Monday, November 17, 2008

Sometimes It's Amazing

Some marriages work. Some are these amazing, magical best friendships that you just can’t seem to fathom would be possible, where you see these two people wanting to spend every waking moment with each other, and each can’t imagine a life without the other. Obviously, that was not the case with me because I was running from Ex like he was a hungry lion in Africa and I was the only warm body for miles. You could promise me Donald Trump’s entire estate if I would marry again and I still wouldn’t do it, but I’m not jaded enough to think that this kind of beautiful relationship is not possible.

However, when this impossible love does happen on those rare occasions, sometimes tragedy steals all of that in such a cruel way that you can’t fathom that, either. The relationship I'm about to write about was one of those unimaginable, lifelong love relationships with both spouse and children that is difficult to even conceptualize.

I just returned home from my best friend Ava’s city, in which we attended her father’s funeral and then spent our days with her Mom.

In order to understand this, you have to know that her parents were my second parents. We’ve been friends for more years than we wish to admit, since that means we have to disclose our real ages. So actually, we met when we were fetuses. Maybe not genetically, but we are sisters and we have nicknames for each other that I’ve mentioned in the past – MODI. Her Dad was Dad MODI and her Mom is Mom MODI to me. I love them as if they are family, but actually, they are my family.

I’ll spare you the gory details, because, quite frankly, I can’t even write about Dad MODI without sobbing, and I’ve not only done that for 6 days straight, but it blurs my contact lenses and then I can’t type. Point being, he had a heart attack Friday and died on Tuesday morning.

The majority of us will say nice things about the dead because we think we're going to have some bad karma or something if we speak the truth about what kind of a craphead this deceased person was. Let’s face it. Most people are buttheads and a pain in the ass (I know I am), and then, doesn’t it strike you oddly when everyone speaks about them as if they were angels? Well, I’m not one of those people because I’ll be the first to tell you that my Grandma, who I loved dearly, was the hugest bitch on the planet. She’d tell you the same thing as well. She loved to proclaim what a bitch she was, and she was a born-again Christian! And I hope that at my funeral, people talk about what a huge pain in the no-no hole (thank you Michael K for the terminology) I was! So I’m telling the truth and I don’t have to lie at all when I say that Dad MODI was an amazing, selfless, caring person who put everyone before himself. He was a world-renowned physician and inventor, but aside from all of that, he was in love with his wife and children for his whole life. I’m doing Dad MODI no justice with these words because words just cannot describe this man. I know, I know, you’re rolling your eyes thinking that I must be exaggerating, but I am not exaggerating in the least. I love my own Dad more than wine (which is saying a lot), and I’d rather live a life without wine than a life without my Dad. And I felt the same way about Dad MODI. I’d give up Opus One in a second if we could have him back here, so I can’t even begin to imagine what Ava is feeling right now.

The worst part (or one of them, because there are so many), is that Ava is getting married in 5 months. Dad MODI can’t walk her down the aisle, and that is a ridiculous injustice, since my Dad walked me down the aisle and my marriage, quite frankly, sucked! Dad MODI should have been able to walk her down the aisle because she’s marrying a good man, and honestly, that pisses me off. My poor Dad had to marry me off to a dude who loved granny porn!

In any case, I met Ava’s soon-to-be-husband under these circumstances this week for the first time, which is not how I wished to have met him. But what I can say, happily? Is that he is an absolute gem, never left her side at the hospital for 5 days, loves her completely, and he’s totally cute to boot. This is the first one she’s ever dated that I’ve even been able to tolerate! But I actually even like him! We stayed up one night until 5 in the morning drinking wine and talking. My kind of guy.

I’m devastated that Ava has to have her wedding without her beloved Daddy. They had one of those best friend father-daughter relationships that was so special and close, but I’m so happy that she’s marrying a good man who I know will honor Dad MODI’s memory. Since I’m speaking at her wedding, I’m thrilled that I actually love this guy, because otherwise, I’d just have to raise a glass and say, “I love you, MODI, and you look beautiful, but too bad I can’t stand your new husband, and too bad that Dad MODI is looking at us from heaven thinking what an asshat you've just married!” And don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t actually say that. I can now speak from the heart, which will probably start the tears flowing again for me. And tears make me just so ridiculously pretty. Me and crying don’t get along well. I need to see Plastic Surgeon for major surgery when I cry. Thank God I’m going back to work this week so I can run by her office at the hospital and get some work done.

So everyone, raise a glass to Dad MODI, celebrate his life, all that he did to save lives, heal pain, and most of all, how much he loved Mom MODI, Ava, and her brother, who we’ll call Peal! Cheers, Dad MODI, I love you so much and I miss you.

I’m still never getting married again, but right now, I’m also (unbelievably, I know) raising a glass to marriages that are beautiful, happy, and loving.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Naked Backflips for Everyone!

