Tag Archives: Fartbuster

An Equation for Evolution, This Week At Least

25 + (20 – $5) + 20/20  = 500

Let’s start with 25…


I’m in the lower left, grabbing my left boob in an archaic inside kind of joke thing that we did back in 1990.

I’m still processing everything that happened this weekend at my 25 year college reunion. One thing that has sat with me for days is the idea of evolution. A friend complimented how much I had “evolved” at one of our class parties. At first, I tried to turn it into a joke–like I was winning the tiny trophy for “Most Improved.” Then I corrected myself and accepted her gift of that word. She meant good things–how we navigate growing up successfully when we develop and diversify based on the things that happen to us. I have done that. We get our edges worn away and we figure out what works. Yep, done some of that, too. We keep moving and changing. We grow. So yeah, I guess I have evolved in the last 25 years.

+ 20

It’s been 20 years since I married Fartbuster, as of today. I wonder what it would be like to sit across a table from the me that was me 20 years ago and listen to her. At 26, I was excited to be getting married…FINALLY. wedding-407487_640I don’t think I ever took a moment to ask, “What’s in this for me?” All I wanted was To Be Married, so I married the person I loved at the time. I didn’t spend much time thinking about What I Wanted In a Partner. I thought that love was enough. I didn’t understand much about the other two things–honor and cherish. I didn’t consider whether he honored me and I figured he would learn to cherish me. I did love him. I think he loved me. But we were 26. How would I see that young woman–would I pity her, admire her innocence, or get fed up with an earful of her bullshit?


At the rehearsal dinner 20 years ago, I walked across the restaurant and knelt down beside our family friend, Wally. My mom snapped a photo as I handed Wally a crisp $5 bill. After a quick “Do you remember that time…,” Wally and I roared with laughter over something I had told him 6 years before.

The summer between my junior and senior years of college, my then boyfriend went on a long vacation with his family. I felt miserable and alone, and super jealous that he was cruising in Greece while I was working as a temp secretary in a credit office. My mom and I were over at Wally’s house for dinner one night and I kept moping and sighing and missing my beloved. There was a teensy bit of angsty wallowing going on.

Wally got sick of hearing it and told me to get over it, and knowing Wally’s acerbic tongue, it was along the lines of “Young love, my ass.” He and my mom laughed. I shouted, “Y’all think you know everything just because you’re older. I’ll have you know that I know myself and I love him and I will always love him!” Wally hooted and snapped, “I bet you FIVE DOLLARS that you don’t even know where that boy is five years from now.”

"Oh YEAH? We're young but we are IN LOVE."

“Oh YEAH? We’re may be young but we are IN LOVE.”

Wally was right. I had no idea where that boy had gotten to, and here I was marrying a different true love. So I paid him his five bucks.


Twenty twenty hindsight. I’ve acquired some of that over the years. That junior in college really did love her boyfriend with everything she had–but it didn’t last another year. And the young bride handed over $5 in recognition of what a wise old friend knew that she didn’t. The divorced woman at 31 learned the hard way that she should have asked some sharper questions before making those vows. The widow at 36 didn’t have anything to regret, but everything to lose. Now the mother at 46 looks back on them all with loving kindness.

Given the 20/20 nature of hindsight, I feel empathy for the me that was a few hours away from marrying Fartbuster twenty years ago. I’d give her a hug more than a talking to, because she was doing her best.

Evolving is about going THROUGH life experiences, not trying to skip them or stay safe or rush past. When life ends up teaching a tough lesson, my hope is that I will pack it up for the journey and keep moving.



And this is the 500th post on Baddest Mother Ever. I’ve learned so much in this space and over these two years. To accept who I am now and accept that I was doing my best back then. To love, honor, and cherish MYSELF above all others, even the ones I love. May we all continue to evolve.

The Gold Bug

Green Beetle With Brown Legs by Jan Vincentsz van der Vinne

Green Beetle With Brown Legs by Jan Vincentsz van der Vinne

I went on a personal archaeology expedition last week and got choked up on a little gold bug. A yellow plastic beetle, to be exact.

