Monday, May 30, 2005

Another Day, Another Antic

Today was another banner day in terms of dealing with the STBX. Due to a wedding I agreed to switch days and see my son today. I don’t have a problem switching days, especially for this kind of reason. Sooner or later I’ll need to switch myself. I picked him up in the morning and we headed out. We went to the park, got something to eat, and eventually he took a nap. It was a pretty decent day, although the cold he has had him coughing. Eventually it was time to go back.

I pulled into the parking lot of the condo complex to find a big surprise. A huge area in front of the garage was piled with boxes of my belongings. I got out of my car and when she came out I asked her what she was doing. She said that I needed to take it all with me, otherwise she’d be throwing it all out. I told her that under the divorce orders she could not throw any of my property out. She said she was no longer going to be keeping any of it, and that if I didn’t take it she’d be throwing it out. She said she was sick of storing it all.

I told her that she had not made it possible for me to take any of it, which she said was “bullshit”. She told me that anything I didn’t take was going into the dumpster. I was beginning to get annoyed at this point, because what she had piled up outside would take at least three trips to remove. I noticed that a lot of it was garbage, and started sorting through it all – she had gone inside. Once she was inside I went and got my camera and started taking pictures. I moved everything that was garbage off to one side, loaded what would fit, starting with what I wanted to lose the least, into my car. By the time I was finished there was a big pile of garbage on one side and a smaller pile of things I’d like to keep, but wouldn’t fit into my car on the other.

I took lots of pictures, with boxes open to show the contents. Once I had satisfied myself that I had enough pictures I rang the doorbell and told her that I had moved everything I thought was garbage to one side, but the rest she’d have to bring back in, as it would not fit in my apartment, much less my car. She got angry told me that if I didn’t take it today she would throw it out. I brought out my camera and told her that I had taken pictures and would be asking for all these items specifically in court.

Here’s where she went just a bit ballistic. She told me that I had to take it because she did not have room for it. I replied that under the court orders she could not throw it away. She insisted that I come back and get the rest of it, but I told her that I couldn’t. I distinctly remember her looking at all of the stuff she’d have to move to the dumpster (the garbage, that is) as I left. Her last words as I left were orders – come back and get it tonight. She was furious.

On my way home I sent her a voicemail explaining again what I had done and that the court orders made it very clear that she could not throw it out. I also reminded her that I had taken pictures of it all and would be asking for all of it specifically in court. If she chose to throw it out it would become a criminal matter, so if she wanted to take that chance it was her business. I also told her that I’d be calling her attorney to let him know what had happened and to let him know that I had taken plenty of pictures. I’m going to email her pretty much the same thing tonight.

In one of my last posts I talked about how I thought she called the police when one came around the corner. Well, tonight was another pretty good scare. I actually got pulled over on the way home – my first thought, of course, was that she got so angry that she called the police to make up more stories. It turned out that the officer had noticed that I didn’t have an inspection sticker on my car, but once he realized that I was still within the time limits to have it done, he let me go with no problem. He was actually pretty nice. I was again angry that my first thought had to be “did she call and make another false complaint?”.

I’m wondering how much of my property is going to disappear over the next few months. I’m going to start making a list of everything I can think of and present it to her attorney and her.

I have been considering writing a letter over the last two weeks or so. I have been on the receiving end of her instability, and frankly, I’m getting really tired of it. There never seems to be an end in sight to this ordeal. It’s cost me more than I’ve let on in this blog, mainly because I do have to be careful about what I write sometimes. At some point I’ll be able to correct that, but for now there are things I have to keep to myself.

I have been getting an idea of what she’s telling her family and friends about my actions from mutual friends, and it doesn’t make me very happy. I’ve worked so hard not to cause problems, despite the anger, despite all the things she’s done to make my life more difficult. She doesn’t seem capable of trying to be cooperative in any of this. If she had not been so hostile I would have been happy to help her out. I could have taken the same amount of stuff, but I could have moved all the rest of it to the dumpster for her (it was garbage – nothing I would want to keep anyway). When she turns hostile, however, I have to leave. I have no choice in the matter – I can’t trust her not to lie again if she gets angry enough.

The letter I’m thinking of writing would really set her off. I hold no doubt that she’d hear about it quickly. It would have to be quite long because I’d have to explain a lot of things, up to and including when she decided to have me ambushed. I’d have to explain my side of things, like how I’ve had to struggle financially because I went so much further than I needed to in supporting the two of them. How she keeps finding reasons to prevent the divorce from moving forward – like making things up that are later proven false – her stories of my “secret debt”. It would have to talk about her demands that I take on all of the marital debt while she kept all of the assets, how she claimed she was afraid I’d kidnap my son, then complained I didn’t see him enough, then again claimed I’d kidnap him again when we tried to expand visitation.

It’s bad enough that her family has ignored so much already, but she’s also not telling them what’s really happening. At some point they are going to have to do something if she does not get help on her own. Writing such a letter would be very good for me also, but there’s no way I’d do it without my attorney (if I still have one, it would be nice to get a call back from the woman someday) making sure I wasn’t shooting myself in the foot somehow.

I’m probably rambling now – I’m getting tired and it’s been a long, long day. One more thing, though. Whenever I do write this letter, that will be the point that this blog leaves the world of the anonymous, because I’d make it a point to tell her family and friends to read it to see what her actions have done to me. That’s when things will really get interesting.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


The New Used Car

Thursday, May 26, 2005

When Does My Life Return To Normal?

There are times I find that I’m still feeling the effects of the ambush my STBX conducted. For weeks after it happened I was unbelievably careful, but I still worried that she’d make something else up. When I started dating I discovered how much I had adjusted my behavior due to my STBX’s paranoia. It took me months to let go and get back to normal. Tonight I had a serious scare, and it brought back a lot of fears.

Today I went down to see my son again. I was really looking forward to it, though I was not looking forward to bringing him back to the daycare again. On my way down I called the daycare to let her know I was coming and when I was planning on being there. Everything was settled with no problem and I continued on my drive. Don’t think here that I was cutting things close, it’s an hour and fifteen minute drive, and I had given myself an extra half hour, so there was a pretty significant amount of time before I got there.

Not too long after that I received a call from the STBX. It seems that she came back yesterday and never let me know. That’s pretty minor, I’m just glad I didn’t have to bring the little guy back to the daycare. He and I had a wonderful time, even though he has the beginnings of a cold. He was definitely cranky at dinner, but I kept him entertained until his food arrived. He was in a much better mood after he ate, but still not his normal self. He did give me a lot of hugs, so I was having a great time myself.

Eventually it was time to go back, which made him pretty happy. He really wanted to see his mommy, it was very cute. He’d get distracted and want to look at something, then remember he was going home to her and he’d get moving again. When we got there she took the opportunity to try to grill me on what was going on in my life. She asked a lot of questions, but I wouldn’t answer anything. She started to get annoyed and tried to demand answers, but I would not budge. I said goodbye to my son and watched as she shut the door. She was not very happy, but I long ago decided never to argue with her unless I had no other choice and several witnesses.

In about two or three minutes I was about halfway to my car. Suddenly a police car came speeding around the corner and accelerated down the road towards me. I felt a moment of utter fear. A serious chill went up my back and my hair stood on end. I could feel the adrenaline, and realized I had stopped walking on the sidewalk. This all happened in a split second. It’s always been a fear of mine that she’ll get angry about something and make more accusations. All the fear I had let go of over the last year came flooding back to me.

