Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The End

Today would have been my ninth wedding anniversary.

Actually, since the judge hasn’t signed off on the divorce yet, I guess it’s still my ninth wedding anniversary but that’s all just a formality.  The MMC has given me her final sign off on the divorce papers so there wasn’t any last minute reprieves or second thoughts on the whole thing.  It’s done and with that, I think this blog is done as well. 

I started this blog at a time when I was really lost in everything that was going on.  I was still wondering why the divorce was happening and my emotional outlook was very bleak at the time.  I had questions on what happened with my marriage, what will happen to my daughters, how was I going to get by and why were mattresses so expensive?  Writing this was my therapy.  It allowed me to put down on “paper” what was going through my mind at the time and straighten out the thoughts that were buzzing through my head at a mile a minute, going in a hundred different directions.  In some ways, this blog helped to keep me sane. 

But it wasn't only this blog.  I’m not sure if I have ever taken the time to thank the people who helped me through this by simply sitting there and letting me vent on what I was going through.  I owe those people a world of gratitude whether they helped me on the phone, via email or in person.  Writing this stuff out is one thing, but having a person to talk to about it is another.  I guess I would also like to apologize to those same people if I took too much of their time.  This divorce became my favorite topic of conversation and there were probably times where I went off on it and never asked them how they were doing.  I’m sorry if I did that (and I know I did).  When you’re hurt, you tend to be self-centered a bit and while maybe it’s understandable, it’s not right.  Of the many things this experience has taught me, one is that you need to constantly think about others and try to put them before yourself as best as you can.  Whether this means making sure your spouse and children are ahead of your job or letting someone talk about their troubles instead of just having them listen to yours, the world runs much better when we deal with it as a team instead of just looking out for yourself.

I’ll admit, though, I did this blog solely for me.  I had no intention of trying to help other people with it and was surprised at the number of people who reached out to me to tell me they were going through the same thing or how I “read their mind” on whatever topic I was going on about.  When going through a rough time, you think you’re the only one who is or has experienced what you are going through but in truth, you’re just one of the many.  It’s kind of sad really to think that divorce or marriage trouble in general is so common.  Still, if what I wrote gave any grain of comfort to someone going through a bad time too, it makes what I wrote even more worthwhile than the help it gave me to write it.  Hope that made sense.  J

By ending this blog, does it mean that I’m happy and content with my life right now?  No, not even close but there isn't any more that I can say about what happened and how I have transitioned to being single that would uncover any new ground.  I still have bouts of buzzing where I wonder why or what happened but now I just yell at myself to shut up because I've covered all of it before and there won’t be any new answers to come out of it.  Instead of torturing myself by asking the same questions I had three months ago, I try to just face forward and move on.  Unfortunately, that doesn't prevent the buzzing from coming.  I read a line about divorce that I thought was apt:  “Marriage is temporary but divorce is forever.”  Cynical about marriage, yes, but certainly true about divorce.  I applaud the people who figured out how to make marriage work and I hope it continues to work “until death do them part.”  That’s what it is supposed to be, isn't it?

The other reason I started this blog was to recapture a creative side I used to have.  I think I have accomplished that and I’m not going to give it up so while this blog is ending, I’ll probably start up another but with a focus more on day to day life and other types of observations.  I’m also looking at putting what I've written here into some type of book.  There’s a challenge to that because I’m not sure if it would be more fiction or non-fiction or self-help or what.  I think I need to write it first.  I've got a decent start with about 40,000 words with what I've done here.  I just need to build around it. 

But I have rediscovered the writer inside me and I appreciate all of the kind words I've received about the blog.  The best one was someone telling me they don’t read but they read my blogs.  I’m not sure there is higher praise. 

Of course this blog will live on.  Nothing dies when it’s on the internet, does it?  I’m sure it will still show up on search engines and maybe others will benefit from what I have written or, if nothing else, have a laugh.  I wonder if my girls will ever come across this and I guess there is some concern they won’t like what I have written.  That may be a baseless concern, though.  I don’t believe I have put their mother in that bad a light.  Yes, I've made it clear she didn't do a lot to work on the marriage when she became unhappy but I think she knows and acknowledges that.  Plus, I feel like I have done my part in sharing the blame. Yes, there were a couple posts I wrote on issues where we disagreed but again, I don’t think I was ever heavy handed or vengeful.  Some may say writing this blog to begin with was vengeful but really, it wasn't.  I never started this with the intent of making her look bad.  Obviously, this all comes from my side of things and by that nature, she becomes the “bad guy” but that was not intentional on my part.  I just wrote about what I was feeling at the time.  I asked people who know both me and my ex if I was ever being unfair to her and I was always told no so I’m going to take that to heart.  Hopefully my girls will see it the same way. 

