Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, July 31, 2010

C: Indulgence

V and I had a wonderful Saturday!  Last night my two young nieces spent the night with me, the plan being to visit our local Farmer’s Market early, before the heat set in too much.  I invited MIL and my mother to attend—both declined, having heard the triple-digit weather report and knowing the energy and stamina of my nieces…

V, the girls and I were down there by 8:30, and the heat was rising already.  We breakfasted on pastry and French toast (the girls) then perused the lovely display of fresh vegetables and fruit and the array of  other goods in small booths. 

Mom had “ordered” some locally-grown okra and tomatoes.  She likes to make this stewed okra-tomato thing (ugh! I have to have my okra fried or in gumbo).  We found the former but discovered that there are NO local tomatoes.  The story goes that the heat here has caused them to split, so vine-ripened ones had to be trucked in.  Mom had to make do with tomatoes from the next state.

After our produce shopping, we headed to several small specialty shops—air conditioned, thank goodness!  We poked around, and one of my favorite parts of these trips is that when one of my nieces would admire something (within reason), we just bought it! 

Before you get too excited, let me explain that these were not expensive items (I did turn down the youngest one’s request for a largish plush dog—outside the “reasonable” price range.  I think she figured it did not hurt to ask!).  It was so much fun for the girls to know that their indulgence was part of the purpose.  Really, it did not cost me much, all told, and I think I  got a lot of bang  for the buck!

Here are pictures of them—you can see why it’s so easy to give in to them!


I have other nieces (no daughters!) who live distant, and it would be fun to do the same with them.  I am planning to do just that when they visit! 

I am finding that nephews (and son, for that matter) just don’t have the same desire to browse and find inexpensive trinkets!

So, here’s to girl time—and indulgence!

Hope you had a great Saturday, as well!  Hope you stayed cooler than we did—we got sweaty several times.

V’s recovering from a hand/thumb injury that requires a brace and makes posting difficult.  Maybe you’ll hear from her soon.  C

Thursday, July 29, 2010

C: Artemis of the Back Yard

DSCN1142 A couple posts back, here, I wrote about my cat, Sasha: she who lives on my back porch and reigns supreme in the fenced back yard.  As I mentioned, she is a shy sweetie.

But Sasha is much more than that.  She is a killing machine….

At my back door I often find little offerings of small animals, laid like little sacrifices on the altar of the cat-food-bringer.  Usually they are birds or mice.  Occasionally there will be a small rabbit.  As disgusting as this is to me, I realize that these are tokens of Sasha’s affection.  Just doing her part…DSCN1145

Tonight I heard a little distress call from my back porch just outside my bedroom window, and I knew that Sasha was, again, plying her skill.  Artemis of the back yard.

The sound raises my blood pressure a bit—like hearing a crying baby.  I can’t tell for sure what type of animal is in Sasha’s clutches, but I can tell that it is too late for me to do it any good.  The cries are weak and I know from experience that if I open my back door, Sasha will disappear with her trophy into the darkness of the night.

No, may as well let nature take its grim course.

But, as I heard the little cry, it occurred to me that it sounds exactly like a pet squeaky toy.   I have often been curious as to why my dogs and cat were attracted to that squeaky sound, perking right up and pricking their ears when I’d squeeze their toys.  Now I know…it sounds like prey distress. 

Whew! Nature’s tough!


Monday, July 26, 2010

C: The Times, They are Changing

Notice to those who have designs on snatching my purse:  There’s never any cash there!  If you get my cards, I’ll cancel them pronto…you may as well give it up.  The only thing that will be accomplished is aggravation to me as I go through the rigmarole to replace my identification and credit cards.

I remember just a few years ago first hearing the talk that we were moving to a “cashless society.”  I scoffed at the idea.  I’m eating my words; I think I’m there.  I never have any “folding money” in my pocket these days.  And when I do, it is likely because I ran by the ATM machine, not because I held out from a deposit or cashed a check, like the old days.

Remember asking the grocer if you could write a check for $20 more than the grocery bill?  I used to do it so that I’d have money for lunch or gas.  Doesn’t happen for me anymore.  I just swipe my debit card instead.  Everywhere.