Ever since I read that journal that I wrote while my marriage to Fartbuster was ending–“Bless My Stupid Heart”–I’ve been trying to recall more about that time of my life. After 15 years, the big events stand out, but the minutiae of our ordinary life together has begun to fade. I started keeping gratitude journals about a year before our marriage went up in flames, so I pulled out the really old ones, the dusty ones in the bottom drawer of the nightstand and I began to read.

I spent 3 hours reading through 2 years worth of gratitude journals–a tough two years. I was prepared for the awful days, those days when I wrote terse little entries like, “Well, at least I have myself” or “Now I know the truth” and “my neighbor came over to check on me when she noticed I was parking in the middle of the garage.” I turned the corner down on those pages so I could come back to them when I need to.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the days just before those awful ones. It’s so had to look back and see what I was genuinely grateful for the day before my whole life blew up.

In the detail of thousands of entries, my old life assembled itself again. The hollyhocks that grew higher than the windows in the sunroom. The way my dog, Zoe, shivered after her bath. Margaritas at his grandmother’s house on Christmas night. The lazy Sunday mornings when I woke up with my feet entwined with my husband’s. A new Judybats CD coming in the mail. Reading Oxford American magazine. Pecan rice with a roasted pork tenderloin. That time we installed the dog door without arguing. Painting the bathroom a terra cotta color and talking about going to Rome someday. Walking the dogs in the evening when the whole neighborhood smelled like dryer sheets. Dusting bookshelves then finding myself rereading a favorite book. Valentines. Nicknames we gave each other.

About every 20 minutes of that 3 hour journey through my grateful past, I had to stop to cry. Once, I got so sad for my younger self that I tiptoed into Carlos’ room to listen to him breathe those deep little boy sleepy breaths.

It wasn’t all bad, that life.

It ended so badly that I have trouble remembering that it wasn’t all bad. I wasn’t stupid to love Fartbuster. Most days, we were doing our best.

That came clear for me when I read one little line in a journal that brought a dear memory back through all the pain:

“a little gold beetle in my drink at dinner.”

gold beetleI don’t remember how I ended up with a yellow plastic beetle–it doesn’t matter. One night, I tucked it under the covers on Fartbuster’s side of the bed. He saw it and jumped. We laughed. The next day, I picked up my drink at dinner and there sat the little gold beetle on the bottom of the glass. A few days later, he found the beetle in the toe of his shoe. For weeks, we traded the gold beetle back and forth in pockets, the sun visor, on the towel bar, in the cereal box.

It was fun. We had fun.

When your heart is broken by someone you trusted, it’s so hard to remember the good times. It’s hard to accept that those days were just as real as the months I spent in that middle place of fear and pain.

The muddle of it all reminds me of an idea from Hermann Hesse, one of Fartbuster’s favorite writers: “Oh, love isn’t there to make us happy. I believe it exists to show us how much we can endure.”


Bless My Stupid Heart

A Woman Reading by Camille Corot courtesy Met OASC

A Woman Reading
by Camille Corot
courtesy Met OASC

Fifteen years ago, I kept a journal of sorts for a writing exercise. Each morning, I wrote three pages of stream of consciousness writing. This afternoon, I read it for the first time since then.

Oh, bless my stupid little heart.

I thought he was my best friend. I thought he loved me. I thought I couldn’t live without us.

I was writing those words while Fartbuster was sneaking around and cheating on our marriage. I was so clueless. So much of it was devoted to me trying to convince myself that it was all going to be OK. So much of it was explaining away how he treated me. So much of it was about how my insecurity was the REAL problem. So much of it was me trying to be the reason it was going wrong so that I could be the one to fix it.

One morning, I wrote about how the night before, someone had rung the doorbell at 7:45 p.m. I had found myself hoping that it was Fartbuster, surprising me with a big bouquet and a spontaneous laugh. No, it was a teenage boy selling the newspaper. And in my writing, I chastised myself for being “tough” on Fartbuster when he did finally get home at 8:30. Eight thirty on a Wednesday night and I beat myself up instead of him.

