Emotional Happiness or Financial Security?

I was talking to someone who came through our department the other day. She was there to observe what we do and we got to talking. The topic of me being divorced came up, as did my new dating life. She asked me which I felt was more important- financial security or emotional well being.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a trick question. Looking back over the 20 years I was with Jerry Lee I can see how our marriage wasn’t a great one. We probably had a decent five years but even then there were signs he wasn’t going to be all in. I’ve already written about his reluctance to go to my grandpa’s funeral with me. He didn’t attend my friend’s wedding in Chicago with me. Didn’t go to my class reunion with me. And I’m not quite sure he ever went to my grandparent’s or dad’s house again after we went down to announce our engagement. He was also a no show at my best friend’s wedding, didn’t come to support me when I went skydiving, couldn’t be bothered to take time off of work when my ectopic pregnancy was finally found, and didn’t go to either of my grandmothers’ funerals.

In comparison the Mobster is amazing. He’s a wonderful partner. Not only does the man go to funerals, weddings, and company parties with me he travels 10 1/2 hours to do so! Okay, the funeral was in Virginia but still… my point remains.

I have never felt so loved by a man in my life. He listens to me. He laughs with me. He supports me, encourages me, stands up for me, and is willing to help me in any way possible. He is an all in partner in every way.

Do you prefer the emotional well-being or the financial well-being?

I’ve got a bill sitting on my dining room table from the hospital where my daughter went to the ER. I haven’t even got the courage to open it yet. I wouldn’t blink an eye in my old life (primarily because we had great fucking insurance and it probably would have cost me a $50 co-pay but that’s a rant for another day!).

I used to be able to drop a couple hundred of dollars on my daughter when she said she needed new shorts or a new wardrobe.

I used to be able to buy my son a new game system if I felt like it.

I used to be independent. I lived in my own home. I had furniture and dishes and possessions accumulated throughout over 45 years of living.

Quite honestly, the last eight years or so of our marriage I didn’t have to worry about money much at all, and in that last year I didn’t worry.

Now I worry about money every month.

There have been times when I briefly wished both of my kids were self-sufficient and out on their own because trying to meet their needs was overwhelming to me. I still count down until the day I no longer have to pay over $200 a paycheck to cover them on my insurance. I never did that before.

There are times I don’t know if he’s going to pay spousal support or child support and Picasso needs one thing and Rock Star needs another thing and they all converge on me and I begin to have a mini nervous breakdown. Their needs and even their wants were met without a blink of an eye before.

I always figured we would always be there to help them out if they needed it. Both of them would have college paid for. We would send them money each month while they were away at college. My pipe dream fantasy at one point was to buy enough land where we could build a house and both kids could build their own homes so they would never leave me. My kids and grandkids would all live in close proximity.

It’s a trick question.

I think we all know money doesn’t buy happiness. I think we also know that while it may not guarantee happiness it sure makes life easier.

No matter how happy I am no bank is going to loan me a couple hundred thousand to buy a house. No store is going to let me have groceries based upon a happy relationship. I can’t buy new shoes for my growing son or pay utilities with love.

I’d like to borrow two hundred thousand dollars to buy a house.

You don’t make enough money for us to lend you two hundred thousand dollars.

But I’m really happy!

M’am, that’s not how lending and finance works.

Well damn!

In an ideal world I’d have both. I’d be working a job that made me a shit ton of money and I’d come home each day to the mobster. Or at least I’d have a job where I made enough to support myself and my kids and have some left over.

I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t go back to Jerry Lee for any amount of money. I am far, far happier with the Mobster than I ever was with him.

I’ve already psychoanalyzed myself and decided that all the shopping I did and all the material goods made up for a marriage that was lacking.

I still think it’s a trick question. Would you rather be able to feed your children or be in love?

The Change Progress

My word for the year is change. When you think about it it’s not a novel concept. As Patty Loveless once sang: Life’s about changing. Nothing ever stays the same.

I think that throughout the year I’m going to revisit this topic of change. After all, even if I had remained in the same town my whole life, went to school with the same people, remained friends with the people I met when I was 4 or 5, dated the same guy forever, got married and never divorced, and never changed jobs I would still be faced with change. It’s not just about me. Some of those classmates may have moved away. Some of those co-workers might have got a different job. Some of those friends might have got married and moved to another city. Life’s about changing. Nothing ever stays the same.

That’s enough of my existential crisis. When I chose the word change I was thinking more along the lines of changing my life. I was thinking about things like my health, my job, my children, my financial situation, my living situation, my goals and dreams. That kind of cream puff stuff!

First up, let’s review any changes being made in the name of health. What can I say? Change sucks! It’s haaaarrrd. It’s one thing to think it and another thing to actually do it. Thoughts versus actions. I have a ton of ideas on how I can lose weight but when it comes time to actually put down that Chunky Monkey ice cream and do a sit up… I am acting though. The mobster and I are training for a 5k. I haven’t ran since 2013. Holy cow! That’s a long time. I just typed that out and realized it’s been 7 years. Crikey! 

