(Social) Media Shabbat


I imagine that your mind is probably shattering at the moment, too. There are too many mental balls to juggle, and they are flying all over the place and getting dropped. Some of them have explosives in them, others are just paint balls, and others are just trite metaphors getting overworked on an unread blog.

That can only mean one thing: It’s time for our weekly break!

I’ll leave you with this thought: It’s my former wife’s weekend with the kids. They don’t hang out with me, y’know,  being teenagers and all, but that sensation when I get back from dropping them at school, their presence still palpable (the humidity upstairs from the shower, the smell of whatever it is that my daughter put in her hair, the mug that I used to heat the milk for the hot chocolate my son drinks in the car), it is overwhelming and poignant, it fades all too fast.

And in other good news, it’s baseball season!!Pogo26

The Tortures of High-Conflict Divorce


Sometimes, the most sobering and the hardest part of the high-conflict divorce is the constant barrage of reminders of what a f@#*ing moron you were.

The signs were there, but you weren’t thinking straight.

A friend tried warning you, but it was a half-hearted attempt, and it was too late.

You’d been burned by love in the past, and  in the state you were in you were willing to settle for something a little bit less.

You’d been living in isolation, and it distorted your judgment.

You know that you should just put all of this behind you. You try to, every day. However, when you are chained to the rock of co-parenting with a psycopath  narcissist  someone with Borderline Personality Disorder  a difficult person, it’s hard, if not impossible, to do so.

So it’s Sunday, and we there’s a big informational meeting about our son’s upcoming trip to Israel. All the travelers and their parents are gathering at a Jewish day school about a half hour away. I will be driving the Kid as it’s my weekend. The former wife asks if I’ll be staying until the end–she needs to return to help a friend who is preparing chocolates for Taste of Boston. I say, sure, but I have a condition. She grumbles and rants, afraid that I’m going to ask for something reasonable, like she actually return something of mine that is a family keepsake that she decided to appropriate in the divorce. No, I ask for her to bring one of the chocolates. (I like chocolates). She says she’ll see if she can. I say, If you can.

I get to the meeting first. The organization running the camp is quite smart, at least in terms of self-preservation, and they bill me and the former wife separately. They also make us separate packages of the informational material. They’d rather go to the trouble of sending out separate bills and info than to have to listen to us call and accuse each other of being the bad parent.

Because I get there first, I grab the heavier packet. The packets are identical, except that the heavier packet has two luggage tags in it. The kids are supposed to use these luggage tags so that everyone in the group can have their bags identified by anyone in the group. I take the heavier packet. Why? Why not? I know that the former will have a strong sense that she is entitled, for chissà quale ragione,  to be the keeper of whatever keys need keeping. This belief is also reinforced by its correlate, that I am not capable of handling things. (In fairness, many women subscribe to this myth: men would be dead in their houses with their guts being eaten by the cat within days  of last contact were it not for the intervention of the Ever-Feminine.)

True to form, when the former arrives she comes up and asks for the luggage tags. When I answer that I’ll hold on to them, she goes on to demand them. Loudly, vocally, and of course, without regard for the fact that we are in public.

We are reliving our bad marriage all over again, in a microcosm.

It’s not a big deal, the luggage tags. But the assumptions and treatment are galling. So I say, calmly, I think I’ll just hang on to the tags.

The former wife stomps off, loudly, “Well, then you can’t have any chocolate!” IMG_0211 Play my way, or you can’t have any candy. Story of my married life.

 

What Happens When a Child Calls a Parent by their First Name?


calvin
apololgies to Mr. Watterson for the unauthorized use of Calvin.

(Please forgive me for the use of ‘their’ as a neuter third-person singular. I just can’t fight it anymore.)

Referring to  parents by their first names. It always shocked me as a teen when I heard peers do it, and though it turned into more disturbance than shock as I grew older, I have to admit that it still sends me some sort of an unsettling signal when I hear it. I have to wonder: Do they call their parents by their first names when they are talking to them, or just about them?

There was a time when my daughter would do it with me. It was away for her to express anger. I didn’t put up with it. I’d walk away. As far as I was concerned,  it was a conversation ender. She doesn’t do it anymore. However, she does still get angry with me. Go figure.

