If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

Ari Half Moon Bay

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.”
― Carl Sandburg

Ari-dona2

Ariel in 2013, with Dona.

Today is a special day.  The light of my life celebrates her nineteenth birthday.

It is such a cliche to ask where the time has gone.  Last week, I was looking at framed photographs of her through the years, and experienced nostalgia that was nearly panic, looking into the familiar eyes, the familiar face, the smile filled with baby teeth, of that beloved child.  That child is lost to me forever, at least those earlier versions.  Every year, she is replaced with the current, updated version of herself.  I love them all, but I cannot help but miss the Ariels of Birthdays Past, even as I love the current and future Ariel more every minute.

Today she is everything on my list of gratitudes.  Whenever I doubt myself, my life, my choices, I know I have this one thing that turned out perfectly because of me and in spite of me.

An earlier birthday girl also loved black horses.

An earlier birthday girl also loved black horses.

The funny thing about time is that the hours and days seem to pass so slowly sometimes, but the years pile up in a hurry.  We could probably adjust to it more easily if it were only the time that were passing, but in reality, with it, time drags everything into a constant evolution.

The baby who held my earlobe for security and played with pairs of plastic animals in the bathtub all too quickly became the toddler who told me, “Ah, shit!” from her car seat one January when I told her that Kiddieland was closed for the winter.

Ariel in the Summer of 2014.

Ariel in the Summer of 2014.

I remember the first time she insisted on walking into school on the first day of first grade without me, dressed in a purple down parka, with a backpack that was so big next to tiny her that it almost dragged the ground.  She trudged up the gothic stairs at the Lab School, her blonde curls bouncing in the wind, and when she didn’t even turn back to see me in the car line, I cried.  I want her to be independent.  I want her to not need me.  But maybe not just yet (even still).

Ariel on Dona in 2005, trusted friends ever since then.

Ariel on Dona in 2005, trusted friends ever since then.

When Ari was seven, we bought a pony that ended up being not suitable for a child.  We found this out when the pony spooked at the barn owner’s dog and sent me sailing in a fall that left me biting through the nerve in my lower lip, my helmet breaking (saving my nose), gravel embedded in my face, and a bruised kidney.  As I leaned over the bathroom sink trying to determine if the grit I was spitting out was my teeth or arena gravel, I heard the other barn kids asking Ariel if her mother was alright, to which she screamed, “Well she would be if it weren’t for your asshole dog!!”

Birthday Past 2013.

Birthday Past 2013.

I can recall a million tiny details.  A million moments in time that, when woven together, knit my favorite story of all time, a story where the heroine is a sassy, intelligent, resourceful and hilarious beauty with the golden tresses, the dazzling smile and sparkling blue eyes even better than a Disney princess.

I am grateful.  I am grateful for each moment and each memory.  I am grateful for all those bathroom stops we had to make on every road trip; I am grateful for the times we went to war over homework; I am grateful for the Halloween costumes and the pink birthday parties and the back to school shopping, and the friend dramas, and the messy bedroom and the undone chores and the done chores.  I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Ari and Byttersweet in 2008.

Ari and Byttersweet in 2008.

Today, she is a freshman in college and we are beginning the next chapter in this wonderful book.  I am so proud of you, Ari, and I am so grateful to have you for my daughter.  Happy Birthday.  I love you!

~ Mommy

PS – Yes, I am making you a flan instead of a birthday cake 🙂

ari and me

Ariel and me 1999.

Ariel in Summer 2014.  Photo © Visual Stimulus Photography

Ariel in Summer 2014. Photo © Visual Stimulus Photography

Ariel in 2011.  Photo © Visual Stimulus Photography

Ariel in 2011

Clarity

clarity2

“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

I fractured my ankle in October.  I had an unrelated surgery in May.  I did not ride. I did not run. I did not exercise at all during that time.   Today, I managed an even run for three miles, and because I made it to three, I went to three and a half.  My pace is off, but running is my Fish.

I read a stupid meme on Facebook recently that said, “The ability to go the extra mile lies between your ears.”  While Facebook is stupid, and memes are also stupid, this one statement is true.  The ability to go the extra mile is always between your ears, in everything.  The only reason people do not achieve their goals is lack of clarity.

It is easy to lose clarity.  And what do I mean by clarity?  Lucidity, understanding, freedom from ambiguity.  The problem with clarity is that there is nowhere to hide; the truth is laid naked.  And fog is so seductive.

