Monday, July 18, 2016

Ten Years After (or Here's Where the Story Ends)

On this day in 2006, I published my first post on this blog.  For the first two years, I churned out a lot of content, as I chronicled and digested the latter days of my marriage to X.  The legal dissolution of that union was finalized over six years ago.  As the xkcd Timeghost would put it, "The end of your marriage is clooooser to the first day of the post of your blog than it is noooow."

I almost let the 10-year mark pass by unnoticed.  I hopped onto Feedly this morning to check the RSS feeds for blogs I followed when this blog was much more active.  The only public blogs that continue to publish periodically are The Drunken Housewife, The Edge of Vanilla, and I am Doing the Best I Can.  On the private side, Anais continues to publish on Dancing with Myself.

I was surprised to see that Phyllis RenĂ©e of the Diggersphere had resurfaced after a long hiatus.  In her June 21, 2016 post, she noted that she had gone through a divorce, and that prompted me to go to my own blog and check the date of the first post.  Sure enough, the first post was dated July 17, 2006.  Then I looked to see when my last post was... mid-June 2015!  Over a year of blogging silence.

Over the years, I've tried to envision how I would bring this blog to a close.  Back in 2007, when I was contemplating moving to the Bay Area after the collapse of my marriage and the realization that my employer at the time was teetering on the abyss, I thought I would wrap up the blog, and move on to a new chapter in a separate blog, maybe 3 am Eternal, but that never happened.

I continued to use the blog to give updates to followers as I tried to chart a new course for my life.  I grew a lot, both emotionally and professionally.  I also passed through some very dark phases of loneliness.  I had some relationships along the lines of Sam Phillips' "Stay with Me," craving intimacy and companionship, but not willing to develop a deep romantic bond.

I met someone in mid 2011, someone a few years older than I.  We happened to be only a couple miles apart from one another, and we had much in common.  The relationship blossomed, with our attentions focused almost solely on one another on the weekends we didn't have our kids.  Eventually I would get introduced to her family, and we got along very well.  The loneliness that had haunted me both in marriage and on my own finally seemed to dissipate.

At the end of 2012, I bid my employer, Company Line, farewell, and set off on a new path, working for the state's largest college.  I liked the people at my new job, but I hated the commute because it was 20 miles away, and not feasible by bus.  The job meant a good sized pay cut, and my house started to have troubles with the roof and drain.  Plans to blend households got put on the back burner.

Also complicating things was my love's ex, who was becoming less reliable.  That meant that a lot of our kid-free weekends got the kibosh because the ex had too much month at the end of the money, so he wasn't able to do things like feed his son.  The daughter, going into her high school years, started to refuse to go to her dad's and became increasingly jealous of the time my love and I spent together.

2014 was a hard year, and I fell into deep depression.  I started to see the cancelled weekends as my love putting distance between us.  My insecurities about being unlovable kicked into high gear.  Still, I wasn't so overcome with my emotions that I could see that I needed help.  I took advantage of my employer's EAP to get some counseling to sort things out.

With 2015, things got a little better as we started to have overnights even when her daughter decided to stay.   I went on medication.  I looked for a higher paying job, but wound up staying with my current employer after getting a promotion to something that aligned better with my career goals.  By this time, I had grown tired of web application development and wanted to make the transition into data science.

 While I still miss our weekends of complete togetherness, I've reached a place where I can talk with her about how we can share time together, even when the kids are around.  We have a weekly night where we have dinner together at her house.  We go to church together on Sundays.  We keep connected with texts during the day and we talk on the phone nightly when we don't see each other in person.  We make it a point to get out and see live music together by ourselves on a regular basis, because this is one thing that touches us on a deep level.

Do I wish we had greater physical intimacy?  Yes, but I don't feel the hurting like I did with X.  My love and I remind each other in some subtle ways that we crave each other, and when we do get alone time, it is wonderful.  The difference is that I feel desired for who I am, just as I desire her for whom she is.  We share our lives as much as we can, given our circumstances, and we continue to plan for a day where we will be under one roof and sharing the same bed.

Outside my relationship, life continues to be busy.  My daughters are now 13 and 11.  I'm very much a part of their lives.  Both are active in dancing and learning piano.  The older one is more athletic and runs both distance and track events.  My younger daughter loves the creative arts.  She takes lots of art classes and works on crafts on her own volition.  She also has inherited my propensity for anxiety, which challenges her mother and gives me pause to reflect on how I would have liked my parents to have helped me manage my own anxiety.  We'll be going on a vacation with my love's family in the week to come.  They get along with them very well.

I have become increasingly involved in the church where my love grew up.  It's a struggling congregation.  It served an area that was once more middle class 40 - 50 years ago.  The loss of major employers in the area in the 70s and 80s meant that some of those folks moved away, or their kids moved on as they grew up because opportunities were elsewhere.  Others left as the congregation took a more progressive direction on matters of sexuality.

