Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Passage

I really tried to think of something terrific to write today, because overnight last night, my Gram went home to Heaven.

But as I sat here struggling for a fitting tribute, I realized that the best thing I could write about her would be that she loved us all. And we were very lucky to have that in our lives.

Till then, Gram. We love you very much.

The Magnifying Glass

Nothing is ever easy. Anything worth having is worth working for. All the clich├ęs fit here.

It seems to me that there are people who are determined to cause difficulties in any situation. There is no "status quo," there is no "live and let live." There are those among us who simply cannot let things lie.

I began to encounter that with the kids' Mom after a few months. Apparently she would press the kids for every detail of our time together, and then pick them apart to point criticism. What time they went to bed, what meals they ate, what shows they watched. Nothing seemed good enough.

I don't want to turn this into a B-bashing party. I won't. She had her issues with me. I think she'd wanted to see me crumble under the pressure, but when I didn't, she became intent on turning up the pressure.

My kids were normal, everyday kids. They did well at some things, but, typically, messed up others. I don't pretend. Life wasn't perfect. I don't think any life can be. I think that's realistic. Kids are kids. But everything that didn't go perfectly was somehow blamed on the failed marriage, or my shortcomings as a single Dad. There was no allowance for "kids being kids."

The first sign of trouble came with schoolwork. The older two slacked off somewhat. And my oldest girl was not above blaming laziness on "the situation at home." But it really was laziness at play here.

My son was particularly slacking off. I sat him down.

"Mommy said you're having a lot of problems at school with your work. Well we all know that schoolwork is my specialty here, so this is what we're going to do: We're going to get all your grades for the next week, see where you're having trouble and then you can come live with Daddy and we can tutor you, go over your classwork, and do your homework every night."

I could see the blood draining from his face as I spoke. I didn't holler, threaten, or anything like that. I took a very calm, quiet approach, but knew I was making my mark. Long story short, the following week his tests and homework folder came home. All 100%'s, all A's all gold stars. It was the kick in the butt he needed, and I new it. Crisis resolved. He just needed some motivation was all.

But that wasn't good enough.

The kids were given some test, I believe it was the Terranova test, that was a test of their aptitude. The two older kids took the tests and did not perform well. And I knew why: my oldest...if she is in the mood, she'll do well. If not, look out. My son was doing his usual daydreaming. And I knew it.

B. worked at the kids' school. Some of the other faculty teamed up with her to come after me. At a parents' conference, I was told that the strain of the separation was taking its toll on them. Family counseling was suggested. Now I had become very familiar with the School Counselor- a leftover hippy whose ideas bordered on the ridiculous. I made it clear that I would gladly get involved in counseling, but that it would have to be a neutral, outside third party. The deck was stacked in that school, and I believed any counseling would have to be objective and unbiased. While I was certain of the cause (having once been a kid myself), there was no upside to me being resistant to counseling. I got them to agree to my conditions.

And so it began.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The New Life II

There were a lot of good things that happened to me that first year. I explained to a lot of people, family, friends, etc., what went on, and they were gracious enough to accept my explanation without too many questions, unsolicited advice, or probing. My life was what it was. They took me at face value.

People invited my kids and me to many events, parties, bbq's and the like. We were included like a normal family. There was no strangeness. People took to my kids, treated them as their own. We were not made to feel different.

I remember thinking "I can do this."

Of course, it wasn't all easy. There were a lot of times when I would be pressed. There were times when I would face the problems of dual lives. Holidays had to be arranged. The kids still had to adapt to the idea of having two family lives, and that would mean doing things without their Mom. Or doing things with her that didn't include me.

That first year or so went fairly well. I was learning to be a Dad all over again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The New Life

I realized today that this series is getting a bit bogged down. The narrative wasn't supposed to be a day-to-day recounting of everything that happened.

Suffice to say that my life began to move forward from that point. When you're faced with this situation, you have two choices: you let go and begin moving forward, or you spend all your time lamenting what has been. I could not lock into the past. No one would benefit by me trying to change or undo everything that had taken place.

