Saturday, October 31, 2009

No more please, thank you...

Was about all I could say as I was offered my sweet potato french fries - I mean they are good and all, but I figured that frying sweet potatoes removed just about every ounce of nutritional value from them, and the four pounds of seasoned salt that was dumped on top of them probably negated whatever was left...I had the perfect intention of getting on the treadmill, but the grease has congealed in the bottom of my stomach, and the miralax (draino for the common man) needs to loosen up the works before I hit the road...The Gators game is on, and I have absolutely no patience for 'Gid Em Gators" or "Dad Gum You caint let dem due dat to dem der Gators" or my seasonal favorite "Gimee a beer and Go Gators..." - I am not quite sure where my animosity stems from, perhaps it is the obnoxious gaggles of fans that invade Jacksonville every year with their orange and blue hats and skirts and boxer shorts and plaid bermuda shorts accented with pink and blue and orange polo shirts - perhaps it is that it seems like every attorney in Jacksonville went to, slept with, married, divorced, bore children with, or lived in a trailer park with a Florida Gator - maybe it is just that I really have a hard time with the Florida Fans - now I know that lumps them into a category all their own - but for those of you who have not had the honor of strolling through Gainesville on a sunny day, you just have no idea what I am talking about.  Picture a backwards southern town, with a huge school dumped in the middle of it - and I bet if you did the research, that literacy would be seasonal...but in respect for the awesome academic and athletic programs, I say Go Gators - and pray that my children select University of Central Florida as their alma mater...(I just can't imagine the football games with the former in-laws and having to hear my son say "Go Gators")..

So I started this post to talk about those things that I really don't want anymore of - you know, those things that you have hit your limit on - but then I took a break and  toted my daughter off to the nail salon to get a pedicure - I have never had one before, and thoroughly enjoyed having my feet scrubbed, rubbed, massaged, and scraped for about half an hour. They actually feel a bit naked now, the years of funk removed in one fell swoop, I think the grimace on the poor ladies face was enough to let me know that perhaps next time, I should at least try to clip the inch long toe nails before going to one of those places.  I did not partake in the lime green toe nail polish my daughter selected - not enough to drink prior to going I suppose, but maybe tonight I will put on some silk frillies and paint the dogs.  So anyway, things that I don't want anymore of:

1.  I really dont want anymore of those cookies with silk screened decorations on them.  Not only do they taste like they have been wallpapered - but eating pictures of your family or children has a perverse affect on me.

2.  I don't want explanations of why I was a bad husband from the miserable married people.  I KNOW why I was a bad husband - and I also know that the more I watch your overweight spouse shove three been chili dip into their gullet and wash it down with beer, that I am somewhat happy that I do not have to sleep next to or with that gas maker...sure, lonliness does occassionally set in, but that is what facebook and internet porn are for.

3.  I don't want to see anymore credit counseling commercials on cable television.  Why, because if you are that broke, you should probably not have cable, unless of course, you are ingenious enough to back the U-Haul underneath the phone pole, removed the signal block, add a splitter, and somehow get it for free (disclaimer: I am not speaking from personal experience).

4.  I don't want to listen to folks have conversations with their ex whatevers.  I prefer to wallow in my own misery and failure, and prefer not to have to share that very wonderful expression of hatred with you -

5.  I don't want to go to Walmart - ever ever ever.  Fat children being beat by their fat parents as they not only get the latest "Obama Sucks" t-shirts, but also the 144 pack of "Reduced Fat Jello Pudding Packs" is just not for me.  I prefer the thrift store - it seems like the folks there have just enough money to have a little humility, and are a hell of alot nicer.

6.  I don't want toothless carnies attacking my manhood when I can't shoot the red star off the paper card, can't throw a softball into a milk can, or get a ring around a bottle.  You are a carnie for christ's sake - when you finish getting the 31 teeth replaced, come see me, but in the interim, have another Cobra Draft, some funnel cake, and get back to loading the damn trucks.

7.  I don't want anyone to put the cell phone down when they are talking to me.  I would prefer they just hang up, finish shooting their heroin, drinking their beer, whatever - but don't put the cell phone down - just because they are portable does not mean that they are polite.

8.  I don't want to be patronized - just tell me like it is - after 38 years, I am pretty sure I have heard - Youre fired, I don't like you, you smell bad, that was a stupid idea, no green cords don't match with red plaid flannel shirts - enough times to take what you have to say to me - so say it damn it.

9.  I don't want to use hotel toilet paper anymore.  I carry a stash of Charmin with me - four years of constant travel, and the one consistent partner I can count on is a roll of lotion enriched toilet paper (now even softer!)

10.  Finally, I don't want to miss goals being scored, runs batted in, school dances, straight A's, medicine time, bedtime, girl scouts, boy scouts, Starbucks breakfast, mowing the grass, pedicures, or just anything that has to do with my kids.  That's what it comes down to - I don't want many things- but most of all, I don't want to miss the important things....

