Shock and Awe

My boss: Do you have time for a quick call?

Me: Yes.

Inwardly I’m groaning. Oh shit, what have I fucked up? Am I not doing the new task correctly? Am I too far behind on my alerts? Oh boy! What have I done?

She called me right away and asks, “Do you remember during our one on one how I told you I was going to make you an Analyst II?”

I replied that yes, I did remember that and once again I’m inwardly groaning thinking, “Oh crap. It’s not going to happen. She didn’t get approval.”

Well, folks, I’m an Analyst II now. One fucking week after she tells me she’s going to flip me over to a 2 in the next six months! Best part? I kinda figured I would get somewhat of a raise. Keep in mind I”m used to Deposit Services offering me $0.25 an hour as a generous raise. Yearly raises of around $1300-$1500. Yeah, that’s right. Per. Year. With that in mind I was thinking that maybe I’d get a 5% increase. Remember, I just got a raise a month ago. When I let myself go crazy I’d think maybe I might get 10% and that would be real nice. 18.74% is what I got. She told me my new annual salary and I just about cried. I don’t know why, because I already knew what 10% would be.

She laughed and said, “It’s a lot better than when I plucked you out of Deposit Services.”

I told her she was my fairy godmother.

She told me I deserved it and I work for it. She never has to worry about me or fear that I’m not going to get my work done.

I am making double what I made in my last year in Deposit Services. Slightly more than double. I am making over three times what I made when I first began at the bank.

Remember when I first got hired in this department and I said that I had almost closed the gap? I have completely closed the gap now. The next step is to get CAMS certified and get another nice bump.

I cannot even begin to tell you how good this feels. I have gone from being a stay at home mom who was convinced she would never make enough money to support myself and my kids to a freaking BSA Analyst II. Between spousal support and my own salary I am almost bringing in six figures. Me! The party of the second part who relied upon the party of the first part to supplement my lifestyle because I was incapable of living on my own merits. Jerry Lee is still supplementing that. The asshole tax remains high and he’s still got another 12 years of paying. But I truly believe that if I’m willing to keep working hard and willing to take chances I can be making close to six figures, or better, in the next 3-5 years. And that sure as hell beats the last 5 years!

I still remember those first days after finding out about Jerry Lee and Harley. I had no idea what I was going to do, how I would make it, who would hire me. I remember applying for job after job and not even being called for an interview. Then finally I got lucky and got hired on at Target. I remember getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work at 4. I remember going in at 2 am when we had double trucks. I remember working 2 jobs during the Christmas season in order to make sure my kids had a decent Christmas. I remember getting 36.5 hours at $11.00/hour when I first started working at the bank. I remember going into work at Target from 4 am until 7 am, running home to pick up my daughter to take her to school, and then returning home to get ready for my day at the bank. I clearly remember those days when I didn’t have enough money to take my kids shopping for new clothes. We couldn’t go out to eat or to the movies like we used to do. I was exhausted all the time. And then I transferred over to Deposit Services and thought that I had hit the jackpot. Only I really hadn’t. I still didn’t make enough money to support myself and my kids without Jerry Lee’s help. I remember that day he told me he hadn’t sent the second half of my spousal support because he had lost his job. I remember sobbing in my car in the garage because I just couldn’t deal with the thought of returning to Target and having to go into work at 4 am once again. I remember him modifying spousal support for over a year and me just being so grateful in the beginning that he was at least paying something. I remember being dependent upon him. And I remember feeling like a failure because despite everything I had endured I still wasn’t where I wanted to be financially.

That has all changed. I’m so excited and yes, so proud of myself for all I have accomplished. I was promoted from Analyst I to Analyst II in just over a year. Never in a million years did I think that would happen. I planned on a solid two years before I got bumped up. I spent three years in Deposit Services and never went from Rep I to Rep II. So I find this promotion to be amazing, especially the speed with which it happened.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you right now. I promise to write about something else in the near future. I’ve got lots of things to tell you and I even got a new computer. Just need to set things up. Until then….

In Other News, Part 2

I do actually have reason to dance in the rain. I am excelling at work.

Last week we had our remote workers come in for the week, which was awesome. It was my first time meeting these people in person. We had lunches together. We had meetings. We got together after hours three of the days. It was a lot of fun, although I was exhausted by the end of it.

Anyway, my boss had one on one talks with each of us during the week. It’s not a new thing. She tries to do this on a regular basis. But during this particular meeting she let me know I was doing a fantastic job. She continues to be amazed at how well I manage my work and get it all done (see the previous post about working those extra hours). They apparently interviewed a lot of people for this position and I was the hand-picked favorite. She’s giving me a new responsibility and because of that increased responsibility she is making me an Analyst II within the next 6 months. And with that comes another raise. She also told me to plan on taking the CAMS classes around 2023, 2024 and get ready to take the test to be certified.

I cannot tell you how psyched I am about all of this. Seriously. CAMS is a big deal. It’s a certified anti money laundering specialist. My boss told me a few months ago that once I was CAMS certified I could write my own ticket. This is definitely something I want to do and I’ve talked about it with both my mom and the mobster. It’s a big time goal with an even bigger payoff.

