Tag Archives: Christmas

A Bullshit Mountain Christmas

THE FOLLOWING POST WAS STARTED ON DECEMBER 27, 2013.

a favorite expression of mine.

a favorite expression of mine.

“It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.”
― Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit

One of my favorite television shows is Comedy Central’sThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart“.  A few years back, Jon Stewart interviewed a writer, Harry Frankfurt,  who had penned a journal-turned-book titled On Bullshit.  I bring this up for several reasons.

  • One:  I always laugh when TV people get away with cursing on the air, for whatever reason. On this particular segment, Stewart must have said “bullshit” 50 times.  FCC be damned indeed.  Yes, I know, it’s immature but dirty words being said when and where they’re not supposed to makes me giggle.
  • Two:  I thought it sounded funny to hear Jon Stewart talk, literally, about bullshit for 10 minutes.
  • Three:  because the author brought up several interesting points when differentiating between lying and bullshit – focusing particularly on the ethical ramifications of both.
  • Four:  And this brings us back to do: Jabba, the queen of Bullshit Mountain, is at it again.

I’m in South Carolina tonight, to take The Kid back to Jabba in the morning following my Christmas visit with him.  This Christmas visit was informative, enlightening and educational – along with an absolute roller-coaster of emotions that I will get into.

Things to keep in mind:  The Kid spent the entire Christmas visit with the Auteur and I, much to Jabba’s chagrin. Both The Kid and Jabba know unequivocally that The Auteur and I are living together. that should set the tone for things to come.

I e-mailed Jabba when I arrived in South Carolina last week to let her know where I was staying and when we would do “the exchange”.   Here’s a snippet:

Rob:  I am in town at the ******.  I don’t know what you’re schedule is like, but if  he’s available, we’d love to have The Kid over for dinner and/or swimming this evening. (this hotel has an indoor pool.

To this point, I had been saying “I”:  I am in town, I am leaving tomorrow, etc.  The Old Man was traveling with me, but Jabba took the “we” to mean someone else had accompanied me on the road:

Jabba: We’ll be there. I’m not comfortable with him sleeping in the same room as people who aren’t family. I hope that’s not the case. You wouldn’t be comfortable if I had him sleeping in bedrooms or hotels with men you didn’t know and I understand that. I want to be very clear about why I am and am not comfortable with here. I am sure you understand that.

Upon reading this, it had occurred to me.  Jabba thought I was traveling with The Auteur.

Rob:  Aren’t family? My Dad is here with me. OH. You assumed The Auteur was traveling with me. She’s not.

It didn’t occur to me then, but this electronic exchange would set much of the tone for The Kid’s visit.

Jabba called not only The Kid, but also me, far more on this trip than she has for any of our other visits.  on Monday, the 23rd, she called three times alone.  Sure, I get it.  She’s likely to call more frequently since it is Christmas – or a few days before as it were.  Compared to our previous visits, this was excessive.  Something was different with Jabba.  There was a different feeling – a different tone to things.  The mood had changed.  There was almost a hint of desperation to things.

By around the 24th or 25th, I had made it clear to Jabba that The Kid and I were not staying at my parents’ house.  We were staying at OUR house – ours being The Auteur and mine – which may be referred to in the following text as “The Auteur’s house”  for the sake of clarity and conversational continuity.  Jabba got on the phone with me a few times, calmly at first; then yelling in subsequent conversations.  She decided to take the position that the entire point of The Kid’s Christmas visit was to spend time with his grandparents (my parents).  She even got The Kid to say it one night on the phone! But I’ll get to the manipulation later.  At this, I reminded her that our divorce settlement says NOTHING about visitation with grandparents, cousins, aunts, or uncles – one either side. All it discusses is visitation for the mother and the father.

The things is, I get it.  I really do.  Jabba and I divorced and I happened to be the first of us to meet somebody.  Were I in her shoes, I’m sure I would probably be feeling very frustrated and uneasy also.  At the same time, it’s over.  The proverbial, if not literal, ink is drying on our divorce as I type.  It’s time for us all to move on with our lives.  I intend on 2014 being all about taking life to the next step.

BACK TO THE MANIPULATION:  This is what gets me.  Jabba is a smart ass. She prides herself on her “bitchiness”.  My son is a good kid, but I can already see his personality being shaped and influenced by her.  This sucks because he lives with her probably 98% of the year and will have a bigger impact on his shaping his personality than I could ever hope to.  And I get it.  I really do.  He loves his Mom and wants to make her happy.  But I can already see the conflict within him – saying something to make her happy while knowing it’s not true.  It’s something he will have to deal with in the months and years to come.

