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Posts from June 2008

The Abuse of LOL

I have to admit it: I discriminate against people who use “LOL” in their communications. Not only that, I’ll even admit to virulently discriminating those who use LOL when they haven’t said anything vaguely funny. What are they saying? Do they think that we can be fooled into thinking that they’re funny because they know that they should have said something funny at this point in the text but are absolutely incapable of it? Please. (Or, as LOL users would say, PUHLEAZ.)


In my Craig’s List reading days (okay, these days), I would discount any man who uses LOL in his ad. Not only would they say it instead of saying anything vaguely witty, but they would say it in such a way as to make them seem especially sad. And, if I may go out even further on the limb, it generally shows why they are still alone. “My wife has the kids LOL.” “I’m looking for someone who knows how to cook LOL.” I’m not exaggerating. What is funny? What is the implied joke? I will admit, though I can serve a good dish of sarcasm, I don’t always identify it when others serve it. Could there possibly be something hiding in there? I doubt it.


LOL seems to be the email equivalent of the laugh track for bad sitcoms. But, as with far too many of the sitcoms, rather than make you laugh because you think everyone else got the joke but you, it generally highlights how lacking in humor the joke was. It’s serving as a placeholder for something funny. And again, it only serves to highlight just how lacking in humor the moment is. Oh, why can’t they give up on the attempt and just speak plainly. Not all of us are cut out for humorhood.


Is it the equivalent, too, of the comb-over? In that case, by trying to cover-up the lack of hair, it is even more noticeable, as is the non-owner’s lack of confidence in his hair status. Why can’t they just face up to who they are and play up the attributes?


I will admit that on two occasions (outside of this posting) I did use LOL. One time was to tell the other person that I don’t think that LOL is a word. The other time it was in response to something funny that someone else wrote; and it befit the situation because that person knew my attitude toward the term and thus knew I was using it to signify how truly humorous his remark had been. It was a compliment couched in a put-down, if you will. I, of course, have received LMAO from that same person, but I am pleased that at least this term is not bandied around like a Laugh-In laugh track.


Humor. It seems that when you don’t have it, laughing loudly doesn’t cover up for the lack—in person or in cyber communication. So, please, please tell the witticism and let the reader get it, or not, and let her decide if it is really worthy of LOL.


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The Symbolism of Snapdragons

A few weeks ago a fierce storm ravaged my garden (well, more than my garden, but that’s what remains with me now that the electricity is back on). The snapdragons had no defenses against the winds and rains, and they fell, prostrate, to the ground. Their white blooms were washed away. All that was left were a few green stalks. I leaned over them and thought to pull up the plants; they were dead, and I figured that they would be reminders of what they had once been. Something held me back, and I let them lie there, reminders of what they had once been.


This morning when I went out to walk the dog and get the newspaper, I noticed that the snapdragons were in bloom. The stalks had righted themselves and rather than coming out of the stalk from the side, they were reaching straight up to the sun and happily, exultantly, they were blooming. Beautiful white blossoms. A next generation thriving on the remnants of the previous generation.


And I thought of how life is an ever-unfurling cycle, and how there is nothing to do but firmly step into your life and begin unfurling.


* * *

It's Finally Over: Party Time

I can’t wait to have my D-Day party. (It's on-hold until I am out of this house, and can truly feel divorced.) If you’re planning a party to celebrate your divorce, what will you wish for as you blow out the candle or candles on your divorce cake? (Hopefully, without ruining it for me) I will fervently wish for happiness. I think I deserve it.  As do we all.


I wonder if I should have one candle, for the year to come, or one representing each year of the marriage?


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Get Your Words Off Me: Excerpt Fourteen

The Writer in the Family


When we first met, I wanted to be a writer. During our first year of marriage I spent my spare time writing the great American novel—in Israel. It was a classic story of growing up and separating from one’s parents and finding one’s own path. It was, of course, largely autobiographical, if not in detail then in thoughts and perceptions. When I finished writing it, I gave it to my husband to read. His comment was that it was okay, a middling, barely encouraging okay. Nonetheless, it made me feel good. Then he suggested that I give it to a friend of his to read, another aspiring writer. I did. He didn’t like it. Then, my husband came back and said that, in fact, he hadn’t really liked it either, but that he didn’t tell me that because he didn’t want to hurt me. That dishonesty hurt more than the bad press. Why did he withhold his true impression from me, and more importantly, why did he feel that he could/should control my emotions? Was this an example of how he was manipulating me—so very long ago?