I don't want to write anymore - I think the miralax is kicking in, and that means there is a window of opportunity to not only lose a few pounds, but potentially clear out my stomach before I have to have another round of sweet potato something or others...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I will now demonstrate…

If there was a nickel in my pocket for every time I heard that from a flight attendant (I don’t know what the politically correct term anymore for these folks is, I am not sure if there is a gender specific term – for example, is a female flight attendant a flight attendess, a male a flight attendant, a hermaphrodite a flight attendantdess) – but to prevent digression and straying away from the real content that eventually will become apparent to you (I hope – it is not yet apparent to me) I will get back on point, and simply say if I had a nickel for every time I was about to go through how to put on an oxygen mask, how to wear a life vest, and how to buckle a seat belt, I would probably have at least ten dollars – and that, plus a couple of those Biscoff crackers would get me through about 3/4ths of an inflight drink. I guess I will digress for a minute – these flights to Canada get a little tiresome – generally, I take the 7:21 flight out of Jacksonville – that flight is easy, it is mostly the seasoned and bored business travelers just ready to get the week underway, and not be bothered – then I sit in Atlanta for an hour – you know the spot, Terminal A, Budweiser Room, but I drink draft Coors Light. I board the 9:32 Toronto flight, a flying cardboard tube that they like to call a Canadair Region Jet 200 – I would hate to have flown on the 100, or perhaps I would have thoroughly enjoyed it, because if they sit us any closer together, then it is an orgy in the skies. I almost feel like I should be able to pull into a rental car lot and ask for the CRJ 200 – and be told that there are upgrades available – but then again, with all of the subsidies that the airlines get these days, I understand how difficult it is to actually provide a little more comfort than a Greyhound Bus in the skies (the really great news is that now I am a Delta Platinum Member – typically, that means you are entering into, well through, or done with a divorce, have a slight to moderate drinking problem, see your home two to five days per month, and may occasionally like to wear women’s clothing. I have not quite figured out what perks it affords me, because I was still stuffed next to the 600 pound tire tread engineer who thought it was fascinating the way that All Season Radials are marketed in the States, and even after moving, I can still hear him chuckling to himself with his brilliant line “All Season Radials mean “No Season Radials” – I hope I did not offend him by going and wedging myself into the bulkhead seat, but then again his arrogance probably comes from a long line Eugenics supporters and his superiority refuses to acknowledge that not everyone is too terribly interested in discussing wear marks in steel belted tires…especially while his stomach bounces into your lap with every slight bit of turbulence…)I guess I should preface those remarks (or finish those remarks) with a little self deprecation – I was sitting on the bed this morning, fresh out of the shower, and coughed, and my stomach moved like a bowl of Jello at a Baptist Revival – it convinced me that taking two weeks off from the gym was probably not the best weight management program, nor did it serve to make me feel any better when I wedged my fat ass into a pair of dress slacks as a test run before packing. I guess this week there will be no room service, I will eat the free mints from the lobby, and boxes of Raisin Bran until the only left to poop is my tongue – (I think we all know what I am talking about here – the Raisin Bran diet is the most effective diet in the world – it is the only enema that you eat) Now that you have that mental image of me shoving a box of cereal up my ass…let’s move on.

Domestic and North American flying has really become a royal pain in the ass. I very rarely meet an employee who looks or even feigns happiness – tonight I followed three flight attendesses with one flight attedantdess (now I am not a homophobe, nor am I expressing any negative connotations or derogatory remarks – hell, I tended bar at a gay nightclub in college) - but this individual should have been waltzing down a runway in the latest avant garde or couture fashion being offered – it was a swishing floating walk with hands and knee jerks and twitches – it was a little bit unsettling) who did nothing but bitch about the way Northwest and Delta rosters were going to be rolled together and they were going to have to find out if they could still fly four days a week to make a living. Now, I am not quite sure what all of that is about, but I can assure you, that if I were to walk into an acquisition and raise hell about the company that feeds my family – that my career would be short lived – but apparently, it is okay for a Delta employee to randomly stroll through Atlanta and complain incessantly about the folks who are paying their bills. Now those attitudes carry over into the swollen ankles that storm their way down the aisles with their drink carts, taking extra care to nail the shit of your funny bone, or the sleeping babies seat – if you are not happy, get another job – if your pissed, talk to your union rep, but in the interim, at least act like you give a shit, and don’t give me that crap that you are there for safety reasons – my guess is that empty cans of diet coke and snack packets are going to do very little as the panicked passengers on a burning plane rush past you through any opening they can find. (Don’t get me wrong, not all of the folks I come across are like this – the folks in Jacksonville, they are extremely nice – and have always been helpful – it is just when you hit the fatherland of Atlanta that you enter into the world of “Go Fuck Yourself – you fly Delta” – and the bad news is, they are the absolute best that I can find – the moral of the story, when offered a pile of shit for dinner, make sure to take the one with whipped cream on top)

