Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Simple Things Made Hard

Retainer (orthodontia) appointments. Emails to teachers. Music Lessons. These things are not rocket science. You make an appointment, you pick the kid up, you drop the kids off, you take the kid home. Simple.

HA HA HA. Add to the equation 1) a mother who is used to scheduling all things; 2) a father who prefers the mother not exist during the weeks father has custody; and 3) two control freaks. Result? A camel where a horse once stood (the old joke my dad told me - what's a camel? A horse made by a committee).

Today's email exchange went like this: (CUSTODY STATUS: HIS)
EX: retainer appointment still on? I forgot to mention to child.
ME: so far so good, I will text [note long story short I had volunteered to cover this and he accepted - unusual during "his" week]

30 minutes later....
ME: unexpected meeting at 4:30 - move appointment to tomorrow I will cover?
HIM: NO keep to today, I will cover. ... blah blah blah [READ: I will martyr it up and drive back and forth to school and home twice just to make it all happen because you created this evil situation i.e. the divorce, not me and now every other week my life is a mess] Can you cover makeup flute tomorrow because I can't [be in two places at once]
ME: ok I will cover flute. I had not yet texted child re: appointment. Want me to?
HIM: NO. I will call later.. more blah blah with the undercurrent [I am the master and have things completely under control while you mess things up with your meetings and your travel. I plan my life around my children, you plan your life around you]

OK PEOPLE WE LIVE NEXT DOOR TO EACH OTHER and I was volunteering to cover something in my off week. and it's a retainer appointment. Not life-saving surgery or an equally important appointment.

Perhaps it was the simultaneous exchange going on about my travel next week (during my week) and whether they would see me at all or whether I would forfeit all rights all week because of my horrible mothering and 4 day work related travel? WE LIVE NEXT DOOR - CHANGING HOUSES IS NO BIG DEAL. And then, when we got down a tangent and I offered him 4th of July, even though it falls during my week, I got cut off at the knees..

I think I spent an hour emailing him today. YES I offered to have a civilized discussion about it (during non-work hours!), about the summer, and travel and weekends. etc. He declined. The exchange ended as most of our exchanges have for the past 20 years. "We'll do it your way even though it makes no sense because I am the martyr and you are the evil selfish mother." I have long since stopped being manipulated by that (yes I really used to fall for it - he's quite good at it) and just say, "OK I was willing to be flexible but if you don't want to accept my offer, we can leave things as they are."

READ: [You ARE the weakest link - GOODBYE]

Friday, April 25, 2008

Running from the Pain

I am a runner, literally and figuratively. I did a marathon in 2006 and 2008 will be the "year of the 10 milers." I also run from emotional pain. Did I mention I am a fast runner?

The Ex's Grandmother passed away the other day. Not unexpected at 94. In fact she announced her passing a couple weeks ago and called her children to her side. Brave, smart lady.

Grandmother and I had a true, loving relationship. I called her Grandmother. She called me her granddaughter. I was blessed; I was lucky.

She knew about the separation and was saddened but continued to care about me.

Now she is gone, and I cannot go to her funeral. The Ex has asked me not to. Considering the funeral is 8 hours away in a remote location and the family thing is all weird, I will honor his request. Truth be told, the thought of NOT riding 8 hours one way through curvy roads all by myself doesn't upset me. Besides, She was extremely important to Ex. She called him her "onliest." (the only boy, ok that's just annoying but I loved her anyway. Yes, I often signed cards, "The Onliest's Wife" She thought it was funny.)

I was ok with the whole "not going" thing. Well, I said I was ok. Then my daughter asked if I were going. And I said, "No Dad thinks it's best if I don't go." And I saw the pain on her face. And I said, "But we're improving - we actually talked about it, right? And I think we're getting along better." My desire to shield my children overcomes my desire to speak my true heart, clearly.

Then today I ordered the flowers for the funeral. Wild horses couldn't stop me from doing that. Hopefully a big, gorgeous display of her favorite: pink roses. And then I hung up the phone and cried. Why? Because I can't say goodbye. Because I don't get to see the whole family that I still care deeply about. Because my daughter has to go through this without me - we are very close. She'll tell me stuff she won't tell anyone else. So I tell myself this is a good thing - she'll maybe open up to her dad. Or her cousins. Look on the bright side, this is a growing experience for us all. Right?

