Friday, March 25, 2005

Start Having a Great Life

Have you seen the commercials? There was something about that song which caught me, even though I never heard the whole thing. It's "Great Life" by Goat (whose real name is Andy Rosen). You can listen to a clip of it on here. I'm going to have to burn a CD so I can listen to it in my car. It's exactly the kind of song I need to listen to at this time in my life. Something to lift the spirits.

Another good one is "Have Love, Will Travel" by The Sonics. You can listen to a clip here. Another song to add to the CD.

Every so often a song comes along that catches you like that. I can think of a few off the top of my head:
The Middle (Jimmy Eat World)
Our House (Madness)
Beautiful Life (Ace of Bass)
The Sign (Ace of Bass again)
Calling All Angels (Train)
Glory Days (Bruce Springstein)
The Best of What's Around (Dave Matthews Band)
St. Elmo's Fire (John Parr)
What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
All Star (Smash Mouth)
Rock Lobster (The B-52's)
Start the Commotion (The Wiseguys)

So what am I missing? Let's hear some of your favorites.

Petty Vengeance

Every so often you do something despite your intellect telling you that it's a lost cause. It doesn't matter that you've failed in every attempt before that, you just decide to try again. Every attempt I've made to make things easier for my STBX (Soon-To-Be-Ex) has gotten me exactly nowhere. Let's just take a look at the financial aspect of our divorce. I've gone far further than most men would have to make sure that my child was supported. I paid my STBX half of my pay for 6 months, that's $1700 per month - about 4 times what she was entitled to in child support. I'm paying just under half that now because I pay half of the daycare expenses on top of child support.

It's not been easy for me financially to do this, but I'd much rather I suffer than my son. It's gotten better since we reduced the payments to child support and daycare expenses, but I've got some catching up to do. On the Day of Ambush my STBX cleaned out the bank accounts, she'd been paying more and more on her credit cards in the months before to build up a reserve, she took an extra $1000 out of the blue before I could get direct deposit changed. She didn't have to pay for her attorney - she convinced her father to do that. She's not exactly been short of money since this started. Her biggest problem is that she was either unwilling or unable to get a job for almost 6 months.

When it came to actually getting the money to her, I went out of my way to make sure she got it without delays. After I finally got direct deposit changed I didn't want a hold delaying things, so instead of giving her a check I got a money order. She called me in tears telling me that the bank had put a hold on that also. From then on I paid her mostly in cash (getting a receipt) so that there was no delay in her being able to use the money. Even with that she'd send me emails demanding the money sometimes even before I'd been paid, saying that her bank balance was negative and that she did not have money to buy groceries.

You've heard all of this before - why am I complaining about it again? Well, today I got a letter that my attorney forwarded to me from her attorney. It read:

My client has indicated she hasn't been receiving child support payments on a consistent weekly basis. I would ask that you urge him to be on time each week as XXXXXXXX is dependent upon this income. Being paid in a timely fashion.

The mistake in the last sentence is his, not mine. Also, what you don't see because I X'd it out is my STBX's name - which he got wrong. Attention to detail - it's what makes a good lawyer...

So let's see, I pay her bi-weekly when I get paid, so I'm paying that week on time, and the following week early. What really gets me is that on Monday the 14th I found myself near a branch of my STBX's bank, the nearest of which is about an hour from my house. I decided that even though I hadn't been paid yet I'd go in and deposit the money directly into her account so that she wouldn't have to wait until Thursday to get a check. I certainly did not have to do this - my attorney has told me that it is perfectly acceptable to give her a check when I pick my son up on Thursdays. So I deposit the money a day early and at the end of the week her attorney's writing my attorney a letter complaining that she's not getting paid on a timely basis.

Petty little things like this really annoy me. It's not that she's trying to get me back for how well the mediation went for me - the letter was sent to my attorney five days prior to the meeting. I'm willing to bet that she never told her attorney that I paid early the Monday before he sent the letter.

I wonder how much it's costing to get this tiny little bit of satisfaction for her.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Update the Third - Mediation

Remember Gaaaaahhhhhhhh!!! ? Well, Day One of Mediation was today. Basically, my STBX and I sat down in a room with two mediators (a man and a woman) and went over visitation. It was very informal compared to being in a courtroom.

First, we were asked to describe how we got to be in mediation, and I was asked to go first. I explained that I only had 7 hours of visitation a week and that I wanted more. I explained further that my attorney and I had proposed a plan that would give me two evenings a week and every other weekend, and that it had been turned down. I said that I would be moving to a town that was over the state line so that transporting my son over the state line would not be a problem. The female mediator explained that the state line was a non-issue and that it didn't matter where I lived as long as it was a reasonable distance for me to travel with my son in the car. This must not have gone over well with my STBX because the state line issue was one of her big guns. She had claimed that she was worried that if I got more visitation that I would be more likely to kidnap him (because obviously visitation time is directly proportional to intent to kidnap) and that if I brought him over the state line I wouldn't bring him back.