It's still Black History Month, so I'll quote Dr. Martin Luther King and say, "Free at last, free at last!"



More to come very soon.....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Maybe Finally?

I walked into the deposition last Monday unable to control my trembling hands, despite a thorough set of instructions from Lawyer, assurances that this wouldn’t be too harsh a process for me, and a Valium. The depositions were held at Greasy Attorney’s office and I tried to find amusement at the fact that it looks like something out of the set of Miami Vice, but laughter wasn’t coming easily. I was somewhat comforted by the fact that Ex was going first so I could see what to expect, ignorant of the fact that it was futile since our depositions ended up being conducted very differently.

I kept my hands in my lap during Ex’s 4 ½ hour dep to hide the tremors, initially watching intently, then feeling fidgety because it was lasting longer than church when you have your favorite monthly visitor and you think your tampon is leaking. His dep consisted of Lawyer going through each business’s tax return line by line. It was an unbelievably tedious process, since Ex’s business practices are insanely convoluted. As Lawyer wound his way through the English garden maze of transfers, intra-company loans, and infusions of money out of thin air in an attempt to smoke out whatever place in which he may be hiding assets, I realized that Ex had perjured himself more times than I could count.

After his dep was over, we took a break. Ex went into another room while Lawyer and Greasy Attorney conferred in a different room and I picked up a dictionary from the shelf, beginning to thumb through it. It’s inane, but I like to take a dictionary, close my eyes, stick my finger into a random page and read it. The first page I selected was in the “M,” section. About halfway through, I came upon the words, “marriage,” “marriageable,” and “marriage minded.” I rolled my eyes and picked another page randomly. It was in the “L,” section. A few words down the page, I came across the word, “love.” I sighed and slammed the book shut, opening it again to another section. This time I was in the “C”s. You guessed it, it was the page with “commit,” “commitment,” and “common-law marriage.” Thinking that the book may have been possessed by the Devil himself, I returned it to the shelf and backed away from it just in time for everyone to return.

I began my own deposition scared, but that quickly turned to an irritation similar to that of wearing underwear made from glass shards. Whereas Lawyer showed Ex the utmost respect despite his clear perjury, Ex’s Greasy Attorney didn’t return the favor.

He asked, “You have a house cleaning service?”

“Yes.”

He sneered sarcastically as he leaned across the table. “What, are you too good to clean the floor or scrub a toilet?”

I looked at Lawyer in confusion because I wasn’t expecting to be treated as such. Lawyer wrote me a note under the table that said, “Just be cool. He’s a hack and he knows it.”

I wrote back, "D*CK!!!"

Later, as he was going through my financial disclosure statement, he said, “You listed quite a bit of money for your monthly doctor’s fees. Care to explain that?”

“If I must, I took an aggregate of the last 12 months of doctor’s fees and divided it by 12.”

“And just who are these doctors?” he asked.

“I’m not under any obligation to answer that, since it violates doctor-patient confidentiality, not to mention the fact that Lawyer never asked your client about that. If you insist, though, Dr. G treated me for my fractured calcaneous, Dr. E is my PCP, and I receive care from Dr. [Plastic Surgeon’s name].”

“What kind of medicine does she practice?”

“She’s a plastic surgeon,” I answered, knowing where this line of questioning was going.

“Ohhhh,” he answered, leaning back in his chair with a smirk on his face while he twisted his pencil back and forth. “Well, now, you’ve had plastic surgery?” he asked mockingly.

“Um, Greasy Attorney,” I stated, leaning across the table and coolly looking him directly in the eye, “since you specifically asked for my medical records from her prior to this deposition, I can only assume that you’re trying to trip me up and I don’t appreciate it, nor will I fall for your trickery. And furthermore, of course I’ve had plastic surgery!”

While the court reporter stifled a giggle, his face twisted into a grimace. “Moving on,” he said. “So what are all of these expenses for social clubs and entertainment?”

I listed all of my academic memberships and then told him that I had a once-weekly Girls Night and a once-weekly date with The Doc.

“Now, just what is the nature of your relationship to The Doc?” he said, smirking in self-satisfaction once again.

“Well, not that it’s relevant to these proceedings in the least, but he’s my Main Gay.” The room erupted in laughter. Actually, Lawyer, the court reporter, and I erupted into laughter.

True to what the P.A. had told me, it was 2 hours of him attempting to trick me into perjuring myself, but to no avail because I don’t have any tracks to cover. Finally, it was over and the time to start settlement discussions commenced. It was arduous and escalated into anger at times, but we finally hammered out a basic agreement after 9 (!!) hours and set a date to meet on Saturday to finalize it in order to avoid trial.

This past Saturday I walked into Greasy Attorney’s office, once again expecting Crockett and Tubbs to spring out from behind one of the plastic palm trees. I wasn’t as nervous as Monday, but I was still anticipating a potential break down of talks in light of Ex’s past nutty behaviors.