This applies to everything.  We apply layers and layers of fog to hide our insecurities, to suppress our fears, to mask our addictions and to feed our complacency.  We choose to avoid clarity because it is easy and it is comfy.  We stay in unhappy marriages because it is easier than getting out.  We sit on the sofa at night instead of confronting the Fish on the pavement. We make excuses.  Sometimes we cling to fog to stubbornly refuse to give up things that are bad for us – overeating, over-drinking, bad relationships, go-nowhere jobs.  Change is difficult and the uncertainty of what lies on the other side of change intimidates most people, probably everyone at some point in time.  Sometimes fog comes from the deception of others, too.  But fog cannot hide the truth forever and wallowing in fog is nothing more than time wasted.

Clarity is essential to happiness.

So, Fish, I have lots between my ears and I am strong willed.  Each mile and each mile after that, the track is clear.

Moving in the Season of Gratitude

DSC_0832-001Moving. Everybody hates moving, right? It is the menstruation of life events, not catastrophic like major illness or death in the family, but never good. No one likes moving.

My doctor tells me that death, divorce and moving are the three most stressful life events for people. Well, I got divorced in September and moved in October.  (I will uncharitably add that whose death occurs impacts how stressful it might or might not be…)

The divorce was life altering, for the better, the lifting of a huge amount of dead weight and an overall relief (even though the process is not fun for anyone, for sure).   Sometimes you do not realize what a burden something has become until the boulder is lifted from your chest.

Moving sucked, even though I am moving to a home I like better with a lot more space, better views, less traffic, and an indoor arena.

I acknowledge up front that moving is horrible for everyone, but indulge me for a moment while I lick my own wounds. Moving under a very tight time constraint with more dogs than you can count on one hand, horses, a smattering of snakes (one of which, sadly, escaped just before I moved and I was never able to find her), and a fractured ankle proved to be — um — challenging.

It rained, of course it  rained, on moving day.  In fact, it poured.  The trailer ball on the truck I rented to pull my horse trailer ended up being the wrong size.

Two of my bitches came into season just prior to the move, to ensure that everyone would be at their barking and howling best on moving day (and beyond).

My debit card got hacked (for the fifth time).

AT&T was supposed to be there on October 31st to install phones and internet.  They no-showed, but then arrived unexpectedly on November 1st with four other contractors.  They installed the phones but told me that they “did not have time” to do the internet, so they would come back in a few days.  When they came back on November 5th, the internet still did not work.  When I pressed them about this on the 6th, they confessed that they did not have any idea when it could be done.  Comcast said no.  Frontier said no.  My local independent provider said no.  DISH was too expensive.  So I called my friendly neighbor across the street and asked her what internet service she had.  Her response:  AT&T. frownie face here.>  I called AT&T back again and used a more motivating tone with them (which may or may not have involved mention of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act), and lo and behold, they installed DSL on November 11th!

In the mean time, I had no fenced area for the dogs.  For the first two weeks, at least one dog got loose each day.  Fortunately, I did manage to get them all back.

The barn cat I inherited (Theo) has a weepy eye, a wet cough, and two unwanted testicles, all of which need to go away.

DSC_0709

Minnie Pearl, Oprah, Brigitta, Marilyn, Scarlett, Miley, Vulture and the one without a name yet.

Because things were not interesting enough and I was apparently too idle, I purchased eight chickens to help fill my spare time.  Theo is very happy with this development.

To make a long story less long, I am no longer sleeping on the floor and I have a large, fenced pasture for the Sloughis to stretch their legs.  My dining room is still packed floor-to-ceiling like a hoarder show, but this, too, shall pass. (Or else, I can just seal that room off into a crypt.)  Somehow, I will make a Sloughi specialty show happen at my house this weekend.  Still a little sketchy on how all of that will work out.

So, as we gallop down the runway to my favorite holiday, here is what I am thankful for:

I am grateful for my brilliant and beautiful daughter, who on most days is the light of my life, and on the rest of the days teaches me ariel-morganpatience.

I am grateful for my amazing family and friends who are truly responsible for moving me, both physically and otherwise.

I am grateful for my animals.

I am grateful for simple things – like hot baths, strong coffee, clean sheets, the nicker of horses, the smell of hay, dry champagne and the dazzling, pink sunrises I see every morning over my pasture.

And I am grateful to you, my dear reader, for indulging me once again with your time and interest in reading this blog.

