Friday, December 20, 2013

I Kissed a Girl - and I Liked It

So I'm apparently moving on. In a good way.

Last weekend, I had chance to spend some time with a woman I've been friends with for several years. Since I moved out, we've started more openly flirting by unnecessarily meeting for coffee about our common group, chatting online, and texting. Nothing crazy, very light.

And then last weekend, we were at a convention together. I walked her to her room at the end of the night as I had a few things I was in charge of and had to attend to and It. Was. Just. There. And I kissed her. And she kissed back. And it was wonderful.

Butterflies are a little new. Again. But they never lose their power.

I'll just leave it there. There's more to come, but slowly for now. Never want to jump too fast.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Mother/Daughter Psych Session 1

I'm doing okay, getting things back to the "new normal," keeping my apartment clean, paying my bills...

But MS and Mini are not okay.

On Mini's request, I came in to a sit-down with them and while I was asked to be there in group, it ended up as me as a facilitator to listen to them speak to one another and validate and be a decent.

I'd say it went well, except it didn't. Mini is angry about MS having Dude over all the time, voiced her disapproval at his presence and occasional commentary which - intentional or not - makes her feel like he's trying to be a parent. MS voiced her frustration at Mini's negative attitude and constant combativeness. Mini stated her direct expectations on when Dude should be there. And...crickets.

They've got some work to do, and I really hope I can be a part of it, even as a third-party facilitator. After watching MS's relationship with own mother deteriorate into nothingness before she passed, the only thing I can hope for is that MS and Mini can reconcile their differences.

And with both their natures being so adversarial, "hope" is the operative word.

I guess I'm just lucky to be a part of it right now. I'm a man. I want to fix. But I'm also intelligent in that I know that I can't really fix, but perhaps by listening and guiding I might be able to help.

I so hope I can help. I can't watch another mother/daughter relationship disappear in front of my eyes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thanksgiving: Uncomfortable

A little late, but a note about Thanksgiving.

It was strange.

I was spending it with my sister, but Mini wanted to make a showing at my ex-father-in-law's (EFIL) yearly extravaganza. The drop-off was normal as we'd actually had brunch with them a few weeks ago. "You're not getting rid of us that easy," as he'd said then. So we caught up for a few minutes and I headed out until the Mini pickup.

And then I picked her up. So much family. And what struck me was the "oh, we haven't seen you in so long" and "we miss seeing you around." It struck me because I suddenly realized no one knew MS and I had split, that I'd been moved out for five months. And they just thought I had decided to be absent.

It was conflicting because I just wanted to shout out the truth, but apparently that hadn't been part of any reveal. It was strange because I was showing up and saying hi and giving hugs and MS wasn't even going to make an appearance because she was out of town with her new boyfriend.

And it was comforting in a way - with EFIL and his wife and my ex-sister-in-law all telling me they want to hang out. Because I will. Because family is not about a word, but a relationship, and even if the legal definitions of that relationship change, I still love hanging out with them and still consider them all family.

And it was sad. Sad that I was there to say hi when MS hadn't but let her sister let her dad know she wouldn't be there, that the blood's ex is in good graces while MS has a great deal of working to do to repair her familial relationships. Unfortunately, her eyes for Dude are tainting everything, including her relationship with our daughter.

But that's a post for another day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Was Back in the House This Weekend

Got to babysit the dog (and Mini) in the ol' house this past weekend while MS was out of town. So strange. Scribbled this down:

No less than three vases of flowers from Dude to MS litter the living and dining room areas. A list in his handwriting hangs on the fridge of things that need to be done to fix up the house. Bicycling and fitness magazines have replaced Scientific American and Game Informer in the basket on top of the toilet tank.

But I'm here for Mini. I'm here for the dog. MS is out of town, Dog doesn't like my place (she begins howling in a trip to take out the garbage), and we don't trust Mini in an empty house (there was a boob hickey incident trigger for that). So I'm here, in this home that was once mine, in a home that now feels like I'm visiting my parents. At least that's how I make it make sense to my brain.

Almost everything is familiar, but so, so distant. Empty areas abound. Dude's stuff punctuates certain places, like the toothbrush holder. The library is still empty of my desk and presence, but there is his bike. I open the fridge to a mysterious stock.

I wander in a foreign land, a place once my own home, never again.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Homecoming Was Weird

I was planning on a weekend at a music fest, but Mini's Homecoming Dance was in full effect.