I like the pastor because she is very honest about her own humanity.  Although it is the same denomination as the church I grew up in, this church takes a less literal view on scripture, emphasizing the importance of being agents of God's love rather than God's wrath.  Over the past year, we have come to realize that if we don't develop a stronger connection of service to our neighbors, the congregation will die out, so we've been hard at work trying to examine where we do need to change, and I have been active in helping to chart that course.

My father passed away two and a half months ago, after almost 15 years of physical deterioration from a stroke.  His own challenges have haunted me over the years.  The stroke hit him early into his early retirement years, at the age of 51.  On one level, I was relieved to see the end of his suffering, but I also grieved over the moments where his aliments limited what he could do with the grand kids and me.  My mother is still alive and in mostly good health.  She lives up in the northeast suburbs now with two rescued St. Bernards as companions.

Anyway, I'm making my way through life, accompanied by the ones I love.  I've become more grateful for what I have.  I'll probably still have flirtations with existential dread, but I'll do my best to use them as passages of growth.  With this post, I am hereby freezing this blog, with no future posts to follow.  I'll still be reachable at the e-mail address in the sidebar.  If I know you well enough, I'll give you my Twitter account handle so you can follow the day-in and day-out stream of my consciousness.

As surely as this Sunday has come to an end, so does this blog.  But it will remain here to serve as a guide post for others who may have found themselves in a similar situation.  I leave you with one last late night listen.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

For Your Amusement Only - IBM Watson Visualizes a Post

IBM's Watson Twitter account recently tweeted a link to a page where you could paste a writing sample for its algorithms to analyze with respect to personality.  Just for grins, I decided to submit my "Self Dissolution" post from Dec. 31, 2006, less the book excerpts and lyrics.  This is what it returned as a result:
You are sentimental and guarded.

You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are organized: you feel a strong need for structure in your life. And you are calm-seeking: you prefer activities that are quiet, calm, and safe.

Your choices are driven by a desire for discovery.

You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you. You are relatively unconcerned with achieving success: you make decisions with little regard for how they show off your talents.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy!

Those of you who have read this space for a while may remember a prior post about a woman from my past whose advances had haunted me over the years.  I was reminded of her today with the news that her ex-husband, whom she met while at the school we both attended, had been found dead.  It wasn't a clipping forwarded by a friend.  It was the RSS feed for the Old Grey Lady and a tweet for an Associated Press "Big Story" article.  Some searching turned up that she herself had since moved on, with a new last name.  She's almost 50 now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On the Passing of an Old Classmate

Submitted without further commentary...

Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences 
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you. 
-- Simon & Garfunkel,
Columbia Records

She departed this life last December, I learned today.   I had not seen her since I graduated from college.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Facing an Old Demon

Last weekend, I was introduced to X's current boyfriend.  It's been six years since she moved out of the house, but this is the only one of them I have met.  I've never asked for much information in this area, and she's never volunteered much about them, other than to ask if the kids could stay with me on nights when she had plans.  I know of only one other former boyfriend by name, and that was only because he was the sibling of a prominent radio personality here.

The introduction was cordial.  He seems like a good guy.  He has a daughter about the same age as our older daughter.  He was there so that X could introduce him to the kids and go out for ice cream together.

Emotionally, it was much more difficult than I had imagined it being.  Although I have no feelings for X, my feelings of rejection in that relationship haunt me still, even more so given the downshift in together time I've had in my own romantic relationship.  Putting a face and a name to what she wanted, at least superficially, gave me the impression that she wanted something very different out of a man than me.

That demon of undesirability is lurking in the dark reaches of my mind.  The weekends that my girlfriend and I normally would spend together are now just maybe a few hours together.  Dinner at a restaurant or sitting together at church.  I struggle with the feeling that while she says she is unhappy with it, she is really OK with it, or at least doesn't feel the same pain that I feel when I realize that we won't be spending that time together.

 I've been trying to channel energy into things that I've needed to do for a while -- yard work and decluttering to name a couple things.  I don't have a lot of disposable income, so getting out of the house to do things that cost money seems infeasible, and going places where there are a lot of people by myself feels weird, like I'm being unfaithful to the relationship.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Moribund 2am RSS Feeds