“They may already know too much about their mother and father–nothing being more factual than divorce, where so much has to be explained and worked through intelligently (though they have tried to stay equable). I’ve noticed this is often the time when children begin calling their parents by their first names, becoming little ironists after their parents’ faults. What could be lonelier for a parent than to be criticized by his child on a first-name basis?”

― Richard Ford, The Sportswriter

Personal Stuff: Divorce + Fatherhood = The Worst, Most Painful Irony of My Life


I am sure that it is not an uncommon situation that I am in: I have two wonderful children, and an absolutely horrible ex-marriage. If I want to deal with my kids, I have to deal with this mess. Easy choice, but man, sometimes…

I’m not saying that the former wife is a horrible person, that she is x, y, or z (the variables standing for any number of derogatory adjectives or nouns that are used by divorced people all over the world to describe the other cohort in the crime of their coupling). I am willing to assert, though, that she is the ne plus ultra of the, hmmmm, how to put this, the epitome of the difficult former spouse; if in the afterlife she is to be judged by her co-parenting skills, well,  it’s going to be a tough trip through Purgatory.

Nor am I saying that I’m some perfect or even good former spouse and co-parent. I wish I were made of tougher stuff. I wish that I could always do the right thing, that I could let every insult, every attack, every pointless (except for the point of hurting me) act of revenge for G-d knows what misdeed (the misdeed of wanting a divorce?), I wish I could let them all slip by. I have thinner skin than I would like to have. I don’t know how to make it thicker. (Maybe Sean Sphincter and I should attend a class on obtaining some tougher emotional armor.)

Were there no kids? I’d be gone. I’d fly away. I’d head back to Charleston without looking over my shoulder, and there would be no sequel. But there are the children, and they are the greatest thing in the world that has ever happened to me. I feel a glow in their presence. I love doing things for them. Watching them stirs such strong feelings that even when I worry about them, even when I am mad at them, even when they are purposely difficult, there is not a part of me that doesn’t want to protect them, to love them, to make the world a better place for them. I do not know if I would ever have had this depth of feeling for anything were I never to have had children.

I wish more of my time weren’t occupied by the strife. But here I am, slipping down the backslope of my life, having to force myself not to answer hostile texts, steeling myself not to strike back at things perpetrated out of pure vindictiveness, working to keep my mind on other, more pleasant things, and most difficult of all, trying to construct a view of my life that isn’t so filled with this regret at the painful paradox of being a dad thanks to the biggest mistake in my life; all this, in order that I might just let myself be filled with the wonder and the privilege it that it is to be that dad.

What I Threw Out Today


A Clear Modem. Worthless. They are offered for pennies on eBay. I found this in an unpacked box, 2 years after I moved into this house.

img_3697
This is actually a very sad picture. I associate this modem with a very hard time in my life. Good fucking riddance.

What I Threw Out Today: The Hotel Brochure from My Trip to Phuket, and what it says about aging


WAS I ALREADY TOO OLD to call it a voyage of my misspent youth? Maybe–we extend youth so long these days, heaven forfend that we get older, IMG_1879because as you age, you disappear. When you age you get to that point where, when contemplating the future, you no longer see the things that once inspired you, but rather the indignities and the infirmities that lie ahead. That is, unless you adopt a healthy attitude towards aging, and I haven’t. I’m in the midlife crisis I’ve been in since I was 25.

What does it say, in any case? It says to me that I went to Thailand with some woman. It says that people drift apart and experiences are the remembrance of emotion, not of images or place. The trip to Thailand was fun, and it wasn’t fun. It was one of those relationships that had just a bit too much competition and a bit too much held inIMG_1883 reserve. It’s all part of the past now, and whatever was good (or bad) about it I will hold in my memory. IMG_1886However, I’m at the point in my life where I’d like to–if I’m able–choose the time and place of my remembering things. I don’t like bad memories slipping in at inconvenient moments. It just muddies my mental waters. If I were a brightsider, I’d say at least I can still remember.

I know it’s only one piece of paper that I am throwing out. But they add up. If I kept it, my children would find it one day (maybe) after I died, and say, oh, so he went to Thailand once. It would not even be a footnote in their memories of me.