About a week later, the man who never spoke of writing, who never spoke of reading except his law books and adventure books as a child, proclaimed that he was going to write a book and that it was going to be a great book, unlike anything ever written. In fact, he had already started and had a lot written already. (I, of course, was a slow writer and in a week would barely have written five pages, and he knew this.)


The one area that was mine, that was free of his incursions and dominance, was suddenly taken from me. It was as if he simply said I am better than you in everything, even in what you think you are good at. If he was now the writer in the family, what was I?


I did not write for another three years. I am not blaming him, I am blaming my lack of confidence, but his incursion surely was uncalled for, was not helpful in getting my confidence up to speed. Was it to undermine me and prove his superiority, or was it truly his desire to write, to get his story down? Perhaps even a combination of the two? Whatever it was, it hurt. It’s not as if he told me that I’m a bad writer and he is better, but it was implied. So the person whose opinion I had come to value the most had discounted me and the one thing I wanted to do the most. I needed encouragement. What else are you supposed to get at home if not the courage and confidence to accomplish your dreams? And his lying about his true impression of my writing did not make me feel good; rather it undermined my confidence in both myself and the feedback I would receive.


* * *

Looking at Marriage in a Glass Half-full/Half-empty Way

You have someone to pamper when he’s sick, bringing to the fore your innate care and compassion.


You no longer have to service his every call for tea, tissues, water, cough syrup, lozenge, chicken soup, newspaper, tea, tissues, water, cough syrup, lozenge, chicken soup, newspaper endlessly throughout the day and days.


* * *

Divorcing for My Daughters

“Don’t ever let anyone speak to you the way your father speaks to me,” I said to my daughter as I hurriedly pulled out of the driveway, trying to distance myself, once again, from the site of so much pain. I tried to bore my message into her, and for her to keep in her mind, forever, how I looked right after being called a “bitch” or a “nothing” or a “piece of shit” by her father, by my “husband.” I hoped that this would be a message that she gets, and retains. I hoped that this would be a lesson that was strong enough to learn by watching how it unfolds in someone else’s life and not one that would need to be learned through her own life to truly comprehend.

“That is why I am divorcing your father,” I continued, stopping my mad driving for a moment, “because it is not alright for anyone to be spoken to like that. Because you need to know that I did not accept it. It is not okay for anyone to be treated that way, especially by your husband, especially by the person who has said that he loves you—that is not love. And the things that he calls me, they are not just words; it is a whole set of behaviors whose manifestation is in the utterance of those words. Neither the attitude nor the manifestations should be belittled—as no woman should be belittled by anyone—ANYONE.” Okay, that last part I didn’t manage to sputter out, but I wish I had. And it was there, there in my words, there in the tears of rage and hurt that dropped as I drove her to wherever it was that we were going.

And as she looked out the window, my daughter who was then ten, was, I hope, able to see that this was not about her mother and her father, both of whom she loves and needs to love and be loved by, but about one person being wrongly treated by another person. And about one person trying to get the hurt to stop. And about one person who keeps inflicting pain on another person. And about how this is not a strange version of love but the lack of love. I so hope that she sat there thinking, “NO ONE WILL EVER SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT. I WILL NEVER LET ANYONE SAY THOSE THINGS TO ME. I WISH I COULD GET MY FATHER TO STOP HURTING MY MOTHER.”

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Get Your Words Off Me: Excerpt Thirteen

The Many Uses of Language

What is so surprising is that this man, who has used words so efficiently in his career as a lawyer, uses such simple constructs to put me down. Am I not even worthy of an elegantly phrased put-down, one with drama and individuality? Apparently not. He reaches for the basic, “You’re fat.” “You’re ugly.” How can I respond to that? Should I say “No, I’m not”? That sounds weak, and besides, doesn’t that acknowledge his point? It’s not a point to discuss, and it seems to garner some validity just by alluding to it. It’s like those balanced discussions where both sides are presented even though one is overwhelmingly true and the other is held by only a handful of contrarians. You give it validity it does not deserve simply by raising it.

Still, hearing those words hurled at you by your husband is powerful; it makes you shrink within yourself, makes you feel that way—even if for a moment. But, no, not for a moment, these statements will reverberate forever, will have a hold on you forever, at moments of doubt or when eating or trying on clothes or putting on make-up. It comes back, You’re fat. You’re ugly. Yes, my size 14 pants are getting tight and I no longer want to look at myself in the mirror. I don’t really look at who I am. I have raised a protective layer, unfortunately it has merely succeeded in keeping past insults in, echoing forever.

