Done diddly done

That’s exactly how I feel right now.

My day job is that of a systems programmer. I was on call this past weekend, which means my day starts at 7 am on Saturday. This particular weekend I was working with my team to install software on the mainframe (yes they still exist). This resulted in an almost 8 hour conference call. If you’ve never had the pleasure of spending 8 hours in the phone with guys who have very thick Chinese accents, I suggest you try it as an alternative to lethal injection. I try. I really do, but their lack of flow and enunciation does something to the brain I would equate to waterboarding. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a bigot or any shit like that. I actually like these guys, but we need to find a better way to communicate. Add to this problems with the install that no one understood why was happening and the internal dread that if this shit doesn’t work, I will be getting called all hours of the night.

After this marathon of madness, I decided to take advantage of the weather and get some yard work done. I totally forgot to wear a facemask and I paid the price. My nose was completely clogged from the pollen which resulted in a sinus headache. Later that evening I decided to have a drink just to relax and passed out, only to be woken up at 2 AM due to a system problem ( I knew that shit was gonna happen). I was on that call until 8:30 AM. I was out of it all Sunday but I refused to sleep because I knew it was going to destroy my sleeping pattern. I took today off so now I’m in recovery mode. It actually turned out to be a rather beautiful day but I’m feeling kinda through. I went to my favorite spot at the marina to unwind and meditate. That was short lived. This area is apparently a favorite place to visit by people caring for groups of the mentally handicapped. I was in my zone when a large group came near where I was relaxing and started screaming and shit. One dude was yelling something about tortellini. I’m like no, this isn’t working so I came back home. It’s like the universe is conspiring against me.

Paradise Lost. Part 1

Picking up the story from my last post, I arrive in Hawaii. I got there a day before she was scheduled to arrive. This was due to a conflict in the available flights at the time. I was able to settle in and then go pick her up from the airport the next day. It was an unusual experience. Here was someone who I had spent close to a year speaking to, but had never seen in person. She wasn’t a stranger, we knew everything about each other, but it was awkward nonetheless. I drove to the nearest bar so we could have a couple of drinks to calm ourselves and to get to know each other in a non-threatening environment. I found a bar that turned out to be a dive. It was actually perfect because it didn’t give the air of pretense. It was authentic and rustic. It was somewhat symbolic as to what I was expecting from this new relationship. It took about an hour before we were comfortable with each other. I drove to the resort and we checked in. That whole idea of waiting and keeping things on the platonic level evaporated within the first 20 minutes of us being there. After the initial stumbling, everything seemed natural.
We stayed in Kauai. I picked that island because it’s not as developed as Honolulu. I didn’t want that tourist vibe. We got to explore the island quite a bit. One night it even stormed and knocked out the electricity while we were having dinner. So we had dinner by candlelight. The whole trip was surreal but somehow it seemed predestined.
At the end of our stay, neither of us wanted to go back to our regular lives. It was extremely difficult getting on that plane and coming back to the misery that I had escaped. I was not the same person that left. I had taken a chance and done something completely for myself regardless of the outcome. This was a major milestone for me. The return home was, shall we say, less than spectacular. Having something new to look forward to made everything bearable. It sounds cold, but I couldn’t wait until my divorce was finalized. My ex-wife, sensing that something was amiss, started making things difficult.
I spent a considerable amount of time in hotels.
Within a short period of time, I believe three months or so, I planned a trip to Australia. This was another huge decision for me. I was about to travel halfway around the world by myself. I tried to learn as much as I could about their cultures. I had heard so many things about Aborigines and I couldn’t wait to see one face-to-face. I was extremely excited. I couldn’t believe that I was doing this.
On the day of my flight I sat next to this woman who had also met someone from Australia online. She was leaving the US permanently to get married to this guy that she had fallen in love with. She had two daughters that she was leaving behind. That conversation was pretty deep, but she was convinced that she was doing the right thing. I felt encouraged by her sharing her story with me. What I was doing didn’t seem so crazy after all. Even though we were half world apart it really was no different than meeting someone who was just in another state.
Niki had two little boys as I mentioned before. I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to come stay at her place initially. I booked rooms in a resort that was on the beach. The plan was to pick her up from her home and drive to the resort leaving the children with her mother. Once we spent some time alone we would then get the children. It took 27 hours to get there. When I arrived I had a rental waiting for me, but I had never driven a car with the steering wheel on the right side. Plus, they drove on the other side of the street. It was a challenge getting out of the airport parking lot. Here I was, jetlagged out of my mind, no clue where I am, driving a right handed vehicle for the first time and she was not fully licensed. It took some getting used to. The hardest part of driving was using the mirrors and confusing the wiper blades with the turn signal. I was just happy with not getting us killed. The trip was awesome. We were having the time of our lives. On my second day at the resort the phone rang. Niki answered the phone and her face went pale. She turns to me and says, “it’s for you, it’s your wife.”I was completely dumbfounded. How did this woman even know where I was? How could this be happening? I answered the phone and sure enough it was her. She started asking me questions about my trip and if I was enjoying myself. We argued for a bit and then I hung up the phone. She called back, I answered and hung up again. She called back again. I then called the front desk and told them not to allow any more calls to be sent to my room. I was heated. Here I was a half a world away and she still managed to fuck it up. Niki was very cool. We went to dinner had a few drinks and laughed about it. Upon my return to the hotel, I opened the room door and there was a envelope on the floor. It was a form from the hotel asking for my signature to release them from any liability of being sued by my wife because she had called and threatened the hotel for not putting her calls through. I stood there in utter disbelief. I took the form down to the main desk. I explained to the clerk what the situation was and apologize for putting them in the middle of my mess, but I let them know that she is in another country and has no legal jurisdiction over what goes on in this hotel so they can relax. I found it interesting that they had a form letter for that scenario. In my discussion with the clerk, she told me that they often have to deal with personal situations of that nature and they have to protect themselves. Needless to say, I was not feeling any of this. I wanted my marriage over. I wanted to be away from her permanently. Things were not going as smoothly as I had planned. My next goal was to make sure that I got my divorce finalized and ended that nightmare. What happened next was unbelievable..