I think the bullshit scares me most because of the way it affected me during my previous life.  In the 16 years we were together, I began to fib, lie and out-and-out bullshit people:  family, friends, loved ones, strangers.  That is one of several bad personality traits I picked up in those years.  Unfortunately, old habits die hard and I still occasionally fall into old routines – but I am improving.  None of this is an overnight transformation.

THE NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION CONTINUES…

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coming clean

As I type this tonight, I am in South Carolina, so that I can pick up The Kid tomorrow for his Christmas visit.  The Old Man and I made the drive down last night.  The weather was about as good as we could have possibly hoped for – especially given the time of year.  

Jabba and I were exchanging e-mails earlier today – making arrangements for tomorrow’s “exchange”.  I think she assumed that The Auteur had made the trip down with me.  In one of her e-mails, she went on a rant about being uncomfortable with the idea of The Kid staying in a hotel room with a stranger.  By “stranger” I assume Jabba meant a person who was a stranger to her; because The Kid and The Auteur obviously know each other.  It was odd. She never came out and said anything about The Auteur directly.  she had voiced her feelings about The Kid being around “my girlfriend” but made no specific mention of The Auteur in today’s e-mail.

It’s been strange.  I know that – at least – since my trip to Myrtle Beach in September, Jabba has been aware of The Auteur. Obviously she doesn’t know how serious we are, or that we’ve been living together – let alone for how long.  But it occurred to me today that the time has come for full disclosure. The proverbial dust is finally settling.  Our divorce is within days of being finalized.  We are at a point where we no longer owe each other anything emotionally. But Jabba does need to know how serious The Auteur and I are.  She has to understand that if The Kid is going to be with me, than he is also going to be around The Auteur.  And in order to do that, Jabba and The Auteur will, inevitably, have to meet someday.  And that is going to have to happen sooner rather than later.

Ideally, this is a conversation that I would rather have face-to-face than via e-mail, but given our current living situations, that is not realistic.  I must admit that even thinking about giving Jabba the rundown has felt extremely liberating; not unlike when I finally made the decision to de-friend her from on Facebook.

coming to terms

The last 72 or so hours have been tumultuous.  I’ve been racking my brain over this divorce settlement – trying to sort out the terms I can live with; the terms that infuriate me to the point that I have no choice but to demand more from; the terms that bother me on principle; and the terms that I have to simply accept for the sake of both my immediate and long-term happiness.

To make matters worse, Jabba is now saying she wants the kid back on December 28; essentially giving her the entire second week of his winter break.  This despite her saying she wanted me to have him for the majority of his break.  If she wanted to simply switch weeks, I could live with that.  I don’t understand the need for her to phrase it as if she’s giving me Christmas as some major self-sacrifice. By this time next year, I am fully confident that the divorce will firmly be in place. Once it is, I’ll proceed strictly by the terms of the final order.  No more favors.  No more flip-flopping weeks (I say that now).

I talked to LeRoy about the final divorce order last night and he really helped put things into perspective.  He reminded me that I’ve got to think in terms of the overall bigger picture.  Trying to fight some of these smaller issues on principle could start opening up other proverbial cans of worms that I don’t want to get into – largest among them back child support.  Virtually everyone agrees that I got a good deal with child support – and I don’t want to rock the boat, so to speak.  Basically, I have to pick and choose not only my battles, but my acceptable losses as well.

Last but not least, I cannot thank The Auteur enough for all of her love and support through this process.  If there’s any one trait of hers I’m trying to pick up, it is her ability to compartmentalize things (for the lack of a better word) She has an ability to not let the random bad things that happen sabotage and otherwise good day.  I wish I was more like her in that regard.  Needless to say, I am still a “work in progress” in that area, but I am trying.   Like all couples, we disagree and fight at times, but we always have each others backs.  We love each other and are definitely in this together for the long haul.

Earlier in the evening I talked with my Mom about the whole Christmas break switcheroo.  She reminded me at The Kid’s age, Christmas is THE important holiday and it really is important to have it with him and that I need to – again – think of the bigger picture.

I wasn’t really happy at the end of the conversation with Mom.  I was feeling quite defeated actually. At that point, one would think that the talk I had with LeRoy would only make me feel even worse; but a strange sense of calm came over me.  I think I have finally reached the point that this divorce ruling is something I can live with.  I’m not sure how it happened, or when; but I’ve think I’ve truly come to terms with this whole thing.

compromisedemotivator

Rob does Black Friday

once you go Black, you’ll never go back”

This was most certainly NOT my Black Friday experience

This was most certainly NOT my Black Friday experience

For years Phred and my Dad used to go shopping on Black Friday.  Last year several stores including WalMart began opening up late on Thanksgiving night to get a jump on the Black Friday shopping sales.  Apparently it was a smashing success because many, many other stores not only followed suit, but also open even earlier on Thanksgiving day than ever before.