Back to travel these days. Not everyone can understand it quite like those folks who do it every day – it is sort of like my marriage was – you just get resigned to the fact that you have no control, that you can make comments and suggestions, but in all reality the planes are going to sit on the runway like the piles of laundry, the help desk folks are going to be just as cold as those half cooked dinners, and you are going to have to just do it yourself if you plan on finding another route or getting laid. It is pretty much the standard these days – maybe apathy in many places has begun to take over much of what we do – I mean the cynic in me (I know you find it hard to believe that I am a cynic) – usually takes over, but I keep my comments reserved to a little read blog in the corner of the web (at last check you all had clicked on three adds, earning my blog a whopping three cents this month – thank you.) Then there is the activist in me that says I should stand up, raise a little hell in a professional way, and demand respect – but the last guy who did that was politely escorted into a little room and came out drooling with a red tag on his wrist. What can you do about it? I have written letter after letter. I have made phone call after phone call. I have even invited management to fly with me, incognito, just as a business traveler – but they are on private jets, and have very little, if anything to do with us folks – it is always nice to get the upgrade, and then watch the staff fiddle around with the inflight entertainment system until finally they realize that no one really knows what they are doing, it is always nice to walk into a clean lavatory and realize that there must have been a run on paper towels, it is nice to ask for a can of diet coke, and get it, along with one or two pieces of semi-melted ice. It is that half-assed mentality that I just don’t understand – give half the service, and hope that there is a plane full of optimists. Perhaps that is just a reflection of society in general. Give half of your best, and see what happens. Apparently, the tire tread engineer will never do that, he is actually talking with someone else about the virtues of good rubber on the road – holy crap, I really feel sorry for those folks back there – I suspect by now, I would have said, “Sir, my father was killed by a Michelin defective tire, and you have dredged up terrible memories. I would kindly ask you to please silence yourself so that I may reflect on the positive things about my loving and caring Dad versus being reminded of the failures of a tire tread engineer somewhere in your world”. I know that probably would have made him feel pretty bad, but it may (it MAY) have just quieted him down enough for me to enjoy the rest of my two hour flight.

I think my ass is asleep, or my backbone is coming through one of my cheeks – is it really weird to fly with one of those rubber o-rings to sit on? Anyway – the photograph, that’s me, and the plane on which I fly – I don’t know if you noticed or not, but my computer is at a 20 degree angle because the tray table is broken – not totally broken- just half broken – it’s a good thing I am an optimistic cynic – one day they may fix the damn thing, but for now, it will just have to do.

Until next time….


Twenty years and counting…revisted..

The paragraphs below, I wrote in March of this year – long before I was really sure what was going on – and what I really felt, and how much I really mattered – I suspected for a long time that the answer to the questions above amounted to very little and nothing – but I still thought it a healthy exercise to write these things down. Seven months later – I am not so sure. You learn a large amount about a person during a trial when there is pressure – you also learn too much about your own limits and boundaries, and occasionally you fall across them in raging and brilliant fashion. You lose your temper, you lose your objectivity, and in the end, you come very close to losing all and any compassion that may have been left. Marriage is a tough trade – Divorce is just as tough – but through both, they test your strength – and from my perspective, you come out the back end much better – anyway – you can read on if you like – they are memories and maybe one day, my kids will read them and know that it was just not a phase or a fad – but that time and distance and apathy can do strange things to two people…most of all they can also do good things to people, and I can confidently say that although the memories below are good ones - the bad ones are there as well - and for the most part, those are the winners, the good ones are too few and far between, but everyone needs a reminder every now and again.

That is a long time. Almost too long to remember many things now that there is a torrent of water that fell under this bridge that I am crossing, now – that I am crossing with and without Christy, and it is certainly got about as much stability as an old rope bridge that you see in those Indiana Jones movies – something always creates the fall, burns the ropes, and a few natives get fried in the process (or run through with really sharp painful jungle weapons). The past six months has been about negatives – all of them are highlighted, all of them have the ability to send me into fits of rage and confusion and pain – but none of them, and I mean none of them, right now overshadow the past twenty years – people grow together, people grow apart, and then people have the ability to destroy one another – and that is an ability that I never realized I had – until recently.

Anger is not a very fair way of dealing with divorce – and even if it is a misunderstanding, it is not the place to seek any refuge. I have, twice now, gone into an evil, dark, disgusting place – and let myself do it – why, because it was easier – and frankly, that’s why I am getting divorced now – it was easier to ignore things, bottle things, distract and confuse – and not face the issues head on – that was the easy way out. Letting my anger take over the parts of me that are good – is where I have been – not where I want to go.