To clarify: I didn't think she should have gone. Mini hadn't completed one of her online class assignments. This wasn't an arbitrary thing or a missing of an assignment or two; she was two weeks behind in online lessons. I told MS Mini shouldn't go (she's been warned). And MS said she could go anyway.

So conflict enough, I told her I'd come over to see her before heading to the music festival. And when I got there, to the house we lived in together, Dude was there. No warning; I guess I should've expected it. And when I got there, Mini was getting her hair set. And there was Dude. And MS said she was going to do Mini's hair in the bathroom.

There I was: my daughter getting her hair done in the bathroom, Dude hanging out, and Mini at least 45 minutes from getting in her dress. Staying would mean making smalltalk with Dude for about 45 minutes. And as Mini was walking to the bathroom, I was bordering on a panic attack. So I hugged her, told her I loved her, and left for the show. I didn't give a shit about the show in position to seeing her in her dress, but it meant small-talking with her boyfirned.

Right or wrong, I left.

I could not deal. I was edging into a panic attack and retreated. Just before the hair fixing, MS asked if I wanted a glass of wine as Dude was uncorking and I just said "Well, I guess if I'm not going to see my girl in her dress tonight, I'm headed out," and I hugged Mini and told her I loved her and went on my way.

It wasn't a huge deal to her (she said), but it was to me. I wanted to see her in all regalia. But Dude freaked me out. And maybe he shouldn't have. But he did. And I left.

It's all good; Mini understands why I left (she's not a fan of his constant presence). But I still feel terrible about it. And I can't make that up to her.

Some days are bad. Homecoming was one of those days.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Auto Accident? For Serious?

Today, I was in an accident.

Sorry, baby, but I had to crash that Honda.

I'm fine. Wasn't my fault. Shaken, and will be sore the next few days.

My full insurance will cover my car seeing that the young man who pulled the louie in front of me explained to the officer that he was in from Mexico three weeks ago and had no insurance, identification, or green card.

But per the theme of this blog, I am so wonderfully grateful that when all was done and I got home, I could call MS and chat with her and give me a semblance of solace that can only come from a good friend.

I've a bit of a black cloud running, but all will be well. And if I didn't have that outlet with MS tonight, her understanding and compassion and ability to joke with me, my sanity would be gone.

It's different, and it's sad, but it's certainly not all bad as it rolls out.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It Was a Bad Weekend

I spent this past weekend mostly sleeping, mostly resting. Mini was with MS since she's gone during the week with work currently. I fought off insomnia with alcohol and movies and generally stayed up until almost dawn and slept until at least 4pm, though that was mostly waking by noon and curling up in anxiety for hours. I dragged myself out of apathy, messed around on the internet, went to the bar for a few drinks, and went back home with to-go food.

I know this is untenable.

This week, I'm working on forcing myself up, getting a normal schedule in order, and getting out to the apartment gym at least once.

I'll let you know how I've done.

Every day is different. Some days are bad. And I rely on the fact that when they are, the next will be better. Most are.

I'll take it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Another Sit-Down with Mini

The split-up is hard for everyone. And even though MS and I are in an amicable space, Mini's life is a little upside-down. We haven't forgotten or dismissed that. However, the overall situation doesn't excuse Mini's behavior, even if it does explain it.

As mentioned before, Mini is on legal license suspension. She has home/work/school rights. We took the car away for a while after she was playing fast and loose - and then gave it back. In the last couple weeks, she's been outright flaunting "well, what are you going to do?" We have her tagged via phone with GPS, and she has repeatedly thrown a "fuck you" in our faces by random outings to the mall and Chipotle and Starbucks.

When the mall thing happened, she ghosted her "friend" as the driver and promised she left her car at home. Since I got out of work early, I ran by the house: no car. Even though she doesn't have a parking pass for school, I checked there as well: no car. When she got home, I made smalltalk and then confronted her about the location of the car, saying it wasn't at the house. "Oh," she slipped to without a thought, "I left it at the school." I told her I was there and her car wasn't. "Well then I don't know where it was."

It's a nasty affront when Mini doesn't have respect enough to follow her legal limitations, knowing if she were pulled over that it would be a year suspension and a gigantic fine - that we would be responsible for. But I think it bugs me more when she ignores our wishes, our guidelines, our limitations, and then lies directly to my face, lies to me so convincingly that I question my own judgement or the technology that tracks her to a specific point.

So we sat her down tonight and ran through the dog and pony show. We know you're lying, we know you're driving where you shouldn't be, we are having trouble trusting you. Insert explosion of how she's not a bad kid, what were we doing at 17, and other classic misdirection tactics.