I was determined to be a good father. I had found myself falling into a very unattractive stereotype. I had finally begun to achieve some success in my career; I had separated myself somewhat from the Pack down there on Wall Street. I was making good money, and yet, here I was: start getting successful, leave your marriage and family in the past.

I was absolutely hell-bent on not living that stereotype. Let me say here, right now, that I was in a situation that I did not ask for. That's not to say it wasn't my fault, or that I wasn't partially responsible for what took place. But I didn't want my life to be this way. I fought long and hard to keep it together. But truth be told, you cannot make someone love you. You cannot make someone want to be with you. It is what it is. Live with it and deal with it and make the best of it.

I furnished my apartment with the help of some good friends. I had some nice sleeping arrangements for the kids and me. I had a crib, I had 2 beds. I had a toybox and a big closet for their stuff. Life looked like it was going to start getting better. It's very cool how easy it is to impress kids.

Of course, the world has a sense of humor that I don't always appreciate. As we moved into the summer, my daughter was climbing one of the little apple trees on the property with a bunch of other kids. She lost her balance and fell out, in the process breaking her shoulder. Way to be a good Dad, pal.

It seemed to me that every time I had these children with me in my place, one of them would take sick. I couldn't do anything right. Now I know we can't control those things, but you do kind of think "Could You make it any more difficult?". And you know that she is sitting in judgment of your every move. And you make a lot of bad moves...albeit unwillingly.

But I did find my stride when the smoke cleared. I made it a point to make my home safe, inviting secure and fun. Meals were events with the kids and me. The best way to get the kids to eat right is to make wholesome meals that taste good. And I'm proud to blow my own horn here and say that at least in this area it was mission accomplished. The kids liked it here. My littlest one was very much enamored with the idea of having two homes. Two sets of toys, two special cups, plates and placemats. And I can be fun to play with. I like an excuse to play with toys and games. I felt as though I had clearly established the line between being a parent and being a friend.

Actions speak louder than words. Life was beginning to be good. The kids felt at home in my new home.

But Sunday nights were the worst. That's when they went home to their Mom. You never get used to that.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Moving Forward 2000 IV

I remember waking up that next morning. It was a work day. I moved out on a Sunday. Brilliant. I quickly decided that the job would have to wait. I needed to raise my living space to at least one level above a campsite.

I thought about my first decision: furniture. It was the first time I smiled in a while, because I found it amusing that I could go furniture shopping and buy what I wanted. My choice.

Those feelings started to surface more and more. If you don't like the life you had with me, Lady, keep yours and I'll start my own. I could have that living room set, this chair, that bedroom set, this mattress. And it was a series of choices that kept me somewhat distracted. It was fun doing it, just not fun thinking about why I was doing it.

I was able to get phone service pretty quickly. I don't know if that was good or bad. I had a phone number, but no one was going to call it. And I didn't want to call anyone just yet. That would mean admitting what happened.

A lot of things fell into place rather quickly. I was able to get a living room set, and a bedroom set, right in the same store. And the Lady in the store seemed intuitive. She made every effort to have the order delivered quickly. She said she knew it was important. She was very kind. I know that because I remember her, almost 9 years later.

It wasn't so bad. People will help if you let them. I liked the help, not so much because I needed it really, but the kindness was sweet. I was building a new situation, step by step. But for the time being, I was sleeping on the floor another night.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Moving Forward 2000 III

Now while I was looking somewhat optimistically at the future, this wasn't going to be some kind of instant happy ending. I worked hard for what I had, my family, my friends, my home, my marriage. It isn't always a matter of what you did or didn't do right; I think it's more a case of what you think you did right or wrong. If you really believe you did it right, that you played by the rules and tried your best, failure is a big lump to swallow.

And so here I was, that first night. I had no furniture, ragged shades on the window. I was sleeping on a sleeping bag on a floor that had just been refinished. The apartment reeked of varnish or lacquer. I had nowhere to sit, no TV. I didn't exactly earn a medal for good planning. So after a career of hard work spanning 14+ years, I was living in an apartment with nothing.