The caveat is my boss won’t send anyone to the classes until they’re an Analyst II. I’ve also heard that there are certain qualifications you have to have before you can even sign up. Extra training and classes and such. So, being promoted to an Analyst II was a big step in reaching my goal. I thought it was going to be at least another year before I was bumped up and then who knew how much longer until I was finally sent to classes?

Now I have a date and a timeline. I’m getting *another* raise sometime in the next 6 months. It won’t be long before I can write my own ticket. I can go pretty much anywhere I would like and I can ask for a whole lot more money once I’m CAMS certified.

I’m dancing, folks.

In Other News

This was written about 2 weeks ago. I’ve got another update for you.

I’m really beginning to hate that phrase: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain. And yet I persevere.

While the love of my life happily treks back to Virginia I’m doing my best to dance in the rain. My daughter will graduate from nursing school in December. I am so excited for her. She seems to really be excelling in school. Her instructors love her. One of them asked her to be a student instructor for her class next semester. So she has a paying gig along with the many references that have been offered by various clinical instructors.

I finally have good news on the Picasso front. If you remember back in December he was having a meltdown. He had quit his job at the grocery store, tried Chick-Fil-A and quickly quit that job, and he had run out of medication.

He is doing fantastic right now. I got the prescription refilled, he saw our nurse practitioner and he finally got his referral to a psychiatrist who has since put him on two different medications.

That’s not even the best part. He suddenly decided he was going to get his driver’s license and was going to join the carpenter’s union. I think within a day of announcing his plans he had made an appointment to get his license. He scared the shit out of the driving instructor but she passed him. He’s had his license about two months now.

Once the hard copy of his license was mailed to him he went down to the carpenter’s union and signed up. He’s done everything he needed to do and he’s actually working a job now. He’s been on it for a week and a half. His very first full time job. He makes his lunch the night before and gets up at 5 in the morning to drive an hour to the job site. He’s such a big boy now!

It’s odd to think that next year at tax time I will only be claiming one child, and that this is the last year I’ll be able to claim head of household. As of 2023 I believe both kids will be off my payroll. Quite frankly, I’m hoping to be on theirs. LOL

I’m really hoping Picasso inquires about insurance soon. It’s not so much that I will suddenly have a huge payday (I do still carry Rock Star). It’s more that I’m sure his insurance will be cheaper and will undoubtedly be better than what I can offer him.

My mom just got back from Florida a month ago. She has a birthday coming up on May 13th.

My kittens are growing. They can’t share the little basket on the cat tower anymore. Or, if they do try it one of them usually leaves pretty quickly because they don’t have enough room. They are little stinkers. Holly loves her wet food. She cries and cries in the morning until she gets her way. She thinks every time I walk near the kitchen it’s time to be fed. Noël is a lot more chill and not nearly as food motivated.

I got them a bubbling water fountain because cats are supposed to drink more water when it’s moving. Milo may be drinking out of it, too. Really all three of them can share. It’s not like it’s a cats only drinking fountain.

I am working from home two to three days a week. Milo loves it. He’s my little shadow. I try to remember to bring his little pop up house into the office so he can sleep.

Work has been crazy lately. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t been able to focus until just recently. The past week I’m sure I worked more than 8 hours Monday-Thursday but I know for certain I worked until 8:30 on Friday evening, taking about a 30 minute break to eat dinner and then logged on again on Sunday and worked another four hours. Fortunately, that had me pretty well caught up with all of the end of month stuff.

I just got my raise and it was actually decent. I mean, it wasn’t another almost 50% but it was decent.

I began this year with four weeks of vacation and 2 banked holidays. It’s almost May and I’ve only taken my 2 banked holidays, although I do have the day after Thanksgiving reserved to be taken off. Still, 3 weeks and 4 days of vacation left. I’m not sure what to do with it.

I’ve always wanted to go see Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Apparently there is hiking and an additional waterfall or two. I’d probably end up as one of those lost hikers that ends up dead.

You know, the funny thing about travel is I don’t find it to be something I want to do all by myself. I mean, I guess I could take a fucking cruise on my own but how much fun would that be? Sitting at a table full of people that are coupled up and where I know no one. Lounging about on the deck and sipping cocktails by myself wouldn’t be so bad, but I don’t think I’d leave the ship. I’m not very adventurous on my own. I love going to the movies by myself. I could even go out to eat by myself. But a vacation? Uh. no. There is not a single vacation I could envision going on by myself with the possible exception of the beach. Maybe I’ll end up just taking a road trip one week. Find some tourist-y things to do in a few cities and enjoy my own company. Or I can just sit on my ass at home for 3 different weeks. We’ll see. The year isn’t over yet although I’m sure my boss is probably going to be pulling her hair out in another month or two.

If anyone has vacation ideas I’m all ears.

Take Me Home, Country Road

It’s taken me a while to get into the correct frame of mind to write this. I suppose I may as well get straight to the point. The mobster is moving back to Virginia. We’re going back to the long distance thing.

Why? The route was a source of disappointment to him. It took him about six weeks longer to get started than he had originally planned. He can’t stand the district manager who acts as though he works for him and has absolutely no bedside manner, for lack of better word. The tax stuff every year stresses him out. His truck keeps breaking down. Small things like coils needing to be replaced but still… When that happens he’s waiting a week or more for his truck to get repaired and in the meantime he’s paying a couple hundred dollars to rent a truck so he can deliver. Oh yeah, and he went through a five week period where he didn’t get paid. He sold $48,000.00 worth of product and was somehow upside down. He’s still not sure what happened. When he gets paid he does very well for himself, especially for only three days of work. But those weeks when you don’t get paid…

Despite all of the issues he had with the route the main reason he’s moving back is because he misses his kids. As he said one time, “Even if I only see them every few months at least I’m there.”