Bull Sh**. I'm mad and I'm hurt and I'm sad. And I am running to Florida to jump on a sailboat and go sailing while my family mourns. Maybe then I won't have to think about it. Besides, my rugs at home are too piled up and lumpy with stuff I've previously swept under there to handle this one.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Spy Who (used to) Love me

Drawbacks of next door neighbors with a full garage: K's garage is full of STUFF from the overflow move. He parks outside. I therefore know decisively when he is there and when he is not. SO where the heck is he on a weeknight at 10pm? Hmmmm? He disappeared a couple times last week when he had the kids. What is he thinking? All I can say is PLEASE OH PLEASE HAVE A GIRLFRIEND AND GET HAPPY!!!!!!!!!! Really, I'm serious. I think a girlfriend would be a good thing for him! I accepted a few years ago that I do not make him happy (and vice versa). I have moved on. I hope he does. But still, I wonder. Why do I wonder? I honestly don't know. I have always been somewhat of a snoop. Goes with the lawyer in me. SO where is he????

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I love Dogs. I wanted a dog my whole life. My dog T-bone died when I was just 5 and Meanie Mommy said, "No More Dogs." (Actually she said, "We're not getting a dog!" but that's another story...) Anyway, mom said I could carry a puppy down the aisle instead of flowers. Out of respect for my dress, I didn't carry a puppy, but 2 seconds after we got home from the honeymoon I started begging Ex for a dog. He'd open the newspaper and what's in the Margin? "BUY ME A DOG" "ME NEEDS A DOG." Notes in his lunch about dogs. Photos of cute puppies on the fridge. 2 weeks later he threw the newspaper at me and said, "PICK OUT A DOG!" Enter Doggy # 1 "Reggae."

Reggae threw herself off the balcony in Spain. Broke my heart.

Years later, back in the states, I again bargained for a dog. Long story short, Chessie became my mother's day present. A few years ago the lobby began for doggy #2. The kids lamented that Chessie was my dog - listened to me, came to me, slept with me. They wanted another dog to be theirs (I tried to explain that if you feed her and love her and don't pull her tail she'd love you, too, but they didn't believe me). Ex said, "NO - NO MORE DOGS. Who wants to wipe 8 paws when it rains, scoop up twice the poop, pay twice the vet bills. NO!!!" I wanted a smaller dog. Still the answer was a resounding NO.

Exit the Ex with 1/2 my dog.

One day, what should appear at the Ex's house? ANOTHER DOG. What appeared steaming from my ears? Smoke? What's this I get denied a dog for years and then he has two?!! Eventually I got over the hurt and the anger.

Now there is only joy.

The new dog, "Cassie" - who looks just like Chessie (draw your own conclusions here _____), is nicknamed Marley. Although beautiful and soft and lovable, she is a holy terror. I think she's 2 or 3 years old - Ex is the third owner. She eats everything. She goes into the garbage or gets up on the countertops while you're standing right there. You cannot leave her alone for 30 seconds or she's into something, eating something, terrorizing something. She is a royal pain in the butt. How do I know these things? I am currently babysitting for her while Ex is out of town. (A huge olive branch if you ask me - which is why I said yes. Shows how desperate I am to open the lines of communication...)

Know what? I Do Not Want Another Dog. I enjoy my freedom. Just as I have babysat other babies to know conclusively I am over the whole "baby" thing yet still love my own kids desperately? I now know I am over the whole "puppy" thing.

And now indeed my Joy is Complete.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coming out of the Blogger Closet

It's Official. Today I came out of the closet. I admit, it didn't take long. I also admit I was nervous. Dare I tell anyone about this blog? Well of course I told my Mom. She Rocks. I can tell her anything. And my friend over at Paranoid - she's incredibly supportive. And my sisters. And my F.U. sister. But beyond that? Hmmmmm. It started to "leak out" at Happy Hour Friday night as we said goodbye to The Don - perhaps the funniest man I have ever known (and I know some funny people, so that's saying something). He brought it up on his iPhone and passed it around. Good thing most people were drinking and hopefully forgot about it. (HEY DON you owe me a guest-posting - I haven't forgotten!) But they laughed. So today I said to myself, "Quit beating yourself up and try it!"

I sent an email to my family, fellow cousin bloggers, some extended family, some friends, even two coworkers (not their work addresses). The results have been hilarious. You all have been there for me over the years, through the tears, listening to me brag on the kids, whine about the Ex, save me from moments of insanity or join in them, depending on the level of risk. And now you've joined me in the next phase of my "hootness" as Broccoli calls it.