I remember my first meal: Papa John's pizza, sitting on the floor on a Sunday night, feeling very much sorry for myself as it got dark out. Not exactly a memorable start to the new life, so to speak.

But as sad as I was at the moment, I knew it was like healing pain: hurts now, but will hurt less and less every day and will help rebuild strength. Heartbreak and disappointment are funny that way...they hurt the most but leave you better once you move past the pain.

But man, it was lonely that first night.

Moving Forward 2000 II

B made the statement one night, "I want you out." I found an apartment the very next day. That's how "done" we were.

I think one thing that worked in my favor was the time of year. It was April (April 15th, to be day) and the nice weather was coming. I think that made a major difference in how I was able to handle it. I'd come from a big family, and was raising a pretty big family, so the solitude was pretty awful. But it stayed light later and later, so there wasn't so much "lonely nights" for me to deal with initially.

While there wasn't much in the way of selection of apartments in my area, I did manage to find a very nice place. The development consisted of garden apartments on very expansive grounds. A lot of grass, a great courtyard, like a big park. Plus, it had a private swimming pool for us to join up with. The Spring was looking promising!

I have an Explorer, which would allow for lugging bikes back and forth. I stuffed the closet with cool toys and games, and made a point of playing them with the kids. Sounds noble, but being honest, I must say kids are a good cover for a Dad who wants to play with some toys himself. Let's keep it real here!

The plan was, I'd have the kids Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and all my vacations. I had 6 weeks per year, so that would be fun too. The first few weekends of Spring 2000 were beautiful weather-wise. I caught that break.

So yeah, life wasn't great, wasn't perfect, but I was learning a new way to live it. And taking the kids along for the ride.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Moving Forward 2000

There are a lot of things we like to think about ourselves...opinions so to speak. It's very hard to accept that we cannot be what we perceive ourselves to be, and it's even tougher to accept that others might not see us as we would like them to. We work hard at creating our own image.

So you can figure it was tough for me to accept that the life I had built, the person I had become was gone. The rebuilding process was underway. I had always seen myself as a good, decent, loving husband. I worked hard at it. I was now separating from someone who'd become hateful and hurtful; and the venom was not only aimed at me. She'd made a policy of creating hurt among others close to her. The hard part was, when someone becomes like that, we typically dismiss them from our lives. I don't believe that her transformation was something she'd wanted to undertake, but she'd fallen in and out of depression, also suffered from (something we found out later) manic-depression. It was hard to walk away from someone who was ill, but I had to respect her wish for me to go, and also to protect myself.

Philosophically, I needed to come to grips with it. But as a person, I had to say, "Enough is enough." It wasn't my responsibility nor my obligation to be the object of her scorn and hatred. You can only kick the most loyal dog so many times, you know?

I had three kids to worry about. That would become my sole focus. I could rededicate myself as a father. I'd be virtually free to build relationships with my kids individually as well as a group, and they'd finally be able to see me as who I was. And they'd be free to make their own judgment of me, form their own opinions. While we were no longer one family, that wasn't necessarily bad: my kids now had two families, and I was determined to make mine the very best it could be.

It's funny that you think you're beyond being able to cry though.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Clarity 1995-2000

As I started to put this entry together, I thought about where I should go with the story. I realized that up until now, this has been pretty much narrative, and I hope that it hasn't been unbearable. I set out to show a little about how I have become the person I am, but I wanted to do it by just sharing the facts, the events as they happened, and let you make your own decision about it all created me. I'm really trying to stay true to that mission, so to speak, so I hope you'll indulge me just a bit more, for a little bit longer.

Things between B and I became very strained over the next 5 years. She struggled with various levels of depression and anxiety. I think we both paid the price for the malfeasance of the Grief Counselor who successfully created a huge rift between she and me; the postpartum didn't help, and life through a few more curves at us.

I took sick in late 1997, and struggled with that through the next couple of years. During that time we had one more child in 1999, my beautiful youngest daughter. I was going through the more intensive treatments at that time, so I was home from work for an extended time. B paid the price for having a third Caesarian section, and was laid up most of that time. It worked out fairly well, oddly enough, because I got to create a terrific bond with the baby as I did all the feedings, changings, and that bond is still going strong. It was one of those experiences that will stay with me forever.

