Nearly Divorced

The decree is signed and before a judge. He has promised to sign it next week.

Thus ends over a year of absolute hell. I have become a new person, through this journey, and am much happier now than I have been in the last 18 years. Funny how perspective changes when you’re finally alone and see your past life from the outside.

I will be writing again, as everything calms down and my routine comes into view. I won’t be saying much about the specifics of the woman I divorced, though, because I want her to succeed in life, as the mother of my six children, and my lover for 18 years. I loved that woman with everything I knew about love, which I now consider to be a faulty understanding.

I won’t even pretend to know what love is, but I now know what it isn’t.

Love you all. Thanks for reading and having the patience of a sloth who just found a pool of perpetually warm mud.

I. C.

All My Parenting, I Learned From God’s Character

The other day, we had no food or water in the house. My kids came to me and begged me to go get some. I became so angry that they had the audacity to question my love and authority that I instead went to the pet store and bought them out of snakes. I brought the snakes home and set them upon the kids. As they began to get bit and started to die, they wept and screamed and apologized.

So I ran to the hardware store and bought a bunch of brass door handles, a firing kiln, a blacksmith table, and a set of large hammering hammers for hammering things to hammer. I brought them home and gave them to the kids who were left alive.

“Make yourself a statue of a snake so when you’re bit by one, look at it and you’ll live.”

They were so grateful. The ones that were still alive and could swing a hammering hammer for hammering things to hammer, anyway. It was and always is obvious how much I love them.

Numbers, Chapter 21

Give A Man a Fish….

You know the saying:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I hate fishing. Hate it with a passion.

When I was a kid, my dad took me and my older twin brothers to Alexandria, Minnesota. My great aunt Jo lived on Lake Latoka there. She owned a large pontoon boat and had a lot of old dude friends who liked to fish. She made fruit punch slushies, filled up ice cream pails with it, and sent me, my brothers, the old dudes, and my dad off to the lake.

We caught 109 fish that afternoon. I remember running from one full hook to the next, taking off fish and throwing them in the water basket. It was an exhilarating time.

The next year, my dad took the three of us to a lake in St. James, Minnesota. That is the exact opposite direction of the northern city of Alexandria, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Down there, the lakes are shallow, green, smell like toilets from hell, and give you the runs just for walking past. We had no boat and stood on the dock. There was no wind and it was 98 degrees, with high humidity.

We caught a frog and a bicycle.

On the way home, I asked my dad a very important question that would change the course of my life:

Was our success last year in Alexandria what most fishing trips are like, or is it closer to the misery of St. James?

Dad, not knowing that he was about to give a young gentleman an enormous distaste for an absolutely pointless and boring activity, answered as honestly as every fisherperson should answer:

St. James is the norm.

That was it for me. I never fished again – on purpose.

 

It’s been almost six months

Short version: I’m getting a divorce.

Now, for all the lurkers who read my blog to get the skinny on my life, have at it. Now you know. For everyone else, I won’t be providing much detail about the proceedings of the divorce for several reasons.

First and foremost, this blog is public. Second and most importantly, I absolutely and unequivocally love and adore the woman I am divorcing. The divorce is a mutual decision. We will both be much happier apart than together. My greatest concerns are also two-fold – that my kids are strong, safe,  and happy, and that the woman that has defined my life for the last 17 years flourishes and becomes better and more successful than I could ever dream of becoming.

Now…onward to more writings…

 

Dentist and Gizzards: A Few Kid Stories

Today is the big day. We do this every six months. Well, it’s not the big day, being only four of six kids are going to the dentist. Usually, we schedule all six squirts and they bring in all the hygienists, turning the place into a zoo.

I expect a few cavities. Here we are in the car, on the way:

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*Telephone rings* *My bride, Kristine, answers*

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is [redacted] from the Elementary School. I just wanted to let you know that your daughter, Analisse (The Freak), was playing with a friend on the playground at lunch. She took her shoes off, filled them full of pea gravel, then proceeded to pretend that the rocks were lunch. I think she ate some.”

So yeah, that happened.

In her defense, she swears she didn’t eat any. But I’ll be watching her poop.

How People React When a 6-Year Old Girl Takes Her Shirt Off

downloadAs all my readers know, I have a daughter who we call, The Freak. She’s six years old. She embodies everything good about that label, as well as everything bad, being re-translated into good by me, because I love her so damn much.

Yesterday, I took the family to a semi-local apple orchard. It was a balmy 70 degrees, which meant my shirt was too hot. I took it off and enjoyed the corn maze, pumpkin hunting, apple picking (and sorting the rotten ones on the ground), and petting goats and alpacas.

And so did Analisse (The Freak). The moment my shirt came off and was tucked into my back pocket, I felt little fingers shoving something into my other back pocket. I looked behind me to find her, half-naked, pretending to not notice that I caught her. I didn’t care. As a dad, I’m a pack mule, wherever I go. I’m okay with it. Also, I encourage my young daughters to take their shirts off, if they want to. It’s not illegal. If the activity was illegal, as it is when they are older, I leave that up to their mother to determine how much is too little cloth.

