Monday, March 2, 2009

Family


Usually I look forward to getting my tax refund. My first thought is to do something practical with it, maybe squirrel a little bit away for fun. However I use it, my first thought is doing something that'll benefit my family. Last year, I took a big chunk of my return and bought over $277 worth of groceries, filling two carriages. It's a basic function and responsibility but please understand that $277 is more than I usually pull down after a 40 hour week. We never eat so well than at tax refund time and I came home with a car full of food and me full of pride and a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

This year I dread getting my return. Because a couple of weeks after that, I'll have to leave and use my entire refund putting down first, last and security for a place I don't want. Not knowing the day I'll have to move out, it's sort of like living on Death Row without being told the day of your execution or having a loved one put a contract out on you and not knowing when the assassin's bullet will strike.

Suddenly, little chores that used to be irksome are now incalculably precious. I take a bittersweet joy retiling the kitchen floor, replacing the string on the light switch, fixing the vacuum cleaner then using it in the den, tidying up the clutter there and elsewhere.

But then she reminds me it's too little too late, I'm doing these things with a manic, desperate energy out of self-preservation, she says. I cannot win. I will never again mow those lawns. I will never get to weather-proof the deck. I will never have the chance to repair the front porch. She demeans and minimizes everything I do, impugns my motives.

She just doesn't get it. Better late than never is a cliche because it applies so often in life and I'm not acting solely out of self-preservation because I see the light at the end of the tunnel. My life, as well as my dignity and self-respect, means nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to my love and devotion for this family.

It's a horrid predicament that I honestly wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Anyone who's ever gone to work the day they would get fired could perhaps appreciate this: Noticing people treating you like a leper, keeping their distance, not looking you in the eye, as if you have some communicable disease.

It galls me that my stepkids, who fiercely protect their friends at the first discouraging word from me or anyone, couldn't think to defend the only father they've had, really, for these past 15+ years. Ingrid absolves herself of any responsibility for this but when kids grow up, they observe how their one natural parent regards the newcomer and they take their cues from the more familiar parent. And the bottom line is I'm not worth defending or supporting. Their friends, who come and go, are. I, family, am not.

I cannot understand that skewed priority. But all my life I've suffered from a shocking lack of respect and support. Lacking that, lacking love, respect or any of the qualities that go to form a functional relationship or family dynamic, I'd still take what I can get, even if all that's left is a sense of pride and accomplishment in doing for my family. It's an almost insanely stubborn determination because I've identified myself so much and so completely with this family. I'll take what I can get because, as stated, my pride and self-respect means nothing compared to my love and devotion to this family.

Knowing I will not be here much longer, my time with my loved ones is also all the more precious. I sometimes cry my eyes out, as I did all day yesterday, whenever I hold Gavin or even just look at him. I tell him, even though he cannot understand me, "Please don't forget me, do not stop loving me." At 20 1/2 months, he will be vaguely aware of my sudden absence but he will forget me. I'm hoping the extra time I spend with him may make the difference between an enduring memory that I intend to strengthen with regular visits and oblivion. Yet I cannot escape the cruel irony that my grandchild, the only human being on earth who still loves me unconditionally, will soon be torn from my life.

As the snow falls here in the northeast and the world, awakened from its false spring that gave us back our grass for the first time since December, gets colder, it's the perfect metaphor for my life. Just when I thought 2009 was going to be our year, just as I was gearing up to do the things that needed to be done but couldn't be done until spring, winter again strikes, seemingly without end. Until last month, I could easily imagine spring, summer, fall, me in the back yard.

Now, I cannot see beyond this endless winter.

20 Comments:

At March 2, 2009 at 10:28 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

it's a fucking crime jp.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 10:33 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

I'm so sorry for not providing political content. I guess I ought to keep my hand in during last few weeks. Gates and Mullen publicly contradicting eachother about Iran, Prince stepping down as CEO of Blackwater, Obama picking Sebelius as HHS Secretary.

Lisa Golden got away with not providing any political content and she still gets more comments than I do. But she has a workable family, a beautiful family. There's plenty of Space on That's Why for happiness and humor.

I haven't that latitude. I just don't have it in me to effectively write about political matters. It is at once more yet less important than what's going on in my disintegrating domestic circle. I have, as Robert Frost said, many promises to keep, even if not many miles to go.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 2:42 PM, OpenID duros62 said...

I got fired too, JP, after 7 years. It sucks. It's admirable that you're doing the stuff around the house that needs to get done, but try to remember you're not doing it for her, but for yourself. You own your own pride of accomplishment, no one is going to give that to you.
I just got remarried last summer to someone who truly gets me, so there's that.
All the same cliches apply (stay strong, with every end a new beginning, one door closes, blah blah blah).

