Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Still waiting . . .

My divorce may or may not be final on 6/3, but that is the date I am holding to. What is the sticking point? We will not have a court hearing. Because of mediation, we will simply have to file the paperwork with the court. So what is the holdout? Even though the agreement was reached, jointly, through mediation, my soon-to-be-ex insists that she must get the okay from her attorney. Sigh. I suppose this is okay, but my soon-to-be-ex was the one in such a hurry to get me out of the house.

As expected, I have mixed feelings. It will be nice to get out from underneath some big bills. It will be nice to have a lot more freedom, I can't argue with that.

So what is the problem? It is very hard to break the old bonds. I had the role of caretaker with my OCPD soon to be ex for a long time, and I suppose I got some fulfillment from that. It is hard to stop that role, even when it is initiated by my wife.

The next time I post it should be from my new apartment. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Divorce nearly final- mea culpa

Dear readers,

My divorce is nearly final. We have finished mediation and have an agreed-to settlement that my attorney is writing up for a tentative filing date of 6/3 of this year.

This has been a heart-wrenching process for me. I have found that whenever I got stuck it was because I had some unresolved issues that I needed to deal with and resolve before moving on. The human brain is a remarkable and surprising thing, and in every case I found that while I initially had no clue what my sticking point was, in every case, after sometimes great anguish, I finally had a breakthrough 'aha' moment where the problem was remarkably obvious, and yet I had been totally blind to it.

My personal sticking points were when I had to fully realize and acknowledge the bad things that I have done to bring our marriage to this point. My conscience would not let me move on until I recognized what I had done, acknowledged it, and then apoligized and made amends.

This freed up my spouse so that she could do the same.

I had to come clean to make a clean break.

It is possible that had I come to this realization years ago, we would have never come to this place. I dunno. I know I tried to resolve things then, and could not do it, which is when I turned to drugs to numb my emotions. In hindsight I think that my only other option at that time was to get a divorce then. We had young children. What was the better choice, to divorce then, or to use a bad, temporary method such as drugs to let me 'get by' but also to kick the problem down the road, where it still had to be addressed, and where drugs simply complicated things further.

I have no answer to this question. It does not really matter now. I did what I did and I admit that, I take responsibility for that, and I admit that my choice was hurtful to my wife and to her family. I have apologized to them, sincerely, and now I am moving on.

I'll be getting an apartment, because that is the best solution for this time. It is temporary, and it does not tie me down. As you may know I am now building a new relationship with a wonderful woman, and I need the freedom to follow that where it goes.

Sorry that I have not made frequent posts here. I was doing important work elsewhere - getting my head straight and getting my affairs settled so that I can move on.

Until next time,


Thursday, April 8, 2010

At the precipice

Well, dear readers, it has been awhile, and a few things have progressed. I find myself at the precipice, waiting to find out what my soon-to-be-ex (STBE) wants to take from me in order to get satisfaction.

My wife will not speak directly to me about this, so we will meet with a moderator and my wife will again bring along her brother. Yup. Two against one. Unusual, so the moderator says, but okay as long as everyone agrees to it.

This is our third session. The first two sessions were fairly benign, mostly fact gathering, but even so my STBE had to leave the room because it was too tense for her. She could not stand to hear me say that I felt ownership of the house because I had put work into it. In all fairness it is she who has put the majority of the work into the house, and I have put the majority of the money into it, but even so - she has contributed some money and I have contributed some work.

I have no idea how she will take it when I say that I wish to retain the house. In essence I wish to buy her out - using some of my pension and most of my 401K to do it.

Why am I wanting this? It comes down to my youngest daughter, who is 13. I need to retain the house so that she may have stability and so that I will have 50% physical custody. I want custody to be 50/50. I have a very good relationship with my daughter, and my daughter wishes to have custody as 50/50, so I think that is that.

If my STBE fights me on this I have a two step response. The first is to list the things I have just stated. In addition, I am the one with good friends in the neighborhood, and I do not have a feud with a neighbor, and I do not have a job at the moment so I would likely not get a mortgage at this time, and my STBE dislikes much of the work that a large house entails, and my STBE is the one who wishes to leave the marriage.