Then it was my STBX's turn. She didn't really have much to say because the state line issue had been taken away and I think her attorney had warned her to not say anything about kidnapping plots. She did say, however, that she felt that where I currently lived was too far away for travelling. The mediator asked me about this and I told her that our proposed visitation schedule stipulated that the overnight visits would not start until after I had moved to the closer town. She was satisfied that this issue was now settled also. At this point my wife started to sniffle and tear up - she was not happy about how this was going.

And it just got worse for her from there. The times for pickup and dropoff ended up giving me an extra 12 hours per weekend with my son beyond what our original proposal had asked for. We went through holidays and I was very happy with the result of that. Basically at the beginning of each subject the mediator would suggest a starting point of what most couples found reasonable and ask us our thoughts on it. I was more than happy with every starting point - mainly because I really don't want to stick it to my STBX, I really just want a fair amount of time with our son.

The whole process went very quickly because I did not argue any of the points (because I thought they were all reasonable) and she couldn't think of any ways to argue without sounding unreasonable. The end result was that I got far more than what my attorney originally proposed to her attorney in every single area. My STBX was upset and agitated, but did a pretty good job of holding it in until we left. I, on the other hand, am very happy about the whole thing, even if it did cost a lot of money to get here.

It's good that this went the way it did for another reason. We're going to have to divide assets soon. I am anticipating a huge battle in this area. My STBX still feels that she is entitled to most (almost all) of the assets, including the entire value of the condo, and that I should take all of the debt. My attorney says not to worry about this because she has no chance of getting this. If she refuses too much than we can go into mediation again, or the court can divide it. My attorney says that if the court divides it it will be fair, so I'm not worried about that aspect of it. She also says that if we go into mediation it will also be fair, and my opinion of this is bolstered by my experience in mediation today. I'm sure what happened in mediation today is going to weigh on my STBX's mind heavily in the asset division process. My attorney says that at some point in the process my STBX is going to realize that she is going to have to pay me a significant amount of money to compensate me for my share of the condo, and that will give us a lot of leverage. I'm very happy about this, but not for the reason some of you are probably thinking. I want things to go smoothly and easily, but I do not want to be taken advantage of. I am perfectly willing to give up more than I take to make it easier. In other words, I'll make offers that are financially advantageous for her to take.

On another front, I think the relationship with N (the woman I have been dating) is pretty much over. We don't talk much on the phone anymore and we haven't seen each other for a while. The move I'm going to have to make is going to pretty much finish it off I think. My personal opinion is that I should probably wait until my life is a little more stable before I start looking to date anybody else. A woman in one of the offices I visit gave some pretty clear signs of interest, but I didn't respond too much.

One more thing - the other phone call from the other night. It was one of my two older brothers. Well, they're actually half-brothers, but I don't make the distinction - to me they are just "brothers". He told me that my oldest brother had gotten a DUI just before Christmas and that the court had mandated a two-week inpatient rehab program for him. I think I've mentioned before that alcoholism runs in my family and that I stopped drinking at 17 because of this. My oldest brother, like my father and his father, is an alcoholic. It's really affected his life, and we're hoping that this inpatient program will do him some good. He's been in rehab once before, but it was literally over 20 years ago, and things have changed quite a bit since then. My brother said in his message that my oldest brother (J) was quite depressed about the state of his life and could use some communication to let him know people were thinking about him and wishing him well. I decided to go one further - I just kept on driving past my exit and on to see him. I arrived at about 9:30, and the first thing that struck me as he answered the door was how much weight he had lost.

When he realized who I was (he had just woken up and was not expecting me) he threw open the door and grabbed me in a bear hug. I think he was close to crying. We went into the kitchen and talked for a little over an hour. He told me that he was depressed and that was just as big a problem as the alcohol. He had lost his job as a result of the DUI, and his health insurance with it. The doctor he started going to is terrible about letting his patients who have no insurance know about programs for them. There are programs the drug companies run, state insurance program for people without money or insurance etc. The doctor also was not interested in all at looking at whether or not he is clinically depressed.

I think the best thing I did was tell him that I'd been being treated for depression. Showing up to see him wasn't bad either, I think he was feeling very alone. During this program he can only receive mail, so I'm writing him some letters and I'm encouraging others to send him letters also. He's my brother, and it hurts me to think of him in pain or suffering. I think he needs all the support he can get right now - he thinks his entire life is ruined. Combine alcohol, depression, job loss and legal problems and you've got a recipe for disaster. I'm also looking into some programs for drug coverage and health benefits.

So, lots of stuff happening, not all good, but that's life. Financially things are improving quickly, thank God. I'll be able to move soon, which will be very nice.