I hope you don't get too much backlash from sharing this with the entire interweb.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP
It may sound perverse, but really, things can only get better. Getting your world stomped to shit hurts a lot, particularly when the money is a big problem and the work ain't working. Even if you were completely at fault in bringing all of this on yourself - the fact that you are getting the worst of it (instead of a wife or kids getting the shitty end of the stick) is something - it is still something you will get past.
It may take some kind of twisted optimism to look at it this way - there are plenty of somebodys way worse off right now. At least you can write and speak and think and walk. Inch by inch and day by day it will get better (or at least less awful).
As an example of someone worse-off than yourself in at least one catagory, take a look at the sentence structure and the grammer in the preceding two paragraphs. You write far better than that every day; and I am generally regarded as someone who appears to be reasonably intelligent. I can read but I can't really write - not like you can. I'm not even sure I'll be able to work the buttons below this box to make sure this comment is posted.

I know its just words but just keep on trying and soon things will be a little less shitty. Maybe not great, but at least less shitty. It will take some time. I have been to that dark, sad, depressing and scary place. Its fucking spooky, but be tough.

Eric P.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 3:07 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

duros: I don't care what other people think about my situation one way or the other.

I've been out all day long shoveling my driveway, deck, front walkway and porch, painfully aware of the fact that it may be the last time I'll be called upon to do this.

But whatever I do, I do primarily for my family. When I shovel snow, I am, ironically, the only one who doesn't benefit from it because I'm the only one here who doesn't have access to a car.

Virtually everything I do in my life I do for the family I love. Yeah, there's an ancillary sense of accomplishment but I feel that because I've done something positive for the family with whom I completely identify myself.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP,
Take your refund and move as far as physically possible from this dead end relationship. Have a little faith in yourself, things will work out. You’re looking for acceptance and understanding from people who don’t appreciate you or your writing. I can tell you from experience that giving up your art for this family is a recipe for disaster, you’ll never be happy. I can tell you stories that would make you thankful for the situation you are dealing with, but I'll spare you. Stay focused and be strong so you don’t do something foolish while all these emotions are raging and you'll be fine. Try a heavy dose of Delbert McClinton, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt. They’ve never let me down.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good advice from anonymous I....
As far as shoveling snow is concerned I'd of told the bitch to get off her ass and shovel "her"
driveway herself! Wait 'til your
gone then that whole sorry bunch
will realize what you did for them
in many ways. But F__k em! And
don't you dare run over there when
they call to see if you could stop
by to fix a broken toilet or whatever! It's over....Listen to
Roy Orbison have a great cry and then get on with it! Don't look back only look ahead and do great work.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 4:34 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

First off, please don't call her a bitch. Secondly, she just had rotator cuff surgery and cannot even drive much less shovel snow, thereby, thirdly, preventing her from being here five days and nights a week.

Delbert McClinton, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt? Never listen to them. Not my style. Actually, Ingrid would listen to them.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 5:52 PM, Blogger Bukko_in_Australia said...

Wow JP, your life has been so much like mine in a lot of ways.

When my marriage to Mrs. Bukko #1 was breaking up, I had to live in a "dead man walking" situation like you for almost a year. I had been fired from my last newspaper job, looked unsuccessfully for half a year to get a new one, finally gave up and started training to become a nurse. Me, the ex and our infant daughter were living in the house that Mrs. B's rich Jewish family had bought her, and despite the marriage cert. and being the father, it was always like I was the guest, the interloper.

Whenever we had an argument, which was usually about something trivial, the first Mrs. Bukko would pull the trump card of saying "I'm going to kick you out of the house." One time I called her bluff and she actually called the sheriff's office. When the deputy came out, he heard about the squabble and asked if I had been physically violent to my ex. She had enough honesty (or didn't know enough about how to play the system) to say "No, he's never hit me." So the deputy told her "Sorry ma'am, it's not part of the job for us law enforcement officers to throw husbands out of their houses because their wives get mad at them."

I lived for almost a year as a human turd in the punch bowl, sleeping in the spare bedroom while I got up before dawn every day and drove 56 miles each way to school, trying to keep up my grades while dealing with tonnes of interpersonal tension. I also paid half the bills this entire time, including half the payments on the car SHE drove. Had to sell off all the gold coins I had stashed since when I had gotten them during a survivalist spasm while Reagan was president, but I managed.

When I did graduate from LPN school and started working at a crummy $7.50-an-hour job at a nursing home, the ex dropped the hammer. She had always said "I'm going to divorce you as soon as you're making some money so I can get you for child support." For the next seven years, we fought tooth-and-nail in family court, as she tried to keep me from seeing my daughter, despite the fact that I always paid every penny of support and was a good father. I finally gave up in 1999, and didn't see my own flesh and blood for almost a decade.