The police car drove by me and continued accelerating down the road. I started breathing again. I was sweating and my heart was going quite a bit faster than normal. I realized that she had not called the police, but the whole situation made me angry. I don’t like that I worry about her calling the police every time I do something she doesn’t like. How long is this going to go on? I think it’s going to be a long time, unfortunately.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Phone Call And Diminished Anger

Tonight I got a call from a friend of mine. She’s actually a friend of my STBX’s also, so sometimes I hear interesting things from her. Tonight was no exception. She called to see how I’d been since my job loss – we helped her through a rough time with an employer once, and I even testified at the trial for her lawsuit. My testimony was very damaging for the employer (whom I had had dealings with personally), and when she did well on the stand also he decided it would be in his best interests to settle. So to say we know each other well is not an overstatement.

She was one of the first people I called when I was ambushed way back when. She was incredulous at what my STBX did, and had several conversations with her. From what I understand it got pretty ugly at one point. She told me that my STBX’s family had let her have it for what she did and were not being very supportive of her decisions. That wasn’t much comfort for me, seeing as how I could have gone to prison because of her accusations if things had not gone the right way. I think they should have become much more involved, and I plan on telling them that after the divorce is final.

We talked for a while tonight, about what was happening in our lives, both good and bad, and eventually my STBX’s actions concerning my son this week came out. She told me that while she hoped the new job would go well for my STBX, she didn’t think it would. She is of the opinion that it will be too much. She went on to say that every time she talked to my STBX I was always something that came up.

This is what’s weird. My friend told me that nearly every time she talks to my STBX, she acts as though we are still a “couple”, and acts as though we will be getting back together at some point. My friend went on to say that my STBX is constantly expressing concern that I’m dating somebody (she doesn’t know for sure) or that I’m going to get married. My friend is a believer in tough love, and pretty much tells it like it is. She told my STBX that she had made all the decisions to get rid of me, and also the way she was going to do it. She may regret it now, but it’s a little late to be saying it was a mistake. She also tells my STBX that she has no business or right to be concerned with who I’m dating or when. My STBX ends up agreeing, but still is constantly checking to see if I bring anybody with me every time I go there, and the next time they talk it’s back to the old jealousy line.

Another interesting thing was that a lot of my STBX’s friends have put some distance between them. Several of her close friends did not agree with what she planned to do before she did it and let her know that. She did it anyway. They knew the charges were false, but didn’t want to be involved, so they just kind of faded into the background. While it’s nice to know that these people at least knew I wasn’t abusing my wife, it would have been nicer if they’d taken a little more of an active role.

My STBX is not getting all of the support she envisioned getting – her friends won’t babysit for her, they won’t tell her she did the right thing, some of them won’t even talk to her anymore.

I almost get mad at myself sometimes because when I hear these things I feel bad for her. I don’t want her be cast adrift by her friends and have nobody to talk to, but I also understand why these friends are doing what they are doing. I think about all that her stupid actions have done to me, all of the suffering I’ve gone through, and I don’t want to feel sorry for her, but I do. I guess I should be glad that I’m the type of person who has a hard time hating somebody, but it sure would be satisfying.

I was so angry yesterday that I didn’t call L last night, which was very unusual. We talk almost every night. I didn’t want her to talk to me while I was in that kind of mood. Tonight I’m still very annoyed by the whole thing, and I get spikes of anger every time I think of my son being stuck there, but I’m much better. Tonight I find myself thinking about how I’d do things if I was honestly worried that somebody was going to kidnap my child. I can understand her actions, even if they are based on a delusion. It was a lot easier yesterday, I could just be mad at her. I guess yesterday I was Darth Erasmus, and today I’m back to regular Erasmus. Dealing with this kind of mental illness gives you a sort of double vision. You have the anger in you from what’s happening to you, but you also have the compassion because you know why that person is acting the way they are. Does that make it easier? Hell, no. While it’s easier to be angry about it all, it doesn’t get you anywhere, and it doesn’t change a thing. I’ve never been one to take the easier path just because it’s there, anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Angry Isn't A Strong Enough Word...

I went down to visit my son today. It’s a very sore spot for me this week because my STBX is away at training for her new job. I’m very annoyed because she made arrangements for my son to be taken care of by the daycare provider for the week and didn’t tell me any of this until it was too late to do anything about it. At the time she told me there would not have been enough time to go to court and force her to let me take him for the week. I am so very angry about this.

When I got there the woman who runs the daycare called him, and asked him “guess who’s here?” He came tearing around the corner and saw me, broke out into a huge smile and ran over to me. He started pointing out all kinds of stuff and talking to me, he couldn’t get enough out! The woman who runs the daycare is really impressive. She’s done a wonderful job bonding with him and getting him to do things he doesn’t like to do, like wear a hat.

As I drove out of the driveway, he kept up a steady stream of talk, telling me to look at this and that, and laughing, then pointing out something else. We had some dinner and drove over to a good place to walk around. He showed me his cars and we played with them for a while and then went for ice cream. We had so much fun tonight, it was just a great time.

The time eventually came when I had to bring him back to the daycare. This was really hard, bringing my own son back to somebody else to take care of him. As we pulled into the driveway he yelled “No!” and started to cry. He didn’t want to go in, but I didn’t have any choice. I talked and played with him outside until he stopped crying and had calmed down, then we went inside. Thank God the daycare provider is so good with him. She handled the transition very well and he was in a good mood when I left.

I was so upset by this that I cried on the way home. Why would she do something like this? How could she put him in this kind of situation, forcing him to stay at a daycare provider instead of me when she’s away. I would never be so cruel to her if the positions were reversed. I haven’t heard from my attorney since the last phone call despite the messages I’ve left. You can bet I’m going to have some choice words for her when I talk to her.

Of all the things I’m dealing with right now, this is the hardest. He is far more important to me than anything else, and it’s so hard being separated from him like this. I’ve done everything I could to make this go smoothly, despite the constant stream of problems I’ve been handed by her and her attorney. I’m at the end of my patience. I’ve forced myself not to be angry at her because I know a lot of the problems are a result of her mental illness. I’ve put myself in a very precarious financial position giving her extra money for far longer than I needed to just because I wanted to be responsible about supporting my son. I haven’t gone out of my way to cause her problems, though I’ve had several opportunities. I can see now that I’ve been too nice. I wouldn’t change a lot of what I’ve done, but it’s time to be more selfish about my son’s life and my own. It’s time for the nonsense to come to a screeching halt.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Sense of Direction

Where should I be heading? How do I get there? These are some of the questions I’m asking myself. In the last year or so my life has undergone unbelievable changes, so much so that sometimes I feel lost. The biggest, of course, was my STBX’s actions and their immediate consequences. I’ve moved, and my recent job loss leaves me in a pretty precarious position. Nearly every aspect of my life has changed.