But the undercurrent was still very much there, and very much negative. We grew farther and farther apart despite the baby's birth, and despite the fact that we were achieving financial success. Things should have been getting easier for us but they grew more strained and more difficult. We tried. B's mental state was extremely fragile yet volatile. I felt as though I would not be a good person if I turned my back on her; I'd not have done so were her illness physical. It was like being pulled in four directions.

I had to accept, though, that she'd fallen out of love with me, and that I'd become more an object of scorn than anything else. You can't make someone feel things they don't want to.

The time came in April of 2000. I'd never known true heartbreak before, and I can say that because I never felt the way I did that night I drove away from the place I called home, from the woman I'd vowed to devote my life to. The most painful part though, was realizing that my life with my kids was never going to be the same.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Clarity 1995-2000

Ma's death dealt a powerful blow to her family. We often hear about the Mother's role in being the central figure that keeps a family bound together, and this was one of those cases.

But now I think this stops being a retelling of those events of that time. The funeral and burial were very difficult, and the mourning was intense for each family member. And this is when things started to get difficult for my marriage as well.

B began to foster a resentment toward me, because I was actually with her Mom when she passed. I know that I had only done precisely what I was asked to do, but the resentment lingered and grew as well. To complicate matters for her, she was pregnant with our second child.

It's very difficult to explain this situation without sounding as though I am playing the victim. I really wasn't a victim, but rather someone who was just dealing with a situation. The victim was really B, who fell into the grips of a depression after her Mom passed. I firmly recognize the power of an illness like this, but it's not easy to deal with someone who has begun to see you as a sort of enemy.

In June, our son was born. What should have been a joyful event was quickly dampened by the effects of postpartum depression, which coupled with the existing depression B had been suffering previously. We had bought a home of our own, but she wanted to stay with her Dad and take care of him. We had our girl, who was barely 2 years old and we were still living with B's father until my son was born. B reluctantly decided that we needed to go home. I have to admit that it was a very scary time. I had a long commute to work, and had to be ever mindful of B's condition. She was in counseling, but I don't know how healthy that relationship was.

After every session with the grief counselor, there was a distinct chill to the air in our home. It turned out, as I found out later down the road, that the counselor was encouraging her feelings of resentment toward me, and in fact, justifying it. Needless to say, you probably have a good idea of what life was becoming like.

How to you show any kind of remorse, or even apologize for, doing something you had been directly asked to do? How do you defend yourself?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clarity 1994 II

Mom's plan seemed to be working. Her illness brought out the best in her family. Every get-together was an event. Every occasion seemed to evolve into a full-blown celebration. The summer BBQ's were more zestful, the Block Parties were galas. Thanksgiving that year was a joint effort, with Mom in the lead. But she was tiring. She was falling victim to the evil disease that was trying to sap her life from her.

She and I spent many an evening together, just she and I. Without trying to sound like I'm blowing my own horn, I had become her best friend outside of her own family. We'd talk about everything. I was always able, no matter what, to turn her moods around, time after time. She'd always gotten my silliness. I'd always listen attentively, play devil's advocate where needed, and just be a good set of ears for her to talk to. Then I'd say something Stupid, and get her laughing before she went to sleep. I'd always get a big hug when it was time for me to go.

Christmas 1994 was the first real sign to me that the prognosis was apparently accurate. Christmas was when Mom was at her best. She decorated like no one else I knew. She'd always put 100% into every single gift, every card, every cookie she baked. Her energy was waning, but the kids, and in particular B., were maintaining their optimism. It didn't occur to any one of them that this would be their last Christmas with Mom. It was killing me to know what I knew, every time one of them said that Mom looked good, or seemed better.

Strangely enough, just after New Year's Day 1995, Mom was given a regimen of Prednisone to help her breathe. I don't know the exact timing of events, but about the middle of January, she looked hale, hearty and healthy. One weekend evening, she and I were prepping one of our Seafood Dinner specialties, with music playing in the background. One by one, the kids came to the house. At one point, some lively music came on and Mom danced with everyone. True to form, she and I did some comic version of a waltz, with me grabbing at the shrimp and scallops whenever the turns allowed for it. She'd whack me one every time I did that.