He’ll see them more than every few months when he goes back. His son and his wife have moved into the apartment above the garage while their house is being built. His daughter and her best friend are still living in the house so he’ll see her all the time. We both expect her boyfriend to propose to her within the year. He graduates with his Masters in December and we figure he’ll do it sometime between Christmas and her birthday in March. She’ll be living in the house at least another year, maybe two.

I’ve known he was planning on moving back since early March. We just didn’t know when it was going to happen. Turns out the guy who sold him the route is buying it back. The sale is supposed to be finalized in about two weeks. He hasn’t said yet exactly when he plans on returning but I’m sure it won’t be almost 3 months later like it was when he sold the route in Virginia and moved up here. I would guess a week, maybe two, after the sale. It might depend on how quickly he sells his truck as well.

As I said in the beginning it has taken me a while to get into the right frame of mind. I spent the first two weeks crying every day. I didn’t eat much the first 3 or 4 days. I’ve only been able to concentrate on my job properly in the last 2 weeks or so. I still have days where I get teary eyed, if only for a few minutes. I’m really going to miss him. I’m going to hate not seeing him every day.

We watched all 8 seasons of Pysch. It took us a couple of weeks because we only managed about 2 or 3 episodes at a time. I watched it when it was on originally but loved watching it again. That’s something we won’t do anymore. When you only have a weekend or two each month you tend to spend that time running around making memories. You don’t drive five hours to see each other and then spend the entire weekend watching TV.

I’m going to miss meeting him downtown on Wednesday nights for raid hour, or having him come meet me for lunch on the days he doesn’t work. I’m going to miss going out to breakfast and/or visiting wineries on the weekends. I’m going to miss watching TV with him and spending lazy days with him. I’m going to miss going on walks with him and telling him about my day. Sure, I suppose when we talk in the evening he’ll ask me how my job went but it won’t be the same. I’m still really really sad about it.

I also regret all the things we’re not going to get to do that I thought we still had time to do- like watch all the Marvel movies in order. That’s not going to happen. There are too many of them and who wants to spend their one weekend a month watching movie after movie? I regret not going to the Farmer’s market more often. I regret not taking more weekend trips once we could pick from many other different cities and not just Columbus or Chillicothe. Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville (Indiana, not Tennessee), Mackinaw Island, Grand Rapids, St. Louis. All trips we won’t make. I regret not getting a chance to eat at The Bucket out on the deck, enjoying the nice weather and the view of the river. We’ve been there once or twice, but we’ve always had to eat inside. So many things I thought we were going to have a chance to do that we won’t.

But, getting into the right frame of mind also means asking myself the hard questions. And each time it comes down to this: I’d rather spend a weekend or two with him each month than spend every day with someone else.

We’ve had conversations about me possibly moving down to where he is. I would still be about an hour or two away. I will not move to the armpit of Virginia. I refuse to have to drive an hour to go anywhere or do anything. They drive an hour to go to Olive Garden. No one should ever drive an hour to go to Olive Garden. Ever. Cheesecake Factory? I get that. Macaroni Grill? Carrabba’s? All choices I could get behind. But Olive Garden? Absolutely not.

I’ve lived life in a small town. Twice, in fact. I am not a fan. Even if I don’t use everything available at my fingertips I still like having a variety of options.

I was thinking Charlotte might be a nice option but the housing prices there are way out of my league. Other potential options are Roanoke or Greensboro. Maybe even Winston-Salem.

We’re playing it by ear for now. Who knows where our kids will end up or how much time we’ll actually get to spend with them once they’ve built their own lives?

My daughter keeps saying she and her boyfriend plan to move to Utah (although she did say she would be willing to move to the Carolinas). My son doesn’t want to go south and wants to remain with his friends. He would be willing to move to Utah if I moved, but I can’t afford to move back to Utah. My mom, of course, doesn’t want me to go but I think I could possibly persuade her to come with me. To Virginia or North Carolina, that is. I don’t think all the rum in the world could get her to move to Utah.

I don’t see the mobster’s kids ever moving from where they currently live. His oldest son, if he doesn’t remain in New Hampshire, could potentially end up moving more towards the D.C. area and his youngest son who is currently in West Virginia could end up moving back to the area. In other words, I don’t see his kids going to all four corners of the world to set about their lives. They’re pretty much Virginia bound.

I mention this only because at one point he said maybe we could pick a place that was central to all of our kids. I don’t think that’s pragmatic when all of his kids are in one location and it’s mine that are spread around the country.

But we’ll see. Maybe Rock Star will end up in Utah and I’ll only get to see her two or three times a year. Maybe Picasso will move out, find a nice girl to settle down with, and I’ll only see him once a month because he’s busy. Who knows?

One thing I do know is no matter what happens I will be fine. That was one of the big hurdles I had to finally leap in order to be okay with all that’s happening. When I finally told myself, “Sam, you are going to be fine no matter what. You’ve had far worse things happen and you’ve survived,” that was when I could finally breathe again. And as the mobster has been saying all along, “This isn’t the end of us. Nothing’s changed. We’re just going back to the way it was before until we come up with a to the way it was before until we come up with a new plan.”