If I had some savings I’d be much less nervous, but unfortunately my STBX pretty much left me with virtually nothing. My old company and I are in a dispute right now also. When I finally received my severance I found that it was quite a bit less than I was expecting. It took a couple of phone calls to find out that they had only paid me for 5 vacation days. I had not taken a lot of vacation time because my manager had told me that there was a lot of concern that I was out of my territory too much back in November. I wasn’t too concerned about not taking it, but I should have been. I had at least 12 days accrued, and the HR person I spoke to asked me if I was aware that I had lost a lot of vacation time at the end of March. She was very embarrassed to tell me that the company has a policy of “Use it or lose it”. So I found out that at the end of March, with no notice, I lost at least 7 days of vacation. I decided to do some research before I called back. I looked at Massachusetts state law concerning vacation time and found that first, employees must be aware of the policy, and the employer must not prevent the employee from taking the vacation time. I called back and left a message asking them to fax me any information on the policy and any documentation they had sent me on the policy. I received a call back and was told that it was company policy. I explained that I had not known about the policy, and she got annoyed and said that every employee in the company knew about the policy. I responded that I did not, and that at least one other person in my district who was also relatively new to the company did not know about it. She was definitely angry at this point and said that she’d gather the information and have it sent to me. I think my next move is to contact Massachusetts and find out how I can force them to pay me for my vacation time. This is important to me because it’s a significant amount of money, something I can’t afford to give up right now.

Once I’m through this period, once I have a job and some income I’ll be alright. It’s just a matter of getting there, however. I’ve heard of people who have gone months without jobs, and that scares me. I do have some family to fall back on, but their resources are limited also. I’ll get through this, people get through things like this all the time, but I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet.

Wonder

I saw the most beautiful thing tonight as I was driving home. Although it's late, I had to sit down to capture the thought before it fled my mind. The highway is not normally a place where you look for beauty, but sometimes it finds you there of it's own accord. The moon was very bright tonight, and there were large, billowing clouds filling the sky. The light of the moon behind the clouds gave them a blue-gray appearance that I've always found intensly beautiful. I was driving through central Massachusetts and off to my right I noticed a valley. I knew it was a valley despite the fact that I could not see it. Dense fog had filled the valley to just under the rims of the hills, and shafts of moonlight were coming through the gaps in the clouds to illuminate parts of the scene.

Sights like this give me comfort. The part of nature that is the visual equivalent of "one less traveled by" (yes, Robert Frost) never fails to fill me with a sense of wonder. We lose it as we get older and more used to the sights all around us. It's in children we see that wonder expressed at the little things we take for granted, and it's why we find that wonder children experience so precious. We miss it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I Live In A Swamp

So last night I came home and I could tell from the noise coming from the water heater area that somebody was taking a shower. You know how in some places you can hear the water running, right? So when I woke up this morning the sound was still there, and my landlady told me that there was no hot water. Not yet having had my first cup of coffee my mind did not make all of the necessary connections, but it did realize that there was a problem.

I went and opened the door leading to where the water heater was located and found a quarter inch or so of water on the floor. We had some minor flooding. The floor in the basement apartment I live in is raised, so the water had been running underneath it, as evidenced by the water in the laundry room, which is on the other side of the house from the water heater.

My landlady knows a plumber, so he was here within an hour, which is simply amazing. He took one look at the water heater and declared it dead. He said it would cost $1000 to replace and that he could do it this afternoon. He’s here with an assistant now finishing up the job. From what I can tell, he’s not making much money off of this job. The water heater costs about $800, and the has to get a $50 permit to work on a gas water heater. He and his assistant have been here for about 2 hours and are almost done, but I can only imagine how much it would have cost if she had not known him.

Here’s an interesting question: How is it that a plumber can wear a belt and still somehow have his pants near falling down? The assistant has a little way to go before he becomes a real plumber, he’s rail thin.

I’ll be glad when they’re done, as I’d really like to get in the shower. One nice thing about the whole thing is that it’s forced me to get a lot of stuff organized. Or will. I’ve done some, but after they’re done there’s a lot more to do. I can do it while I’m waiting for the water to heat up.

I do have one other question: Where are all the hot women plumbers? Has no woman seen the niche that exists for this service?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

A few of my son’s favorite things. As I drove with him yesterday, it was a continual chorus of “Wow!” “Look at that!” “Daddy – I see a woo-woo!” “I wanna see a woo-woo!” and so on. If we’re walking and he hears a plane overhead he’ll search the sky looking for it. Then he’ll ask “Where’s it going?” and I’ll tell him it’s going to the airport. He doesn’t like the idea of a plane going to the airport, so he’ll tell me “Noooo!”. So I’ll start to make up places where the airplane could be going, like the store, home for dinner, the park etc. Everywhere I mention gets the same “Noooo!”, and when I ask him where the plane is going I get my question repeated back to me. While it may sound tiring, it’s actually a lot of fun.

What is it about little boys that makes them love cars, trucks, tractors, planes and so on? As his interest grew I started showing him pictures in books and pointing them out on the road, which entertained him to no end. I’ve taken him to tractor dealerships, Husqvarna being my personal favorite right now, mainly because it’s the only major one in the immediate area. I don’t think the maker of the tractors is going to make any real difference at this point, however.

As we sat at dinner last night I was struck by what a little person he’s becoming. We were having a discussion on the possible destinations of the two bugs he had spotted on the other side of the window, and he tilted his head and was obviously thinking about something. There was just something about the gesture which touched me – made me think about the person he could become someday. I want him to be just like me, but I know that’s not going to happen. He’ll be his own person, but I can help shape that person. I thought about the way he behaves, how happy he is, his interactions with people and other kids and realized that so far, his mother and I are doing a pretty good job despite all the things that have happened.

I love being a dad – who wouldn’t with a son like this little guy? I thought I knew what being a parent entailed before he was born, but I had no idea what having a child will do to you.

I saw something else yesterday which makes me glad I don’t fly off the handle easily. As we were waiting to get a table at the restaurant, a man came in and went to the front of the line. I saw that he was wearing a badge from the Department of Health, but he was there to eat. That’s a good sign. Anyway, he was there talking to the hostess for about a minute when the rest of his party came in behind him, a woman and two children. They were immediately shown to a table. I was a little disgusted at the man’s use of his position to get a table ahead of everybody else, but certainly didn’t feel it was very important. Somebody else in line, however, thought it was important. I could hear a woman behind me angrily muttering something about talking to the manager and “who did he think he was” type talk. Another woman spoke up defending the man. Apparently he had been in line before and had the opportunity to take a table and wait for the woman and two children to arrive, but declined so other people could sit and eat. I’m not sure how he ended up outside, maybe he was waiting for them out there. A few minutes later my son and I were seated and we got the table right next to his. He was not the father of the two kids (not important how I knew), but he obviously treated them very well. They were having just as much fun at their table was we were at ours. When we got up to go my son was smiling at them and suddenly got shy, hiding his eyes and trying to walk at the same time. I was very impressed with the Health Department guy – he was obviously a good step-parent.

Now I have another post to make based on the happenings of this morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Search terms which have found my blog

In the last couple of days I’ve seen a big increase in traffic due to search terms in google. In fact, when somebody searches for the song “Start having a great life” (with or without the quotes) I am now the number 1 return. Some of the other searches that led people to me are quite funny, and thankfully, I haven’t been found using obscene searches. Here’s some of the searches:

how to calm child during haircut

Songs from commercials "Start Having a Great Life"

lalaland typepad

divorce

"the good the bad and the ugly" "screen shots"

rock salt shotgun –nails

can hackers read my email

medically speaking idiot

I hope the people who searched for “medically speaking idiot” didn’t find what they were looking for on my blog. I would be very happy if people started searching for “Dune: House Atriedes” and got my opinion on just how bad the book is, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

One more thing – check out The Broken Husband. Peter’s writing highlights his feelings well – and he’s going through a rough time.

It’s official. I have wheels again.