I have finished Week 1 of the Couch to 5k program. I did this once before when I lived in Utah. I actually ran several races. Perhaps I should say multiple races because there were at least two Santa Fun Runs, a marathon relay, a Halloween run, a Thanksgiving run, a St. Patrick’s Day run, a 9k, and a few others. Then I just stopped. Well, technically I hurt myself at the St. Patrick’s Day run somehow. I twisted my ankle and I just never got back into it. It was frustrating to go from running 5 miles back to running less than 1 or 2.

I have to say the first day I hated it. I was in such a bad mood. I went to the gym later, around 7 or 8. I was tired and I didn’t want to leave my house. My clothes don’t fit anymore so while I had this new pair of running tights (which are still uncomfortable when I sit) my old shirts paired with it made me look like 10 pounds of flour stuffed into a 5 pound bag. But I did it. Change.

Funny story. I was telling the mobster how I got off track a few times. The program this week is jog 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes. I went 30 but that’s not important to this story. I just wanted to brag.

“You need to get the app on your phone,” he tells me.

“I have the app on my phone,” I reply.

“So how did you mess up? She tells you when to run and when to walk.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Did you not see the start button?”

Pause. “No.” I then look at the app on my phone. “Oh! Well that would have been helpful information!”

Yes, I did not realize the app actually counted for you. I thought it was just like the old website which outlined the program for you. No, it’s not. This one you actually click the start button and she counts down with you. That was very helpful the second time I went.

I didn’t hate it as much the second time but I also rewarded myself with sushi. Picasso and I went out after I got back. We didn’t eat until almost 8 pm that night.

The third night I really didn’t want to go. I was tired. I’ve been doing double duty at work. I’ve been going in early. Plus, I’m lazy. And unmotivated. Nonetheless, I went. It was almost 8:30 before I got there but I walked and ran. This time I actually felt good about what I was doing.

I realize I’m not dropping 30 pounds overnight; quite honestly I’m not expecting any major changes from this program. I’m expecting to be able to work my way up to running 3 miles. Period. But I did feel a slight sense of accomplishment. The plan right now is for me to run a 5k down in his town in April, and then in June he’ll come up and run a race up here in my town.

Both of my kids are experiencing their own type of changes. Picasso dropped orchestra and dropped his cello lessons. I wasn’t expecting that. Yet again I watched a child do something they had once loved, not realizing it was the last time I would see them do that.

It happened the first time when Rock Star competed at the high school state gymnastics meet. I had no idea at that time I would never see her compete again. I thought we’d continue to live in Virginia, she would continue to go to her high school, and she would finish up with gymnastics in another 2 years.

This time it was watching Picasso at his Winter concert. They played one of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas carols and it was simply amazing. They played lots of other things as well, but that stood out for me. I didn’t know that night that I would never see him play again. He’s turning in his cello as I write this, and finishing up his last lesson.

He also managed to make an appointment with his high school counselor, hence dropping orchestra. I was proud of him. Turns out he can do hard things! Of course, as he put it: I walked into orchestra and I just felt depressed. I guess that was the push he needed.

While he was in there dropping orchestra he also found out he had all of his required math credits so he dropped his pre-calculus class. I had been telling him he needed to drop it ever since his report card came out. He ended up with a C for the semester, but his last grading period he had an F. He went from an A one grading period to an F the next. Geez Louise. I even managed to find a tutor for him but he had no interest in talking to her.

On a more positive note he is enjoying therapy and even though they are still in the talking phase he believes this guy will be able to give him the tools he needs to meet his problems head on. So that’s progress.

Meanwhile, Rock Star is applying for nursing school. She won’t find out until late March/early April.

Yet another change and this one happened before I decided upon my word of the year. My niece and nephew didn’t come up for Christmas Eve this year. We didn’t really expect them to because she just got married in September. If she wasn’t coming up we didn’t think her brother would come up by himself. She surprised my mom though by asking about our Christmas Eve plans and if they were still invited. About two weeks beforehand she asked us about dinner plans on the 28th. That is not Christmas Eve. But we adjusted. We had a nice dinner out with them. It was just different.

Yearly reviews at work were this week. I got a stellar review even if we’re handicapped from the beginning. I shall explain.

We’re scored on a scale of 1-5 but they’re not allowed to give 5’s. Why they don’t just get rid of the 5’s I don’t know. Probably because then they wouldn’t be allowed to give 4’s. Basically a 4 is your top score. I got a perfect 4 for my goals and achieving them. I got a 3.85 as far as my competencies go but again I’m hobbled a bit because on one of the sections they’re only allowed to give you a 3! We have to take these online courses and that’s one of the competencies. I did all of mine and I passed all of them. But apparently that is expected so the highest you can be scored is a 3. So, my end result was a 3.93 out of 4. Couldn’t have been better. My supervisor did ask me what my future plans were. I was honest. I told her I was looking for whatever would pay me the most. Now I wait to see what my raise will be for the year.

As evidenced by this long story I haven’t yet taken steps to make a change career wise.