So that’s where we’re at. After 8 months of being together every day we’re going back to long distance.

Phrase for the year: Be here, be still. Boy, I really know how to pick those goddamn words and phrases, don’t I?

What If They Stay Together?

You see that question a lot on various internet sites. What if they stay together? What if they get married? Doesn’t that prove he/she is happier with the other person? Maybe this was true love and I was an obstacle to their happiness.

Maybe it’s the passage of time but I’m always amazed at the question. They got married. So what? They married you, didn’t they? How did that turn out? Oh yeah, they cheated. What makes you think it will be so different for the next one?

Or they seem to believe that if the relationship doesn’t implode within the first few weeks or months after discovery that this means their relationship will stand the test of time.

How long were you married? How much of it was good? How much of it were you contemplating leaving or at least wondering why on earth you put up with all the crap you put up with?

I guess what astonishes me the most is this idea some people have that if the cheating duo get married (or simply remain together) and remain married for any length of time it must mean the relationship is a success; it’s proof that their own marriage to Cheater Pants was a mistake and Cheater Pants was absolutely in the right to cheat and walk off with the affair accomplice.

Nope.

I firmly believe that most of the time it comes down to image management. The majority of these cheaters would rather crawl over broken glass than admit they were wrong. She’s bat shit crazy? Doesn’t matter. She’s the love of his life. She’s miserable with him now that she lives with him? Doesn’t matter. She’ll never admit it. His kids won’t talk to him? Their mother poisoned them against him! They worry all the time about where the other one is? Look at all of our happy vacation photos! He’s my savior! She’s my rock!

The cheater thinks marrying the affair accomplice gives their relationship legitimacy. See? It was all worth it. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve found my soul mate, the love of my life. This person has saved me. It wasn’t some tawdry, run of the mill affair. No, it’s the love affair of the century. They didn’t abandon their children for some ordinary affair partner. This person is the love of their life!

Stories abound about relationships that started out as affairs and even though they’re still together they are not happy. Facebook and Instagram are not the arbiters of truth some might think. Again, it’s their life’s highlight reel. None of the behind the scenes crap- like where she found out he’s sexting some random woman or he found out she was sending naked pictures to a neighbor. You don’t get to see the defeat in his eyes when he realizes she’s no longer putting out all the time or when she realizes he doesn’t have as much money as she thought.

They get married and it doesn’t end immediately so people tell themselves that this must truly have been a love of the ages. The affair was all worth it and obviously their ex didn’t love them the way they love the affair accomplice.

No. They can’t leave because if they do they’ll have to admit it was all for nothing. They can’t leave because they don’t want to admit they were wrong about this other person.

Sometimes, they don’t leave because they saw the devastation that occurred the first time so they vow not to do it again to the new set of kids.

And sometimes they don’t leave because the affair accomplice turned spouse knows all of their tricks and all of their secrets; they can’t ambush them the way they did you because that other person watched the whole thing unfold. They know what to expect.

Other times it’s because they don’t really have a choice. They’ve firebombed everything from their old life so this new life with the affair accomplice is the only thing they’ve got left. Plus, they either can’t afford it because they lost a lot in the divorce or they’re not willing to lose half their shit once again.

We already know cheaters are cowards. They don’t do hard things so the chance they’ll leave this relationship when they don’t have another relationship lined up, they have nowhere to go, and they’ve burned every bridge with their children is pretty slim.

The funny thing is I frequently forget that I’m a part of that demographic- the one where the ex is still with the garden tool. The one where he actually married her.

I suppose it’s easier for me because we haven’t lived in the same state since six months after I found out. I don’t co-parent with him. I was pretty much no contact with him from Day One and I’m pretty sure I haven’t texted with him since he asked when Picasso was graduating and I told him he had no plans to walk.

Honestly I don’t think much about the two of them remaining together. Maybe it’s a match made in hell. Maybe she’s every bit as boring as he is (I say as I sit in my jammies at almost 5 pm). Maybe she loves to watch television all night long and is mesmerized by all the shows on A & E and History Channel that he loved to watch. Maybe she hates going places and doesn’t like to socialize. Who cares?

I know she cheated on him in the first six months of their relationship. I know from The Saint what kind of a person she is. I know she’s shed children throughout this entire ordeal. I know he’s a liar and a cheater himself so it’s not like she won a prize. They’re a great fit in that respect.

I don’t attach any significance to that when I do finally realize it. He’s a prime example of a person who is employing image management and a prime example of a person who is without a doubt stuck. What’s he going to do?

He’s already lost everything. His two children have absolutely nothing to do with him. They have no respect for him. They refuse to meet Harley, not that he’s actually ever tried to get them to meet her.

He walked away from his job where he was the golden boy and probably headed towards a vice president position in the not-so-distant future. For years he made over $60,000 less per year just in base pay. Now he’s only lagging behind by about $30,000.00. I doubt his bonuses are anywhere close to what they were at his former company.

He whined over and over again to anyone who would listen that he didn’t have anything to show for all the money he made because I recklessly spent it. Damn me for dressing my kids and paying for their extracurriculars! I’ve seen his bank account and I can tell you he’s doing much worse now with even more money. Not to mention that instead of owning a home he has to rent now because he screwed himself out of his VA loan.