About an hour into our visit, I was kneeling down by a goat, feeding it grass, when the old man who owns the orchard rode up on his four-wheeler. He hops off and catches my eye, obviously nervous. In short order, he strode over to me, bent down, and nearly whispered into my ear:

Now, I don’t know if anyone really has a problem with this, but, your daughter, with her shirt off, may cause some people to have a problem, so…

That’s it. I thanked him and he straightened, looking very relieved, got back onto his four-wheeler, and rode away.

Now, I could have argued and told him to fuck off. But I cared more about making the day enjoyable for my kids, getting plenty of apples, and doing the pumpkin thing. It wasn’t a life or death situation. In fact, I figured that really, only the old man had a problem with it, and he would be dead in a few years anyway. Jumbled thoughts ran through my head as I went and told my bride what the old man had said.

We agreed that she should probably put the shirt back on. I spoke to Analisse about it, telling her that some people here wanted it on and so I was putting mine back on too. She agreed after a tiny bit of protest, but quickly brightened up when I pulled my shirt over my head.

Without skipping a beat, she was back playing in the sand.

I don’t know what my point is in writing this, but I was sad. Sad that my daughter couldn’t just enjoy who she was, legally. Sad that some people are so bothered by the skin of a little child, they have to dictate my parenting choices. Sad that it is 2016 and we still shame little children for their natural bodies. Sad that it’s 2016 and we still shame older girls for their bodies. Confused that I was bent over a fence, mostly naked from the waste up, possibly even showing a plumbers crack, and the old man rendered me perfectly normal, and yet didn’t see my daughter that way.

I’ll be back there next year. And next year, I won’t stop her from taking her shirt off again. And when he tells me to have her put it back on, we’ll do the dance again. Or maybe I’ll confront him nicely. Or maybe one day he’ll change.

Grocery Store Trip with my Analisse

The last time we went on a grocery shopping trip alone, Analisse (6) and I were in Colorado in the middle of nowhere. She wore her sister’s tiara and begged me to wear another one. It was made of plastic and was too small for my head, so I was afraid I was going to break it. Laura (13), the owner, would have wept. I wore a hat instead.

Tonight, we went shopping again and she wore this:

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You can’t see it, but one of her socks is an ankle sock and the other, a mid-calf sock.

We went to Costco and ate dinner. There was a small mishap:

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A full cup of Pepsi, all over the floor. She dropped it and then loudly and publicly blamed me.

Second Guessing My Life Choices: Kids’ Room Edition

hazardous-wasteI took the last two days off from work, just to get on top of the house. Since the end of August, when we went to the Colorado mountains, the house has gotten away from us. School began. Kristine had her tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy/deviated septum/sinus polyp removal/uvula removal/etc. surgery, where she was out for two weeks. But mostly, my kids are allergic (epi pen-esque) to cleaning, with very few exceptions, mostly due to the phases of the moon on a weekend where the temperature difference between the inside of the house and the outside is directly proportional to the number of coherent sentences published in the current edition of The Hill vs. the number of omitted co-authors of the latest academic paper from the chemistry department of USC, due to their lack of Photoshop experience, botching the smoothing of the edges of their microscope images.

In other words, only my eldest really cleans on a consistent basis, and even she is beginning to see the fairness ratio in this equation. I’m sure, if the rest of the kids read this, they would be furious, pointing out all of their hard work. But they lack an understanding of the Sisyphus nature of cleaning. They think, “Once I’ve done enough, I am done for life.” It doesn’t work that way.

Which finds me walking down the hallway to the laundry room, this morning. I pass by the boys bedroom and smell a sour and rotten stench coming from it. We had worked into the night, last night, uncovering the floor and had been very successful in that endeavor. There was probably a day’s worth of work left to do and I wrote the smell off as having uncovered an old sock that had been soaked in waffle grease and laid lovingly on top of a banana peel.

I walked past again. And again. Then once more. I couldn’t take it anymore. I rushed downstairs, grabbed a pile of cleaners, a garbage bag, and a roll of paper towels, and ran back up to the room. Entering, I was met with a cloud of fruit flies. It was dark in there. I had to adjust my eyes to the lighting and use my nose as the chief sense to find the rotten cup of pudding on top of their dresser.

Only, it wasn’t just a pudding cup. It seemed to have boiled over, liquefying all over the flat top, gluing down coins, legos, Nerf bullets, baseball, Pokemon, and Valentine’s Day cards, and had permanently affixed a lava lamp to the surface. I lifted up the pudding cup. Sticky strings came with it. There was a mound of something else that looked like a pile of tiny maggots. I picked that up with my fingers. It came off in one piece, didn’t crumble, and is now in the garbage outside, along with everything else. Sure, they lost a few toys but, whatever.

It’s all clean now, but I’m wondering how on earth humans can exist in such filth. I’ve figured out a final solution to this problem – I’m banning pudding and only allowing Jello.

