Tag Archives: South Carolina

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.

A divorce update and some bitching

If you are married, live in the North (and I’m referring to the same North that people think of when they think of the Civil War) and are thinking about moving down South, my advice to you is:  DON’T.

Jabba and I were married in 2000 here in Michigan.  We moved down South in 2004.   We separated in 2012; and since we were South Carolina residents for 8 years, we had to file for our divorce in South Carolina.

There is no such thing as a “no fault divorce” in South Carolina – at least not in the same sense that there is in Michigan.  I’ve heard of some people in Michigan having divorces go from start to finish in as little as 6 months.  Unless it’s something severe – substance abuse, physical abuse, criminal activity – it takes a minimum of one year to get a divorce in the Palmetto State.

And I get it.  I really do.  The state really wants people to try and save their marriages and I respect that – as long as there is even an chance of saving said marriage.  As my lawyer, Greenie, pointed out to me “If there is a Bible belt in this country, South Carolina is the buckle of that belt”.

I bring all of this up now because it has been nearly 18 months since Jabba and I separated and I have absolutely no proof that we’re any closer our divorce being finalized that we were the day I moved out.  According to Greenie, the judge has our papers and we’re all just waiting for him to sign off on them, which should just be a formality.  The only reason I even believe that is because I actually saw the judge when I appeared in court and he essentially rubber-stamped everything there.

It’s not as if Jabba and I are fighting over some multi-million dollar estate, or we’re locked in some bitter custody dispute over The Kid.  In the grand scheme of things, we’ve agreed on almost everything – although some of my previous blog entries may seem to suggest otherwise.

I just want this thing to be done by the end of the year.  That would be a great Christmas present and a great way to end 2013.

endgame

Checkmate.

Checkmate.

I am officially a single man, effective today – at least by a decree from a Berkeley County Judge. It is literally all over except for the paperwork. My fourteen month odyssey is over, but not without a few last minute Jabba hijinks.

I got to court at 1:30 for my 2 PM appearance. As I walked into the courthouse, I saw Jabba pull up, which caught my attention, since I was curious if she would even be in court today.

I got there before Greenie (my lawyer) did.  Jabba’s lawyer saw me sign in an introduced himself to me.  I found it odd that he mispronounced my last name, especially since it is also Jabba’s last name. At best, he made himself look ignorant;  at worst he made it appear as if he didn’t know his client well enough to learn how to pronounce her last name.

The court appearance was originally set up as a hear for 13 motions that Jabba and her lawyer were filing.  however when we got there, both lawyers agreed that they wanted to change this hearing to a “final hearing”. The entire procedure took, maybe, 15 minutes since our lawyers had hammered out an agreement yesterday.

I did have to interrupt briefly to ask my lawyer about the weekend visitations. Jabba’s side agreed. The judge said he would need a signed affidavit stating that I was no longer living in South Carolina before writing up the final papers. Otherwise, it is done.

My lawyer and I spoke for a few minutes on the way back to our cars. As we finished, Jabba approached me and asked if I wanted to go to Ben’s swim practice. She then asked if I would want to take him to dinner. I agreed to both and asked about having him for the weekend. She asked me if I had the affidavit yet. I explained that I just heard about it. She told me in her -roundabout Jabba manner that I could not take him without the signed affidavit.

My response was, “Let’s see what my lawyer says about that.” She left, as I called my lawyer from the parking lot of the courthouse. after taking part in an intense phone tag session, Greenie’s (my code name for my lawyer)  paralegals got in touch with Jabba’s attorney, who explained to Greenie’s paralegals he and his client (Jabba) had “a small communication error” regarding this weekend and that I would be able to have The Boy for the weekend.

denouement

Could it be that this fourteen month odyssey is finally coming to an end?

I am currently blogging from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where I will be appearing in court tomorrow.  Last week, I was informed by my attorney that court appearance I was supposed to have back in June was rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  Apparently Jabba and her attorney got their shit together and submitted files their motion (motions?) with the court, so I made plans to come down for the court date.

after landing in Myrtle Beach and getting my rental car, I got a call from my attorney.  He explained to me that he & Jabba’s attorney have reached a settlement. He didn’t go into too much detail; but what he did described sounded pretty good.  I’m going to try to read the settlement before we go into court tomorrow.

In equally good news, The Auteur signed her divorce papers on Monday.  According to her attorney, she should have her final papers in about 60 days.

Her and I have both been living with these divorces hanging over our heads for so long now that I almost feel like I’m used to them (the divorces) just being a lingering thing.  It’s not unlike when Rob says to Mikey in Swingers that “you’ve lived with it for so long, you almost miss the pain”.    Howerer after talking to my lawyer, I quickly found myself adjusting to the idea of “No More Jabba”.

approaching zero hour

fade to white

fade to white

Time, as it often tends to do, has snuck up on me.  Two days from now is The Boy’s last day of school.  Three days from now will be 11 months since the day I left Charleston; and I don’t feel any closer to being “officially divorced” than I did then.  It feels as if my attorney, and the STBX’s attorney for that matter,  is dragging his heels through this.