So, it’s time to take “Went From Being Married to Single” to just “Being Single” (although that probably won’t be the title).  I’m not sure what exactly I will write about or when I will even put out the first one but rest assured, it will be coming.  I don’t want to lose the writing “momentum” I have gained from this. 

Again, if you are reading this and have read my posts or will be reading my posts, thank you.  The feedback I have gotten has been as fulfilling as was writing them to begin with. 

Much like my marriage, however, this blog’s time is over.  Kind of fitting, isn’t it?  Maybe my next blog should be about the loss of my first blog?  Hmmm…

Take care and thanks for listening.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Single White Male: Part 3

To recap, I have blogged the last two posts about finding something to do with my single life outside of just raising my girls when I have them and working my normal job. It led to some options I am exploring but I haven’t found anything to speak of just yet. So while we wait, I thought I would touch on a topic that I think everyone thinks about when someone becomes single again: getting un-single or otherwise known as "dating."

Let me just say right up front that unless someone just falls into my lap (almost literally), I am not searching for the next Mrs. Beddingfield or even the next Significant Other. I really, really, really don’t think I’m ready for that nor do I really even want it. I just ended an almost 9 year marriage that I thought wasn’t going to end, so I think I have a significant amount of baggage that I still need to get through before I want to start something new. And while I could hide it, I also don’t think it’s fair to my daughters to try to meet someone new right now (that was explored in The Next in Line, albeit mainly from the MMC’s side but the same reasons apply to me as well).

Does that mean I can’t just date-date? You know, a dinner here, a movie there? No, it doesn’t, but where those dates come from are limited right now. As stated, I don’t have an office to go to for dating opportunities and I thought about knocking door to door in the neighborhood, but I think that’s prohibited by the HOA by-laws where I live. Once I get rolling on one or more of the options listed in the previous post (Single White Male: Part 2), there is basically only one option for me right now. Yes, you guessed it: Online dating.

I’m not sure how widely accepted online dating is these days. Before I was married, it was just kind of coming into its own and there was a bit of a stigma about it. Kind of a last resort or desperation move to turn to it. Now I think it’s probably more mainstream depending on which site you use. For the record, I am not a paying member on any site. I have registered on a few but that was mainly to see what was out there and unfortunately, you are not allowed to browse unless you have a profile so that you, in turn, can be browsed as well.

I started with a base profile, no pictures or anything substantial in the “About Me” part unless I was forced to. Some sites make you go through what seemed like a hundred questions just to start a search. I think if I become more serious about this, I will go back and take longer at answering some of the questions. I assume these questions are meant to pair you up with someone who has similar answers. So perhaps quickly indicating that I strongly agree with kitten beheading may not get me many matches (I don’t agree with that, by the way…unless the kitten was involved in a double homicide, of course).

Most of these sites send you almost daily emails letting you know of the matches they came up with and on the sites where I put very little information, I can only imagine the matching algorithm used is “breathing” and “within 50 miles.” Other sites will send you notifications from other members that they want to meet you or “really liked your profile.” Again, I haven’t paid for any of these sites and my profile has almost no information on it, so what are they looking at?  I’m crossing these sites off as fake or scams. Sure there may be some legitimate women on the site but I think most are probably web-cam girls or phish schemes to get you to go to a different site. I actually had one complain about how “buggy” the site was and wanted me to contact her on a different site. So transparent but I’m sure there are plenty of people who fall for that stuff.

There were times when I thought I needed to get out there RIGHT NOW and start dating.  So I would start scouring these sites for potential dates. The problem was that after looking at a dozen or so, I eventually lost that feeling. Not because there wern’t many prospects out there…no, wait, it was exactly because there weren’t many prospects out there. Unless I expanded my search to include Philadelphia (two hours away), I probably found one semi-interesting profile out of twenty. There may have been others but I think a lot of people need to learn a few things about putting a profile out on a dating site. I think the most important thing you can include in your profile is a picture. I’m sorry but if I’m doing the online dating thing, I want to know what the person looks like up front. Is that shallow? I don’t know…maybe, but let’s face it, I’m 47 and I don’t have time to start up an email conversation that may lead to a face to face date without knowing what the person looks like. The last thing I need is to work up my courage to actually set up the date only to find out the person I’m meeting looks like Honey Boo Boo’s mother (here’s a pic. Doesn’t she look like Kevin from The Office dressed in drag?). Anyway, have a picture but here are some more suggestions:

  • Include more than one picture - I would like to see a couple pictures instead of just one. To begin with, the one picture could have been taken over 3 or 4 years ago and people can change quite a bit during that time. Or maybe the one picture posted was so good because the lighting or the positioning was just right. That one really great picture could be exposed (pun intended) as a fluke by having others next to it.