I hope your cup runneth over this holiday season with things for which to be thankful.

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US Senate Approves Gay Rights Bill

Marriage equality takes a step forward in a hostile climate on Capitol Hill.

The E View

ENDAThis afternoon, the United States Senate passed historic gay rights legislation in its approval of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide protections in the workplace to workers and job applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Any private employer with more than 15 employees would be precluded from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. However, an exemption is included for religious groups.

The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.

The bill, widely referred to as ENDA, was introduced with bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, ENDA is not expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives, due to opposition to the measure voiced by Speaker John…

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I’ll Bet You Think This Blog is About You

clouds in my coffee“I’ll bet you think this blog is about you, don’t you?  Don’t you?”  ~  Carly Simon (well, almost)

I’ve often said that blogging is an extremely self-indulgent pastime, and I will stick with that remark.  When I started blogging, I did not realize that apparently, reading blogs is an extremely self indulgent pastime as well because people tend to see themselves in the blogs they read.  This is, I am sure, much more common when the reader has a personal relationship with the author, but truthfully, we all read things with which we can identify.

The same can be said for certain things on Facebook.  Sometimes, I share a quote for no other reason than that I like the quote.  I may have at one time identified with the quote in the past or perhaps now in the present, or I may feel that it applies to the situation a friend is experiencing.  However, I do not live my life on Facebook.  I try to keep my life in the three dimensional world whenever possible.  (Unless I am bragging about my animals, then I do that wherever I can find a willing audience.)  So, this provokes me to create yet another numbered list…

  1. Just because you can identify with a post does not mean the post is about you.  If it pertains to you, I will tag you in it.
  2. Do not presume to know anything about me or my personal relationships based on my Facebook “friends.”
  3. No one ever changed their political opinions based on a Facebook post, so I am not going to post my political opinions nor am I going to comment on yours.  (This is for our mutual good. I might actually like you in real life and I want to keep it that way.)
  4. I am not responsible for what other people post on my Facebook page, and quite often, I do not even see it, so don’t make assumptions about it and you probably shouldn’t ask me about it.  If you are so interested, ask the person who posted it.
  5. Do not get your feelings hurt if I do not notice, like or comment on something you have posted on your Facebook page.  I visit Facebook in a very cursory fashion. I might notice five or six posts on my news feed and then I move on from there. I am self centered. I don’t have time to read everything in my news feed.  If I had the time, I lack the interest.
  6. My tolerance for Facebook drama is extremely low.  I am not interested in reading it, and I am not going to get involved in commenting on it.  People who create drama on Facebook must have very uninteresting sex lives, and that’s about all I am going to say about that.
  7. I do not do Facebook chain mail.  I might like your post, but I am not going to share it on my page, change my status or post it for others.
  8. If you’re sick of seeing pictures of my dogs and horses, look away or un-friend me.  They are an endless source of delight and interest to me.
  9. Do not cyber stalk me and try to “catch” me on line. I will answer whatever missive you have when I have the time and the inclination to do so.
  10. DO NOT INVITE ME TO PLAY OR PARTICIPATE IN ANY GAMES!
  11. Do not send me friend requests if we do not know each other unless we have dogs or horses in common.
  12. Do not send me private messages requesting dates or naked photos of me.  Really.
  13. Have a great day in cyber space and at least give some thought to stepping away from your electronic device and moving about in three dimensions.

Zuzu’s Petals

“Action expresses priorities.”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi.

I write a lot about priorities.  I think a lot about priorities.  People talk a lot about their priorities.   The problem is that what people express as their priorities seldom match their demonstrated priorities.

I’ve sat in depositions listening to successful executives describe their children as their top priorities and then later testifying  that their normal work schedule involves being out of the home for 85 hours per week with two business trips per month.  While it’s easy to understand that working 85 hours per week in three jobs to put food on the table places children in a priority position, it is much harder to make that leap for the high-six figure earner who sees his kids for an hour or two each night but still manages to get 18 holes in every weekend.

You can always tell what someone’s real priorities are because they will act consistently with them.   The fabric of our lives is woven together by the threads of choices that we make everyday.  Sometimes a grey thread or two will show up, but in the end, the cloth is pretty much black or white.

Each of us wants to be someone else’s highest priority.  It’s a fundamental part of being human.  It is a basic need.  The internet and every newsstand are filled with self-help articles and memes that tell you that happiness is found within and that you can’t rely on someone else to make you happy.  Those statements are true, but it does not alter the fact that everyone, even the most independent among us, wants someone else to care how their day went.  That is part of the fabric of being human.