Starbucks must love me. I've been here for hours now, mooching off their electricity only having bought one coffee. If any of you hear of a case of "Starbucks Rage" where a customer ends up dead at the hands of a gang of rogue Barristas, it's probably me.

Update the Second - The Orphan Printer

This one ought to be relatively short - it's just about the printer I mentioned in an earlier post. I had told her that I was going to bring it back to her because it wasn't working and she should be able to get it repaired under warranty. She was suspicious of this and told me that I should just sell it or throw it out if I didn't want it.

So Saturday I brought the printer with me and before I rang the bell I set it down on the ground next to the garage door. Once it was all set I rang the bell. I was kind of hoping that she would not see it before I left, but she saw it within a fifth of a second of coming out the front door. She told me that if I didn't put it back in my car that it would just sit there. I told her that it was probably still under warranty and that she had the reciept to prove it. If she didn't want to repair it then she could throw it out.

When I came back to drop off our son it was still sitting on the ground. It will be interesting to see if it's still there (I doubt it will be) when I show up on Sunday morning (we switched days this weekend).

Update the First - A Little Boy's Appetite

Well, this is the first of several updates. Today I took a vacation day so that there would be no chance of anything happening at work after the court date today. The court date will be another update, so stay tuned.

My son and I had a great time on Saturday. The STBX had to wake him up when I got there, so he was a little cranky. It was actually really funny. He had a scowl that would strike fear into most parents, but I managed to survive. We went for lunch and he was scowling the entire time. I'd play with him and he'd smile and laugh, but somehow manage to scowl at the same time. He barely ate three bites of his lunch and wanted to get down. Once he was down he got mad and stomped his foot and wanted to get back up. There was a woman and her (I'm assuming) boyfriend at the next table who were smiling at him and laughing because of the whole smile/scowl thing.

Eventually he got into a better mood and we started having real fun. As a result of the real fun I now have a couple of injuries to my face. He was playing and showing off his cars (to women, of course) and got so excited that he accidentally whacked me just under my left eye with one. It only bled a little, but the women acted as though I'd been shot. I think one of them was surprised (and impressed) that I wasn't angry or upset with him. He's only two, and it's not like he was doing it on purpose, so there was no reason, but I didn't let that stop them from babying me for a minute. They told me that it should be ok, and then got back to the business of telling me how cute my son was.

On the way home I was going to stop and get some dinner with him, but he fell asleep. So I parked for a little while and let him sleep and then headed to drop him off. He woke up when we got there, so the timing was great.

After I left I went to have a slice of pizza, and I left my cell phone in the car while I ate. When I came out I found two messages - one of which will be the subject of another post. The other was from the STBX, politely asking me what he had eaten for lunch. Since the first call was a family emergency type call I decided that I would deal with that first then call her and let her know what he ate. As I was on the phone with one of my brothers she called again and left another message. When I got off with my brother I called and listened to her next message. She was angry and upset saying that she needed to know exactly what, how much etc and when he had lunch. She made it clear that she felt I was ignoring her and that it was very important that she hear from me. This surprised me because her first call was just a polite request and didn't seem to have any urgency.

I called her and she immediately complained that she had had to call me "a thousand times" before I called her back. I kind of shot back that she'd only called twice and the first one didn't seem all that urgent. She told me that it was very important that she talk to me and that she didn't understand why I was ignoring her phone calls. I told her that I was not ignoring her phone calls, that she has no idea what I might be doing when she calls.

I took control of the conversation, not wanting to continue an argument about tone and phone etiquette and asked her what was so important about what our son had had for lunch. She said that the daycare had told her that our son had not been eating much for the last few days and that she should call the pediatrician on Monday. I told her that he had only eaten about three bites of some pizza and not much more and she triumphantly told me "See! I needed to know!". I replied that if it was so important that I call her back immediately that she needed to state that when she left a message. That was pretty much the end of the conversation, but some of it upset me. This was another example of me finding out of some problem with our son's health after the fact. I decided to write her about it - here is a portion of the email I wrote to her:

Yesterday when I picked up our son the only thing you told me was that he had just woken up. I took him to lunch and he ate very little, but he was still tired and a little cranky so I did not think much of it. I was going to stop and get dinner on the way home but he fell asleep. When I dropped him off you made no mention of anything and did not ask me what he had to eat.

When you called and left a message you only said that you needed to know what he had to eat for lunch, specifically what and how much. You made no mention of anything further.

You left a second message in which you sounded very upset saying that you “had to know” and I needed to call you.

When I called and asked you why you needed to know so badly you said that his daycare had told you that he had not been eating well for a couple of days and that you should make a doctors appointment. You said that you were keeping track of what he ate and how much because you were (and I’m unclear on exactly what you said here) either had a doctors appointment on Monday or were going to contact the doctor about it on Monday. When I told you that he had only had about 3 bites of pizza for lunch you exclaimed “See! I needed to know!”