    A side note on female pictures, by the way:  A trend I have noticed not only on dating sites but also on Facebook and other social media sites, is the female picture taken whilst said female is in her car. You clearly see the back seat and seat belt. What is with this? Do women look at themselves in the rearview mirror when they get in the car and I think, “Man, I look hot! Let’s capture this moment.” It’s almost as common as the picture taken in front of the bathroom mirror where the camera (or usually phone) is in full view. This may be okay on Facebook but on a dating site, don’t you want to put your best foot forward and have a decent picture? Speaking of a decent picture…
  • SMILE! - Seriously, I cannot count the number of pictures I’ve seen where the woman is frowning in the one picture she has posted. She looks sad or mad or bored or generally disinterested in the whole thing. Nothing gets my emotions a flutter more than seeing what appears to be a disgruntled DMV employee looking back at me online. And going back to the whole notion of putting up multiple pictures, if you are only going to put one up, is the one where you are sitting at the kitchen table in a dirty t-shirt, smoking a cigarette and looking like you just woke up from a ten day bender the one you want to use to lure other men? If I thought it was legal, I would post some of these pictures here just so you could see them. It’s really amazing.
  • Try to be the only one in the picture – Again, you’d think this would be obvious.  Listen, random lady I happened to click to, I don’t know who you are and if the one picture or even multiple pictures includes you and three other girlfriends on vacation or at a bar, I don’t know who I’m looking at. Sure I could cross analyze the information in your description with the photo and put together a CSI like investigation to best determine which one is you but really, I don’t have that kind of time. Okay, so I have that kind of time but I don’t really have the desire. I’ll just move along to the next profile. If you think this is bad, there is a worse one…
  • Try to be IN the picture – Yes, there are people who have taken the time to post a picture and some have multiple pictures, but those pictures are of their dog or their garden or some scenic spot they visited while on vacation back in 2008 but none of these pictures includes that person’s face. I’m not dating your dog …although if you look like Honey Boo Boo’s mom, I may consider it… so why include a picture of your dog? If it’s you and your dog, that’s different…I should be able to ascertain which one is you but seeing just your dog isn’t going to cut it.

Just some tips I thought I would pass along.

Online dating is an option but it’s not going to be my first option. I’m not saying it’s a desperation move or anything like that. I have talked to a lot of people who have used these sites and are perfectly happy with the results. They say you have to keep an open mind and be prepared for disappointment but isn’t that dating in general? I do like the reference to the first date as being the first “interview” which really, it is. The other great thing about that is the first meeting would be something like coffee or lunch…nothing too expensive. I mean, would you go to a movie or lay out big bucks on a fancy dinner only to find out the person is a neo-Nazi and conveniently forgot to list that under "Interests?" I don’t think so.

In some ways, it may be easier to do online dating than real dating. At least both parties know what they are getting into from the start and if nothing is there on the first date (or interview) then you say, “Thank you very much but you are not what I am looking for right now. Best of luck on your future endeavors” and move on. The other party should understand completely. In “real” dating, there’s the time to build up to that first date and it’s a real date, not an interview. One assumes the interview process for a “real date” is the time spent when you got to know the person and worked up to asking them out. With online dating, working up to asking them out is mainly scrolling with the mouse and sending an email or two.

I will probably explore the world of online dating later if nothing pans out from my “options” but I will first have to put some money on the site I think is best and then figure out the propers methods for having that first “interview.”

For now, however, I need to go purge my internet cache of that picture of Honey Boo Boo’s mom. It just gives me the creeps knowing it’s out there.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Single White Male: Part 2

It’s all about options, buddy. 

Wise words spoken on a radio station I used to listen to almost exclusively.  I know some readers will know which one I’m talking about but that is not the topic of today’s installment of “Listen to Kevin Whine About His Life.”  No, we have other things to ponder.  Namely: what can I do to help fill the space inside me that used to be occupied with my marriage and family (not to say my family still isn’t there, just that marriage part is gone).

As I said last time, I need to get involved with some activity that will get me around other people and be fulfilling to me as a person.  But where does a 47 year old man find such a thing?  We actually have a couple of options.  Let’s explore each one:

·        Church – Nothing like starting off the list with a potentially high voltage one, is there?  Okay, so full disclosure here: I’m not an overly religious man.  I would put me in the “Spiritual” category in that I believe in a higher power; I’m just not sure what I believe in fits into a specific box like you find in most organized religions.  I’m also one who feels religion is more of a personal thing and not one that you need to share with everyone and certainly not something you should push on other people.  I think from that standpoint, getting involved in church groups or activities may not be the best fit for me.  I’m not totally discounting it and I will start off by finding a church nearby.  I have a good friend who has recommended a few so I will try them out to see where that takes me. 