If that does not work then I go on to step two, the big stuff. My STBE and brother have said that they will NOT use their money to bully me, and I will hold them to that. In addition, I know that my STBE forged my signature last year, and I highly suspect there has been some shady tax stuff going on in their family, and I would go public with that information if I needed to. My in-laws have the core value of 'protecting the money' and the deeper core value of 'protecting the family name' so any hint of accusations would be painful to them. I have already given interviews to the press about my layoff from IBM, and the press, here and in my in-law's small town, are looking for a followup. I would like to tell the press that in these troubling times my in-laws have stuck with me and supported me through this rough patch. I would like to say that. But if I must tell the truth I will state that when the chips were down my in-laws abandoned me when I needed them most. My wife kept hidden funds from me, and is withholding them from the marital assets. My in-law's family business, that wants to have such a wonderful reputation, is run by people who put money before family.

I do not wish to air dirty laundry, but if they back me into a corner I will use everything I have to get a fair deal. If you fuck with the bull you get the horns.

I sincerely hope that I do not have to do this. My father-in-law was the sweetest guy you could ever meet, and his only flaw was that he got beholden to a shrew of a wife who threatened to remove her family money and ruin him if he divorced her. Because of that family money my Father-in-law was able to buy a second bank, but he paid a dear price for that bank, a very dear price. He spent his whole life trying to make his wife happy, and this woman could never be happy. I am convinced she suffers from the same malady that my wife has, OCPD. Check it out, it is listed in the DSM IV manual.

My mother-in-law's inherited wealth caused her to reject her brother so hurtfully that they never reconciled for the rest of his life. It also allowed my mother-in-law to rule a household and become a grotesque caricature of a human woman. Physically she is so enormous from the waist down she is unable to walk without a walker. Her upper torso is fairly normal, but her hair is dyed clown orange in some hopeless attempt to recreate the natural color it may have had when she was young.

Physical attributes aside, her brain is out of whack. She has never worked a day in her life, and she would be unable to do much if she had to. She cannot understand how to use a microwave oven and she refuses to cook. She had a lovely singing voice but that was it. She was normally frustrated and angry most of the time, and the small town doctor gave her tranquilizers which did not settle her down, but which allowed her to go on frantic tirades, hitting her husband and children, yelling horrible things at them, and having no recollection later of any of that happening. Barbiturates will do that to a person.

My wife tells terrible tales of hiding from her mother with a friend in a closet, or getting dropped off at a gymnastics meet and being told by her mother "I hope you fail!" Her mother frequently demanded that her husband, the President of two banks, come home and explain things to her.

Yup. This was no peaceful household, and now that my Father-in-law has passed away it seems the tyrant is running the show. And my wife has morphed into her Mother. Shudder.

So that is the pickle old Tripp has gotten himself into. I have my brains, a little money, some information, and that is about it. I am facing a red-headed OCPD millionaire Irish woman along with her short, stout, wimpy brother, backed by their elderly, tyrannical, multimillionaire mother.

Wish me luck, dear readers, wish me luck.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Joseph Stack and the limits of Heinleinism

Yesterday morning Joseph A. Stack flew his small plane into an IRS building near Austin, Texas, killing himself and at least one other person, wounding many people, and causing massive property damage.

This caught my attention because of the obvious similarities to 9/11, but soon after some other similarities came to my attention and totally hooked me.

The guy was my age, 53, and he was a software engineer, like me. He had written a manifesto, like Ted Kazinski did, and although the FBI took it off the internet as soon as they found it, the archive copy was already made, and you can find it at the Smoking Gun.

You really should read it, although I figure few people will bother. Still, I plan to copy it into another blog post here, to retain a copy.

The obvious question yesterday, once they figured out who "did it," was "why'd he do it?"

The soundbite answers started to dribble in, and they pissed me off, because they were obviously supplied by law enforcement and they were designed to slant the coverage from the start. I wanted an in-depth answer, and I know that that takes time to discover, but I did not like it that they were shutting off primary sources such as the manifesto. I did not see that as necessary.

I know that I am probably starting to sound like a trouble-maker, perhaps someone who is himself going off the deep end, like Joseph Stack, and I understand that concern. Please bear with me and you will see how I have some similarities to Joseph, but I also have some key differences too.

Also, before I begin, I should say that recently I have been re-reading some of Heinlien, and I am amazed to discover just how much his writings influenced me during my formative years. I think some of this is pertinent in the Joseph Stack case as well.

One key protagonist Heinlein came back to again and again was the everyman who was completely competent, in control, and more or less a rugged individualist with a moral code based on chivalry. This is an extremely attractive character for young men to emulate, especially intelligent men with a scientific or engineering bent, and I think it accounts for much of the popularity of modern libertarianism amongst those men today.