Fun responses:
  • from my legal coworker, legal advice in a website article about blogs and how whiney tell-all divorce blogs can get you into trouble. Nope, not going to find that here, I hope. LK I'm counting on you for your legal review!
  • from my old friend broccoli, comments about my body (I forgot that was in there when I sent around the invite! yes my mouth/hands overflowth here just like in real life);
  • from my cousin DF the admission that he didn't notice anything different. And, of course, words of support. Gotta love cousins;
  • from JO an awesome idea for that "once wedding" quilt - the one her mom made and I hated to put away. Looks like a call to K is in order;
  • supportive posts from Paranoid who still, inexplicably, thinks she wants to be me when she grows up. She hasn't figured out yet that she's already light years beyond me;
  • and the emails - funny, encouraging, saucy, racy, perfect.

So Glad I'm Out Of the Closet. It was dark and lonely in there. I'm pretty tired of dark and lonely. Time for some FUN!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Keeping Up with the Jones takes on Whole New Meaning

Some people are "perfect grass" people - no sticks in the yard, no weeds, perfectly trimmed, etc. Others are not. Would I like to have perfect grass? Of course. Do I have the time, inclination etc to actually have perfect grass? Um, no.

But there's this guy next door....

So Friday rolls around, I realize my lawn man - aka my teenage son - is leaving for the weekend with Dad. He's playing rugby and, quite frankly, too busy to keep up with 2 lawns. Next door, the grass is short, trim, nice. Fertilizer has been dutifully strewn about, not a stick in sight (which is saying something in our neighborhood of 3 million old, stick-dropping trees). Meanwhile, my backyard looks like the house has been for sale for a few months and no one's been by to clean up the hurricane damage...you know, the one that only struck my yard.

I have the tools - big tractor, push mower, backpack blower, gas trimmer, clippers, gloves, trash cans, gas, oil mixstuff for the gas for one of the mowers, portable air compression tank to fill the tires... but I have no idea how to use any of it. I did ask throughout the 19 evil years. Repeatedly. "Please show me how to use this stuff in case I never need to." "You don't need to - I'll do it, and I'll show our son and we'll handle it." Yeah right.

But I'm a well-educated woman, kind of handy, very inspired and determined, so I awaken with the resolve to figure it out myself (without ruining any tools in the process if I can help it).


Step one - pick up sticks. No problem. I can do that. Gloves, check. Can, check. Ex'sWild dog on leash so she doesn't escape, check. (Dog sitting while he's out of town with the kids). Picking up sticks, lots of sticks, oh so many sticks, hours and hours of sticks. Start chucking sticks under bushes. Start chucking sticks under trampoline, start chucking sticks in the neighbor's yard. (KIDDING sort of). Call it quits after an hour of picking up sticks. Daylight is upon us. Time to tackle the mower/tractor issue. And capture the dog who has escaped and broken her extendo-leash. (Add to list trip to pet store to replace leash).


Step two - find keys to shed, remove wagon and push mower to get to tractor. Check tires - FLAT. Find air compressor in shed, fill up 1 tire. Air compressor empty. Check other tire FLAT. Hmmmmm...maybe roll tractor out. Push. Pull Grunt, get verrrrry dirty. tractor won't move. Can't take the mountain to mohammed. Try putting tractor in neutral and removing parking brake and unwedging the side of it from debris. Tractor rolls slightly.


Step 2.1 find air. Ex has big air compressor in garage - this compressor says it's refillable. Go on internet, figure out how to refill portable/refillable air compressor. All I find is "like a bike tire." Hmmm. Go to ex's garage, find big air compressor. Play with nozzles, gadgets, etc. Give up on refilling tank. See if Ex has portable tank. No. Eye ex's new lawn tractor and contemplate "borrowing" it....nix idea as bad idea.


Step 2.2 See nice male neighbor. Ask about air. Hand pump! Yes! Hand Pump!! Pump up tires. Note to self: don't do lawn work in a white tank top. Lawn tools are covered with 6 months of old dirt and dust. Return hand pump triumphantly. Return to shed, roll tractor out of shed. Get on tractor. Read 6 million warning label. In Neutral. Blade disengaged. Blade up. Clutch in. Brake on. Turn key to start.....nothing. See nifty gauge called "DC power." Battery is dead. Gee, couldn't have noticed that oh, 2 hours ago.


Eye Lawn Boy push mower. Remember seeing owner's manual in ex's garage on lawnboy and remember something about "mixing fuel." GO get owner's manual. Find gas. Find mixing tank. Find little green jar of lawnboy oil to mix with gas. Mix gas/oil for lawnboy. Unscrew gas to fill - find tank full. Remove bagger capacity, put mulch shield on. Prime engine. Pull string - SUCCESS!!! A RUNNING ENGINE!!!!!!!

Time lapsed 2 hours 45 minutes.