Talks almost did break down, but we finally came to an agreement. I’m not happy with it. Ex isn’t happy with it. As my Dad always says, though, a good settlement consists of both parties walking away unhappy.

The agreement still needs to be signed and there’s a chance that Ex will have a change of heart and back out, preferring trial, but I have every finger, toe, and internal organ crossed that it won’t happen. Despite my disagreement with much of the settlement, I just want this whole acrimonious, Dante’s Inferno of divorces to be over so that I can move on. If all goes according to plan, I will be officially, well, Free on Wednesday afternoon. No more Almost, but rather, Finally.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours.

Last week at work, I ran into one of the P.A.s in the hallway with whom I work in our clinic’s office. I knew that she’d had a deposition the previous week for a work-related case, but I hadn’t had a chance to ask her about it, so I stopped her and inquired about her experience.

“Almost, it was the worst three and a half hours of my life. I mean, this guy was insanely rude, sarcastic, and he tried to trick me and trip me up the entire time,” she answered as she sagged against the wall.

Since I’ve been in panic mode for several weeks, this didn’t serve to quell the Category 5 hurricane that’s been taking a tour of my G.I. tract for so long, but I wanted to know what I’ll be facing so I asked for details. She told me that one of the doctors deposed actually stood up and told the attorney that he refused to be treated with that kind of disrespect and left the room. The ugly specifics of her experience, which I obviously can’t discuss for HIPAA and legal reasons, made my hair stand on end. I was pretty sure I looked like one of those people with their hand on the electricity ball at the science museum.

When Lawyer called Friday morning to confirm the deposition for Monday, I was immediately seized with terror. Filling him in briefly on what the P.A. had undergone, I asked him if I’d be dealing with the same kind of trickery, even though I have nothing to hide.

“No, that’s a totally different situation. I know you’re nervous, but I’m right there, and if there’s a question I don’t want you to answer, I’ll direct you not to answer, “ he replied.

With a promise that he’d call me Sunday night to talk about a few last-minute details, we said goodbye. At 4:40 in the afternoon Friday (of a holiday weekend, no less), I received an email from Lawyer’s paralegal with a rider from Ex’s Greasy Attorney demanding a Mount McKinley of documents for Monday’s deposition, including my medical records, specifically mentioning Plastic Surgeon and The Doc, the latter of whom is only a friend and doesn’t even treat me. Not only were his demands entirely impossible for time reasons, but I was also really pissed at the part about my medical records.

I called Lawyer, and he actually laughed through my whole rant about how my medical records aren’t any of Ex's f*cking business, not to mention that it violates doctor-patient confidentiality and HIPAA, and what the f*ck does he think he’s doing, since The Doc has never treated me and did treat Ex for his f*cked up mental health?

“Almost, take a breath!” he exclaimed. “He knows that you can’t produce those documents, and he’s in a load of hot water because we made our document demands months ago, but he’s dropping the ball in doing this to you at the 11th hour. The court will see it, too, and as for the medical records? Don’t even worry about it, that’s none of their business, and it’s irrelevant.”

My heart rate began to drop down, and I hung up with him. I was still angrier than a bodybuilder in the midst of ‘roid rage, though, because I can produce some of the documents, and that leaves me with a crapload of work to do tonight.

I would have gotten to work on it sooner, but I’ve had to work at the hospital all weekend on this ridiculously large project and haven’t had time until just now. This morning, my coworker called me and asked me to pick her up on my way. I agreed, picked her up, and we set off for work.

On the way, I found myself in a predicament. I had the choice of hitting a pothole the size of Rhode Island or hitting the person driving next to me. I chose the former and immediately got a flat tire, the second one I’ve had in the span of 6 weeks because the potholes here have proliferated faster than rabbits in heat. Thankfully, my coworker’s husband came and changed the flat for us, so now I’m driving on a super sexy doughnut for God knows how long, since the rim of the wheel in question is clearly bent. At least Lawyer is driving both of us to the dep.

So tomorrow, Monday, I guess I’ll be grilled and tricked and tripped. There’s an Argentinean television show called “El Peor Dia de Tu Vida,” (The Worst Day of Your Life) in which they play all kinds of horrible tricks on someone and it’s literally the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, even though I feel sorry for the poor victim. Tomorrow may just be my personal Peor Dia de Mi Vida, though I haven’t gone to trial yet, so that kind of leaves the door open to more sh*tastic experiences. And I don't think being deposed will be nearly as amusing to me as the show.

The cosmos must have wanted to make the day both metaphorical and literal, because when my coworker and I finally made it to the hospital, the skies opened in a downpour of rain, sleet and hail like I’ve never seen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Giggling on the Couch

I began the week thinking that I was going to give a deposition tomorrow in preparation for trial at the end of the month. It has made my stomach knot so badly that I think I’ve given myself my own gastric bypass, even though I need to gain weight instead of losing it. I want an ass again instead of two pancakes. But I digress.

