Thursday, September 3, 2009

Visit me on my new blog: Chronicles of a Girl

If you are still checking this site . . . I am humbled and honored! But guess what? You weren't the only one reading Divorce Land. A Charming Prince on a Harley was too . . . read the story on my new blog:

Chronicles of a Girl
Live. Love. Learn.

See you there!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chapter Ninety; Saying Good Bye and Finding My Voice

If we are lucky, the story of our lives contain several chapters. Both bitter. And sweet.

This year my chapter was not really a chapter, but the end of one and the beginning of another. It was an in between time. A suspension.

Don’t get me wrong, everything in my life this past year post-divorce still went forward. Children grew. Work deadlines were met. And new friendships blossomed. But somewhere beneath the momentum, I felt like life just hit the pause button when I got divorced.

All of the things that had previously composed my identity vanished. Friendships that had seemed so real merely disintegrated into misty memory, to the point where I doubted they had ever existed at all. And I questioned myself for investing so much in something that life could not sustain.

In terms of my existence, I am pretty sure my in-laws just tried to forget I was on this earth at all. I never heard from them again once my husband and I separated.

It was like I just took a big eraser and in one swoosh of legal ink.

My life.

Was gone.

In the aftermath, I grasped fragments of who I was. Like a victim of amnesia being quizzed by the doctors, “Who are you? What do you remember?” I asked myself these questions and hesitantly answered myself with guarded answers, unsure of what was even real and solid any more.




But who ARE you? The voice still asked.

For a few months? I just didn’t know.

And then, one day.

I remembered.


I am a writer.

Just prior to my husband and I separating, my first freelance article was published. I should have been ecstatic. My writing aspirations were taking flight, but what should have been a momentous moment was shrouded by divorce darkness.

And my writing endeavors soon disappeared into that black hole.

But now. They were trying to resurrect themselves.

I was haunted.


You are a writer.

The voice in my head began to prompt and prod.

I resisted.

And sighed a lot.

I just couldn’t fathom finding the energy to write again. To go through the submission process. To attend workshops and network with editors. To work on my novel. To search for an agent.

I could barely get through my day the way it was.

Who was I kidding? For the past four months, any spare time I had had found me on my couch bawling, and eating a lot of cookie dough. On the weekends I didn’t have my children, I partied like a rock star.

It was either that or stay home and cry.

(Martini comas were far more appealing.)

And then, last January, I read the book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbertson. Her literary voice was stunningly similar to my own. You see, every writer has a “voice.” A style that is unique. It’s our soul on the page, and I sensed a kindred spirit when I read Ms. Gilbertson's novel, and connected with her voice. Her quirky wit, coupled with introspective life observations, hit home.

And oh yeah.

Her novel is about her journey through divorce.

Shya Sista.

I could relate.

I devoured that book and wept when it was done. I didn’t want it to end. I read every syllable. Even the book reviews at the end.

Then I Googled the author like a psycho fan.

But I wasn’t searching for any more of her words.

I knew. I was just searching.

For mine.

And so one cold February night I just decided to take a short cut. I would start a blog. I had to have some outlet and this one looked just too damn easy.

I remember staring at the screen and trying to choose a title for this deal. I hated to put the word “divorce” in it. It seemed like all I talked about was divorce. But, the iron clad rule of pen for every writer, to “write what you know,” stalked me and forced me to succumb.

In other words, if you live in Africa and try to fake you are from Ireland when you write. Good luck.

You will suck.

Readers are smart. And they will never buy the concept of a Kenyan leprechaun.

Well, I wasn’t even going to try to pretend I was Irish. (Frank McCourt beat me to that . . . “Angela’s Ashes” if you haven’t read it, people).

I had to be honest.

There was only one land I was living in last winter.

And that one.

Was Divorce Land.

If I was going to write about anything, it was going to have to be this. I would write about the pain bonding with women who had previously been on the parameter of my life, who were also simultaneoulsy navigating their own divorces. You see, we didn't just stumble into one another and share martinis, we clung to each other like life rafts asking frantically if anyone had a compass. Nope. None of us did.

All we had was each other.

I would write about my first relationship post-divorce that I fell into simply because it seemed like a good idea to have someone to lie next to me at night. I just didn't know how to be alone.

I would write about the crazy antics my girlfriends and I got ourselves into (who can forget my ER Greek God adventure with Sonja? That night is still Divorce Land legend. Chapter Thirty Seven if you just got to Divorce Land.)