Push mower around far back, get hang of self propeller bar. Forget to let go of selfpropeller around turns and plow into tree. laugh. let go of throttle. stall motor. Lather, rinse repeat. Get the hang of mower, go get iPod, dance behind mower singing, "I will survive" and thrill in the moment of sunshine, freshly mown grass, and determination.


Get backpack blower. Get owner's manual. Figure out how to start it. Put on backpack blower and blow the hell out of the back patio - buh-bye cherry blossoms, buh-bye sticks, debris, junk. WHOO-HOO this is fun. Blow off driveway. Over too quickly. Blow off front walk. Contemplate blowing off entire street. this is way too fun. No wonder they won't show me how to use their toys.

2pm. Phone rings. Call for help from sis-in-law to visit ex's parents and intervene. Put away toys. Shower. Visit mother & dad. First take photos...

Yard before

Yard after (still need to remove old weeds)

Success!!! A little dirty, but happy nonetheless. Next time will be easier! (Oh I hired the chemical part done. Some things are not worth my time)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Joys and Dangers

The most obvious benefit of Next Door is making it easier on the whole sharing the kids scenario - but it has its downside. They pop in at all hours of the day and night, unexpected, unannounced, scaring the pants off you. Like the morning I was on the treadmill, iPod blaring, preparing for an upcoming race, "in the moment" imagining coming down the homestretch when suddenly there is a PERSON standing next to me at 5:30am, looking for a forgotten something for school. And I thought my heartrate couldn't get any higher. Or after a late night of salsa dancing - really late - and they come bopping in the next morning at 7:30 a.m. looking for something for a trip with Dad. It's great that the first thing they want to do is say hello...but jeez...and we won't even go into the whole idea of dating. Not them, me, silly. Well, I'm up now, guess I'll get some chores done. So much for sleeping in.....

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Pink Thing

I admit it, since he moved out, I have a pink fetish. Blue has always been my color. I have seriously blue eyes (the one feature I honestly love about myself - oh and the new boobs I bought myself, but that's another post for another day...), I look good in blue, I love blue. Fortunately, the ex loved blue, so the whole house is blue and white, some yellow, mostly BLUE. I am not much of a decorator and have limited creative talent, hence lots of blue - go with what you know! But for the last year or so pink has been creeping in - pink clothes, pink shoes, pink purses, pink polka dot purses (two), pink socks, pink IPOD case, pink accents in my wardrobe and my life here and there.

Then he moved out, and it was time to reclaim (claim?) MY bedroom. MY bed. Where I get to sleep ALONE - YIPPPEEEEEEEEE. I bought a ginormous superpillowtop bed a few years ago and finally got my sleigh bed. It's mahogany and gorgeous. I love it. But the blue and white handmade wedding quilt my Aunt made with all the family names on it (including my long-since dead grandparents who signed the squares before they passed, God bless people who plan ahead), well duh it had to GO. Despite being blue and beautiful. But what to replace it with? I looked at lots of blue - blue flowers, blue nautical, blue blue blue. And then, on a whim in TJMAXX it jumped off the shelf and into my basket, and I knew it was perfect. The pinkest, cotton candy pink, fluffiest Nautica Comforter you have ever seen. Pink Pink Pink. The back is white with pink and blue ticking stripes. Perfect. And the sheet were there, too. I got the whole set - king sized mind you - for under $150. Crazy sale. Crazy comforter. Happy Me.

My teenage son saw it in the back of the car when I picked him up from school - "WHAT IS THAT?!" Followed by "Mom You really seem to have a Pink PROBLEM."

Yes, yes I do have a pink problem. And It's My Problem. My House. My Bed. And I love it. I added cute white and pink lamps from Target, some cute tiny pink candles in little champagne glasses in various shades of pink. Tossed some blue throw pillows on the bed to pick up the blue ticking. Perfect. The curtains were white, so it all works.

The Icing on the Cake [bed]? my daughter and I were shopping, killing time, and I found the perfect pink throw pillow with my initial on it. A beautiful "m" in script. Although daughter agrees with her twin brother that mom's gone a little pinko, she also agreed the pillow must be purchased. She doesn't know that secretly, the M stands for "MINE."

The frosting flowers on the icing on the cake? The day he came over to do something for the kids in their room, walked by MY room and did a double-take when he saw the PINK bed. He hasn't been upstairs since...

Such a silly thing to make me so happy, but it does....