I am a little upset by this. If the daycare told you on Friday that he had not eaten well for a couple of days, that means that it was at least Thursday and Friday, possibly longer. The daycare told you that you should contact his pediatrician and you obviously felt that way also if you were keeping track of what he was eating and how much and either had an appointment for Monday or were going to call Monday. Prior to calling me to ask what he had to eat for lunch you made no effort whatsoever to let me know there was a possible problem. You did not call me about it, email me about it or even mention it to me when I picked him up. I would think that at the very least you would tell me about it when I picked him up because it is our normal routine to go have lunch immediately after I pick him up.

In the future I expect to be fully informed of any concerns regarding his health as they come up, not after the fact. I find it completely unacceptable that you waited at least three days to inform me of this, and even then I had to specifically ask you about it. In the past you sent me an email telling me that after several of my visits with him he had small patches of hives on his legs. This was the first I had heard of him having hives on several occasions. Due to his allergy to peanuts I consider this to be extremely important information to get in a timely manner.

Please let me know on Monday what the doctor had to say about his not eating.

My personal opinion is that she really didn't think of this as a serious issue, but just wanted something to complain about, but I really do want to hear of things as they happen.

This is what she sent back to me:

As for his health, I am not worried about his eating habits, the baby sitter is asking me to call and no I don't have an appointment. I have talked with a dozen people who have children and every single one of them said that their kid was the same way. I always attributed it to him teething and his body is changing. It is not that he is not eating anything, he is eating sporatically.
My 1st phone call to you was to get some basic information for myself. I wanted to feed him dinner and was planning on giving him chicken nuggets. If you had given him Chic. nug and he didn't eat them then I didn't want to try it again. Because he was still sleepy and cold I wanted to get in the house and I forgot to ask you what he had. You could have told me what he had just as easily, especially since he only had 3 bites of pizza in a 9 hour period. He eats breakfast between 7:30 and 8:00. As for not mentioning anything else in the 1st call, I figured you would call back and I could explain further.
As for the 2nd call, I was frustrated because you play these games where you don't want to call me. I wanted the information not because it was a 911 emergancy but because we have a child and I needed some communication.
I am not overly worried about him, I know this is common and I'm sure Dr. C will say the same. I plan on asking her for a good chewable vitamin and any tricks of the trade she might have. It was something I was going to talk to you about on Saturday but when you picked him up he was sleepy and crabby and when you dropped him off he was sleepy, crabby and cold. That's why I tried to call you after you left. I am all about communication. I had been giving you notes about what he had eaten the night before and that day and you couldn't be bothered to read them or even ask about the notes, so I stopped writing everything down and you never requested that I keep up the notes. You have never asked me what he had to eat that day, I had always told you on my own in hopes that he might get a balanced diet.

I didn't feel this was all that accurate. Here's my email back (isn't this fun?):

First of all, this is a false statement:

As for the 2nd call, I was frustrated because you play these games where you don't want to call me. I wanted the information not because it was a 911 emergancy but because we have a child and I needed some communication.

I have never played games about wanting to talk to you on the phone. I have always been completely serious about it. You made your bed when you made up all your stories and took extra money. Don’t complain now that I have a hard time trusting you or your motives. I now answer the phone when you call, so don’t complain. The only reason I didn’t answer it when you called the first time is that I was in a pizza place eating when you called and had left my phone in my car. I didn’t call you back immediately because you made no mention of there being any concern whatsoever and I had another message that was much more important than what you made yours out to be. If you want a call back on something soon, be clear and be specific.

I am not overly worried about him, I know this is common and I'm sure Dr. C will say the same. I plan on asking her for a good chewable vitamin and any tricks of the trade she might have. It was something I was going to talk to you about on Saturday but when you picked him up he was sleepy and crabby and when you dropped him off he was sleepy, crabby and cold. That's why I tried to call you after you left. I am all about communication. I had been giving you notes about what he had eaten the night before and that day and you couldn't be bothered to read them or even ask about the notes, so I stopped writing everything down and you never requested that I keep up the notes. You have never asked me what he had to eat that day, I had always told you on my own in hopes that he might get a balanced diet.

Don’t assume that I never read the notes, I read every one and have kept every one. In any case, no matter what you think about it, I expect to hear about things as they are happening, not after the fact. If you want to make claims about being “all about communication”, I would suggest you start telling me things in a more timely manner. I didn’t ask you what he had to eat on Saturday because as far as I knew, there was no reason to. You have a responsibility to let me know even if you are slightly worried about him. If you felt the need to know what he had to eat that day and then make the claim that “See! I needed to know!”, then you should have told me about it when I picked him up.