I took several forms of transportation to get to it, but I did it. I started out with a ride from my landlady to the Peter Pan bus station. I was wondering if we were going to make it for a while because her car was making a very high-pitched sound, and seemed to me to be running a little bit hot. I wonder when the last time she checked her oil was…

The bus was really quite a pleasant experience. With one exception. The guy who walked (crutched, really) up to me and told me that he was stranded and needed money to get back home to NYC. I looked him up and down and quickly came to the realization that he was a scammer. The first thing I noticed was the shirt from a local bar. The second was the crutches and “cast” he had on his left leg. Maybe I’m not current with the latest medical procedures, but I don’t know many doctors who would put a plaster walking cast on a leg over the pair of pants you’re wearing. I also don’t know many doctors who use duck tape to secure the top of a cast. If I were really feeling like a hardass I would have asked to see his license, or asked him how much he needed for a ticket to NYC, since I already knew the answer. The look I gave his cast as I said no must have clued him I was a lost cause, because he quickly moved on to the next person pulling in.

Anyway, I arrived and then hopped onto a city bus to get as close as I could to my ex-coworker’s house before I jumped into a taxi. The taxi driver was good and had no problem with me directing him on a shorter route, so he got a tip which made up the difference.

The last possible place a curse could have prevented me from driving away in my car was in the driveway, but the battery was charged and the car started without a hitch. I even remembered to put the plates on! So now the car sits out in the parking lot of the Starbucks I sit in until it’s time to go and pick up my son. I’m working on my cover letters while I’m here, which so far has gone quite slow.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my son tonight. I have missed him terribly, mainly because I didn’t get to see him this last weekend because of an ear infection. Poor little guy. We are going to have a blast – he’ll get a ride in the new car today, which will thrill him. We’ll have to go to the park because he really enjoys that, especially swinging. We’ll have to go and get something to eat, probably mac & cheese (or maccheese as he puts it) and possibly the pet store, but I’m not sure how much we can really fit into the time we’ve got. It’s a continual source of amazement to me how much a child changes your life, and the strength of the bond you develop. Do you know I can’t watch some shows where children are hurt or mistreated? It makes me angry to see it because I can’t help but think of my son in the same situation. The only thing that ever provoked that reaction in me before was the movie Amistad. I’ll have to think about whether or not I’ll ever want to watch that again. I was so disturbed watching it that I literally almost threw a coffee mug through my television set. I was outraged that people could be treated the way they were on the voyage across the Atlantic. If you haven’t seen it, you are warned. I have been thinking about the things I want to teach my son as he gets older. Perseverance, kindness, logic, empathy (which is different from kindness), I could go on and on. There’s so much I feel I need to pass on to him, but he’s got a big part of it already. He’s happy. I think that’s one of the single most important things anybody can learn. I like to think I taught him to be happy by example – I’ve had many people tell me that his attitude and smile remind them of me. That alone makes me feel like a good parent.

I am in such a good mood right now. Part of it is getting the car situation resolved finally, but the biggest part of it is that I feel like I’m entering a normal life again. I really had no idea how much I was putting into my last job – it’s become much more apparent as I’ve found myself with no work to do at various times. My stress level is WAY down and I’m finding a lot of time to do things that I enjoy again. I’ve done a lot of computer work, and there’s lots more on the horizon. I’ve got a lot of maintenance-type work to do that I’ve put off for a long while.

I suppose I should get back to researching what I’m going to put into a cover letter. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Job Search Begins In Earnest

I am very happy to report that I have, at this moment, sitting on the chair in the other room, a set of plates and a registration for my car. Whatever extraterrestrial agency or angry God was preventing me from getting my car registered has apparently given me a break. Now I have to hop on a bus tomorrow morning to go down and put the plates on and drive home. It will be very nice to have a vehicle again. I’ll have to post a picture like ESSF (Extra Strength Strangling Fingers) did of her new car.

This means that I can begin my job search in earnest. I’ve been reluctant to send out resumes to businesses on monster and others because I wasn’t sure I’d have the car to get to interviews with. That’s a definite problem if you’re looking for a job.

I’ve found some really interesting job possibilities so far. I sent my resume to one, but I’m holding off on the others until I finish my cover letter. I’m planning on doing that tomorrow after I read a little bit about writing them. I’ll do that reading on my way down to pick up the car. I don’t want to send out a half-assed cover letter. Hi – I’m wanting a job. Hire me.

On a completely different note, I saw that The 4400 will be starting again on USA soon. The first season was great, I can hardly wait until this starts again. The Sci-Fi channel also has an amazing range of quality of shows. Some are very good, like Battlestar Galactica and Scare Tactics. Some are very bad – I saw a movie the other night called The Fallen Ones which was so bad I actually stopped watching it. I’d like to see what they’d do with some more of the Dune series, like the last three books Frank Herbert wrote. I live in perpetual fear that they’ll take on the books his son (Brian Herbert) has written as prequels. I was one of the first ones to buy Brian’s first book and people were laughing at me as I read it because I’d get so disgusted with it that I’d put it down vowing not to finish it, but then try again, hoping that it would get better. I barely managed to finish it. I wrote a scathing review on Amazon comparing his writing style to his fathers. I think I said that his style was like a “verbal club to the head”, among other things. It was up for quite a while, until the number of people who found it useful grew. Then it was suddenly removed. I emailed Amazon about it and they had no record of my review ever existing. Yeah, right. More like people might not buy the book after reading a well-written negative review. You want to read some funny stuff? Go to the Dune: House Atriedes on Amazon.com, click the link to read all customer reviews, then order them by lowest rating first.

Before I finish this post, I want to tell people about a service I’ve recently started using. I came across Bloglines, and it took me all of about 5 minutes to fall in love with it. It’s a great way to keep up with the blogs I like to read.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Blogging So Hard My Foot Is Cramping

There is so much going on in my life right now that it’s hard to blog about it all. I’ve blogged recently about my new (used) car, Revenge of the Sith, the DMV (or Bastion of Evil), and even karma. There’s so much more than that.

Can you believe that life is good? I don’t know what I’m going to do for work, where I’ll be in a year or even when I’ll be able to drive my car. Despite the Saga that is my divorce, the loss of my job, and the uncertainty of my immediate future, I still think the best is on it’s way.

Things I’m looking forward to:

  1. Spending time with my son as he grows
  2. Having a job that doesn’t come home with me
  3. Having my entire weekend to myself
  4. A real Christmas (I’ll post that story someday)
  5. Movies (I love movies)
  6. Setting up a model train for my son to play with
  7. Travelling

Ok, that’s enough of a list for now. I had a great weekend besides seeing Revenge of the Sith early. On Saturday and Sunday I actually spent a lot of time with L at the Brimfield Flea Market – the biggest flea market in the world. We did so much walking that my feet hurt at the end of each day. I got some good loot, though. I picked up a set of steak knives for $10, a stoneware vase for $2 (which was WAY underpriced), and a stoneware bowl for $5. I saw a couple of stoneware vases for upwards of $800 (yes, eight hundred), but I just got lucky. The people I got mine from just didn’t know what they were selling, although I doubt they are worth more than $40-$50 total combined. The funniest thing I bought was a wooden bowl that looked like an antique but was probably not. I had just got done looking at an incredible doghouse that had just sold for $8000 (yes, eight thousand). Yes, it was really nice, but I can’t imagine spending that much for a dog house. I’d build one before I bought one. It had been made very precisely, and had been painted meticulously with an outdoor nature theme. The painting was done by somebody with some real skill, it really was something to look at. Anyway, the same vendor had this wooden bowl and I carried it up to the front and asked how much it was. She looked at me and said “That’s a nice choice, very old, it’s $9000.” My other had immediately came around and cradled it, my mind imagining it suddenly leaping from my hand and breaking on the ground. I looked at it thinking “$9000!”, while wondering what Native American tribe had hand carved it in the distant past. She then laughed and said “$10 and it’s yours!”. I must have looked pretty comical.