Just the other day I was in the bank grabbing a deposit slip form and thinking, “I never seem to have enough deposit slips!”  Unfortunately, it’s not that I am constantly putting money into the account, eating up that supply of deposit slips.  Rather, it’s that I just don’t seem to write checks any more.  About the only non-electronic banking I do is manually deposit my paychecks—they are not auto-deposited.  My deposit slips run out far before I am out of checks.

My utilities, my credit cards, my mortgage….all of these payments are made online.  I cannot think of a single bill for which I write and mail a check. 

It’s no wonder the postal service is having budget problems.  We do so much by e-mail and internet these days.  Even in our business, lots of what would normally have been mailed out is now e-mailed.

MIL and my mother neither one want to do the on-line payment thing.   I cannot convince them of the convenience and the safety of this method.   They are accustomed to the paper thing and both regularly mail out stacks of bills, going by the post office to get stamps. 

Me?  I have a postage meter at our office for those legal documents I need to mail.  Other than that, I rarely need postage anymore.

It’s just another part of life that’s on the move.  Into the 21st Century. Is it my perspective, or is life changing more rapidly than it used to?  I think back to three centuries ago as opposed to two centuries past.  Did the folks in that one-hundred-year span have to experience the rapid changes we do today? 

I know one thing: those panhandlers asking for “spare change” are up the creek where I’m concerned—there’s rarely any currency in my pocket to share!  C

Thursday, July 22, 2010

C: Pampered to Death

She was the lone sister left at home to care for her widowed father, selflessly.  She had given up college to do so.  Her father needed her, after the long battle with her mother’s illness.

When she was in her mid-thirties, much to her surprise, a gentleman began to court her.  He was a big fish in their small town; he spoke in public for the local chapter of his preferred political party.  He was a lawyer and accountant; a man of substance with the freedom of a professional office in his home.  By this time he was divorced from the mother of his four almost-grown children, all of whom lived in another county a couple hours away.  He was fifteen years older than her.

After several years of storybook courtship filled with trips to stage plays, dinner in fine restaurants she had never before experienced, and surprise gifts, they married. 

As a wedding gift, his mother gave the new couple a nice five-acre tract sliced from her larger holdings.  Our girl threw her savings account into the pot, and they built a dream house—just right for them.  They lived there 39 more years.  Storybook house; storybook life.   Bliss.

During their marriage, the courtship never seemed to end.  She was not allowed to carve a roast—she might cut herself.  She would never be permitted to stand on a stepstool and reach for a pot from over the refrigerator—she might fall.  He tended to every detail of their lives.  She received wonderful gifts, from the simple to the lavish, often for no reason.  She traveled.  She did not have to worry her head about anything.  Her husband took care of it all.

She did continue in her job in the nearest city, a government employee.  It was low-stress, and she enjoyed the work.  He saw her off on the train each morning, and each afternoon he was there to retrieve her when she returned.

All the neighbors and family talked about how spoiled she was; he did everything for her; he must have loved her so.  He had the reputation in her family of being rich.

He fell into Alzheimer’s and, like she had with her father, she selflessly stayed with him, forbidding others from even speaking of putting him in a nursing home.  The last two years of his life, he had no idea who she was.  He thought she was just the woman who came in to care for him, which was also the truth.

She discovered that before he forgot how, he had spent every dime of their savings and had charged their credit cards to the hilt, mostly with cash advances so that he could continue his life of “generosity” to others.  He doled out money like he had it.  He had always been so generous.  She was later to say that the fault was in his good heart.  In her late 70’s, she was saddled with trying to manage debt for the first time in her entire life.  It was not easy—she could only muster the money to pay the minimums on the credit cards, squeezed from her pension and his Social Security check.

He finally slipped away and, even though the past years had been hard, the day of his passing was difficult for her.  Little did she know that her near future would become even more so.