I didn't receive anything after that - but late last night I hadn't heard anything about the phone call to the pediatrician, so I emailed her and politely asked what the doctor had told her. She emailed me back saying that it was pretty much nothing according to the doctor, which for me is great news.

Ok, that's enough for this part - there's more to update all of you on, but I'm going to break it up into a couple of 44,000 word volumes.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Where In The World Is King Erasmus?

It’s been a busy week, and I’ve had very little time to be writing. Thankfully, it’s also been a very productive week. There is a lot going on at work these days and most of my district feel overwhelmed. We not only have to do our regular job, but several projects that are going on right now as well. One of the times it really caught up to us was Thursday night. We have to do business plans for the year and they were due on Friday. Let me tell you that nobody in this district is lazy, there is just a lot going on right now. I sometimes do not get home until 7:30, and then I have to deal with email and data entry and such, not to mention eating and doing a little relaxing.

So Thursday night is crunch time. You put the finishing touches on the business plan and send it off – sounds easy, right? First you have to make sure that all your calls are entered, because call data is part of what goes into our business plan. So that has to be completely caught up. The business plan requires us to export data in the right field order and import it. This isn’t a really difficult process, but it’s not really easy, either.

One of my other responsibilities in the district is to act as the technical liaison for everybody else. If they have questions or problems they can call me to get answers and advice. I enjoy the role and do very well at it, my previous incarnation as a computer consultant is paying off in this role. The hardest part of it is doing technical support over the phone.

So Thursday night my cell phone was getting quite the workout. Several people in the district were having problems importing the data – if even one field is out of order the whole process fails. Another problem was one of the members having trouble cut and pasting some data from an email sent to him by our manager. I tried various solutions, but when he tried to paste the data he kept getting an error message. I finally had him send me the email so I could get the text out of it myself and send it back to him. When I got the email it quickly became apparent why he was having problems. Instead of cutting and pasting the text into the email message my manager had taken screen shots of the text, cut down the image and inserted the image into the email. Basically, my coworker would have to type it all in himself. I got to bed about 1:30 am – and that was earlier than some people in the district. We had a conference call at 8:30 the next morning and I found that some had been up quite a bit later than I.

I caught up on my sleep some last night – though I’m not completely awake yet.

It’s been a slow news week for me, which is great. The only interesting bits are that my wife has demanded half of any refund we get from the IRS, but made no mention of being responsible for half of anything we might owe. She also gave me a printer, which I found out didn’t work. I told her I was going to bring it back to her because it was still under warranty and the company wanted proof of purchase. Since she bought it she has that, but she became suspicious of my motives for wanting to give back the printer. She told me to either throw it out or sell it instead of bringing it back. I’m going to bring it back today anyway – if she complains I’ll tell her I’ll be happy to take the printer, but she needs to get it fixed under the warranty first. If she gets too ridiculous I’ll just leave it in the driveway. If she wants to throw it out she can do it.

I had a great time with my son on Thursday – he was very happy to see me. It was really funny this time, he started pointing out where he wanted to go, like the pizza place, the pet store, the toy store etc. He also let me know when he wanted to leave – he’d sometimes point to the door and say “that way” while pulling my hand, other times he say “want to go” or “let’s go”. It’s amazing how quickly children develop, it’s literally only days between my visits and he’s changed every time. He amazes me on a continual basis, even with something as simple as recognizing places we’d been before.

I’d love to keep writing, but I have to get ready to go see the little guy. Hope you all have as good a day as I’m going to have!

Friday, March 11, 2005

I Was A Teenage Criminal Part II

Sometimes I think it's a miracle that boys make it to adulthood. When I think of all the stupid things I did as a teenager...

In Florida I used to walk back and forth to school, and one of the ways we took brought us through an orange grove. Have you ever seen that commercial where the people are reaching through the grocery store juice refridgerator? You know, the one where their hands suddenly appear reaching out of a bush in the midst of a group of orange farmers. The grove owners, who lovingly handpick the oranges and squeeze the orange juice themselves, put a quart of orange juice that they somehow packaged in the middle of the grove into the hands of the shopping mother. Their clothes and baseball caps mark them clearly as gentle, kindly men to whom orange juicing is a family tradition, passed down through the generations, and that somehow their love of their oranges sustains them against the evil corporate orange juice companies that use all kinds of chemicals like Synthetic Citrus Growth Hormone and Steroids (to bulk up the orange trees, don't you know). LIES. ALL LIES.

In my experience orange growers are angry old men who drive pickup trucks. They wear glasses that have lenses so thick they must weigh 3 pounds. They wear overalls and keep a shotgun in the truck they drive to chase off marauding bands of middle school students who would strip the grove like the Biblical swarm of citrus-eating locusts.

