Monday, November 12, 2012

The Three-Year Transition

OK, so I know several of you still follow both Casey's blog and my blog, and for your concern, care and curiousity over these several years, I thank you.  If you have already read Casey's blog, you know that we severed the final legal tie, beyond the children, last week.  It has been three years this month that we ended our marriage, or, to be really clear, that I declared I could no longer stay in the relationship.  Finally we are no longer on any joint loans, credit cards, insurance, auto, and now, the house. Casey is no longer on the title of our former home and the house has been rented to a couple with children.  I pay child support and am very involved with the kids, but the last of the "couple" things are through.  This really is best for each of us, our new partners  (who are really only "new" in comparison with our very long-term relationship) and our journey into our separate futures.  Still, it has sometimes been hard.

People tell me it is always difficult to let go of dreams and goals, and indeed, it has been. Marriage was both a dream and a goal - the goal of staying together forever, raising our childen in a two-parent household with not even a whisper of divorce - the whole "happily, ever-after"  package.  Fully moving out of our old house and knowing that someone else will soon be living there certainly brought back the pain of a failed marriage, of letting down Casey, myself, and the kids,  and wondering what could have been done differently.  We knew that once the kids were born, we'd have to make an effort to nourish our relationship. We talked about it...but the reality was, it was hard to do, hard to find babysitters we trusted, hard to have the energy for each other, hard to not get caught up in our own view of things, hard to let go of the bitterness of past hurts, and in the end, we did not do it.  Certainly, there was more to it than that, but that was a piece.  We had very different dreams, and saw the world differently. She likes the world  in black and white, and I revel in the world of grays.  She's a home-body and I love to travel.  She likes clocks and schedules and I live more free-form. Many differences....but also commonalities.....the things that brought us together, kept us together for years, and the things that still make us good parents together.  We still do that together very well, and I am very appreciative of that. 

Now what? Now I hope I have learned some worthwhile lessons as I build a relationship with Vicki.  I can more clearly see my old patterns now, of times I would shut down, or react rather than really communicating, and now, I stop myself and try something new.  Vicki and I are both learning together to recognize and break the unhealthy patterns of old relationships and replace them with ones that lead to growth and understanding.  We've done pretty well, so far, and I know I am motivated by not ever wanting to hurt those I love, and myself, again through failing in a relationship.  I truly believe Vicki and I are a good match for each other, but if there comes a time our relationship ends, we are both determined that it will not be because we did not learn the lessons from our past.  We are both highly aware that it takes two people to mess up a relationship and two people to keep it healthy.  We are on the road to good health!

Why did I feel the need to write this post? Maybe because this blog started when I started law school - when the future looked much different, when we were still a relatively happy couple with two young children and our lives ahead of us, and now, the last formality of that is gone. Maybe because although law school was not the cause of our breakup, it was a catalyst, and somehow, those who started following my track through law school maybe also deserve to get a glimpse into the aftermath, and the recovery.

Life is good now. Sure, there is still guilt and sadness sometimes.  I don't get to tuck my kids into bed every night and see them every morning. I don't get to be part of their daily routine, other than a phone call every night. I see them twice a week and every other weekend, but that certainly was not the original dream.  I don't get to wear the badge of honor of being married to one woman my whole life and know we'd someday celebrate our 50-year-anniversary.  I broke a sacred vow.  All of that sucks. 

The present is very good - Vicki loves me unconditionally and I feel that love every day. I love her and am aware of making sure she feels that love in ways that matter to her.  We enjoy time with the kids, and with each other. We have a beautiful home, good jobs, and the world is open to us - to travel, to learn new things, to experience life.  Vicki and I knew each other in high school. There is no way we could have been together back then, or really, almost any time before we found each other again.  Maybe we each had to learn certain things about ourselves and the world before we could be together.  Maybe it was always meant to be - and it just took a long time for us to get there.  I like to think we were meant to be together and that this time I have found my "happily ever-after." I hope the same for Casey. I truly do.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Carpal Tunnel Surgery #2

Thursday I go in for carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand. Last year, about this time, it was my right hand. It all started in my early 20's when I worked at fish processing in Alaska the summer before my final year of college.  I guess considering it took 20+ years to get bad enough to do something about, that's not so bad.  I have been fortunate to rarely have pain, only numbness.  Last year's surgery went very well and I have been pleased with the results.  My surgeon retired, so this hand will be done by a different doctor.  Hopefully, the results will be equal to or better than the last surgery.

I am right-handed, so I expect that the non-then-limited use of my left hand will not be nearly as difficult as the right hand was.  I have already been visualizing my days and thinking of the ways that I use my left hand. It is probably no surprise that it gets used a lot. Just imagine simple things like getting dressed or cooking a meal withone one of your hands.  Tricky, right? 

Truthfully, I am not very concerned.  Vicki took excellent care of me last year - helping me whenever needed - and trying to get me not to push myself too hard. She is wonderful!  I am only planning on taking Friday and Monday off of work. I'll see how it goes after that. If I am careful, I can still do my job with one hand - much of my job is done on the computer, or in meetings. I really don't want to use vacation time recovering. I should look into short-term disability, shouldn't I?  Hmmmm........