I should point out that I was raised Catholic so any church service that doesn’t involve a bunch of standing and kneeling, some Latin, and a lot of speaking words in unison with a large group of people is going to be alien to me.  :)

·        Higher Education – Ah, yes, returning to school.  Maybe I can go grab that degree in Enigmatology and be one of maybe a handful of people who have that degree..actually maybe only the second which would be great because Will Shortz is stealing all the limelight in this industry (enigmatology…it’s the study of puzzles…Google it.  Here, I did it for you:  Enigmatology)

Anyway, impossible degrees aside, going back to school is always an option regardless of your age.  My problem is mainly around two factors:  money and my job.  College degrees are expensive and with two house payments and child support, I just don’t have that kind of disposable income right now (although I don’t know using the term "disposable" on money put toward a degree is right).  My job poses a problem because I don’t know when or how often I would be traveling.  If I’m going to put down cash to get this degree, I want to be here for all of the classes and not fall behind because all of sudden I have three weeks of travel in a row. 

No, unless it’s an online course, which defeats the purpose of being around other people, getting the degree is out.  Education, however, is not…

·        Adult Education – I really hate this term because it sounds a bit more risqué than it really is…or at least in what I’m talking about.  Adult education courses are the more fun ones like guitar lessons, photography or basket weaving without the degree plan or pre-requisites..  They generally meet once a week for four or five weeks and they aren’t all that expensive.  If I miss one, no big deal. What I don’t know, having never attended one, is how many people actually do these things?  Will the class size be me and one other person?  I suppose even if that were true, it would still be okay.  I mean, I would take a class in something I was interested in like photography or creative writing but would like it to be with at least a half a dozen people just to get that group vibe going. 

I have this option as a probable candidate because I could do this in addition to another option mainly because it won’t take a lot of time and I could learn something new and have some fun doing it.  I just need to find a decent place to go to.  I’m sure some of these classes are held in the back room of a strip mall in a bad section of town.  I think I’ll look for some provided at a college campus of some sort.

·        Charity – With the holidays coming up, this shouldn’t be too hard to get involved with.  It’s free, I get to be around other people sharing a same interest (helping others, duh), and while I am not certain on this, I think it would be flexible enough to work around my potential travel schedule.  There’s also a bit of good karma that comes from this.  In some metaphysical way, I feel like adding another statistic in the divorce (i.e. failed marriage) category has put out negative vibes into the universe. I’d like to “repair” that by doing something good for others.  My big interest is with Habitat for Humanity but so far, my emails to the local ones in the area have gone unanswered.  I will search for other possibilities.  Speaking of unanswered emails…

·        Community – There are plenty of options for volunteer work in the community that isn’t exactly charity related and one in particular I would LOVE to do: community theater.  Not as an actor, though.  I did some drama stuff in high school but I was never the best actor in the world. I did, however, enjoy doing the backstage work:  building sets, doing the lighting and audio, gathering props and helping out with stage direction.  This would be an absolute perfect way for me to do something fulfilling to me and be around other people with similar interests. I have started pursuing this as well, but again, no answer to my emails on it.  You’d think organizations like this would be jumping to get volunteers but so far, very little jumping or hopping or even a slight skip.  I will keep on it, though, and let you know my progress.

I should point out there are other options in the “community” category besides community theater but I am not about to get into anything even remotely political like PTA or being on the board of directors for the community I live in.  One that is more appealing is the Kiwanis which is a name I recognize but knew nothing about.  According to their web site they are a “global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child, one community at a time.”  That is certainly a possibility; I would just need to see how much time I can devote. 

And this is part of the problem with the last two options as far as volunteering goes.  I don’t think I want to get into a situation where I cannot commit as much time as they may need.  I still have my job, my girls and a house to maintain (actually two right now), so while I will have a moderate amount of free time, I don’t want to overextend myself.  Nor do I want to sign up for something and then have to bail out on them because all of a sudden I have to go to Europe for a few weeks.  I'm sure the schedules are flexible and I just need to get more information.

So, there you have it.  A list of options and really, other than higher education, all of them I can look into and participate in.  I’ll chime in on my progress once I get any, but I feel good about just compiling this list.  When it dawned on me that I was destined to be single again, having nothing to do and living like a hermit was (and still is) a big fear.  It’s not like when we were kids and if you saw someone else with the same lunchbox you had, you were instantly best friends (true story...this is how I met my best friend in first grade).  There’s more work to this when you are older but the options are out there.  Now I just need to go out and exercise these options.  Which, by the way, is probably the hardest part: taking that first step. 

In part 3:  Some preliminary thoughts on dating…

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Single White Male: Part 1

This will probably be a multi-part post like the highly acclaimed and award winning Moving Daze series of posts…oh wait...that series was neither acclaimed or award winning.  Well, here’s my chance to change all that.

So, let’s run down where I am:

·         Discovered wife no longer loved me.  Check.

·         Filed for divorce.  Check.

·         Wife and kids moved out.  Check.

·         I moved out.  Check.

·         Settled into new house. Check.

·         Have rocking new single life.  Che…uh…wait.