I got an e-mail from the STBX about a week-and-a-half ago asking about my plans for the summer.  I didn’t even respond to her – I forwarded it on to my lawyer, whose done virtually nothing about it.  I think I’m gonna have to pull the trigger on this one myself and take the 4 weeks that the STBX is willing to provide me The Boy, at least for this summer anyway.

And that’s only part of my problem:  I’m broke.  Much like my lady-love, The Auteur, I’m looking for work.  I don’t even have the money to go pick him up, that’s how pathetic I am right now.

Although I’ve made it very clear to the STBX that I want The Boy for 6 weeks during his summer break, I’ve been preparing myself for the reality that I may not get him for that long until this divorce is finalized in court. I’m ready for that.  I’d hate it, but I can deal with it.   My problem is that I’m looking at the calendar and nothing seems to have been done.

I guess that leads me to an even bigger question:  What have I accomplished in the last 11 months?

  • I’ve returned to school, with some mixed results.
  • I’ve made a few unofficial child support payments to the STBX – albeit upon advice from my attorney.
  • I’ve brought The Boy up here to Michigan and made a trip to see him in South Carolina on my own dime.
  • Six months ago, I started working out and have never felt better about my body.
  • Most important of all, I’ve met an amazing woman with whom I want to spend the rest of my life…
  • And in doing so I accomplished something I didn’t think was possible in Michigan:  I got comfortable.

The Auteur sees me in a bit of a rut and she’s right.  She summed it up best when she said “You’re comfortable.  You hate your situation, but you’re comfortable”.

three certainties in life

"...and your little tax refund to..."

“…and your little tax refund too!”

Ben Franklin once said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. On this Tax Day 2013, I would humbly submit a third absolute to be added to this list: getting financially fucked up the ass during divorce proceedings.

For the first time since actually leaving South Carolina, I am truly beginning to feel the financial ramifications of the dissolution of my marriage. As some of you may have guessed, I am talking about my income taxes for 2012. I had gotten used to kick-back i would receive from the IRS for the living, breathing write-off that is my son. Despite the fact that he lived in my home for one-half of the calendar year –  I fed him, clothed him, paid for his day care and health care expenses –  the STBX is the only one who is reaping the financial windfall of this endeavor called parenthood in 2012.

I don’t want to come across like I’m all about the money. I’m not. I would gladly let the STBX reap the financial benefits of our Son if it meant I had sole custody of him.  Hell, now I would settle for joint custody.  I really would. My income tax returns are just another example from taking it up the wazoo from the Wicked Witch of the Southeast.

To make matters worse, this has probably been the worst year of my professional life. I didn’t work much this past year, and I made even less money. That and I apparently fucked up my with- holdings during my last teaching gig.

I’m really not trying to be all “the glass is half-empty and there’s a hole in it”. Really, I’m not. I’m cautiously optimistic that this tax thing is the final dark cloud bordering on my silver lining. Things are going extraordinarily well with The Auteur. She and I just had what I consider to be the best weekend of my life so far. If taking my lumps with tax season is the price i have to pay for this remarkable relationship with The Auteur, then so be it.

Wow. it’s true. All I have to do is think of her and I feel better about things.

Perhaps I should reconsider that third certainty.

I really shouldn’t even be complaining.  Not today anyway.  Not when a great celebration turned into this earlier today…

Why?

Why?

reflecting on a week in the Grand Strand.

It shouldn't surprise me that the STBX removed the  Disney "Dad" sticker from the back of her car; but it was a weird sight nonetheless

Gone is the Disney “Dad” sticker from the back of the STBX’s  car.

As I type this, I am sitting at the gate waiting for my flight to Detroit to pull in. I’ve spent the last 6 days in Myrtle Beach, four of which I spend with My Son. As usual, he was giddy to see me; so excited he was running a-mile-a-minute. Just like at Christmas, we spent most of our time just hanging out, shopping and watching TV.  We made it to the beach a few times, played a game of miniautre golf at the aptly named Jurassic Golf. And of course, we also built some Lego sets.  I did however manage to take him to see Jurassic Park 3D, which I thought was as good as a post-production 3D conversion of a 20 year old film could expect to be. JP is just plain fun, and it was an extra special treat to see it on the big screen with my Son.

The weather sucked by Myrtle Beach standards, but it was still better than this still-born spring we’re currently slumming through in the D.  The hotel was pretty nice, with a full kitchen and an absolutely spectacular balcony overlooking the ocean.