One huge change I hope to see this year is the end of this legal battling. I want it OVER! I thought we were off to a good start but I found out earlier this week my case has not yet been filed. My lawyer’s legal assistant got in contact with me and asked for an updated spreadsheet with Jerry Lee’s payments and a promise to get it filed “soon”.

I asked what we were filing for- just legal fees or legal fees and spousal/child support arrears. My lawyer thinks we should go for all three. I’m a little nervous about what the judge may decide on the arrears for child support. I asked if it was possible to go for legal fees and spousal support only and also asked her what her opinion was in regards to how the judge might rule. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime I have no idea what’s going on with the garnishment case. Apparently they like everything to be a big surprise. It will be a surprise when I find out how much he will be owing for child support. It will be a surprise when I find out whether or not he owes me back support and how much (assuming my attorney doesn’t get there first). It will even be a surprise when I finally find out how they will be paying me, or if they’ll even contact me to let me know the outcome. One surprise after another! FYI: Today marks one year since I turned my garnishment papers in.

I’m hopeful (maybe stupidly optimistic is a better description) that everything will be settled by June. I know that seems a long way out there but my lawyer hasn’t even filed the case yet. The last time she filed a show cause it took 3 months to get a court date. Ergo, if she goes to court in February (fingers crossed!) we should get a court date sometime around May. As for the garnishment case the county should have it but they still have a little over 2 weeks to file the case. I have no idea what happens next. I’m assuming a court date is set but who knows when that might happen.

I changed my hair color. It’s red right now. My mom hates it. I’m still getting used to it. I may change it back to blonde. I don’t know. Change is supposed to be good, right?

I’m still not playing hockey. I guess my first step would be skating lessons. I still haven’t learned to crochet or knit.

I have been cooking more. I actually have some meals in the freezer! I went grocery shopping today and I should be able to put together enough meals for about 3 weeks. I originally planned meals for every day but that’s way too many. It’s hard to cook for only two and we end up with a lot of leftovers.

I tried some new recipes. I didn’t like them. I tried a new Shepherd’s Pie recipe and I was not impressed. I also made a lasagna soup and it was terrible! It’s hard to ruin soup but I did it. The soup itself was very bland and then the pasta was added which only made it worse. The pasta shells tasted like paste! I looked to see if the box was really old but it doesn’t appear to be. It was just bad all around! It’s made me a little nervous for a few of our upcoming meals because they’re all new recipes. The bacon cheeseburger pasta was not a hit either. Same thing happened to the pasta once again. Maybe it’s because it’s added at the end? I’ve never had a problem with pasta in the crockpot before. Is it possible I’ve never actually cooked soup or pasta dishes in the crockpot before? Nah.

No other new changes I can think of right now. It’s been slow but steady. I’m looking ahead to Week 2 of the Couch to 5K program. 90 seconds of jogging/60 seconds of walking. Bring on the change!

Chillicothe Getaway

The Mobster has challenged me to post something RIGHT NOW! I have nothing.

We are currently enjoying a weekend away in Chillicothe. Don’t be jealous. I could have flown off to Hawaii. I could have opted for a luxury cruise. But no! I chose exotic Chillicothe. That’s a lie. Option #1 and #2 are not available to me. So #3 it is!

Honestly we’re having a good time. We’re at a bar/restaurant that sits where an old lumberyard once called home on the Erie Canal. There’s live music and I’ve had two (soon to be three) Angry Orchards. Plus my tummy is full of chicken wings, cheese sticks, and mini tacos.

It’s easy to poke fun but I know I’m blessed. We may not go to the most exotic locations but we always have a great time.

Two Weddings & a Funeral

I took a last minute trip to Virginia the week before Christmas. My great uncle died.

He was the last of nine siblings. At our last family reunion, which occurred 3-4 weeks after I found out my husband was cheating on me, there were two left. My Uncle Donnie and my Uncle Gene. Uncle Donnie was actually the youngest of the nine. He died a year later on Christmas Day.

I loved my Uncle Gene. He always told the best stories. He was an amazing storyteller. He spent over 30 years as a state trooper so he had a lot of stories. I hadn’t seen him since 2016, a few days before I moved back to Indiana. I went mainly to be a support for my mom. Originally I hadn’t planned on going at all. I didn’t really have the time to take off. But this was going to be difficult for my mom so I went. She drove and I flew. It turned out they planned the visitation on Tuesday and the funeral on Wednesday. I couldn’t take that much time but there was a flight that left here at 6 in the morning and would get to Virginia by 10:30 so I could make it in time for the graveside service.

Why am I telling you all of this? I will tell you why. The first thing out of the mobster’s mouth upon hearing that he had died and we would be attending the funeral was, “I want to be there for you; I want to support you and your mom.” He rearranged his route and put things off all so he could accompany me to this funeral.

To most of you that might not seem like anything out of the ordinary. To me, it was extraordinary.

During the twenty years I was married to Jerry Lee I lost both of my grandmothers and my sole surviving grandfather.

In 1999, almost five years after we got married, Jerry Lee accompanied me from Mississippi up to Indiana for my grandpa’s funeral only after my mother threw an absolute fit upon hearing that he might not come with me.

