Getting Things Done – Part 2 of 2

Why don’t I blog more often than I used to? Well, there are a few reasons. One is that I’m busy Gettings Things Done.

You might not think it to see my life from afar, but I do more than it seems. My ever-evolving To Do list waxes and wanes and never seems to go away, but I realized not very long ago that I do get a lot of things done. The three girls (or two girls, when Amélie is at college) create all kinds of mess and time-draining crises. All. The. Time.

Today, for example, useless #3, or Charlotte as she is known here, forgot to take her pill last night and again this morning. Is this a big deal? Yes, because she faints/collapses when she doesn’t. That means I get called back from work to take her home. Or to the hospital if she has collapsed and smacked her head hard enough. Does her mom help? Sometimes, but often not. So today, I had to stop by the high school, have her brought to the clinic, and feed her the pills. As I was driving to work from there (** OK, I was going somewhere else first — see below), my sweet #2 daughter, Brigitte, texted to say she was feeling sick. Hmm. Brigitte doesn’t waste my time with this. So I stopped by the side of the road to see what’s going on. After a little back and forth, I elicited that she was going to throw up soon, had a mild fever, and generally needed to be brought home. *sigh* I asked her to try her mom first, but her mom said that she was busy and had a meeting. As if I had planned to be at work after 10am and miss my daily 10am meeting. Right. So, off I went, back to the high school again, back to the clinic, to pick up Brigitte and bring her home. I hung around for a little while to be sure she was going to be OK alone. And headed off to work, arriving at 10:30am. Yay me.

** I was going to see my girlfriend, Lillian, to drop off the kittens. As the boy kitten is now quite adept at knocking over glasses to get to the water inside, it’s a recent Family Rule that no one can leave glasses of water lying around. As Charlotte tried to set a world record for this RIGHT AFTER I MADE HER GO AROUND PICKING UP ALL OF THE GLASSES FROM THE PREVIOUS DAY, I had enough and handed over the kittens to Lillian. But this was on my way to work anyway, so it doesn’t count. Right?

Getting back to the achievements rather than problems, I realized that (a) I don’t sit around doing nothing at home almost any time now, and (b) even though I’ve been going out with Lillian for 10 months now and can count on her support for many things, I am still a ‘single dad’ in some respects and spend a lot of time working on basic house things that I never to do before. A month ago, I was cleaning up the kitchen and thought to myself that I was going to yell at the girls and say, “Hey, I’m not your mom, clean your own mess up!” Reflecting on that, I caught myself in two ways. First, why was I assuming that only a *mom* should have to clean a kitchen? Just because I had once had a wife who was a stay-at-home mom and happened to clean up way more than I did doesn’t make it a gender-specific task. Second, I realized there was no one else, “mom” or not, to clean up the kitchen. That is, I am both a mom and dad to them most of the time. That second thought took me by surprise. Having done the single dad thing for over 18 months now, I forget that it’s not a given for the kids to have only me to turn to most of the time. To counter what I’ve just said, the girls’ mom has been somewhat more involved over the past few months. More importantly, Lillian has been a mother figure for them. She has counseled, laughed with, helped, and loved the girls since getting to know them. But she’s not around all the time because she has her own house and daughter (who she too sometimes tries to sell on eBay when no one is looking, as nurturing a teen is a little like nursing a sick cow with a flatulence problem — there are lots of explosions, and you never know when the next one will occur).

Moving past my efforts to keep the kitchen clean and tidy, there is …. wait a moment, why should I stop there? Hey, I demand a Hero badge of some kind! Those girls are…PIGS! They leave crap everywhere in the kitchen AND the dining room AND the living room and elsewhere! Their idea of “doing the dishes” is to pile dishes in both sinks so neither can be used. Hello? When I remind them of that distant time when I had to help wash and dry and put away every dish, plate, pot, and pan before leaving the kitchen, they look at me as if I’m some old icon recalling days of yore. Well, I am, but that’s not the point. If I had to do all that shit, it seems reasonable to expect them to do ‘complex’ things like empty and load the dishwasher. Back me up here folks.