Fat and ugly and nothing. It’s come back to this many times. Why does he say this? Why should I dwell on it? Shouldn’t I just discount it as the ravings of a madman, of a man spurned? Why can’t my mind keep off of this, why can’t I replay all of the compliments that I have received from him and others instead, and from my own perception before it was skewed? Why? Why come back to this? It’s certainly not a key to unlocking a happy future. It’s not a trigger used to release me from an unhappy past and present—it’s just a poisonous proclamation that has uncomfortably settled within me.

Does he still say it because he knows its power over me? Does it still make him feel power over me? The only purpose I can think of, now many years after that first insult and only when I have been able to think about this analytically, is that this is his way of lessening my worth in his eyes so the fact that I said I want a divorce will not be so hurtful to him. But what about before, before I said that I want to separate, before I said I want a divorce? Then his comments were aimed at controlling. Now they aim at denigrating, which makes me more certain that he is protecting himself by hurting me. It seems that he is realigning his perceptions of me so that he can hate me and see me as being unworthy of his love. Does this show that he doesn’t know how to love? Or was this his way of holding onto me when he felt me slipping away? So much to ponder, if I choose to.

* * *

Not a Light, but maybe a Sign

There was a storm before, with lightening and thunder and a treacherous downpour.

When I left the house to take my younger daughter and a friend to the movies we drove through the steam rising up from the road, a mood-setter that matched the two-dimensional gray sky that had become still. It was an eerie drive (as eerie as anything can be with two twelve-year-old girls gossiping in the back seat about their teachers) until we reached the main road. And then, to our left, was a rainbow. And then, in front of us, was either the other end of that rainbow or another rainbow. All talk of teachers who wear their pants too high stopped, and we just looked and watched as the rainbow kept disappearing behind trees, and then reappearing to excite us with its blatant display of beauty and goodwill. For how can you respond to a rainbow but by anything but a simple smile; a smile that reveals that open gestures are obvious displays of goodwill. It may not be the light at the end of my tunnel, but it sure lightened my mood.    

It's Finally Over: Material Girl

So much time and energy and money is spent on buying things for our homes. But so many of those decisions were made together, or under the direction of that someone special. At some point you need to think about what you like and what you don’t, about how you want your home to look and feel--even if it's still just a vague dream for the future. Take some time to think about what things you liked or did not like, and what you would have wanted. 


·         Things you want from your life together.

·         Things you never want to see again. 

·         Things that make you break down.

·         The first thing that you would like to buy for yourself, for your own place.


* * *


The first thing that I think about buying is a mezzuzah. While it is supposed to be a reminder of God's presence and of the commandments, it is the first thing that you do (affix it to the doorframe) when you move into a home, so for me it signifies my freedom. My freedom to answer to God and my understanding of how my life should be lived, and not to let the imperfect motivations of a man deter me from that commitment.


* * *   


Stood Up by the Judge, Again

Well, this whole court experience or lack thereof has caused even my father to become cynical. He told my mother the night before my scheduled court appearance on June 20th that it wouldn’t happen. And, unfortunately, that has come to pass (or not). The judge, the judge really did stand me up. At seven in the morning of the 20th he called in to his boss (the chief judge of the county courthouse) and told him that he wouldn’t be coming in. I’m sorry if he’s sick, but enough already.

I, of course, did not find this out until I walked into the courtroom with my lawyer and there was no one there in a robe. His clerk told us that he wouldn’t be coming in. Incredulous is all I can say to describe my state of mind. And the tears just started streaming, and I lacked the ability to even attempt to stop them, mascara or not, public place or not. I looked at the clerk, at my lawyer, at the other people in the courtroom (not at mr. ex, though) hoping that someone would do something, would say something to stop this reality from unfolding. But no one did. He really did stand me up.

I am a person who can generally smile, but since this happened yesterday I have been unable to smile. I tried, I really did when someone smiled at me, but I couldn’t break it; my cheeks didn’t bunch up in the charming way that people’s cheeks do when they smile. No, a pretend smile that barely moved the lips was—is—all I can muster. I know that I am not sick, that I am healthy, my daughters are healthy, and everyone I know is basically healthy and I really should be thankful for that. And I am. But this weight—this dark cloud—that is hovering over me is too, too much.

So that court date that was to discuss the fact that on April 17th the county clerk or scheduling judge forgot to actually schedule my case (to discuss the fact that mr. ex has been harassing me and not paying the bills and not paying me what he is obliged to) and that Mr. Judge listened to mr. ex and closed the case because… because mr. ex apparently said that I was not there, and he listened to him. And since then Mr. Lawyer told me one wrong date, and mr. ex cancelled one date, and Mr. Judge cancelled one date three days before time, and then, well, stood me up at the courthouse. I am so tired of hearing my lawyer tell me that “this has never happened before.”