She was shutting down, so it was endgame time: I called the school and blocked her ability to get a school parking pass (she's a 7 minute walk from MS's house), she will not be reinstated anytime soon, and one more transgression, and we're done; we will sell the car. And if she wants to keep it up, we're fine with shutting down Homecoming and Senior year is going to kind of suck.

Is it just a teenager thing or did we do something wrong? Is she genuinely reacting to our split or just using it as an excuse to mess around? What can I possibly do differently to make this better?

I/we don't know. All parents make it up as we go. There is no instruction booklet.

We do what we can, set the best example we can, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Dating Game - in Reverse

I've kept some of it back, something that will probably aid in a fuller understanding of the situation as a whole. Just kind of hurts to hash through. But here it goes.

MS is dating. She's been dating for several months. She met Dude on St. Pat's and it grew (very slowly at first) from there. For the two months before I moved out, she was a ghost: she's show up at the house 2-3 times a week, sometimes for dinner and then to disappear, sometimes for a quick shower in the morning. My (and Mini's) pleas for communication - even a text - about when she'd be there were often ignored.

Then I moved out end of June - and MS is there now, but much of the time, so is Dude.

Meaning: Mini has been missing her mom for a long time. The absences were brief at first and peaked right before I moved, and Mini's connection with her mother has been waning along with it. Then I go away and while MS is back in person, Mini still misses her - because Dude is there: at the house, during activities - and she doesn't really like him (combo of personality clash, perception of paternal replacement, and usurping MS's time). And all she wants is to spend time with MS without him.

MS is, understandably, a little defensive about it in saying that she wasn't gone that often and that Mini's schedule is as much to blame and Dude's not around that much ...all the way to a frustrated "I'm paying the mortgage and I'll invite who I want in this house."

And I don't know how to tell her to back up a minute, that our daughter's only 17, and sometimes she just wants her mommy. Though I'm working it out in my head. I hope time or my words will start a reconciliation between the two because right now it's a little tense: MS is put off by Mini's distance, frustrated with me because I'm always in good graces, and Mini is slowly sliding towards living with me most of the time.

Oh, and how am I doing with my wife seriously dating some guy? At first I was pissed about it, but in reality I can't control what MS does, even if it's mildly detrimental to our daughter. I've met him a handful of times, and I'm not a fan, though I'm sure I'm a little biased on the subject. My blink reaction is we'll never be buds based on personality, and I'm conflicted about the integrity of a man who dates a married woman, despite the circumstances. Also, I worry about MS, that she jumping in to something just to jump into something and will end up badly stung on this rebound.

It still hurts. She's taken him to two weddings where we had common friends - and I therefore did not attend. Basically, I've rationalized it enough so I'm not constantly thinking about it, but every so often it'll hit me like a lightning bolt. And for a little while it really, really sucks.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It Was a Good Week

During this process of splitting and finding my own way, I've realized that I'm either all in or all out. This last couple days have been rough days for me, and before I spill the good stuff starting tomorrow, I'd like to blow out some success.

Last week, I finally got my car back. As I've discussed before, that was a huge missing piece for me. In the trunk of that car were the last five boxes of books. I picked up a book case last week and this past weekend, by books were distributed between that case and my desk and the boxes were broken down and I feel ...more complete.

Here's my joy:

Tomorrow starts the hard tellings...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


In the last few days, I've found myself a new friend: Apathy.

MS and Mini are out of town right now and with nothing or no one really checking on me, I'm finding myself a little apathetic.

It's not depression. I've already been through that bit and overwhelmed by it to the need for saving and being pulled out of my rut. I'm feeding myself and my cat and keeping the apartment (while still in progress) in order and clean.

But twice in as many weeks, I've opted to sleep for over twelve hours. When I got up, I wasn't sad or angry, just despondent. Who cares? What do I really have to do? I made it up to 15 hours this past weekend.

But I suppose because I recognize it, I'll be okay.

My focus for the next few days is to put together a schedule that includes some sort of activity, a little working out as it were, whether in the apartment gym or just rolling around on my bike.

I think if I can get into that window, I can start truly feeling better about myself, and, hence, truly learning how to love myself.

Because that's still on the "to do" list.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Daughter Almost Died

[Mini was supposed to be sleeping over best friend Lee's house Tuesday night. Instead, Mini, Lee, and Lee's boyfriend, Kid, cross the river into KY and Kid's got some land by the river and they get some Mike's Hard and vodka and, well...]