The week after he was buried, his grown daughters confronted her.  It seemed that the “wedding gift” from his mother had not been a gift at all.  It was more like a loan.  Mother had given husband only a life estate in the property.  Now that he was dead, she had no right to stay any longer on the property.  Never mind that she had, those thirty-something years ago, put all her savings into the home built there.  No, she had no claim to it.  Her investment in it was lost.  She was evicted.

So, now in her early 80’s, she was homeless.  She had to vacate her home and get rid of almost all her belongings.  The only thing that she could afford to rent was a mother-in-law’s quarters tacked-on to someone’s home a few miles away.  So, that is where she is spending the rest of her life.  In penury.

And, though Husband has moved for the most part into sainthood in her memory, so willing is she to remember the best, there are moments of clarity.  In those clear  moments, here is what she realizes and occasionally admits:

  • He was a lawyer.  He knew what she did not: that she had no claim to her home.  This was hidden from her.
  • He was an accountant.  He knew what she did not: that she had debt to juggle that would cripple her.
  • That her own security after he left this earth meant nothing to him; he lived only for the moment.  What happened to her after he was gone meant nothing to him.  Walk talks louder than the talk…
  • That his displays of generosity and kindness to her were not for her; they were for him, as were the big-shot gestures he made by throwing around money to others.  They were all purely for his own ego.  And they were greatly to her detriment.  He did not care.  It was—every bit of it—all about him.
  • And she realized that she had only moved through her life from one father to another.

It’s a true story, all of it.  Sad to say.  Can others learn from this?  C

Monday, July 19, 2010

C: Sweet Homecomings

Like Dorothy, I have learned that there’s no place like home!  Last weekend I spent one night away from home with Mom, MIL and Aunt E.  My own bed felt so good when I came back.

But, it’s not just my familiar bed that beckons me back.  No, it’s the warm greeting I receive from those who await me: my pets!

Last Saturday, as we were making were way home, my phone rang.  It was my son:

Mom,” he said, “The weirdest thing…the dogs won’t come home!” 

Now, let me give you the back-story:

My two dogs, Chili and Scout, are usually home whenever I’m home.  When I leave for work each morning, they immediately head to Grandmom’s just up the driveway toward the road from me, where they spend most of the day. MIL spoils them, letting them in and out of her house and providing treats.

WhDSCN1075en I return, the dogs greet me at MIL’s and watch to see if I am turning in to visit her or if I’m passing her turn and going straight home.  Wherever I go, they go.

Friday, when I went to pick up MIL and Aunt E, I just parked my car there, and we took MIL’s car.  According to Son, the dogs never moved, and he could not entice them home to eat—he eventually fed and watered them there.  He was  amused at the fact that they would not budge from where my car was, thinking they had reasoned that it is place to which I would come back!  (So smart, they are!)

On our return, the dogs were ecstatic!  Never has any being been so welcoming to another!  Chili dutifully followed me home and spent the night beside my bed.  Little Scout had her share of my petting and opted to spend the night with MIL and Aunt E.  If I know her at all, she ended up stretched out on Grandmom’s couch in the night!DSCN1081

This reminds me of another welcome I received, unexpected, which made it even nicer:

Probably eight years or so ago, being strapped for cash at the time and fretting over my husband’s Christmas gift, it came to me! At the time  we had been “kitty-less” for some time, a fact that my husband had often bemoaned. So, I determined to get him a cat from the local animal shelter and a promise to help with the litter box.

My in-laws were enlisted in the project, and the two of them took off to the animal shelter. I got a phone call: “C, there’s a wonderful little grey brindle female,” MIL said (just what I had ordered!), “but there is a most handsome male red kitty who is just playing up a storm with her. I think you need them both.” (See what a bad influence she is…)

I authorized the adoption of them both, and the Christmas surprise that year was one of the best. This is how “Miss Kitty” and “Red” came to be part of our family.

Sad to admit, we fell down on our obligation to Miss Kitty, and she found herself “in trouble,” obviously having taken up with the tomcat across the carlandcat creek. She delivered six kittens and was just the best mother. We gave away two,  but were left with four of the litter. All six cats lived in relative happiness on our wide back porches, protected from the world by our backyard fence.  (And we learned our lesson—everyone was neutered!).

