Open Book Test: May (18 years ago), 1997

When: May (18 years ago), 1997
Where: Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
What: I’ve been married to my first husband for 5 months.  Every day I go to work in Tamarindo where I oversee a little tourist information center.
Age: 26

Hey! It’s Friday and me and G haven’t had one argument all week! That’s marvelous. Peace on earth.

This is one big old Indian Summer. It’s hot and dry and windy again. Hello. Well, I imagine that when the rainy season comes de verdad, it will come with a huge dumping aguacero. Hope this holds up at least long enough to wash out clothes one more time!

I crack myself up. I I’m going to give my friend Candy some clothes tomorrow and I am so excited, I can hardly wait. You’d think someone was giving them to me. I keep wanting to tell her, but I’d better not. Then she might get excited and have to be disappointed when she sees them. Plus there’s nothing like a happy surprise. It’s so nice to have a nice friend. Candy talks a lot and doesn’t ask much, but I like her. I’m a little cautious about deciding I love people I’ve just met, but she’s growing on me.

There is something in me that cannot or will not believe that G is mine. I wake in the night, I go to the bathroom and come back to the bed and there he is: sprawled in the gale of the fan with the sheet tangled around him. Something somewhere in me cannot or will not believe that he is really mine, that no one will take him from me, that he himself will not leave.

Sometimes I feel really furious about something. I feel really furious with my parents for being the good upright Christian people that they are. It screws up my whole life. How am I ever going to write anything publishable? I guess being married helps a little, but sometimes I think what a great book sections of my diary would make and I’ll never do it because I write about love and sex and true guttural things and I swear and marry a man with children. How can this be? I hate it. Why can’t I be a rebel? Why do I not have it in me? Why am I so nice? It depresses me because I love my parents and I want them to live long lives but I can’t write a thing until they and their siblings are dead. Oh, pain. It makes me feel like giving up. I mean, I guess I can still write it, but all it does is lie around in fat notebooks. How annoying. If you’re making up tales that’s one thing, but if you’re writing about your life, that’s something else.

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The Open Book Test: May (4 years ago), 2011

When: May (4 years ago), 2011
Where: Manheim, Pennsylvania
What: My husband and I embarked on a cross-country road trip, six months after coming to the USA from Costa Rica.  We left my parents’ home in Pennsylvania and aimed the car toward my sister’s home in Washington State. First stop:  other sister in Ohio.
Age:  40

Yesterday we stuffed everything possible into Claudia the Car and drove away. We were so happy, actually. It was a pretty day, Camomilo and Victor (the cats we brought from Costa Rica but gave up for adoption) aren’t lonely, and mom and dad seemed happy for us.

Now I’m sitting in Y’s chilly back yard and P is sleeping in her chilly house. It’s just as cold inside as it is outside.  Y took us to dinner last night. Today she is running a 13 mile race and then in the afternoon she has to leave for Denver. We had to take Luis the cat to the vet this morning because his eye is infected.

P drove all the way here yesterday. I took pictures, looked at license plates, looked at the map, made notes and neither of us were one bit sleepy. I was thinking about how “the road trip” is something that most all Americans do at some point in their lives. But ours is different from the average “road trip” because we’re also on a quest. We’re looking for a home; we don’t have one to go back to. The six months in PA were good for many things, one of which is that P now also totally gets where I come from—loves it dearly and is driven to desperation by it, just like me. One more thing we’re on the same page about. I’ve lived with his kids, he’s lived with my parents. Ha ha.

I think today is going to be cold and gray and then tomorrow we’ll go to Goshen. I’m having so much fun. I love journeys.

Where I come from, this is what the gateway to the rest of the world looks like.

Where I come from, this is what the gateway to the rest of the world looks like.