9:15 Lee's mom got a call. 9:20 Lee called me. 9:25 I called Lee's mom and told her I'd take lead on this since it was my daughter being the drunken mess - and bring both of their asses home. And thank God I did.

I had texted MS after work about calling her to no response, so whatever, texted her again "Running to KY to pick up our drunk daughter."

Thank goodness for GPS, but to hell with country backroads. I was on the phone with Lee for ten minutes back-and-forthing and if she hadn't come to the road proper with her flashlight, I never would've found it. Lee hopped in the car and said "Let's get your daughter." I drove into weeds with gravel to show me the way (down the sharp decline, over the railroad tracks, past the gravel mound and the scary trailer). There were no lights but mine, and I lit on Kid's truck under the high-tension power line tower, my daughter in the passenger seat, door open.

I handed Lee a bottle of water and said "makes sure she drinks half of this," and started getting out of the car. As I walked towards Kid's truck, I confirmed she was sitting in the passenger side with the door open. Lee waved me over. "C'mon, she doesn't believe you're here."

I was not prepared for what I walked into. Mini was manic, paranoid, delusional. She sat barefoot in her bathing suit, a loose shirt over the top. She coddled the bottle she'd been given and looked right through me until I was right in front of her, until I put my hand on hers and she saw me. Her pupils were more dialated than should be for dark, but that might have been my headlights beaming at her from behind me. And aside from my reassurances that she was okay and we were going home to the apartment, her non-stop ramble came out something like:

I love you Daddy, I love you so much. Can we go home? I want to go home. Can we go to the house? No, not the apartment, the house. Why not? No, Daddy, the house, please please come back to the house. I hate that you and Mom live in different places. Please come back to the house, just tonight. I hate that you're not together and I want you back together and I hate that you live in different places. Please come back and be with Mom. Just come back to the house, just tonight. I'll sleep on the couch and you can sleep in my bed. Why not? Okay, let's get in the car. Will you hold me over to it? When we get in will you hold my hand all the way home, Daddy? Will you? Promise?

One of the most vivid images I have is my arm around Ariel, helping her walk, barefoot, towards the car, watching her feet hit gravel again and again and hoping there was no glass, hoping she wouldn’t cut up her feet.

And then it got bad. Once we got out of the Death Party Palace (past the gravel mound, over the tracks, up the incline), Mini still on about going back to the house and holding my hand, she quickly changed from chattering to complaining about it being cold and then a full-blown, animated, blackout drunk panic attack. She started swerving in her seat, saying "Oh no, no, no." I tried to hand her a bag in case she needed to get sick, asked her if she needed some of the water she was holding and she was kind of bobbing in her seat and said "Remember that time I was allergic to vicodin? Remember that time I was allergic to vicodin? God, it's like that, it's like that!"

--and then SNAP, she flat-backed into her seat and was comatose. She wouldn't answer me or Lee yelling, would not respond to my grasping her hand or Lee's pulling her hair or hitting her in the shoulder. Nothing. She was breathing, though backwoods KY driving I had nowhere to pull over to take a proper pulse and Lee didn't know how to and even if we found something wrong, neither of us were professionals. The only thing I could do was keep driving, keep squeezing Mini's hand, keep loudly pronouncing her name. And keep driving.

She's never had vicodin.

The hospital was off the highway about twelve minutes away, though time in that place felt like six hours. I parked in front and finding a safe haven, let myself weep a little as I unbuckled Mini and wandered into the emergency room. Lee couldn't get her to respond besides a few random blinks and was not getting any traction getting her to move, let alone walk. I asked the check-in lady - over someone else checking in - if there were paramedics or nurses to help. I sure I yelled. God damn it why does everything take so long?! Again it was probably less than a minute, but when you daughter's sitting unresponsive in a vehicle and help is right damn there, argh!

They got her in a wheelchair and took her back while I played musical check-in ladies and cringed deeply as I uttered the word: uninsured. I called MS 5 times and she didn't pick up.

It was about twenty minutes later when they called me back to the room, and it was as bad as it looked. They'd cath'ed her, she was on a fluid drip, and while her eyes and mouth were partially open, she could only respond with the slightest of nods or shakes. She couldn't hold up either arm or leg for more than a second or two, and the hand squeeze was barely detectable. She could comprehend, she could answer yes/no with her head, but my beautiful chatterbox could not speak. Could not speak, her tongue limp in her mouth. They ordered up a CAT scan.

MS called a little later, having trouble with the GPS, wandering around Newport and, well, she had decided to give up smoking about 24 hours earlier, so the conversation wasn't nice. I had Lee run out to get the address so MS could get the coordinates.