I met Christy (notice I say I met Christy – she had no idea who I was) while I was skinny dipping in her swimming pool the night before the first night of classes at Florida State. She peeked her head over her fenced in porch (where I would later spend a great deal of time) and yelled at all of us butthorns to quiet down – it did not work – but little did I know that I just had my first encounter with my future wife. One of my friends lived in her apartment complex – I don’t know that I would call him a friend, he was a little cheesy, a little weird, and a little too old to still be in college – his name escapes me, but obviously it was not that important – what is important is that we went out one night to Club Park Avenue – a trendy college nightclub – just to do what us community college kids did – waste both brain cells and time – but I met a beautiful girl – she was wearing a black skirt, and a white broadcloth cotton shirt with embroidered black lines on the shoulders, and she came up to me, and we giggled – good giggling – both of us had enough to drink that we were able to get over that initial nervousness and lack of confidence that I had, and we danced – she wasn’t a great dancer, and I was not a great conversationalist – but it worked well, because she asked questions, I told nervous jokes, and tried to make it light and easy. How she could have picked me was beyond me – but we ended up going to my home (which was conveniently and wonderfully located across the street – considering I had no car, no income, and pretty much no future….more on that later) – and she crashed on the couch – I still remember Dru Jensen coming out and saying, “Who is that girl out there on the couch?” – well, little did we know that blonde haired, blue-green-grey eyed girl would be my wife, the mother of our children, my best friend, and now someone that I need to work with and through to get us both to a healthier, happier place.
Tallahassee was a fun time. It was a new time to all of us, I loved going to football games, I loved going to the Late Night Library and dancing and laughing for endless hours – we fell in love in an easier and simpler time, but we did it together – and miraculously, being with her made me a better person.
Moving from Tallahassee to California was a new experience for both of us – Christy was in Fernandina doing her internship at Amelia Island – and taking care of the dog that spent fifteen years of his life with us – and we must have talked for hours on the telephone about what was happening and where we were headed and how things were going to work. Before I left, her parents threw a huge birthday bash – and that was the start of our new life together – I got on a greyhound bus, Christy went to finish her internship, and Bell South was happy to have us as customers…I still have photographs of that puppy and Christy in a gold silk shirt and blue jeans on the dunes at Hannah Park- still one of my favorite photos and memories – our last day for both of us before we moved on, we moved on together, but in completely different places. California for me, was a world of new experiences. I spent six months there living with my parents, going to school, working, trying to get things together, trying to prepare – and it was a wonderful day when Christy moved out there – granted, my Southern Baptist mom charged me every time I stayed out at Christy’s little apartment behind the Wienerschnitzel, but it was worth the five bucks – I got to spend time with Christy and we got to be a couple.
Some of my favorite times were skiing – we drove to Big Bear almost every weekend, the most memorable was the first time – I stood atop a green run that now to me would look more like a speed bump, and pouted, took off my skis and proceeded to storm down the hill – by the end of that weekend, Christy had me skiing like a true beginner – and laughing about my fear – early on, I had easy confidence, but a great deal of fear – Christy had no fear, and some tough issues with confidence – but together, we got through it. We stayed at the Robin Hood Hotel in Big Bear – the Davy Crockett Lodge – complete with coonskin cap – I remember laying in the ice in the 7-11 parking lot and trying to figure out how the hell you are supposed to install tire chains (we, both being the Floridians that we were, eventually figured it out, but not without both of us being soaked to the bone and very very cold…) times were difficult in California, but it was never too difficult to go camping, hang out all hours with Eilleen and Todd, go to the beach, it was just living – almost like a summer camp for older kids – Christy actually worked at a summer camp for underprivileged children in the mountains of Julian, we used to ride up, she would cry about the children who had parents that had less skill than Warren Jeffs at creating a safe environment – we made love in the desert after driving by the Salten Sea – it was eerie – abandoned, but beautiful – one of my fondest memories – and road trips. Christy and I were different then – we were younger, more adventurous, thought we had the world by the balls, and in all reality – we did. California ended about as quietly as it began- Christy moved to Orlando to start a paralegal class at Rollins College, I stuck around for a few more months to finish school – and with Christy’s help and support, I actually made it into a four-year college, found a job, and had my first real taste of responsibility in Orlando….
It was always clear that Christy wanted the best for me, I did not necessarily always want the best for me, I just wanted – but Christy had a gentle way of moving me in the right direction – I have the photograph of us sitting on the infamous love futon (most of our relatives, friends, co-workers, etc at one time or another did the nasty on that futon, I actually still believe it is in my brother in laws house). We had a great little place, Uncle Bud and Aunt Joe – the gay couple, were our landlords and neighbors, we both worked hard, Christy at an Insurance Company, me at the Olive Garden and CF unloading trucks – we made ends meet, we fixed the car when we were broke, we did what we could to have as much fun as we could – we would go to Howl at the Moon at Church Street and Christy would laugh – not a controlled laugh – but big healthy laughter that filled the bar – she could not sing a note – I used to joke that it hurt my teeth – but in a way, it was good to hear her sing – she always smiled when she sang. I played rugby, Christy was patient with that, I worked too much, Christy was understanding of that, I slept most of the other times – Christy was patient with that – I did not have the traditional college experience – but one spring break, she took me to Big Daddy Don Garlitz’s Drag Racing Hall of Fame – to give me a more traditional experience – it was good. Most everything was good then – we were in touch with one another, loved to be together, and were growing closer and closer and closer….Christy and I were worth the time. Christy deserved the time – I saved money in a sock for not the best diamond – but for a diamond – the biggest thing I had ever purchased in my life – too bad the sock smelled like Olive Garden Soup and Salad – but she was worth every penny – we had a life together – I knew it, was confident, and I loved what she was, and I loved the way we felt together. It was a good time in both of our lives – we were in love. Deeply in love, and ready to be husband and wife. We were ready to spend our time together – Christy made me a better person, I made her a better person, and together we were happy, strong, and most of all, we were just together.