One of the things I do to keep things in perspective is pay attention to what other people have gone through at different times in their lives and remember how lucky I’ve been. I grew up with two decent parents, even if they did divorce. I had my trials, but nothing so bad that it broke me. All of them prepared me well for the trials I’m going through now. One thing I make sure I remember is that all these things are temporary and life will go on. Things get better, especially if you want them to.

So here I sit, foot cramping. Soon I’ll have some ice cream, talk to L on the phone and get to bed for a nice nights sleep. Have I mentioned how nice it is to go to sleep knowing you don’t have a stressful job to wake up to in the morning? I’ve heard that life is what you make of it, and let me tell you, it’s true.

Monday, May 16, 2005

This Is Why People Hate The DMV

As I posted before, I got a great deal on my new (used) car. I’m very happy with the purchase, but it would be great if I could only drive it. The first stumbling block was when the owner’s mother insisted that she needed the plates off of the car so she could turn them in before the end of May. She was afraid that she’d lose $60 if she didn’t, so they took the plates off the car and turned them in. I didn’t really think it was a big deal, until I tried to figure out how I was going to register the car. You see, in Connecticut, if they catch you driving an unregistered vehicle, even if it’s to the DMV to register it, you get a court date and they tow the car away.

That meant that I had to figure out a way to get it registered so I could actually use it. I did some research and found that I could register it in CT since I still had a residence (the condo) there. I’d register it there, and later move it to Mass if necessary if I was still living there. I finally got the title all set, and went on to the DMV. I’ve had the pleasure of registering cars in several states, including Florida, California and Washington, and I’ve never had anywhere near as much trouble as I’ve had in Connecticut. It would be one thing if it were the first time I’d ever been there or the first time I’d ever had trouble, but the sad truth is that I’ve registered several cars in CT since the mid-80’s, and I’ve never, never had it go easily or quickly. One thing you’ll notice when you walk into a CT DMV is a sign. It says that violence is not tolerated, and anyone making threats to the DMV employees would be harshly dealt with.

I knew I was in trouble the second I got my ticket. When you go into the CT DMV they ask you what you are there to do and make sure you have the correct forms to fill out. That’s a great way to start, no complaints there. They give you a number printed on a ticket and you wait for it to be called. I saw that on this ticket they had an expected wait time printed: 2 hours and 31 minutes. So I left and came back about a half hour before it said I would be called, which worked out just fine. I got to the window and everything went great until something popped up in the computer. She said that I had not turned in the plates on a car I had owned years ago, and I knew this was not true. I had traded the car in and the old plates had been turned in when I got the new ones. She told me that until I could produce a form from the Tax Assessor’s office I could not register a car or even get temporary plates. I was beginning to understand why people hate dealing with the DMV.

So now I had to try and fix this tax problem without being able to drive to the Tax Assessor’s office. Leave it to CT. I called the Tax Assessor’s office and I finally got an answer. It seems that since the state did not record that I returned the plates, the town kept right on taxing me for 2 years afterward. The woman on the phone was having a great time explaining this to me. She then asked me if I was sitting, and told me that I could have the problem solved if I paid them $985 (if I remember the number right). She was laughing as she said it, but stopped abruptly when I let out a surprised “WHAT?!?”

Smart woman. She figured out that not everybody would find a $985 tax bill as funny as she did. She explained that the initial figure was not very much, but the interest compounded over the years had really added up. It did not matter that I never received a bill. They had no intention of reducing the amount for any reason. I’m sure they did send a bill, but I was not there to receive it. I was in the Navy at the time and was living in San Diego. She did say that after 15 years the bill was automatically deleted, and when I looked at the dates, I found that it had been 15 years already. I asked her about it, and she told me that it took sometimes 2 years for it to actually be deleted. Great.

As you can probably guess I was a little hot about this, being in the military causes problems like this all the time. I decided to avoid CT altogether and just register the car in Massachusetts, even if it would mean more travel to get the car once I had it registered. So today I called an insurance agent (since my insurance company does not insure in Massachusetts) and told them I had bought a car and needed to register it in Mass. He had me bring in the title, and 10 minutes later I was all set with insurance. I also found, to my complete surprise, that I would not need to go to the DMV (actually, it’s the RMV in Mass). The insurance office would take the paperwork down to the RMV and get my plates for me! They told me that even if I had to go in and do it myself that it probably wouldn’t take any more than 20 minutes.

I will believe the registration problems are over when I have the plates actually screwed onto my car, but it looks good. Maybe I’ll be driving again by tomorrow night.

Hey, and if you’re wondering, no news on the job front. If you’re praying or sacrificing animals in attempt to improve my chances, make sure you mention LaLa too. She’s looking for work also. Too bad we can’t make a living blogging.

Return of the Sith

First, I am not talking about my STBX in referring to the Sith.

I have the most amazing luck sometimes. On Saturday I went to see an advance screening of Return of the Sith. It was great – definitely the best of them in my opinion. I even made sure I had proof: the movie theater gave everybody a special pass. In my opinion it was the most dark of the three new ones, and it had the most action.

Some of the best news of the newest of the movies is that Jar Jar Binks is only seen in two scenes, and if I recall, does not speak at all. Even thinking about him brings back traumatic memories of the first and second episodes. How many of you felt (like I did) that the second episode would have done just as well if it had been “The 4000 Slow, Bloody Deaths of Jar Jar Binks”? I know I would have paid to see that one. Twice.

I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination to say that Jar Jar was meant to be a character to attract and entertain children, but the rage he inspired in the general adult population was truly something to behold. I remember coworkers wondering what the thought process was in putting something like Jar Jar into the movies. Some even went to such lengths as to say that he ruined the movies. My personal thought is that he did not ruin the movie, but it was a close thing. I think that if Lucas ever wants to make a quick buck he could release a DVD version which either has an option to automatically skip over portions of the film that have Jar Jar in them or has a version that digitally replaces him completely, say with Gumby or even Barney. Either would be a vast improvement.

Star Wars was actually the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was 10 years old at the time, and my dad piled my brothers and I into the car with my mother and off we went. At the time we had no idea where we were going, we were just along for the ride. When the theater sign came into view it had one movie listed in the middle of it: Star Wars. We had heard about it in school, but never thought about going to see it. When it came into view my mother immediately began to protest. Her protest clued us in – we were going to see a movie for the first time, and it was Star Wars!

We got there early, but the line was still quite long. We waited, excited, near the front of it, about eight or nine feet from the door to the particular theater we were seeing it in. The door opened and we saw robots on the screen, whom I now know to be C3PO and R2D2. That short glimpse easily quadrupled our excitement level. I remember a man in front of us in line saying something like “I don’t know what it’s about, but there’s robots in it!”

I don’t remember actually watching the movie, but I certainly remember the next day. We had a big logpile in the backyard, and our imaginations immediately converted it into the Millennium Falcon. Our mother was a convert also, despite her initial protests. She got us the soundtrack and we played it continuously in the house. We were enthralled by Luke, Han, Darth Vader and Chewbacca. I think she liked the theme of the movie, especially the Jedi. For young boys this was an ideal movie. It had spaceships and space battles, aliens, lasers, monsters, swordfighting, and heroes we could identify with.