Everyone remarked how well she looked. The Prednisone had bulked her up a little, and she'd gotten color in her cheeks again. The night was wonderful, the meal was delicious, and everyone went home happy. I remember that night in particular, because B. had made all kinds of plans with her Mom, and was going on and on, in the car, about how her Mom seemed to have this disease licked. It took every ounce of my self control not to tell her the truth. But when you loved Mom, knew her the way the way I did, you respected her wishes.

I didn't have quite the grasp on how big a price that oath would come with in terms of my marriage.

Mom's respite didn't last long. Within days of our little party, Mom needed to be hospitalized. She needed to be carried from the house. The initial report was pneumonia; soon after that though, her condition worsened. I could see her visits with her children as her own goodbyes to them. She was making peace with them.

The last day of Mom's life, I was at work. Shortly before noon, B. called me at the office. She told me that her Mom was really sick, that the Doctor on call there had told her that Mom's time was very limited now, down to days, or even hours now.

B asked me if I would come to the hospital, as she, her Dad, brother and sister could no longer see their Mom that way, but they didn't want to risk leaving her alone. I left the job immediately to head to the hospital.

I got there shortly, and went right to Mom's room. B and the others kissed Mom, who was unconscious now. They said they would be back later in the day or early evening. I sat in Mom's room quietly.

She seemed to be very uncomfortable. She was not lying still, despite being apparently comatose. The doctor who spoke to me told me that this state was brought about by blood levels of calcium or something like that. What he did make clear was that Mom was literally in the last hours of her life. The nurses came in, freshened Mom up, made her bed and tucked her in. It seemed to make her comfortable, and she lied still after that.

Around 5 that evening, the nurses came in, said that they needed to take Mom downstairs for a CAT scan. They suggested I go too. They wheeled Mom to the elevator with me following. They left the two of us in a quiet hallway to wait for the scan. I stood looking down at her lying there. I held her hand. My amateur medical knowledge said that she could probably hear me so I just spoke occasionally to her and held on to her hand.

She opened her eyes and looked at me a moment. She took a deep breath, then gasped. She looked right at me, then closed her eyes. She took a couple of shallow breaths, then stopped breathing. I watched her a moment or two, before I realized what had happened. I called for some help, but I knew what happened. When the CAT scan tech came out I told him that apparently Mom had died. He got some people involved, and then a doctor came to Mom's side, checked her, and noted the time. Mom was gone.

Her life was over, but I didn't know that something else was beginning to reach the end of its life starting at that moment as well. The worst was over, but the worst was yet to come as well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Clarity 1994

Early in November '93, B's Mom said that she hadn't been feeling well. She made an appointment with one doctor, who referred her to another, and began a series of tests and exams. In January '94, she called me into a room where she and my Father in Law were sitting.

They told me that Ma had received a very sad diagnosis. It was terminal lung cancer, and she said the doctors had given her a year at most. After we sat a while, she and my Father in Law told me that they didn't want to tell their 5 children. Mom didn't want to spend the whole year sitting around being mourned by them. She wanted to spend the year with her grandchildren, her own kids, and live life the best she could. They swore me to secrecy. I promised to honor their wish.

I believe it was a noble gesture on my part to make that oath, but I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to honor it.

It tore my heart out as the illness became obvious. Mom eventually told her family that she was stricken with cancer, but that the prognosis was good, and treatments were doing well. She made no hint at the real prognosis. The kids were upset, but optimistic. They were very encouraging to her, supportive and loving, but oblivious to the truth. B. was very, very attached to her Mom. They visited almost daily, and spoke on the phone two or three times a day when they didn't visit. It was eating at me, but I had an oath to uphold.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Clarity 1993-1994

We got to do a lot of fun things together after our baby was born. We traveled around to the homes of some other couples who'd recently become parents; we finished designing the baby's bedroom; dealt with colic! Life was good.