Finally, how would he ever be able to live independently if he left her? Six months after moving he lost his job. She supported him. He couldn’t have left then. When he finally got another job it paid over $100,000 less than what he had been making- base salary, bonuses, stocks. $100,000. She makes good money but she doesn’t make that much. He definitely needed her then. It wasn’t until two years ago he finally got a job making anywhere close to what he was making before- at least base salary wise. Even now though, he depends upon her and her paycheck to bring him up to the life he was used to. Granted he pays me approximately one entire paycheck per month right now because of his choice to play stupid games for so long. In another year and a half or so he won’t be paying nearly that much. But still… he’s not bringing in anywhere close to the same amount of money as he’s used to, especially after he has to pay me. He wouldn’t be living in a big fancy house if he left. He could probably still afford a new car. But ultimately he wouldn’t get to play big shot anymore. He definitely would not be living up to what his income was.

In the end it truly doesn’t matter. I don’t care why he’s still with her. I don’t care about him at all. I’m writing this in the hopes that those who have fuckwits still with their fuckwit fucking ho might realize still being together doesn’t mean anything.

Never Again

I read this somewhere and I wanted to discuss this:

The inability to receive support from others is a trauma response.

Your, “I don’t need anyone, I’ll just do it all myself,” conditioning is a survival tactic. And you needed it to shield your heart from abuse, neglect, betrayal, and disappointment from those who could not or would not be there for you….

…From all the situation when someone told you, “We’re in this together,” or “I got you,” then abandoned you, leaving you to pick up the pieces when shit got real, leaving you to handle your part and their part, too.

From all the lies and all the betrayals.

You learned along the way that you just couldn’t really trust people Or that you could trust people, but only up to a certain point.

Extreme independence is a trust issue.

You learned: if I don’t put myself in a situation where I rely on someone, I won’t have to be disappointed when they don’t show up for me, or when they drop the ball… because they will always drop the ball eventually, right?

Extreme independence is a preemptive strike against heartbreak.

So you don’t trust anyone.

And you don’t trust yourself, either, to choose people.

To trust is to hope, to trust is to be vulnerable.

“Never again,” you vow.

But no matter how you dress it up and display it proudly to make it seem like this level of independence is what you always wanted to be, in truth it’s your wounded, scarred broken heart behind a protective brick wall.

Impenetrable. Nothing gets in. No hurt gets in. But no love gets in either.

Fortresses and armor are for those in battle, or who believe the battle is coming.

It’s a trauma response.

by Jamila White

There was more but this encompasses most of what I wanted to write about.

I read this, and my first thought was, “Wow! This is so profound. So true. You’ve got to open your heart. Learn to trust. Not let the bad experiences shape you.”

And then I thought, “This is nuts. Of course the bad experiences are going to shape you! You should learn from them, not put your head in the sand and pretend that the next time it will all be okay.”

I suppose I should start with this: I don’t think I engage in extreme independence. I also don’t think I deny others the chance to support me.

Am I perfectly fine being on my own? I sure was. I didn’t think I would ever date again and I was pretty okay with that. I didn’t go looking for the mobster. He found me.

With that said I absolutely love having someone like him in my life.

Now, having said that I’m still not ready to throw caution to the wind, move in together, chuck spousal support out the window and cling to the notion that, “This time it will all work out!”

Yeah, last time it damn near killed me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I sometimes forget how awful it was because five years have passed and my life isn’t horrible anymore. And you know, you would think that would be a big help.

Hey! You survived it before! You thought you wanted to die and that your life was going to suck forever and ever. But look at you now! It doesn’t suck. If he walked out the door you’d pick yourself up and carry on. You’re in a better position now even because you already have a job! So you wouldn’t be back to square one. You’d be on, like, square two at the very least. Maybe even square three. You couldn’t lose everything all over again because you already lost everything and you never really rebuilt, right? It’s not like you bought a house. You don’t have any furniture. There’s nothing to lose! You’re good!

Ah, Happy-Go-Lucky Sam! I’ve missed you. Unfortunately for her, Baptized Through Fire Sam also shows up. And she’s like, “Are you crazy?”

My answer to that is, “No!”

I’ve thought about this a lot and it comes down to this. Let’s imagine there is a lake I swim in quite often. For years I go to this lake and I jump in and I swim around and have a grand ol’ time. And then one day, I go to the lake and I jump in and I swim around just like I always have. Only this time… an alligator bites my leg off. Now, I don’t know how the alligator got in the lake. It’s not like I live in Florida. Maybe it was a pet and it got too big so someone let it go. Maybe it migrated. I don’t know. I just know it now lives in the lake I used to swim in. And it bit my leg off. I was lucky to survive. It was a miracle. Kinda like me surviving my damn divorce and losing everything. Hmmmm…. Anyway… if someone asked me, “Hey, Sam, why don’t you swim in that lake anymore?” I would have no problem with saying, “Because a damn alligator bit my freaking leg off!” And if they tried to tell me that the chances of the alligator biting my other leg off was slim to none I’d tell them I wasn’t going to take any chances. I know there’s a damn alligator in that lake!

I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I think I tend to trust but verify. Trust but not put all my eggs in another person’s basket. Trust but not blindly. Trust but don’t be stupid. Any of those could be my new motto.