I was heading toward the elevator this morning to begin work when I looked up from furiously text messaging to see that Dr. X was holding the elevator for me. I sped up my pace and thanked him for holding the door.

“So how are you?” I asked.

Though I didn’t mean to insinuate anything about his split, he answered with a half-chuckle, “Just fine, as you well know. Pasting that smile on my face and pretending that everything is terrific. How about you?”

“Oh, fan-freakin’-tastic!” I laughed.

We joked about our respective problems on the short ride up, sharing brief horror stories, laughing, and telling each other to hang in there when we exited the elevator and went to our separate clinics. It spurred me to think about how I can genuinely laugh about this horrific situation with certain people, and more specifically, the absurdities that make me laugh.

With Dr. X, I can laugh because I know his soon-to-be-ex is making his life a living hell and needling him for more than that to which she is entitled. I can commiserate on both levels.

With respect to the latter, that being the Ex needling for more than that to which he or she is entitled, I live it each day. Not only is Ex vying for half of my trust fund, but since I moved out, he’s refused to either split the furniture in the house with me or to reasonably furnish the condo. Both bedrooms in my place were furnished and there were bar stools at the kitchen island along with a couple of coffee table chairs when we separated, but dining room table and chairs? No. Couch? No. Coffee table or storage for books? No. You get the idea. Seriously, who doesn't have a couch? I'm not an 18-year-old undergrad anymore, so that makes the situation simply unexplainable and untenable.

I’ve already mentioned how I’m still a partner in and started one of Ex’s (very visible) businesses from which I never drew a salary, how I started two of his other companies for him, as well as how I’m a poor graduate student. My job doesn’t pay that well and the bartending gig is only one night a week. Really, is it too selfish to ask that the condo be furnished after living here for a year and a half and being his business partner for 5 years? I mean, I know I can be a selfish bitch sometimes, but in truth, that only happens if someone wants me to donate my motorcycle to them because they just really want it or perhaps make me foot the entire bill for a $3,000 night out. That being said, I’d give you my kidney if you needed it, even if I didn't know you. To boot, the law in our state dictates that we split the marital assets in half, of which furniture is one, and I asked for not even one quarter of that. Apparently, that’s too much, because he refused.

Lawyer called me today at work and said that the deposition had been postponed, potentially for Monday, but he wanted me to provide him with some photos in preparation. I was just thrilled that I’d been vomiting a little in my mouth all week for nothing. Regardless, he needed photos of all vehicles in question, which, if you count the motorcycles, ends up being 7. He also wanted photos of the house as well as those of the half-furnished condo.

I have photos of most of the vehicles and the house, and also have photos of the half-furnished condo that I took about a year ago, thankfully.

I say, “thankfully,” because someone helped me furnish the condo several months ago and current photos would not reflect the previously half-assed furnishings. This person is kind, generous, and sensitive. Sometimes air-headed, but the good things make up for that in spades. Again, I digress.

I was thanking my lucky stars for having the foresight to take those photos before the benevolent person to whom I referred helped me furnish this place. And then I thought about how I was able to laugh at the absurdity of not having furniture for so long, as well as laugh at the general incongruity of a contentious divorce like mine. It’s not that I now have furniture, because I laughed before that when the gorgeous Ms. Lemon Gloria Lisa visited and had to endure a night at my echoingly empty condo. It's not that I'm getting closer to a resolution, either.

I laugh because the sheer absurdity of the machinations of divorce confound me. I laugh because it takes so long. I laugh because sometimes I want to jump off of my balcony, and I’m not a suicidal person at all.

Then again, I think maybe Dr. X laughs for the same reason as this one. I laugh because if I don’t, I’ll cry.

And I laugh because….

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Valentino and Dry Cleaning: Perfect Together

Consider this scenario for a moment. You’ve been one of my closest acquaintances, I started 3 businesses for you and asked nothing in return (because your grammar is that of a third-grader and you can’t write competent content for any publications, let alone letters to Senators), and we're roommates. (Since there was no sex for God knows how long, I considered us solely roommates, alas, roommates who once had sex and are legally entangled.) Even though I promised you an amicable split, one day, I tell you that you suck, you’re ugly, you’re worthless, and then I seal the deal by spitting red wine on your Valentino top. Which you can never replace since the brilliance that is Valentino is now retired, much to my dismay.

Well, that’s the equivalent of Ex’s and his attorney’s response to our settlement offer.

I spent almost an hour (watch that money mount! It’s like Kilimanjaro!) on the phone with Lawyer last night going over the response to our very fair settlement offer point by point. He prepared me by saying, “Almost, you’re going to freak out, but please don’t. Just listen to me and don’t say anything, no matter how angry you become.”