That last one needs some development and we’re still in the requirements gathering stage.

Let’s take a look at where I am as a single man but let’s put aside dating for another time.  I need to evaluate where I am as a person.  It’s more important that I take time for me and what I am going to do with my life.  The dating and potential relationships can either come from that or by other means, but as I said, we’ll talk about that later. Let’s take stock at who I am right now.

First and foremost, I am and will continue to be a father.  My two daughters are so important to me and watching them grow will always bring fulfillment and contentment to my life.  ‘Nuff said.

Second, I am a working man.  Until I win the lottery or find hidden treasure in my backyard, I need my job as both a source of income and satisfaction of doing good work.  I believe that whatever you are doing to make a living in this world, you should do it to the best of your ability.  I will strive to be a valued employee to the company I work for.  I don’t have aspirations to become a CEO or anything like that.  Just make a comfortable living to afford the good things in life or at least the semi-good things in life.

So that leads us to my personal life…or lack thereof.  This is something that has been kicking around in my mind for a while now.  When I was married, there were times where I put the job before my family and I regret that but my family was always first.  Since my job had me travelling a lot, I relegated doing anything for me to the back burner so I could spend time with my wife and daughters when I was home.  I suppose I failed a bit at that considering where I am now but regardless, I always tried to put them first. As I said before, it didn't seem fair for me to be out of town all week, come home and then spend all day on the golf course or out hunting (if I hunted). This means I didn't get the time to develop a personal life for myself.  And by that I mean hobbies or interests other than things I did with my family or individual things like reading or writing which I barely did anyway.

Now that I am on my own, I’m paying a bit for not carving out that personal life for myself.  I don’t regret this, by the way. I felt I was doing the right thing for myself and my family and that the other stuff would just grow as time went by.  That may still happen but it will take even longer now that I am on my own.  The point is I have a definitive hole in my life.  That hole was once filled with my marriage, but now, it's empty.  This is a void I need to fill. 

Before I was married, I worked for a company where I had the opportunity to sate my need to do something more than just work and search for dates.  Outside of the friendships I developed and still maintain with the people I worked with (thank you, Facebook!), I was active in company events such as the charities they supported and company picnics.  If there was an event being held that either honored the employees or talked about strategic plans, I was generally involved.  I loved doing that and it helped fill this gap that eventually was filled by my marriage and family but now the gap is present again. With my current job, I work from home and while I could host a company talent show, it would be in my backyard and I would be the only employee present. I do miss that day to day camaraderie of working in an office and have thought if worse came to worst, I could try to find an office job somewhere local.  The problem with that is a) it may be hard to find something with a comparable salary to what I am making now and b) “local” for here would mean at least an hour drive one way to an office…especially an office that could offer the aforementioned comparable salary.  I suppose this is something I could pursue if I needed to but that would really be a last resort.

That leaves finding other ways to bring back something fulfilling to me but we have uncovered a key aspect to whatever this may be.  It needs to be something where I am around other people.  Sure I can continue to blog or even start up my own YouTube channel and that would fill a creative need but I’m still doing those things by myself and they would not give me the gratification of doing something with others.  Friendships are best made when you connect by sharing a common interest. I think at my age, I'm beyond just meeting someone at random and becoming friends with them. That's easier when your younger but harder when you're older.  Call it experience to be able to tell when someone is somewhat creepy within five minutes or just call it being a snob but I'm too old to try work on a friendship at that level. 

That became all too apparent this past weekend when I took my daughters to the indoor pool I have access to where I live and some guy introduced himself while we were in the pool.  That may not sound too weird but when he asked if he could call me “Brother Kevin” and wanted to show me the fancy handshake he learned in the Bronx, I realized that maybe simply meeting people at the pool wasn’t the best idea.  Luckily, I had my girls there and while they are very good swimmers, I needed to “keep an eye on them” so I went to play Marco Polo with them and I HATE Marco Polo.  Probably the worst pool game ever.

But I digresss…

So my options for filling in the void that has been present since the divorce…although pushed to the back while I was finding house, moving, and then getting settled... is to find activities that interest me and that I can do with other folks who share the same interest.  But what are those activities?   What options are available to me?

Before you answer, I have some ideas…but I’ll talk about them next time.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The New Family Game Night

Last time I said I was going to explore my single life and what I’m going to make of it but that is taking more thought that I originally…uh…thought.  I need some more time to get it all straight but I am trying to put at least two of these posts out each week and I’m behind so let me make a slight digression and talk about something else right now.  Namely: games.

I had my daughters this weekend and my oldest wanted to have a family game night.  First of all, I was happy to hear this.  For the most part, my daughters now have two families. The one with their mother and one with me and it warms my heart to hear her still refer to family and include me in it.  I know that’s kind of silly on my part but when you are not around your kids 24 hours a day; you tend to think you’re second fiddle when it comes to real family.  Again, silly but it’s the world I live in right now.