Ahem, moving on…

Contradicting myself all over again, I don’t live a “single” life:

– I have the girls and all of their limo trips (“Jeeves, I need to be at Regina’s at 2pm, so cancel all your plans and make it so”), medical appointments (for apparently healthy kids, you would not believe how many there are), their emergencies (“Dad, I need additional hair color stuff NOW! I can’t go to school like this!”), real emergencies (“Dad, you know how I told you to get more ‘feminine products’ last week? How about you drop what you’re doing and go get some right now?”), and their musical support (Marching Band is almost every day in August, music lessons are at least once a week per child with catch-ups for missed lessons, rehearsals for performances are all over the place before a performance, etc.).

– I have Lillian and the time I eke out to be with her. This year we have completed all kinds of things. Laid down a kitchen floor, painted, worked on a basement, assembled Ikea furniture (*after* she swore never to buy more again because it requires assembly), bought and sold sundry furniture via Craigslist (which has involved minivans, roof racks, and the huffing and puffing of moving unwieldy heavy items around), assembled a table tennis table (with instructions that didn’t match the table itself — uggh!), emptied a garage-size storage locker and moved it elsewhere, visited multiple kids in hospital for multiple reasons, and so on. And that’s just the ‘working’ stuff as opposed to going out together shopping, walking the dogs, and other companionable activities.

– I have other friends that I get to see from time to time.

But I don’t live a ‘complete’ life either. I have too many things backed up at home. I have filed for divorce, but not finalized the legalities yet. Because Lillian and I are very close, I have a ‘half-life’ at both homes sometimes. I have to deal with one teen daughter whose opinion so closely reflect the misguided beliefs of my ex that there is no doubt I am being disparaged behind my back with various resentments and tension being created as a result.

Despite my super-busy life, I wouldn’t give it up. I wouldn’t give up the girls. I wouldn’t give up my time with Lillian. I don’t like that the house isn’t as I want it, or that I don’t have any time at all for TV anymore, or that I read but not as much as I used to (although I have become used to reading books on my iPhone 5 — how about that, TPG?!). Overall, my life is not what I expected it to be, but it’s turning out nicely. I’m on a journey and I can see there a few paths ahead of me, branching off in different directions. I don’t know which one I will be on yet, but I’m not in a hurry to find out. I’m alive, I’m healthy, I have nice people around me (yes, even my kids are nice…*grump*). Live life. Love it!

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Posted in Dating, Divorce, Family Life, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Getting Things Done – Part 1 of 2

1. This is a busy post with a thrilling range of topics for you to digest
2. I never fib, not even a little

Only one of the above statements is wholly true. You decide which.

The snippets that follow each have a loose segue from one to the other. Really.

I admit it, I was… w… wr… wr… WRONG. Some time ago, I suggested that you must be a total bozo if you didn’t e-mail out a complete post rather than a summary via your WordPress settings. Well, maybe “total bozo” is too strong. As was pointed out to me at the time, and verified via the WordPress support folks, they don’t count posts that are read only via e-mail in their Stats. (I didn’t get a coherent reason for why they don’t as it’s relatively simple to get some statistics in this way.) For now, I’ve changed my Settings to just send a summary of this and future posts. I know, it means I’m…mean. You have to go this web-site to see the full (and thrilling) content. If you don’t like this, please feel to complain to me directly via a face slap, phone call, IM, e-mail, or comments here, depending on how well you know me.