The Open Book Test: April (20 years ago), 1995

 

When:  April (20 years ago), 1995
Where:  Manheim, PA
What:  On the day of the Oklahoma City bombing.  In a few days I will leave for Costa Rica where I will find my life.  But I don’t know this.  I only know it’s too late to turn back.
Age:  24

I so desperately want to be old. Not now, but someday. I want to live to be old and gnarled, nearsighted and wrinkled as a sycamore. I hope that if I am fortunate enough to watch my hair turn gray, I remember this day. Today someone bombed a government building in Oklahoma City and countless people were killed. At 9 AM. I am so fearful of disease and disaster. I feel like each year I survive, I should be decorated with a medal for survival. Even though I am happy and hopeful, I am full of fear of death. I guess it is mostly my drive to live – the flip side of which is an anger at death. My most present terror is of a plane crash. Sometimes I wish I did suffer from the delusion that nothing terrible can happen to me. I am so frightened. Mostly, I am sickened. It makes me very suspicious of God. Either God is not omnipotent, or is not omniscient, or is not. It makes me suspect that there is a Satan.

In Lancaster, however, it was in the 80’s and gorgeous It was a perfect, beautiful day. It feels so strange to be eyeball to eyeball with the Great Unknown. Maybe this is something like dying.  Time is flying, now, unlike 6 or 8 months ago.

I wonder so much what it will be like and what will become of me. I plan to try life in Guaitil and if it flops, go to San Jose. It will probably be even harder in San Jose. I keep asking myself, what’s the default plan? If all else fails, what? I could go to Texas with Mark and Erika. There’s Madison. I would get over D. There’s New Mexico with Marvin and Lisa. Lancaster again is basically not an option for the immediate future.  The main thing is that if/when I come back, I will be flat broke. No money for a down payment. Probably no bus money. So I’ll have to fly into whatever city I want to live in. And mooch and borrow for a little while.

Ultimate best-case scenario: after I am through in Costa Rica, I fly back into Santa Fe, New Mexico and bum off of D for a while–who has moved there in the mean time. He falls desperately in love with me, I make some money, I go to grad school, we get married, I have a daughter just before I’m too old, and we live happily ever after. Or something like that. I know I’m a dreamer and a story-teller so I try not to take even my most serious ideas too seriously. Luckily I am usually happy, and love most things.

The Open Book Test: April (6 years ago), 2009

When: April (6 years ago), 2009
Where: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
What: A terrible month in a terrible year.   In three months, we will make the sad decision to leave Costa Rica and move to the States.  This is the only thing I can find that is fit to share.
Age:  38

I went looking for waves today and all I found was water. So I came home. Anticlimactic, yes, but I have a wine headache and I couldn’t think of anything better to do. P took me out for sushi last night. We had a wonderful time spending money we don’t have and drinking too much wine. We even went to Mike and Wendy’s bar which is how I got too much wine. Bleagh.

I am going to have one very busy weekend. I also think that if I do not soon paint this kitchen, I am going to go entirely insane. I cannot take it ANY MORE.

I invented a way to make a shirt out of a pillow case and it is so cute! Now I need Ruthann’s sewing machine.

What a horrid headache I have.

Open Book Test: March (23 years ago), 1992

When: March (23 years ago), 1992
Where: Goshen, Indiana
What: college junior
Age:  21

It’s Sunday now. The last two days were filled and frantic, although I did have a good time with my family. Yvonne and Michelle were so cute and funny. I took them to the dance with me on Friday night and it was pretty funny. Mom and dad brought LOTS of food plus money for shoes! I went to Walmart on Friday and got underwear, contact solution, pads…all kinds of important things.

I spent all day yesterday working in the Umble Center. Then when I came back to K’s room, he was sad and started crying. He was crying because he doesn’t want to be here—he wants to go other places. When he gets like that, it makes me scared, because he latches onto me like I’m his life breath. I sometimes wonder if he thinks we’ll be together all of our lives. I guess I wouldn’t mind, except that I’m not done yet. I still want to fall in love a few more times. I’m really looking forward to this summer for that reason. We must not be together this summer. He isn’t any fun when he gets so sad like that. Sometimes I think we’ll always be together, but then I remember how young I am and how many things I want to do yet, and I become skeptical.