I think Joseph Stack, like me, drank that koolaid long and deep. I can empathize with that part of him. Part of that appeal of that persona is the assumption that we live in a meritocracy, and people like that will be rewarded for their work ethic, ingenuity, and good character. I also used to believe this, down to the core of my being.

Unlike me, who after college entered the safe and warm and sticky and boring embrace of a large multinational corporation, Joseph Stack struck out on his own, forming a one-man corporation in computer consulting. I am sure this suited his character very well, and I am sure he was good at it, but I am equally sure that he found out very quickly that the business world is not a fair jousting competition, that people are out to screw you, that the large corporations are out to exploit you and take everything you have and give as little as possible in return, and that nobody really give a scatological reference about you and about what happens to you.

This is tough stuff, but Joseph Stack faced it head on, and he redoubled his efforts. I think this is a BIG difference between myself and Joseph Stack, and I think this shows a BIG potential problem in being a 'Heinlein hero.' While perseverance is a good trait in general, like every trait, it has a down side. At some point, if one is attempting an impossible task, one needs to acknowledge that, learn from it, let it go, and walk away.

Joseph Stack did not do that. He refused to give up on his dream. Along the way, it seems he did have many nice things - he played bass in a band or bands with some great pals, and he learned to pilot his own small plane.

At the same time, he had tax problems, some of which were created by the multinational corporations to keep guys like him down. This hurt him, badly. Over the years he struggled with that, and it seems that this Spring the tax problems once again sprang up for him in a big way, and enough was enough.

In addition to his personal problems Joseph Stack started looking around and he found out that much of what he had been told when he was growing up was a lie. Specifically, we are NOT living in a meritocracy, we do NOT have a representative government in any meaningful sense of the word, and we ARE not, as a society, rising up, we are falling down. I think Joseph Stack was finally confronting the fact that in a sense he had been living in a fantasy world, and his 'ideal man,' the 'Heinlein hero' does NOT get rewarded in the real world. Our power structure is designed to keep those with power on top, and power corrupts, so we are destined to face corrupt people with power over us, and we are powerless to change that.

There are plenty of examples of that with us today, and I believe the FBI counted that Joseph lashed out at either 27 or 37 examples. The FBI is using that fact to claim that Joseph was a loony who hated everything, but that is not the case. The truth is that we have numerous examples, today, of the injustice and unfairness that is perpetrated by our society, where those on top reap the rewards and can do no wrong, and the rest of us pay the price and can do no right.

Since I agree and have empathy with so much of what Joseph Stack did, how, then, am I different from him, and why do I know that I will not 'snap.'

For one thing, I do not think I am a 'wound collector,' which is how the profiler characterized Joseph. I have had my share of wounds, sure, but to a good degree I think I have learned from them, and I am moving on. I think I am able to do this because, unlike Joseph, I faced my disillusionment with individualism and our modern society awhile ago, and I gave up fighting the impossible fight. I still try to be a 'Heinlein hero,' but now I do it because for me it is 'right,' and not because I expect any external rewards. Also, I am stepping off the money treadmill, and I am seeking my personal fulfillment in living a good life conforming to my moral code, and in some of the simpler and more fulfilling pleasures that life has to offer - the enjoyment of beauty, in nature and in people, the enjoyment of fellowship with like-minded people, and the deep fulfillment that comes from helping others. I think Heinlein would totally agree with my choices. The world I face is different from the world he faced.

But I suspect that there will be more cases like Joseph Stack coming up, and I suspect there is nothing we can do to stop them. At this point nobody other than, perhaps, the ultra-rich, can change our future, and I see no hope for action from the ultra-rich. If those in power do not change things then, eventually, they will be changed by external forces. Perhaps enough people will opt out of the existing system. Perhaps as the power moves elsewhere so will the problems. Perhaps we face revolution. Who knows?

Who knows?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Changes changes changes

Wow, when things change, they CHANGE!

I have started a new job - yay!! Yes, it is actually very nice. It has also pushed me way out of my comfort zone, and lemme tell you, when you are used to knowing something like the back of your hand it is a shock to go back into newbie mode. The people explaining things FLY through them, and it is all I can do to keep up and hold on. It is tough to say "What is that?" and "just a sec," because it is scary to think "I don't know *anything* and I am worthless!"

Yeah, the old ego thing, and I need to swallow that and suck it up and be patient and learn and know this phase does not last forever, but I gotta tell ya, you know that movie about the guy who went through life being an imposter and a fraud, pretending to be a pilot and a Doctor and who knows what else? When I am like this, learning a new job, I feel like an imposter. I know, I know, the difference is that I am honest and I am not trying to fool anyone, my employers know that I need to learn things, but how many things? If you are not fresh out of college it is understood that you should know something, right?