Recently I met in person another of our bloggers for the first time (who didn’t face slap me). We had a late dinner out West. He’s fascinating. Not at all what you expect from his blog title, nor from his posts. He’s much more grounded and fun than I expected. The dinner was supposed to include Lillian, but she was too busy packing pods to move her belongings to North Virginia. Packing up and moving always take longer and is more stressful than you ever think it will. I liken it to childbirth. Stop by any hospital where a women has just given birth and ask her if she’d like to have another baby soon and the answer you’ll get is, “FUCK OFF! Who the fuck are you anyway?!” because you’re really not supposed to just stop by maternity wards like that, and because women who have just given birth can be a teensy bit grumpy. But my most recent point is that most women who’ve just experienced the Thrill and Excitement of childbirth tend to be a little…reticient…to have another baby. Over time, the memories of the experience fade and — voilà! — another baby is happily on the way. Getting back to my earlier point, anyone who is moving or has just moved will swear off ever moving again. Realtors I know say new owners often plan to leave feet first when they die (which is, in itself, odd as coffins are usually moved head-first). Then they move anyway some years later. Getting back to my main point, Lillian had to explore her house — now her ex-husband’s house — and identify, document, and pack everything she wanted. At the same time as agreeing on the list of items and values with her ex. Not an easy task. Which is why she missed dinner, and the chance to meet our searching friend.

On a recent trip out West, my girlfriend Lillian and I had a side trip to southern California (Laguna Beach) for the wedding of one of her many siblings. We stayed with another of her siblings, her brother. He is someone I like very much — he’s clever, funny, and engaging. His wife is equally wonderful. She’s charming and a strong competitor with my Brigitte for one of the nicest people on the planet. His rented house, however, worries me. The master bedroom and the next smallest bedroom have no coverings at all. As this is a multi-million dollar home, the views all overlook the Pacific Ocean. But still. The bedroom doors are next; they’re all smoked glass. This glass is opaque if you have the light on inside and outside the room. It’s not so opaque if it’s night and the light is only on in the bedroom…or bathroom. Which leads to a second…issue. The house had a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. (For non-American readers, this is a bathroom shared between two bedrooms.) The smoked glass doors meant that the teenage boy in the other bedroom would presumably have had excellent views of anyone in the bathroom when his light was off at night. Naturally, this means that there are things that Lillian and I didn’t feel comfortable doing in this environment, despite the completely welcoming hospitality.

The things I have been doing and the priorities I have been assigning to the duties and tasks in my life will be discussed in the equally thrilling Part 2 post. Have you decided yet which of my statements above are true?

Posted in Dating, Divorce, Family Life, Humor, Miscellaneous, Separation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A response to “Regret”

Today I read a post by That Precarious Gait. It was broadly about regret. Everyone has decisions that worked out well and ones that did not. I commented and decided that I waffled on enough that perhaps my comment could be tailored to become a post in its own right.

Here are my comments on the topic of Regret, tailored to stand alone than respond to the original post:

First and foremost, I think we all make key decisions in our lives that create a fork in the road. In my own case, I have dozens of decisions that changed my life and those of my future grand-children and descendants. Do I regret them? Any of them?

  • I generally feel that regret is not very valuable. But…it’s not to be ignored completely. When I make a poor decision and regret it, often I use that regret to weight the contributors to future decisions differently.
  • I generally feel that regret is not valuable because usually I make decisions based on the information available at the time, and based on my desires. Should I have dessert with the meal? Should I take the job in another state or country? Should I stay or should I go? Life doesn’t offer me the opportunity to test out different paths in life and so I run with what I know, sometimes choosing poorly if I allow my heart to overrule my mind or vice versa.

It doesn’t help a sensible discussion of regret that the media tends to glamorize risk-taking. For example, the person that decided to stop and play the Lottery on a whim, even though it was his/her last few bucks. Or the chance meeting and chancier follow-up that turned into a loving marriage and lots of beautiful children (that are NOT teenagers you will notice). Or the programmer that gave up a Harvard education to start a business that became a global behemoth. These kinds of things play well in books and on TV, but don’t reflect the harsher reality that almost all Lottery players lose, many marriages fail, and most small business fail. (Note that it’s a particularly American thing to celebrate the chancy successes in this way; I don’t recall this in other countries at all.)