I think Star Wars did a lot to encourage my interest in science. I was one of the few kids who had a computer at home in the ‘70’s, and there were electronics everywhere. My dad is an electrical engineer, a ham radio operator (as my brothers and I are now) and had built his own home computer from parts he brought home from work and from ham radio flea markets. It was a towering affair and had a very small monitor. We (meaning my dad – we were not to touch anything unless given explicit permission) entered programs by way of punch cards. We had a game my brother and I loved to play which basically was a stationary cannon we could use to shoot spaceships that flew by at various levels of the screen. One of my classmates told a teacher that I was telling stories about having a computer at home. She called my parents, concerned that I was making up stories like this. I can only imagine her surprise when she was told that we really did have a computer.

I won’t post any spoilers for the movie, but I will let you know that the process that produces Darth Vader is good, but should have been longer and more detailed. And I still think Jar Jar should have been killed off.


The advance screening pass I received for Revenge of the Sith on Saturday.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Start Living A Strange Life...

Yes, for those of you paying attention, I changed the words to this song a little bit. After today it seems appropriate. Life is pretty strange for me these days. For instance, I just bought a car (and got a damn fine deal) for the first time in 6 or 7 years. I kept looking at it today (as it sat, undriven) and shaking my head. It was just strange thinking about owning a car again. I've driven company cars for so long that I've forgotten what it feels like to own one.

Today was one of those days that was a series of long stretches of inactivity punctuated by short periods of running around. Sometimes I had to sit and think how I was going to get around a problem. I guess I should start at the beginning.

The other day I had the new (used) car towed to a local repair shop to have the alternator replaced. I had actually planned to pick it up the same day but they didn't have it done in time. So this morning I caught a ride down to the city that the shop is in, which is about an hour and 15 minutes from where I live. L brought me (isn't she sweet) and I made her drop me off near the highway so she wouldn't have to fight traffic getting to the shop and back. My plan was to take the city bus the two miles or so. That little plan went out the window when I could not find a single bus stop. Not a big problem, I just walked. When I got to the shop I got the bill and it was slightly higher than I had been told, but within reason and legal limits.

I went over to the bank, which was across the street, to get the necessary cash. Here is where I started feeling like I was in a movie. I found that my checking balance was quite a bit lower than I was expecting. The first thought that flashed through my mind was "ok - they did not deposit my severance pay last night like they said they would". However, the balance was still too low, even considering that. I couldn't figure out what the problem was unless I had an internet connection or spent some time going over stuff with a teller. When I put a few more brain cells onto the case I found that I had another problem. There wasn't enough money in the account to cover the cost of the repairs on the car.

Now, I knew I had a little money in my pocket, but was it enough to cover the difference? I got it out and counted it. I discovered, to my horror, that if I emptied out my bank account to the last cent and added the money I had in my pocket, I would be exactly $3.12 short. I looked down at the cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee in my hand and thought about the two donuts I'd had for breakfast. It cost me $3.42 to have breakfast this morning. If I had not had breakfast this morning I could have left thirty cents in my checking account and paid for the car repairs. This was not the way I wanted to start my day.

I briefly looked around for a store that looked easy enough for an ex-teenage criminal like myself to knock over. Scratch that idea. I looked around for people who looked muggable. The most muggable person around was a mean looking old man carrying a hardwood cane.

I finally came to the conclusion that I'd have to call my father, who lived not too far away, to come help me out. It would have to be quick, because I foolishly had not charged my cell phone the night before, and I had one bar of charge left. I talked with him and told him I needed to borrow money until tomorrow, and he was on his way.

Over the next several hours I not only paid for the car repairs, but got myself insurance and spent several hours sitting at various tables in McDonalds and Wendys studying a tech book. I couldn't drive the car because I needed to get temporary plates on it (there were none) but I couldn't do that until I had met the requirements. The last thing I needed was the title and an odometer form. For that I had to wait for the woman who was selling me the car to get home.

I got things done just in time to go and visit my son, but realized that I had not brought the car seat with me. We had fun anyway - I put him in the stroller and we walked around all over the place. We had some damn fine pizza and looked at tractors, woo-woo cars (as he calls them) and motorcycles. The wanderlust was upon us tonight.

So tonight I ended up driving back home in the car, and I swear that every fool in a 3-state radius had decided to make a run at hitting my newly purchased car. And not just the fools - I would be remiss if I did not mention the idiots also.

All in all a very good day, but I'm so tired I can barely finish this post. I'll have to save the comments of my STBX for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Aren't Tuesdays Supposed To Be Better Than Mondays?

The car is going to cost a little more than I originally thought. The alternator needed to be replaced, and I just got a call that the axles need to be replaced. The shop called me and told me that they could do one right away and not charge me the labor because they had to take it out to replace the alternator anyway. I told them to go ahead and do it. So the total right now is going to be $610, and the other axle needs to be replaced, but not right away. That still makes the car a major bargain, so I’m pretty happy with that.

I had an interesting discussion with my landlady today. I wrote about the lunch I had with her and her guests on Sunday – it turns out the woman in the band is her cousin. Her cousin was apparently impressed with me because she called my landlady and asked if I was single. She’s got a friend she wants to introduce to me. What’s most interesting about this is that my resume and job loss was a topic of discussion at this meal. So my landlady’s cousin, knowing that I am unemployed, wants to introduce me to her good friend. Don’t women generally avoid unemployed men? I’ll have to ask L about that.

It’s amazing how much work it’s taking to get my “apartment” cleaned up. There was so much work stuff here that it looked like a bomb exploded when I got finished moving it all out. It gave me a good amount of space, though. It’s going to be nice to be living in a clean apartment again. I’m actually a little excited about it.

Wow. Just got great news – not. My attorney called and left me a message saying that she no longer wanted to represent me. Her reasons: I owe her a lot of money, she’s tired of getting yelled at by my STBX’s attorney because I can’t get her information fast enough. She also gets nasty calls from the opposition whenever my STBX makes some kind of complaint or accusation, which runs up the fees and I cannot keep up with that. The latest was a complaint that I was withholding information on finances, when in fact I don’t have it, it’s all in the condo. I can’t go to the condo and get it. There have also been some new complaints, the details of which I don’t know yet. Man, when it rains, it pours. I left my attorney a message asking her to reconsider, but I haven’t heard back from her yet.

Exciting day, eh?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pass The Crack Pipe, Please.

Ok, I'm not sure what I was smoking when I planned out my day and thought I could get back by 3pm, but it had to be pretty strong. I just got back home now, 10:30pm. Everything took longer than I thought it would. Renting the car, the drive out, unloading the car, the drive back, getting my new car set to go, etc etc etc.

I got to actually look over the new car today - it looks great. She took really good care of it - I'm damn lucky to be getting it. The inside is flawless and the body has no damage or rust whatsoever. It's green, which is funny because it's my favorite color and until I actually saw it I'm not sure I ever thought about what color it was. Right now it's sitting outside a repair shop to be looked at in the morning. Once it's all set I have no idea how I'm going to get down there to pick it up, but I'll just worry about that little problem when I have to. The important thing now is that it's getting fixed and I'll have something to drive again.

I'd write more, but I need to get into bed or I'll collapse and sleep here in my desk chair. I'll have to write more tomorrow about the rental car, the STBX's new job and some other fun stuff.