Priorities make or break relationships.

There is no other factor.  Think about it.  When a man tells a lie, he did not prioritize that his partner deserved to know the truth.  When a woman engages in infidelity, she prioritized herself and her lover over her spouse.  When you choose to work every night until 10 p.m., you prioritize your work over seeing your loved ones.  When you engage in loud, emotional fighting, you prioritize your need to self-indulge in your temper over the feelings of your partner.

If you want what you have, you make it your priority.  You vote with your feet.  The expression “quality of time over quantity of time” is complete mythology.  Priorities play themselves out in the minutiae, day after day.  Did you go to your daughter’s room when she had a nightmare?  Were you there to hear your husband tell you that his boss was a jerk at his board meeting that morning?  Did you baby him when he had a cold?  If you only ate her Christmas roast and not her tuna casserole, you probably missed this point.  Your loved ones feel prioritized when they have a bad moment and turn to find you there, not as the result of a scheduled interaction.  A connection has continuity.zuzu's petals

When someone is your priority, you keep very close track of Zuzu’s petals.

Nurturing Zuzu’s petals is somewhat easier in non-romantic relationships, although navigating these delicate matters is never seamless.  If you don’t give your toddler your full attention, she will help you cure that.

The incongruity of priorities is what causes breakdown, because when one person makes you her highest priority, and you demonstrate that she is not yours, she will likely take her ball and go home.  But there is another side to this coin:  don’t ever seek to change someone else’s priorities.

In the end, people always do what they want to anyway.  You can make someone attend your best friend’s wedding or your sister’s baby shower.  You can coerce someone into going to your country club function or appear on your arm for an office Christmas party,  but unless someone wants to be with you, coaxing them is a bad plan.

toby-enwYou should never want to be in someone’s company unless there is nowhere else that you want to be.  And the person you are with should feel the same way.  I have a dog that demonstrates this everyday.  He lives to be near me.  He cries if I leave the room.  The other day, I ran to the grocery store.  When I came home, my daughter told me, “He cried, literally, the whole time you were gone.”  He would rather sleep next to my bed than eat his supper.  His priorities are painfully clear and he unashamedly demonstrates them every moment that he can.

It is not a criminal act for someone else to have different priorities.  This point is critical to happiness.  If someone is not a match, then let them go.  If you like stripes, don’t weave a plaid fabric and don’t be sad about the plaid outfit that you didn’t buy.

Let go of the things that don’t fit.

Fools Believe and Liars Lie

legsin·fi·del·i·ty

[in-fi-del-i-tee] noun, plural in·fi·del·i·ties.
1. marital disloyalty; adultery;
2. unfaithfulness; disloyalty;
3. lack of religious faith;
4. a breach of trust or a disloyal act; transgression.

I started this blog by looking at the statistics. Somewhere between 18% and 60% of married Americans will have an extramarital affair during their marriage. Men cheat more than women. Two to 3% of all children born in this country are the product of infidelity. Only 3% of all mammals are monogamous, and, arguably, it is not the norm for humans. The numbers are staggering, but they tell us almost nothing.

The dictionary definition of infidelity is fairly predictable. In practice, however, it can be much more nuanced. Most people consider any sexual act with someone other than your partner and without your partner present to be infidelity, whether it is sex, oral sex, anal sex, etc. But there are grey areas, too. French kissing is generally over the line. What about a simple kiss? Embracing? Hand holding? And what about emotional infidelity?infidelity111

With the boom of the internet, and increasing reliance on electronic communication, it is disturbingly common for a person to feel a higher degree of intimacy with a person they have never met across the world than his or her neighbor just over the fence. It’s so easy to be amazing behind the mask of your keyboard. There are no fat days, no bad hair days, and no facial blemishes. Your eyebrows can be untweezed, You can be three inches taller and twenty pounds lighter.  Your Brazilian can go Amazon. You don’t even have to wear deodorant. You can always edit yourself before you thoughtlessly put your foot in your mouth, and you can place total faith in those benign, little emoticons to convey just exactly how each word and sentence should be interpreted.

infidelity1I am a family law attorney.  The issue of infidelity arises in nearly every dissolution case.  Sometimes it is a single affair that is the coup de gras that ends a relationship.  Sometimes one spouse has been aware for years that marriage has not really affected the other spouse’s dating life or pursuit of other sexual partners (sometimes prostitutes, same-sex prostitutes, and even transgendered prostitutes).  The who that a person cheats with is usually (but not always) less important to their partner than the fact of the cheating.

