We all have a few ghosts from our past that haunt us, or haunt our loved ones. Today I ran head-first into one of mine.
Since I’ve known The Auteur, I knew that my ex-brother-in-law, The Yooper, was working in the town where she – and now WE – live. Today, I substitute taught in his school. With this being a ridiculously small town we live in, it was inevitable I would cross paths with him had I ever been in his school. And I did today.
As I made my way up to my classroom for the day, I had to walk right past his. He was standing outside his door at the start if the day, as teachers do now-a-days. As I got within 5 feet if him, he immediately put his head down. Now, I don’t know if he would even have recognized me had we made eye contact. After all, it’s been at least 8 years since I’ve even seen him, but it seemed too coincidental. Later in the day, we crossed paths again as he was taking his kids to lunch; just as I was bringing mine back from same. Again, as we got within a few feet of each other, he put his head down and struck up a conversation with one of his students. This behavior from The Yooper really doesn’t surprise me. Phred told me that when they divorced and had their day in court, he couldn’t look at her either; as well he probably shouldn’t with the way their divorce went down. There’s a big part of me that wants to just crush the guy like a bug; but truth be told, he’s more deserving of my ridicule than he is my anger. He’s a joke. And the fact that he looked away as soon as he saw only serves to remind me how pathetic he truly is.
But we all have people like The Yooper in our lives. Pieces of the past that, while they may be out of our lives – they still live and breathe and walk the same Earth as us. Friends who have turned into foes, childhood rivals, exes. Ghosts.
Frankly, I don’t know how most divorcees do it. Most of the time, I feel luck that I live about 800 miles away from Jabba. I don’t want to live anywhere near her. I don’t want to ever face the possibility of running into her at any given moment. It’s not that I can’t handle seeing her; rather I’d like to keep those encounter to an absolute minimum and prepare myself for them well in advance. It’s weird enough running into and trying to talk to our common Michigan friends.
There’s a bit from the old TV show “Growing Pains” that sticks with me to this day: In ope episode, Kirk Cameron’s character Mike Seaver fakes being sick so he can stay home from school. He sits down to watch a rerun of “Gilligan’s Island”. He briefly leaves the room only to realize that the show continued even though he left the room. Mind you, this was before the days of DVR and on-demand programming. He quickly turns the TV off and on again, to realize that the show continues. He later tells his Dad of this incident and comes to the realization that even though he stayed home from school, the world went on without him.
Running into the Yooper wasn’t some senses-shattering epiphany or anything like that but it definitely serves to remind me that our ghosts continue to walk the Earth and live their respective lives.
A random thought from the other day:
Several years back, I had gotten into doing the Windsor Pilates workout. There was a bit where Mari Windsor is talking about exercises you glutious maximus (your butt) muscles and she says “Gotta make both cheeks even,”. That stupid line has stuck with me for years.
Don’t worry I’m going somewhere with this…
I found myself saying that line out loud the other day, and I started to think about the last time I did that workout – during my Previous Life. That got me thinking about Jabba and the fact that I don’t have any real memories of her and that kind of day-to-day stuff anymore. It occurred to me: I don’t really know her anymore. That whole marriage experience has faded from memory. It is simply a part of
my THE past now. This is one of the instances where I feel very fortunate to live as far from Jabba and The Kid as I do. Out of sight, out of mind indeed.
This realization was very liberating for me, given how promising last week’s teacher fair was. I spoke with representatives from a school district just outside of Atlanta and they seemed very interested in me. This got me very excited about the future: with The Auteur, with 1B. Being closer, but not too close, to The Kid. In a place where The Auteur and I can BOTH pursue our professional goals.
It never ceases to amaze me the way that people just pass in and out of our lives. I’m reminded of a line that Richard Dreyfuss says as The Writer in Stand By Me: “It happens sometimes. Friends [sic] come in and out of our lives, like busboys in a restaurant”. I’m not saying all of this because I miss Jabba. God knows I don’t. It’s just amazes me sometimes: this human ability to have somebody so inextricably linked to you and your life one day, and through a relatively short amount of time, no longer be a factor.
