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Posts from March 2009

Meeting Nasty Lady Lawyer

I had my meeting with number one nasty lady lawyer the other day. She did admit at some point in our conversation that she is referred to by some at the courthouse as the Wicked Witch of the East or West, and all I could think was YES!, enough Mr. Nice Guy for mr. slime.

The first thing I saw of her office was a leopard print throw on the sofa. I thought, looks good to me, she’s got claws ready to come out and she’s proclaiming it. Not that they came out on me, I had a very good meeting with her. Maybe I put people at ease or maybe she was in a chatty mood, but my meeting lasted for two hours on a Saturday afternoon and included discussing my case, reading and being disappointed in my PSA (property settlement agreement), custody agreement, mediated agreements, and assorted documents that cost my parents tens of thousands of dollars over the past four years.

She did remark on my sense of humor and how important it is in these situations. I did get a laugh-out-loud from her when I told her about slime’s tape recorder friend.
Anyway, we also talked at length about my daughters, I received advice on what to say to nasty older daughter who again called me a “f---ing c-” without as many consequences as she thinks should be given. And we talked of her children and grandchildren. And, of course, other cases and how she handled them, including one that she has right now that is similar to mine so she already has the case law out and studied. And we talked of younger daughter and how as soon as the house issue is resolved we need to file for a new custody agreement to get one that is sane for her and one that would prevent him from playing headgames on her like he did with older daughter.

Her first cutting-to-the-core comment after reading the PSA was that he didn’t want the divorce. Then she went on to say how obviously controlling he is. Of course I didn’t come out unscathed since as she noted I am a conflict avoider who ended up enabling him. No shit. As I analyzed in “Compromising Myself Out of a Marriage,” by appeasing him I ended up diminishing myself and enabling him to continue on his control path unchecked. I did add, at the door, that once he stopped being a litigator he turned his fury on me instead on the opposing side and that certainly didn’t help things.

Unfortunately even with her as my attorney I can’t kick him out of the house. That can only happen if he hits me, which I think he knows because he has not crossed that line. There are plans to go to court—expedited (which I think she will really manage, not like my previous lawyer who went with the flow rather than creating the flow and never managed to expedite anything). But this must wait until mid-April since I am bound by the mediated agreement in which I agreed to market the house at the current price until mid-April and if nothing happens then back to the mediator. Why, why did I agree to mid-April? Oh, well, it’s not so far now (relatively speaking) and that will give her time to prepare whatever needs to be prepared. She even had an idea as to how I can get back the money that I gave up in order to get him to reduce the price of the house. Sounds so good to me.

So there are plans. And I have homework: I need to go back into my memory and record all of the harassing things he has said and done to me since we signed the PSA two years ago. Luckily I have much of that done since I previously filed against him for harassment, and I recorded so many of the incidents here. But the going over them forces me to remember them as opposed to forgetting them, which is so much nicer. The night before our meeting I had to get my papers together and it was so hard to look through four years of papers that documented his delaying tactics and insults, and how disappointing all of those papers were that never managed to get me to where I need to be.  

Each time that he yells whatever it is that he yells, I need to write down. And I need to start putting the bills and the receipts on the table again asking him to pay his share which will be taken but ignored. But it feels okay since I think that she’s not going to let me get pushed around by the courts or him. Regarding the PSA, her comment, after she said that she would have ripped it up was that my lawyer let me agree to what I wanted, while if she had been my lawyer then she wouldn’t have let me. Oy. I kept asking my lawyer what things mean, and his response was always that that is all we can get out of him. I wish I had the balls then to change lawyers.

I stay with men too long. I stayed with my ex far too long, and I stayed with my lawyer too long. I keep giving people chances when they don’t deserve them. Could it be that I don’t trust my instincts enough? No. Could it be that I DIDN’T trust my instincts enough?

By the way, for the two-hour meeting that was more than a legal meeting and more like a bestowal of choice bits of work and life wisdom, she charged a low one-hour initial consultation fee.

Let’s go leopard lady!

Just Call Me Big Mouth

One of my myriad pet peeves is that people ignore the rules of the road when they are in parking lots. All of a sudden it doesn’t matter if someone is in the crosswalk, if you’re in your car—you go. This really annoys me. I imagine myself being hit and while I am down my bags of groceries (some in recyclable bags) fly into the sky and do a few somersaults before being crushed by another rule-ignorer’s car. So, when a woman drove right in front of me today when I was in the middle of the crosswalk in front of a supermarket I was pissed and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. Oh no, I know when to speak up.