Anyway, last year we went to Bremerton for my recovery. Figured since I had to use vacation time, we should visit someplace pretty - took a ferry there and back, stayed in a place with a nice view, had some great meals.  This year, we have decided to enjoy some downtime at home.  I can sleep in my own bed, have lots of icepacks handy, and still have a beautiful view.  Not a bad recovery plan. :)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Life is Good :)

The summer flew by and in some ways it hardly seems possible it is already fall!  I have been wondering if I should just shut this blog down since I write so infrequently, but I just never know when the blog bug might hit again!  It seems for a number of us formerly frequent bloggers, short updates on Facebook have taken over some of the communication we used to do on our blog.  I know I really still enjoy opening up a friend's blog and reading in depth about what is going on in her life, so maybe I should also be more willing to share myself.  :)

For those who have been following my life for a long time - here is the family update:

Kids are doing great in their new schools!  Kelton recently got his results from the state standardized tests he took at the end of last year (4th grade) - and he is (was then) reading at the end of 8th grade level, and doing 6th grade math.  I am so proud of him! Kaylen is doing very well in school and has taken up soccer this season.  She is a natural athlete and has caught onto the game very quickly!  It is fun going to see her play every Saturday! Each Saturday varies as to who all is cheering her on, but it has been various combinations of Vicki, me, Kelton, Casey, Stephanie and her son, Andrew (who usually has his own games).  Casey and I both almost have all of our stuff out of the old house, and into our new homes.  Since the market is so bad right now, I plan to rent it out, and hope to get renters in by November, if at all possible.  It will be good to get that done and in the hands of a property management company.  I am ready to really move forward in my new life in a new home with Vicki and the kids, and I know Casey is, too.  We all only live about 5 minutes from each other now, which is great!

Vicki and I are mostly unpacked other than some boxes in the garage, but have not started decorating, hanging pictures, that sort of thing yet.  Putting holes in freshly painted walls seems so.....daunting somehow....like what if I don't like it there once I put it up?  I know, silly stuff, and ultimately, no one is really concerned that it hasn't been done yet.  Vicki and I are enjoying our time together, both alone, and with the kids.  We focus a lot more on enjoying life than what the house looks like, aside from really loving the space and the park-like setting we are fortunate enough to live in.  Our days are filled with working, reading, spending time on our iPads, going to movies, going to soccer games, finding food for us and the kids - a challenge finding acceptable options for us all sometimes, and recently - tai chi.  Vicki and I have started both tai chi and tai chi cane.  I have only been to one class, and can say I definitely felt very energized and loose when it was over.  The kids have expressed interest in karate and Vicki found what looks like a good school. She has two black belts in different karate forms, and knows what to look for. Kelton took karate a couple years back, but they really pushed hard,  classes were two days per week, and they were always wanting us to purchase more gear so he could participate in whatever new thing was being taught. If he missed a class, he fell behind.  Apparently good schools do not operate that way.  If the kids continue their interest, we'll probably get them signed up to try it out, as long as Casey has no objections.  I think there is a lot to be learned from martial arts, even if it is not something I pursued myself.

Life feels pretty good right now.  All of us love the new house and are falling into new routines. The pool is no longer a recreational option, so we'll have to find other activities, especially to do with the kids as an alternate to iPad games and TV, as we get into the cooler months.  I am taking CLE's (Continue Legal Education classes) online, mostly via MP3 recordings that I listen to on my way to and from work.  Vicki is taking classes via iTunesU.  We're both focusing on getting up and moving more. After two and a half years of being together in vacation mode - too much eating out, lots of play time, exploring Portland, and such - we are starting to pursue individual interests again, developing some shared pursuits, and are generally working on getting our minds and bodies healthy.  Yup - life is good!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back to work to rest!

I cannot believe how little time I had to post blogs or even write in my personal journal while we were on our cross-country excursion. We saw so many awe-inspiring sights and a lot of good ol' Americana. All in all the trip was way better than I thought it would be. The down-side is that we came home exhausted, then left on a family beach trip to spend time with my nephew's family. They only visit from Texas every few years, so we could not back out of the trip. Again, much fun was had, but I am not sure when I was ever so tired, including the weeks of studying for the bar exam. Maybe getting into the routine of going back to work and having a regular bedtime will will eventually even things out. This weekend we do not have the kids, so are looking forward to sleeping in, and lots of naps! Maybe I will even have a chance to write about our trip!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Day 4 - Here we come!

We are having a great trip - filled with amazing sights I never even thoughts to want to see, things I hoped to someday see, and typical travel hassles.

Yesterday's highlights were The Indiana Dunes National Park - suggested by my mom in a phone call to let her know we were in the state she grew up in. We waded into Lake Michigan, my first Great Lake. I had no idea the lakes were so big it would feel almost like being at an ocean beach.