Of course, I say all of this now, knowing that i’ll be bitching again when the time come for me to get The Kid for the summer and I have to deal with her all over again.
An interesting story about divorce, but maybe not the kind of divorce you’d probably expect me to post here, given the nature of my blog. Click on the link below before you read my thoughts. Spoilers follow.
I’m really torn on this one.
I hear A LOT of people talk a lot about this kind of thing. I used to think it was just crotchety old people talking about ditching their smartphones; so I never gave it much thought until I got rid of mine. Even without a smartphone, I’m still pretty damn addicted to technology. Hell, I need technology just to write this blog.
There are times when I really miss my Droid. I was my camera, my GPS and my mobile internet connection. I loved getting e-mails in real time; and I loved using my MLB, WWE and Facebook, Twitter and yes, my WordPress apps. But I have to admit, I get annoyed when I see people out together in public and instead of talking to each other, they are all playing with their cellphones.
In teaching? Forget it. I’m subbing right now and kids are always on their phones; not just in my classroom, but in their regular teacher’s rooms as well. Down South, schools were still fighting the cell phone wars. By and large, when I taught there, the majority of kids were good about staying off of them. Who knows what it’s like there now?
I guess the flashpoint for this post (aside from the article I linked to above) was a conversation we had in my computers class. The professor asked: “has technology taken over our lives?” I has answered that like any technological progress, humanity gains a little and loses a little any time technology takes a step forward.
My Droid won’t take a charge anymore. It hasn’t had service in over a year, but I used to use it for for the camera/GPS/Wi-Fi capabilities. Since I’ve gotten rid of it, I haven’t missed it nearly as much as I thought I would. I used it was just old people or persons with “phone envy” who bitch about smartphone users. Maybe I’ve become one of those people. i think that I’ve come to realized how disconnected I was from people for a while there. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’ve divorced my smartphone, but we are definitely going through a trial separation.
Something that I’ve learned over the last few years (and has been reinforced in me even more so recently) is there is no such thing as a routine divorce.
No divorce that I know of goes “by the book” or “by the numbers”. I can’t help but think of some of my friends and loved ones who have been divorced and none of them are routine. Everybody, it seems, has a few loose ends left that need to be tied off. Sometimes these things take years to accomplish. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Marriages are supposed to be life-long commitments. Part of the process in marriage is making two separate lives into one. It takes years to do; and likewise takes years to undo.
What brings me to this train of thought today is the news that Jabba and The Kid are moving. It’s only across town from where they live now but they are moving out of the house that we lived in while the Hutt and I were married. It’s bittersweet to say the least. I feel for The Kid, since this is really the only house he has ever known. Most of all, I’m glad. I’m not happy for Jabba – I could care less for her – but I’m glad that now Jabba, The Kid and I have all now officially moved on – at least in that one sense. That house, and that one part of our three respective lives is over.
Why, may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?
(Hamlet, 5.1.97), Hamlet to Horatio
Friday, I finally heard back from The Kid’s “counselor” whom I shall call The Headshrinker – no disrespect to psychologists intended. I told him the situation involving the Kid, Jabba and my thoughts on it. He told me straight-up that The Kid’s name did not ring a bell. He said that that could be a good thing or a bad thing. He wasn’t in his office at the time, and said that he had his office people double-checking his records to see if The Kid had, in fact been in to see him. He also promised that he would be back in touch with me , whatever he finds out.
To be honest, I was amazed he discussed as much with me as openly as he did. I half-expected him to tell me that he had to verify my identity; or that he had to talk to Jabba before he could say anything to me. I was a little taken aback when he described his experiences with that which I’m convinced has happened here: that Jabba is making this whole thing up and that The Kid has never been in to see him; or The Kid has been in to see the Headshrinker only because Jabba put him up to it.