MS had just arrived when they were taking her up for the CAT scan, and at this point Mini was showing emotion in line with constant weeping. And MS wanted to go, one parent could go, and Mini's bloodshot, tear-sopped eyes locked on me in such a haunting way, something that I still can't shake. Somehow she wanted me to go instead. But MS had just gotten there, so I hung back and gave the nurse some information and she came up with a "High CO2" hypothesis based on the hyperventilating panic attack bit that gave me a little solace. Not much, but a little.

When they returned, the doc wanted to see if he could ply words out of Mini sans parents, so we took our leave and put together the story, or at least the story as it was put together for us (amended for later information):

Mini outright lied to us that she was sleeping at Lee's, and apparently lied to Lee and said it was okay with us. Kid is Lee's boyfriend. Sometime between 4:30 and 6, they started drinking with two shots of vodka and some Mike's Hard. After a couple Mike's Hard, Lee and Kid eased off but Mini kept at the vodka. This is where Mini was having a conversation with a friend on the phone, and the last she remembers. Some time between 7:30 and 8:30, Mini was visibly really drunk, and passed out. She peed herself. Waking up, she took off her pants and underwear because they were wet. Passed out again. Waking up again, she removed the rest of her clothes and passed out again. Much vomiting was involved, and since Lee can't deal with that, Kid was the one tending to her, making sure she was on her side, and they were able to get her into a bathing suit before making the call.

9:15 Lee's mom got a call. 9:20 Lee called me. 9:25 I called Lee's mom and told her I'd take lead on this ...

An hour after MS's arrival, Mini was two bags of fluid in, sleeping, and they had to transfer to a local Children's hospital for observation. BAC was only .140%, and even with an inexperienced drinker, that's not enough to explain the lack of muscle control and ability to speak. Waiting for the ambulance crew mostly, but all that night I don't think I've touched my daughter's hair more in the last thirteen years I've known her. I kept wondering how the hell I let this happen, and hoping I'd have a whole person to bring home.

Finally, the ambulance crew arrived. They moved her over to the cart, all the while nurses and the medics trying to coax a few words out of her. Nothing. Barely awake, and what was was zoned out.

And in the twenty minute ride from hospital to hospital, while we followed in our cars (no one could ride next to her, we'd have to sit up front, so we just followed), something changed. She came out of the ambulance dazed, but her eyes wider than we've seen, a recognition of something happening about her face. I wanted to weep. It was small, but so damn big.

Once they got her into the standby room and started transfer to an observation room, MS pressed "You going to tell us a little about what's going on?" and DAMN YES that was important, but I hadn't heard her speak a word in hours. I leaned in, "More importantly right now - can you speak?" She nodded her head. Smart ass. "Can you say 'yes?'"


And in the next two hours, we went from sputtering a few words to full-on chatterbox to crying and being pissed at me because I told her there would be consequences. That's "back" enough for me. After the wait that is hospital everything, we left with our fully-intact Mini, though a little worse for wear (and holy hell the shitstorm to come).

We racked up two emergency rooms linked with an ambulance ride and an observation room endcap sprinkled with three fluid drips, two blood screens, one urine drug test, and a catheter to round it all out! - without a drop of insurance.

This is going to hurt. But if it had been worse initially, or Lee didn't have a signal or the warewithall to call, or her mother didn't tell her to get off the phone with her and call me, or if they'd all been blackout wasted, well I'd sign up for ten thousand times that price to go back in time - because I wouldn't be writing this little bit about how everything went really shitty; I'd be planning a funeral. But tonight I get to know my daughter is safely sleeping in her own bed, and she is very very alive.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


And at some point, you feel abandonment.

I don't have many friends in general (because I'm generally introverted), but this isn't about being secluded or excluded, this is about being ignored.

For the last week, I've been trying to get MS on the phone with me. A whole week. And she either ignores my texts or says she'll call but then gets too busy. All I'm trying to do is look at our list of things we need to accomplish to move on and discuss the different aspects of our daughter's life. And...nothing.

She told me to call her this evening. I just left her a voicemail.

And MiniShambles isn't any better, doing her own thing, not necessarily replying to anything.

I feel abandoned. The only people I'm directly linked to in this end-of-marriage and I can't get a steady line of communication going.

I know everything'll work out, but it borders on disrespect--

Okay, sorry, but to hell with that post. Much better story next one as I spent last night in the hospital.