I agreed. And it was harder to keep my mouth shut than it is for Paris Hilton to keep her legs closed in front of the paparazzi when she’s not wearing undergarments.

After hearing the 14-point response and realizing that my blood pressure was approaching the level of death by automatic self-immolation, I asked him if, indeed, I had to give a deposition on Friday.

“Looks like it, but I’m going to retain a forensic accountant and an expert to review all of his many businesses. And don’t worry, I’m going to prep you and I’m also asking the judge for a continuance,” he answered.

“Lawyer, that’s going to take months! Forensic accountants?! That means I’ll still be married forever! I want out now! It’s already been over a year!” I exclaimed in a panic.

“I know, but we’re going to take him to the f*cking cleaners.”

“I don’t want that, I already have a good dry cleaner and house cleaner. I just want to get out with what I came in with,” I answered, my voice rising to the level heard only by dogs. (Pardon the hanging participle. I wasn’t really thinking last night because my anger took over my brain like some alien pod. I’m pretty sure an MRI at that moment would have come back completely fiery red through all lobes of my brain. Or blown up the MRI machine. One of the two.)

Lawyer had a cardiology appointment and potential emergency angioplasty today, so I haven’t heard from him. However, he did dictate an email for me last night to send to Ex, and it was hardcore, badass, take no prisoners. I was nervous about sending such a harsh email, but Lawyer insisted and I complied.

And thank God!! As I was writing this post, Lawyer called me. His cardiology appointment revealed no blockages or problems, so it seems that he’s fine. After filling me in on his test results, he told me that I don’t have to give a deposition tomorrow, but he has to show up for a pretrial meeting with Ex’s lawyer and the Judge.

And Ex? I’ve not heard a word back from him in response to my email. Let me put on my big surprise face. And take my Valentino corset to the cleaners.

(BTW, if you're not a New Jersey native, you won't get the reference of the title. Sorry about that, but think Tom Keane and his famous commercial when he was the Governor of NJ.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Can Someone Hand Me the Benzodiazepines Now?

I spent last evening bartending the grand opening of a new, fabulous place in my city that’s owned by former supervisors of mine when I was toiling full-time behind the bar. They called me last minute and I was more than happy to oblige because I love these people and I knew that the crowd would be my style. Well-heeled, well behaved, and ready to spend. Well, the former two are my style because I still have my almost-Imelda-Marcos shoe collection and I behave in public, but the last is in question since Lawyer’s fees are now exceeding those of building the Space Shuttle.

It was insanely busy last evening and, indeed, the crowd met my expectations, replete with entrepreneurs, old money, and the financial geniuses that have navigated their way through this market successfully. And Lawyer. I knew he was coming, but I didn’t know what was coming.

He pulled me to the side of the bar and said, “Almost, I know you’re busy, but let me just say this quickly. Of course, you know we haven’t received a response to our settlement offer from Ex’s attorney, except that he asked me to have you ready for a deposition on Friday. Can you get free Friday afternoon?”

So I downed a bottle of prosecco right out of the neck. OK, no, I didn’t, but I wanted to do just that.

My Dad has spoken of depositions for years but I suppose I just never thought I’d be the subject of one. Quite frankly, I’m more panicked than the Fed in the January market crash before they discovered Jerome Kerviel’s (of France’s Societe Generale Bank) contribution to the market meltdown.

Speaking of meltdowns, I’m actively trying to prevent my own. I will be thrilled to be finally divorced, but at this point, I feel like a figure at Madam Tussaud’s during a five-alarm fire. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is all worth it and I'll still be doing naked backflips down the equivalent of Madison Avenue in my city when all is said and done, but who knew I’d be more scared of trial than Britney Spears facing the notion of 14 days without In ‘N Out Burger? (Which, by the way, is my theory on why she busted out of the psychiatric facility.)

P.S. Just received a phone call from Lawyer and he received a response. He said he read the first line and put it down in disgust. He'll be calling me later tonight, so more to come soon.....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Quite The Timing.

Last week I received a letter from my Dad. I thought it odd, since he contacts me through snail mail about as often as do my two pets. Intrigued, I opened it and found another envelope, unopened, inside. Taped to the envelope was a return address clearly ripped from a brown padded mailer. On a Post-It, my Dad had written, “Almost, this was forwarded to my office.” Actually, I’m guessing at that last part because my Dad’s writing consists of him putting a chicken in a plastic bag with a piece of paper, some ink, and shaking it.

Since my dad is an attorney, I began to get anxious that perhaps I was embroiled in another legal matter of which I wasn’t aware. Until I saw that the envelope was marked, “To Almost. Personal and Confidential,” in handwriting. Handwriting that I recognized but couldn’t quite place. It was like seeing an irritating old relative whose name you can’t quite recall. You know that you don’t like them, but you can’t remember the reason and you still can’t find their name in your head, dammit.