The Biggest Scandal of the Year

stream_imgShe mocks my iPhone.

In June, 2015, I wept as I gave up my Windows Phone, replete with the beautiful and intelligent voice of Cortana, and moved over to the iPhone 6. I wept because I hate being like everyone else and had held out hope, for two years, that the technology would improve, people would catch wind of the perfection that was the Windows Phone, and move to the platform in droves.

In the span of two years, the technology continually broke down where I had to get my phone replaced exactly eight times. My cell carrier, Verizon, had trained their people to deal with tech problem on the iPhone and Samsung’s line of devices, but had failed to give their technicians even a brochure that the Windows Phone existed. Not to mention, the Windows Store app library was so unpopular, the only Google apps available were third party. And those broke every time Google changed their API. And I needed Google.

So I went to the iPhone. My wife was on a Samsung S5, or whatever the hell they called them then. I had watched as she struggled to remove simple storage, in order to free up space to just send texts. I watched as the battery life and charging abilities made you feel like you were using heavy duty batteries from the dollar store. I watched as saving and watching videos took half-a-dozen finger touches to get where you wanted to be. And I went with the iPhone.

She has laughed at me every day since. Whenever Samsung announced a new feature, she would laugh. Every time she put her phone on the wireless charger (which is still wired to the wall), she would laugh. Whenever she heard that Apple was removing a time-tested, standard feature, she would laugh. Every time she saw me purchase an official Apple accessory or a charger, for exorbitant prices, she would laugh.

And I took it. Humbly, with silent gloating eyes of intrepid pride. I knew I was hooked. Hooked with the ease of this device I held in my hands. A device that would sometimes get warm, but would never explode or melt my nether regions. A device that never required me to delete OS backup files, in order to get 1K extra space to send a text. A device that the FAA gladly let me take onto a plane. A device THAT. JUST. WORKED. I’m not a gadget guy and don’t spend three seconds in an entire year, messing with the configuration of my iPhone. It looks nearly the same as it did when I took it out of the box last year (except for that large crack on the bottom of the screen).

So when the Samsung Note 7 began to melt, causing the company to halt production, kill the entire thing, and lose $20 billion off their market cap, I expected an apology. A tearful one. One done on her knees, wringing her hands in the style of the old black and white motion pictures. I imagined the softness of her lovely face, even softer around the edges, lit with the rays of a sunbeam straight from the heavens, as she wept in non-contrivance, begging me to forgive her, acknowledging that I had been right all along.

And nothing. Nothing but silence.

It’s bloody difficult to be so humble.

The Art of the Deal: A Broccoli Cheese Soup Tale

broccoli-cheese-soup_5992At the end of August, my bride and I surprised the kids, waking them up at 4:00AM, having packed the previous day, and told them to get dressed and get ready for a week in Colorado. We were taking them on a plane for the first time in most of their lives. The older three had vacationed to Maine many years ago, flying on the old Midwest Airlines (I miss them so much), but nobody actually remembered the experience.

They were so excited.

During that week, we stayed on a ranch in south central Colorado, about 12-miles from a horse ranch where you could ride horses – and eat. The place was owned by a lovely couple and their mother cooked the food for the guests. One morning, when my wife and girls got back from riding, we sat down and ordered food.

Laura (13) ordered a large bowl of broccoli cheese soup, The Freak (6) ordered some nondescript sandwich  with a pile of large fries, and Fred (11…also, he has decided he does not like to be called Frederic anymore) ordered another forgettable sandwich with massive onion rings on the side.

Fred and Laura despise each other. Their personal hatred for one another is greater than the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“Fred, can I have some of your onion rings? I can trade some soup,” Laura asked.

“No.”

That was it. No explanation. Just a quick and dirty rejection with no fanfare.

“Laura, can I have some of your soup? I’ll give you some fries,” Analisse (The Freak) piped up.

“I don’t want fries. I want onion rings! Daddy! Fred won’t trade me his onion rings!”

I shrugged, ignoring the tattling. It had been like this the entire vacation and I was simply tired of it. Ignoring it didn’t make it go away, caused me even more stress, but gave the semblance that I was actually indifferent to the pointless non-issues at hand.

Laura slumped in a huff and made noises of disgust.

“Fred, can I have an onion ring for three of my fries,” Analisse asked.

“Sure!”

Over the cries of unfairness by Laura, The Freak crossed to Fred’s table, summarily dropping four fries (one more for a reason you’ll soon see) on his plate, grabbed the largest onion ring (which Fred couldn’t argue about now, being she gave him extra fries), walked over to Laura’s table, dropped the onion ring on her plate, grabbed the spoon without so much as a polite request, and slurped down an ample helping of soup.

Fred was pissed. Here, his archenemy got an onion ring, when he had worked his rear  end off keeping it from Laura. He made it quite clear that he didn’t want Laura to have it even then.

“It’s not your onion ring, Fred. It was mine,” Analisse giggled.

Fred had no case and was left mumbling under his breath. He had been bested. Everyone had been bested.

And The Freak’s stomach was full of warm soup.