It’s peculiar that the partner of a cheater sometimes grapples with what I call the Fool’s Dilemma:  whether s/he cheated in the context of a love affair, a relationship with meaning, or s/he cheated with someone who “didn’t matter.”  In the former case, it is not just a sin of the flesh, it is a complete betrayal of intimacy, the forging of an emotional attachment with another person.  In the latter case, if the cheater risked the entire relationship for a meaningless sexual encounter, what is the value of the primary relationship?  The answer to the Fool’s Dilemma is immaterial, because it is the devaluation of the primary relationship that is at issue.

And therein lies the problem:  the devaluation of the relationship.  Betrayal.  Because cheating is not about sex per se.  The problem with cheating is that it is merely a symptom of deceit.  Deceit is a many-headed, ravenous beast that feeds on self esteem, trust, anxiety, depression, and of course, jealousy.MBDABLA EC004

In many marriages, the paramour has a higher degree of intimacy on some levels than the spouse, because she usually knows about the existence of the wife, yet the wife does not know about her.  This is not always the case.  Recall the dramatic New Year’s Eve scene in the 1986 film, About Last Night, when Elizabeth Perkins’ character cries in the bathroom, “He’s going back to his wife,” and Demi Moore replies, “His wife?  I didn’t know he was married.”  Elizabeth Perkins wails, “Neither did I!”  This is less common.

infidelity1_2Infidelity is rarely an isolated affair.  Once a partner passes the threshold of cheating, the second time is easier and the third time easier yet. Pretty soon, the partner engaged in the deceit becomes so habituated to it, that it evolves into a norm.  In many of these cases, a person who has repeated affairs has a partner who has learned to tolerate it for a number of reasons.  She may be financially dependent; there may be minor children of the primary relationship; she may no longer be sexually interested in her partner and is grateful for him to pursue those endeavors elsewhere.  In other cases, a cheater is matched with a partner who chooses to believe convincing (or not-so-convincing) lies rather than confront the truth.  The believer  can be a willing participant in the deception.

And we cannot forget the paramour.  The paramour makes a conscious decision to engage in a relationship with a person who is primarily involved with another person.  The paramour chooses to be the B cast.  This is true regardless of what the cheater says.  If the primary relationship is on the cliff, or if the primary partner is no longer in love is of no import.  The cheater chooses to take on a paramour rather than terminate the dysfunctional relationship, and the paramour is de facto the second string.

However, regardless of whether or not the partners in a relationship accept infidelity, it is necessarily accompanied by an erosion of infidelity5intimacy.  Relationships are fed on intimacy and the more effort that each partner puts into the other, the more both prosper emotionally and intellectually from the relationship.  Grass is greener where you water it.  If the goal is to connect to your partner, then any deception is contrary to that goal, whether the deception is an extramarital affair, a lie about anything that matters to the other person. (Obviously, I am not talking about surprise parties and the like.)  Deceit is tantamount to betrayal, and that many headed beast can ruin a relationship and crush the emotional well being of the betrayed.

In my eleven years on the bar, I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of infidelity at the end of marriages and domestic partnerships.  This is not something that occurs in a vacuum.  Deceit is a slippery slope that begins with trepidation and soon gathers steam.  Disengaging from the habit, once it’s established is extraordinarily unlikely.  I do not believe in sex addiction, but habitual lying is a side effect of many personality disorders and may be as difficult to overcome as any psychological addiction.

Circling back to our definition, infidelity in practice truly is any breach of trust or a disloyal act.  Not only are we defined by the choices we make, our relationships are defined by them as well.

Fairy Tales, Frogs, Corn Flakes and Horseradish

The garden of allah

“In fairy tales, the princesses kiss the frogs, and the frogs become princes. In real life,the princesses kiss princes, and the princes turn into frogs.” ~ Paul Coehlo, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

We are not princesses.  They are not princes.  Therein lies the rub.

By princesses, I don’t mean the lily white dancing nymph who sings to bluebirds and mice like we see in Disney films.  But neither do I mean the demanding, spoiled, pejorative type of princess, either.  I mean the type of princess that makes up whatever kind of fantasy is conjured in the immature male ideal:  she is a combination of the good parts of his mother, a Sports Illustrated super model, and his favorite porn star.