One morning, I wrote about how he was helping out around the house more. How I had returned home from a Saturday outing with a friend to find that he had washed the sheets. Now I wonder what he was washing away. My heart is tightening up in fury now, just thinking about that Saturday, fifteen years ago.

It hurt my heart to read that journal. I skimmed. I fumed. This woman I am now, this wiser woman wanted to judge my younger self for being so dumb. I gave my younger self some grace. Trusting someone you’re supposed to trust isn’t a bad choice. Being a lying asshole is a bad choice.

She wised up, eventually. That mess didn’t ruin her. I’ve come so far, but I’d still like to give her a hug and a good talking to.

Fartbuster Lost It

RingPutI told y’all how Monday was kind of weird because of that wedding ring memory, right?  Well, it got even weirder when I came home from work.  G met me at the door of our bedroom with the words, “I’ve got some bad news.  Not big bad news…”  He held up his left hand.  “I lost my ring.”

I shit you not.  My body went cold because that’s not the first time a fellow who’s wearing my ring confesses that he’s “lost it.”

Guess who?  C’mon, guess.


About a month before I found out that Fartbuster had been having an affair, he met me at the door as I walked in from the garage.  He was picking at the skin of his palms, all sweaty looking and panicky.  “Don’t freak out–I lost my ring at lunch today.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say so I stayed quiet.  Funny how the only thing I could hold in my mind at that moment was the door mat from that fall.  Funny how that betrayal came right back to mind.

“I think what happened was I took it off to wash my hands in the bathroom and I stuck it in my pocket but it must not have gone all the way down in there and it fell out. But I didn’t hear it maybe because the water was running.  When I was getting in my car after lunch I realized that it wasn’t there.  I looked EVERYWHERE–in that bathroom, under the table, I asked them to look in the kitchen.  I was an hour late getting back to work because I didn’t want to stop looking for it.  I left my number with the restaurant manager.  We even looked in the parking lot.”

I still couldn’t say anything because all the blood in my body had gone to my head to pound between my ears.

“I’m sorry.  I’ll go back and look tomorrow.”

I shrugged.

“Are you mad?”

“I’m sad.  That was a beautiful ring.”  Handmade and special ordered from an artisan in California.  A wide band made of alternating braided gold.  Even with Tony the Jeweler giving me the family discount, that ring had cost me $1500.

ringI was sad.  Maybe I had been sad since the summer before, when we took that miserable trip to England.  Or since that August, when he came home with the lipstick on his collar.  The door mat had made me more angry than sad, but sad at the heart of it.  I had been sad back in October, when I planted those daffodils in the backyard and wondered if we would still be married when they bloomed.  Had I been sad since January, when he had lost his job?  It had been a sad year.

That ring was never found.  A couple of weeks later, we went down to Tony’s and ordered a new one.  I thought it would be a fresh start for us.

A few days later, Fartbuster told me that he wanted to move out and “get his head together.”  I STILL didn’t know about the affair. But I was pretty sure it wasn’t the time to lay out another thousand dollars on a wedding ring.  I was too embarrassed to call Tony myself and cancel the order. Big Gay took care of that for me.

So a few weeks later, when Fartbuster came clean about the affair and I threw my own heavy gold wedding ring at his head, his finger was already bare. I remember saying, “Oh!  Now I know what happened to your ring!” and he said, “No!  I wasn’t lying about that.  About that.”

Yeah, G didn’t know WHAT can of worms he was opening up when he told me “I lost my ring.”  I kept quiet, working through all these thoughts.  That was the same day I had been visited by the memory of Richard’s wedding ring–now here I was reliving a deja vu ring scene from ANOTHER marriage!

Luckily, while I was tracing my way through all that mental drama, G found his ring in the sofa cushions.  Sometimes, if I keep my mouth shut, things work out on their own!

I Should Have Slugged Him: My Husband Confesses to an Affair

woman slapping manThis story contains scenes that some readers may find disturbing.  It contains strong language, mild violence, and mockery of a Braves legend.  Baseball fans and cuckolds are strongly cautioned.  Intended for immature audiences only.