“What do you mean, ‘He might not be able to come?’ That’s your grandfather and he’s your husband. He should be by your side.”

Yes, you read that correctly. He wasn’t sure he could take that much time off of work. Ironically, my grandfather’s visitation was on a Saturday (could have been Friday and Saturday) and his funeral was on a Sunday. I remember because my dad and aunt talked about how my grandma paid more to have it on Father’s Day instead of waiting until Monday. So Jerry Lee wasn’t missing much work. Three to four days at the most.

The funny thing is this was my dad’s father, not my mom’s.  Yet, she was still incensed at the idea that Jerry Lee would allow me to travel 8-10 hours on my own and attend my grandfather’s funeral by myself.

So, he acquiesced and made the trip with me. Had my mom not thrown that fit, which in turn made me lean harder on him, he would not have gone with me. I have absolutely no doubt that if I hadn’t pushed he wouldn’t have gone. The sad fact is I’d come to expect that from him already at only five years into the marriage. It didn’t seem that unnatural for him to choose not to come with me.

My Mamaw died in 2007 when we were living out in Utah. I made the 30+ hour drive by myself. Well, with my two young children I should say. They were 7 and almost 5 at the time. Not big helps when it came to driving by any means.

I got the news on a Saturday that she had taken a turn for the worse and they didn’t expect her to live much longer. Father’s Day was that Sunday and so as to not ruin Father’s Day for him and take his kids away from him on “his” day I waited until later in the day on Sunday, probably around 5 or 6, before I finally left. I remember driving until around midnight and stopping at a hotel in Nebraska. Picasso had no interest in sleeping for some reason so I locked the door, put the chain on it and went to sleep, letting him stay up as long as he desired. I was woken up by a small boy straddling me and staring down at my face. When I reluctantly opened my eyes he greeted me with the chipper greeting, “Wake-y, wake-y!” It was five or six in the morning.

I got back on the road and discovered a few hours later that the air conditioning that had just been fixed was once again broken. The mechanic had warned me the belt might break. I forget why now. As luck would have it my father-in-law worked at the automotive center at Wal-Mart and if we could get to Kentucky and buy a belt he had a co-worker that could put it on for us. We drove from Nebraska to Kentucky with no air. I started driving at six in the morning and didn’t arrive at my in-law’s place until just after midnight. I was exhausted.

The belt was bought and replaced. I drove the remaining four to six hours and finally we got there. My Mamaw was still alive. She held on for four days, I think, if not more, before she finally let go.

He was not there with me. He didn’t even have his company send flowers. I made a 30+ hour drive to watch my beloved Mamaw die and he couldn’t be bothered to be with me. He had to work. We’d been married over ten years at that point.

Four years later my sole remaining grandparent died. We were still in Utah. Again, he couldn’t bother coming with me. He didn’t have the time to spare. So once again I grabbed the kids, put them in the minivan, and made the drive. This time the drive was only about 24 hours so I got a bit of a break. But once again I was alone while burying a loved one.

In contrast, when his father died in 2010 I got the kids excused from school, got their homework, boarded our two dogs at two different places, finished up the laundry, cleaned the house, put both kids in the minivan and drove all night long to get to him so he wouldn’t have to go to the family visitation or the funeral without me. I pulled over around 8 in the morning at a rest area to sleep for a bit. I left the van running, the air on, a SpongeBob video in the DVD player, and locked the doors while I took a nap so I didn’t run off the road and kill us all.

Twenty years and he went to one out of three of my grandparent’s funerals with me. Hell, he didn’t go with me to his step grandfather’s funeral. My mom accompanied me and a year old Rock Star. That funeral took place only a few days before 9/11. I remember driving home that day, wondering if we were going to be safe or if there might be another attack. I actually asked him if he thought it would be safe if we drove back or if we should stay there. Naturally he didn’t think there was any danger. Aside from one gas station with some high gas prices he was correct, I suppose.

The mobster has been with me for less than three years and he volunteered to go to a funeral with me. He brought it up before I ever had a chance to. His attitude was, “Of course I will be going with you!”

It wasn’t just that he was willing to go to this funeral with me either. There were many family members there that he had never met. Jerry Lee had never met them because he never went to Virginia with me. Yet here was the mobster. I was taking him by Mamaw’s house, sharing memories with him. He met my uncle (my mom’s brother). He met many of my cousins. He chatted with them. The restaurant was filled with family and the mobster didn’t bat an eye. He was amazing.

He kept asking me if Jerry Lee had been there or if I had shown him these things I was showing him. I had to keep reminding him that in 20 years of marriage Jerry Lee had never been to my Mamaw’s town with me. He’d never been to her house. He had never met any of my Virginia relatives aside from my Mamaw. He had no clue.

He was supposed to go to the cemetery with me that summer (2015) so we could plant flags on the veterans’ graves. That was something we had just started doing on Memorial Day. Most of my uncles served and my favorite cousin’s son was KIA 4 days after arriving in Iraq back in 2012. That year we would have been honoring my family. Of course, Jerry Lee was knee deep in his affair with Harley so he couldn’t come out of his room and be with us. I once again went by myself. Or rather, the kids and I went by ourselves.