The mobster spent a few weeks with the guy who sold him his route. They talked a lot. The guy had 2 children from a previous relationship. He was currently with his girlfriend of 7 years. They had a child together and she really wanted to get married. His father ran routes all over for years until he began the Missions routes, which were basically given to him. Between him and his two sons they owned multiple routes. The guy who is selling the mobster the route makes quite a bit of money between the three or so routes he runs and his investment properties. One day the mobster came home and he was relaying the stories he had heard from him. I don’t remember how it came up but I remember him saying that at one point B was explaining that while his girlfriend worked a full-time job as well “all of this is me”, meaning that while she worked, too, the reason they had the giant house and the waterfall features in their yard and the Tesla and the million other things they had, was because of him.

My first inclination was to think, “Well, that’s not very team-like of him.” But my second reaction, which quickly followed my first, was, “He’s absolutely correct. It is all him.” Or rather, it’s all his.

I’m sure she helps him out logistically. She may even provide insurance for him and his two other children. But the reality is she makes a fraction of what he makes. Her lifestyle is funded by him. If she walked out on him tomorrow his life wouldn’t change. He might have to scramble to find someone to help out with his kids, but he’s not going to be wondering if he can afford the mortgage. He won’t be worried about whether or not he has to take his kids out their school because he might need to move. If he walks out on her? Oh you can bet your ass her life is going to change. She may have a full-time job. She may not be destitute. But she’s not going to be living in a house like she does now. She won’t be driving around in a Tesla. A lot of the things she can afford to do and purchase she wouldn’t be able to afford or purchase if he left.

That is still my mindset. I went through my house and I put price tags on all of my belongings. What I couldn’t sell was left behind. I lost my home. I lost my pool. I lost my brand new furniture. I had to move out of the state and back in with my mom. I live in fucking Indiana once again, for crying out loud. 

I will never financially depend upon another man again. That is still my stance. If I can’t afford it it’s not mine. If I can’t afford it on my own I don’t want it. I see all of these happy people who live these amazing lives and they’re doing it because they’re married. Their husbands fund their lives. It’s the ol’ “teamwork” concept. We’re a team! What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine. We don’t have his money and my money; it’s our money. I sometimes think how nice it would be to be able to do that again. To think that because I have a husband who can buy us a second home on a lake that I somehow have a home on a lake. To think that because my husband can afford a boat that I, too, have a boat. To think that because I’m married to a man who can afford a half a million dollar home that I have a half a million dollar home.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that that is not true. If my fictitious future husband decides to walk out on me for some gold digging whore then I no longer have a lake house. I no longer have a boat. I no longer have a $500,000 home. And I do realize that I got a very raw deal because Jerry Lee let our house go into foreclosure as opposed to getting up off his ass and getting a new job, hoping to wait me out. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep that house anyway. 

The way I look at it is this: As long as I follow my own common sense advice and only live on what I can afford on my own then I don’t have to worry about losing my home and everything in it should the man I’m with suddenly decides he wants to fuck a gold digging whore. If I acknowledge the fact that I only have access to his huge house, or his pool, or his boat or his lake house, because he wants to fuck me then I’m not shocked when I no longer have access to any of that if he dumps me. I don’t have to pack up my house. I don’t have to put stickers on everything. I don’t have to move back in with my mom. Would I be sad? Of course! But I’m not having every single goddamn thing I own taken away from me either. 

It’s kind of like if I had a job where I got free concert tickets as a perk of the job, or they allowed me use of their corporate condo in Hawaii. I would expect to only get to use those perks as long as I worked there. I wouldn’t be thinking, “I have a condo in Hawaii.” No, I’d be thinking, “My company has a condo in Hawaii and I get to use it as a perk of my employment.” If I leave the company I don’t have access to that condo in Hawaii anymore. I no longer get free concert tickets. All of those goodies are contingent upon my employment, just like my access to anything I can’t afford on my own is contingent upon my partner still wanting to be with me.

I think the point of this is to not let your bad experiences rule your life, but it doesn’t mean you don’t implement some safe guards. Instead of declaring, “All men (or women) are bad and I’m not getting involved with anyone ever again!” you examine the red flags you missed and the behavior you tolerated in order to stay in that relationship. It’s not, “I’ll never let down my walls!”, or “I’ll never trust again!”.  It’s being willing to have deal breakers. It’s being willing to say, “This is not acceptable to me,”- and meaning it. It means not overlooking bad behavior and coming up with excuses for it. It’s demanding reciprocity and leaving when you don’t get that instead of continuing to wish upon a star that things were different. You don’t twist yourself into a pretzel trying to get someone else to love you and you’re willing to walk away when you realize this person is never going to be who you need them to be.

I don’t think it’s so much that I’ve built up walls or have trust issues. I think I’ve seen the stark reality of what happens when you go into a relationship thinking you’re a team and that you’ve built this life together, and then one person decides they want out. I can love deeply. I can love fiercely. I can let down my walls and I can trust. But I’m not going to be stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a bad situation like I did the first time around. For me, that means I won’t rely on another man financially ever again. I don’t think that means I have trust issues. I think it means I learned a very valuable lesson. I no longer swim in lakes that are known to have alligators in them.

