Archive for the ‘separation’ Category

Shutter Island

March 17, 2010

I was not planning on seeing “Shutter Island” because the previews made it look like a horror film. I am not a big fan of horror films. However, when I was at the bar Monday night to see a free film, a nice couple mentioned that they saw it and enjoyed it. When I expressed my concerns with it, they said it wasn’t a horror film. They said it was thought provoking, like “Revolutionary Road”.
(When I first separated I felt like I should not be around people. I felt toxic and harmful. I planned on becoming reclusive. I figured my family would not want to deal with me because they loved my wife and because I was openly not religious. I was surprised when most, though not all, of my immediate family reached out to me during the process. They helped me in many ways. It was a very difficult process and I don’t know how it would happened without them.
I still had no plans on meeting new people. I didn’t really have friends, so it wasn’t an issue.
One night, I was speaking with an internet acquaintance on the phone. I expressed my view that I should stay away from people. Including phone conversations with her. She suggested I meet people. She gave me reasons, which I will guard.
As a result of that one conversation:
a. I learned how to bowl
b. I started going to movies
c. I started going to karaoke
d. I posted a platonic craigslist ad for a movie buddy
all in the grand experiment to see if I should be around people.
The ad that I posted got one response. A young lapsed Catholic woman from New Jersey. Our emails prior to meeting for a movie were very brief. We met at Penn Station and we got a quick snack at a nearby tavern. I found her very interesting and attractive. I knew I was just there to meet her and I had no plans on ever getting physical or romantic with her, but I began to worry, since we had not disclosed personal information prior to meeting. I wasn’t sure if I should tell her that I was recently separated.
We went to see “Revolutionary Road”. It was amazing. The plot was engaging. I saw so much in what was said. Without giving away the plot of that film, I saw that my marital status played a major role in how I viewed the film. So, as we were leaving the theater, I told her. I was surprised when she said she was also separated.
There wasn’t time for us to discuss the film that night. (Work in the morning.) So, instead we exchanged about a hundred emails devoted to analyzing it.)
You can, therefore, see why I was quite eager to see “Shutter Island”.

“Shutter Island” begins the way you expect it would. Leonardo DiCaprio speaks in a heavy Boston accent as he investigates the disappearance of criminally insane woman from a locked jail cell. I expected the film not to have an ending… meaning, I expected it to have an open ending where the people get to debate what happens next and motivations. I was pleasantly surprised with how it concluded.
I can’t say more about the plot without ruining it for you.

A couple of warnings:
a. There are a few intense scenes, but it’s not prolonged or extremely anxious.
b. There are some Holocaust scenes. If anything Holocaust related, even brief scenes, bothers you, you might want to avoid this film.

This was the best movie I’ve seen since December 31, 2009. It is extremely thought provoking and it raises questions of our memories and of reality.

I feel like this film deserves a 9 out of 10, but, I’m giving myself permission to amend it down to an 8 within the next thirty days.

Get yer “Get” here!

March 3, 2010

When: Thursday, March 3, 2010 at 3 PM
Where: Brooklyn
Cost: $600 ($300 up front, $50 per week until it’s paid off)
“Service” provided: Religious divorce

Unanswered questions:

  • How am I going to get $300 by tomorrow?
  • How am I going to pay $50 a week for 6 weeks?
  • I guess I can cut out lunch?

Protocol

February 26, 2010

What’s the protocol?

After we successfully divorce, do I need to edit every post that I referred to (err) my wife as “wife” and change it to “ex-wife”?

Also, what about the time between when I give the Get (religious divorce) and when the Court processes our civil divorce? How should I refer to her? “My legal wife”?

Any thoughts?

Weekends: A contrast

February 26, 2010

The contrast between how I viewed weekends before the separation and how I view them now is stark.

Before my wife and I separated, I would dread Fridays and look forward to Mondays.
Friday afternoons I would stay at the office, so I wouldn’t get home until just before Shabbos.
I would try to work overtime on Saturday nights. (In the last year of us “living together” (before the housing bubble burst), I made about $15,000 on overtime. Mostly, as a result of trying to avoid painful interactions with my wife.)
I would go for long walks Friday night and Sunday evening. I didn’t have anywhere to go or friends to hang out with. I would just walk the streets and think.
During times that I was home, I tried to stay busy with books, newspapers, computers, and taking care of the children on my own.
We had very different approaches to childcare, so, when she was taking care of them, unless she asked for help, I didn’t mix in. Similarly, when I was caring for them, I preferred she stay out of the way.

Monday mornings were good, because it meant I had survived another weekend. I could stay late at the office and work.

Since the separation, I’ve finally discovered why many people say “Thank Goodness It’s Friday!”
On weekends that I don’t have the children, sometimes, I still work late on a Friday. However, that’s to make up for coming in a bit late or doing “non-work” activity during my work time.
I’ve come to dread Sunday evenings and the impending new work week.
(Since the economic trouble of 2008, overtime hasn’t been offered. Even if it were, I probably wouldn’t work extra.)