That was all a foreign concept to the mobster. He kept saying he couldn’t understand that. Yeah, well, in hindsight, me neither. Probably should have been a giant red flag.

The mobster has been a godsend. My cousin adored him. Everyone I’ve ever introduced him to has come away with that feeling. They all tell me they really like him (and believe me- I’ve let them all know I’m vetting the shit out of him!). They comment on how easy he is to talk to. He really is. He’s one of those guys that never meets a stranger. He can always find something to talk about. And it’s not in that fake, schmoozy way either. He has a genuine interest in people and can always manage to find a topic to talk about. You never get the feeling that he’s making small talk to kill time or because that’s what he’s supposed to do; he’s trying to find a real connection with the person he’s speaking to.

It’s been two and a half years for the mobster and I. In that time he’s been to two weddings and a funeral with me. Jerry Lee has him beat on the weddings so far. We went to six together, I believe. Then again, he had 20 years and most of the time he was more of a pain in the ass than as asset.

These few short years with the mobster have shown me how a relationship is supposed to work. At least for me. Maybe other people enjoy doing everything on their own. I did it because that was the hand I was dealt. I did it because that’s what I saw in my parent’s marriage for the most part. I did it because I didn’t think it was all that unnatural. I did it because “I didn’t need anybody holding my hand”. Well you know what I’ve discovered? Having someone hold your hand is pretty nice.

I’m rambling now. The point is the mobster is once again showing me everything I missed out on in my twenty years of marriage. He shows up. He wants to be there for me. He is amazing and I am the luckiest woman in the world.

Spaghetti Sam Turns Four!

Hello! Is there anybody out there? That was the title of my very first post, published on this day in 2016. Interesting fact: While I didn’t officially begin my blog until January I actually wrote that post on October 15th of 2015.

Four years. Wow! That’s a lot of writing. 863 posts to be exact. Amazingly enough I have 320 followers. That seems absurd to me. I had high hopes that someone beyond my group of friends would read this. At this point in time I’m pretty sure most of my friends don’t read my blog and a lot of people I’ve never met do.

I’ve had a total of 153,718 views and 35,180 visitors in my four years of blogging. I don’t think I’m ever going to become rich off of this. Can’t even really make a living off of it, to be honest. Yet, still I write.

2016 was my most prolific year- 325 posts! Of course, I didn’t have a job back then. I had also stockpiled posts starting back in October, I had over 100 Blast From the Past posts as well, and well, Jerry Lee was in rare form back then. It was always something.

I wasn’t blogging back on D-Day but in the span of about one week I went from, Oh my God, my husband is having yet another affair with his cousin (those are words that should never be spoken!) to Seriously? He’s been sending that bitch money all summer? That motherfucker told me he was sending his mom money! to adding up just how much he had sent her (thousands) to Jesus Christ, I can’t believe he took out a $5000 loan on his 401k to Are you kidding me? He’s got a bank account with her? to He bought phones for her and her daughter? And I’ve been the one going online and paying their damn bill? to WTF? What do you mean he’s interviewing for jobs out of state?

That was in a single week, folks! A week. And it just kept going. An engagement ring! Promises of a new car! Puppies for everyone!

I went public for the first time that day in January and approximately one month later he moved out of our house and out of the state without saying a single word to me or to either of his children.

Five months after my first post he lost his job and cut off all support.

I spent the next month trying to figure out what I was going to do and if I could somehow stay in Virginia. When it became apparent that that was not going to be possible I bit the bullet; I sold off everything I could, packed up our clothes and a few belongings and moved back to Indiana with my tail tucked between my legs.

I applied for and received Medicaid, free lunches and free textbooks for my kids. I lived off of savings while I looked for a job.

Then I took my shitty little seasonal job at Target, unloading trucks, “bowling” all of the items on pallets, and stocking shelves, before taking yet another shitty little seasonal job to have a little beyond just the basics.

Finally, on January 9th, one year and one day after I first went public I began my full-time job at the bank.

It was a wild ride there for a long time.

I published 258 posts in 2017. Not bad considering I worked 2 jobs most of the year and had to be up at 3:30 in the morning.

I met the mobster, fell in love, and I finally got a divorce from Jerry Lee. I also went down to working a single job instead of working 4 am to 7 am and then working my full-time gig. I said goodbye to my beloved Beau. I still miss that big ol’ hunky monkey.

2018 and 2019 both took a dip with 130 and 146 posts respectively. Thank God for that big push in November or my 2019 stats would have been worse than the year before.

2018 I switched over to my current job. My daughter graduated high school and began college. Jerry Lee modified child support on his own. Prorated Rock Star’s support right down to the half hour she graduated. I threw the mobster a surprise party for his 50th. Jerry Lee and Harley got married. He didn’t bother to inform his kids. The mobster, my kids and I all flew out to Utah for a wedding. The mobster met the majority of my friends from out there.