I sat down at my kitchen island somewhat nervously and opened the envelope. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been more surprised if the letter had gotten out of the envelope, done a dance in drag, and sung its contents to me operatically.

Almost,

I hope this writing finds you having the happy, peaceful, and joyous life that you are so deserving of. When (and if) you read this, you will in actuality be reading a document that has been more than three years in its’ writing and is a culmination of more than eight years of secrets and deceptions. It is the result of years of thought, progress, pain, and so many other emotions. On this nine-year anniversary of the beginning of our relationship and the 6-year anniversary of the end of it, it is my sincere and most heartfelt intention to apologize to you from the deepest recesses of my heart and my soul. I loved you with so much of myself that I couldn’t even begin to acknowledge any of this until just a few years ago. I live with the belief that I hurt you deeply. I am so very sorry… for everything.

I can only imagine what you have heard and been told since we parted and I left our city [for a state far away]. Many rumors have circulated. Suffice it to say that the consequences of that very convoluted life I lived have been harsh and relentless.

I find myself thinking of you often and remembering what it felt like to be loved by someone as kind and pure of heart as you. I remember the times of joy and the times of pain that we experienced together. Little did I know that those were the feelings of being alive, something that I have not felt since we parted. The love we had that I single-handedly destroyed is the benchmark against which all who have come since are unwittingly measured against, with none ever beginning to scratch the surface of what was the enormity of that love. You were perfect in every way, as the flaws that I exploited were what made you flawless.

The sole purpose of this note is to leave you with a hint of how sorry I am for everything. It is rare to find the greatest love of your lifetime. I squandered mine and I will live with that pain forever.

I pray that your life is a reflection of the beauty and happiness that you put out into the world and of the pure joy and unspoiled humility that is your hallmark. Having loved you is the greatest joy and the most honored privilege that I have… two things that can never be taken from me. I would give my very life for your forgiveness in your heart.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, and a life-long wish that you live immersed in the love that is you.

Respectfully and regretfully,
First Ex

I’ve only had my heart broken once, and it wasn’t Ex. The first time I fell in love, it was with a slightly pudgy, older, balding man who was a good 3 inches shorter than me when I was in heels. I’ll save you the lachrymose moments and just say that he broke my heart so badly that I went from 120 healthy pounds at 5’7” to 94 pounds in a matter of months. I subsisted on cigarettes and one bagel and one coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts every day. I was bartending full time then, and as soon as I got in my car at the end of my shift, I’d burst into tears. And I don’t cry.

As you might imagine, that letter was from the man who broke my heart. When you first love and you’ve never been hurt, you love with a reckless abandon that, in my experience, never returns for your next loves. I had always tagged First Ex as a sociopath because his lies just mounted to the point where I couldn’t navigate my way through what was a lie and what was half-truth, and he seemed to have no conscience. There was no honesty, so after three years, it was over. I married Ex just over a year later.

Lauren, who has also known him for years, doesn't trust him and told me to write him a letter with no return address indicating that I had forgiven him for myself, not for his sake. My Mom asked how I felt, and I could honestly tell her that I didn't feel anything because I had forgiven him long ago. My Dad was blown away, but basically thought it was touching.

Though I truly don't feel blindsided or emotional about this correspondence in the least, it is bizarre timing. I'm facing a trial in three and a half weeks and the one man who absolutely shattered me came out of the shadows at this very moment.

So I’m left with two questions. Was I blinded into marrying the wrong man because I’d had my heart shattered and I was suffering the repercussions of my own poor judgment? And how do I respond to this letter from First Ex, or do I at all?

P.S. Click on the "Lauren" link to get to her blog. I promise you'll enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's Not as Easy as Everyone Thinks

I was at work in November, just getting back into the swing of things, when my closest coworker said something to me that left me as surprised as if neon monkeys had just flown out of her ass. I overheard her saying something to a nurse about how Dr. X had gotten a divorce in 3 months after a 20-something year marriage and had subsequently moved downtown. I interrupted her to ask what she was talking about.

“Almost, I know you’ve been gone for awhile,” she said, “but yes, Dr. X got a divorce in 3 months and moved downtown immediately. How come you can’t get divorced that fast?”

I felt like someone had just whacked me upside the head with a smoked meatstick, I was so flabbergasted. How could he, with a two-decades-long marriage and children, get divorced so quickly while I was mired in lawyer’s fees, text messages, and middle of the night phone calls?

As a little background, I work with Dr. X only on rare occasions. We’re on the same floor, we’re generally in the same line of medicine, and I pass him often in the hall, but his program is separate so we don’t really interact too much except to exchange pleasantries or talk about a particular patient that we share. I wanted to find out how he’d gotten divorced faster than Superman could catch a speeding bullet, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. X and I didn’t want to overstep my bounds. After all, I am all too aware of the sensitive nature of these issues and I wasn’t sure of the circumstances that contributed to the demise to his marriage.