She is a restaurant quality chef; she is immune to body fat, cellulite, bad hair, bad breath, and acne; her breasts are full and high, nipples
perfect wife alert like rosy sentries at full attention over an impossibly tiny waist; and she could slake the lust of Zeus himself in the bedroom.  She is Florence Nightingale when he ails.  She doesn’t nag.  She doesn’t get headaches.  She never says a cross word about his mother or his friends.  She does not compete with him on any level, and if she were to do so, she is incapable of beating him.  And for the love of God, in the unlikely event that she menstruates, she certainly never gets PMS. Great expectations, or not so great, as the case may be.

jaime2To be fair, the Prince Charming ideal trained into the minds of little girls is similarly unrealistic:   The heart throb millionaire who charges across the drawbridge on his white horse singing a ballad of love everlasting while his washboard abs ripple beneath his armor like the taut muscles of a Derby colt.

Failed expectations foment unhappiness.

Unrealistic expectations impact reality, and the impact on women is different from the impact on men.  Society conditions girls to view themselves differently (a topic for a later blog) as well as the way they view and perceive relationships.

There is a dearth of literature published on the topic of intimate human relationships, ranging from an evolutionary perspective, to light psychology to fluff pieces in Vogue seeking to explain the relational differences that exist between the sexes.  At the same time we struggle to reconcile the disparity between the Princess Ideal and the actual self, we compromise in our relationships.  We strive to be the Princess Ideal and at the same time to manage a career, to be mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and (dare I wish it?) to find our soul mates.

While it may seem flattering to be admired on a pedestal, it is folly to be held to a standard that remains steadfastly unattainable.  Perfection is consuming, and falling from grace has produced catastrophic results since biblical times.

Knowing what you want and wanting what you get are necessary to happiness.  By the time you’ve licked the new off your partner, you had better have learned to love what’s beneath the surface or your relationship is doomed.  This all seems so tautological, but the trick is knowing what you want in spite of the multiple layers of social conditioning that have taught us that you have to have the Princess Ideal or Prince Charming.

What happens when Prince Charming’s money stops entertaining you and you never really liked his ballad?   (Let’s face it, a six-pack stomach is only going to take you so far.)  We don’t all want the archetype, even if we don’t know it, and winning the prize is just accumulating more trash if it’s not what you wanted in the first place.  As Dolly Parton so eloquently put it in the movie Straight Talk, “It’s like you’re allergic to cornflakes so you start to buy different stuff like a can of peas, but when you open up the can of the peas, inside cornflakes.  So you pick a TV dinner and open it up, and, cornflakes. . .The girls you go out with… outside all different packages but inside… cornflakes.”  Prince Charming is really . . .  Cornflakes.

miseryBut it gets a bit worse, because Cornflakes has a preconceived notion about you, too.  And maybe all that stuff that looked so good on paper when he first met you is not working out so well for him now.  For example, your assertiveness is now controlling.  Your intelligence  he now views as a challenge.  He loved the idea of marrying a career woman, but now he resents that you’re not Suzy Homemaker.  The independence he once admired, is now aloofness, coldness, or maybe even selfishness.  Cornflakes wants you parked on the sofa next to him while he watches TV  (only breaking to fix his mother’s recipe for meatloaf) until he goes to bed where he will want to have four minutes of sex before he is snoring.  This is not what Cornflakes bargained for either.

It’s no small wonder that only 25% of women orgasm during sex and 5%-10% of women do not orgasm at all  (Lloyd).  There is more to life than being a surrogate mother and an occasional semen receptacle.  It’s not surprising that approximately 50% of all marriages end in divorce  (National Center for Health Statistics).

Failed relationships are influenced by many things, but misconceptions about what your partner should be must be a major factor.   Women are conditioned to think that anything less than Prince Charming is “settling,” but the concept of Prince Charming is a trick.  He’s really a huge, toxic, warty toad, all dressed up in tasty packaging.  We are told from the beginning that we should marry doctors and lawyers. What about men who are honest and trustworthy, who make you laugh, who are empathic, and who accept you for what you are?  What about the qualities that really count on a daily basis?  Rather than relying an archetypal Prince Charming defined by the same society that made you play with Barbie and Ken (who is gay, by the way), we should all be forming realistic expectations about what we really want and finding that person.

Cornflakes become more like bitter herbs in the long run, and horseradish will make you cry.