Child-Free Weddings

You gotta love Google. You click on one article or do one internet search and all of sudden you get tons of similar stories. Currently, I am getting a lot of stories from Reddit’s Am I the Asshole threads. Why these are Newsweek featured stories is beyond me but it is what it is.

Today’s story was about a bride who wanted a child-free wedding. Her sister, who has two children, wanted to know if she was the asshole for not planning on attending. Her reasoning was she had two children; attending the child-free wedding of her sister would entail finding and paying for a babysitter. She also felt that weddings were family events and if her two kids weren’t invited she didn’t care to attend.

Apparently everyone on Reddit ripped her to shreds and believed she was definitely the asshole.

I have to admit I was puzzled at this outrage. She didn’t complain and whine or try to change her sister’s mind. She simply told her she wouldn’t be attending the wedding. “I congratulated her, but I told her as it’s child free and I have two sons, I wouldn’t be able to make it. I would send a gift with our parents though.” When her sister got upset and pointed out that it was unfair that she had attended their cousin’s wedding the author of the post reminded her that the cousin didn’t exclude children from her wedding.

My point of view is it’s your wedding and you can make whatever crazy or not-so-crazy demands you want. If you want no children at your wedding you are within your rights to say, “No children, please.” You are not, however, within your rights to demand that your guests attend your child-free wedding. You do not have the right to demand that your guests all pony up for a babysitter so that they may witness you getting married.

You don’t want kids at your wedding? Then you may need to accept the fact that some people won’t be able to join you. Others will choose not to. And that is perfectly within their rights.

I think I mentioned before that when I got married eons ago we asked that all children under three go to the nursery, which we staffed with a Girl Scout troop and their leader. We had a lot of people coming from out of town and we had a lot of people with small children. In hindsight I probably should have just let them all come and cry it out at the wedding but I didn’t. I did, however, take responsibility for finding someone who could watch the child (or children) for the 30 minutes or so it took for us to get married. They were in the same building as their parents. And after the wedding they were all welcome at the reception. Bring your baby; I don’t care.

Had someone said, “I won’t be attending because I don’t want to leave my child in the church nursery for 30 minutes,” I would have accepted that. I would not have whined and cried and carried on and demanded that they dump off their child and come see me get married.

I’m not against child-free weddings. In fact, I think it’s extremely rude to disregard the host’s wishes when they let you know it is a child-free event. I certainly wouldn’t defend someone who brought their children to a child-free event. 

On the other hand, if you are adamant that your wedding must be child-free you need to be prepared for some people to say, “No, thanks.” And it doesn’t really matter who they are- co-worker, friend, sibling, best friend of 25 years, some other relative. No thanks, is an acceptable response.

I’ve attended child-free weddings before. In fact, both times that I was told children were not welcome I had to travel quite a distance to attend the wedding.

The first wedding was my cousin’s. It was probably a 6 or 7 hour drive. Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake lived only an hour from them so I drove to their house and spent the night, left the kids with them and attended the wedding the next day.

My brother and his wife said, “Fuck the rules!” and brought their kids, but I did respect their wishes regardless of how I had to contort myself to get this done. No kids! And then I drove back to my in-laws that evening, and I’m sure the following day we headed back home. I think Picasso and Rock Star were 4 and 6 at the time, maybe 3 and 5.

The second time I was informed no children were allowed was for my best friend’s wedding in 2012. My kids were 12 and 10 at the time. I lived in Utah. She was in Indiana. I had mentioned bringing Rock Star with me as Jerry Lee wasn’t planning on coming along and that’s when she nonchalantly told me the only kids allowed were the groom’s kids and the immediate family’s children. So I hopped on a plane by myself, left my kids behind with their dad, and attended this wedding. Even if Jerry Lee had been willing to go with me I don’t know how that was supposed to work.

Either we find someone to take the kids for 2 or 3 days and pay hundreds of dollars for the both of us to take a flight from Salt Lake City to Chicago or Indiana for a long weekend, or all four of us fly out here and then I try to figure out who might be able to babysit for me while we’re at this wedding. And if I can’t find anyone then all four of us flew out for nothing.

My mother had been invited so it’s not like I could have asked her. I suppose I could have asked my brother but seriously…. I was not going to pay close to $1000, if not more, for the four of us to fly out for a wedding that only two would be attending. And it’s not like Jerry Lee really wanted to go. So, I went by myself.

And did I mention I was matron of honor at the wedding? It was a little too late to pull out at that point even if I had wanted to.

So I’ve done the whole, “No kids at the wedding” thing. A lot of times it’s a pain in the ass. You’re either shelling out huge amounts of money for someone to watch your kids (not to mention, in my case doing a lot of extra driving) or you get the honor of going to the wedding by yourself while your spouse watches the children for you.

My point is I don’t have a problem with people asking you to leave your children at home. I truly don’t. But I have a huge problem with them asking you to leave your children at home and then throwing a tantrum because you decline the invitation.

I was honestly amazed at the comments some people made. 

“Your children don’t have to go everywhere you do.” No, they don’t. But if someone doesn’t want to go anywhere without them there’s nothing wrong with that. either.

“You’re showing your sister how little you care for her!” Isn’t her sister showing how little she cares for her nephews? In this specific situation it’s not like she can ask her parents to watch them while she attends the wedding. And while I never had a problem with not-a-family-member watching my kids, some people refuse to leave their children with anyone that isn’t family.