So how'd it work out? I had years of anger and bitterness. But I didn't kill my ex-wife. (I'm more about revenge than self-harm.) The time when the oil drainhole bolt on that car I paid half for got all loose and dropped out as she was driving at high speed, making the engine seize up so bad that it also ruined the automatic transmission and she had to scrap the car? Well, accidents will happen...

I got through it. I worked hard to improve my career, moved into a succession of better houses, married a new woman with many similarities to the old, only not as mean, and even found a new country to live in! And two ywars ago, my daughter and I re-established contact. She had been around me long enough in her early years to remember what a good guy I was. She's flown down here twice to visit, and might even immigrate when she's out of college.

I gotta say, you're a prince for caring so much about children (and grands) who aren't even your own flesh 'n' blood. I could never be that nice to kids who didn't carry my genetics. You're a better man than I am, JP.

Life goes on. It's not easy. But if you keep plugging away, try to "walk in the light" and build good karma, you stand a higher chance that good things will flow to you.

As for me, I have the pleasure of livin' large and hearing, through my daughter, about my ex's increasingly shambolic life. (She's always been a parasite on her family; never had a real job but scrounged work in the family enterprise, but they're slowly cutting her loose the way she did me.) I learned this from my mom -- living long enough to see them dead is the best revenge.

I'm not saying that motivation will work for you. In spite of your cussing, you're probably a nicer person at your core than I am. But you've got to find your own reason for keeping at it, put your head down and battle on, mate. Test of your manhood time --again. It never stops. But one of these days, if you're man enough, you'll look back and think "Well, I beat that batch of bullshit, didn't I?"

 
At March 2, 2009 at 6:27 PM, Anonymous Kootenay said...

So that's how it is? I'm sorry I told you to buck up JP, you're breaking my heart! I guess I hadn't really incorporated the totality of your commitment. This is a dark road ahead, for sure.

I was just wondering, is it possible a quick separation at this point might be a good idea? just pack a bag and go visit a friend...you can deal with moving later. That way everybody gets a little space to consider the implications, and perhaps frayed nerves will calm a bit. I don't suppose it could hurt much at this point and maybe it might help?

Remember you have a community that cares about you, and will also pay for your stuff. I think the Bone Bridge is wonderful and I would be thrilled to help by buying the chapters as Doro suggested. Your writing is outstanding - the first three sneaks previews totally grabbed me and left me wanting MORE NOW.

Hang in there man, it's gonna be pretty much one step at a time for the next while. We'll be here for you.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 6:44 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Bukko: I'm not thinking of revenge. I'm not going to survive by being bitter. I'm too baffled to be bitter. And, really, what drives people to revenge but bitterness? I carry enough of that around inside me.

We had some great times these past 15+ years and she stuck by me during a couple of extended rough patches when I couldn't find or keep a job. People were telling her I was a bum, ditch him. She steadfastly refused. That's gotta count for something.

Unfortunately, I have to live under unending double standards and she doesn't acknowledge them. Sidebar: A very wise marriage counselor once said, "If one party thinks there's no problem but the other thinks there is, then there's a problem."

The endless double standards is one that she doesn't even acknowledge. While the middle kid (Gavin's Dad) spends literally so much time on the couch that I wouldn't recognize him if he ever stood up, I'm being told to get a second job. While others are allowed to tweak out and even insult me, when I get upset or criticize someone, I'm told to shut up, I'm antisocial and nasty and cynical.

Yeah, in real life I can be like the more fiery voice that you see here but it isn't about style points- it's the content that matters and more often than not, I truly am right most of the time.

But she's decided that some day she wants to live under thatched roof overlooking a cliff, living alone. How can I compete with that?

In the meantime, she's deluding herself into thinking that once I leave, she'll be all alone. Ha ha.

She'll have her second kid, her grandchild, the kid's mother, her younger brother, plus the dog and the cat and whatever other stray, whether biped or quadruped, that she takes in. She has another son and a daughter and another grandchild. She will not be alone. She will have her comfort zone and her home. She will retain her identity, her sense of purpose.

She will take all that away from me and if I were to try to keep those relationships alive after my ouster, it will always have the stigma of illegitimacy and the smell of desperation about it. She keeps insisting she's giving me options. I see none that are viable.

So what reason will I have to live? I'm too young to be redundant but too old to start another family. 50 is a truly shitty age to be starting over.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 10:56 PM, Anonymous tw said...

JP, this has been a great couple of threads. You've gotten some great advice and insights here and have umnwittingly provided therapy to alot of your readers who have shared their hard times with you. It's tough, but it does get better.

I agree with Stan B, get involved in something like a community outreach program. Bet you'll meet some chicks there that have gotten just as shitty a break as you! (Molly, I used to refer to them as sympathy fucks! My selfesteme must have been really low)

Eric said it best, "it'll get less shitty!"

Probably not your style either but listen to a little John Prine or James McMurtry. They'll both give ya some interesting stories of people and life.