I would write about my first wedding anniversary post-divorce and how I couldn't let that day go by without reaching back in time and putting my arms around my former self, and letting her know, that I finally got here. I had set her free.

I would write about the single parenting moments that sustained me through some of the darkness. Who knew biking for miles with a little girl could bring such joy?

I would write about breaking up with my first boyfriend, and creating a mountain of kleenex next to my bed to rival Mt. Everest.

All of it.

I would write about.

And so I did.

Every Monday and every Thursday.

I put an essay on my blog.

Most were humorous, but some just weren't. Because life seems to come with equal parts of joy. And pain.

I spammed everyone I knew and shared the link. And pretty soon, more than just my mom was reading this thing. People were emailing me. People were stopping me at the store.

I was making people laugh. I was making people cry.

And I couldn’t believe it.

But most importantly? I was writing.

I was me.

I’d found the thread of myself that had not vanished when everything else did. The piece of my soul that burned the brightest and would not be extinguished, the part of me that would actually outshine the darkness of Act One.

And light the stage up for my Act Two debut.

My words.

My writing.

My voice.

And so, dear Divorce Land readers. I am ending this blog today. It is the one year anniversary that I learned my divorce was final.

And it seems quite fitting to use this benchmark to move on. To get back to my freelancing. To my novel.

To my writing.

But before I go, I will give one last “Divorce Land” update. For the DL girls are all moving too. Each and every one of them has found new love and I celebrate for them. I will be a bridesmaid in at least one wedding this year, possibly two. And I am sure two more will follow . . .

(Oh shut UP, already, Julia! Queen of denial!)

I also included a post under this one I am calling "Divorce Land" credits. I'll post some pictures of the people who shared my Divorce Land spotlight for a while.

As for me?

Well, my life continues to be where it has always been: in God’s hands. Oh, I’ve tried to wrestle the map away from him from time to time, but he usually always gets it back. But yes, I am the last Divorce Land girl still standing in the single scene, but after the way God lifted me up this year, I don’t doubt that his plan for me may included love again . . . someday.

And so, I close the door on my in between chapter. And move on to the next one.

A new land.

Where writers write what they know.

And voices are never silenced for long.


Divorce Land is retired but not vanishing. This simply means I will not be posting any new essays. I will keep the site live so feel free to come back and visit and read more if you haven't yet subjected yourself to the three hours or so of reading torture it takes to consume ten months of my Divorce Land adventures.

If I do start a new blog, it will be an author blog devoted to updating people on my writing endeavors and I will announce the site here. Obviously, the optimist in me hopes that blog will be titled something like, "Audra Gets a Book Deal" or better yet, "Pulitzer Land." (Hey, let a woman dream . . .)

I am only and always an email away at and will continue to check that inbox from time to time.

Thank you to all of you for your support and encouragement along the way. In the solitary writing world I am now entering called, "Work on the novel already, you loser," I may just dredge up YOUR words from time to time. Those emails and comments you took the time to send me over this past year that were so encouraging and thoughtful.

And I will smile to myself in my second floor office.

And remember you.

And to those who wrote to me because your lives are in bitter chapters . . . keep the faith. And never forget.

YOU have a voice too.

Blessings . . .

Oh, and P.S. Just stream a little Anna Nalick, "Shine" if you miss me. It's my theme song, my running anthem, and my saving grace. With it, I can shine, shine, shine, shine over shadows. Enjoy . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Divorce Land Credits

To those of you who faithfully followed my Divorce Land adventures, as I end an era and say goodbye, here is simple proof that . . .

I did not make this shit up.

In other words.

I have pictures.

I'll start with the most recent events and go backward documenting some of Divorce Land's more memorable moments. (Oh, and yeah . . . I have a tall dark and handsome addiction. So enjoy the eye candy. I did!)


I shall start with "So NOT the List Man" and "Dancing Girl." He's hot but his face doesn't deserve to be in this. Let's just relive his reaction to this photo for a moment when it came into my newsfeed on Facebook, "What? I barely know her!?!?!?"

Ah hem.

Yeah. Whatever. Thanks for the cyber knife to the heart.

Moving on . . .

Here is a happier moment . . . my friends and I out on the town posing with Santa. (I just paid a lot of money for those jeans, hence my ass flaunting.) Sonja is the one in the stripes. The other two gals are not Divorce Land girls, but they are dear dear friends whose love and support has kept me afloat on more than one occasion.