(spoiler: everyone's alive, but almost wasn't)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Car Trouble: Finding Normal Roadblock

On June 23rd, my Honda (the one I bought two months ago) shitted out on me. Turns out it was the timing chain going, stretching as it were. $1100 or so.

On June 24th, I had it towed to my usual shop. They got right on it and said - oops - looks like the timing chain and a little deeper into the engine than they go, let's tow it to this second place. On the 25th, it was towed to New Place. This was 4 days before I moved residences; I rolled a rental during the shift.

Friday was July 20th. They have had my car for 20+ business days. I love that they gave me a loaner for free, even if it is a dirty Odyssey, but DAMN! Every conversation has been initiated by me and just to see if it would happen, I didn't call and officially have not heard from anyone all week. Good people, good rep, good work, but slow as shit with crap for communication skills. I can't in good conscience recommend them to anyone else.

And there's the hard part as it relates to the relationship and moving.

Shitty business practices aside, I just want my car back. I want to live in my new place with my own car, not walking out every day to a Honda van. That's not mine. That's not me.

Can't wait to get it back. It's not me, but it is a representation of my life. Hoping this will be a good week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

MiniShambles Explodes: The Teen in the Mix

I spent the first half of Thursday last week frantically jumping between phone and computer, trying to keep my head on as MS and I tried to rein in our daughter like a rogue missile in movie climax. She was ballistic.

Little background please?

Of course. A couple months ago MiniShambles had the luck (read: poor judgement) of catching two speeding tickets within forty minutes. A couple weeks ago, her license was suspended by a not-very impressed magistrate for 90 days, giving her only home(s) and work privileges.

But MiniShambles didn't think the law was suited to her proclivities, and within 24 hours was playing fast and loose with running out to Starbucks or stopping by her friend's house or picking up her boyfriend before work. It didn't take us long to catch wind of this and we nailed it down quickly; having already had to eat the ticket, we were not looking forward to another infraction, which would inevitably kill her license and her job - and with it any chance of getting paid back.

But on the horizon, we saw trouble. MiniShambles was dropping hints of a planned trip four hours away to Cedar Point. How was she going to get there? Her friend would drive her car. Yeah, NO. Okay, her friend would drive. Really? Okay.

And then the night before the road trip happened and MiniShambles's friend went to the house to sleep over so they could leave in the morning and MS brought up friend's driving. What? She couldn't drive - her parents would kill her. So MS and Mini went at it via text until 2am ending with the mantra "HELL NO."

MS woke up the next morning and when she looked outside, her jaw dropped: Mini and friend had awakened early, quietly left the house, moved MS's car, and drove away north.

Here's where we become NORAD and call and text and Mini won't answer for a couple hours but I've got her pinged on the Family Locator phone program, so we know exactly where she is and MS finally gets her on the phone and Mini distills it down to "I don't care - do whatever you want when I get home!" But that's not going to fly; we're way past that. So MS says "Dad's going to ping you in 15 minutes. If you are not back on the highway coming south at that point, we will call the police and the next person you speak with will be a State Trooper.

She turned around, and a couple hours later, she was home. We took the car away for at least a month. And now it's up to her to find a way to work This coming Tuesday - and I don't know if she'll make it.

We know she's pushing. Things are in turmoil right now. Things are chaotic, in flux, and if MiniShambles can farm out a little more territory in this split, she's going to take advantage of it. It's a new room and she's testing the doors, windows, every crack she can.

But we never saw it going as far as "stealing" the car. It messed us up for a few days, scared the hell out of us, then made us angry.

And the thing that makes me livid is that we made the decision to help Mini keep her job. She works some 5 days a week and we said we'd pick her up every shift, but she would have to work with us and figure out a way to work. She can pick up the bus and with one transfer be up at King's Island. But no, she won't ride the bus. It's gross and icky and she might get a staph infection. This young woman who has never ridden the bus is playing Posh Veruca about how shitty that bus is and is literally willing to lose her job over not taking the bus.

I swear we raised her better than that.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Shopping: The Bane and Joy

In my last post, I made note of how frightening it is for me moving out on my own, specifically because of turning around every few minutes to find something missing. I'm a typical man in some ways and sometimes it's "Eh, what date was that birthday? -- oh, yeah," or it's losing the immediacy of that quick wit or share an in-joke with MiniShambles. And sometimes it's grabbing that can of black beans from the cabinet and almost losing your shit because it suddenly dawns on you that YOU NO LONGER OWN A CAN OPENER. Fuck.