Maybe I’m looking to into the conversation, but I feel like I gleaned a whole lot from very little factual information. My gut tells me that this guy hasn’t even seen The Kid. When he was running through the different reasons/scenarios as to why he might not remember the Kid’s name, it felt like he was trying to tell me something without actually saying it.
Please don’t misunderstand me: my worst fear is, of course that The Kid did in fact say that the he wishes he was dead / wants to kill himself. But again, I do not believe it. Nothing I’ve seen or head thus far has me suggested to me that Jabba is telling the truth.
This wasn’t the only big news of the last few days. Monday I decided to start making some phone calls, in the event that I have to put together a custody case. I called a few lawyers here and was told I would need to talk to a lawyer in South Carolina, as my divorce took place there – unless I can get the case moved here – which would probably be next-to-impossible.
I decided to call Greenie’s office – to see if they would send a letter to my ex-landlord as I’m still on the lease for the house Jabba and The Kid live in. The paralegal informs me that since our lease was only for one year, I’m basically “in the clear”. When i asked her to have Greenie write a letter to my landlord, informing them that I’ve been out of the house for 18 months, she informs me that Greenie died last week.
I was stunned, in that way that people are when they hear something come out of left field like that. Instinctively, I asked “are you serious?” which I’ve always thought was a really stupid question at a moment like that. Fortunately for me, my divorce case is final – as far as I know. I was planning to file a grievance with the South Carolina Bar Association for the way in which he handled my case; but that’s irrelevant now. I didn’t really know this guy personally, and I can’t stand him professionally; but I’m amazed at how much Greenie’s death has affected me personally.
I think in moments like this it’s normal to think about one’s own mortality. Greenie was 31, or 8 years younger than me. I’m assuming he was never married as he was dating one of his paralegals. Thinking about what little I knew about Greenie personally forced me to reflect on my own life. In spite of how many years I’ve spent in school and feeling like I’ve been spinning my wheels – at times – with teaching, I feel that if I were to die tomorrow, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I had a dream job; I pursued it, and I became a teacher. Sure, I spent too many years in a failed marriage; but I got the greatest son in world out of it. Today, I’m in a fabulous relationship with The Auteur. We love each other, and we share the same view of what love is and what love should be. We are both finally divorced and are absolutely psyched about the future. I have absolutely no plans on checking out anytime soon.
Picard: Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.
Riker: [smiling] Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever.
Captain Picard to commander Riker: from Star Trek: Generations
There’s an old Jabba story that Mother likes to tell. I’m going to share it with you all now, as it speaks volumes about the kind of person Jabba is, was and always will be:
Thanksgiving 1995: Jabba and I had only been together for a few weeks. This was in fact our first “couple” holiday. Jabba wanted to bring some kind of dish to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, as is the custom – particularly when formally having dinner in a stranger’s home for the first time. She decided to pick up a pie from the local Kroger (a regional grocery chain). No big deal. When Mother and my grandmother sliced up the pie to pass it around, they complimented Jabba on it. It wasn’t anything real specific. The exact wording escapes me, but it was something general, along the lines of “this pie is really good, Jabba.” It may have even been more direct and included a “Where did you get it?” Rather than simply saying “thank you” or telling how she found it at Kroger, Jabba took this as an opportunity to distort, twist and re-shape the truth to suit her own ego. “Oh, I made it myself” she explained.
It was blatantly obvious to anyone who saw this pie, or the package it came in that it was store-bought. It came packed in one of those clear deli-style boxes and included a Kroger label, complete with a list of the contents, ingredients, a UPC code and all. Instinctively, I called her out on this.
I looked at her incredulously. “No you didn’t. You bought this at the store.” I even asked her about it later in the day. “Why would you tell my family you made that pie? They don’t care that you didn’t make it fresh”. This was the first, stark example I would have with Jabba and her affinity for bullshit.