Here's a picture of me and my "crew" enjoying a summer night. (Martini anyone?) What is most hilarious about this picture, is it included DR. DUCK if anyone remembers that story! Sonja (in the pink) is snuggled up against him so I am thinking she must have been slightly intoxicated. Julia is on the other side of him and must be feeling just as "happy." I am the one in the green sandwiched in the corner.

And of course, I can't leave my friend "Kris" out of this. He was the one with the crazy Canadian couch surfers...oh, and Susie's "Eye Candy Adventure" . . .her former student, remember? Kris and I subsequently became good friends. He has promised to be "Maid of Honor" if I ever get hitched again. He is da bomb. (Gotta love the shoe phone . . . )

SWEET MOTHER OF FRANCE The Divorce Land credits just wouldn't be complete without a picture of my Emergency Room Greek God (ERGG). Isn't he adorable? Yeah. And, okay, I never put this detail in the blog but it's true. I did date him for a brief period of time . . . I confess. He continues to be a good friend, he even took me to dinner to cheer me up after I was crushed by So NOT the List Man. Yes, his inside is as beautiful as his outside. ERGG harbors professional baseball dreams, so stay tuned. I hope to be a fan in the stands at the World Series someday!

Of course, I have to include a picture of the last two Divorce Land Girls, Susie and Annie. Smiley Susie Sunshine, smiling as usual, and eternally optimistic little Annie. Here they are last winter, shocking there aren't martinis in this picture . . .

And last but not least, me and my Dating Land Traveling Companion (DLTC) last winter at a party I threw at my house. Even though Susie's arm is in this one, I love this picture of us . . . because I look happy. It's proof to me that that relationship was real for me. Because the smile on my face certainly isn't fake. In the end, it didn't go how I was hoping it would, but I'll forever be grateful that if I was going to fall for anyone at that time in my life, that it was him. A nice and decent guy. My snowboarding guitar hero playing deer steak making electrical (not mechanical) engineer. Who inadvertently rescued me from myself when he told me that the only reason his grandparents even have cell phones is to find each other at the mall,and that that is the kind of marriage he wants someday, too.

The guy I will always and forever remember, and never ever forget.

So that is the candid camera evidence to back it all up.

I hope you enjoyed the ride!

And now, DL fans . . . I am going on to one place and one place only:

Act Two

Roll the credits . . .

(Fade to black . . . play the happy song . . .)



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chapter Eighty Nine; Facebooking

Do you have Facebook?

Is blonde my natural hair color? (Okay, don’t answer that . . .)

Of course I have Facebook. Who doesn't have Facebook?

About a year ago, my then boyfriend determined someone as social as me should be a part of this virtual land of friends and poking, groups and games, wall writing and picture tagging. He explained how some kids from Harvard had started this very intriguing social networking site only three years before and that I really should have a page too.

Hmmm. I’d heard of Facebook before. But it seemed really juvenile and slightly lame. But whatever. I am into juvenille and lame so I said sign me up.

So I put a flattering profile picture of myself on this deal (one that looked nothing like me, of course.) And when I read the status line, which asks me, “What are you doing right now?” I just thought, “What am I doing now? I am setting up a Facebook page, what does it look like I am doing right now?”

What the hell.

This is weird.

My BF walked me through adding a few “friends, people I happen to know in real life immature enough to already be on Facebook. And then, I just sat back over the next few days and marveled at things like, did I really need to know that a former co-worker of mine just got his money stuck in the candy vending machine two minutes ago?

Really? Is my life better now with this knowledge?

As far as I was concerned Facebook seemed like one thing and one thing only:

A giant waste of time.

In other words I just didn't get it.

At all.

My boyfriend didn't really use Facebook much either so other than the setup he was a rather worthless mentor.

Ironically, he ended up playing a pivotal role in my first Facebook creeping experience. Because it was on him. (Note: Creeping. The Facebook cultural term for looking at other people’s profiles and information that they put out there for one purpose only: for other people to see. Even though this is the whole point of Facebook in the first place (sharing information) apparently if you actually do that you are a “Creeper.”) It was around the time our relationship was unraveling and stuck somewhere in ambiguity land. I looked at his Facebook page (which I had hardly ever looked at before because why? I saw him all the time.) and noted an old girlfriend of his had written on his wall.

All the sudden Facebook seemed like an emotional torture device.

What was the lure of this again? I was so not sold at this point.

When we finally broke up I hit the delete key on his digital friendship. And it wasn't because I didn't want to be his friend anymore (It has such a kindergarten ring to it, doesn’t it?) I deleted him because if he was going to move on I would rather live sans botox and buy Lee jeans than have a front row seat to his life post-Audra.