Living in the country is hard on kitties and, one-by-one, these kitties just failed to show up for dinner. Clearly, they were venturing out of their haven for excitement and finding more than they bargained for.  Here is my late father-in-law with one of the litter, who was soon thereafter to disappear.

There was, however, one exception.  Sasha is a shy type, running from strangers and children, which is surprising since I know she has never been mistreated. But maybe it was this tendency toward standoffishness that had kept her alive the longest, our only remaining cat—natural selection in full view.

And Sasha’s shyness is conflicted. You can see her “wishing” to be petted and held but just not quite able to bring herself to be the lap kitty.

So, for the past three years, Sasha has lived a quiet life oDSCN1148n the back porch.  This, and the large, fenced back yard, is her domain, and I don’t think it’s half bad for a kitty.  She has her soft little kitty bed, which is boxed against the wind and plumped with additional bedding in the winter.  She has a good life.

Most humans seem scary to her, and even with me it takes coaxing for her to finally come, purring and smiling, for attention. She does not come in the house.  When we bring her in, she is so uncomfortable that she goes back to the door, asking to go back outside.

While I was gone on the cruise in February, my son saw that she got her regular meals. But, being who she is, she was unable to get any attention whatsoever. It must have been this missing element that brought about my sweet surprise.

Our back porch wraps around my house, with the far “L” portion being just outside my bedroom. We have screened it in, but I seldom make use of it now, and the screen door stays ajar. I believe Sasha considers it her territory, and is in and out of the screened portion.

When I arrived home from my trip at 10 p.m.—dog tired after being in airports/on airplanes for twelve straight hours—I snuggled down into my own bed and was out like a light. DSCN1140

About midnight I was awakened by a bumping and scratching sound at my bedroom’s back door. Weird! I rubbed my eyes and sat up in the bed to listen again. I noticed that it was accompanied by soft meowing!

I got up and stumbled to the door. It was Sasha. She darted  away from me to the other side of the screened porch, but she arched her back and rubbed back and forth against the leg of the chair, obviously wanting attention but not knowing how to really ask for it. I approached; she skittered away. Remember, I was half asleep—I took myself back to bed. The sounds had all stopped; I snoozed away.

At about 2 a.m. the process started again. This time when I opened the door, Sasha strolled right in, meowing, tail up. I bent down. Not only was I able to hold and pet her, but she returned the affection, lifting her little face and rubbing against my cheek. It was the sweetest thing! I carried her back to bed with me, and she—to my utter amazement—settled right down DSCN1147 against me purring, and I fell back asleep.

Sasha did not stay the rest of the night. After only an hour or so, I found myself stumbling, yet again, to the door to let her back out. But the broken sleep was so worth it!! I do believe I was missed by this cat!  She has not repeated this door-knocking.

So, just indulge me, here: I believe  our animals consciously care for us and await our return.  Do you?  C

Saturday, July 17, 2010

C: The Right Response

oksana Yes, I’m on a Mel Gibson roll, here.  This is the third post in a row which has sprung from his shenanigans (see these links for the first and second).  I have a bully pulpit, here, and I’m fairly elbowing V out of the way to write my thoughts.  Al Gore did me such a favor by inventing this internet thing…

There is so much that this episode has stirred up in me.  I think that one benefit of celebrity for us “nobodies”  is that famous people can play out their dramas in public and portray life in a magnified way so that sometimes we can pick through the drama and learn something.

Mel’s girlfriend, Oksana is in a pickle, isn’t she?  She’s saddled with an aging, crumbling man (because when you have a child with someone, you are saddled with them) and she’s saddled her little daughter with one, too.

While I am on Oksana’s team when it comes to exposing and resisting domestic violence, I cannot help but point out her own complicity in getting herself into this situation.  Mel was, after all, a married man when she and he decided that the stars had aligned just to give them pleasure.  I’m sure it was enthralling.  And all that mattered was their chasing of their own hearts’ desires.  Certainly any moral code didn’t matter. 