“This is why people complain about no one ever asking them to go anywhere.” Yes, because an hour and  a half at a restaurant eating a meal is exactly the same as leaving your husband and children behind to attend a three or four hour event.

“The ‘If my children can’t go, I won’t go,’ attitude rarely works out in the long run. This is how mothers end up losing their identity and being completely lost as their children grow up and become independent.” Again, if she doesn’t want to get a babysitter and would rather not attend events without her kids that is her prerogative. I don’t think she needs to attend child-free weddings in order to keep her identity intact.

“She’s the sister of the bride. She should make more of an effort to go than a regular guest.” If it was important to the bride that her sister attend I think she would be cognizant of the fact that her sister has two children.

“Her children won’t remember one afternoon they were with a babysitter for a few hours, but her sister will ALWAYS remember that she willingly chose not to attend her wedding.” Jesus people! This is a wedding invitation. It’s not a freaking summons. No one is obligated to attend your special day. 

It’s this whole piling on that she should move heaven and earth to attend her sister’s wedding and whatever her sister wants she should rejoice and be willing to do it. No.Questions.Asked. Ever!

“When you love someone, you are willing to do at least the bare minimum to attend their special events. In the case of the OP, that would be asking the children to stay home with their father for a single day.” Really? She’s expected to attend her sister’s wedding without her own husband? 

Obviously I did a lot of shit without Jerry Lee but for someone to actually say that I should leave my kids with my husband and attend a wedding by myself… Wow! I have no words. And yes, I realize her parents will be there as well so it’s not like she won’t know anyone. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine being expected to attend a wedding without my spouse because the bride (my own sister!) doesn’t want my kids around that day.

The poster did say her sister was getting married in the park. No mention of the reception so maybe it would be a short, simple ceremony followed by cake and punch, or a lunch at the park. I might be willing to do that without my partner. But if it’s a full on dinner with dancing event? No, I’m not leaving my spouse at home unless I want to leave my spouse at home. 

“Weddings seem to bring out the absolute worst behavior in people. I could not fathom missing my sister’s wedding even if I hated the dude she was marrying… I’d have had to be on my death bed.”  What bad behavior is she exhibiting? She declined a fucking wedding invitation. She’s allowed to do that. Yes, even when it’s your sibling.

Everyone keeps going on and on about how it’s her sister and it’s her wedding day and she should be there and she should be supportive. No one ever stops and says, “Hey, you know what? Her sister is aware she has nephews. She’s putting her sister in a tough spot.” I mean, you either want the person to attend or not.

When I was getting married I asked my uncle which weekend he had off. He was a pharmacist that worked nights at Walgreens. His schedule was seven days on, seven days off. It was important to me that he be there so I worked around his schedule. I didn’t say, “It’s very important to me that you and your family are able to come to my wedding. Now please take vacation time so that you can attend.”

“…YTA and one of the reasons weddings have become toxic and shitty.” Really? I think the reason weddings have become so toxic and shitty is because there are lot of very entitled people out there getting married. There are lot of people who have never been told, “No!” getting married. There are a lot of people who take the whole, “It’s my day and it’s all about me!” attitude and run with it. It’s not toxic because someone doesn’t attend your wedding.

“This is her sister and the wedding is not a destination wedding. I’d be pissed and hurt if my sister didn’t come to my wedding. No excuse. She has plenty of time to find a sitter.” I think we’ve found the asshole…

And hey, just curious. Let’s say the sister reconsiders. She says, “Sure, Sis, I’ll show up at the park and watch you get married. But because the rest of my entire family is sitting at home I’m leaving after the ceremony.” Is that acceptable, or is she expected to ditch not only her kids, but her husband as well, the entire day?

Something tells me that once sister dearest has children of her own she won’t react well to someone telling her to leave them and her husband behind while she does something for someone else.

In my opinion, that poster was NOT the asshole. The commenters were. Her sister is just a whiny, entitled brat.

My Mom and Her Watch

Two years or so ago I bought myself a Galaxy watch. I needed something that would count steps for me. I was going to go with the simpler Galaxy Fit, I think, that just counted the steps but Target only had the complete watch in stock and I really needed one so I went ahead and bought it.

I hated it! Oh, it had some features that were nice. I liked being able to see texts on my watch. I think I could use my finger to write. And keeping count of my steps was interesting. But overall, I am not a watch wearer. I am especially not a watch wearer when the watch is so damn big and bulky.

My mom wanted to get a FitBit but didn’t want to pay FitBit prices. Anyway, long story short I gave her my watch. And now she’s mad at it.

It keeps telling her to take a walk. She does not like that at all. She said, and I quote, “I don’t need a goddamn watch telling me to get up and take a walk. I’ll take a walk when I feel like it.”

In her defense she does indeed take many walks, especially now that she’s down in Florida where the weather is a bit better than what we’re experiencing up here in northern Indiana.

I talked to her the other day. She told she kept checking my blog to see if I had printed the story about her being mad at her watch. She upped the ante. As she put it: I’m still irritated by it. Who does it think it is? How dare a watch tell me, a human being, what to do?

I don’t think she understands that some people actually pay a lot of money to have their watch tell them what to do.

P.S. On the bright side, Mom, when Rock Star comes down for Spring Break you can get ask her how to make it stop. Apparently you can turn it off.