We went through our first round of holidays with our new little one. I was finaly, finally going to get a chance to have the Christmas I'd been dreaming about for nearly my whole life.

I didn't think there was a better part of parenting than being able to share Christmas through the eyes of a child. I'd always enjoyed the joy in my parents' eyes through Christmases that were plentiful, some that were not and all those in between. I knew I wanted that. And I got it. I can't honestly say if I'll ever experience the joy quite the same way as that first time. She was my baby, and I was her Daddy. It didn't matter to me that most of the gift boxes were twice her size, and that, at 5 months, she had no idea what was going on. I was in my glory. And so was B.

The joy of those Holidays was to be short-lived though. Life had other plans for us.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Clarity 1993

There isn't anything I can think of that could be more painful than watching someone you love hurt terribly, and not be able to do a damned thing about it. Helpless is an understatement.

But along with that hurt came a lot of bad feelings and distress. There was her reaction to the many hormone imbalances, and my frustration at my own uselessness. We didn't exactly fight, but you know that kind of just-under-the-surface tension that can make life difficult.And there was a slight intimation of "blame" being placed on me over the mess. I sort of just absorbed that and let it go for the time being.

Fate took another stab at us. It turned out that there was something to do with our blood types (me O negative, she AB negative, which is apparently quite rare) that may have contributed to the loss of our first child. It was never 100% clear to me why that was, but the Doctor assured us that this could be controlled with some kind of injection, were we to conceive again, that is.

He told us that following her D and C, we could "get right back on the horse" and give this another try. What else could we do, right?

I just noticed that during the past couple of months, I'd become very much into having a child. Funny how jet-setting had lost its lustre.

I like to think that God trumped Fate a little here. I was very happy to find that our immediate attempt resulted in another positive pregnancy test in late 1992. Thanksgiving that year had its own new meaning, but there was still that lingering fear.

I was told by the Obstetrician that B. was considered a "higher risk" pregnancy. I had my marching orders. Take care of my wife. Feed her generously, keep her safe, and pay attention to every little detail. That was my job. And hey, a job that I was actually qualified for! I could do this, no doubt. I love to eat, and now I have to make sure someone eats with me.

She gained 40 pounds. I gained 30. I did a good job I guess.

Our first child, a daughter, was born in July, 1993. If there was ever a moment where I was regretting our decision to shed the jet-setting, being handed a tiny, little baby girl for the first time was the perfect antidote. Big boys cry too sometimes. Baby girls can do that to you.

Interestingly enough, at this same time, I received the biggest promotion of my professional career. I made it to the position I'd been aspiring to for 10 years. I didn't think life could get any more perfect than this. I had a beautiful baby with a beautiful wife, and was working at a job where I could give them the kind of life I'd always prayed for.

Life was tasting pretty sweet.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Clarity 1992-1993

We encountered some major fertility issues that required medical assistance to resolve. It was a difficult time, as B. in particular, saw a life plan that included a bunch of kids. Her disappointment was more and more evident each month. We tried, but to no avail.

The Doctors discovered that there was a lot involved in our problems. To this day, I don't have a firm grasp on what each one was, I just know that it seemed as though fate was stacked against us in the kid department.

In order to first take care of my side of the equation, I was subjected to tests and procedures that were at once a bit painful and a lot humiliating. But we got things moving along. After nearly 6 years, we were able to see our first positive pregnancy test. I remember that night. She brought the test out to the bedroom. It was one of the only times in my adult life that I'd felt pure unbridled joy for someone. She was lit up and alive, and I was happy both for her and for me.

We celebrated the next evening with a nice, healthy dinner at a local place. We celebrated our new lifestyle, full of healthy meals, lots of water and me watching over her. It was the best night we'd had in so long.

But, as I mentioned before, fate seemed stacked against us. Within a few short days, it became evident that the pregnancy was running into complications. And, 2 weeks after we celebrated the new beginning, we were mourning our first loss as a couple. She'd lost the baby. Correction: we'd lost our child.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Clarity 1986-1991

After we married, B. and I started to enjoy our new "adult" life. Growing up in Queens, NY, we'd always lived a simple, but satisfying life, so our idea of "jet-setting" involved a honeymoon in Barbados, a trip to Disney World in Orlando FL and weekends in the Hamptons on Long Island during the summer. We were a good fit, she and I. We liked the same things, and grew to like more of the same things. We shared many of the same friends and spent a lot of time socializing and entertaining.