Second, we needed games to play.  I have some but whatever games we had for the kids, the MMC has possession of them.  Not that we had a lot.  Our girls are really just getting to the age where they want to play games so our collection of kid based games has mainly been Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders.  Thus, we ventured to the store to get a couple more.  Our picks?  Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Kerplunk. 

I remembered these games as a kid so I was kind of excited to play them again because it’s been so long and I wondered if my kids would get as big a kick out of them.  We played Hungry, Hungry Hippos (HHH) first.  Let me say one thing about this game that I didn’t remember (or cared about) as a kid: it is LOUD!  My house, with hardwood floors and no curtains, amplifies just about any sound and the constant banging that is the main part of gameplay in HHH came across as a typical night in the streets of Beirut (assuming there is still a lot of gunfire going on in Beirut.  I’m really not sure but it’s my go to city when it comes to noisy warfare). 

Yes, HHC is a loud game and perhaps I’m too old but I eventually grabbed the ear buds from my iPod to wear while playing and it made it much more bearable.  At least as far as the sound is concerned.  The other problem I had with the game is the hippo head lock that occurred often in the midst of playing.  This is where the hippo head and neck gets out of whack and you can no longer control it with the flipper switch that is essentially lodged in the hippo’s rear end.  You have to pause your game to pull the neck out to get it to snap back into place.  Meanwhile all of the marbles are being eaten up by your opponents, namely my daughters who could give a crap about my lack of being able to play.  Since I am easily frustrated by little things, this served to annoy me to no end especially since it fell on me to unlock not only my hippo but my daughter’s hippos as well.  I momentarily became a veterinarian in the HHH world.

I wondered if both the noise and the constant hippo head lock was a problem with the original game.  I tend to think that stuff like this is being made much more cheaply today than back when I was a kid.  Call it old man syndrome, but I’m betting there was better hippo eating game craftsmanship back in the late 70’s when it first came out (yeah, I went to the Hungry, Hungry Hippos Wikipedia page for that bit of info).  I would love to compare an original game to the new one just to see.  Wonder if I could get one on eBay?

And while I’m on eBay for an original HHH game, I’d also like to get an original Kerplunk game too.  We played this one next and I was relieved because it wasn’t anywhere near as noisy but still I became frustrated with the set up.  If you don’t remember, Kerplunk is the game where you have a cylinder with a bunch of holes going around the middle.  You put a bunch of sticks through those holds and then put marbles on top.  The challenge is to pull out the sticks without any of the marbles falling.  The person with the most marbles at the end loses.  The problem with today’s version from what I remember about the one I played as a kid is that the sticks are now made of a bendable plastic instead of the original wooden ones.  When I was a kid, these were basically long toothpicks but now they are almost soft plastic. I can only imagine that some kid somewhere poked an eye out with toothpick-like ones and the family sued Hasbro or Mattel or whoever made the game and some governing body over children’s games said the sticks had to be safer thus the bendable, plastic ones were made. 

I’m not opposed to making things safer although I don’t remember any fatalities back when I originally played the game but these sticks are very frustrating to use during the set-up.  You see, since they bend, it’s hard to put them in a hole on one side and get them out of a hole on the other side of the tube.  When they were long toothpicks, it was relatively easy but now they bend down, up or to the side based on what obstacles they encounter going in.  Not a big deal with the first dozen or so but after that it’s an exercise in patience and time consuming just to get the game ready to play.  I also noticed that by the next day, some of the sticks were permanently bent thus further adding to the challenge of getting the game set up. 

Regardless of this, however, the game was still fun and let’s face it, it has the best game name in the history of game names.  Kerplunk!  I wonder if that is a legal word to play in Words With Friends or Scrabble?  If ever get that collection of letters, I’ll let you know.  I kind of doubt it but isn’t “kerplunk” a fair word to describe the sound of something dropping especially in water?  I’m sure I’ll throw it out there and get the all too familiar (to me at any rate): “Sorry, kerplunk is not an acceptable word.”  I’m now looking forward to having a K-E-R-P-L-U-N-K in my virtual tray in Words With Friends to try it out.  Wonder how long that will take?  Considering the number of games I currently have going, probably not that long and if it is legal, I would get the chance to use all of my letters!  Man, I am going to keep that in my back pocket for sure.

So, the new Family Game Night, despite the frustrations, was a success.  The girls and I had fun and even carried it over to the next morning after breakfast with a couple rounds of each.  I did, however, have to take careful inventory of all the different marbles and bendy sticks when we were cleaning up to make sure I had a complete set when we played again.