I learned earlier this year that The Auteur, her mother and 1B have a participated in the Black Friday for years as well.  For the last few weeks, The Auteur was on-again, off-again about the prospect of cutting Thanksgiving festivities short in order to score some killer deals on potential Christmas gifts.  Between her Black Friday watch and our constant perusal of store sale flyers, we came to the conclusion that some of this years deals were a little too good to pass up.

Things worked out pretty nicely this year.  We went to LeRoy’s house for turkey dinner on Thursday and then head out to WalMart where – yes, members of the blogosphere – I took part in my first EVER Black Friday on Thursday.  The Auteur got what she was looking for.  Likewise, with some effort Rob’s 2013 equivalent of the Official Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle:  the XBox 360.

Earlier this summer, one of The Auteur’s friends had this idea:  that I should get an X Box for both The Kid and myself, get some head-phones and the XBox Live service so we can play games together via the Internet.  Evidently, Jabba had the same idea and made the same suggestion.  Mom & Dad have agreed to pick me up an X Box;  I’ll be taking care of The Kid’s system.

I was shocked at how well planned everything was at the WalMart by LeRoy’s house.  Doorbuster items were set up throughout the store, with mylar baloons indicating their locations.  Greeters were located at the entrances, as usual; but this time they had maps and charts with the locations of said doorbuster items.  Cash register lines were grouped by threes to keep aisles as clear as possible.  It was a much, much different experience than you local news or YouTube would have you believe.

 

talking turkey

This is what I'd like to think my Thanksgiving dinners will look like...

This is what I’d like to think my Thanksgiving dinners will look like…

I have a bit of a confession to make:  I haven’t really enjoyed Thanksgiving for a long, long time. But I think that’s about to change.  In fact, I’m sure of it.  But  I’ll get to that…

For the 8 years that I lived down South, Jabba and I never made it back home for Thanksgiving.  We were both teaching and Thanksgiving Break in academia is basically a 5 day weekend.  Getting a flight for the busiest travel holiday of the year is a very expensive venture – especially when adding in The Kid and said 5 day weekend.  Traveling by car on aforementioned 5 day weekend with said Kid is almost too time consuming.  At the end of it all, Thanksgiving is essentially about one dinner with the family.

To make a long story short, we had agreed that traveling for Thanksgiving was a waste of time and money.  That, and I think we were both okay with the idea of having our own family Thanksgiving dinner.  After all, you could eat turkey and watch the Detroit Lions lose in spectacular fashion on national TV anywhere.  Besides, we could always see the families at Christmas.  We would always come up for Christmas – my mother wouldn’t take no for an answer to that.  At least, not until I had to work on Christmas, but I digress.

Last year was kind of an odd turkey day for me.  Sure, I was with the family, but I missed The Kid – as he was with Jabba.  I lived, of course. alcohol helped.  Besides, it’s still just one dinner on one day. It really wasn’t the end of the world – or even a bad day for that matter.  But this year is already different.

...but they'll probably look more like this.

…but they’ll probably look more like this.

Thanksgiving  is, at least in theory, a day to reflect upon all the things that we are thankful for.  It is a day for family, friends and feasting.  For the first time in a long time, I truly feel  like I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

UPDATE: 11/29/13 3:19 P.M.

The auteur, 1B and I made the trip into Leroy’s house for
Thanksgiving dinner.  It was, of course, my first Thanksgiving with The Auteur and the first time 1B got to meet my mom, LeRoy, his wife, kids and in-laws.  Things went much better than I expected. Not that I expected anything bad to happen; I just assumed that there would be some first-time-you-meet-people awkwardness.  I was a bit anxious because I wanted everyone to hit it off, which they all seemed to do just fine.

Late last night/this morning The Auteur told me what a good time she and 1B had at my brother’s.  She even said that 1B told her it was “the best Thanksgiving ever”.  Maybe that was 1B just being a kid and speaking in hyperbole but it was definitely one for the ages.  It was very casual, very laid-back.  Very real.  Very sincere.  There were no bombshell announcements or shocking revelations like you see in movies.  There was no pressure nor any underlying subtext. It was family enjoying each others company and a great meal together.