First Coast Grill is no longer there, and last time I drove by, the swing on the front porch is gone – but that’s where it happened – that’s where I got down on one knee, and asked Christy to be my wife. I asked for her to be my wife forever, to be my friend forever, to be my companion forever. I wanted and needed that – there was never any force or questioning – we had been together for about three years, and it would be another two before the bells rang – I remember how wide she smiled and that smile, although not there as much – time and pain has a way of taking that away, still takes me back to that day – the reason why I asked – the happiness that we felt together. Even now, with all of the things that have been said and done, there is that smile – and there were plenty of them years ago – we both smiled, we both cared, and simply put – there was a We. That day was one of the most important days of my life – I was afraid, overwhelmed, in over my head – I had a beautiful woman, who loved me more than anything, who was willing and strong enough to challenge me – and was soft enough to work with me – and help –
You know, writing about these things make me happier – makes me stronger – maybe that book I was supposed to write years ago should have been a better book, a more pleasant book, something that I could have reflected on during those times when I asked myself why – but hindsight is twenty/twenty – and much like the twenty years, I can’t change any of those – sure, there are things that I would change – there are things that I would do different – so I challenge myself now to do that – I don’t know the exact time things went wrong, I don’t know when the words above were pushed aside as less important – I just don’t know – that is painful, and even more painful to reincarnate those memories that seem like someone else’s life – not mine –
For now, I have to put this blog down – I need to breathe a little bit – daydreaming about those memories and realizing that in three days I am going to end those memories – not an easy thing to do – they will always be there, and much like moving forward, I want those to be the guide and the gameplan – not ghosts that plague my mind with what if’s and why’s.

Still crazy after all these years…

So the gym was as exciting as most hotel gyms are – there was another middle aged heavy set guy who could have been my twin, slightly balding, pudgy, starting to grey, fighting off the boredom of sitting in a hotel room and eating another one of those meals – the energy to discuss hotel room dining fare is not what I sat down for – so let’s see if I can pick it up where I left off – before my legs atrophy and my mind follows suit. The better part of today was spent gleaning through lines of data – sometimes life is easier to look at through data – if you just take the facts and separate the emotions, life is easy, you cut, paste, sort, find, replace, add, concatenate, you just work the data….
First Coast Grill has long since been torn down, but the ocean is still there – the ocean always was close early on – I graduated from college, got the worst job any human being should have trudging along on a trucking dock from nine pm until basically two pm the next day – Christy’s was no better, working at the stodgy law firm downtown dealing with attorneys for attorneys – they were both decent paying jobs, and we had what we needed. Family was close, they were healthy, and pretty much, they let us do our thing – we were still independent from them, and I think there was still some distance. We lived in a little brick house on Arcadia Place in San Marco – Christy let me paint one room the worst shade of green you have ever seen – I always wanted a green room, and she let me have it. As much as I think she hated it, I think she was proud of it – it was my space, and I was happy with it. Christy used to sit in some Adirondack furniture that we picked up in Orlando- there was a small screened in patio, and she would sit out there and read, it was the fall, and it was cool enough to enjoy that time outside with Comet sitting on the end of the lounger, and Christy reading a book, having a beer, or just relaxing. We still had the infamous futon, and a little yard, and we had everything that we needed. I still laugh about Christy coming home from work to find me asleep in the bathtub or on the toilet or on the floor – the job was hell, but in my mind, I thought that was what jobs were supposed to be – and I questioned why I ever wasted my time going to college – it was hell, plain and simple, and Christy understood that. We kept our lives pretty simple then – we had friends that we would meet, we would spend time with family, we would go on the occasional trip, we would work on the house, we never went to movies – I know Christy hated that, we just never did that. Arcadia Place seems such a long time ago – now I just know it as the house near my counselors office, but then, it was home – you know there is a stack of photographs in my apartment, and one of my favorites is there, Christy, in a long denim dress and boots, Comet on the end of the lounger, Christy grinning – and relaxing. I think back, and it was easier to relax then – for both of us, I had not dug a financial pit, I had not begun working too many hours and giving up my family time for work, I really don’t think I had started falling apart – I was still George and Christy, and things were not only fine, but they were simple and good. We were not making a ton of money, but we still had enough, we did things that we wanted to do, and had enough – I don’t know where or when my sense of inadequacy kicked in, it did eventually, it is hard to pinpoint where – but it certainly was not in that place.
I walked off the dock one day, and just quit my job. I did – I hated it. I hated it with more passion – I could not see myself being a zombie the rest of my life, working on a trucking dock for another five years to maybe get promoted to the day shift manager – it was not for me – Christy worked too hard, I worked too hard – and I had no time – I used to cry – physically cry – when coming back from a vacation – because I had to go into that hell hole, and spend another night with dust and boxes and trucks – it was the worst. I think that is the first sign that I received from my in-laws about decisions – I made them quickly, instinctively, and impulsively – they were scared, unsure, and I can’t say happy about it – I remember the response – and the embarrassment I felt when they talked with me about it- in some ways they were right – it was irresponsible, but it was killing me. It turned out to be good and bad – within a week, I was working for a small railroad consulting firm out of Orange Park – a job that led to my current career – and I learned very quickly that if you work hard, you read, you push – then maybe you can move up – for me, the financial rewards were fantastic – I could actually afford my first new car, and we moved into a small starter home that we built – for us, it was like a mansion – we decorated it together, we entertained in it together, we spent time with our friends there, and had our family over. We had probably overextended ourselves, but it was fun sitting on the floor of the model home looking over carpet samples and Formica counter tops – it was exciting to go by the house and see the frame going up then the sheet rock – we knew this was our place – and we wanted a new, clean, fresh place. We both worked hard at it – we both did what we could, and then, I think that is when I made probably one of the worst decisions of my life- I took a short term assignment with the consulting firm in St. Louis – why, I don’t really know – it was an opportunity I guess to move on, to see something different, to progress – none the less, I went – and was introduced to the worst habit I have ever been introduced to in my life – but that is another story for another time –
I am done writing these memoirs for now – I am less than three weeks away from the divorce hearing – and just reopened this after about six months of letting it sit – and there has been enough recounting memories for me, enough to last a lifetime – I don’t have much energy or compassion left to put these things down on paper – and perhaps that is what the legal process is intended to do – create an adversarial situation that reduces whatever may have been there into a stack of papers and folders – it has taken a year – but I can testify to the facts as I see them – and there is nothing left – pretty much done – there are two beautiful children, a house that I still own, and a much better road ahead – not too much to invest in looking backwards…

