Monday, April 09, 2007

It Would Kill You Just to Try and Be a Nicer Guy

I kind of stopped doing these "Year in Review" posts, because the next logical year would be 1996 and it was really bad for me. It was the year that I finally decided to get out of my abusive marriage. I couldn't actually move until May of 1997, because I didn't have the money, but it was the year I stopped trying and started biding my time. The big problem with writing about it, is that I don't know how to do it and not make it sound like a bad Lifetime movie or Oprah's book club selection, and worst of all, it's not really, very funny. On the other hand, I write about every other kind of bullshit on here, and a lot of it isn't all that funny either. So, I'm giving it a shot. If it helps, you can imagine Meredith Baxter playing me. Yeah, I realize we look nothing alike, but it seems to be the law that she plays the victim in all those Lifetime movies, so stretch your imagination.

Age: I was 30 when the year started and turned 31 in July.

Music: As usual, I listened to a lot of everything back then. I went to see as many local bands as possible. I also worked at a coffee shop with a bunch of college kids, so I heard much Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and Son Volt depending on who was working. I saw Stereolab play at Gabes and when my friend's band was opening for the Mountain Goats, he put me on the guest list. I had to back-out at the last minute, because I gave my marriage one last try and went to see my ex-husband act in a play at the Old Creamery Theater instead. No one can ever say I didn't try hard enough. Secretly, I adopted Aimee Mann's I'm With Stupid as my theme album that year.

TV: I worked almost every night and ran around with the girls during the day. I think we watched Sesame Street in the mornings, and then the obligatory Seinfeld and The Simpsons here and there too.

Books: Back then, I read a lot of short fiction. I just didn't have time for novels. I remember reading Thom Jones, Joy Williams, Tobias Wolfe and some Don Delillo.

What I Wanted to be When I Grew-up: By the end of the year, all I knew I wanted, was out.

Winter: It was really cold that year. I remember being cooped up with my girls. The woman who lived downstairs was crazy as a loon. I know I've already written about her in my other blog, but she used to call us and hang-up every time she heard the girls move and then when I talked to her about it she denied it - even after I star 69'ed her and she answered the phone. The other scary thing was that she played Natalie Merchant's Tiger Lily really loudly about a hundred times a day. Yeah, she came close to making me crazy too.

Spring: My ex started getting more controlling in the Spring, after a little Winter hiatus. I was never sure what actually caused his moods, but he was big and scary and when I would perform such heinous crimes, as buying my daughters mittens he didn't like, or getting him the wrong kind of beer, or, in his mind, when I started acting like I thought I was smarter than him, he would get mean. Mostly it was yelling, swearing and throwing things at me. A few times, he raised his hand to me, and each time I calmly assured him I would call the cops if he ever actually hit me. Amazingly, he could control himself enough not to end up in jail.

Summer: My birthday sucked. Our car broke down and it was a hundred bazillion degrees outside and I didn't have enough money on my credit card so that my ex-husband could rent a car to get to his rehearsal in The Amanas. He got angry and threatening and then thankfully, he found a way to work and left. Later that month, we went out to talk about how fucked-up things were between us. I thought it would be safer if we were in a restaurant, because he was always good at acting like he was a nice guy in public. Like most abusive men, he got even more angry if he thought I was telling my friends about his behavior. That night, he told me that he thought Coadster would always calm him down if he got too violent. It took me a while to process the fact that he expected his four year old daughter to keep him in line. When I did, that was it for me. I realized that I was the only idiot working so hard at this, and maybe if I put all that energy into figuring out how to safely extricate myself and my girls from the situation, I would keep Coadster from a lifetime of feeling responsible for her dad's hideous behavior.

Fall: After I gave up trying to save my marriage, I stayed away from my ex as much as possible. He worked days and I worked evenings, so I made sure I never got home before he went to sleep. That's when I started going out with friends to see shows after work. When we were home at the same time, we spoke only enough to fill the other one in on what was going on with the girls. It was a suffocating environment, but it was actually better than when I cared and thought it was my job to fix shit.


Sarah said...

Wow, I remember were so brave and strong to take the girls and stand up for yourself! I wish I wasn't so damn depressed myself at that time so I could have been a better friend to you! Damn selfishness, maybe you could've left sooner...

BUT: One thing I do have to add to the "Books" section of that year-in-review post is People magazine. Girl, you knew EVERYTHING that was going on in Hollywood during that time.

Remiman said...

I'm glad you've moved on!

LA said...