So, myself and a couple other locusts were walking through the grove, minding our own business, when we decided to do some crop-stripping. We grabbed a couple of oranges off the trees and proceeded to eat - the oranges were quite good.

We heard some yelling and turned to see, in the distance, the owner of the grove standing next to his pickup truck. He was yelling at us, but was so far from us that we had no idea what he was actually saying, but we got the general idea. We answered him nonverbally, each of us giving him the only salute teenage boys are capable of giving.

We watched him climb into his truck and start to drive towards us. I quickly turned to my buddies and explained that we were going to split up and run in different directions. As we were finishing our plans on where to meet back up the truck came roaring up, arriving far faster than we expected. He started to get out, yelling the entire time. We stood there like idiots until we saw him pull the shotgun out from behind the bench seat. It was then we decided that perhaps we were in over our heads.

We all turned to run, and to my surprise, instead of splitting up my friends started following me. I don't think we ran more than 10 steps when we heard the shotgun go off. I felt a sudden burning in the back of my calf and started running even faster, probably at a speed greater than that of Carl Lewis on his best day. However, because I'd been injured, my speed was a bit slower than it could have been. Somehow I was not falling behind - my friends were not only following me, they were slowing themselves down because they were counting on me to get them out of this. They obviously felt that my vast experience in black-market orange running bestowed the responsibility of escape upon me.

We came out of the grove and ended up hiding behind a hedge at somebody's house. I looked down at my leg to find that I was bleeding, and the hole in my leg was starting to burn. The truck stopped a little way down the road and the driver got out. He stood across the road from a different hedge than the one we were hiding behind. He was holding his shotgun and he yelled at the hedge that he "could see us" and that he knew we were hiding behind the hedge.

If I were not bleeding it would have been comical - he was yelling at the wrong hedge. I could see how thick his glasses were, so he probably believed he actually saw us there. He told the hedge that he was going to let us go this time, but that next time his shotgun would not be loaded with rock salt. I'm pretty sure I saw the hedge trembling. He climbed back into his truck and in turning around almost hit the hedge we were hiding behind.

My leg was hurting like you would not believe. I felt the wound and calmly decided as I nearly fainted that I would not be doing that again. With the limp I had suddenly acquired it took me quite a while to get home. My mother may not have even noticed my injury - it was much more minor looking than most of the injuries I came home with on a regular basis.

Knowing what I know now I should have called the police. Some of you may say we got what was coming to us - after all, Grand Theft Orange and Trespassing are serious crimes. Now that I have a son of my own, and someday will hopefully add to my family, I worry about him being shot at by militant orange growers. I've decided that when he's old enough I will sit him down and give him the talk that all parents dread: The Dangers of Citrus Rustling.

If I suddenly "disappear" or die as a result of Vitamin C poisoning, I think the first place the police should look is at the Citrus Mafia. Don't be a fool - stay on the Orange Grower's good side. And for God's sake, don't eat the grapes in the grocery store - I hear that more bodies are buried in the vineyards of California than in the desert around Las Vegas...

Janet's Browser History

I did a little creative hacking and while I distracted Janet with several emails I downloaded her browser history. She got a little uppity, so I told her I was going to publish it, and here it is:

Dr. Phil Random Quote Generator

Career Possibility

Jude Cole isn't my only hero

The Best Blog Ever

I Love Tyler Durden

I knew they were up to something!

Janet, it's OK. Everybody visits these kinds of websites every once in a while. Although every single one of these is indicative of some sort of deviance, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Why I Love My Job

It's been a very busy week for me. As you know, MondayI had the meeting with my manager and his manager, and that went about how I thought it would. I worked with my manager on Tuesday and Thursday and both days went well. It made a big difference not having a completely stressful hearing at court before meeting him. There are still things I need to work on, but I'm quickly getting back into my game. I made some serious progress in some of my accounts this week alone.

My STBX and son went to Florida to visit relatives, and I'm sure my son had a lot of fun playing with his cousin. I didn't get to see him yesterday, but I get to see him Sunday, so life is good. It's been a week since I saw him, and I miss him. I just got an email from the STBX telling me that my son and his cousin had a great time playing together. I am really looking forward to seeing him - I need to buy a camcorder because I feel like all these times we have fun together are going to be lost. I sometimes imagine us sitting together someday watching videos of him and I playing. I keep thinking of him saying "Go race car!"

I've got a lot to do this weekend - I can look up now and see three grocery bags I didn't unpack yesterday when I got home. I have a lot of cleaning up to do because I haven't had enough time to keep things cleaned up during the week. Chris - can I borrow Dee?

A friend of my landlady is visiting, and one of her dogs is afraid of him for some reason. He used to play for the Patriots, literally years ago, and he's really an interesting guy. The really strange thing about the dog, however, is that he used to love the guy. They couldn't be separated from what I hear. Now the dog just lies on the floor next to me and looks longingly up the stairs. If I go up he'll follow, but he sticks close to me. Sometimes he starts to shake if he can hear the visitor talking.