However, I also knew that he and Plastic Surgeon have been friends for years and share a great mutual respect. They’re very much alike. Both are literally world-renowned in their fields, brilliant, and innovators, but they also have great personalities and love to have a good time, i.e., put down more vodka than Jeff Conaway and raise some hell. Fun hell! FYI, some super-smarties have the social skills of a Q-tip. These two break the mold.

Of course, the first person I called when I returned home that evening was Plastic Surgeon. They work in separate parts of the hospital, so I wasn’t sure if she’d heard the news.

“PS, did you know that Dr. X got a divorce and has already moved downtown?”

“WHAT?!” she exclaimed. “No, I didn’t know that. It’ll be fabulous to hang out with him downtown now! When are we taking him out? How in the world did he get divorced so fast, and why can’t you do the same?”

Again, I had my own Casper of a question haunting me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go into Dr. X’s office, slap him on the shoulder in camaraderie and say, “Hey, heard your marriage broke up and you’re my neighbor now! So tell me, what’s the secret to getting unhitched so quickly?”

Yesterday, though, I finally ratcheted up the courage. I was on my way to a lunch meeting when I walked by his office and saw him alone. I passed, but quickly turned back without even thinking, knocking on the frame of his open door softly.

He looked up. “Oh, hi, Almost!” he said, sliding his reading glasses down his nose. “How have you been? I haven’t seen you in awhile!”

After some small talk, I said, “Hey, I hear we’re neighbors now. I keep looking around when I’m out downtown to see if you’re there, but I haven’t seen you yet. PS wants us all to go out sometime, are you up for it?”

He looked puzzled. “You live downtown?”

“Yes, when my divorce started, I moved. I couldn’t wait to get out of the ‘burbs.”

The look on his face was a mixture of curiosity, confusion, and relief. “I had no idea. I didn’t even know that you were divorced.”

“Not divorced, Dr. X, getting divorced,” I said with a laugh. “It’s a long process for me. You’re lucky you got it over with so quickly.”

“Hah!” he laughed. “Quickly?! I’m in the midst of a sh*tstorm. And the attorney’s fees? Don’t even get me started on that!”

We shared mutual horror stories for a few minutes, which prompted him to proclaim at one point, “They should make it harder to get married than to get divorced. Both parties should have to undergo rigorous psychological testing in order to get married. The divorce should be the easy part.”

So there I had it. He hadn’t gotten divorced as quickly as everyone thought and he admitted a few minutes later that he’s still going through the same hell that I am.

"Almost, there are times that I get back to my place, sit on the couch, and I just feel that I can't even move. I'm just paralyzed." My heart went out to him, because, though I'm past that part, I've really been there.

We chatted for a few minutes, and I said, “Well, PS and I will call you the next time we’re out downtown.”

He responded, “I’d love to join you girls. You don’t know how fun an evening like that would be for me.”

I departed for my meeting and somehow, felt a little bit better. I would never want Dr. X to suffer a protracted divorce as I have, but at the same time, I was comforted by the fact that I didn’t miss some magical “hey, you can get divorced in 3 months, you dumbass,” rule. And if a brilliant, accomplished doctor feels also feels the paralyzing, depressing nature of a divorce, I don't feel as badly about going through the same thing.

I’ve heard quite a few stories about how someone’s gotten divorced in a matter of weeks, but I’m inclined at this point to call bullsh*t. And even if one does get divorced in a matter of months? Perhaps it’s just that much more hell packed into a shorter period of time. But for the time being, I’ll think that it’s a fairy tale quietly and conveniently enclosed in a Mother Hubbard tale.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hold On, I'm Opening a Bottle of Wine....

In late November, Ex emailed me and asked me to meet with him so that we could come to a resolution in this divorce without going to trial. I agreed, albeit hesitantly, to get together in public. I wasn’t sure if he was going to abduct me and lynch me or if he might just shoot me in plain sight. Or perhaps he’d gotten a girlfriend, was over me, and would be rational (please, God!). I’m not sure to this day that it was any of the above.

The meeting took place on a late Sunday morning (with my long bangs firmly in place over my left eye to hide my injuries) in a well-known restaurant in my city and it began with chit chat about what was happening in our respective lives. Initially, I was puzzled with regards to the nature of the conversation because it was as surreal as chatting about the weather with Osama Bin Laden. I wanted to spend about as much time with him as I would with Charles Manson, so I wasn't interested in Britney Spear’s latest meltdown and whether or not Suri is actually a product of L. Ron Hubbard’s frozen sperm. I felt like I had just fallen down the rabbit hole. Or taken a hit of LSD (which I've never done, by the way, but I can only imagine after watching one of my distant cousins take it and then roll around on the asphalt in front of a gas station pump screaming, "I'm a bear! I'm a bear! Grrrrrrrr!").