Started to take a look at the blogs that I used to follow via Google Reader many a year ago. I migrated them to Feedly when Google did its Spring Cleaning shutdown of Reader.  Most of the feeds have gone dormant.  Only Anais (Dancing with Myself), Dawn (I am Doing the Best I Can and other blogs), Tom Allen (The Edge of Vanilla), and Drunken Housewife are posting with any degree of regularity.  Here is a listing of each blog in my feed and the number of days since the last post was published.
  1. ...For a Different Kind of Girl (Eponymous) - 506
  2. A Very Merry Un-Birthday (Mandy Lou) - 1151
  3. Dancing with Myself (Anais) - 4
  4. Deepest Darkest Thoughts (Trueself)- 178
  5. Drunken Housewife (Eponymous) - 32
  6. I Am Doing the Best I Can (Dawn) - 6
  7. I Should've Been Famous by Now (Tajalude) - 1004
  8. Mind Blowing Insanity (Jinsane) - 165
  9. Never Judge a Book by its Cover/Blogger (Cat) - 1175
  10. Never Judge a Book by its Cover /Wordpress (Cat) - 772
  11. Phyllis Renee (Eponymous) - 1562
  12. Reality & Redemption/Wordpress (Digger Jones) - 173
  13. Reality & Redemption/Blogger (Digger Jones) - 1871
  14. The Edge of Vanilla (Tom Allen) - 29
  15. The Eyes Have It (Fiona) - 138
  16. Unsolicited Advice/Blogger (Digger Jones) - 2052
  17. Unsolicited Advice/Wordpress (Digger Jones) - 455
 This doesn't include blogs that have shut down, like Meet Joe Flirt, Therese in Heaven, and Law Girl, and Euro Posh, or the blogs that have gone private like Have the T-Shirt, and Fade to Numb.

What blogs do you miss?

Playing the Hand You're Dealt

Last weekend, we had the closest thing to one of "our weekends" that we've had in a long time.

My girlfriend's ex-husband got paid late last week, which meant he had money, so he promised his son that he'd come get him for the weekend.  He cancelled the Friday evening pickup, claiming he had to work and promising to pick him up the next day.  Actual pickup time was Saturday afternoon at 3 pm.  No explanation given.  He was driving another new used car, the third or fourth that he's had so far this year.

It was almost an overnight for us, but her daughter's plans for the weekend fell through when the friend she was going to stay with got sick, complications from hypoglycemia.  With no other plans, she was going to stay home, so that put the overnight plans into the "nope" column.  The three of us met for dinner, and then she took her daughter home so she could come over to see me.  We had about four hours of together time, which was reinvigorating.

I shared with her my feelings that the lack of together time this year had been a drain on me.  I also made it clear that I didn't blame her.  I knew she didn't have control of her ex-husband.  But it was also true that I was experiencing severe loneliness due to the unpredictability and infrequency of our time together.  She said she didn't like the way things were for her.  She said she knew we needed time away from the kids so we could talk freely in a way you can't when you're on the phone or texting.  She said was able to "compartmentalize" that and go on, realizing that this was just how things were going to be for a while because she didn't see him getting any better about being there for his kids.

We talked about how we could be more creative about finding time to be alone.  She floated the idea of changing up our weekly dinner night so that instead of me coming to her house, she would come to mine without her kids. She would make them something for dinner and let them eat by themselves.  Her kids are 15 and 12, so they can handle a few hours on their own.

We tried it out this past Wednesday.  I had dinner ready for us and we snuggled after that, spending about three hours together.  I asked her how her kids were dealing with this arrangement, and she said her daughter (the 15 year-old) was OK with it, but the son wasn't happy, complaining that she was probably going to eat something better than what they were having.  Although it hurt to see her go, we were both happy with it, so we will probably make this the new weekly routine.

Got a phone call from X this evening letting me know that when I bring the kids home on Sunday evening, her boyfriend was going to be there and she was going to introduce him to the kids.  She said that the kids know about him, so this wouldn't blindside them.  I guess I will get to meet him as well.  Should be interesting.

Work is still grinding on me.  The project that I was conscripted as tech lead for about a month ago is hitting issues with resource allocation, with a consultant whom they hoped to have lined up not ready to go.  Realizing this, the powers that be have agreed to extend the completion date, which was already way too aggressive.  I'm getting some interest from recruiters, so I've been telling them that I won't be available until the project winds down, which will be most likely October now.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dusting the Sidebar

I've revisited the links on my sidebar to weed out dead or less useful links. Among those impacted: Spirits Using Me
  • Updated a broken link for Western Pennsylvania Family Center
  • Removed links for book authors Weiner Davis, Schnarch, and Glover. The material on these sites seem to become heavier on the glitzy marketing and lighter on substance. Probably a sign of the times or the fact that I'm just so sick of what marketers do.
Larger Voices Calling

Links to the following websites have been removed because they have gone private.

  • Never Judge a Book by Its Cover (Wordpress)
  • Reality and Redemption (Blogger)
  • Unsolicited Advice (Blogger)

Surprisingly enough, it's only the Blogger-hosted Digger Jones sites that have gone private. The Wordpress blogs remain. On the other hand, Cat's Blogger-hosted "Never Judge" site remains accessbile, but dormant.

Probitionate in Situ is accessible via click-through on the Blogger-provided NSFW consent button.

I removed the link to Incurable as it appears that this blog has been shut down.

I updated the link to Difficult Relationships.

Of all of these blogs, only Drunken Housewife and The Edge of Vanilla continue to post on a regular basis. The Eyes Have It resurfaced a few months back to lament a marriage lost.

I remember when the Diggersphere was a much livelier place. I kinda miss it these days.