2019 I turned 50. I was looking forward to this new decade in my life. Then Jerry Lee lost his job yet again and decided to modify spousal support. I took an $11,000 pay cut this past year thanks to him. I decided I had had enough and chose to go through with the garnishment process. It began in January. Took the full 90 days for the first round of paperwork to get there and back. Then I found out my fate would be decided by a judge in Kentucky who would never meet me and who would probably use Jerry Lee’s actual salary instead of his imputed salary. I chose to withdraw my petition at least until I discovered he had been playing me for a fool, acting like he was sending what he could when the reality was he had had a job pretty much the entire time. I’m still in a holding pattern although supposedly Mississippi has now turned the case over to the county. Only 45 more days until something happens! Or, a more likely story- only 45 more days until I get to begin yet another countdown!

So far in 2020 I have posted 5 times, counting today’s post. The year is still new. My word this year is change. Hopefully when I write this birthday post next year there will be lots of positive changes in my life. I’m really hoping everything with Jerry Lee will be settled in my favor, too.

Thank you for reading! I’m here all year.

Marriage Advice From a Pro

I’ve been searching for some blogs to read. After searching on “divorce” or “infidelity” I tried “divorcing after infidelity”. Up popped this lovely post which told a tale of how she puts her husband’s happiness before their kids because, hey, ‘their happiness depends upon our happiness.”

I don’t have a problem with that point of view. I think many people overestimate how important our happiness is to our children, especially when they’re very young, but in many other ways it’s true. I believe it was Theodore Hesburgh who said, and I’m paraphrasing, the best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother. I fully embrace nurturing your relationship. I believe that your marriage (or relationship) preceded your children and it was meant to succeed your children. No one wants to wake up after the last child has moved out or gone off to college and find themselves living with a virtual stranger. As much as we may love our children the fact of the matter is eventually they grow up, they move out (Hi, Mom!), and they have lives and families of their own. Yes, you’ll always be a parent. Yes, they will probably always need you for something at some point (Hi again, Mom!). Eventually they will no longer need you on a day to day basis like they do when they’re little. When that day happens, in an ideal situation, you’re left with your partner who helped bring those children into this world. That’s who you’ll be spending each day with. That’s the person who will be living life with you. Your kids are going to be off living their own lives. You may go days, if not weeks or months, without seeing them. Which means you better like that person you’re left with. Hopefully you’ve got some common interests. (Common disclaimers apply, of course.)

So, I have no problem with the whole, “I’m so enlightened because even though I’ve got small children I realize I need to put my husband ahead of my kids.” The problem is twofold. Maybe threefold. Okay, yes, I have three problems with it.

First, she’s a very young wife and mom. Not to take anything away from those who start this parenthood journey early, but she’s been married all of two years. Two. Years. That’s like me deciding to start a vigorous walking program and then deciding I should probably coach marathon runners. Or like me throwing some chicken and cream of whatever soup in the crockpot and then deciding I can show Gordon Ramsey a thing or two in the kitchen.

Additionally, this epiphany was brought about by a belated honeymoon they took- one where she wanted to bring the baby and her husband did not. She describes herself as a mom who would not put her daughter down, one who took her everywhere and did everything with her by her side or on her hip. After a week on a cruise ship with spontaneous meals, being able to do whatever they wanted, taking naps, waking up and going to bed whenever they wanted to, and lots of uninterrupted sex she decided she had been doing it all wrong. She’s woke and now she wants to share her knowledge.

…I put my husband before our kids because their happiness depends on ours. Date nights are a priority in our relationship; we venture out without our kids, when we’re together we put our phones away and have conversations, and if we have problems we carve out time to discuss our issues and tackle them before they get out of hand. Furthermore, we both understand the need for physical intimacy so we make time for sex, no matter how tired we are or how busy our days were, we need that time to connect.

Date nights? Bravo! Thanks for the suggestion. I don’t think any of us had ever heard of that before. Putting your phones away when you’re together is actually good advice. Having conversations about your problems? No way! Really? That’s what we should do? Holy shit! I would have never thought of that. Plus sex even when you’re tired and have a million things to do? Hmmm… well, she is very young and has only been married for two years so maybe she’s still got plenty of energy.

I get it. I really do. Despite the snark I get what she’s trying to say. I remember the heady early days, too. Those days when I promised myself I would always say please and thank you and never take him for granted. Those days when I vowed to always ask him if he needed something if I was up and getting myself something. I think I pretty much stuck to my guns. Hell, I still remember the day I cleaned the house, made him a casserole to heat up when he got home, made him some Rice Krispies treats, and then took off for a 12 hour workday. Wife of the fucking year right there. Sure, there were times I was frustrated and not the most understanding person. That time I was pregnant and had to take him to the ER yet again for a migraine comes to mind. I did all the wifely things, like making sure he had warm blankets and holding his hand and advocating for him. On the way home, once he was pumped full of drugs, I stopped to get some french fries. Did I mention I was pregnant? He complained about the smell of them. After spending hours catering to him and making him the center of attention he was going to complain about the smell of his pregnant wife’s french fries. I threw them out the window in frustration. Turns out he was a demanding, whining, big fucking baby a lot of the time. What can I say? It wears on you after a while.