So you go shopping to get that can opener. And it's miserable. I've been 4 times "catch-up" shopping since I moved in: 2 Targets, one Kroger (many more of those to come - do you know how many spices I had?), and one Home Depot. And in every one of those instances, I was flooded with the absence, and each time I got near the end of my list and that last item was simply not where should be - or I was just getting frantic - and the anxiety meter welled up along with my eyes and I just wanted to push my cart into the nearest end-cap, scream at the top of my lungs, drop to my knees, and sob quietly for a while. Reality as it is, I held it together, checked out, and held the sobbing for home.

Shopping when you're trying to reconstruct a life can be overwhelming because you're surrounded by absence, every piece is a hole in your life, a reminder of how intertwined you once were with another person, of the emptiness that exists now. But it's not without redemption. Every item you pick up, little things that will allow you to function, is a regeneration, a work towards completion. Granted, you may not realize that until after an in-store near-meltdown and some back-home sobbing, but it's better. And with those trips, as hard as they were, I got a little bit better. I know it's just stuff and "good" is a ways off, but for right now, I can deal with better.

I have to.

Oh, and I did get that can opener, and because it was never allowed in the house due to a solid, lingering aversion tied to MS's morning sickness years ago, it was the best can of Spaghetti-O's I've ever had.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekend of the 4th: Gathering Myself

I didn't do much of anything the weekend of the 4th, mostly because MS stuck me with the dog, but also because I was desperate for alone time. And I got it - with a dog who had reverted to paranoid puppyhood: she's be howling and barking even during a brief trip down to the dumpster. At the house, she's become very chill.

But the time I did get I enjoyed; it was just quiet "me" time, watching some TV, goofing off on the internet, catching up on some books.

I also had off today, just me and the cat, doing some final unpacking (though still books to figure out), so tomorrow's challenge: getting back to work.

I keep using the phrase "finding the new normal," but I don't think there is one, and that's frightening. Everywhere I look, there's something missing, and that's terrifying -- but more on that tomorrow.

I made it through the holiday and the worst I got was numb apathy / disconnection - not a hint of depression. And that's a step in the right direction.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Moving in and Collapsing

As opposed to my last post, I am no longer numb. Today I moved into my new apartment and I am fragile, a welling bubble of emotion that is contained by a thin, cracking glass dome.

And I know by typing this, I will shatter. It will be brief and I will pull it together, but I need to get this out of me right now.

So today we moved me. MS was there, along with my folks and my daughter, her boyfriend and bestie. And it went on without a hitch. I had to scramble for a van, but we were done moving in about three hours.

After that, my folks stuck around and we went to Target and they helped me along ridiculously kindly, tossing in a huge heap of what I needed as a new startup like I was an 18-year-old moving out for the first time.

What struck me was that the move - even with the scramble to find a truck and the picking up of my daughter's boyfriend and the physical exhaustion of up an down and stairs - was actually way easier than my parents taking me shopping (they wanted to put in on my new couch but I'd already bought it, so they offered a necessities trip to Target instead).

At first I figured my thoughts and feelings of borderline breaking down in the middle of Target were just me be being worn: all the physical and emotional exhaustion after moving out of my own house. But I think it was something more.

If you do moving right, it's procedural, systematic. And in my case, it's just moving my stuff from one place to another locally: load up, drive, load out. There is comfort in comfortable things, even if it's just something in a box you can't even identify without opening it, and with something like a bed, it's a swaddling wonder of ease in familiar.

But shopping, shopping after a split sucks; you're just shopping, sure, but you're buying all these items that you need to restart your life - a spatula, pots, and condiments and Swiffers, all these items that remind you with every pickup that it's gone. Forever. You are picking up pieces that have been lost, rebuilding something built and now missing, a structure with half its bricks missing.

And somehow I just wrote that and didn't lose it, though I've been on the cusp all day. Perhaps I passed it buy like on a carousel and I'll be back. Perhaps I'm just too tired to deconstruct tonight. Or, perhaps, the simple act of writing this depressurized the dome.

I still expect it and will for months and know it will happen more than once, but I think for tonight I'm okay to grab a beer and put on Netflix and breathe.

Always: breathe.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Keys to the Future

I got the keys this past Friday and I've been taking car loads over each evening in preparation for Saturday's move. Rental insurance, electric switched, internet scheduled.

90% of what I've moved is clothing or books. I guess I don't own that much "stuff." Or I actually do and will be collecting it over the next few weeks bit by bit. For right now I've reduced it to necessities and since my departure is not a door-slam, that's okay.