I have so much to be thankful for; sometimes I think far more than I deserve.  I have The Auteur – a truly remarkable woman who loves both me and my son – flaws and all – unconditionally.  I have a family for whom I would lay in traffic – and I know would do the same for me.  I have my health and my job – albeit a crappy paying one.

Now I have to stare down a proverbial 400 lb. gorilla called Christmas…

Not a Disney World Dad, but that’s okay.

Nine days ago – the date of the so called Mayan apocalypse, I flew down to Charleston to pick up my Son. When he got to the airport, we were both psyched to see each other, but I was a little apprehensive at first. I hadn’t seen him in four months. And even though we spoke everyday, his voice sounded different. what if he was different? what would I do if he didn’t like all the Legos I bought him for Christmas?

Much to my delight, his stay in town was great! I had a few plans in mind during his stay – a Lego engineering exhibit, a movie or two – none of which we did. Although I was disappointed that we didn’t do anything “fun” we spent all of our time together. He was just happy to see me and he was psyched because it was Christmas. I’ve heard and read people saying don’t try to be the “Disney World Dad” and they’re absolutely right. Most of the time we were together, we watched TV, played with toys, video games, had a snowball fight, colored, and just hung out.  It really was about the quality of the time we spent together, doing the kinds of things we haven’t been able to do together – living so far away.  We also paid the obligatory Christmas visits:  my brother and my uncle’s houses for Christmas eve and Christmas Day respectively. Getting snow on Christmas Eve was just icing on the proverbial cake. I could not have asked for anything more.

Last Thursday, I made the trip back to south to get the Boy home for his South Carolina Christmas. Sis came along for moral support – that and we had talked about making a little side-trip after dropping off my son. Saying goodbye was tough, as I expected it to be.  He and both cried, but we made a deal to see each other more often in the coming year.  Surprisingly, the STBX was civil.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say she was polite, but my time at the Old House was a little easier than I expected.  While there, I picked up what I hope is the last of my things from the old house.  That part wasn’t really hard; but I just want that part to be over so i can move on.

We spent 2 days in Daytona Beach at an ocean-front, called, I shit you not, The Mayan Inn.  For an ocean-front view, the place was ridiculously

Okay, they botched the whole end-of-the-world thing but left us a decent hotel on Daytona Beach.  Well played, Mayans.

Okay, they botched the whole end-of-the-world thing but left us a decent hotel on Daytona Beach. Well played, Mayans.

inexpensive.  Despite some bad reviews online, I thought the hotel was fine.  Sure, it could have used some minor touching-up, but I’m not really picky on hotels, especially those on the beach.  In this case, four walls and a roof would have been more than enough.

I suggested the road trip to Sis.  She suggested Daytona – as she had been to the area a few times.  We basically just hung out, hit a few of the local bars.  Mostly we just wanted to get away from this God-awful winter that just hit Michigan.  I figured I would need a day or two to just relax after dropping off my Son.  This side trip was just long enough for me to clear my head and get motivated to get back home.

Tomorrow is, of course, New Year‘s Eve.  I for one, can’t wait to stick my foot up the proverbial ass of 2012 as we bid it adieu.  2013 could be a worse, year I suppose, but that is difficult to imagine. I’ll be attending a house party to usher in the new year.  Several people from the social club should be there. At first, I was absolutely psyched about the party – hoping to maybe meet somebody there, maybe even hang out with Red & SHG.  I was even considering getting a ticket to a club’s NYE party that is within walking distance, just to hopefully run into them – or anyone else for that matter.  Right now, I just hope the house party doesn’t suck.  I’m trying to remain upbeat while not setting my expectations too high.

The Sleepless Knight

As of now, all is quiet on the western front – as far as legal proceedings are concerned.  I would be shocked if the STBX didn’t get served this week.  I just want done.  I’m not anxious or scared about it; I just want to move forward.

Last week, I finally started working out at Planet Fitness.  I can understand why the place is as popular as it is.  They market themselves as “the judgement-free zone”  and I can truly say it is the most relaxed, non-intimidating experience I’ve ever had in a gym.  I’ve woke up a little bit sore the first few times I went, but not enough to discourage me from going back.  In fact, I think I’m on the verge of establishing the gym as a habit.  So far, it is totally worth my $10 monthly fee.

Okay, I admit it: I wanna look good. I wanna lose my gut.  I wanna develop some muscle tone.  I wanna feel good too.  And yes, I’d like to see some results before I see the STBX again. I want her to see that not only am I doing “just fine” but also that I am prospering in The New Normal.