Breaking free

I was married for 11 years. Things deteriorated in the last four years of my marriage to a point where there was almost no communication. We slept in separate rooms for the last year and a half. It was an ugly an uncomfortable situation. There were many factors involved in why that happened. My primary reason was the changing behavior of my ex-wife. She had surgery to remove her ovaries and as a result required hormones. She refused to take anything and as a result her personality changed dramatically. She effectively was going through menopause. She would snap at me for trivial things. We argued a lot. It took some time before I accepted the fact that I needed to do something drastic. I can remember a conversation that I had with a friend of mine. I told her essentially everything about my relationship and how I was miserable. She made it seem so easy when she asked, why don’t you just leave? She said that I should not waste my life being with someone that did not deserve it. I needed to be happy in my life. This may sound pretty obvious but when you’re inside of a failing relationship, and you’re goal is to try to make it work, you tend to forget about yourself. I know so many people in the same situation. My only advice is to let them know that it doesn’t get better. Once you reach the point of complete dissatisfaction with each other, there’s no magic bullet that will take you back to the intensity that you felt when you were dating. At minimum I would try a trial separation to see if that time apart can equalize things, but I wouldn’t put too much confidence in that happening. Experience teaches me that once you do get back together you eventually end up right back where you were when you left. In any case, we had reached a point of no return. I said to my ex-wife that I wanted a divorce and that I would work with her to make it as painless as possible. That didn’t go as well as I planned. I’m explaining that situation to give you a background on the topic of why I am writing this post. It was during that last year that I discovered something about myself that I was completely unaware of. I had become so conditioned to being in that relationship that I had lost all contact with my inner self. During that time I decided to concentrate on things that made me feel better about me. As I said, my ex-wife and I were not talking. Even when we did, we really didn’t have that much in common with respect to the things that I like to do. Our relationship was focused on her objectives more so than mine. I blame myself for allowing that to continue once I saw it was going in that direction but again, it was one of those situations where you’re trying to salvage the relationship at any cost. The relationship becomes bigger than your personal desires. The outward image of maintaining a stable marriage became my focus. As I mentioned before, we slept in separate rooms. My room was a bedroom/office. It was there I spent most of my time online. I was new to online chat. I really had no concept as to the rules of engagement in chat rooms. I was bored so I decided to investigate. At the time yahoo was the big thing. I decided to go into one of the chat rooms looking for advice. That decision would change the course of my life. Initially I would go into the chat room and spectate. That graduated into small conversations. Then I became familiar with what we called “regulars”. These are people who spent considerable time in the chat room. We became friends and shared some very personal details about ourselves. It was okay because it was anonymous. This room was called advice central. Here people would come seeking advice on anything. It was interesting because of the types of questions that people would ask. I would legitimately try to offer advice from my life experience when applicable. It was through this scenario that I met Niki. Nikki was a single mother of two young boys who lived in Australia. She was going through a very difficult time with her children’s father. She had resorted to drinking. He had started getting violent with her. So she would come into the chat room just to talk. Eventually that led to us having private conversations. We connected and I offered as much advice as I could from a distance to her. Things took a dramatic turn when he had been drinking and he attacked her. She had him arrested and he had to move out of the apartment. He took all of the furniture and she, not working, had no way of replacing it. He even took the television from his own children. I thought that was insane and I bought her a replacement and a bed for them to sleep in. We got closer. We connected on many levels. Our conversations got intense and continuous. We spent a lot of time on WebCams talking to each other. I really liked her but the reality of that situation going any further seemed remote because of the distance between us. Then things at home took a turn for the worse. I went to a party for a friend of mine and my ex-wife, thinking I was going to see another woman, decided to try to have me arrested falsely by saying I tried to run over her with my car. That turned into some serious drama. It was a major turning point for me. Realizing that my freedom could be in jeopardy I decided to spend as little time there as possible while we went through the divorce process. It was time for me to take a vacation from work. Nikki and I had discussed meeting during our conversations. Being motivated by the escalation of insanity in my current situation, I decided to put that plan into action. We decided that we would meet at a halfway point between her and myself, which turned out to be Hawaii. I thought long and hard about that decision. I chickened out quite a few times before actually making it happen. I was technically still married but there was no reconciliation happening between us. We agreed that it would just be a trip to meet each other and keep things on the platonic level. She needed to get away from her situation and I needed to get away from mine. I can remember the moment I booked the flight. I said to myself, “I can’t believe I’m doing this”. I bought her ticket and I told her that if for any reason she felt unsure about coming, don’t do it. I booked us a room that had separate bedrooms. We didn’t want this to be a hook up. The day I left I remember sitting at the airport which was fairly empty. It was around 1 AM in the morning when my flight was scheduled to leave. I put on some music that I had on my iPod that she had picked out for me. The first song was by Coldplay, “The Speed of Sound”. That moment was a huge turning point in my life. It was a moment where I had actually gone through with something that I was uncertain of the outcome, but took a chance on happiness. The reason I’m sharing this particular moment with you is because I learned that sometimes you have to step out of the zone of the familiar in order to achieve what you really want in life. Be bold. Take a chance. I will tell you the rest of the story later…