Honestly, despite the snark I truly do not have a problem with her advice, even if she hasn’t been married long enough to give advice, in my opinion. I don’t have a problem with putting your spouse first. I don’t have a problem with her encouraging date nights or putting your phones away. I can even tolerate her sanctimonious advice to talk about your problems and not let them fester. Thanks, Becky, none of us would have ever thought of that without your wise advice forged from years of marriage. And by years, I mean two. I do have a bit of a problem with the advice to have sex even when you’re tired or exhausted because your spouse needs that connection. It’s a season in your life. Get over it. You’ve got young kids; you’re probably not likely to be having hot monkey sex round the clock right now. You’re also probably not going to be shoving the entire family of four or five into your two-seater convertible and tooling down the highway before you stop off at a few wineries for some wine tasting. That day will come for you once again.

I think the second problem I have with her post is how sanctimonious her advice comes across.

I brought this topic up with friends, coworkers, and other mothers; they all believe I’m insane for putting my husband before my children. My response is, “That’s why the majority of relationships fail, because you aren’t putting your relationships first.”

Oh, to be young and know everything once again. Oh honey, I could tell you all kinds of stories about people, women and men, who put their spouse first and the relationship still failed. You know why? Because as fast as you may be dancing and as pretty as your dance shoes may be, it takes two to make a marriage, a partnership, work.

Putting your spouse first works when your spouse acts like a responsible adult. It works when your spouse pitches in and helps instead of acting like yet another child. It works when you and your spouse are full partners who work together for a common goal. It works when the two of you come together and take care of the kids, the pets, the household, and all other life fires that burn, so that you can devote that time and attention to your relationship and one another.

The way she phrases it is to cast blame. Of course you’re getting a divorce. You didn’t put your relationship first. Of course he/she is leaving you. You focused all of your attention on your kids.

This brings me to the biggest problem I have with her advice. She begins to extrapolate. If A, then B. If I put my husband before my kids then he’ll never cheat on me. You didn’t do what I did so you got cheated on. Be more like me. Or just take my awesome advice. I’ve been married for two years so I know pretty much everything.

She didn’t phrase it exactly that way. What she said instead was:

This may be an unpopular opinion but I believe you drive someone to commit adultery… if you’re not supporting your partner, or being affectionate, if you’re constantly bickering, lost your passion and aren’t having sex, if you let yourself go, and stop taking care of your mind and your body and put your children first, you’re asking to be cheated on. Why would I say such a terrible thing? Because it’s true and you may be in denial.

Why she is as cute as a button! And about as bright as one, too. Them’s still fighting words, Little Miss Two Years Married.

First and foremost, no, you absolutely, positively, 100% do not drive anyone to commit adultery. Cheating on your partner is a choice. Just like talking about your problems is a choice. Just like filing for divorce or choosing counseling are both choices. No matter how awful you may be as a partner you do not force another person to cheat. Period.

Secondly, I must again point out the likes of Christie Brinkley, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner… I could go on and on. They’re all thin and beautiful and yet they were all cheated on. There are also thousands if not millions of “fat” women out there who have faithful husbands, men that wouldn’t dream of cheating on their wives. Women don’t get cheated on because they’re not thin enough or they haven’t bothered with doing their hair and putting on makeup. They get cheated on because they made the mistake of being with a man who felt entitled to cheat. Feel free to switch it around if you’re a man reading this and you’ve been cheated on.

And once again I will stress that I am not saying once you get married or partner up you should stop brushing your teeth, let your hair become a rat’s nest, throw out all of your makeup, toss your deodorant, and wear ratty, stained, ill-fitting clothes. I’m also not saying that ignoring your partner, burying your head in video games, your phone, your work, or any other thing that might take over your life, refusing to have sex or be affectionate, or refusing to do anything with that person you’ve married is okay. It’s not. You need to be present. You need to engage.

What I am saying is that life happens. When you get more comfortable around a person you’re more apt to let your hair down. You don’t feel the need to be dressed to the nines all the time, or wear a face full of makeup. Maybe you even <gasp> wear a comfortable pair of sweats and an old sweatshirt around the house while you watch Hallmark movies on a lazy weekend.

Keep in mind, too, that when you’re dating you get breaks from each other. Those breaks are when you get to clip your toenails, fart, go braless and wear the most comfortable yet shapeless pair of lounge pants you own.

And when little kids make an appearance in your life all kinds of shit happens! Some days just managing to take a damn shower is an accomplishment. These are little tiny human beings who are completely dependent upon you. It is now your job to make sure they reach adulthood. If you don’t feed them because you’re too busy squeezing into your bustier and pole dancing for your husband, they’re going to starve. Once again I go back to: It’s a season in your life. Season’s change. Just because you’re not fucking around the clock right now, when you have little children, doesn’t mean you won’t once again be fucking around the clock later in a few short years. Plus the fact that so many people have multiple children and those children are generally spaced somewhere between 18 months and 3 years apart tells me you are having sex even if it’s not as often as you’d like.