(this is pre-"M" pillow)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In Fairness to Him

OK I don't intend this to be an "ex bashing" site - more humorous I hope. So in an attempt at fairness, for background purposes, some good things about my ex:
  • He helped around the house enormously, laundry, all yard work, cars, vacuuming
  • He cooked better than I did and was good about helping with that
  • He schlepped kids when asked
  • He did all the bills stuff that I hated
  • He was neat
  • When we had parties or company, he was helpful and thoughtful and kept me from forgetting important things like napkins, ice, food
  • He always helped clean up dinner, parties, holidays whatever
  • He had to be pushed to go "out with the boys" for some fun
  • He was never a couch potato

Ok so by now you're wondering why I let him go, right? Trust me, it was there. But that's not what this site is about. Not about the past (other than for background). It's about the now, the future, and living side-by-side after living, well, side-by-side for 19 years....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

This is not a joke. Or a bad TV show. Or an even worse movie. Nope, this is my life, up close and in person. And I'm not kidding, I live next door to my ex. Why? well, it just sort of happened.

First some background. We met when I was 18. He was 23, handsome, successful, funny, and totally in love with me. I wasn't into love or serious. He convinced me. He wrote me letters - long ones (remember before email? Sigh). He sent me flowers. Brought me gifts. Drew me cute pictures. Made me tapes (tapes kids, before CDs - remember that?!). He held me when I cried because I was afraid he'd break my heart. And he promised me he never would leave me. He chased me up and down the highway throughout college until I said, "I DO." I never slept with anyone before him. He was IT.

Fast forward oh...10 years. He drops the bomb: he doesn't love me. Never loved me. Can't stand me. Oh but we need to stay married because we have kids. I am a stay at home mom - gave up my career to raise our perfect twins (and they are perfect - almost). They were 4, and I wasn't going to be left alone. So we stayed together.

Fast forward 5 years - (are you counting? we're at year 15 of the marriage....hey I'm math challenged, too). Still doesn't love me, doesn't like me. Thinks I am selfish because I leave my shoes around the house. OK so I gave up my family and moved to his. So I gave up every career (and there were good ones) to follow his career around the world. Cook his dinners from scratch, never freeze anything, rules about toilet paper on the roll and making his breakfast lunch and dinner, leave my church and my heritage to join his, coach the kids' soccer team, coach their after school drama team, sell more girl scout cookies than the entire troup. Yep, I'm a real selfish bioch. OH and go to Law school and graduate 3rd in my class so that he can divorce me....

Fast forward 4 years. Yep 19 long, unloving years of marriage and I finally say, "You know what? I can't wait til the kids are in college. I'm done now. Buh-bye." He freaks. Says No. But, obviously, ultimately we divorce. He moves out and takes his entire 401K with him. I keep the house. It was almost a fair trade - he got more on the balance sheet but I didn't have to move, so that was ok. The kids want to split their time 50/50 so we exchange kids every week. He moves about 4 blocks away, which is perfect. We even share the dog - despite the fact she's my dog - my mother's day present. but the kids want the dog with them, so I say ok. (I am so darn selfish I tell you).

Fast forward 6 months. Oh did I forget to tell you that his parents live next door to me? Yeah, they do. And they still love me. His sister still calls me nearly every day. Heck I've been a family member for 20 years. I still have the in-laws over to dinner once a week. Help with whatever I can. (See the selfish pattern just won't end). So why doesn't he live in the house and I move out? It's complicated, but it's about assets and, quite frankly, he stopped loving me years ago, why should I move?! he wanted out, out he got. Buh-bye.

I forgot - we were fast forwarding. One sad and horrible day, his mother has an accident and, very sad, long story short, the in-laws move out suddenly to a retirement home after months of hospitals and rehab. (Yes, I visited her and made her key lime pie when she couldn't eat hard foods and helped with her exercises and put food in dad's fridge. I am so selfish). Suddenly their house is empty of people yet full of 40 years of STUFF. Mother is a master "stuff collector." What to do? HEY what if Ex moves in, sorts through the stuff, gets the house in shape for selling? Great idea. Dad, adorable man that he is, asks my permission. I tell him, "GREAT IDEA!" Solves your problem, solves the kids' problem of always being at 1 house and the "thing they can't live without" is at the other house. Perfect.

Except for one thing. My Ex HATES me. Will not speak to me. Has asked his sisters why I won't just "leave his family alone." Tells the neighbors that I "took his house and left him with nothing." (Um what about that hefty 401k??). Says I was selfish to make him "move long distance" from his parents. I didn't realize 4 blocks was long distance. Says I took the house that meant so much to him - you know, the one we talked about selling as soon as the kids graduate high school. He won't answer my emails. Won't answer when I call his cell - like the time I called from the hospital to tell him his daughter had a concussion but would be ok. Nope, didn't answer, didn't listen to the voicemail.

And that, my friends, is where this story begins....