Mother and my grandmother saw right through it from day one. But like the rest of my immediate family and friends would do for the duration of our marriage, they looked past it. Not because they thought so highly of Jabba; but because they loved me.
It wasn’t a big deal; just a little white lie. But it served as a precursor of what would come in the months and years ahead. Jabba and bullshit is a love affair that continues to this day, with my last entry being the most recent example.
If that last post feels like I didn’t finish it, it’s because I probably didn’t. Frankly, even thinking about last Thursday’s conversation gets me riled up. I had my freak-out period, calmed down and returned to my two initial conclusions:
Assuming that Jabba is telling the truth: This would mean that The Kid has been seeing a child psychiatrist for a comment he made upwards of four months ago. Furthermore, it would mean that Jabba knowingly allowed The Kid into a situation that she knew would make him uncomfortable – namely seeing me and even the possibility of seeing me with The Auteur. Also, it would mean she put him into this situation without saying one word of it to me. Finally, it would mean that she has footing the bill for the psychiatrist herself, despite the fact that she has been hounding me about starting child support payments and medical reimbursements. If this is the case, then shame on her.
Or the other, more likely scenario: Jabba is lying. The Kid hasn’t seen any psychiatrist and she is that desperate to get a rise out of me or to try to undermine my new life. Were she as concerned about The Kid as she claims, she would have told me immediately about what he said. She would have temporarily ignored her personal beef with me and we would have just talked about him. Alas, she had to fall back on her typical, petty mud-slinging and screaming. Such a level of out-right lying and fabricating facts takes a level of depravity and desperation that I would have – at one time – thought to be beneath even her. If this is the case – as I believe it to be – then shame on her.
This is a pretty black-and-white issue. She is either telling the truth, or she is lying. Shame on her, in either case. Furthermore, if she feels she has lost control and is sinking to such levels of desperation, then I fear what she may try to say, do or accuse me – or one of my loved ones – of doing in the future. My concern now is how and where to go from here. I have some thoughts on that – but nothing I am willing to commit to HTML. Yet.
I got an e-mail from Jabba on Sunday night. Up until now, I’ve been reluctant to talk about it, let alone share it; but a phone conversation I had with her last night has prompted me to finally open up.
The Kid had a meltdown last night. He said some really frightening things and some that I will spare you. It was a gut wrenching night. The issue was his trip to Michigan.
He told me that “I wish my daddy didn’t have a girlfriend because then he’d love me.” He never mentioned The Auteur’s name as he likes her. He doesn’t like the idea of her. He is afraid that you are going to marry her and have a baby and forget about him and not love him. His biggest complaint was that he isn’t get to see Mother, The Old Man and Phred enough while he was in Michigan. He has asked me to speak with you about this. He has asked me to ask you that when he comes to Michigan that he wants to stay at Mother and The Old Man’s with you. It is much the same as what he said while he was up there. He told me that he tried to speak with you about it and that you wouldn’t listen to him so he thinks “he needs help from an adult.”
I ask you to hear him out and follow his lead. This is not about you. This is not about The Auteur. This is about The Kid not being emotionally it psychologically prepared to deal with this right now and you respecting his feelings. The way you handle this can help him accept The Auteur’s role in his life or reject it. Similarly, it will do the same for his feelings for you.
Please speak with him and more importantly listen to him
I was tempted to ignore it altogether; not even dignify it with a response. Fast forward to last night: The Kid and I are talking on the phone when he tells me that Jabba wants to talk to me. He apparently misunderstood her as she just wanted to know if I got the e-mail. I confirmed for The Kid – and Jabba – that I did.
Obviously, this is a topic that Jabba and I needed, and need, to discuss. At the behest of The Auteur, I decided to give Jabba a call Thursday night so we could stop tip-toeing through this. As I mentioned in an earlier entry HERE, I don’t believe that The Kid truly feels the way that Jabba claims he does. As the old saying goes: I haven’t seen it myself; therefore I don’t believe it.