Saturday night, the Boy wasn’t feeling good.  After conferring with the STBX, we suspected he had pink eye.  I ended up accompanying the two of them to urgent care on Sunday.  The Boy asked me to go and he was kind of freaking out about it, so I agreed.  the doctor’s confirmed it was pink eye; so he got an extra 2 days of vacation from school.

Sitting in that waiting was, literally, the longest time I’ve spent with the STBX since before I left South Carolina.  While I was concerned about the Boy, it felt to awkward being there with her also in the room.  The sensation was a stark reminder that that particular part of my life is over.    I wasn’t sad or anything; I just wanted to get out of there.

Leaving wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. The Boy and I both cried at the drop-off which almost made the trip to urgent care a blessing in disguise.  Our final goodbye was at UC, but neither he nor I cried then.  We basically got all the crying out of the way at McDonald’s

I’ve been told that these drop-offs and goodbyes get easier with time.  This was only our second one and it did seem easier; but there was more going on here.  I was excited to get back to Michigan and the life that I have here now.  Doubtless, the prospect of seeing The Auteur again had a lot to do with it.  Even beyond The Auteur, I am happier now than I’ve been in a LONG time.

Reflections in the aftermath of the Newton, CT shootings.

I wanted my next few posts to be about non-legal proceeding, non-divorce related, non-sad stuff.  I wanted them to be somewhat light-hearted:  an analysis of askmen.com 99 women of 2013; a review of  “the hobbit” and others, but then a horrific tragedy took place yesterday in a town I had never heard of…

It's so much simpler in comic books.

It’s so much simpler in comic books.

I suppose as an educator and a parent, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about my feelings on the events of yesterday in Newtown, CT.  For the record, I do support the second amendment AND stricter gun-control laws, but that’s really not the point here. Well, maybe it is.

Personally, I hate guns.  Maybe it’s because I’ve read too many Batman comics. Maybe it’s because one of my parents is a former police officer.  Maybe it’s because my other parent was involved in a lock down-type situation a teenage neighbor ultimately took his own life. This is not a judgment made out of ignorance or fear.  I’ve fired handguns, rifles and shotguns in the past.  Knowledge of how they work, caring for them and the prospect of owning one legally does not put me at any more ease with them.

I’ve never felt the need or desire to own a gun.  I’ve lived in relatively safe, suburban areas my entire life.  However, I have also at times lived in areas where gangs and arson were prevalent and it was not unusual to see and/or hear gunfire and shootings.  I worked, gone to school and spent a good portion of my leisure time in some of the rougher areas of  one of america’s most violent cities – Detroit.   In spite of all of this, I have no intention of ever owning a firearm.  Perhaps it is my own naivete.  I think sometimes as a white male in America, I do feel inherently safer than women or people of ethnic minorities may generally feel.  Of course, all I’ve ever been is a white male, so it’s not as if I have any real frame of reference to make such an assessment.

The truth is, guns kill people.  In the least, they make it VERY easy for people to kill people. A death or injury by gunfire is more likely occur in a home that owns a gun than in a home that does not; that’s just common sense.  The thoughts of someone getting injured as a result of a gun accident, or someone stealing a gun from my home only detract me from purchasing a gun even more.

Gun advocates inevitably will cite the 2nd amendment‘s right to bear arms.  While I do support this right, I truly question it’s relevance in 21st century America.  In the Founding Fathers‘ time, it made sense – allow the people to be armed in the event that the government breaks down and/or becomes a dictatorship.  Today, however, I think it would be virtually impossible for the citizens of this country to overthrow the government in the event of such a catastrophe. Furthermore, the actual wording of the 2nd amendment is, at best, vague and open to interpretation.  “A well regulated militia…” could be construed to me something as simple of your state’s chapter of  National Guard.  Finally, the Founding Fathers lived in an era of muskets and cannons.  They did not and could have imagined a world  of armor-piercing bullets and assault rifles.

There are no simple answers to this ongoing debate.  If there was a quick-fix, i’m sure people on both sides of the political spectrum would rally behind it. The events of 12/14/12 will for many of us, only serve as more fuel for the ongoing debate.  To be honest, I don’t think that politicians on either side of the aisle are willing to take the drastic steps necessary to either weaken OR strengthen gun-control laws.  Sadly, I think we will continue to live as we always do – as a society on the brink.

As a person who has  virtually no connection to the tragedy of Newtown, CT, the most difficult part of yesterday was not being able to see my son.  I would have loved the chance to hug him and look him in the face as I told him that I love him.  But I was able to speak to him – via telephone, and tell him that I love him;  and remind him that I will be seeing him when I pick him up at the airport on Friday.  And that Santa will be coming to see him both in Michigan and in South Carolina.  That is a hell of a lot more than the families who lost their loved ones yesterday can now say.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Damn.  I just made myself cry.  Well, maybe it wasn’t my writing…

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.

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