We all yearn for success in life, love and/or business and allow ourselves to be entranced with the what-if scenarios. We sometimes wallow in the decisions that we made that didn’t pan out as well as we’d anticipated. I’ve made some big decisions over the years. Most of those decisions are irrevocable. Maybe some could still be ‘undone’ if I were minded to backtrack some part of my life. (Which is not like me at all.) But then, if we talked about going back to re-visit decisions, we’re less talking about regret than about chance and free will. I firmly believe we control our own destinies, even as we are often slaves to our desires. It is me that chooses how disciplined to be in setting someone aside that doesn’t work for me, in how often to have dessert, in deciding whether or not to play the Lottery, etc. Finally, in the corporate world, in more senior roles, decision-making includes more experience but less information. Big decisions are often made with incomplete information. Objective analysis of this for share traders suggests that chance plays a bigger part than people want to believe. Hence, none of us can pick “correctly” or “poorly” in many situations. We can simply pick a path and see where it goes, hope the journey is exciting, and the destination is somewhere that is pleasant.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My superpowers

I wrote a post last year that covered a few things, including the end of a seaside vacation I took with Brigitte and Charlotte.

As I’d like to be able to cross-reference my superpowers in other blog posts, I’ve decided to abtract some of the text from that post into its own post to avoid future confusion.

I have two magical skills in this life:

1. I can show up at a busy venue (major shopping mall, cinema complex, Presidential Inauguration, busy city center, you name it) and a parking space that’s extremely convenient will open up for me. Even people who have driven with me many times gape and say it’s not possible for it to happen so frequently, that the universe’s laws of probability are being violated. As a trivial example, some years ago the family stopped at the Mall of America, the biggest shopping mall in the USA (as far as I know), and I drove up and immediately found a space right outside the front door as other drivers cruised around in circles like sharks.

2. When I go somewhere on vacation, the weather might be forecast to be terrible. But it won’t be. It will usually change to suit me. Don’t ask me why…or how. For example, the vacation that inspired the first publication of this text had a weather forecast of drizzle, rain, and possible thunderstorms. Instead, it was decided that it was only allowed to rain at night. It cleared up for the day, and dried out by the time the two girls and I went to fun things like go-karting. Also, when I say the weather will “suit me,” I don’t mean sunny and hot necessarily, because go-karting is more fun when it’s cloudy and dry. The same thing happened on a larger scale when I moved to the USA in mid-2001. The fall season at the end of the year dragged on for months and I was able to spend a lot of time outdoors and walking with new friends. The following winter, when I was settled into the new house and had a 4WD vehicle, the snow came down heavily, and I loved it! You can’t be trained to do this…

I didn’t ask for these superpowers and, if I had been asked me which ones I’d like to have, I can think of much cooler ones I might select. Still, you will NOT hear me complaining about them!

Posted in Humor, Miscellaneous | Tagged | 9 Comments

It’s summer!

It’s been a long time since I posted anything significant. I have a number of draft posts that remain unfinished and unpublished. I’ve been very busy and not had time to write them to my satisfaction. They cover some of the difficulties of 2012 (which was unexpected as I had scheduled this to be a good year by comparison with 2011), primarily problems with ill children. They also cover the genuine delights of finding someone special and integrating lives together. I’ll get back to those eventually.

For now, it’s summer.

I can tell it’s summer because the sun has moved about 3/4 of the way from its usual position and is now hovering not far off the surface of the earth. I know this because the other day it was a very pleasant 70F (21C). Today, including the simmering Washington DC humidity, the heat index is already in triple digits (38C — Which is a much more boring temperature measure than 100F by the way. Although I still envy the simple-to-understand 0C versus the useless 32F for freezing.). Tomorrow is going to be hotter still. After that, the sun intends to withdraw a little and it will simply be hot instead of blazing hot.

My middle daughter, Brigitte, has a pool party planned at the local swimming club with her school friends. I warned her that she will be burned to death, that heat stroke will turn her brain into that of a sports celebrity (**), and then skin cancer will kill her before she turns 21. She’s not fazed, even though our entire family is as white as fresh Alpine snow. I told her she needs to find someone else to nurse her back to health. Teens are curiously persistent about things though…

(**) As a side note, I accept that being a top sports star (for example only, a top-notch NFL football player or NBA basketball player) is very hard work. You don’t just need natural height and strength and commitment to training, you need the very best doctors to give you top-quality steroids when no one is looking, and you need someone to take care of the millions of dollars that you are inexplicably paid. But this doesn’t mean you have any brains. It certainly doesn’t mean you should be allowed near an open microphone. Yet, after a big game, it’s not uncommon for local radio stations to let some hapless half-wit of a sports star describe how their team won the game. After listening to their rambling description of strategy and tactics, I usually think the most accurate description of how the team won would be: “accidentally”.