I’m sure Mel looked like a dream catch to Oksana: still ruggedly  handsome—what a great father figure—and he was rich to boot!  He would take care of her! And, being the actor that he is, don’t you just know he poured the charm on!  melandoksana

This is a tabloid picture of the love birds embracing on the beach.  I bet they ran along the beach toward each other, arms open, with music score playing in the background.  I bet there were true stars in her eyes.  Why, this kind of love fairly shouted out that a baby was needed—a symbol of perfect love (and the classic way that women attempt to solidify relationships, sadly).

Oksana’s first mistake was to have no moral code to follow.  A look at her bio at Wikipedia pretty much tells the tale of simply not caring if someone she was “in love” with was married.  It has led her and her new child to a sorry point and reminds me of a long-ago client of mine who could easily have followed the same path but had a different response.

Barbara was a stunner.  She was the kind of beauty who everyone noticed, whether she was in sweats with no make up or dressed to the nines.  She was –unbelievably—the mother of four young children when I met her and had just come out of an abusive marriage to a wealthy man. 

Before her marriage, she had made a good living in her own right, and the disentangling of the financial interests had been a complicated mess that I breathed a sigh of relief had been her prior attorney’s problem instead of mine.  Barbara had signed a pre-nuptial agreement, which her husband had fully enforced.  She left the marriage in an an okay financial condition,  with decent child support, but her living standard had plummeted from what she had known and she now had to work and was no longer wealthy.

The judge had appointed an independent CPA to sort through and advise him on financial matters.  This CPA, we’ll call him “Tom,” was a known, successful professional, charming and good-looking.  Everyone likes him.  He had to work closely with both parties through their messy divorce to understand their finances…mostly what Hubby got to keep from his wife because of their pre-nup.

Barbara had come to me because she was still experiencing control attempts (largely through the kids) by her ex four years after the divorce.  When I learned of some statements he had allegedly made to Tom several years ago, I wondered if  Tom could be a good witness for her in these latest troubles.  I called him up.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!

It appears that Tom had fallen for my client.  (Talk about unprofessional! I was shocked at this from a well-known professional).  I immediately mentally crossed him off my witness list, fearing what might come to light on the witness stand and that his objectivity could (quite rightly) be impeached.  He sort of confessed to me his feelings for her (was I actually hearing this??) and said, “I’ve never been shot down so fast in all my life…”

Of course I asked her about it, and here’s her take: 

They were working through records together one afternoon, and he looked up and said “Can you have dinner with me tonight?”  Her response, “No, thank you.”  He continued, “Well how about another night?”  Her response, “You are a married man.”  His next move: “Well, I’m not all that happy in my marriage, what if I weren’t married?”

And, here’s where it gets good: She replied, “You have just disqualified yourself from ever having dinner with me or anything more.  You are a married man with a child, and you have revealed yourself as a man who has no commitment or character with regard to your obligation to your wife and family.  Why would I ever want anything to do with you on a personal level?”

And that, my friends, is what we need more of.  It is the right response.  

At the time, Tom must have looked inviting to Barbara—someone who could take care of her and relieve her of her current struggles.  There are many women who would have yielded to that temptation and reveled in that flattery.  But she saw through the veneer of charm and the promise of ease, right to the heart that was lacking in integrity.  And she knew well enough to refuse to go there.  It was almost certain to lead her to further heartache.   She made the smart response.  If you take up with a cheater, you end up with a cheater.  And it makes you one, too.

And, since it seems that more than a few men become totally out of control at some points in their lives, it is up to us women to draw the lines, just as Barbara did.

If Oksana had only followed this code.  If Oksana had only realized that snagging a cheating husband away from his wife and family was, in no sense, getting a prize.  She would not be in this pickle.

