Dana’s Story, Part 4

Russell started work the day after we arrived home in our new apartment. I spent the day unpacking, finding a grocery store and stocking up. I hated driving in the Chicago’s traffic, plus I had to take everything up an elevator. I saw another resident with a cart and put it on my list of things to buy. 

Russell was home at 6:00, pleased to find dinner almost ready and wine chilling in the fridge. He poured himself a glass and turned on the television only commenting the his day was “Alright” after I asked him. Other than that, there wasn’t much conversation. Nothing about how my day was, where I found the groceries, how nice the place looked. Nothing. I poured myself a large glass of wine and went to the kitchen to finish dinner, remembering that he hadn’t talked much when we were dating and realized I probably shouldn’t expect anything different.

The next days and weeks went by with studying for the bar exam which I had signed up to take in late August. Some days I went out exploring the area, looking in the windows of expensive shops on Michigan Avenue, strolling along Lake Michigan, and enjoying almond croissants and dark coffee at a Parisian bakery a block from the apartment.

Russell was already working nine and ten hour days five days a week and a few hours on Saturday as well. He was too tired to go out much, and thankfully didn’t want to have sex very much. We managed to go to a few movies and have dinner out  every so often. I managed to drag him to The Art Institute one Saturday and I could tell he was bored silly. We left early but I went back a week later during the week, by myself, and spent all day there viewing the amazing collection of art and wishing deep down that I had studied art instead of law.

I began looking for work, dropping my resume off at various law offices that did family law, especially divorce cases. I was particularly interested in working with women. Of course I would have to pass the bar first. 

August came and I took the exam, patiently awaiting the results for a week of hand wringing anticipation. I received the registered letter on a Friday morning, set it on the kitchen counter and stared at it for a long time before I mustered up the courage to open it. I had passed. I was now licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois. 

I called Russell at work, which he had told me never to do, but I was so excited I did anyway. He was in a meeting and was not to be disturbed. So I called my parents who acted like, ‘why wouldn’t you pass it?’ I opened a bottle of wine and waited for Russell to come home. He called at 6:00 and said he was going to have dinner with a client and would be home late. I didn’t bother to tell him my news. I ordered out for pizza, finished the bottle of wine watching a Netflix movie. Such was my celebration.

Dana’s Story, Part 3

I had never been to a city like Chicago. I was shocked and un-nerved by the busyness, the tall buildings, all the people. Our apartment was located a few blocks from Russell’s bank. I wasn’t close to anything which made no difference since I had no job. The apartment was on the tenth floor with big windows, but all I could see were other buildings. It was nice, not very spacious, but plenty big enough for our needs. We bought what furniture was essential for the bedroom, living room, and kitchen plus a desk for Russell in the second bedroom. Both our parents had given things like lamps, dishes, and some other necessities. Neither of us had any  idea about setting up a house but it sort of came together.

The next step was the wedding. Both Russell and I wanted a small, quiet simple affair, but, of course, my parents wanted to invite half the republican Party and Russell’s parents covered half of eastern Iowa, so the guest list was huge, most of these people neither of us knew or had ever met. If it were up to us, we would have had maybe a dozen or so people that we even knew, a few relatives, a few college acquaintances and maybe some high school friends.

Be that as it may, the invitations were sent. I had my dress, my mother had hers. We had the rings and managed to find a best man and bridesmaid, Russell had a guy he knew from high school and I, from law school. I had few friends and Russell had even fewer.

Since I was from the middle of the state and Russell was less that sixty miles from the eastern side of the state, we elected to have the celebration in the small college town of Grinnell right on Interstate 80, midway between, so there would be an easy drive for our guests.

The day came, we did the ceremony, there was a huge reception where we received congratulations from people who we didn’t know until we were tired of standing. We clumsily did the first dance, cut the cake and did all the right things to placate our parents. Then it was over at 12:30 A.M. 

Russell and I took turns undressing and putting on our pajamas in the bathroom as we were too uncomfortable and embarrassed to do it in front of each other. Russell was pretty drunk and fell into bed, instantly asleep. I crawled in, maintaining as much distance as I could from him in the king size bed. I lay awake a long while thinking about what I had done and wondering what the future might hold. I felt relieved that we had postponed the sex.