I suppose this will help me learn humility and empathy for other people learning things. Yeah, but I don't like the feeling, which I suppose gives me the energy to learn and try to become competent once again. And the truth is that in the computer biz there was no 'standing still' for very long anyway. Just about when I'd get comfortable with something I'd have to move on, which I guess also suits me, because I do get bored with things once I know them.

So, yeah, this post is a whine whine whine! Poor me, boo hoo. (grin)

The traffic around Minneapolis I am not happy with, and I hear it is not nearly as bad here as it is in other locations. Anyway you cut it the traffic is a pain, but what can one do?

On the personal front, my soon to be ex, who served me with divorce papers on 12/23 last year, has now backed into her normal, passive, wait and see mode. Geeze. We are supposed to be working out the details, but she is waiting for someone to tell her what to do. Sigh. So I can see that progress on this will be up to me.

Now that I have become the 'perfect' spouse for her, she is backing off, and almost being nice at times. By 'perfect' I mean rarely around but sending the money. I am out of the house for almost a week this time, staying in an in-expensive hotel closer to my work. So, you may ask, why don't I see about reconciling with my soon to be ex?

Two reasons. The biggest one is this - I have found someone who I love and who seems to like me the way I am, warts and all, and when you've faced constant dissatisfaction for years and years this feels wonderful - very wonderful.

The second reason is because this past year I saw, completely, that my soon to be ex could not STAND me in person, and let's face it, at some point I want to stop being an absentee spouse and actually spend time with my wife. I WANT a close, loving relationship with my spouse, and that is not possible with my soon to be ex.

So I am doing the leg work, gathering all our financial info, and will create two or three proposals. I know my wife will be critical of them, and will NOT be able to choose one. She simply cannot make a decision. This is one big reason why she never has time to do what she wants - she takes hours while shopping waffling and second guessing.

But what can I do? I will make the proposals, and I will keep the pressure on, and I will keep this ball rolling forward, because my life has been in limbo for SO long and I am tired of it, especially now that I SEE where I want to be.

I want to be with my new love. Am I in a honeymoon period? Maybe, to some degree, but we are taking things slow, and there is no sense skipping the honeymoon period. Instead, we both are enjoying it, and doing the hard work of disentangling ourselves from our spouses.

And what about the morality of this? Our religion says it is okay. We both have tried, really tried, to re-connect with our spouses after the child-rearing phase completed. What else can we do? We both want to get out and discover the world, and both our spouses want to retreat and cocoon.

I have actually wondered if our spouses would be right for each other. They have a great deal in common. They both are sickly, they both LOVE endless shows full of graphic rape and violence and sending the perps to jail, and they both view the world with tired, crabby eyes. They both seem to be done with physical affection.

Is this enough to build a relationship on? Who knows? It would not be the kind of relationship I want, that is for sure.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 - the year that was.

Time for my annual New Year's post. Well, my very first annual New Year's post, but every tradition starts some time, right?

The year 2009 began, for me, with great personal turmoil and pessimism. I had concluded a year with not enough real work to be done, and thus too much free time to study the world of politics, economics, and energy. I think most people agree that 2008 was grim - the Wall Street meltdown, the energy crisis abated only by economic malaise, and the conclusion of eight years of awful Bush presidency.

In addition, my personal job, at IBM, was tenuous at best, because IBM was shedding US workers as fast as it could. And then, on top of all that, my Father-in-law, the patriarch of my wife's family, the one nice guy that held her contentious family together, had succumbed to Lewy Body Dementia, and he was dying.

In early January 2009 my father-in-law died. In late January 2009 I was informed of my layoff from IBM. My old life was decomposing before my eyes.

Financially I was okay, really, but personally I had zero resources. My parents were sickly and crabby, and in addition to my alcoholic brother, who they had taken in years before, and who was still drinking, they were forced to take in my sister, who suffers badly from depression. Thus my parents were already caring for two of their three adult children.