One thing I continue to have trouble with is sleeping.  It’s not because I miss sharing a bed with the STBX.  When it’s dark and quiet, my mind starts wandering.  When I do sleep, it’s usually out of pure exhaustion.

More than anything, I think about my Son at night. I think I miss him far more than I even consciously realize.  More than ever, I’m thinking about talking to a counselor again.  If I do it, I’m gonna have to go before I lose my insurance.

It’s only 12 days until I fly out to get my Son for Christmas.  I suppose it would probably help if I got some Christmas shopping done between now and then…

flipping the script

As the calendar creeps ever-closer to Halloween, it has occurred to me that I need to start making travel plans for the holidays, either for my son, myself, or for both of us. About a month or so ago, I suggested to the SBTX that we alternate visitations for Thanksgiving and Christmas – as most divorced families do.  She was okay with it, and that was the last we said about it.

Last night, my son called me crying.  Sobbing actually, asking me to “come home” because he wants to see me.  I explained to him that I needed to talk to his mom about that very thing.  He was pretty worked up and tired so he got off the phone.  Since I’ve been looking into making a trip to South Carolina sometime in November, I decided to call the STBX a little while later.  She seemed okay with me making a trip down next month, but somehow we got on the subject of lawyers, and how neither one of us have been served papers yet.   Like most conversations with her, this one left me frustrated.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: I‘ve been saying to my family for the last several weeks that I didn’t think the STBX had filed any papers with her lawyer.  In fact, I’ve begun to doubt if she even retained a lawyer as she claimed.

As these thoughts weighed heavily on my mind, I decided to e-mail my attorney.  I asked him straight-out Where do I go from here.  Thursday morning, they e-mailed me saying they hadn’t heard from the STBX’s attorney.  The e-mail also included papers for me to sign so that I can file for the divorce.

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: Before I moved out of the house in South Carolina, we had discussed how we were going to proceed with the separation and divorce.  Initially, we had agreed to a no-fault divorce.  She wanted to go through a lawyer she had chosen. I told her there was no way I was doing anything without my own representation. She resisted this idea, saying that two lawyers would make this a “contested” divorce and it could get expensive and “messy” in her words.  When I suggested we could go my lawyer (the one I ultimately retained) she vehemently refused arguing that she was “the one who had been wronged” and insisted on filing the divorce herself.  

Back to the present:  Since nothing has been filed yet, I have the opportunity to “flip the script” (as the kids would say) on her.  The only reasons I could think that she wouldn’t have filed are:

  • she didn’t want to spend the money
  •  she never thought I would leave in the first place

I’ve stated on here before that I don’t see us ever getting back together.  For me to even consider reconciling with the STBX, our relationship would have to undergo a seismic shift; not only in what our relationship currently is, but also what it once was.  I would not and will not consider returning to the status quo.  Frankly, I don’t forsee such an event occurring.  Furthermore, i haven’t even given it the notion very much thought.

In any event, this is an unexpected development.  One that I wasn’t prepared for.  This could make for a bumpy holiday season.

Stay tuned.

Back in the D

My son and I made it back into Michigan late Saturday night.  Sunday was a slow day around the home front, as we picked up my brother, his family and my sister from the airport.  They were tired.  We were tired.  Everyone basically went home and crashed.  Today I took my son to play minautre golf and ride go karts, as you may have seen in the previous post.

This past Thursday night the STBX hands me a copy of the separation agreement that her lawyer wrote up.  It looks pretty straight-forward but I’m still going to have a professional review it for me.  The stink of it is that there are a few things in there that she and I did not agree to.  I don’t know what she was thinking giving it to me on a Thursday night.  Surely she realizes that I wasn’t going to get anyone to look at it before Monday at the absolute earliest.  Maybe she wasn’t thinking at all. Maybe it was all to well orchestrated: give it to me the night before I drive 800 miles across 5 states so I can just stew on it.

I did not shed a single tear when I left The House this time.  It is no longer my home; nor did it feel as such.  I know I’m in a better place today emotionally than I was 5 weeks ago, but I still feel that there’s a big void inside of me.  I have no desire to get back together with her; but since a large part of my life was defined by our relationship, it;s going to take time for me to rediscover myself again.

That’s what this blog is all about.

It’s been so much fun having my son here with me.  Thank God I still have two more days with him.  I cannot imagine how difficult these next few months are going to be as we all get back to our regularly-scheduled lives.  If I’m lucky, the next time I see him will probably be Thanksgiving, maybe even Christmas.

Divorce truly brings out the worst in the people you think you know best.  I’m not sure what’s worse – events that are unfolding now or knowing in hindsight that these feelings were obviously festering for some time.

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