Until next time,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The memory ain't as good as it used to be...

I can't really think of much that I have not written about over the past three years of beating the hell out of the keyboard - my edit posts screen looks like a homeless guy's shopping cart with bits and pieces of stuff that are not quite complete, a little dirty, and probably not very useful - I suppose I could go in there and add a few witty comments and publish them for grins - but that is actually like work - I bet that is why real authors have editors - so they don't have to go back through the process of reading their own shit later...I raise my Coors Light to the Edit Posts screen.

Skype is pretty damn cool - I have the most outdated computer in the world, but with a couple of band-aids, some duct tape, and an occassional kick to the hard drive - it seems to do a pretty good job - but I set up the Skype thingy - and although I am electronically challenged, managed to tape my webcam to the top of my monitor (I used some stickers from my daughters arts and craft book) and figured out how to get the picture just blurry enough so that I look ten years younger (or just too old to know how to adjust the focus on the thing). I got my first skype video call, and you know you feel really comfortable with someone when there is just some happiness from seeing them speak to you - it still sucks, not quite the same as sitting at the Gas Works talking over a Venti Americano and some pretzels - but you can see them smile and grimace and just see them - I give it a two thumbs up. Of course my mind has already thought of the socially deviant things I can do with it, but since my computer is in the middle of my apartment - probably not a really good idea (unless it is really really dark....)

The nights are starting to get cool in this corner of Florida - and tonight, as I tucked in my little girl, I had glimpses of those cold evenings and making ice in the backyard and holidays. The good thing about getting older, is that your brain gets full - whether it is full of garbage or work or just plain shit to work through - some of the memories just go away. Indiscrimanate - random - they just drift off somewhere. Strangely enough I can keep phone numbers from years ago and ex-girlfriends, I can keep calorie counts for McDonald's menus in there - but where do the other ones go? Early this morning, I woke up in a panic - we went to Anastasia Island last night - a regular routine these days - to share a little time with Mr. Aaron and Ms. Monica - and after the fireworks and food and drums and music - I crawled onto the futon next to my son, and went to sleep thinking of places that I have been - places that have filled the 92% that I talk about - and really struggled with where they all were - sure, physically they are still there - but where were they for me - what had happened to those memories and why did the 92% just disappear - they just left me, and that, I remember is how I drifted to sleep - but waking up, not being able to breathe - and struggling over memories that you just have lost - it is not good and wholesome to try and capture those things again. I don't take pictures, I typically write, and the only reason you see pictures on any of my blogs is because they capture the 1,000 or so words that I am trying (note the stress - trying) to put down on paper - they are prompts in the storage facility of mine that does not seem to keep things so organized and neat anymore.