Women need to band together and adopt this  code:

  • If he’s married, he is unavailable, even if he comes on to me;
  • If he’s “separated,” he’s still married.  I don’t date married men.   I don’t need to be part of his marital problems.
  • I will not listen to him about his “problems” with his wife.  Those are none of my business, and I will not give him an outlet to gripe about someone to whom he owes a covenant-based lifelong commitment.  The fact that he would offer to talk about her to me spells poor character from the get-go. 
  • I will remember—no matter how good it feels to be his “confidant”—that all lustful married men find fault with their wives.  All of them.  What he is saying about his home life may be (probably is) a total lie.  It well could be part of his “line.”
  • I will remember the Golden Rule:  I will do unto his Wife and children as I would have them do unto me.  If I think a situation might make a wife uncomfortable, I won’t participate in it.

This code would spare a lot of wives and children a lot of pain and it would spare many women (and their innocent little babes) from the Oksana pickle.

I promise to lay off Mel now.  C


Wikipedia’s article on Oksana says that Mel’s long-time wife, Robyn, has filed a court document which states she never suffered abuse from him in their decades of marriage.  Interesting.  First, it is interesting that she would come to his defense after he has dumped her for a young chippie.  And, second, it gives credence to the theory that Mel was once an okay guy—he’s just gone into the 50’s crumble…see?  I told you so.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

C: A Necessary Permission

emotional abuse Some of the news reports on Mel Gibson’s tirade, which was addressed in my last post, has prompted me to repeat to you something that I say to my clients (especially women) all the time. 

As a family law attorney, I work in a field that is intimately involved with the subject of domestic violence , I want to make something clear:

If you are abused, it is OKAY to document the abuse in any legal way you can. 

V told me today that she had just heard a discussion—between women, no less—that Oksana was somehow wrong to tape Gibson in his tirade.  Let me say this again: the fact that she had the tape recorder rolling and continued to speak with him and let him rant is OKAY.

Do you hear me?  If you are in an abusive relationship, it is OKAY to trap these guys at their game by any legal means.

Oksana was successful in “setting up” Gibson (to her great credit) because she had endured life with him.  Don’t you see?  This only documents what she has already endured.  She knew how he would behave, because it was his custom.

Do a Goggle search fpr yourself on “underreported domestic violence statistics.”  The usual figure is that under one-fourth of domestic violence occurrences are reported.  I think that really even fewer are actually reported than this indicates, especially if you include emotional bullying with no bruising or lost teeth to document the incident.

Most abusemotionalabuseed women keep silent, I’m convinced.  Domestic abuse is a very safe crime to commit—there are often no other witnesses.

I often have to pull reports of domestic abuse from my women clients.  I ask every single one of them  “Have you been a victim of domestic abuse?  Does your spouse hit you or hurt you in any way, either physically or emotionally?”  Many is the time we have to go back to that question again several times as I sense the shame in my client that comes from being abused and while she struggles to keep it hidden from me, still.

Many times women almost won’t own up to the fact that they are abused.  And many of them do not recognize belittling and bullying as abuse because they don’t have a black eye to show for it.


I challenge you to listen to Mel Gibson’s tape if you think Oksana was in any way to blame for “setting him up.”  Listen to the tape and tell me if  there is anything that anyone could say or do to make you berate and threaten them in such appalling terms.  Is there?

No, not if you’re normal, there’s not.  He walked into her trap because this is the way he acts.  And I applaud her for documenting it any way she can.

In fact, I often tell my clients to do just that.  I very bluntly say to my cowed, scared client who has not yet shared with others her plight because she cannot prove it: “Go to Radio Shack.  Buy a recorder.  Get him doing that again—you’re a smart girl, you can get him to do that.” 

Many clients feel ashamed to do this—more ashamed than being abused!  Until I help them see the light. “Persevere through the ickiness,” I tell them, “He’s forced you to this point…”

[CAVEAT: It is not legal to tape phone conversations in every state; be sure to check that out! If it's illegal, there are other ways…abusers tend to be so cocky that they’re stupid. Just look at Mel.)

Do you think that’s wrong advice for me to give them?  Nope, it’s not.  Too many women endure abusive relationships because they cannot prove what is going on, and many of them are afraid to leave and afraid they’ll lose their children because they’ll be made out to be the crazies (a favorite tactic).  These women need proof.

These guys need to be outed—they don’t get better without serious intervention.  They get worse.  And women need to be empowered to get out and to be able to prove what is happening.