I wouldn’t have minded it so much if I hadn’t been in the middle of the crosswalk, or if I had just taken a few steps, then I would I do my usual annoyed look and pissed off sound in my head. If the person’s window was open I might call out to them reminding them of the law: STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS. I mean I have done this before—and in this shopping center—but today, well today I was in the middle and my life was almost endangered and I was having none of it.

The woman pulled into a parking spot very close to the crosswalk and my car, so I waited for her to get out of her car.

And there I was with my snarky little comment, “You know, it’s expected that you stop when someone is in the crosswalk.”

Her response wanted me to rewind the tape and just walk to my car without the little confrontation, but the words had been spoken.

“I’m sorry. I just had a miscarriage. I’m not really focusing” was her very, very unexpected reply. 

Shit, Laura, you had to open your big mouth. “I’m so sorry” I said and I broke the code and put a hand on her shoulder. She said “sorry” again with a voice that was about to break into sobs and turned and walked to the supermarket.

I’m just going to say one insensitive thing, and then go back to my little hole. If she’s not able to focus and is so distraught, should she be driving?

Okay, back to me being a big mouth who needs to learn to shut it and stop trying to educate the world.

The Symbolism of a Worm

This morning, after looking out my window and seeing that the snow that had blanketed the lawn for a week was completely gone, I went on my morning walk with Poops to the mailbox to get the newspaper.  As I walked up the road I noticed a worm, and then another one and another, all drying on the pavement. And I realized that in one week we had gone from winter with 13 degree temperatures and wind chill factors and six inches of snow to 60 degrees and worms seeking sunshine. And then I noticed the twittering of birds in the trees. Spring, yes, spring is coming. What a relief.

It’s not that I don’t like winter, after all, in Virginia it’s not so harsh and not so long, but still, I need a change. What could be better than a change from the cold and bare trees to colors on the ground and in the bushes and on the trees?  As a lover of fall and its vibrant colors I must say that this year, this year I cannot be happier about the change of seasons, even if it entails losing an hour of my life tomorrow and a vast number of sneezes.

What a relief that soon I will not feel confined, I will not feel forced to stay in because the sting of cold is so discomforting. I look forward to not having a built-in excuse for getting out, because I so much want to get out and I want to cajole myself with ease.
When I got home I took off my light raincoat that I barely needed and made my breakfast of tea and toast. A few days ago a friend told me that her doctor told her to refrain from coffee and chocolate, and without a moment’s hesitation I decided to join her. For friendship, that suffering together thing, and because what’s good for her body is probably good for mine, I decided that I was going through with it. So for a week I haven’t had coffee and just one piece of chocolate and one brownie, and I feel good about the internal change of season. Could it be that my body also needed to move from the heaviness of winter hibernation to a lighter spring diet? Could it also be that I hate how anything controls me, be it coffee or people?

Surprisingly I didn’t have much of a withdrawal headache and I don’t think that I was much grumpier than usual. It feels good to have (at least for a week) followed through on a decision that is for my physical well-being. It’s time not to let another spring come without my acknowledging that as the earth tends to itself, I, too, need to tend to myself.

On Monday when I was shoveling I watched as a bird drank water from a tiny pool of melted snow. Then it flew off to sit in a branch of the forsythia bush and watch me. A little while later the neighbors came out and the bird flew off, but as soon as they left, it was back. I could interpret that bird’s presence as happy coincidence or I could say it was my own little winged messenger from nature telling me that each animal must watch out for each other and itself. Later that day my friend told me what her doctor said.

I will be watching the orioles’ nest in the forsythia bush on the front lawn for yet another harbinger of change and newness. While I won’t be taking any direct messages from that, I will rejoice in how we are continually given the opportunity to tend to those in our care, and ourselves.

And now I’m off for another walk with Poops.

Israel Story: Hard at Work on the Kibbutz

At the beginning of my time on the kibbutz I was disappointed that I was not put to work in the fields, for some reason after I was stuck with assorted dining room duties (which included a week of “paying my dues” in pots and pans, which required me to clean many, many pots that were bigger than I was) they kept putting me into the children’s houses. I wanted to be a pioneer bringing the soil back to life, taking part in the connection between how Jews lived on the land two and three and four thousand years ago. Granted, there were probably some form of children’s houses way back then, but it didn’t have the same feeling as touching dirt. Besides, it was humiliating to not understand anything the kids said to me. I understand that one of the reasons why I was there was to learn Hebrew, but anytime a five-year-old knows something that you don’t know, your self-esteem is bound to take a beating.