The judge does not have any dates open to reschedule the hearing until July 18th. My lawyer will be out of town next week, so I can imagine by the time he is back there won’t be dates available until August, or, gasp, September. Again, this is not even to discuss the issue—harassment and his being a deadbeat dad—it is merely to reopen a case that should not have been closed. Closed because, it appears, psycho ex found an “unorthodox” judge to listen to his rants when neither I nor my lawyer was present (a big no-no).

And the humiliation of mr. ex insulting my attorney as Mr. Lawyer stretched out his hand to him only to have it rebuked with a nasty “Lawyer’slastname, get into the courtroom.” Oh, the nastiness, oh the fact that these delays delay my ability to sever more significantly my ties from this man. Doesn’t anyone understand that these delays affect lives? That these days alter the course of my psyche in only a bad way?

* * *

It is summer. And since last summer I have been divorced from this man. And for over three years now we have been living in the same house, “living separate and apart” as it is called. I’m still trying to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is blocked by a boulder, but it is getting more and more difficult to believe.


* * *

Drops of Humiliation

The other day I took my younger daughter to the doctor for her camp physical. She didn’t have the physical. Instead they will fill out the forms, using last year’s information, and have them ready in a week.

Why, after having scheduled the appointment more than three weeks ago, did I cancel it, there, in the office, with my daughter at my side? Well, when I made the appointment, telling them that, no, it was not the same insurance card as last year, and that, sorry, I had no insurance card, I was told that the visit would cost $120. Okay, that would be $100 more than what I had paid for last year’s visit with my insurance card and the $20 co-pay. Not too bad; it won’t break the bank any more than it’s already broken.

But when I got to the doctor’s office, I was notified that, no, it wasn’t going to be $120, and that they didn’t know how much it would cost. Initial drops formed at this point. I explained that I needed to know how much it would cost before we go into the examination room. When I reiterated the $120 rate that I was told, the receptionist went to check. She came back saying it would probably be $189. At this point my daughter wandered into the waiting room to sit down, unsure if I was going to morph into the nasty unsatisfied customer or the tearful whiner. I tried to find a middle-ground (no other options presenting themselves in my moment of trial); I asked if she could check with whoever decided these things if I could be charged the amount I had been quoted. (It works in stores, why not at the doctor’s office?)

While the receptionist went off to confer, I went to sit down. A deep sense of humiliation and disappointment and anger urged more of those unsought drops into the corners of my eyes. I could stop them from brimming over, but not from forming. Bitter reminders of where I am. (Is this where I am, or is it where circumstances have placed me?)

My daughter does have an insurance card. It’s just that her father, who has them under his health insurance policy this year, refuses to give a copy to me or her. This is my punishment because I have not paid my share of their health insurance this year, because, in fact, he has failed to pay to me thousands of dollars to cover his portion of their expenses (which I have paid for) as well as expenses for the home. So, once again, he finds a soft spot and tries to twist it until I give in. But I have passed the point of no return; I am no longer game—I have become the animal that even if you kill, you will not eat, for it is too tough and tasteless. (At least I hope that I have become that animal.)

I don’t know what else to say except I really didn’t do anything bad to anyone and that I do not deserve to be punished in this way. This chapter of my life could surely be termed When Bad People Do Bad Things to Good People. To some I may come off as impassive, but that is unfair. And people who imply or come right out and say that I am not doing all I can know not of what I am up against. This is not a person who sees logic, for his logic is in a world unto itself. He is one of those people for whom lie detector tests do not work, for to them their lies are the truth.

So this is what a bitter divorce looks like. Having the most commonplace things become a place of contention. That, I guess, is the most unexpected result of my having said, I don’t love you anymore, I want a divorce. So even though I was good about it, going to marriage counseling, waiting until the time was right for him (to find a job and then take his licensing exams), I was still punished. But I will not be forever punished. Because at a certain point, of this I am certain, there will no longer be weak points for him to puncture. Or I will win the lottery. (And since we’re divorced, he won’t get any of my millions.) 

* * *



Exhaustion is not being tired, it’s being beyond contemplation and purpose, and in the realm of functioning. But who is to say that that is bad, and who is to say that your heart and soul are not being reawakened from complacency into a new sense of purpose that will bring you to the joy you had forgotten to ask for—forgotten to demand as your due.


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