Tea, Earl Grey, Hot

Earl_Grey_Tea

“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
― William Shakespeare

Today over lunch, I have been eating a very clean, organic detox salad, nursing a migraine that has been courting me since Saturday, and lamenting the horror of Mondays, which were undoubtedly invented by someone with a dominant and defective Y chromosome.  I mean really, no one likes Mondays and yet they keep returning with chronic monotony to the collective depression of the masses.  In my present state of bleakness, I am convinced that one must have a penis to conjure up this kind of enduring torture.

picardteaThere are precious few things in life that chronically return that continue to deliver fresh delight, but true friends are among them, and while I was really trying my hardest to bury myself in my work and lick my Monday wounds, along came Mindy, my bestie since middle school, in text messages, in my email box, on the phone, and in a package that she shipped for my birthday.   And within that giant box she packed 34 years of memory flashbacks in one thoughtful, fragrant parcel.

It’s so easy to rue the signs of aging, the march of Father Time against us, leaving his trail of evidence across our faces and our bodies.  It’s so easy to overlook the pieces of aging that have real value, like the friendships that have endured and created memories so rich that a single whiff of an exquisite Earl Grey tea can catapult you back to a sofa in a condominium twenty-five years ago when two girls ate Ramen noodles every night so that they could afford to buy cocktail dresses to go clubbing on the weekends.  They watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “About Last Night” and listened to Garth Brooks and waited for life to begin, the sweet ignorance of youth preventing them from seeing that it had already begun and they were already living it.  A mother lost too soon, the sweet and extremely naughty puppies, each time they drank too much, the boys that never showed up and the ones that refused to leave (and the police that refused to act on that), each tragedy, each victory, the shattered arm and the shattered hearts, each penniless moment, and every bad judgment call ever made, all weaving together an unbreakable, lifetime friendship, like sisters.

Time takes many things but it gives back in abundance this gift:  the gift of appreciating this moment, now, and the future memories created by embracing the present with full attention and a full heart, and the true appreciation of true friends. I am blessed to have more than one.

All of this from tea, Earl Grey, hot.  My cup runneth over.

 

More Free Advice

A little over a year ago, I published “Free Advice: You Get What You Pay For” on this blog.  It’s a nifty list of answers to questions I often receive in my practice as a family law attorney.  As luck would have it, the past year has brought me yet more revelations and I would feel amiss if I did not share with you this year’s new found pearls of wisdom.  These are not about any case in particular, of course.

  1. The more motions you file, the more letters you demand be written, the more you involve your attorney, the more you will spend on attorneys’ fees.
  2. The more you spend on attorneys’ fees, the less money you will have (and, consequently, the more money your attorney will have, so be sure you like your attorney a whole, awful lot).
  3. If you have some IRS skeletons hanging around in your closet, you ought to tread carefully.  The IRS will be very interested to hear about how you financed your divorce and your lifestyle on the measly income you reported on those tiny works of fiction you call tax returns.  And the ramifications for tax evasion can be criminal. (Make sure you save for some soap on a rope!)
  4. No judge anywhere will require one spouse to insure the other against market forces such as the stock market decline or the real estate market collapse, absent a showing of negligence.
  5. If you lie, be prepared to get caught.  If you then lie to try to cover your original lie, be prepared to look stupid as well as deceitful.  And if you try to lie again, be prepared to have lost all credibility.
  6. If your case costs a fortune because you are an unreasonable ass, pay your attorneys when they withdraw.  Going to hearing on a fee petition where they testify before your judge about your unreasonableness just confirms to all involved that you are stupid, deceitful and not credible.
  7. Make mountains out of all the molehills you can finance, but don’t complain about the cost of litigation that you caused.
  8. Once you have spent more money on attorneys’ fees than your judge has recommended that you receive in a total settlement, you should go back to school and take a remedial math course.  There is no cure for stupidity, unfortunately.
  9. Don’t disobey court orders.  It pisses the judge off, and it reminds all involved that you lack credibility.
  10. Never make criminal threats to your spouse’s attorney about your spouse.  That just buries the needle on the stupid-o-meter.
  11. Yes, your spouse will be aware if you notice motions for presentation on her birthday.  However, she is probably one of those spoiled princesses who is not planning to work that day anyway, so it does not affect her, and you still have to pay your attorney to be there.  She might even feel somewhat touched that in spite of the divorce, you are still spending money on her on her birthday.  😉