Here’s the story of the April night in the year 2000 when I found out why Fartbuster had moved out of our house.  We had been separated for three weeks.  I was parking my car in the middle of the garage and already cooking for one.  He and I talked every day and cried just about every day.  I just couldn’t get it through my head WHY he had moved in with his friend downtown when he was telling me every day how much he wanted to be back together.

So one night he came over for dinner and drama.  We were sitting on the couch with our dogs–pretty normal night.  He started crying first, which usually meant that I would end up crying most.

“I’m not good enough for you.  You deserve better.”  He sobbed.  I patted his knee and assured him that that was not the case.  He was a WONDERFUL person.  Ominously, he peeped at me out of the wet corner of his eye and said, “You don’t know everything.”  

I didn’t say a word.  My heart stopped then raced to catch itself.  “What don’t I know?”

“I had an affair.”

Well.  What’s a wife supposed to say to that?

This wife, being a bit of a codependent class clown typemade a joke.  A bad joke.  The dissolution of our marriage happened just a few months after the public meltdown of Chipper Jones’ first marriage–when he confessed to fathering a child with a Hooters waitress.  I don’t follow baseball, but Chipper had been married to a girl I knew from college.  I had felt so awful for her when he was busted–the situation was terrible enough, but imagine having the world discussing your cheating husband on drive time radio shows and Entertainment Tonight?  So to lighten the mood in our living room that night–oh, when will I ever learn???–I said:

“At least you didn’t get a Hooters waitress pregnant, right?”

He froze.

I froze.  

Holy shit.

I lifted my hand off his knee.  He hopped up off the couch and got a safe distance away before he turned to face me.  “Not exactly…but pretty close.”

Every sound in the world was replaced by the buzzing inside my head, a metallic hum that seemed to begin deep in my bones and rattle through my body.  “Ah,” I whispered.  “She doesn’t work at Hooters.”

“Yeah.”  He stared at me to make sure I had put two and two together.  Or one and one and gotten three.

He started babbling about how he had cheated but knew it was wrong and he had ended it but then she had turned up saying she was pregnant and that was why he had moved out–to clear things up with her.  He planned to come back to me as if nothing had ever happened.  As if.  His fancy German therapist had pointed out the problem with this logic and had suggested that Fartbuster come clean to me if he ever hoped to patch our marriage back together.  I had to know the truth.

And now I did.

Like you might expect, I stomped and screamed and shrieked while he stood there with a hangdog expression in the middle of the living room.  The dogs hightailed it for the bedroom.  I tore off my heavy gold wedding band and beaned at his head, but I telegraphed my pitch and he had time to dodge it.  He scooped the ring from the floor after it bounced off the fireplace and held it between his hands.  He was still crying.

I dropped into a chair as my fury dissolved into anguish.  It was my turn to cry.

He approached me hesitantly.  It’s hard to know if you can comfort someone when you’re the one who dealt the blow.

“Don’t you dare lay a finger on me,” I snarled.  Then I hung my head and sobbed.  He knelt on the floor before me, so still and just a foot away, my wedding ring still in his hand.

We sat frozen there for a long time, like some mockery of a marriage proposal–him on bended knee with a ring and me weeping.

He reached out slowly and touched my hair.  I let him.

I whimpered, “This hurts so bad. …. I want you to hurt like this.  ….I want to hit you.”

He stretched his arms open wide and smiled.  “Do it!  Hit me!  I’d feel better if you did.”

We both laughed as he continued to encourage me to punch him.  “C’mon…this is your chance…”

“No.  I’m not going to.”  Laughing with him like that, like old times, minutes after he confessed to pulling a Chipper?  My fury flamed back.  “I don’t want you to feel better.  I don’t want you to think that makes up for any of this.”  I snatched the ring out of his hand.  “And I’m keeping this.  I can always melt it down and make a pair of earrings.”

Well.  That was the beginning of a long journey–a year it took us to finally go our separate ways.  I think back sometimes to that moment, that choice I made to withhold my fist and not beat the shit out of him.  I didn’t want his atonement to be that easy.  A punch in the face was nothing compared to the punch in the gut that he had dealt me with his confession.  I took the high road that night, but there were many many times in that year when I wished I had walloped him.  Swung for the fence.  Smashed a tater.  Blasted a homer.  Belted him.  Slugged him.  Knocked a four-bagger.  Hammer time.