Every road that we walk beside is the road that we avoided driving, rushing, flying over - that is what I tell myself when I slow down long enough for a few days to just walk somewhere. Those are the moments that are planted in my mind, and sprout a sense of belonging - the four and half mile walk from Niagara Falls to the Whirlpool rapids, the hike with Dan and Gabe in Beaver Creek, the walks to the concession stand with Gray during the soccer games, the bright shiny hikes down the Vegas Strip late at night, a casual stroll in the Bahamian moonlight after hours and hours of dancing, the walk down the aisle, the walk out of the hospital with new additions to the family, those are captured for me - forever. In my world - (I digress - I typed "In the Travellers World"....and quickly deleted it - maybe it is my world or my perception that needs to change), in my world it is easy to speed over life at 562 miles per hour and do what I must and turn around and speed over life again at 562 miles per hour. I would love to commit some of that to memory, but the brain - just ain't as good as it used to be.

Somewhere in these words, there probably is a moral to the story - some guiding wisdom - I seriously doubt it, but making the mental note that these things that we make happen - they are probably worth remembering, if we can.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stolen Polished Dimes...

I stole this line from my favorite band (right now anyway, I am sure that I will find a new band, with a new sound, and begin to like them more)but it fits this picture, and the woman behind it, perfectly. "That woman she's got eyes that a pair of stolen polished dimes" -

Monday, October 12, 2009

Maid of the Mist and Canadian Coffee Cream

This weekend was bittersweet, they all are these days, a quick break from a hectic week, and then back to it - it being whatever I am doing these days to earn a living, where ever I happen to be earning it. The work is good, it is consistent, there is no shortage of it, and I like it - the weekends are the opposite - they are good, they are not consistent, there are never enough of them, and it seems that time and money always put constraints on those days. It was a weekend to savor - the weather was unseasonably warm, and I had good company on Sunday to drive the 90 kilometers from my suburbia in Toronto down into the kitsch and glamour of Niagara Falls - everyone told me to go to Niagara on the Lake - that is was SOOO much more sophisticated, but that sort or ruled me out, I was more in line for the standard touristy stuff, and thought that I should take advantage of it. Add to that a welcome visit from Cadence to the Greater Toronto Area, and it made the weekend that much better. She had just come down from a long several months of budgeting, and the forty-eight hours made things better - once again, the weekends are always too short, but there is enough time to make the best of them.

We walked at least six miles yesterday, we went behind the Falls clad in our Yellow Trash Bag Ponchos, we watched the show "Fury of Niagara" and we laughed and giggled about the tourists - the best part of the trip was the Maid of the Mist. The uneasiness that I felt as I was on the Stern of the ship looking down over into the water, challenging the Mist - it was fun, controlled, but still powerful and a reminder that I am temporary - and fragile - the boat lurched and moved and the mist blew hard, with every spray an Asian Tinged "ORRRRRRRR" would come from the tour groups crammed in around me - it was a beautiful place to be - and for a few moments, I was immersed in nothing more than the sound of the waterfall, and really, the cold spray was more soothing than a good scotch.

Canadians have an affinity for Dairy Products. I don't know why this is, but this weekend, I received a short lecture on how dairy products in Canada are much more different (and better) than those in the States. I would agree, although I am slightly confused between the varying degrees of Coffee Cream that is out there. This weekend I ran into five levels of cream, and I suppose, it is sort of like skiing - you can pick the green, the blue, or any number of black diamond course - it just depends on your experience level. Granted, I have been using cream that says "10%" and then some french stuff after it from the lobby in the hotel - but I learned that it goes much deeper than that - you can get no less than six variants on cream (I counted six, there may be more) - and each one provides a different drinking experience. For me, it was sort of like comparing different types of toilet paper, one was a little smoother, one left my ass raw, one was pleasantly scented - you get the picture - they all did the job, but each had different affects. Humorous to me, maybe not to you, but when in Canada, you must experiment with the cream.

This week marks my fourteenth anniversary - the last of the anniversary holidays for me - and perhaps the best and the worst one all wrapped into one day. That in itself has created a reason for pause and reflection - I don't know what to think or write about it, I just do, from time to time, try to think or even meditate on some sort of virtue or good that has come out of this whole thing, this entire 14 years of marriage and part-time comradery - it is cold and unnerving to think in those terms - but it is necessary sometimes, to wipe the glaze off of window to see clearly. I have two beautiful children, and would like to think that I have been educated, evenif slightly more, to the types of people we are, and the types of people we can become. There is not much I miss, aside from a backyard, I don't really see the need to go back there again - the uneasiness, the lack of passion, the dying sense of there always being a problem, and only solutions presented in times of dire need. Fourteen years is a very long time, and for those folks who chose right the first time, who decided to stay away from other desires, or who just found what they were looking for, I appluade them - some married couples learn to live with each other, I see it, some grow away from each other, and some, well, they just never were meant to be married - I would hate to place myself in the latter, but the more I think about the lost dreams and hopes, the stifled emotion, and the sense that I did things for someone else, without question - that leads me to believe that I should be classified there. Even now, in the pleasant legal dysfunction that surrounds the myth of an amicable divorce, I get asked, and with little or no fight, I surrender - that dynamic has always been present - that there was nothing really worth fighting for - because everything was a fight. There was always that need to please or place someone else on a platform, and that, was at the detriment of placing what really needed to be first - in first. It is a tough recovery spell - things don't happen overnight - and for me, this is the same. I still struggle with thoughts of failure, and anger, and sadness even as I wonder what could have made a difference - and the only conclusion that makes any sense is that I chose poorly, lived worse, and grew away. At some point in time, we give up - and the silver lining, the small hope through all of this process, is that I don't owe the in-laws or even her an explanation - I owe them nothing, and now I have other debts to pay - the energy required to get to that conclusion for me was immense, almost as hard mentally to think of going through that again as it would be to swim against the Niagara Falls - the entire process, the entire investment of time, and the emotional drain just was not worth it. It was not her, it was not our children, it was not her parents - it was me, the investment, that risk/retun trade off, that was not for me - and the end result is the same, I am back in the position to make choices, and now, they are simpler and serene - they are mine.