On the lighter side, the translations from the Thai are hilarious.
IMG_1880

IMG_1885IMG_1884IMG_1882

If you like this blog, please consider donating to PAZ (Pan American Zoonotic Research and Prevention, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing disease in underserved populations)

We’re Back


Extra point if you know immediately why this picture is here.
Extra point if you know immediately why this picture is here.

We’re back.

We disappear from time to time.

Personal issues of the staff, like divorce, other jobs, and puppies that refuse to housebreak have been keeping the staff occupied.

For example, one of our most reliable writers sent us this note: “The divorce is final, but the parasite shyster plaintiff’s attorney still wants blood, flesh, and, yes, more filthy lucre.”

Life has been rather tough on the Meta-Bug editorial staff since the last post.

The former spouse of the above-mentioned writer has grown even more hostile since the divorce and the last entry, written nearly a year ago. It’s a mystery to us all.  The vast majority of the staff wants to get on with our normal business, but the man-hours required to devote to the very real problems of their personal lives (we realize our workers actually have lives) have left little time (not to mention funds, for we are self-funded) for our team of crack investigative reporters to go out there and get truly interesting and important stories. It seems that some of our staff is just unlucky (flooded basements). Some are overworked. And for the ones going through divorces, well, seems that some folks just can’t let go. They revel in the fight. To this contributor, it appears like refusing to admit that the plate of elephant manure and crushed-up cockroaches you’re eating isn’t actually worse  than the nice bowl of gelato that’s sitting right next to you: “I really like this,” you say. “Now get that fucking fior di latte and stracciatella out of my face before I really lose it.”

However, we did get an editorial out of all of this:

Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Divorce should not be in the hands of lawyers and judges.

Some day an enlightened public will have to wrest this from the hands of the divorce attorneys, while they kick and scream and predict the death of society. It probably won’t be the death of society, but it will be the end of the world as we know it, and that is more than fine.

Because we are so nosy, we picked up this piece of writing on a crumpled piece of paper from the courthouse floor:

Today I saw a grown man handcuffed in the courtroom because he was unable to pay his child support. He started to cry, but the judge didn’t really care. If what he says was true, then he was paying all the money he had for child support. So who will benefit from his incarceration? The children? I can’t imagine how. The former wife? Well, I’m sure that going to jail and losing his job will enhance his future earning capacity. She may have a need for vendetta, may feel that he has it coming, but she’s probably acting from her worst self, or her only self if she can’t separate herself from this side of her.  I suppose some smug prigs will be satisfied at seeing this man who has no experience with the criminal justice system tossed into jail, satisfying her worser angels. Bully for her…

I saw another guy at the clerk’s desk, he was showing his pay stubs and how they were less then the weekly amount owed on child support. He was from the former Soviet Union, and seeing the machine just turning and churning, regardless of the circumstances, made him feel like he was in Moscow once again.,,

Do the powers that be really think that children can be isolated from the conflict that an adversarial system encourages? In court I heard a lawyer, tell the judge that charges $460/hour. This same judge didn’t flinch, even though he said something about “reasonable lawyer’s fees.” By what I see, this lawyer has absolutely no control over his client, or perhaps he is even encouraging her to continue litigation in order to pad his own wallet. What’s amazing, truly astounding,  is that he probably thinks he’s actually worth it. He doesn’t seem any brighter than the average bear, and I so far a lot of his strategy seems to be throwing lots of motions and paperwork at the process. The other side complains that much  of it is illegible, which means that they need to call him to fix it, and then the cost of the whole deal goes up, since he’s clearly the type of lawyer who doesn’t let a minute of his day go unbilled. The plaintiff’s lawyer seems to be taking the case personally, as he has developed a rather un-lawyerly tendency to lose his temper when talking about the defendant.  He works for a fancy-schmancy (which is two grades higher than merely “fancy”) law firm. I have heard of it. They have very nice offices with good views, glass conference rooms, stocked with all sorts of things with their logo on it, including the napkins that their clients use to wipe the crumbs from their faces. Do these self-congratulatory surroundings improves their ability to win cases for their clients?

NastTweed

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