.  I think we all do.  I wanted to scream and shout to the entire congregation that there was, indeed, hope amidst the sorrow; the unexplained shredding of one’s soul.  Yet, I felt helpless.  All I could do was pray.

Oh, Lord, little Emileigh is with You now.  Such tragedy.  God, I lift up Deana (grandmother) and Boo, Cathy (aunt) and Barbara (neighbor) – the whole family.  Oh, that baby.  And High (father).  He loved his little girl so much.  Oh, Lord, would they cling to You; You, the EVER-PRESENT HELP in time of trouble. 

I don’t know much, but I do know this: God is good, all the time.

In the midst of everything, I started battling once again with my bigamist husband.

He wrote to me and told me that the retirement company had sent the wrong paperwork to the wrong address.  He would be out of town, and would get to it as soon as he could.  He added that I would get every penny of my share of the accounts.

I was over it.  Sick of his shit.

Wrong paper to the wrong address, I thought.  LYING PIECE OF SHIT MOTHERFUCKING LAZY ASS SON OF A SUGARMOMMA BITCH!!!!

I calmly emailed back.

I stand firm to my word.  You have had ample time to get it together.  I will file contempt of court, I typed, bitterly.

We exchanged emails back and forth, arguing about the time frame of the money that was due. Amongst my few menial requests in our do-it-yourself divorce, he had agreed to cash out his retirement funds, and send me a check by December.   I trusted that he would follow through with the agreement.

I was wrong, once again, to trust my husband.

He asked for more time, and I refused.  I wanted the money, yes, but more than that, I wanted the entire saga – ordeal – marriage – pain – everything that was associated with him – to be OVER.

I suddenly realized that I did, indeed, have a huge battle on my hands.  I also realized that I had the upper hand.  As much as I didn’t want to believe it, my husband was already married.  He was a BIGAMIST.  They make TV shows about people like him.  For crying out loud, we used to watch them together.

I didn’t want to have to go back to court, but if so, I was ready to go in, guns blazing.

I needed evidence of his stupidity.  My good college friend, Michelle, was a journalist who had worked as a reporter, anchor and professor.  She was able to easily obtain my husband and sister wife’s marriage license from the state of Nevada, and mailed it to me.

I threw it in my husband’s face.

You’ve had enough time. I’m quite sure you can figure something out.  I have in my possession a certain document from Nevada that will not help your “story” in court.

He obviously didn’t understand that I was talking about his new marriage.  He suggested that perhaps he add me to the account and I could cash out when I was of retirement age.

Unfortunately, I angrily responded, you agreed to cashing out the retirement in the divorce settlement. So, unfortunately for you, you have to follow through with your agreement, which is a legal court document. Might I also remind you that you are not yet divorced from me, which makes you a bigamist and a felon, but, then again, you probably already knew that.  I’m tired of this conversation. Send the check.

He said he would send it as soon as he had it.  He trusted that I would find it in my heart to give him time.

February 3rd. I trust that you will get it done.

He told me he wouldn’t have it by February 3rd, and was asking for a break.  He added that he wasn’t asking for any of my retirement, and then got upset that he had to beg me for understanding.  The conversation was killing him.

Not buying it.  Send the check.  If I do not receive a check in the mail by February 3, I will file contempt of court.  It is that simple.

He was tired of appealing to me, and, again, told me that I would have every bit of cash that was due me.  He then reminded me that he took all the credit card debt (a majority of which I had accused him of accumulating with his lover).  He reminded me that I had taken the car.  (Yes, I had taken the car. It was mine.  The paperwork was in my name, and mine alone.  I financed it, I was paying for it, and I drove it.)  He hadn’t asked for any of my retirement, and just wanted time to receive the checks.  He even offered to drive up and meet me to give me the cash.

I was having none of it.

You’re in for more than contempt, remember?  Bigamy is a felony.

He pleaded with me.

It’s all about choices.  You had an opportunity to make good ones.  Oopie.  I’m not interested in excuses. See you in court.

He said he was telling the truth, had no excuses, and pleaded with me to do it right.

We have differing opinions of what is right.

The truth is that you have violated the law. Willingly, even after knowing you weren’t divorced on 12/22/10.


You can plead with the judge. I’m tired of your stories.  SEE YOU IN COURT.

And then, he tried to appeal to me as someone who “used” to love him.  He pleaded with to me as a fellow Christian.

I couldn’t BELIEVE that he was appealing to me “as a fellow Christian”.  It was abhorrent.  It made me sick.  I wanted to scream and throw things and rip his eyes out all over again.  He made me so angry.  His lame attempts at trying to appeal to my emotions didn’t work anymore.  He didn’t even respect me enough to capitalize my first name.  How dare he try to appeal to my love for him?

No, I do not love him, I wrote, later that evening.  He got that right.  It hurts too much to  love someone like that.  All the while, I feel like I’m NOT being a Christian if I deal with him.  At the same time, I AM NOT TAKING ANY MORE FROM HIM.  His abuse is over.  It’s not about the stupid money, which I know he has.  I’ve already wasted energy being upset.

I need help forgiving him.  It’s all still very real, raw and painful.  I worked so hard to try to save the marriage because I thought it was right.  He just doesn’t care.  He doesn’t do anything with integrity or concern for others. Lord, I know it is not my place to judge him.  Please help me release my anger.  I give it to You.  I pray he will come through with the funds from the retirement.

I’m still so hurt by him.  The very thought of a life with him makes me so angry, like it was all a lie.

The war continued two days later.  I shot the first cannon.

You skipped a court-ordered hearing on August 23, 2010, I wrote.

In the divorce settlement filed October 8, 2010, you agreed to cash out your retirement, and said that you’d have a check to me in December, 2010.  It is now February, 2011.

On October 28, 2010, you received a check for… half of your share in the sale of (our house).

You got re-married in November of 2010, without actually having been legally divorced, which makes you in violation of California Penal Code section 281.

I do not believe your stories about not having any money, especially considering the very recent transaction of the sale of our home, and also considering the person to whom you are, at present, illegally married.

You have been given more than ample time and grace to follow through with your divorce agreement.  Clearly, your (in)actions – as always – have spoken louder than your words.

He told me he had put his share of our house’s profit towards another.

See you in court.

He pleaded, once more.  He offered that had no right to quote the Bible at me, but I knew, in my heart, that this whole thing was wrong.  I should know that Christians aren’t supposed to take each other to court.  He promised to pay me and he would.  He needed more time.  It had shattered his heart to have to beg me for more time.  He would have extended me grace, if I were the one begging him for more time.  He offered that he was trying to do good in the sight of the Lord, and would never turn a deaf ear to someone who was asking for more time.  I should know these things.

I couldn’t take any more.  I wanted him to be locked up. I wanted him to be put away, forever.

Little did I know that I’d be the one to end up in jail.