My girlfriend, Lillian, has a daughter who leaves next week to go back to California for most of the summer. With Harriet gone, Lillian won’t be woken up early most mornings by what sounds like a stampeding elephant let loose on a staircase scattered with scary mice. She won’t have to respond to knocks on the bedroom door long after it has been closed and locked and the occupant(s) might be presumed to be asleep or, if not, definitely not interested in conversation. Lillian won’t have to share the single bathroom in her rented house with that of a teen that is apparently very keen on cleanliness–why else would it take around an hour (and a full unit of water from the hot water heater) to have a shower? As you can imagine Lillian is looking forward to reluctantly going to put her daughter on a plane. I believe she intends to get to the airport the day before just to be on the safe side. Now that’s good parenting!

Yesterday, in the spirit of summer freedom, Lillian and I booked flights to Colorado. We’ll be heading out West in July for 4 or 5 days. At this point, I don’t know who will be looking after my kids and I don’t care. Well I do, but I haven’t alotted time for caring yet…I’m going to book that for next week if I’m not too busy. Naturally, I’ll post some kind of commentary on the visit, perhaps even photos. Stay tuned!

To my friends and family in Australia and anywhere else south of the equator where you’re supposed to be having winter. From what I’ve seen on my iPhone Weather app, it’s not very cold for you. So please don’t begrudge me enjoying this season of hotter weather but some FREEDOM at last!

Posted in Family Life, Humor, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A new page to formalize the names

As part of bringing material across from the new blog, I decided the “Who’s Who” is useful: Who’s Who

This is a new page, up there with “About Me”

The humiliating thing is that I can’t remember exactly what blog name I have been using for my runaway wife. I rarely use the name and am now fixated on the one I picked for the new blog. If you can remember it, please feel free to remind me via a comment to this post. *blush*

Posted in Humor | Tagged | 6 Comments

Do you want some… ?

No, it’s not what you think. My, you do you have a dirty mind, don’t you?

I have moved some old posts from my new blog into my old blog so that you can see them as if they are new. Get it? Geez! Doing it this way means that the comments are not deleted.

Here is a fun post I did: Do you want some fur with that?

And a follow-up: Do you want some time with that?

Posted in Divorce | 1 Comment

My New Blog – CANCELED

I NO LONGER have a new blog. I NO LONGER have one that will remain hidden from my sweet but too-inquisitive daughter.

It’s not that she found the new blog; it’s just that I gave it a lot of thought and decided I no longer care if she reads my blog. Also, I didn’t want to go to the effort of managing and ‘growing’ a new blog only to discover that she’d found some sneaky way to uncover the new blog anyway.

So, with a great deal of embarrassment, I am — again — back.. 🙂

This URL and blog will continue to be my launching point. There is where the ups and downs of post-separation life will be documented. You’re stuck with me. At least until you find how to stop receiving my mails!

I twisted and tickled WordPress until it gave up and let me transfer the blog to this userid. This means that my “past” posts on this blog now include some past posts from the other blog. *sigh*

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Peek-a-boo! Can anyone find me? (Yet again)

Inspired by a fellow blogger, I have (yet again) checked out the recent search terms that landed someone on my blog. Here are some:

“thomas murray virgin islands”
“thomas murray vi”
“thomas murray jenni”
“beware of thomas murray”
“thomas murray puerto rico”
(and 8 other variations on this theme)
Glad to help women discover that this person is not who he claimed to be. My own blog on this topic merely pointed to those of others. You’re welcome…

“samuel j levine immigration lawyer misrepresent”
Ooh, I’m not the only person to discover that he too isn’t exactly what he claims to be. That is, he’s not very good nor helpful.

“joseph fiennes”
“joseph fiennes hot”
Thanks a bunch Lady E! Thanks to our guest post, I’m now the end point for searches by horny women looking for the visage of *your* Joseph!!