Before we do play again, however, I think I’m going to see if I can get some felt or something like that to put across the bottoms of the hippos mouths to act as a silencer.  Either that or throw an old set of ear buds into the game box so I’ll always have them.  Yeah, I’m old.  Deal with it.  I have to.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One and a Half Months

As of this writing, I will have been in my house for about a month and a half.  I’m still getting used to it.  It’s weird being alone after being in a house that often was full of people and not just the MMC and my two girls, but other family, in-laws, friends, and neighbors.  Now I find times where I keep expecting someone to walk through the door.  Or while watching television, I go to say something about whatever I’m watching and realize there’s no one there to tell it to.  Not that that stops me anyway.  Maybe someone passing on the street far down at the bottom of the hill wants to know my TV musings.

Having an entire bed to me has been an adjustment I haven’t made.  I still sleep on one side, almost at the edge.  As I explained in Making the Spare Bedroom Your Bedroom, Spare, the girls used to sleep with us and most times I could never get comfortable enough due to all the kicking and hands in my face in the middle of the night.  So I would either be almost falling off the bed or I just went into the other room. I still think this was a defensive maneuver by my wife allowing the girls to sleep in our room.  Nothing like adding two warm bodied people to help fortify the emotional wall you’ve built around yourself. 

Anyway… now that I always sleep on my own, I don’t take advantage of having a queen sized bed by sleeping in the middle or diagonally across it.  I sleep on the edge, sometimes teetering off of it as if I was being pushed out by my sleeping children.  Primarily I think it’s just because the edge is closer to the night stand thus easier to do things like reaching for books, turning off the light or turning off the alarm in the morning.  If I was in the middle of the bed, I would have to struggle to get over to do any of those tasks.  I also think it is just habit.  I’m used to being on the side so that’s where I am most comfortable.  I have no idea what I did when I was single but I probably stuck to one side then too. 

Of course this makes me feel like I’m wasting my bed.  I was going to buy a new king size bed when I moved in but they’re freakin’ expensive so I have been using the bed that was in our spare room only I put a pillow top cover thing on it to make it more comfortable as it was a very firm mattress.  That made a huge difference so I have temporarily ceased by bed search.  Now I’m thinking that if I am only using one edge of the bed, maybe I should just get a twin mattress.  That way I would be using ALL of the bed, there just wouldn’t be that much of it.  Wouldn’t THAT be impressive when I finally reenter the dating scene and reach the point where I bring a woman home? (This is far, far, far into the future and quite possibly an alternate reality, by the way)  “Hey, baby…here’s my twin bed.  We’ll need to decide who’s on top right now.  Let me just pull back my Spider-Man sheets and my blankie.  Do you want the night light on…or off?” 

No, I guess I’ll stick with the bed I have and eventually get a new one.  I still need to put furniture in the spare room so that’s the ultimate fate for the bed I have.  It came from the spare room and will ultimately die in there.

Outside of the previously mentioned spare room, I pretty much have settled into the house.  All of my pictures are up (although I could use more), living room, dining room, breakfast nook, kitchen, girls bedroom and office are all decorated and squared away.  My bedroom is pretty bland though.  Yes, I have the half-used queen sized bed but the only other things in it are a small nightstand and a tall dresser.  I really don’t need anything else, but the room looks pretty empty.  I guess a king size bed would help fill it up and maybe if I got a new dresser set where I had a tall dresser and a long one, that would do the trick.  Just not sure what I would put into these pieces of bedroom furniture.  As part of my 1.5 months, I took out the pathetic lone wire rack in the master bedroom closet and put in a nice “closet organization system” that gave me two racks for hanging my clothes, a long shelf along the top and a single set of shelves going from the top of the closet down to the floor.  I also put in a set of hooks for belts, hats, etc. so I am set on clothes storage.  Having more furniture to put clothes in isn’t really needed but it would help fill up my room.  I guess other options would be an easy chair or something like that but you know what that ultimately means don’t you?  Just something to pile my clothes onto.  And when am I just sitting in my bedroom anyway?  If I want to sit, I’ll do it in the living room.  I just got a brand new leather couch that reclines.  Yes, I said reclines.  I may cheap out when it comes to getting new bedroom furniture but I will make my living room as comfortable as possible.

I still have to get the basement settled but I’m not in a big rush to do that.  As it is, I do need something down there to put an old TV I have on it. This is the TV I mentioned in Moving Daze Part 4.  It’s like 300 pounds since it’s the probably one of the last tube TV’s but it has a flat 38” screen.  Perfect for down in the basement until I upgrade the TV upstairs…which would probably be a long while.  I don’t have a 3D TV but if that is still a thing a year or so from now, maybe that is what I would upgrade to.  I still think 3D TV is a fad but maybe it’s a fad like the internet is a fad or toasters are a fad.  I dunno.