She takes a belated weeklong honeymoon without her child and all of a sudden she’s a marriage expert. She’s still in the early days. Life hasn’t smacked her around much. She’s got a two year old and an infant. Her obstacles so far seem to include getting pregnant, getting married, getting pregnant a second time and finding an apartment. Wait until you have to hurdle job loss, pregnancy loss, getting a pet, switching careers, taking care of an aging or sick parent, a pet dying, parent dying, child having problems in school, moving hundreds of miles away from your friends and relatives, parent-teacher conferences, school parities, school performances, school awards, bankruptcy, starting your own business, going back to school, shuttling kids to various extracurriculars, having your weekends taken up with said extracurriculars…

I feel like I have to repeat, yet again, that I am not at all opposed to the idea of couples having time away from their kids. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to do that, bravo. Not everyone is. I never had anyone volunteer to take my kids for a week for me. Not all of us live close to relatives that can even offer to take them. I will always appreciate those people who volunteered that their date nights consisted of putting the kids to bed and then eating dinner together before playing Rock Band on the Wii or watching a movie.

I absolutely believe you should nurture your relationship. It is far too easy to let things go. She is correct when she writes about how easy it is to neglect your relationship, to be so tired that you don’t connect intimately with your partner for long periods of time. Yes, you do need to make an effort. You can’t expect it will magically hold itself together with no input from you.

I don’t think getting married means you give up. I don’t think it means you no longer have to try or that your spouse has to accept you regardless of anything you do or don’t do. I know marriage takes work. Hell, all relationships take work.

I think it is a beautiful thing when two people come together and work as partners towards a common goal. I think it’s wonderful when those two people are patient and kind and understanding when it comes to their relationship and the flurry of activities going on in their lives. Absolutely awesome and the way it should be.

What I do not agree with, and will never agree with, is that by simply putting your spouse’s happiness ahead of your children you will never be cheated on. I certainly don’t agree with her premise that people drive others to cheat on them or that we’re asking to be cheated on.

That’s not even stupid advice. It’s arrogant stupidity.

National Spaghetti Day

Did you know yesterday, January 4, was National Spaghetti Day? I didn’t either! How could I not know about such a monumental occasion?

I should have made spaghetti last night. No, I should have known about this back in 2016 and started my blog on January 4th!

For those of you who don’t know the backstory of how my blog got its name let me share. As I was on my way to see my lawyer and file for divorce Jerry Lee texted me and asked me if I had paid off the pool, since he no longer saw huge amounts of cash in our checking account. I let him know that no, I had not, but since he was fucking Harley I figured I needed to protect myself and the kids. He replied that he understood and nothing else was said. Until…. about an half an hour later when he texted me and asked if I was still making spaghetti for dinner.

For a man with a supposed genius level IQ and a photographic memory he sure is stupid and forgetful. I was always very honest with him and told him if I ever killed him I would poison him. Yet here he is asking me if I’m going to make him dinner when he knows I know he moved me and my kids across the country so that he could fuck his cousin. Oh, those good ol’ days.

In honor of National Spaghetti Day and instead of reliving my homicidal urges I’m going to list the top 25 store bought pasta sauces as ranked by Brenda Cain and Yadi Rodriguez of cleveland.com.

25. Ragu, Chunky Sauteed Onion and Garlic

24. Specially Selected, Pumpkin Chipotle

23. Monte Bene, Vodka

22. Rao’s Homemade, Arrabbiata

21. Victoria, Vodka Sauce

20. Simply Balanced, Organic Roasted Garlic

19. Guy Fieri, Traditional Old Skool

18. Prego, Roasted Garlic Parmesan

17. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Marinara

16. Guy Fieri, Spicy Tomato

15. Sam’s Choice, Italia Pasta Sauce

14. Mario Batali, All Vodka

13. Heinen’s, Organic Marinara

12. Mid’s, Mushroom and Roasted Garlic

11. Fresh Thyme, Six Cheese Pasta Sauce

10. Stino da Napoli, Arrabbiata

9. Sam’s Choice, Italia Puttanesca

8. Fresh Thyme, Marinara

7. Newman’s Own, Sockarooni

6. Dante, Sausage Ragu

5. Mezzetta, Italian Plum Tomato

4. Carfagna’s, Pasta Sauce

3. Jar Goods, Classic Spicy

2. Bertolli, Rustic Cut Sweet Peppers & Portobello Mushroom

1. Classico, Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions

If you’d like to see the complete list of all 174 jarred pasta sauces they sampled you can look here.

Personally, I tend to make my own. It usually comes out pretty good. The basic recipe is this:

1 lb. of ground beef, although you could use sausage, venison, or a combination of those.

2 cans of diced tomatoes with the garlic, basil and oregano seasonings

1 small can of tomato paste

1 large can on tomato sauce, preferably with the garlic, basil, and oregano seasonings

1-2 jars of button mushrooms

Brown the meat, drain the grease, add the rest of the ingredients. Voila!

I’ve also diced up some peppers and zucchini and grated some carrot before sautéing that up and adding it to the sauce. Feel free to add additional oregano, garlic and basil if you’d like.

I am so ready for National Spaghetti Day next year!