A Few Thoughts As I Wait For My Coffee…

Today I’m renting a car. I’ve got two things I’d really like to get done: return all my work material to my manager and get the new car situation moving. I was supposed to UPS all the material back to him, but the cost would be surprisingly high, and it’s very difficult to ship things with no car to get it to a shipping center. I could have arranged to have them picked up, but that doesn’t eliminate the expense. I’d get reimbursed, but that could take a couple of weeks.

So today I’ll drive it all to him and it will be done. I was going to rent the car anyway, so the expense of renting isn’t a big deal. I’ll just be glad to have it all done. It will certainly give me a lot of shelf space at home.

When I wrote the title to this post I said a I had a “few thoughts”. I find now that my mind was lying to me. Apparently, the thought queue is very small before I finish my coffee. So I’ll have to make something up as I go along here. Come on. It’s not that hard. Think think think.

Ok, maybe it is that hard. Hey! I spoke too soon! The thought just popped into my head that I want all my stuff at the condo. I’ve gotten the idea from my STBX that she has packed all my stuff up in boxes and put it in the garage. I’ve asked her for a couple of things, and she tells me she doesn’t know where things are, that they’re probably in a box in the garage. This is annoying for two reasons. First, I don’t have access to it (one was my photo album and about a thousand photos and negatives), second, she’s trying to dictate what I take and don’t take. I will have no idea until after I go through all the boxes if all of my stuff is there. There’s a lot of stuff with sentimental value that I don’t want to lose.

Ok, I’d like to write more, but I’ve got to get moving. It’s going to be a long, busy day.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Life On The Edge

So this is what it’s like to be unemployed. There are a myriad of emotions that pass through me daily, and I’m not sure what’s going to become dominant quite yet. At times I feel hopeful, other times down. It’s strange, but my stress level is down overall, mainly because I’m not working all the time. You would think that the stress of being unemployed would be far worse, but I guess I didn’t really realize how much stress I was getting from my job. This is the first Sunday I can remember in a long time where I didn’t have work to do. It’s really funny – I have a lot more time on my hands but there is still not enough time to do all the things I’d like to be doing.

My landlady had several people over today for lunch and asked me if I wanted to come and eat with them. It was a lot of fun. One of them (her cousin or sister, I couldn’t figure out which) is a singer in a band. I’ve got one of their CDs, but only because my landlady gave it to me. They are actually quite good. One of the other guests was very funny, and we got a lot of laughs out of each other. He asked me about what I was thinking about in terms of employment, and I told him that my parole officer was doing most of my thinking for me. It didn’t get him, but two of the other guests bought it for a few seconds. What’s more interesting is that it turns out this man is a consultant who helps people with their resumes. He offered to look at mine, which I gratefully accepted.

The resume I showed him was the one I hurriedly prepared to send to the customer I mentioned before. I had thrown it together pretty quickly using L’s (as I’ll call my new girlfriend from now on) resume as a template. He had quite a few good suggestions, mainly on some of the syntax and a few on presentation. Overall he said it looked great and that I had some fantastic material in it. I was happy to hear that since I don’t see resumes all the time and have no reference points.

The next part was something I didn’t like to hear as much. He told me that it can take up to three months to find a job that is worth taking. He cautioned me to not take the first job that came along, but to wait to find the right job for me. It’s good advice, but I don’t like the idea of being out of work for that long. I’ve decided now that I will not be going back into my industry. It’s just too risky and too stressful, and there are a lot of people who’ve been laid off recently.

L has told me, based on stories that I’ve let her read, that I should start writing. Not as a career, but as an outlet and as something I can give my son as he grows. I told her that I wanted to write him a continual story that could change in complexity as he got older – I thought it would be really neat for him to have a long-term story like that just for him. I think I would have really liked that when I was growing up.

She met my son last week and told me she was really impressed by the bond he and I share. Of course he flirted with her shamelessly, but what she said really stood out was that I adored him and he adored me. She didn’t get to see what he looked like when I picked him up at daycare. When I arrived he was kind of zoning out in a swing (he loves swings) and he didn’t recognize me because I had a baseball cap on, something I almost never wear. When I took it off his eyes got wide and he got a big smile on his face. As the woman started to unstrap him he started laughing, his legs started kicking and he started trying to push out of the swing with his arms. When he finally got out he ran to me. I’m almost crying her thinking about it. That little guy means the world to me. He was wearing a baseball cap too, and I have the daycare provider to thank for that. He has always hated hats and hoods and wastes no time in yanking them off. The rule at daycare, however, is that he has to wear his hat to go outside, mainly because he is fair-skinned and would get sunburned easily. He seemed to like that I wore one too – he really liked it when I put his hat on top of mine and wore it. It seems like I’m becoming somebody he likes to be like, which just makes me about as happy as I can be.

I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and sorting, computer work, studying (for a computer certification), job scanning etc. Another thing I’ve been doing is getting used to not working, and I don’t mean being unemployed. My job had been getting very involved lately, and I didn’t realize how much of my life I’d been giving up. That’s another reason for a career change. I will not be one of those people who realize in their twilight years that they wish they’d worked less and spent more time with family.

So there it is, my life in a nutshell. I wonder if I’ll look back on this time in my life with pride or if I’ll just hope I never go through things like this again. I’m going to go for the pride one.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Karma, It's Everywhere You're Going To Be

It's been an interesting morning already. I've had a steady stream of calls from my coworkers to check on me and see how I'm doing. Some of them have called when I'm on the phone with others, and it's actually pretty touching to listen to the messages of support they leave. I had no idea I had had such an effect on some of these people. My car situation may already be solved I'm happy to say. One of my coworkers has a car she wanted to sell and has offered it to me for a very good price. It needs a little work, but nothing major, and she took very good care of it so I know it's in good condition. That's a pretty big relief.

One of my coworkers mentioned that I should consider a job as a male stripper. I'll have to think that one over.

I feel like I'm kind of on a rollercoaster right now. I've got a lot of people's support, even more than I would have guessed. I went out of my way to help my coworkers with various things on the theory that you never know who you might be working for or with in the future, and that is definitely paying off. Everybody I've talked to so far has insisted on being a reference for me because of the things I'd done in the past to help them out. It's a great feeling. Karma, it's everywhere you're going to be.

After writing that last line I went up and changed the title of this post - it just seemed so appropriate. I've got so many friends coming out of the woodwork to help and support me that I nearly cried this morning. It's just amazing to see how much things I've done and said in the past meant to people. One of my coworkers husbands even sent me a message.

It's already 11:30, wow. I'm trying to do ten things at once, like talking on the phone with my (ex) coworkers (which is good for networking, as well as for support), tweaking my resume, posting said resume to monster and such, cleaning up my office and getting stuff together to send back, filling out forms - I could go on and on.

So tell me, does anybody know if you actually have to interview for a burger-flipping job at McDonalds?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Someday This Will Be A Lifetime Movie

Well, it's official. Today was my last day with my employer. They gave me a decent severance package (I wish it was more, but probably would feel that way no matter what they gave me) and my manager was exactly as I expected: a class act. You know what the worst part of it all is? You never get to keep the company car. It's what's known in my industry as the "Golden Handcuffs". You don't leave because you don't want to go out and buy a car and have to pay for all that goes along with it, like insurance, gas, oil, repairs...the list goes on. So tomorrow or the next day I have to find a cheap car and get insurance. This is not a good time to be looking for a job in my industry. Many companies have had layoffs in the last few months and I have several friends who are looking for jobs with little luck.