And JP, from a practical perspective, the best advice I got when going thru a divorce was, "whatever you do be nice, nice, nice. The minute you start arguing, the lawyers start writing letters and it starts costing you alot of money!"

 
At March 2, 2009 at 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But she's decided that some day she wants to live under thatched roof overlooking a cliff, living alone. How can I compete with that?"

Ooops...posted accidentally above.

Anyway, JP, you CAN'T compete with that. She's full of shit, too. Stupid, made-up romance novel kind of dreaming, and you're falling for it like a ton of bricks. I've been in both positions. Nobody here is telling it like it is. How's the sexlife?

And there you have it.

 
At March 2, 2009 at 11:20 PM, Blogger Bukko_in_Australia said...

What you said is an example of why you're a better person than I am, JP. When I was faced with similar circumstances, anger kept me going. Not a great frame of mind, but it worked for me. That's the result of growing up under the fists of an angry Army officer. I would have been better off psychically if I had a more equitable frame of mind like you. So you've got a half-step on me (the Bukko.1992 version, that is).

How many 50-something loser guys have you known who got into women/situations that were WAAAAAY better than they deserved? So why shouldn't you be one of them? ;0

But seriously, do you still have that dog whose nose-shots you posted during your first (and as far as I know, only video blogging)? Take the dog with you, JP! Dogs are far better companions than humans. He'll give you a reason to keep the place cleaned up and to take walks that will keep you out of your funk. You'll always be a hero to your dog.

 
At March 3, 2009 at 5:02 PM, OpenID duros62 said...

Look on the bright side, JP.

You could be this guy.

 
At March 3, 2009 at 7:43 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Thanks, Duros. I've just spent the last two hours on Failblog.

 
At March 10, 2009 at 10:59 AM, Blogger Las Vegas Mills said...

Found your site through Crooks and Liars and was reading everything you had posted. It's obvious you're a wonderful writer and I hope that you don't lose sight of that while you're hurting.

I had to address what you said about the kids. I don't have direct experience with your situation, I'm very, very lucky to have married a wonderful man and we work well together. Barring head injuries I think that we will. Yes, we work at it, but mostly I think we are lucky.

Back to the children, we watched my brother-in-law experience a similar situation. He married a woman who had been married twice and he himself had been married before. She had three children, he had one child. My brother-in-law basically raised her two younger kids as they were quite young when he married their mother. Long story short, after about 13 years, they hit a snag and ended up divorcing. The kids were growly at first, but they came back around as they aged. The kids are probably hurting like you, their world is being rocked and their first loyalty will be to their mother, but they will know that you have been and will continue to be someone that they can count on, they may just need time.

As for Ingrid, have either of you thought that she may be experiencing peri or actual menopause? I myself have started the process and I can understand her comment about being alone by the cliff. There are days when I'm glad everyone has left the house and I can make it very quiet and be alone with my thoughts. My point with this, is that after she's done and she's back to her usual/old self, she may greatly regret what's happened.

About four years ago I was laid off, twice. The first job I sincerely hated and wasn't too sad, the subsequent job I liked and was sorry to lose it. My confidence was completely shaken. My husband suggested that I go back to school, which I did. I got my BSN and became a registered nurse. It was a struggle and it wasn't easy (I was 49 when I finished), but it can be done.

I hope you won't stop writing, we need people like you because the evil turds are still out there muddying the waters. You write so well and you're very amusing and that counts for so much. I hope you will take comfort in the fact that even though you may not hear it you are bringing light to many people and even though we don't know you we are wishing you peace and happiness.

 
At March 16, 2009 at 7:37 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

JP,

I'm reading you after a time away. From what I see, your self-esteem has been acid-bathed. Head games prevail.

When a woman pulls a Garbo, she doesn't mean she wants to be alone, she just wants rid of you. Sorry, truth. The more "compassionate" you are, the more repellent you become. The only way to salvage your self-esteem is to leave. Immediately.

Make yourself a donkey and someone will ride you. You've been ridden (though you might've thought it was you who done the riding, if you will forgive my vulgarity.)

You will be on your way to being a new man when you can heartily say, "F*ck 'em". You must do that in order to bring a clean, new self to your future endeavors. There is such a thing as dark energy, and you are amidst it.

 
At March 16, 2009 at 7:45 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Well, Gee, Lisa, that would be peachy keen if I could leave but unfortunately, I have nowhere to fucking go!!!

 
At October 19, 2009 at 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It galls me that my stepkids, who fiercely protect their friends at the first discouraging word from me or anyone, couldn't think to defend the only father they've had, really, for these past 15+ years."

Shit, man, you are one sad spectacle. That is pathetic! It's their business to protect you?

 

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  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find Articles.com, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • Dictionary.com.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • anysoldier.com
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
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