So, if you are in an abusive situation, you are in a battle for your own welfare and that of your children if you have them.  You have my express permission to document abuse in any legal way you can.

And if some woman you care about is in an abusive situation, you give her this permission, too.

So there! C

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

C: Mel Gibson - You knew This Was Coming, Right?

meland oksana Well, it happened twice yesterday…first, my sister comes in to work and says that my brother-in-law “…is waiting on your post about Mel Gibson.” 

To be truthful, I have been so swamped that I was only peripherally aware that Braveheart had been in the news again.  Then, last night on the phone, V says, “Haven’t you heard the tapes? Oh, C, you should!”  Well, no….mel2

But I have now.  Oh, dear!  This man is so off…he is a danger to this  girlfriend and to his little baby.  That picture above is of the couple in happier days.  If you notice, she is sporting what Mel calls her “alien bodies” which is his demeaning reference to her breast implants-probably one of the very attributes that attracted him in the first place.

If you care to hear the second tape, it is here, but I warn you: It is strong and vile.  He should never be left alone with his child; he is not in control of himself, and there is no telling what he might do.  Talk about doors unhinging…

mel6 Mel is now going on 55 years of age.  I think he’s gone into what I call “the Fifties Slide.”  I, myself, am a victim of this syndrome—I mean, my husband is, and it’s caused a bobble in my life, for sure.  I’m not a mental health professional, but as a divorce lawyer, I see it enough that I do feel it is a “syndrome.”  One day my sister/paralegal intoned, “Should I be worried?  My husband will be 50 in a few…and after all I see around  here…”  She was joking, and BIL knows he’s dead-meat if he doesn’t watch it (are you listening, here, BIL?), but it was a reference to what she and I see all too commonly.

So, back to Mel.  Didn’t you used to like him?  Be honest, heremel5.  Isn’t he chiseled handsome, with piercing blue eyes and a heart-stopping, resonating voice?  Yes, he’s all that, but part of his attractiveness for me was his appearance of depth.  He spoke freely of God and his religion, he had been married forever to the same woman.  They had a passel of kids.  He just kind of looked perfect.  Was he?  Did he change, or is it just coming out now?  I don’t know him, can’t speak to that for certain, but I can speak from what I have learned in my profession and, sadly, from my life.

mel4 As I write this post, I began to give you anecdotes from women (and men, although they are less forthcoming with details) in my practice, but it just became too lengthy.  Let me say this: Good, upstanding, lifelong Christian men with community reputation and good marriages (yes, it’s true)  just sometimes seem to crumble into some sorry mass of sex-driven foolishness when they start moving toward old age.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had tearful wives say, “This is not the man I married…this is not the man I knew even ten years ago.”  or “I never saw this coming.  I tell you, we had a wonderful marriage, he was a good, Christian husband.”  I believe them, I’ve lived through the same.

Back to Mel: He had been married 29 years to his wife at the time of their divorce.  And he left her for a woman who’s age just about equaled the length of that marriage.  And I think there is a telltale sign.  It’s about aging, and it’s all wrapped up in sex.  And it rarely leads to anything good.  Now Mel, in his mid-fifties, has a sweet little innocent baby who is saddled with a cracking-up, aging father.  So selfish.  And GF, Oksana, just wasn’t thinking this through, which is a wholemel7 ‘nother syndrome I see.  I bet she’s thought more than once, “What have I gotten myself into?”

In my own case, my husband was a lot like Mel (okay, this doesn’t mean that he looked like Mel, but he had that upstanding, successful aura).  Like Mel, he had a good thing going: great, stable family life, reputation in the community, etc.   But when he was in his early 50’s his business folded and, though we were making it on my earnings, he had trouble finding his footing again.  He found that he was not commanding the attention from prospective employers or, preferably, prospective business partners that he once commanded…and then along came a 29-year-old honey, and he lost footing completely.

 mel So, here’s what I think about Mel, from my distant perspective: If you are brave enough to listen to those tapes, you may hear the same things I did.  I heard insanity (truly), I heard viciousness, I heard vile racism, but I also heard other things.  I heard hurt.  And I heard fear.  Just listen and see if you don’t agree.