You see, back in the good old days (like 10 years ago or something) when you had to actually be home to take a phone call as opposed to the grocery store or a public restroom (okay, I don’t do that but I’ve heard many a voice in the stall next to me say, “Hello? Jean! How ya doing?” and then . . . Flush . . . yeah, nasty.) and the only kind of mail you got arrived on a piece of paper not a screen, break ups were out of site out of mind.

You just went to your bedroom and cranked up some Def Leopard until you were over it. You didn't sit your pining ass down at a computer and subject yourself to creeper confirmations that yes, look at that, the ex is now groping some brunette on a dance floor downtown and here is the pictorial evidence to seal your insanity.

So Mr. X BF. I no longer own a Def Leopard cd but I do have a delete key.


Maybe I could get used to this Facebook thing.

(So empowering.)

Oh, wait one second, I was just tagged in my friend’s album. And hot damn, I look good in that picture!

(So ego-feeding).

Oh, now look at this little nugget a friend just posted. Now, did I really need to know that about my neighbor’s husband?

(So T.M.I. But strangely intriguing . . . )

In other words.

I was soon hooked like a crack whore.

Before I knew it I’d arrived at a reality where my day just couldn’t begin until I knew what my cousin in New Jersey had had for breakfast. Or until I had checked my old college roommate’s status to see if she had survived her recent bout of malaria (drama queen, she has a cold). Or, of course, to see if anyone had sent me a Facebook email. (Forget my hotmail account. That inbox had nothing but crickets chirping in it. Facebook was my new communication command station.)

And guess what was worse?

I could get Facebook on my . . . are you sitting?


I was in social connection heaven.

In the car, at the mall, at the gym. Facebook went everywhere I did. I could literally update my status AND check on the status of all my “friends” any time, anywhere.

Ah, Facebook, my new love. My relationship with the universe.

Thankfully, as with any new situation, the infatuation soon wore off. Now, Facebook and I have settled into a comfortable routine. Our relationship has stabilized and matured. (I only check it in the mornings and evenings. I break the "not during work rule" only if I am tagged in a picture because that is an emergency situation. Because what if it isn't a flattering shot? I am single. That is defcon 5 in my world.)

The fact is I don’t really care what people are eating for breakfast anymore. And I really only update my status at a ridiculous rate when I am, say, snowed in during one mother of a blizzard. (Audra is baking bread pudding. Audra is playing Wii with her kids. Audra is making gingerbread cookies. Audra is cleaning her house (a little). Audra just consumed a huge pan of bread pudding. Followed by gingerbread cookies. Audra is on the couch by the fire moaning in agony. Audra now has a clean house but a very fat ass, the Wii was not enough to burn off 10 gingerbread cookies . . .and an entire pan of bread pudding . . . and so on, and so on. )

Now days, Facebook is the central location for me to post pictures and videos to share with friends and family. And yes, it does function as my main resource for learning what is going on in the larger world of those people I care most about.

I know some people use it as a dating service but I already tried and I am not going there. If I have actually met someone in the flesh, I will accept their friend request. But I ignore these perfect strangers who found me in someone else’s friend list and obviously thought, “ooh, long blonde hair…”.


And so, yes. Yes. I do have a Facebook page.

Because you know what?

Who doesn’t?

Today, December 14th, is the one year anniversary of the judge's signature on my divorce petition. Therefore, my next post, this Thursday, will be my last.

Divorce Land has come its natural end.

I started this blog because I am a writer. And writers, if we do one thing at all, we write. And at this emotionally paralyzing time in my life last year, I could think of nothing else to write about. My freelancing came to a grinding halt. The novel I was working on sat untouched.

Yet I probably had more to say than every before. And this blog allowed me the channel to say it.

I will publish my final post on Thursday. Thank you to everyone who came along for the ride.

This writer isn't done writing. So keep in touch . . . God bless, and yes, the book version of Divorce Land will be my next endeavor.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not slitting my wrists . . .

Sorry that everyone is concerned that my last few blog entries have been a little "Woe is me" . . . I am FINE!

Trust me...I am still me. I have a chalkboard in my kitchen where I write myself inspiring little "Pick me ups" and I am good. I do realize, right now in my life, it is not about what I don't have, it is about what I DO have.

And right now, I don't have a boyfriend. Oh well. What I DO have are two beautiful and hilarious daughters who have my undivided attention.

This is a gift.

And I do know it.