My new girlfriend (wow does it seem strange writing that) seems to think I'll not only land on my feet, but end up in a far better situation. She actually helped me redesign my resume (yes, I know there's no accent there, but I'm too lazy to put it in) and it looks great. It's nice to have somebody have a little faith in you. She is pretty inspiring in this kind of situation - she took four kids and went out into the world without a job. Now that's pressure.

I don't panic easily, and this is FAR from the worst thing to happen to me - if you've read this blog for a while you know exactly what I'm talking about. Compared to the Ambush and it's aftermath, this is a walk in the park. That doesn't mean I'm not a little scared and nervous, but I think I'd worry more if I wasn't. I'm not going to think too hard about it tonight or some of tomorrow because I'd like to give myself a little time to think.

I can hardly wait until my STBX finds out - she's going to blow a gasket. I've been laid off once before, and it was a lot worse than this - I was given about 12 hours notice. They left a voicemail message on a Sunday evening telling me to call in at 10am the next morning. Myself and about 30 others nationwide got that message, all with different times. When we called in we were told that it was our last day. The person telling you this did it on a speakerphone, and you could hear people moving around in the background. Basically they wanted witnesses. We weren't really allowed to ask questions, instead being told that someone would be in touch.

I'd be a little less worried if I had any kind of substantial savings, but my STBX took everything a long time ago and I have not been able to build up again. I've got enough to get by for a little while, I just have to make a concerted effort to find a job.

You know, if somebody had told me a couple of years ago that I'd end up where I'm at now, I'd have thought they were crazy. This time last year I was concerned for my STBX's mental health, but I had no idea what was coming. After all that's happened on that front you'd think I'd be an angry bitter man, but somehow I've avoided that. Now I'm out looking for a job (ok...that starts tomorrow) and I'm still pretty optimistic about this and life in general. I just can't see how I'd be any better off being upset and anxious about it - I'd still be in the same situation, just unhappily in it.

Maybe I should mention that I had several head injuries as a child...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Hackers Are A Pain In The Neck

I'm having all kinds of fun with the internet. Last night I was working on getting some stuff ready - 2 reports for work, my resume, email in general - you get the idea. I sent the reports out to my work account, and started to get ready to send out my updated resume. I started having problems accessing the web, and then found I couldn't access my email. Then the real fun started.
I started getting warnings from Zone Alarm that it was blocking port scans. This happened a few weeks ago also. This is somewhat disturbing. I have to go and research some of this because I have a router that acts as a firewall between me and my dsl modem. For Zone Alarm to be catching port scans means that the scans are getting past the router's firewall.

I became a lot more concerned with the security of my computers and email when I discovered that my STBX had installed a keystroke logger on my computer a few weeks before the ambush. There's more I want to do to shore my systems up on this front, but I haven't had the time to really dig into the subject and get it all organized. For instance, I need to do a very close visual inspection of my system because in looking up the keystroke logger I found that there are an amazing number of hardware and software products that can be used to spy on people. Once I get all my data better organized I'm planning to wipe the drives again completely and start from scratch. I want to look into a good encryption scheme so that if my drives "disappear" or are "borrowed" the data will be safe from prying eyes.

So, I'm not sure what the problem is exactly right now. I can't access my email or the web at home, my work account is accessed through the same connection so I can't do anything with that either. The reports I was supposed to get out are now late, which is really annoying since I worked hard in getting them ready on time. If not for this internet fun there would have been no problem.

Life is way too busy right now to deal with hackers on top of everything else. I don't even want to think where I'd be right now if I had not taken some steps to protect things. Running two firewalls seemed kind of excessive, but the fact that the second one is catching stuff has removed any doubt that it was the right thing to do.

How many of you are nervous about that broadband cable coming into your computer now? Want my advice? Go to Staples or something and look for an old version of Zone Alarm that they're selling at a discount. You get a year of protection and updates from the day you buy it, so once you do the installation it will update to the latest version. So for the discounted price you get the current version anyway. I got mine for less than $10 - not bad, eh?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

My New Assigned Parking Spot

Just a short update, but I thought this was pretty funny. Today my STBX called me and told me that she'd be getting back late. This isn't a huge problem, but I do find it interesting how often she complains if I'm a little late but forgets that she's sometimes late too. Anyway, sometimes I like to park at the end of the street so that my son and I can walk back. He enjoys the walks as much as I do, and it has the added benefit of him being awake and not cranky when I drop him off.

My STBX seems to think I do this because I'm hiding something. The first time I did this I saw a very interesting thing as I backed my car out of the spot I was in. It was my STBX running with the dog around the corner bending and craning her neck to try to see into my car. She was looking to see if I had a woman stashed at the end of the street. Every time I've parked there since she's insisted on walking back with me to my car using the excuse that my son liked watching me drive away.

Tonight she was in rare form, however. She actually got a little angry that I had parked at the end of the street. She asked me why I kept doing that and told me she wanted me to park where I usually park directly across from her car. Why here? I don't know. Maybe she's filming or something, or maybe she is tired of walking to the end of the street to do a visual inspection of the car.

Maybe I'll put together a fake woman using clothing and a wig and sit her in the passenger seat. I'll make sure I have a camcorder with me to film that one.

Life is Full of Surprises

This week was full of news. My last day with my current employer may be Tuesday (though some things also indicate it will not), so I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. I’ve looked into several possibilities and they all look pretty good. However, I had some really interesting news the other day.

One of my top 10 customers (#9, actually) is a local site of a very large national company. I have an outstanding professional relationship with the manager of the facility, and have worked hard in helping them meet their goals. I decided to go to some of my top customers and tell them that I’d be leaving soon so that they could let me know what they needed to tide them over until whoever took over got up to speed. This was the first. I went in and she immediately knew something was up – she said “Are you leaving?” When I said yes, she pounded on her desk with both hands – it’s a great sign when your customers don’t want you to leave. She asked me where I was going and I told her that I didn’t know and that there were a few ideas I had that I wanted run by her to see what she thought.

She suddenly smiled and told me that she had recently been promoted and that she now oversaw another facility and had just had the site manager (her original position, but in the other facility) position open up and asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for it. What a surprise! I was certainly not expecting something like this to come up. We talked about my professional background for a while, which is very relevant to the position. We ended up talking for about a half hour and she wants me to send her my resume, so I’m getting it updated.

I’m excited for a couple of reasons. One is that I’d be working for her directly, and we have already established an excellent working relationship. She knows that I work hard and do a good job for my customers, so I’m a known quantity that way. I also have a lot of knowledge about the industry, every one of her competitors, marketing strategies etc. My experience dealing with the equipment vendors and other facets of the industry are very good selling points.

Now I’ve just got to get my resume together, do my research and get ready to interview. I’m not too worried about the interviews, I’ve always interviewed well. I’ve never failed to get an offer for a job I was interviewing for so I must be doing something right. Having said that, I still think my strongest advantage going into this is my professional experience with this manager; she knows me and how I work.

The only down side to this is that the job is further away from my son than I want to be, but I think having a job and be able to pay support is more important than my driving convenience.

On another front, I was a complete fool yesterday. I drove down for my visitation with my son, and only when I had pulled into the parking lot and parked did I realize that my STBX’s car was not there, and I only then remembered that we had switched days about a month ago. Should have paid more attention...

Ok, I’ll have to write more later because if I don’t get moving now I’ll never get out of here in time to go see my son.