But if I had, I would have chipped away at the awful burden that he had to carry.  If I had hit him, he would have walked to first.


P.S.  – The ex-Mrs. Jones, Karin Luis, has flown far far above where she ever could have gotten with that turkey.  She’s a therapist, author, and speaker who focuses on women’s resiliency and spiritual development. She is co-auther of the book The Fatherless Daughter Project. Check her out on Facebook as “Dr. Karin” or on her website.

Fartbuster and the Dustbuster Dustup


This sucks.

A few weeks before our wedding, Fartbuster and I met with the minister for some perfunctory premarital counseling.  In other words, we met her for dinner at Cracker Barrel so that she could put names with faces–it was not a highly formal religious service.  Over our chicken and dumplings and mason jars of tea, we swapped small talk.  Then I pulled out a copy of the ceremony that he and I had written so that we could run it by her.  

She held up an elegant hand and said, “Let’s do a little bit of talking about marriage before we talk about the wedding per se.”  OK.  She asked us about trust and partnership and fidelity and communication styles.  We had been together for five years at that point, and sharing an apartment for two, so this wasn’t new territory.  He and I were MATURE–26 and 27.  Well, at least we seemed to be in our own minds.  

The minister buttered her corn muffin delicately and asked, “Do you feel comfortable when you fight with each other?  Tell me about a time when you disagreed on something.”  

Fartbuster and I swiveled our heads around to look at one another face to face, and in unison said, “The DUSTBUSTER.”  

A few months earlier, Fartbuster had come home from the store with a Dustbuster.  I was delighted at his determination to wage war against the cat hair tumbleweeds in our apartment.  He unpacked the Dustbuster, showed me how it worked, and I rewarded him with a kiss for his efforts.  Then it came time to charge it up.  While I was putting the Dustbuster in the living room window sill, right next to an empty outlet, I heard him bumping around in the galley kitchen.  

I poked my head into the narrow kitchen (there wasn’t room for both of us) and asked, “What are you doing?”  He had a couple of screwdrivers and a mounting bracket laid out on the counter….right next to the stove top.  

“I’m putting up the thing so we can hang the Dustbuster in here.”  

“In the kitchen?  Right next to where we cook?  It will be dripping dust and cat hair all over the place!”

That’s when he presented his rationale:  “It’s a small appliance, and small appliances go in the kitchen.”

I spluttered, “It’s a vacuum cleaner and vacuum cleaners go in the laundry closet!  Or the pantry!  We can even leave it in the window behind the curtains.  But NOT next to the STOVE.”  

And that was the moment that things took a turn for the…mature.  He slammed the tools down on the counter and shouted, “IT ALWAYS HAS TO BE YOUR WAY!!!  WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO DO IT YOUR WAY?  I’M HANGING THIS DUSTBUSTER RIGHT HERE.  PERIOD.”  

Oh.  Hell. Naw.  

“My way?” I screeched.  “I’ve given you three different options and you’ve given me ONE.  One that’s STUPID.  So who’s really insisting on having it their way?”  

argumentWe glared at each other like it was high noon in a spaghetti Western.  

That fight went on for DAYS.  Sniping, carping, bitching and moaning.  That was the way we did things.  After a while, we forgot to stay mad about it but the issue never got resolved.  The Dustbuster and its charger stayed right there in the window sill until we moved six months after the wedding.  

Now that I’m older and wiser, I know what I should have done.   When a man gets into that “You’re not the boss of me” zone, there’s not much way to argue him out of it.  Even with three well-reasoned alternatives, an installation diagram from the manufacturer, and a copy of Better Homes and Gardens “10 Clever Places to Hang a Dustbuster BESIDES the Kitchen!”  you’re not going to win.

I should have kept my mouth shut, let him hang the Dustbuster over the stove, then served him plate after plate of spaghetti and hairballs until it was HIS IDEA to move the damn Dustbuster.  