The Hutt reached an absolute new low last night: She told me that The Kid has been seeing a child psychologist and said that he wanted to kill himself. Upon hearing this, I immediately asked for the name and number for this child psychiatrist. She refused to give it to me, stating that she is reluctant to take that “safe place” away from The Kid. Needless to say, I am now exploring my legal rights on this matter.
What was most striking to me was that this alleged bombshell she dropped did not change the course of our discussion. She did not set aside any animosity she has for me in an attempt to get to the heart of this matter. No; instead she reverted to her typical name call and cursing at me. So I took a page out of her book: after warning her several times to stop the name-calling, I told her that I would continue this conversation when she was ready to talk like an adult. I told her “have a good night” and I hung up on her.
Of course, if my son is feeling like this, then I will do everything in my power to help him. But the fact of the matter is that it is highly unusual for a six-year-old to even have suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, there is absolutely no indication in any other aspect of his life that he is anything other than a happy little boy. I have spoken with his school teacher and she has said repeatedly that he is a both happy and precocious. In fact, when she e-mailed The Kid’s report card, she even said he talked about how much fun he had with me over Christmas break. At the time, the comment made me feel really good. Little did I realize just how important that remark would become in just a few short weeks.
“…nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain” – W. Axl Rose
The weather is finally breaking and people are starting to come out of their homes and resume their normal lives. It’s kind of surreal: local temperatures are about 35 degrees higher than they were 2 and a half days ago. Snow, arctic wind shears, sub-zero temperatures: I got to experience the entire Ice Age in just five days.
It occurred to me today that – and this may sound really melodramatic – that just like the weather, tough times do pass. The holidays are over, the world is returning to its regularly scheduled routines. My classes started this week – more or less given the snow days and I am more motivated I’ve been to finish school since I returned to Michigan. People like like to talk a lot about how important it is to have goals. Recently, I have come to the realization that as important as it is to have something to work toward, it is equally important to have things to work for.
But back to my point: Being broke, feeling stuck in a seemingly never-ending divorce, dark skies, shitty weather – all of these things do come to an end. This isn’t to say that life is perfect. As always, it continues to be a work in progress. but I definitely feel like I’m turning a corner.
With the start of school and re-certification around the corner, I find myself wondering where I’ll find a job for the fall. this time of the year inevitably make me look forward…and look back. i wonder where I’ll be 9 months from now, or even 6 months from now. The reality is that, just as I did ten years ago, I’m going to raise my proverbial sails to the wind and see where potential employment takes me. I feel like experience has made me wise in this regard. I’ve moved ‘cross country before. i know what it’s like; I know what it takes; and I know what I would do differently the second time around.
People think that getting a divorce decree is the final step in the whole divorce process. I’m coming to the realization that it is just the beginning.
As I posted earlier here, this past Christmas, my divorce and my interactions with The Kid and with Jabba were taken to a whole new level. One would think that once the divorce was finalized, or at least very close to being finalized, that things would start to settle down – adjust to the New Normal if you will.
HERE, I’M GONNA SAY IT: I believe that The Kid was – and continues to be – manipulated by Jabba. I think he was coached and coerced into saying “Dad, i feel like I’m being replaced” and “I’m not here to see the Auteur; I’m here to see Mother and The Old Man”. I saw what a good time he had while he was here with us. I saw first-hand how willing he was to confide in The Auteur; and the fact that he seemed like he would genuinely miss her as he was getting ready to go home.
The Kid’s word continue to haunt both me and my relationship with the Auteur. Even before this Christmas visit, I already had some real concerns with The Kid’s mouth. He’s becoming a smart-ass. He is very sarcastic, particularly for a 6 year old. He is, as mother put it best, “his mother’s son”. The sad reality is that there is very little I can do about this.
THE FOLLOWING POST WAS STARTED ON DECEMBER 27, 2013.
“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’s “The 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…