There was one little dark cloud in our otherwise sunny lives to that point. Part of B's plans included children and we were beginning to figure out that there was maybe a little bit more at work than just bad luck when it came to our lack of success in conceiving.

It was our first obstacle. It was something we needed to seek help for, but it was the first time we'd come across a problem we couldn't fix ourselves "with love alone". It wasn't, however, a situation where I was concerned about fixing blame. Not at all. But it did become an early sign that blame wasn't invisible to both of us.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Clarity 1960-1986

Since much of what I'm dealing with has been a result of the things I've done and chosen in my adult life, I'm obviously not going to tell my life story here.

I had a very nice, secure childhood, raised by parents who somehow still top my Most Admired list to this day. My mother really must be on the way to sainthood, considering the many things I did as a child and teenager. Trust me. They were good. I was raised well. I think that will suffice. My adult life is more pertinent to this blog.

I met my wife, B., back in 1978. I was 18, she was just 15. We were not boyfriend/girlfriend for some years to come. In fact, my first contact with B. came about as a result of my crush on her older her Sue Mac. B. and I became friends rather quickly, and she even tried to offer tips on how I could win over Sue Mac's heart.

We remained friends during that time when I lived for, and got over my crush on Sue Mac, although she is still one of my very closest and loved friends in the world to this day. B. and I stayed close, and began dating in 1981.

It was always a very tempestuous, passionate relationship between she and I. We loved hard, fought hard and reconciled well. We developed an incredibly tight bond between us, one that made me realize that this was a woman with whom I'd very much like to explore life beyond "dating".

She was a little more anxious than I to be married. It was often joked that I was simply holding out as long as I could with her, until surrender to the Altar became inevitable. B. had a very simple, old-fashioned plan for her own life: she would be a wife and mother. There was just no other way to live in her eyes. I was still a bit immature, and very much enjoying my frat-boy style life that, for me, had come about after college.

I had been the very first one in my family to complete a college education, receiving my Bachelors in 1983. Upon completion of the degree, I took a full-time position with the company I'd been serving summer internships with. The pay was good. I was still living in my parents' home at that point, so I was really enjoying being unattached, single, prosperous and responsibility-free.

I wasn't stupid for too long, though. Once I was reasonably sure that I'd found a career to love, I turned my attention to a life with the woman I'd fallen very deeply for. We were married in 1986.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Friend With A Mission

Hi guys, just want to put in a plug for a friend who runs a great site. It's called Thyroid Diggers (We Dig for Thyroid Truths) and it's 100% dedicated to Thyroid Disease Awareness. Check it out please?

For Purposes of Clarity...

I find that a lot of my entries have been very cryptic of late. I am in a situation that I'd never envisioned in a million years, and often I just come by here and just drop things off without any background.

Since I started Blogging in 2004, my blogs had always been fairly personal, but also somewhat discreet. I let on what was going on in my life, but just enough to lay the groundwork. I wasn't comfortable airing out every detail. It always worked pretty well.

I'm in a new mindset these days. I don't have a lot to lose, so I figure there's nothing but blue skies ahead.

Yeah right.

But I do have this feeling that I want to share more. I've gained a lot of friends doing this, and when times got rough, some of them really stepped up. I think a lot of that had to do with that connection you get when people feel as though you're really opening your heart. I'd like to get back to that, with your indulgence.

I do believe I've made some new friends as well as kept in touch with the old ones. What I want to do is, get people up to speed with what have been the circumstances in my life leading up to the present day. Maybe if there's more to my story than just some silliness interspersed with the occasional heartfelt moment, people will understand me a little more. I think understanding only leads to good things.

Ideas like this always play out so well in the mind. It's the execution that sometimes muddies the waters a bit. I'm going to try and keep it clear. I really am.