I did get some very good news from my manager. I'll be getting a nice amount for my year-end bonus near the end of the month. My manager basically went to bat for me to make sure I kept it. You just have to love a manager like that.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I Was a Teenage Criminal

I was not always the mild-mannered, Simpsons-watching, ice-cream-eating man who types before you. I went a little wild when I lived in Florida. Luckily I never did anything bad enough to actually end up in any legal trouble, though I was close. Most of the things I pulled were practical jokes. I figured since I had nothing major to type about I’d tell you about one of them.

At the end of our street was a trailer with a fenced in yard. The main breaker for electricity was in a box on a pole out in the yard. My friends and I decided to have some fun with the guy who lived there. One night we jumped the fence, opened the box and turned off the power. We hid across the street in a ditch and listened while he stumbled about in the trailer. He probably checked the breakers in the trailer before he looked outside and realized that everybody else in the neighborhood had power. He eventually came outside and finally figured things out. The whole episode lasted probably a half hour. We thought this was one of the funniest things we had ever experienced.

So we decided to go back the next night and do the same thing. And the next night. And the night after that. Yes, he caught on. The first time he opened his front door and yelled, though he had no idea who we were or where we were hiding. This escalated to him opening his front door and shooting a cap gun into the air. We really thought that was funny.

So one night we jumped the fence and found that he had placed a padlock on the power box. We were a little angered by this. After all, who the hell was this guy to keep us from having our fun? We went home and picked up two pairs of visegrips, returned to the scene of our fun, and broke the lock. Man, he was extra mad that night.

The next time we went we found an even bigger lock. This time we went a little further. We broke the lock, turned off he power, closed the box and put our own lock on it. I can only imagine how angry he must have been, coming out to turn the power back on and finding that he was locked out of his box. We lay in the ditch nearly choking because we were trying to stay quiet while laughing so hard. The laughter died a little when we heard the sirens. By the time the police arrived we had beat a hasty retreat. We decided not to go back after that.

Just on the off chance that our friendly victim might be reading this – I apologize. No need to come for any revenge, ok?

It’s nice to be able to post something relatively innocuous. Hope you don’t feel disappointed.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I'm a Very Lucky Man

Just a short post tonight to let you all know that the talk this morning with my manager and his manager went pretty much as I expected. It was a "wake-up call" to let me know that I've got to get myself together. I've got to say that I work for a great company - I feel very lucky to have not only a manager who is very compassionate, but a company that is serious about taking care of its employees. I was reading about Heather Armstrong who lost her job because of material she posted on her website - thankfully I have nothing to worry about here. The worst thing I can say about my company is that they do not serve milkshakes at training.

Anyway, they helped me outline what I need to do and gave me some guidelines. Now I've just got to justify their trust in me.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Busy Weekend So Far

Wow, two posts in one day. I bet you're all impressed! This has been an eventful weekend, and not just because of the last post. I talked to a mutual friend of my wife and I, and found out that they had talked just the day before. We talked for a few minutes before I realized that she knew nothing about what had gone on in the last few weeks. I told her about what happened last Tuesday and she was furious. She said that my wife had complained about having to go to mediation despite the fact that we are paying for attorneys. She left out pretty much everything else. When I told her why we were going to mediation she couldn't believe it.

Today I got to spend six hours with my son instead of five. We went to Gymboree and had a blast! It's been a long time since I got to do that with him - he ran almost the whole time. He had a hold of my hand for most of the time, pulling me around to what he wanted to do next. He climbed, slid down slides, rolled around, crawled through tubes - everything. After we left he fell asleep in the car seat not even 5 minutes into the ride. I got near where we were going to have lunch and parked while he napped. He ate almost an entire cheese omelette by himself at lunch and had the waitresses eating out of his hands. It is amazing to me how quickly he can mesmerize women. When he's old enough to talk I'm going to have him give me lessons.

One last thing - no talk of haircuts recently!

Wish Me Luck

Well, it seems that last Tuesday's events are going to have some more consequences. I received a call from my manager on Friday, and he asked me if I could meet him and his boss on Monday. Normally when somebody in my field gets a phone call like that it means that you are about to be asked to resign. I didn't want to wonder all weekend, and I have always tried to confront uncomfortable situations in a straightforward way, so I asked him if I was still going to have a job after this meeting. He told me that he understood why I asked, but that it was just going to be a talk. They want to find out where my head is at, assess the situation, plan out what needs to be done and see what they can do to help. I trust my manager, and the culture of the company is to take care of it's own, and they do. I think Monday is going to be my "wake-up call".