I guess when I look back at the 1.5 months and the fact that last night, I didn’t have any pressing unpacking or “settling in” to do, I should be proud of where I am.  A lot of people in this same state would still have boxes to unpack, rooms still unsettled and an array of pictures on the floor perhaps by the wall they are to be hung on but still unhung.  I guess it’s also easier for me to be settled in since I only have my girls with me every other weekend but still.  I think I opened up a can whoop ass on the house and came out looking pretty good.  I do still feel, however, a bit unsettled or uneven…like there is still stuff to do and while there are some small things, it’s nothing major.  Perhaps that unsettled feeling is something more than just unpacked boxes or an undecorated wall.  Perhaps it’s a sense that I need to make this house my home.  To do that, I need make my single life something more than every other weekend visitations and house settling but what should I make it?  Let’s explore that next time.

Meanwhile, I will try to become more centered by sleeping in the center of my bed but it won’t be easy.  I threw my shoulder out trying to reach the alarm clock this morning.  Oy.


Thursday, September 20, 2012


Poets, authors and song writers have referred to love as a fire or a flame.  That’s a time honored and well put analogy.  It’s especially apparent when a love dies out and the flame gets smaller and smaller.  Just like a campfire that has been deprived of new wood to keep it going, the flame dies down but just when you think it’s completely out, a spark ignites and the flame comes back for a moment or two just to tease you into thinking it’s going to get stronger and keep going.

Yeah, love can certainly be like that.

Recently, something happened that sparked the dying embers of the fire that was the fuel for my marriage. I won’t go into detail on what it was, but the event was strong enough to reignite something I thought had been extinguished or was at least nothing more than smoldering remains.  The situation made me think that there was a chance the MMC and I could get back together again and those thoughts stopped me down for a night. 

For a while I stoked the small flame and wondered if I could make it bigger.  I thought about where I was with my new house, her in her new house and the house we had up for sale.  For a moment, I considered those to be obstacles too big to overcome but then I realized those were just things.  I could rent out the house I just bought and she, since she was only leasing, could probably get out of that and we could all move back into our old house.

The fire got bigger.

The notion of having my family back fanned the flames more and I thought maybe…just maybe there was a chance.  This hope for a chance caused the fire to become a bit hotter and I warmed myself in it. 

But then I thought if this spark really was an opportunity to reconcile, is it something I wanted to do?  The first, gut reaction was yes.  I would do anything to have my family back the way it was a few years ago and that’s when the fire started to falter. 

A few years ago. 

Back then, things were great.  My wife and I were in love and our youngest was just starting to develop into the wonderful little girl she is now (my oldest was already there and still is).  We did things a family did and there was never any thought it would ever end.  We would raise our girls in our house and then retire together in it, passing the time either in the rocking chairs on our front porch or on a cruise ship going to places we hadn't been before.

While those thoughts were great, I also thought about how things had been for the last year or so.  The fire died down a little more.  We both felt distant.  This was when I was traveling a lot and sensing things were different when I returned home.  I thought it was just me but as we all know now, it wasn’t.  I thought about how when presented with the idea of divorce, the MMC took to it like…well, if I can just beat this analogy further into the ground…a moth to a flame.  No chance for marriage counseling or trial separation; just straight to divorce.  Never any discussion on why she was unhappy or exactly what happened to drive her away.  Just end the marriage without any real reason why.  Is this the woman I want to go back to?  It’s almost a cliché but she’s not the woman I married and more than likely, I’m not the man she married either.  How could I be?  If I was, wouldn’t we still be together? 

The flame reduced to a flicker and eventually turned to smoke and dispersed into the night air.

I think that everyone who goes through a divorce, especially if they are the ones who are the “victims” of it, have these momentary sparks and they hope they can fan it into something more.  The truth is they are only that: sparks.  Not a raging inferno that could burn brightly for any length of time.  Just a spark that lights up the mind with thoughts of what could happen and possible futures of what could be and all the while we are blowing on it and shoving crumbled newspaper and twigs on it to get the flames to grow.  The truth is the fire is really a burning memory of the past and a hope to go back to the way it once was.  Unfortunately, we can’t go back to the past any more than we can burn a piece of wood twice.

I don’t care for these sparks.  I would prefer to mentally produce a bucket of water and pour it over the slowly cooling embers and put them out permanently.  It would make things easier. I am trying to face forward in all of this.  To take steps away from where the fire once burned and find a place to build a new fire but that’s a long hike on a path that hasn’t even been made yet. It’s a daunting task to blaze that trail and it’s hard not to look back to where things were once warm and cozy; to want to go back, sit there and see if I could get just a little more warmth out of it.  The problem is, there is no warmth there.  The sparks are just flickers of false hope and ideas that get into your head.

The situation that started all this came and went and I got on with clearing away the brush and debris that lay before me on my new path.  I’m sure I’ll hear another pop or crackle and see a flicker from that fire again.  Next time, however, I will try to leave that spark behind me and continue my search for a place to build a new fire.   
P.S. - I hope all my fire references in this post didn't burn you out.  ::chuckle::