My children, at least the eldest three, were engrossed in their own struggles with high school and college. My wife turned against me. Completely against me. I am not sure how that came about, but I suspect it had something to do with her insecurities and losing her Father, and then having me let her down by losing my job, so despite years of my wife appreciating my independent nature, she now saw it as ingratitude towards her deceased Father, claiming that I had NEVER appreciated anything her family had given me. I tried to explain that I greatly appreciated what her Father had given me, but I was uncomfortable with large gifts because I did not want to be dependent on him. I tried to explain that I identified with him, because he was a giver and so was I and yet while he was alive he pretty much suffered stoically and not until his death did he get the appreciation that he deserved. I tried to explain that I saw the same fate for myself, and unlike her father, I did not want that for myself. I attempted to stand up for myself and ask for some recognition, and this was seen as jealousy and this was seen as a terrible thing, a betrayal of sorts, a criticism of my wife's family.

My wife abandoned me and returned to the security of her family's fortune. My independence was now seen as ingratitude, my intelligence was now seen as arrogance, and my 30+ years of steady, prosperous work was now seen as a failure because it did not extend for another fifteen years like it was supposed to.

At that time the only person who treated me with the smallest amount of giving, and not taking, was my twelve year old daughter, who seemed to like having her Dad around.

I would visit my parents and they would chastise me because they did not like me when I was unhappy. They missed the happy Tripp. My wife soon hated seeing me idle at any time, and she wanted me out of the house, away from her, but earning money to give to her. My eldest children did not want to get involved.

All this, I suppose, comes partly from my own doing. I had built a relationship structure around the idea that I was a rock, a giver, someone everyone could depend on, and so nobody in my personal group was ready to support me when I needed it most. I had tried to emulate my wife's father, but without the security of inherited wealth and the banks that went with it I was not the master of my own fate. My employer cast me out. I was also not of the Catholic faith, so I was not willing to suffer in silence as my father-in-law had done, doing everything that is humanly possible to attempt to somehow satisfy his never-happy wife, his wife who had inherited *her* wealth and who had never worked a day in her life and who was still not happy.

My wife wanted me to take a pill, or talk to a counselor, but to ask nothing of her, and to instead straighten myself out so I could give more to her, to continue, as her father did with his wife, to try to satisfy her and to try to make her happy.

I did see a counselor, a marriage counselor, and he advised me to open communications with my wife, to ask my wife for what I needed, to try to create a mutually helpful relationship between us, but when my wife came to counseling we never got around to that subject. We spent the entire time listening to all the ways that I had failed my wife, and all the problems that she had had with me, and how awful it was for my wife to see me idle, loafing around, while she had to work her sixteen-hour-a-week job.

I continued on with counseling, alone, for as long as it took for me to see that my wife would never change. Whether it was due to genetics or learned behavior, my wife expected me to treat her the very same way her father had treated her mother, even though I had none of the resources her father had, and even though she had none of the resources her mother had.

Once I clearly saw that I began dismantling as much of my life as I could, and I stopped trying to make my wife happy. I started thinking about what I wanted, and I started planning for how I could get it. My wife served me with divorce papers on 12/23, but I had seen that coming. I think my wife was trying to force me back to work, to force me to continue supplying her with money. The funny thing is that I actually DO want to get back to work, and finally, after a very bad year of hundreds of job applications, I have gotten a firm job contract on the same day my wife said "Ha! I beat you to it!!" and told me to expect divorce papers.

Now I am trying to build my life over, and this time I am looking for people that might give as well as take. Someday my kids will come around. They need to grow up more first, and when they become more secure they will be grateful for what they have gotten.

I have gotten very sensitive to what I call 'toxic' people now. I can smell them a mile away, and I run like the wind when I get a whiff. I am talking about sour, bitter, critical and judgmental people. People like my soon to be ex-wife.

Life is hard enough without having to listen to judgmentalism and judgments and criticism. Carping about someone else is one of the easiest things to do, and it is toxic, especially when the someone else is already feeling down. At times like that a kind word, a caring heart, a bit of encouragement and recognition matter a great deal.

My goal, in 2010, is to seek out more of the giving people, more of the gentle people, more of the caring people, and to join them, and contribute what I can, because heaven knows my soul is weary and in need of great restoration.

Peace to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Questions that need to be answered

If one knows that one's family has been shattered - say by the serving of divorce papers from one spouse to the other, which is the better thing to do? Sleepwalk through the old holiday rituals, pretending that things are just as they always were, or refrain, knowing that things will never be that way again?

One other question - why are the presents that I paid for, and no one else paid for, still welcome at the Christmas celebration when I am not welcome there. Does money really mean that much?

And if I paid for the present, and I am not allowed to attend the party, then why does the tag still say it is from "Both of us?"

Am I petty for noticing that while my money apparently means nothing, your money and time are precious and should be appreciated and praised by all?