All the things going on got me to thinking. I'm definitely an optimist, and one of my rules is "Hope for the best, plan for the worst". What I got to thinking is, what would I do if I did lose my job? Not just Monday, but anytime. I've decided to map out a strategy that would comprise of a couple different parts. Immediate actions, short-term plans, long-term plans. Right now I have no savings, which is terrifying. In fact, I'm more than a bit behind because of everything that's happened in the last few months. So, right now my first order of business is to get my finances back in order. I need to catch up on everything and then get some money saved. That's of vital importance because I need something to live on in the event of job loss.

Here's my short-term plan so far: apply for unemployment (if I'm eligible) and find a job. I'm sure many of you are busy scribbling to make sure you get this down before something happens and it's gone forever.

Long-term - career change? That's something I'll have to think about. Career change is difficult, but sometimes I think I'd rather be in a desk job somewhere. Anybody got any experience or advice here?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Fear is the Mind-Killer

Those of you who have read Dune know the title. What are the things I'm scared of? I had an hour and fifteen minute drive tonight that I spent thinking about this. The last few weeks have been pretty tumultuous for me - I am not happy with the way things have been happening. I'm having a lot of trouble writing this down - it's hard to gather my thoughts. The latest post on Return to Happiness touched me, mainly because he and I are going through so many of the same things. Chuck's been through it too. Lisa is having some of the same kinds of problems. Here are some of the fears going through my mind right now.

Women. I'm finding I'm scared of women. I'm dating a very nice woman, but we seem to be growing apart. That's not what I'm talking about, though. The only reason I mention that is that I've been thinking about her and women in general. There are a couple of issues that come to mind. One is that right now every time I think about a future relationship with a woman I find myself worried about everything that's happened to me happening all over again. What my wife did to me has had a severe effect on me. Before this I couldn't imagine somebody betraying me the way she did - now when I think about women and relationships the thought of this betrayal keeps popping into my mind. Mental illness fits into this as well - I can't very well ask for women to submit to a psychiatric evaluation. I find myself wondering how I'll know if somebody has mental problems. This is one of the big things I want to bring to my counselor for help with. I know it's not exactly rational of me to think like this, but you'll have to forgive me, I was burned quite badly.

Money. Money has been beyond tight for me since this has all happened. I'm tired of the stupid games my wife has been playing with our finances. I keep hearing her complain about the state of our finances during our marriage, but she was in charge of them. She made the conscious decision not to work, yet she complained constantly about our income. When she ambushed me with everything she cleaned out the bank accounts. I've given her far more than I had to and she still stole and extra $1000 from me. I have been hurt so badly financially that I am scared to put my finances in somebody else's hands now. Supporting my wife the way I did after the ambush put me way behind in everything, now I'm starting to catch up but I'm not sure I want to know how much damage this has done to my credit rating. I'm sure my wife has done fine, though. My attorney doesn't think that I'll end up paying for her attorney, but my wife probably thinks otherwise. I am in a horrible financial position right now, but for the best of reasons - I need to be able to tell my son someday that I did everything I could for him.

Anger. I'm pissed. I mean, I'm really pissed. I think I was a wonderful husband. I took my vows very seriously, I never cheated, I did everything I could to provide for my family, and I stood by my wife when her problems started. When she lost her job she thought I would leave her, the thought never even occurred to me. When we started to have problems because of the financial pressures caused by her job loss I went to counseling with her. When I finally realized that there was something wrong that went beyond stress, I started researching, trying to find out what I could so that I could try to help her. When she started getting physically violent with me I didn't leave her. I put up with constant accusations of infidelity, constant threats of divorce, and accusations of plotting to kill her (among other crimes). I found out that she was telling her friends and her family things about me - like that I was hiding some kind of secret debt, that I had a girlfriend, that I was diverting money for some illicit purpose, that I had a pornography addiction. I could go on. Do you think this was easy? No way. I stuck it out, though. How was I repayed? She ambushed me. She fabricated a story about me being abusive. When that wasn't believed she started claiming that I was a danger to my son. She has limited my visitation with him for no reason at all, except maybe to increase our attorney fees. I don't want to be angry, but she sure is making it hard to let it go.

Losing my Job - A couple of months before the Ambush I started at my current company. It's a highly technical position and every new hire is on probation for the first year. My performance before the Ambush was incredible - afterward, however, it's suffered. I've got to do a turnaround, and I can't waste any time doing it. I have a great manager, but he can only do so much. I have to take responsibility for myself and get moving on this. I hate to sound like I'm using this as an excuse, but her behavior is making it very difficult to concentrate on my job. I wish I could get her to understand that if she makes my life so difficult that I lose my job it will have a slight effect on my ability to provide support.

Ok, I could keep writing, but I really need to get to bed. I need to make it a habit to get to bed earlier. I need to get more sleep and exercise, in that order, but writing like this is therapeutic.