I frequently think of this contrast when people ask me if maybe I’ll regret getting divorced one day.

Take the Good, You Take the Bad

February 22, 2010

I think it’s important in life to not only focus on the negative, even though, often, it is more interesting.

As I described, last week we signed our final separation agreement. The agreement says that we each have the children on alternate weekends. Holidays are split up by a system that allows the children to spend time with both parents. This being an even year, she is supposed to have them Purim night, while I’m supposed to have them Purim day. However, this year Purim begins Saturday night and I’ll have them at my parents (35 minutes away by car).
She called me up Thursday evening to say that she thinks rather than me returning the children as soon as the weekly holiday ends and then getting them back Sunday afternoon, I should just return them early Sunday morning. I’m glad in this instance she’s being reasonable. I’ll not hold out hope that this is the beginning of a pattern, but, for now, this is good.

My dad came over to me last weekend, when I was over with the children, and told me about the graggers and masks he bought for the children. He told me he is going to lein in the house for the children. I could see his smile when he said that, an attempt of proselytization of me is going down. I am not looking forward to Saturday night. I think I’ll set the children up with their grandfather and then I’ll go someplace else. Someplace quiet or with a television. 😉

Out of the (Tiger) Woods

February 20, 2010

When the Tiger Woods story first hit, it was described as a car accident. I was very interested. Not because I’m a golf fan; I’m not. I’ve been a casual Tiger Woods fan since he burst on the scene, because he was a good winner. He excels at his craft and is a fierce competitor, but he’s not a sore winner. The way he goes about his business is impressive. (Edgardo Alfonso, former second and third baseman for the New York Mets, exhibited the same characteristics and I’ve been a fan since 1997.)
When more details leaked out and I started hearing snippets of a domestic situation, I refused to listen, read, or watch any coverage of the story. First, the whole incident is a private affair and is none of our business. Second, I’ve personally been involved in a public news story in which the media got many of the facts incorrect. I don’t trust many of the details the news establishment reports. Third, shortly before and after I separated from my wife, someone went around spreading a lot of slanderous lies about me. (I think they were hoping they could “scare” me into staying religious and not deciding that divorce is the only option in my situation. Regardless of their intentions, they were complete fabrications.) Just because someone comes forward with all kinds fanciful claims about a famous person, does not mean it’s true or that I should pay them mind.
When I picked up the paper this morning, I saw the first eight pages are devoted to a press conference that Tiger Woods hosted on Friday. I figured if Tiger is talking about it, he must not feel it’s solely a private affair. As such, I felt like he wanted me to read about the situation.

One thing I’m struck by when reading coverage of the story and editorials on the subject is the sense that Tiger was obligated to give a public apology. I don’t understand. Why am I entitled to an apology? Why do I even need an apology? Tiger hasn’t hurt me and I don’t really care about his actions. Who does he “need” to apologize to? His wife. Any woman he might have led on about his intentions with them. His sponsors. A second-hand apology to his in-laws and his family. That’s it. All of those apologies should take place quietly, one on one. The outrage expressed by fans, columnists, and women’s rights organizations is uncalled for, unnecessary, and infantile.

Tuesday Feb 16, 2010

February 18, 2010

Tuesday was a full and interesting day for me.

1. I had to write my 2 initials on 45 pages on 5 copies. (45*5=2=450 letters.)
2. I had to find a find a notary public and sign the document in front of him.
3. I had to travel to my wife’s lawyer and drop off my final divorce agreement. (The final agreement lays out the terms for the divorce so that when both parties sign it and a judge agrees to it, our divorce settlement will follow those terms. In our case, we will have the religious divorce as soon as we have both signed the agreement. We will remain married civilly until after a NYS judge can review it and agree that it’s fair to all parties involved.)
4. I went to see From Paris With Love
5. For dinner I stopped at the “2 Bros Pizza” on St Marks Place.
6. I went to see “The Tug of War Tour” that @ffidler produces. For information go here.
7. On the way home I passed “Second on Second”, a karaoke bar I’ve heard so much about, but, I’ve never seen. Last night Veni, vidi, vici. The bar is pretty empty on Tuesday nights apparently. And, while I only went in to see the place, and, later, just to sing one song, and, yet later, only to sing two songs, I found myself two hours later telling the karaoke jockey, yet again, that I need to go, because I have work the next morning.