We flew out of Des Moines the next day for our honeymoon in Cancun. Russell had insisted we be by the ocean and wanted to go down to a resort there. I told him it was summer and would be really hot. It was in the high eighties and he got sunburned the first day on the beach and was miserable. 

We tried to have sex for the first time on the second night. He just got on top of me, shoved himself into me. It hurt like a hot poker was being rammed into me. He was inside of me for about a minute, grunted, his body stiffening, and rolled off, rolled over and went to sleep. That was far from what those books had told me. It was certainly not pleasurable but painful and messy. We had sex once more that week and it was awful and painful every time we did it from then on. I hated sex but felt it my duty as a wife.

I spent most of the honeymoon studying for the Illinois bar exam and Russell spent his reading through a bundle of information from his new employer, most of the time being spent indoors because the sun was so blistering hot. I would have just as soon been back home in our new place in Chicago.

God Has Left

God has left the building . . .

How was her performance?

Was there a sing along?

Did she have the harp band?

Or solo with her guitar?

Did she wear her black gown

with the high collar?

Or her white suit with flowers?

Was there screaming?

Was there gnashing of teeth?

Was the crowd wearing sackcloth?

Who cleaned up the ashes?


Sorry I missed . . .

Maybe I’ll catch the next show.

Or . . . maybe not.

Seven Angels

Seven Angels flitted ‘round my brain

as sweet butterflies of light might

lighten my darkness in deep nights

of existential despair.


Seven Sisters of Pleiades suffer

from the heavens of Taurus to 

salve the desire to return to 

my souls nakedness.


Hyades comfort me while Athena

protects me when Atlas shrugs

as he holds this lonely blue planet

above with its eternal turmoil.

Dana’s Story, Part 2

Russell was like me in many ways, studious, smart, and very driven, no, I should say, extremely driven, to succeed after he got his MBA, determined to make a million dollars by the time he reached thirty. I hadn’t ever really dated many guys so I guessed that was a good thing, like all guys were like that. But he was nice and treated me with respect. He was the first guy I ever kissed. I think I was the first woman he ever kissed and it was awkward, very awkward. But I felt safe with him because we were the same.

We got on well together, spending as much time with each other as we could, considering our huge study loads. I went with him a few times to his family’s farm. His parents, like mine seemed to be conservative. The first time I met them, his mother ran me through the wringer with her questions, frightening me. She seemed pushy and overwhelming and I didn’t like her at all. His brother Donny came across as a pompous ass, but his sister, Karen, seemed sweet, but very shy. With Russell being the youngest, it surprised me that both siblings still lived at home. Russell explained that Donny, the oldest, worked on the farm and Karen worked for the local implement dealer. Russell explained that, being there were few if any places for a single person to rent in the small town, she still camped out with her parents.

I think we both felt that this might be the best we could do, so we decided to get married, making both sets of parents happy, seeing we were both marrying well educated partners and should get on quite well in our lives. 

There wasn’t any pre-marital sex. I wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. When I got up the courage to ask my mother, she just scoffed and said it was just the woman’s duty to satisfy her husband’s needs and dropped the subject. I knew about sex to a degree, but had no idea about the mechanics of it all so I found two books explaining men, women, and sex. I thought the whole thing rather strange, exposing yourself like that, but it was supposed to be pleasurable . . . that remained to be seen. It all sounded disgusting.

I made the Law Revue and would graduate fourth in my class. Several prestigious law firms, two in Des Moines, one each in Minneapolis and Kansas City, and one in Cedar Rapids were recruiting me. But Russell wanted to go to Chicago even though I was all ready to take the Iowa Bar since I would have liked to stay in the state. But he was offered a great position at a financial bank and he scoffed at wanting to stay in Iowa and not wanting to go to either Missouri or Minnesota. So Chicago it was. My opportunities were dismissed and I thought that was the way things were supposed to be between husband and wife. I began to study for the Illinois Bar.

Our wedding date was set for the end of June so we could get settled in Chicago before and have a weeks honeymoon before he went to work. I would try to find some sort of position somewhere. Russell’s new employer gave him a nice signing package and a great beginning salary so we were able to nicely afford the honeymoon trip and a nice apartment in pricey downtown Chicago. 

While he was on top of the world with his new work, I was not, being  apprehensive about my future, what I might find, where I might end up.