Oh man. I remember this year. Maybe I don't really have early onset Alzheimers. I was also at the Streolab concert. Wasn't that the concert that Liz danced on the tables? Oh wait, that was every concert. Duh!
Meredith Baxter couldn't give your character the depth....and probably couldn't belch like you either.
Glad that '96-'97 is in the rearview. You are such a strong woman!

Margaret said...

TGI not 1996 or 1997! you've come a long way, a lot to be proud of

Not-faint-hearted said...

I agree. What a long way you've come. Congratulations! I admire your courage and ability to get out, even if, in hindsight, you think you should have done it sooner, at least you didn't wait longer! Talk about turning your life around. Rock on.

booda baby said...

Where do those men learn that shit? Really, where? And what do they get out of it? I'm so glad he said something that would penetrate and liberate and all that stuff. It's the greatest thing, too, that whatever toll a life with him took, it's way back there. In the past.

Brando said...

That sounds terrible, C. I am glad you got out. I can't even imagine how awful that must have been.

Churlita said...


Yeah. You were a great friend, what are you talking about? And People was my escapism for a while there.

If I wasn't so sick last night, I would have remembered that LA used to come over on Sundays and watch X-Files with me.


Me too.


How funny. I totally remember Liz dancing on the tables at the Stereolab show.

I also remember seeing tons of movies with you when Steve worked at the theaters back then.

I bet Meredith Baxter can hold her own there. I'd actually like to see/hear that.


That's probably why I'm so happy to get older. I wouldn't put up with any of that crap again.

Not Faint Hearted,


Booda Baby,

What they get is control in the short run. They don't think far enough ahead to realize that they lose all that control in the long run.


Thanks. It's good to be away from it.

mrsmogul said...

Thanks for sharing! Aimee mann I remember her! She still looks the same after all these years.

I love you in the face said...

That is so scary. The worst part is the "thought you would tell people about his bad behavior" part. My ex-roommate was like that, "You aren't going to tell people that I broke down your door at 3am in a drunken rage, right? Something like that would really hurt my reputation at work!"

I'm glad you're out of that.

Also, I love Don Delillo but mostly just because of 'White Noise'. I can't get through anything else of his. I read some of his Mao II Mao or whatever and was literally bored to tears.

bice said...

I'm glad you survived 1996, the year and the post. And for what it's worth... you're way hotter than Meredith Baxter.

Churlita said...

Mrs Mogul,

She does look good still. No fair.


I like Libra and White Noise. I stopped reading Mao after I got that writers were the new terrorists, but he wouldn't stop beating me over the head with it.


Thanks, but I bet if I went over to Meredeith Baxter's blog I'd see that you wrote that she was hotter than me in her comments.

evil-e said...

Not all posts need to be funny, once in a while it is good to let some of the real stuff....

I do not "know" you all that well, but I have much respect for you. Unlike some girls I do know, you recognized the situation and managed out it before it got too ugly.

I hate wife-beaters...they need to be put down in a harsh and unjudicious manner.

dmarks said...

Evil-E said what I wanted to say. I'm glad for you and yours that this is now long in the past, too.

fringes said...

You wrote about this very well. It didn't seem at all like a Lifetime for Women movie. I had no idea you were so close to my age. You seem so young! I mean, we're both still young...oh, forget it. I thought you were in your mid-30s. Thanks for sharing...

plain jane said...

Been there. Done that.

Let's hear more about how you actually got out.

Good for you. I know how terrifying it is.

Churlita said...


Thanks. Getting out isn't always that easy, especially when you're broke and have kids.

Yeah, I agree with your take on wife beaters. (the people, not the tank tops)


Thanks. Me too.


I always say that people think I'm younger than I am, because I'm really immature and have bad skin.

Plain Jane,

For me, it was mostly a waiting game. I had to wait until my oldest daughter was almost in kindergarten, so I could get a full-time day job, and only part-time daycare for her and full-time for my youngest. My ex has never really helped financially.

TLB said...

You have no idea how happy it made me to see your headline was an Aimee Mann reference.

It was awesome.

But that's just what you are.

Churlita said...

Oh yeah. I forgot you were such a big Aimee Mann fan. I aim to please, here.

jeci said...

I'm (finally) delurking just to say thank you for sharing. It's not easy to talk about these things even though it's so obvious to anyone with a clue who's the jerk. Your girls are lucky to have you!

Churlita said...


Thanks for lurking, delurking and thanks for the comment.

I love your blog and will link you as soon as I get a second.