It’s Clothing Time

February 15, 2010

As I mention in the “My Alternate Weekend” post, for now I’m required to bring the children to my parents when I have them for the Jewish weekly holiday. When we go to my parents, we usually stay in my youngest brother’s room. Because he’s twelve and because at one point his room was the storage location for unneeded clothing, his room is a mess.
(When we go over, I spend at least 30 minutes cleaning it up, but it really requires a complete overhaul and about 4-6 hours of focused cleaning.)
My son has a tendency to remove his clothing at odd intervals. Since, all the children are frantic and seemingly in perpetual motion, it can be difficult to keep track of where he took off what and, therefore, where it is.
Early on I feared that there could be negative consequences to returning the children in dirty clothes and to losing the clothes they arrived in. To prevent either of those possibilities, I implemented a complete wardrobe change the moment they walked into my parent’s home. They would arrive in the clothes their mother dressed them in. Immediately, upon entering my parent’s home, they would be stripped and re-dressed in clothing I got for them. I would store all the outfits they arrived with in a shopping bag. Anything dirty, I would wash.
When it was time for them to return to their mother, I’d remove their weekend clothing and reacquaint their bodies with the clothing with which they arrived. This, at least, was the theory. In actuality, something always got lost.
It got even more complicated when they started bringing clothes from their mother to wear over the weekly holiday. The amount of clothing to keep track of not only doubled, but the interval of them being “exposed” to loss increased exponentially.
Each weekend that I’d have them I’d worry about losing clothing. When I’d return them, something would always be missing. My soon to be ex-wife would complain about the missing item. I’d call my siblings, ask them to search for the item and put it aside for me. Most of the time, the item was found and returned. Sometimes, the item could not be retrieved.

I would spend so much time worrying about the clothing situation that it affected my ability to enjoy the time with my children.
The last time I had the children, I was successful at returning every article of clothing. However, I hadn’t even gotten home when she called to complain that top to a medicine crusher was missing.

This weekend, she requested that I mind them an extra 2.5 hours, because she wouldn’t be home until later. I agreed. About 3 hours before I was supposed to return them to their mother, I saw that my son’s pants were missing. I asked my siblings to do a quick search through my parent’s home, but it yielded no results.

When I returned the children, she was understandably upset. I tried to explain the situation, but she insisted that when she has him at her place, he’s a total angel. She threatened to write up a list of items that have gone missing and press for me to pay restitution for each of them.

I walked away without responding. I understand her frustration with clothing being lost. I share it. I know if i had them at my apartment, no clothing would go missing. However, even without excuses, shouldn’t I get some credit for taking care of them for longer than initially planned? Oh well, people generally don’t change.

Rental Offer Part Two

February 14, 2010

After mulling over the apartment offer for a while, I called my oldest brother for advice.
He pointed out that it’s been over a year now and the children have never stopped at my place impromptu. They’ve only come over on a scheduled day at the scheduled time. That’s unlikely to change for a few more years. By that time, they’ll either be old enough to take a subway or with all the money I save, they can take a taxi for 20 minutes.
I wasn’t able to articulate my feelings that 24/7 security will feel uncomfortable, so I removed them from my list of Cons.
I called my lawyer to make sure there were no negative legal ramifications to me taking the apartment. They didn’t see any issue with it, and, from a financial standpoint, they encouraged me to take the offer.
I called my dad about the offer and he sounded so positive about it that I began to think I should take the offer. He suggested I call my uncle about my concern that I won’t have privacy. (Since I’d already resigned myself to the fact that if I take the apartment I’ll be required to go to family meals.)
I saw myself as being about 87-92% in favor of taking the apartment

Friday morning, my uncle returns my phone calls.
I mention the apartment. He says, “It won’t be available until August [previously, I was told July], but it might not be available until a year from August.”
Then he mentions the price. $200 more than I was originally told.
In the process of explaining why the price is so cheap, I pick up on an undercurrent of doubt. It seems like he is planning on selling the apartment as soon as my grandmother dies. She’s in her late 70s and I’m not sure it’s a good idea to take an apartment that I won’t get to stay in for long. Especially, when my current place is so convenient.
We continue talking and he enthusiastically mentions that I’ll be near the family. I’ll come to meals, etc. He didn’t seem happy when I honestly said that was a concern of mine.
I then asked about my privacy concern. Perhaps, my lack of enthusiasm at being invited to family meals coupled with this question got him mad, because he responded almost angrily, “Just don’t bring dirty girls over. Don’t have parties all night.” I guess he realized he was being a bit over the top, because he modified it by saying, “I won’t be checking up on you. No one will know, but it’s my parent’s apartment.” (I don’t want you desecrating it!)
I don’t know what dirty girls are, but I know if he ever finds out I brought Dominos pizza into his parent’s apartment, he’ll cry for a week. I don’t need that pressure or situation.
My official answer is, “Thanks, but, no thanks!”

My Alternate Weekend

February 14, 2010

I have the children this weekend. Because the children are being raised Jewish Orthodox, I’m required to show them a consistent religious weekend.
Jewish Orthodoxy prohibits the operation of computers over religious holidays, so I’m forced to stay off computers when I’m in front of the children.
Because of paranoia that I’ll violate the children’s innocence of Shabbos observance, I’m required to bring them to my parent’s home for the weekly holiday.

In our divorce agreement, I’m being required to sign that I will give the children an authentic Shabbos experience (with kosher food). Once the documents are signed and the divorce is finalized, I’ll be able to have them at my place. That will be good, because I purposely rented an apartment with two bedrooms so the children can sleep over by me.

I find the whole situation offensive in the extreme, but fighting it will just cost more money and lead to more fights with my soon to be ex-wife. After a so much time swallowing blow after blow, what’s one more?