So just think of me as being a little "Elizabeth Gilbertson-ish" lately (as in "Eat, Pray, Love" . . . run, don't walk to Barnes and Noble if you have not yet read this book!)

Life is up, and life is down. And when I write it's a glimpse into a moment and a moment only.

And everyone has moments. I just put mine on the internet . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chapter Eighty Eight; My Empty Christmas

I sat down fully prepared to publish a humorous essay I’ve been working on about Facebook (Oh, who are we kidding: Stalkbook. Or, in some quasi-dating cases: Emotional Torture Device.)

But I will get to that one later.

Because right now I don’t feel like being funny.

It’s Christmas. It’s the one year anniversary of my divorce (yeah, happy Christmas to me last year, huh?) and I am facing my first Christmas without my children.

Like toys we are supposed to share, my ex and I toggle the children every other holiday. Last year I had them. This year he does.

I am dying.

Because without my daughters I am not sure how I am going to be able to breathe.

Oh sure, the ex and I have concocted a plan that our littlest one is referring to as “the fake Christmas” because we are going to celebrate Christmas one day early at my house.

But that kid is smart. Because she’s right.

It’s going to feel phony.

When all is said and done, my daughters will pack up their favorite pillows, books, and new Christmas clothes. And drive to Minneapolis with their Dad.

And I will hit the interstate for the familiar three hour drive back home to the farm.


I haven’t been to the farm by myself in years. Since I was 21-years-old, I’ve had a little person with me. And then later, two little people. Sometimes we would go without their Dad (duh, we ended up divorcing, we didn’t like to spend a lot of time together) but I always had my girls with me.

I always had my family.

I’ve had a baby screaming in my backseat for the entire three hour trip. And instead of losing my mind, I just marveled at the fact that I produced something that loud. I’ve had a toddler watch her favorite Barney episode on a portable VHS, over and over, the entire way. And I happily sang along, “I love you, you love me,” because I could celebrate the fact that even though yes, this was also hell, it was a few levels above that of an endlessly yowling infant.

And today, I have a teenager next to me who likes to think that the little movies she records on her camera of her Mom and sister rocking out down the highway will somehow bring her You Tube fame. (Laugh away. I make a mean Britney Spears when I am behind the wheel belting along to my Bose.)

But this Christmas.

I’ll make the drive once again. But the solitude of it will be anything but familiar.

Because when I do reach the farm, I am pretty sure the nagging feeling that I forgot something is not going to leave.

It will follow me in the wooden door. Through the kitchen over flowing with the scents of pumpkin bread, sugar cookies, and apple cider. Past the glowing Christmas tree in the living room corner. And up the creaky stairs to my childhood bedroom where my girls and I always stay together in the two big beds.

There will be no girly whoops of joy that we have arrived at Granny and Grandpa’s. No rushing back downstairs to sample the fudge. And no diving under the Christmas tree to identify who has more presents.

It will just be me.

Silently setting my suitcase onto one of the freshly made beds.

Less sheets for my mom to wash I guess.

And right now, that’s about as far as I can go with this. Because I can’t even imagine how the rest of it will play out. Christmas Eve dinner, opening presents with my parents, seeing all of my high school classmates and their intact families at church that night.

All I do know is that this will be a deafening silent childless Christmas.

And I think the only sound that will break it will be on Christmas Eve when I return home from midnight mass.

To that empty silent room.

And choke back my tears.

Because yeah, I'll have my mom's fudge and lots of gifts. But that isn't Christmas.

Christmas. Is love.

And I will be missing the biggest pieces of it in my life this year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

There's only one thing to say after "Oh my aching heart . . ."

And that would be?

"Oh, my aching head."

Well. I am not sure how "Let's go to a movie!" turns into a night where Audra downs enough vodka to make a sailor puke and then dances her blonde head off until 2AM.

Damn corrupting friends.

God. I love ya.

And I had to sing at church on Sunday. By then, I was fine, but still. It took me two days to recover.

Good gawd.

Here's a little public thank you to all my friends who made me laugh this week and told me I am not an idiot, even though, I am perty sher, yep, I am.

Also, a public thank you to ERGG. You're the perfect dinner date, because there will never be leftovers. Thanks for listening and thank you for your friendship.

I mean really, if I can text you, "I have hiccups and I have to pee," at 1AM . . . well, obviously, our friendship is cemented in TMI.

So here's to everyone who swooped in this week when my idiotness was hanging out for all the world to see.

I'll write a real essay tomorrow, blogarama fans. . . because I have heard, good things come to those who wait.