The days are much longer, now, and the sun has woken me up before my alarm three times in the past week. That’s more days than we saw the sun all winter. I can come home for supper and get back for rehearsal before it gets dark. And sometimes you can hear birds. It’s weird. I missed this part of last year. I was so alive there in Guaitil (Costa Rica). It’s hard for me to feel joy. I feel sometimes better and sometimes worse, but as far as exploding with joy–I don’t, much. I’m always worried—about grades, about K, about the plays we’re producing, about money, about N (my roommate), about the plays I am trying to write, about my family finding out about me, about getting pregnant, about my bike breaking down, about getting sick, about my caffeine consumption, about my alcohol consumption, about not writing letters… I have so much stress.  And rehearsal is at 6:30 and I still have to prepare a cue script.

Open Book Test: March (9 years ago), 2006

When: March (9 years ago), 2006
Where: Costa Rica
What: This is the Monday after the weekend when my husband (P)’s son (A) moves from Italy, with his dog, to live with us for a few years.   (P)’s young daughter (K) spends the weekend with us.  The kitchen is in the middle of a remodel.
Age:  35

A got here around 4:30 on Friday afternoon. The dog isn’t that big after all. I haven’t been still, or been alone, even to take a shower, since sometime on Friday morning–and it’s Sunday. A is a beautiful boy. When I was 19, boys didn’t look so much like puppies, but now they do.

Friday night we all went out for dinner. K has been acting out a lot. Of course dad and brother think it’s funny and cute. It is cute that she’s so happy, but she shows it by insisting on having all the attention all the time. And on this occasion, I can’t exactly tell her to settle down or calm down.

Yesterday, we went on this big fishing boat for some little kid’s birthday party. It was fun, but I have been eating entirely too much again. I feel heavy. Last night we made dinner at home, and went to bed. The kitchen is usable, but, with the new floor, the kitchen sink is just about the right height to pee in.

Friday night I slept ok with K in our bed, but last night I didn’t. That child is a nightmare to sleep beside, and I am sorry, but, it is NO LONGER NECESSARY that she sleep in our bed. She’s 7, not 3, and she is perfectly secure enough and capable of sleeping in a bed like a normal child. OF COURSE she’s going to throw a fit. But that’s no reason for even the adults to behave unreasonably. I am about ready to take this into my own hands. If I have to go sleep in her room to get any rest, she is going to sleep in there with me, and that’s the end of it. And P and I can have a fight about it if that’s what it takes, because I will win because I am right.

Open Book Test: From a February 2 years ago

When: February 2013–2 years ago
Where: Northwest corner of USA
What: My husband is having trouble healing the way the doctor intended, after the third of what we never imagined would be nine reconstructive surgeries over 17 months
Age:  42

Well well well.  No thank you Mercury for your f*ing retrograde self.  We merrily drove to Seattle to see Dr. JR today and got slapped down.  Poor P. Poor me.  F* ing Dr. JR.  Some stitches on P’s right nostril didn’t hold—again, apparently—and he wasn’t all that nice about it.  Not like being nice is really required, but we’d gotten a little used to it.  He scolded us heartily and told P to come back next Friday, and we’ve added another surgery to this.

P is sorry he even started.  So am I, honestly.  And today, I think Dr. JR was too.  It’s long and hard and discouraging for him, too.  It was a very very bad day.  P is depressed and honestly so am I.  I feel like it will never end.  Now P has to be super calm and careful for a week, because if one more inside stitch goes, the rib cartilage will die and then… we start over.

Please God, don’t let that happen to us.  We’ve been stupid and wrong.  We’ve lied and made bad decisions about money and other things.  But please have mercy on us and don’t punish us anymore, just now.  Have mercy on us and let us heal.  I wish I could help his boredom/loneliness/desperation.  But I am out of ideas.

I am the one with nothing and no one, just a broken husband, beautiful as the sun but sliced and cut so many times he is unrecognizable.

Tell me what is the right thing to do.  Tell me clearly.  Write it on the wall.  I am so tired.