So I was quite excited one morning when a friend and I were selected to work in the orchards. My Parisian friend, Arielle, was not so excited, but I more than made up for her lack of spirit and desire to dirty her hands. We didn’t quite understand the word for orchard in Hebrew, but we assumed that it was orchard using our basic Hebrew skills.

On the morning of our orchard work, we were confused when we were told to go to a building rather than to the tractor gathering site, but we figured that we were going to a different orchard. So there we were in our navy blue field work clothes (she had somehow managed to make hers look chic with a cloth tied around her head ala Lucy in some episode and me, well, I looked ready to sweat) when we got to where we were told to go. We were quite surprised to have the door opened for us by a man in a suit, not only because he was a man in a suit on the kibbutz but because he didn’t seem ready to prune avocado trees.

He eased Arielle’s concerns and annoyed me no end when he told us that archion did not mean orchard, but archives. We had been selected to work in the kibbutz’s archives. Lucky us. It was before Passover and we were the clean and dust team. Seriously, I did not go to Israel to be given a dust rag. For some reason he was pleased with us and had us back for a week of non-stop pulling books out and dusting off shelves. I don’t think that we even got much in the way of reminisces from him, so intent was he on getting as much work as possible out of us. Yes, that vaunted kibbutz work ethic, where did I put mine?

But someone must have felt bad for me (could it be because I kept saying I want to work in the fields?) because not too long after that I got to work in the cotton fields for a few days. For me, one morning in the cotton fields turned out to contain the one moment of my life that was truly perfect. It might be sad that I can only identify one moment that was so pure and beautiful and holistic, but it is enough for me. Enough for me to know that on a mountaintop in Israel, just moments after the sun rose, I stood up from my task, looked around and was touched in my deepest being by beauty and purity, and I knew it.

Before and after that moment I was walking across the barren field that would be a cotton field laying tubing that would bring water to the plants that were to thrive there. Since it was already hot during the day, we got to the field long before sunrise so that we wouldn’t have to work in the heat of the day. I was told how to lay the tubing and how to insert the little drippers into the tubing (so no water is wasted, it only goes right to where the plant will grow) and was given my section of the field to work in.

Since it was dark when we got there I didn’t realize that we were on top of a mountain (some might call it a large hill, but for Israel this counted as mountain). I had gotten into a rhythm and was fully focused on my work when I felt the darkness end and the light begin. I stopped, and looked out at the horizon and the contours of the land stretched all around me and the sky, and I had my moment of perfection. There was no one with me. I was not creating anything, I was not talking, I was not thinking. I was being one with that I was a part of. One with that I am part of.


One Day, Seven Kinds of Therapy

Good Mother Therapy: On Saturday morning I took my daughter to her basketball game; it was the first game in the post-season playoffs. She played her BFF’s team, and they lost by one point after a very close game (they lost to them last week by more than 20 points). Except for grabbing the ball, I love watching the determination and skill of those 12- and 13-year old girls on the court. After the game I took my daughter and her best friend and another good friend from the “opposing” team out for ice cream and then a day of going back and forth between homes and activities.

This lovely “I am a good mother” morning was negated when my older daughter repeatedly banged on my wall screaming at me to lower the volume of the live opera I was listening to on the radio after I had cranked it up all the way (on a clock radio mind you, so it’s not too loud) to drown out exman yelling at me through my locked door that he would file something against me because I stole his things. (See below.)

Clean House Therapy: The realtor suggested cleaning out the basement storage area and the mudroom. So that’s what I did. I moved bags of old clothes, toys and books to donate and rearranged exman’s boxes so that they would be placed on shelves and not on the floor making the whole place a mess, and putting his shirts (that he just threw down there) into plastic bags. There were only two boxes of my things there, which I didn’t realize I had, since I moved everything to storage when we put the house up for sale and agreed that we would move our things out of the basement and into storage to make it look less crowded. He, of course, moved his things right back into the basement storage area instead of out of the house and into storage.

I got a lot done and was feeling good about it, but I still hadn’t found the dead mouse that could be sniffed down there when exman came home and got into a tirade that I was stealing his things. I dropped the box of things I was about to put into the garbage so that he could inspect it and went into my room not wanting to deal with what I knew would be coming. Not only did I not steal his things but his things mainly comprise boxes and boxes of papers that he brought with us when we moved from Israel and he has not opened since putting them into those boxes more than eight years ago. Apparently there are amazing contracts that he wrote in Hebrew in those boxes which, I am sure, are useless in the US and useless because he hasn’t worked as an attorney since we came to the US.

There he was with his recorder friend again at my door screaming about theft but by that time I had turned the radio up and was listening to Il Trovatore.

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