Solace and quiet are rewards, loneliness is hard, but the reality is, that choices make life better in most cases - and this week, is about two - the choice to be married and the choice to not be married - and recently, that has made a considerable difference.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Family Ties...and Odd Conversations.

That's basically the four of us, Lenn, Kristina, Ronnie, and George - all happy at Kristina's wedding some eight or so years ago - I remember driving to the wedding at the Naval Academy - the wife was breastfeeding on a traffic packed highway, we were running late, and of course, the heat was nearly unbearable - but we got there, and they smuggled me in through some secret cove just in time to be at the front of the wedding. As I get closer to my last anniversary, it becomes a little more difficult to segregate the good times from the bad times, a little harder to look at the regrets and the rewards, it is all a goopy porridge of things bunched into the last twenty years of my life. I don't have much to complain about, I don't really want for much - except to make up for some of my bad decisions, and I have two of the most beautiful children that any Dad could ever ask for. Funny, but my relationship with my kids and my family has improved - I have them, and they have me - it is nice to have those things back.

I am always good at asking questions - many questions, because I want to know the answers - recently, I have started asking myself questions - not the easy ones like "Should I sit down and pee, or should I stand and pee" at 3:00 AM when I am trying to make the 6:00 AM flight out of Toronto - the more difficult questions that seemed to bother Buddha for all of those years...

I guess the best thing to do in those situations is just punt. Or sit underneath a tree and meditate - think about nothing. Interesting concept to me, thinking and talking about nothing - these days, all that I get an opportunity to talk about are Canadian Dollar conversions, travel plans, budgets, divorce classes and hearings, and how we are going to equitably split the china. Those discussions get pretty interesting when you intentionally close your ears, and just watch the mouth move - they are pretty one-sided as well - I realized last Saturday that I could watch an instructor move their mouth for four hours, and not hear a damn thing that was said. I already knew that I could ignore my ex-spouse for months on end (not something I am proud of, just something that I could do) - but Sunday proved to me that I don't have to have those odd conversations about where the kids are going to be dropped off or what her comfort level may be - actually, what was running through my head at the time was would I have enough time to get my work done, pack, and surf porn before I had to go to bed. The answer was most of them anyway.

So now, at this stage in the divorce process, there are terribly odd conversations - the arrangement is a business arrangement - and it is actually pretty nice - the fact that I live in a small community where the same people hang out together (and I have to manage through them wanting to tell me who my ex is sleeping with) creates tension - and unwanted conversation. I had the nerve to get coffee at Starbucks, and of course, I got the usual run in conversation with a bar goer- So and so is really doing a pretty good job of, etc etc etc - the ears shut down, well, they shut down as best they can - and the mouth says words like "You know, that is her business" or "So still pretty exciting at the pub" - I don't like those conversations -

That's the family ties part - I am stuck somewhere I don't want to be, and really, should not be - that neighborhood is a microcosm of cheese dicks and housewives - sure, there are some really fun people to hang out with - I can say I have met a few knobs up there that are worth an hour or two of conversation - but I am more struggling with it being the only place in town. I don't have any family ties there anymore - the reason I am there is because I had to move somewhere to keep the then wife off of my ass (yes, folks, I was a broken shell of a husband who actually thought doing what your wife said to do would shut her up - advice line - good fucking luck with that one - don't ever give in or compromise - odds are you will resent it, and you still have to sleep with her). So the past month or so has been a google search of house hunting, reading up on ways to get out of a mortgage, finalizing agreements, and finding a place that I can call my own. Sure the travel helps, I don't have to be there, and I have plenty of sky miles and hilton honors points to make sure I am with someone who actually stimulates me (in several ways)- but when I do have to be there, it is always something - I think it is insane and stupid at this point to discuss these items, but then again, I don't have to live in her head, and I don't have to sleep with the folks up at the pub, and I know that I can get on a plane in two days, and probably be that much closer to where I want to be. Maybe that has to suck for her - but that's an odd conversation for her to have with the therapist, or someone from the pub.

Work has a large number of topics brewing these days, and finishing up draft posts to put out has some interest to me as well- but for now, the Hilton Garden Inn in Toronto is where I am at, and I think tonight, both work and blogging can wait...maybe a movie and a bowl of bean soup - the exciting life of travel...take me back to your kitchen floor...