My wise friend, Susan, shared a great piece of advice about getting husbands to do stuff around the house:  “You can either tell the TO do it or HOW to do it, but you can’t tell them both.”  Of course this might be why there is a stack of lumber in her dining room.  

So…I’m dying to know.  Do any of you have a Dustbuster hanging over your stove?  


Fartbuster’s Worst Fear

ordinaryAbout a week after Fartbuster and I separated, he came by the house one night so we could talk.  It had been a rough day for me.  I had spent the afternoon at a funeral for the husband of a coworker.  He had died too young after a grueling dose of stomach cancer.  During the service, I stared at my wedding ring (I hadn’t told anyone that we were living apart yet) and wondered what would become of my life, who would cry for me.  That evening, I was overwrought and wrung out and completely used up–so what BETTER time to hash things out with my wayward husband?  

So there we met, leaning against the counters in our kitchen.  My kitchen.  The kitchen.  Whatever.  And Fartbuster was telling me all about the book he was reading–Hermann Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game.”  In great detail.  Greeeeeeaaaat detail.  Exhaustive detail. I’m leaning against the counter and listening to him go on and on about this esoteric novel that he probably read because no one else wanted to and it’s as if I finally SEE him for who he really is–someone who thinks he’ll be OK as long as he’s smart.  Someone who thinks he’s really special because he’s smart.  Someone who desperately needs a pat on the head as he hears, “Gosh, you’re smart!”  That had been my job for ten years.  

The Glass Bead Game is about the life of a young man who has been raised to be a member of the intellectual elite who goes on a quest to understand other forms of living.  So it got Fartbuster thinking about Who He Wanted to Be.  (And as a sidenote:  remember that Who He WAS at this juncture was a barely employed man with a pregnant girlfriend that his patient and confused wife didn’t know about.)  

Finally, he finishes going on about the book.  He looks over at me and asks, “What’s your biggest fear in life?’

I considered it for a few moments and reflected back on how I had spent my emotional afternoon.  “I think my biggest fear is not being loved.  If I woke up in the morning and couldn’t think of anyone who gave a shit about me–that would be my worst nightmare.”  

He nodded without saying anything.  

“What’s yours?” I asked from my side of our kitchen.

He scrunched up his mouth, rubbed his beard and proclaimed, “Being ordinary.  Y’know–wife, kids, house in the suburbs and a job.”  

I stared at the pattern in the linoleum to give him time to elaborate.  He added, “I want to do something bigger than that, something important.”  

Our suburban kitchen ticked with the quiet that hung between us.  In our time together, even though I read books just as fancy as the ones he read, I had always been the more practical of the two of us.  I like a good Nobel Prize winner myself, but I also believe in paying the light bill.  And that part of me had about had enough of making a life with Peter Pan.

“You call that ‘ordinary,’ but I went to a funeral today for one of the most ordinary men you’d ever care to meet.  Husband, father, grandfather.  Truck driver.  House in the country.  Watched Nascar.  Went to church on Sunday.  He was also 15 years sober and helped a lot of other people fight that battle.  He was loved deeply and irreplaceable to his wife and daughter.  He was funny.  He was kind.  A hundred people stood out there in the sunshine this afternoon and mourned the fact that he had passed.  Just an ordinary guy.”  

Fartbuster shrugged and I didn’t push it.  

Well, if you’ve been reading here for a while, you know how the story turned out.  I don’t talk much about how and where Fartbuster is today, but let me assure you…

  1. Wife
  2. Kid
  3. Job
  4. House in the suburbs

Thank my lucky stars that I got out of that marriage with my self intact, if somewhat tattered.  I became a person I loved, then I found someone to love.  Then I did it all again and again and again.  My life keeps getting bigger since that time.  


I found this quote about ordinariness and love.  Reading it makes me feel a bit smug, because not too many years after Fartbuster placed me in the “ordinary” column, I went to Paris on my own and I found Oscar Wilde’s tombstone.  I put on my brightest red lipstick and I kissed the memorial, leaving my mark.  It was one of those moments when I looked back across what my life had become, back to that night in our kitchen.  Ordinary?  Hardly.  Loved?  Certainly.  

In the words of Mr. Wilde:   “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”