Finally, nearing the end of the brunch, he handed me a piece of paper and said, “This is my offer.”

After looking it over, I said, “I’ll have to talk to Lawyer about this, of course, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

He agreed. Then he said, “Oh, and by the way, I have 12 bottles of wine from the wine cellar for you in my car. I want to give those to you before we go.”

Conveniently, half of the wine in the wine cellar was left off of the settlement offer. I was already feeling suspicious of the genial way he presented himself, so this just served to increase my suspicions tenfold. After all of the nutty behavior, believing that he was actually a logical person was as difficult for me as believing that Xenu actually flew DC-10s filled with aliens here 10 billion years ago. I wondered, was he trying to bribe me with a case of wine, and if so, did he actually believe that would work? Sure, I love good wine, but I’d rather go a lifetime without Opus One than let myself get screwed over in the divorce as I already had in the marriage. Or was he really being genuine, truly desiring a friendly resolution? The fact that the settlement offer was lacking, to put it mildly, gave me the impetus to lean toward the former, but I still haven’t quite made an assessment on that one.

Lawyer and I haven’t had much time together lately, partially due to my genius self-inflicted facial injury and traumatic brain injury, and partially due to his busy schedule, but I did finally get together with him in early January. I gave him the paper that Ex had given me.

“Well, we agree on certain things, but absolutely not on others,” he said.

We were out to dinner with his cousin and Anastasia, so I said, “Let’s get together later and really go over this to come up with a response.” He agreed.

Needless to say, the catch up game I’ve been playing since I f*cked up my face and brain in October has been more brutal than swimming the English Channel in a g-string and bedazzled pasties in February, so we hadn't gotten together yet.

A few days ago, I called Newscaster Cousin. I hadn’t spoken to him since my injury, which is unusual because we typically talk or see each other at least once a week, and he was initially pissed that I had gone into hiding. After I ran the gauntlet with him, metaphorically flogged myself repeatedly, did my penance, explained what had happened to me, and gained forgiveness, he began to disclose.

“Almost, Ex called me three weeks ago. He wants me to vote for him for some award that he’s up for and then he asked me if he could take me and my boyfriend to dinner.”

“You said no, didn’t you?” I asked, aghast.

“Of course I said no. I was pissed at you, but I’m still loyal to you. Even though you’re a bitch. And why in hell didn’t you call me when you injured yourself? I would have been there in a second,” he growled.

“Wait, let’s get back to the subject. Ex asked you and your boyfriend out to dinner? And by the way, you’re never this much of an a**hole on the air.”

He laughed. “I can’t be an a**hole on the air, but I can be to my beloved cousin who doesn’t call me for three months. Anyway, yeah, I think Ex is trying to get custody of me in the divorce. And plus he told me that you’re going to trial. I thought that trial was only for, like, the Heather Mills/Paul McCartney kind of divorce. What’s going on?”

I was silent. Blown away. He thought we were going to trial? It had only been a month and a half since we’d discussed settlement! Granted, he didn’t know that I almost either killed or permanently disfigured myself, but still, I thought he’d be more generous with the time factor.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I answered Cousin. “I have to call Lawyer and deal with this right this second, I suppose.”

“Yeah, you do, because Ex is a freak and he’s nuts.”

I hung up with Cousin and immediately called Lawyer, telling him what happened. He said, “My week is totally jammed, but how about a dinner on Monday night?”

I sent Ex an email, letting him know that he’d receive our response today, to which he replied that he has been preparing for trial and will continue to do so. I rolled my eyes because I know that he hasn’t even spoken to his lawyer in months, so that statement is about as true as if I were to assert that I’d just grown a third breast.

My meeting with Lawyer last night went just as I thought. We laughed, caught up, and finally went over our business, coming up with the same proposal that we had set forth months ago when we had a settlement conference with Ex and his attorney. We laughed about the total lack of progress in the case, but then Lawyer became serious.

“Almost, Ex would be a fool not to take this offer,” he said. “You’ll get a lot more if we go to trial.”

“I don’t want to go to trial and I don’t want more, you know that. The depositions, the witness stand…. all of that stuff makes me more nervous than a virgin in a supermax prison.”

He laughed. “Yeah, but don’t worry, I’m ready, and you really won’t have to do that much. And you know what? If they want to be fools, f*ck it, I’ll tear them apart in court.”

Trial is set for the end of February and Ex has a week to respond to our offer. Perhaps his response will answer the questions with which I was left after I met him alone to discuss settling this mess. If he accepts the offer or is willing to discuss it out of court, maybe he really has become somewhat rational. If he rejects it and we go to trial, I’ll know that he tried to bribe me with a case of wine and a friendly fa├žade.

I think I’ll open a bottle of that Opus One tonight. I have a feeling that I’ll be sworn to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a matter of weeks.