I hope it's at least a little bit interesting.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Fair Is Fair!

This morning I noticed an email I hadn't read. In it were the words: "where are our canasta and gin scores mister?".

Yeah, she is right. Fair is fair, right?

This email came from my friend Emily. She keeps the same kind of nutty schedule I do, and in our occasional downtime, we find ourselves on a site called There we alternate between playing Gin Rummy and Canasta.

I stink rather badly at both, I should add. But it's such a blast "hanging out" with Ms. Emily online, that I don't mind being used as a mop for her to clean the Pogo floor with. I do occasionally win, but typically when she is very tired.

I hope this sets things straight. By my calculations, the rough score in Pogo matches with Ms. Emily is something like:

  • Ms Emily 279

  • Lippy 9


Life often starts to regain a sense of normalcy when the dumb, silly things we're used to make their reappearances.

Fortunately for me, things are at least peeking out, like the sun first breaching the horizon.

Here are a few "for instances":

  • I dropped a bowl of chocolate pudding on the kitchen floor. me...the bowl from which you serve the 8 portions you were planning on sharing. Incredible how much ground that stuff covers when dumped.

  • I found a lost file folder in just under 15 minutes. It was discovered underneath the briefcase I had placed down upon it just over 15 minutes prior, when I'd begun to search for it. How's that doin'?

  • I still have Magic Money, too, of course. You know what I mean. It's the $20 bills that somehow transform into $1 bills whenever I put them in my pocket.

  • This is not to be confused with Vanishing Cash. That's the kind you put into your wallet. You'll have $100 until your daughter asks for lunch money early some morning. I guess kids should have lunch at The Ritz once in a while, right?

  • A little earlier in the evening, I ranted a bit about a Circuit City commercial on TV. "How the heck long are there going to Christmas Clearance sales," I wailed.
    "Dad, this is a recording." "Oh."

They say that admitting something is the first step. But that doesn't mean it's always a GOOD step. In the past couple of weeks I've come clean about my enjoyment of:

The Notebook
I've heard this movie described as the quintessential Chick Flick. I've watched it twice. I don't think I'm a woman though.
Liver and Onions with Bacon
I actually ordered this at a restaurant lately. Leave me alone, alright?
Sports vs. Sportless
I wanted to watch The Orange Bowl when the kids were watching Disney Channel. I got into the show they were watching. I do not know who won the Orange Bowl.

Leave me alone.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


You know when you're sitting around, relaxing, nothing much going on...and then it hits you? Something you'd forgotten to do, or forgot you have to do tomorrow???

My kids have all been off from school since December 22nd. Their vacation ends in the morning.

Oh but they will try try try to extend the hiatus at any cost. I can see it now...6 AM alarm clock goes off, Dad goes to each bedside and the tales begin:

  • I don't feel so good

  • My stomach hurts

  • I think I might have malaria or something.

  • I took my temperature Daddy, it was 208°

  • It's still Sunday, Dad

Yeah I was all calm, cool, relaxed and enjoying some Sunday football.

But who can chill out with all these pending medical disasters!

My stomach hurts.

Maybe it's the mumps or something.

New Yearing

I caught a pretty good break New Year's Eve. I have kids ranging in age from 9 to 15. 15 might be too "old" to do a lot of the things we had in the past, and 9 might be too young to enjoy some of the stuff the older ones might like.

Well, like I said, I caught a break. The oldest came home a couple of days before New Year's Eve and asked if we could consider a bowling party organized by a local complex. The 9 year old piped in, "Ohh yay, can we go bowling?"

Now I might have been afraid to suggest such a thing for fear of being a dork or something. Here they were, asking if I would mind doing it with them!

The place offered a package based on groups of 6. $85 included: unlimited bowling, shoe rental, 2 pizza pies, chips & pretzels, and 4 pitchers of soda. There were 6 of us including the 15-year-old's new boyfriend. (We like the guy, by the way). So I ended up doing something with the kids that they asked for, and we all enjoyed. Not bad, huh? And I didn't get called a dork! (well, at least not till now- fire away, wise guys)