Yesterday we finally made it into Chicago and had the hands-down best pizza of our lives. Thank you to Lou Malnati's deep dish "Lou's Classic." It was just sausage, fresh roma tomatoes and cheese - perfect in its simplicity. What we did not expect, aside from the perfect, not at all soggy crust, was that the sausage was in a layer - like a very thin meatloaf. I have never seen such a thing. It doesn't sound that appetizing, but it was - mild, but flavorful and not greasy.

We then visited the Skydeck at Willis Tower, which is the old Sears Tower. It is arguably still the tallest building in the world, and definitely in the US. It towers 103 floors above the streets, and there is a cool plexiglass-like platform you can walk out onto to feel like you are walking out into nothing. Not that scary - but cool. Amazing views, and a fun experience.

We are both feeling sleep-deprived and hassled - Vicki's work people are still bugging her, even though she is on vacation, and we found out the bank messed up a bill so have been on the phone about that all morning. Ugh.

Today - the Dells Wisconsin for a boat ride through beautiful scenery - we hope. Temps near 100 degrees today. We'll have to see how we are feeling by the time we get there.

It is an adventure - and I love that Vicki is willing to stop wherever, seeing the sights, letting me take pictures, and she even bought me a new telephoto lens for better range at these amazing sights!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Our Journey Begins

Whenever appropriate, and I have time and Internet service (more of a challenge than we anticipated, as is cell coverage due to storms knocking out towers), I will cut and paste sections from my travel journal here.

Saturday June 30

07:16 AM
(Actual local time is 8:16 but no wi-fi so iPad not updated.)

The adventure begins! I arrived in DC around 1:00 am last night/this morning. Vicki and I had a nice reunion after having been apart for over a week. She flew out last week in order to deal with her things that have been in storage and to get her quarterly work trip done. This trip to take her car and her small tree home represents the true end of our two plus years of living in limbo.


12:12 AM

We are in or near Breezewood, Pennsylvania in a Days Inn that has seen better days. Oh, well. It is cool and reasonably clean, and most importantly, there was a vacancy. Apparently last night a tornado came through the area leaving many without power, and flooding all the nearby hotels. The temps have been near 100 degrees, so living without power would be really bad. The first motel we tried had no vacancies and they explained we probably would not find any for quite a radius. Fortunately, we were heading a different direction than most, and came upon this place. We got here just in time, there has been a steady stream of arrivals with stories similar to ours.

Today was a long, tiring day, but there were good parts. The sight-seeing for the day was a trip to Arlington National Cemetery. We got a private tour of the Women In Service Memorial because it was closed for an event, but since Vicki served, we were escorted through anyway. That was great! We also saw John F. Kennedy's Eternal Flame and a changing of the guard ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The precision was impressive, especially considering the 100 degree heat

The grounds are massive, impressive and beautiful. The endless rows of graves are hard to fathom. I did notice that it was more difficult to feel the sense of all it stood for than the more focussed Civil War places I have seen. Maybe because the cemetery covers so much more than just one war.

We were there for about 2 1/2 hours, which did not seem horrible, but I was hot and ready to go by the time we'd seen what we really wanted to see. I ended up with possibly a touch of sun poisoning - really bad headache, flushed, and then we could not find easily accessible food that sounded good. Finally lots of ice water, half a burger and a shake at Red Robin's helped. Actually, made me feel more sick for a while, then as the day got cooler and I could just sit while Vicki drove, I started feeling better.

We only drove about 100 miles today We did do a lot of little things and running around:
● Drove by The Pentagon - several times
● Drove around the memorial sections of DC - always exciting to me!
● Drove by the Air Force Memorial Sculpture. We think it may be the 9-11 memorial, but will have to look it up.
● We not only drove around DC, but were in four states - Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
● Bought a new GPS because Vicki's old one had its cord broken by someone other than us and it was too old to find a replacement. We are enjoying the new one though!
● Wandered though the Crystal City Shops, which are underground, so Vicki could show me where she often walks when she comes to work in DC.
● Vicki had to work briefly this morning - two short conference calls, and is trying to work tonight, but the internet is too spotty to provide a good connection. It is 12:30am and I think she finally got on and may be getting done what needs to be done.

Tomorrow, the destination is Chicago.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Pre-Trip Trip

Today is the day I fly to DC, and tomorrow we begin our journey back across the US. I am excited and looking forward to whatever may come our way. 

On the home front, we are still only partially unpacked, some rooms look good, the big living room has no furniture, but there is a big area rug plus a couple of drums and guitars (a Fender electric and a baby Taylor, not a PRS) set up to make the room look friendly.  Boxes are scattered here and there, but enough is unpacked that it is very livable. I have to wonder how long it will be until all things are really put away.  Maybe if we each tackle one thing per night for a couple weeks, we will be in good shape!

OK, in about 10 minutes I catch the Max to the airport, then off to Chicago, and a connecting flight to DC.   I plan to blog and put up photos along the way, so stay tuned!