“uh speed dating”
As we know, I never found the time to go speed dating (I’m still not sure if I would have enjoyed it or not), but what I don’t get is “uh”. Huh??

“match.com winking pointless”
Excellent. People are getting the message. If you do ever want to use Match.com, use it sensibly. Winking is pointless unless you’re a woman trying to get a man to demonstrate interest. Frankly, they should simply disable the option for men to wink. But that’s just my opinion.

“respond ignore match.com emails”
Excellent. Again, get the message ladies. If someone sends you a *normal* message on Match.com, respond. Even if it’s to simply say “No thanks” (and there’s a button for that). Again, in the daily e-mails I get (I would have to logon to switch them off and I don’t want to logon again at the moment), when I looked at them, I used to notice that the women who had studiously ignored me often showed up in my are-you-sure-none-of-these-lovely-ladies-is-appealing list from time to time. On the other hand, you have my ‘permission’, recommendation, and support for permanently blocking anyone who sends something extremely dumb or rude; that’s different.

“word press [first-name] [last-name]”
I removed the person’s name. It’s not mentioned anywhere on my blog. Perhaps this is the name of someone who reads my blog and wanted to search for…her own name. But why? And how did WordPress land them on MY blog as a result?

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Do you want some time with that?

There was a time when I had some.

(Note: For the images, you may need to click on them to see the details.)

This is my personal calendar for a week from last year:

A Week - Home - Last Year

This is my personal calendar for the same week recently:

A Week - Home - This Year

This is my work calendar for a busy week:

A Week - Work - This Year

It’s pretty clear that my life has changed quite significantly since separation. The most recent calendar does take into account the reasonable expectation that it’s nice to spend some time with my new beau; some of those appointments include her.

In any case, it’s interesting how time and our perception of how much time we have changes…over time.

As youngsters, the days are long, the summers are endless, and time is to be frittered away.

As teens, the pressure builds. There is increasing homework, we consider college/university and cram more information into our brains. Friends add to the demands.

As college (university) students, it’s back to the heady days where time is as freely distributed as music on networks. Save for exams, the years at college aren’t pressured.

As new workers, we realize that free time has a price. Doing our jobs takes time, and requires us to be on time. But we benefit from the knowledge that when we leave work, all of the time is ours.

As couples, we discover that some of the after-work free time isn’t ours. There are lots of compensations and love and affection to make up for it, so it’s not a loss. But we discover that work on the house, or shopping for something useful for the house, or organizing dinners is time-consuming.

Then we have kids.

Time: All. Gone.

It doesn’t matter whether we want to walk together, sit and talk, or have wild monkey sex. Time has to be found by carving out chunks from an often-committed day. Some of the things we used to be able to do when we felt the urge (and let’s mention sex again here) can require some planning that spoils the spontaneity.

Then the kids grow up a little. They don’t need the constant attention, they sleep through the night, they play together and only occasionally murder each other. There is some free time. We are lavish with it. Freedom! Sex! OK, q-u-i-e-t sex, but still. Yay! Sometimes, if we’ve been smart enough to live near accomodating grandparents, there’s the chance to go away as a couple for a few days.

Then the kids get bigger: “Dad, can you drive me to school to pick up the music folder I forgot to bring home, then we need to go to the grocery store to pick up cookie dough for the party at school tomorrow, then can you drop me off at Sarah’s for the night?” And later: “Dad, could you bring me my toothbrush? Oh, and the face wash. Not that one, the special one, you know, with the thing on it. It’s a kind of an orange color. Where did I leave it? I don’t know. Don’t you know? Geez. It’s in the bathroom somewhere. Or somewhere else in the house. But I need it right now because we’re going to bed. Why are you yelling — were you doing something?”

Then you run away to somewhere remote, like Boulder. At least that’s my plan to avoid whatever’s next. It might get crowded if you all join me there in your own escape, so could some of you find somewhere else? Thanks. I hear Seattle is nice during the summer season.

Posted in Family Life, Humor, Separation | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments