Sunday, February 24, 2008

The latest...

So I finally got a reply from the ex to my letter stating that I intended to seek half of the value of the house.

Here follows:

You don't get half the house. It was purchased in my name, I owned it
before the marriage, It remained solely in my name for the entire
marriage, it's still solely in my name now. You made no monetary
contribution to upkeep and maintenance while we lived there.

Similarly, all the vehicles were purchased in my name, before the
marriage, so they were legally mine, too. I didn't have to sign one
of them over to you like I did. Having done so, that car is part of
the settlement.

Also, the $2500 I paid for the root canal and other dental work just
before you left could be considered part of the settlement.

So, how about this:

I'll give you $1500. I'll pay for the filing and a consultation with
a lawyer to make sure the paperwork gets filed right. All you have to
do is sign things when you get them and mail them back.

And my first reaction was...laughter.

Bitter laughter, mind you. And it was quickly succeeded by anger, if amused anger. I'm not surprised by his refusing to just give me my half, as he was always of the opinion that the money he earned was the only thing of any value compared to the money I earned or the work I put into maintaining the place. But I was surprised that he is, in fact, trying to scare me into just settling for the pittance he offers.

I shouldn't have been. It was always his way, when I argued, when I stood up for myself: yell, throw things, curse, threaten, do whatever was necessary to make me go along with what he wanted. Fortunately for me, it doesn't work any more. A year ago it might have, but I've gotten strong enough.

On my third or fourth reading it occurred to me that he must, in fact, be rather frightened -- hoping that I'll just cave, rather than fighting for my fair share. I could take him for a lot, especially if I gathered witnesses to the way he treated me.

I've been planning to go for a no-fault divorce, not ask for alimony, settle for no more than half. Right now? I'm angry enough that I'm tempted to pile up witnesses and depositions enough that any sane judge will concede that I'm owed a lot.

I don't know. I need to think, I need to talk to a lawyer. I need to talk to a bunch of other people, too. And I need to pray about what's the right thing. It's a conundrum: some might say turn the other cheek, but I know too much about the origin of that statement to interpret it to mean that I should just give in.

I need to prove to myself that I'm not afraid, too. If I just settle for what he wants...isn't that the old fear again?


In related news, a bunch of people have been talking about divorce lately. I've been struggling with the concept myself -- wondering, still, if perhaps I could have done more to salvage the relationship; telling myself that somehow I ought to have known what he'd turn into and should just have stayed away in the first place. Divorce isn't an easy thing and it's certainly not something I chose lightly. But the posts I'm pointing to say a lot about the topic, a lot more cogently than I could manage right now, so y'all go and read them:

Marriage, divorce, and "continuing concern"

Just in Time for Valentine's...

On divorce. (God bless you Doxy)

About the continuing concern question...I can't say I have a lot of concern for him. I have too much to be concerned about for me, and my ongoing fight to be free of the fear he instilled in me over so long. I don't wish him ill and (apart from weak moments, but that happens to everyone) I never did. I guess that's about all I can manage right now.


And I am angry. I'm angry that he's trying the same old tricks on me as he always did. I'm angry that not only is he trying to scare me out of my fair share, he probably really believes that he's doing the right thing. I'm angry that my contributions to our relationship meant and mean so little to him.

I'm angry that I'm probably gonna have to go to court. I'm angry for the worry this is going to cause my mother and sister, who even he can't claim ever did anything to him. I'm angry about the stress this is causing me when really, I'm under enough damn stress as it is.

But I'm angry...not afraid. I guess it's a step.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Working, a meditation

The protestant work ethic killed my father.

At least, that's what I spent a long time thinking. It might still be true but I'll admit that my perspective has changed a bit.

I originally got my work ethic from him. He owned his own business -- three at once for a time, actually, worked his butt off building homes and running both a sporting goods store and a trophy store in separate locations. When he decided to sell the construction business and combine sporting goods and trophies into one, he took me for a long walk with him so that I could help him work out the best decision. I think I was seven or eight, but Dad talked to me like another adult, laying out the pros and cons, asking my opinion. I'd like to think I made some good points, but if all I did was act as a sounding board, I'm content.

He wouldn't let me start working for him until I was ten. Let, I note: I'd been begging him for years before then. I worked on my tenth birthday, for two hours, pricing socks. I was so proud of the four dollars I made that day, and of all the things I got done for my father.

He'd work rain or shine, drive through snow bad enough to worry my mom, healthy or sick; when his back got bad he took up stretching and went through a couple of experimental treatments but still worked his eight, ten, twelve hour days. Now that I'm older and my back has gone the way his did, I know how much this must have hurt, but it's a man's job to work, so he did.

In my second year of college I knew that he was having some trouble with his health, but it still came as a complete surprise the night that my mother showed up to tell me he'd died. A massive heart attack, didn't even make it to the hospital, there one moment and gone the next. A sort of shock-related amnesia set in -- I still don't remember the last time I saw him, the last words we exchanged. It was years before I could remember his face.

I immediately decided that he'd worked himself to death. How else could such a strong man have succumbed? My work ethic dissolved into vague fears and, eventually, as I went from job to job and found that they all became the job I hated, into a conviction that I simply couldn't work, wasn't suited to anything involving earning money.

I kept trying. One can't simply sit around the house all day doing nothing. I worked for my mother, I worked a variety of temp jobs, I worked at another trophy store for a while. I tried a career at writing and found that I couldn't stick with that, either. Clearly I was destined never to have a job.

I left the ex knowing I'd have to work to support myself. It wasn't so bad -- but the first job I got dissolved, the second took its toll on my health until I was forced to quit, the third didn't pay enough to live on, the fourth stopped before I'd even caught up on my bills...

I was conflicted about that second job -- should I work until I physically couldn't, like my father had? Should I stop at the first sign of pain, to spare my health? Thoughts of the second led to overwhelming guilt; the path I chose led to further deterioration until I could barely walk.

I still can't judge when I'm 'sick enough' that I should go home. Guilt or pain? Money or health? Even my mother's one hard and fast rule, if you puke you stay home from school, isn't enough: my manager at work had a horribly upset stomach for a week and only missed half a day for it. If she'd stayed home, I'm sure, she'd have felt much better.

If my father had been more willing to take a day or two off of work, he'd still be alive.

Because after all, if work is just something you hate anyway, why should it lead to anything but pain?


I'm trying not to talk about my new business too much here (saving that for the other blog) but since I started it -- has it been a month already? -- I have begun to really understand my father. I work on it on my days off -- eight, ten, twelve hours. I work on it before I go to work and after I get home. I think about it in the shower, in the middle of the night, everywhere.

I knew I was hungry today, hadn't had lunch, but I just had to do one more thing -- adjust the camera a little, try another backdrop for that one necklace, touch up the wording of a description just that little bit more. I had lunch at four, because my stomach was so grumpy I was about to fall over; and right now, working on this post while making dinner, I have another window open to a blog post about what I've done today.

In fact, having reminded myself, I just spent another twenty minutes working on that...

It's absorbing me. It's consuming me. I can't stop. Is this how my father felt? Is this why he went in, day after day, in sickness and in health?

Did it kill him? Is it killing me?

Would I stop if it were...?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Bought a bike. Used, in good condition, $25. A steal.

Buying a bike means you'll be riding a bike. Which means ow dammit my legs *pant* *pant* *whine* now why can't I stand up straight?.

I'll get there, though.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Yesterday it was in the 60s and sunny. I went outside and played with dogs. Today? 26 and snowing. They say it's gonna get up to 30 but I think they're lying.


Not a Crass Commercial Announcement Quite Yet...

...but I've started a new blog, this one for my little business. Y'all are welcome over there, and I'm going to be inviting in family and customers, too -- the mood will be a little different but it'll still be me. Come on over!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

And another thing...

Stress takes itself out on your body. Problems with your body add to the stress. Sometimes I forget this. I'm working on it, though.

There's an album of Indian music I particularly enjoy, by a man named Krishna Das. Here follow a few links for your delectation:

Om Namah Shivaya

Mountain Hare Krishna

Mahamantra Meltdown

(I take no responsibility for the video. It's the audio I'm after...)

Long ago I'd put on this album, take off my clothes if it was remotely warm enough, and dance until I fell over. It was beautiful and freeing and spiritually satisfying and like anything that good for me I long ago fell out of the habit.

Noticed at work within the last week that I'm stiff. Not just slept-wrong stiff, nor hurt-myself stiff; I'm not moving right. Somehow I thought of the dancing I used to do.

I'd forgotten how freeing it is, just to turn on the music and let my body move to it. Arms flow gracefully through the air, feet stomp the foor, I spin and sway and I move right and my mind goes away.

Two days ago I danced for a little over seven minutes to Om Namah Shivaya and had to stop, panting for breath, and hit my inhaler. Today I danced for almost twenty minutes, first slow and controlled, then faster, stomping and spinning, eyes closed, hair free, raising my hands to heaven and then bowing profoundly before spinning away again. I especially love his Mountain Hare Krishna and the smooth way it slides into another song far more familiar to most of my readers -- and yes, that's Sting singing with him.

I'm tired, now, and I ache, and I don't have the words to tell you how the dance frees me and yet binds me closer to God. I hope you can hear some of it in the music.

The stress, it's stressy...

...but I think I'm getting a handle on it.

Between the money issues (I don't really make enough at Walmart to survive easily anyway; add to that a surprise two thousand dollar car fix) and my general hatred for my job (it's, well, Walmart) I've been hanging on pretty tight just to stay together. Let's just say that my stomach has been unsettled for the last month continuously and leave it at that without further description, shall we?

To the point that I'm on the edge of tears a good half the time. That I have little energy for Tim, much less anyone else. That I spend whole days wondering what the point is of getting up and going to work anyway, since even if I work my butt off I'll only end the day further in the hole than when I began it.

Now, I've the beginnings of a possible long-term solution -- I want to open a business selling my jewelry, my bath salts and soaps, all those lovely little things I sent out as presents not long ago -- and that's actually given me hope from time to time, and something to do other than 'work I hate' or 'rest up for work I hate'. It's stressful of itself, mind you. Starting a business always is. But it's a different stress.

It's been hampered, though, by the fact that my budget for advertising, materials, tools, html work, graphics work, et cetera is: squat. I can do a fair bit on my own and I have friends to take care of some of the rest (thank you, Tim, for the camera work) but some things ya just need money. And that's exactly what I hain't got.

Except that I sort of do. Mom's still holding a bunch of money for me from Dad's inheritance. I've been holding off on asking her for any of it for a number of reasons: I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it on my own, for one, and for another, it was my fund for whenever I got on my feet and started thinking about a downpayment on land, or starting up a business, going back to school, or whatever. I didn't want to use it all up just surviving.

Well...I've gotten to the point where I need a respite somewhere. I need either time to relax, to get the stress out of my body, to pull myself out of the ever-threatening depression (and not just a day or two off work, either; I think I truly need a month or two leave of absence right now), or I need enough money that I'm not in constant fear of running out. Since taking time off work means no money, I was feeling kinda stuck.

Pride is a bitch, I tell you what. And it'd gotten to the point where it was a sort of 'I can make it All By Myself' pride that was holding me back from asking my mom for money that's mine, anyway. It's not a handout, it's not asking for help (see, I'm trying to convince myself here, too). It's a respite.

It's also, as I said to my mom, capital. Venture capital, I suppose one could call it, except that I'm not getting it from some bigwig investor looking for the next dotcom, it's mine. Why, I realized, should I wait and wait to use the money to start my business when I can be doing that with it now?

And so there's a bunch of moneys heading my way once Mom gets the paperwork done. Enough to pay for the car, get rid of a couple of other debts hanging over my head, put a goodly amount into the business and yet give me the beginnings of an emergency fund.

I've been working a lot. Labels and fliers, banners and web design, advertising campaigns, pricing, materials and recipes, craft shows and donations. What people like and what they don't. The right names for things, starting with my company and working my way down to the antifungal powder that'll be among my products (despite severe provocation I'm not naming it Love My Bits Powder). It's a bunch of work and not the part I thought I'd like -- I like the making, choosing what beads will go together in what order, stirring the melted soap to make sure the lavender is evenly distributed -- but I'm thoroughly enjoying this part, too.

It's stressful, of course. I spent a week wrestling with labels in a graphics program I'm not familiar with, only to discover that while they look great on a monitor, they print like crap. I nearly had a meltdown over the price of olive oil. I'm still very nervous about the thought of messing with lye, but I do want to make my own soap instead of buying melt-and-pour. I've almost thrown Tim's camera twice trying to get the colours of my jewelry to show up right, and somehow negate the fact that my hands shake.

On the up side? After a couple hours of fighting with it (and several years of being told it was impossible) I got Corel Draw to run under Linux, and great is my glee. That is the graphics program I'm familiar with, and I can do things in it that blow graphics people away. I'm redoing the labels in my native tongue and enjoying it thoroughly.

Tim's taken over the camera work, at least for now, and I'm planning to learn how to adjust the exposure myself so that I can do it right. With some of the money from my mom I'm going to buy a decent camera and tripod (which I've wanted for a long time anyway, I'll admit). I'm learning that there are a lot of things I can do that I didn't think I could -- business things, things I didn't think I had a head for.

Course, I'm starting a business. What are the stats on those, anyway? Yeah, not good. But fortune favors the prepared, and I'm doing what I can to prepare properly.

Crass commercial announcement to follow at the appropriate point. Oh, and Nina? Thank you, thank you, thank you for the well-timed poke. :)

(Hey Sharon, have you got your stuff yet? Getting concerned...)