I don't know, I suppose I'm kind of numb at this point. Not in a dumb or dangerous way; I'm just mentally pushed through Saturday and just want to catch up and have that moment when I'm pretty much moved and by myself and everyone who helped gets a thanks and a goodbye and I close the door and can have a seat and a beer and pop on the TV and just BE in that space, to feel it when I'm over the hump.

Until then, I feel like I'm wandering, floating, going through the motions.

Oh, yeah, and Sunday evening the car I bought two months ago quit on me, so I'm rollin' an Enterprise Special (KIA) while I go through all this. Ugh.

If internet hookup goes well tomorrow, I'll be making my first post from the apartment at some point. Not that I'll have anything magical to convey, just keeping up on the progress.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Side Effects: Today Was Rough by Proxy

I don't mean bad like the whole day was a mess. I had a lot of good things happen at work today, nothing really bad happened. Overall, it was a good day.

But my emotional state makes it difficult in unexpected ways. It's like being prone to acid reflux, or a volcano building pressure. I no longer even need anything from the divorce to hit me; just about anything connected-ly emotional can be enough to corkscrew through that thinner, softer layer.

Today I was going to the grocery store and I heard a story on NPR about a fantastic program training the military on how to recognize and rally behind anyone showing symptoms of depression or - worst case - suicide. I've had my own struggle with depression and suicide over a decade ago (and generally feel pretty good about it on a daily basis), but that was today's drilling tool and I just broke down there in the car for about five minutes. Hell, I'm tearing up now.

And then I gathered myself and went into the store and every aisle was a chore, every item a test. I had to hold so hard to pull back the emotion, but I was hair trigger (turn a corner to have both paths blocked? why not drop a few tears?).

But I made it out without what I would consider a scene.

It's the side effects, the little things as I said the other day. If the BIG thing is looming today, everything else is going to be a challenge.

But better for having gone through it, I suppose. Tomorrow I get my keys. Excited and scared, of course.

Relevant from Armageddon:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Little Stuff is the Hardest

I've got a list of dozens of things I'll be taking that MS and I have agreed upon.

I made it through the splitting of books and movies without a hitch.

But two weeks ago when I went to fill out the papers to apply for the apartment (even that was fine), I spent the afternoon tooling around my new neighborhood. I felt like a zombie, not sure how to process it. I wandered into Target and bought some needed socks (did you know they make short dark socks?). I purchased a game I didn't need from GameStop just because. I was numb.

And then I wandered around the grocery store just up the road. "This is my Kroger. There are many like it, but this one is mine." I didn't even know why I was there. "Well, I'll have to learn a new layout. Okay, I'll see what their beer selection is like." And as I walked to the checkout with a previously-undiscovered IPA, it hit me: we share a Kroger card; I need a new one.

And my stomach turned inside out as I asked Customer Service for the new cards and form. The woman handed them over like an afterthought and I felt so, so alone. "I'm getting divorced!" I wanted to scream. "I'm ending a relationship that's taken almost thirteen years of my life!"

But the shitty music continued, no one paused to consider me. So I self-checked out and walked back to my car.

It's the little things that burn most, maybe because they're little, maybe because they're too small to be in the big picture plan and when they crop up you're not only so harshly reminded how integrated your lives have been, but disappointed that you didn't see it in the first place.

But the good news is that, right after my almost-meltdown, I walked back to my car, and I felt a little more relieved, a little more complete, a little more in control of the chaos that currently surrounds me.

I guess that's how most of the little things will go: the harsh bit of realization, the adjustment, and the resulting comprehension of success and control. Even if it's little, it's one more step in the right direction. Even if it hurts. Or perhaps, especially if it hurts.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Where Are We Now?

As I begin this long-needed blog, I find myself still living with MS and LadyShambles in the house we've shared for six years now.


I don't make as much as MS, and not nearly enough to pay the mortgage and all the bills, so I'm the moving party. I've been researching and looking for about a month and got the confirmation last week that I was cleared for a new place only 15 minutes away. LadyShambles will be spending half her time with me, so she toured with me and approved the apartment. I get the keys 6/21, move in 6/29.

We'll split any profit minus receipts when she sells.


In progress, but we've wiped out almost all of our debt and are splitting pretty clean.


We've a non-representative friend who is writing up the paperwork. We'll be filing with the courts in the next month.


Some days I feel like I can conquer the world despite all that's happening, that I am awesome incarnate and this is but a stepping stone on my new path towards the future. Other days I collapse into a ball of tears because I get stopped at some light and that was the road I drove for the first time to get up to Cinci and return to my wife after absence and a move.

Today's somewhere in between.