And fear, I believe, is the salient factor.  When they’re 50, the faces (like ours) begin to line…look at the progression of Mel pictures through this post.  Those abs just won’t stay so much in 6-pack condition.  The hair starts to thin.   Like my husband, they find they just are not  as “in demand” as they used to be. 

And how do they prove to themselves that this just isn’tmelandgirls happening to them?  Well, just pretend that they are not aging, of course!  Act like they did in college (see, right) and  find a young, beautiful woman to make them feel desirable and wanted and important.  To prove that they are young studs, still.  Let me give you a true quote my husband from my own real-life drama, “I need to be someone’s hero.”  Oh, my!  Sad, isn’t it.  It even embarrassed me for him when he said it…  Poor guy.

Is there a way to teach ourselves—and especially our men folk—that life’s seasons are going to occur; that the changes we find with the changing seasons are not signs of our worth but are, indeed, signs of our progression through life?mel3  I don’t know. Myself, I don’t like the aging process either, but I’m learning to roll with it.  May as well.  To try to swim up that river just leaves a wake of devastation.

Poor Mel.  But, Oksana, run!.  And former wife, Robyn, breathe a sigh of relief that he is no longer your problem and sit back and enjoy your changing life seasons on what I hope is a huge settlement. 

And, Mel: Karma’s a b---h, isn’t it?  C

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

C: Flygirlusa Makes Me Remember The Cuban Missile Crisis

cuba_rel94 I was perusing flygirlusa and she jogged my memory about the Cuban Missile Crisis with her post.  I’m really telling my age, here, because that was back in September 1962; and, if you must know, I was 10 years of age.

For you spring chickens, I suppose I should explain:  John Kennedy was our president; Nikita Khrushchev was prime minister of Russia.  We kids were a little afraid of this grandfatherly-looking prime minister because just two years prior he had banged his shoe on the podium in a display before the United khruschevshoe Nations; just a few years before, we were told, he had promised to “bury” us!  Clearly he was the bad guy here.

Our guys found out that there were Russian missile pads on Cuba, just 90 miles south of the US.  At the time, Russia was who we Americans feared most.  There was a tense month or so, after which the Russians dismantled and removed the missiles in exchange for the US’s promise never to invade Cuba. 

As I was looking at Wikipedia about this, I learned somethinred phoneg new.  It was after this crisis that the “Hotline” between Russia and the US (“the red  phone”) was instituted, following a treaty named, appropriately enough, “The Hotline Treaty.”  Who knew?

What I recall about the Cuban Missile Crisis are these things:

  • Air raid sirens being tested at various times of the day.  We still have siren test on Wednesdays at noon.siren
  • Having to walk home from school  in the middle of the day in some sort of test.  I guess this was to see if we all got there within a certain time??  I’m not sure, I just know that I was told that in the event of an attack, I should hurry directly home.  I expected to rendezvous with my mother there, as she was always at home.  It was my father I worried about.  What if he was at work?  Could we ever find one another in the confusion of the attack?
  • Having the “Civil Defense” guys come to our class to talk, bringing with them the insignia indicating that there was a “bomb shelter” nearby, say in the basement of a building.   See that little yellow and black “wheel in the picture below?”  It was everywhere…we knew where to go!  I always had visions of overcrowding.  Would we be able to get in?
  • Folks being urged to built bomb shelters (could double as tornado shelters!) and stocking them with supplies.  Again, my mind’s eye conjured up images: We’d be snug in our bomb shelter (not that we ever had one…), all supplied up, and then our pesky neighbors would be banging on the door to let them in and share our supplies.  What a dilemma!
  • Tasteless crackers that came in survival kits.  They were gray and felt like that bumpy gray cardboard that egg crates used to be made of—sort of like gray paper mache.  Pure nutrition, I guess—no flavor!
  • Not being able to eat snow because it might contain radioactive “fallout.”  No snow ice cream…


Truthfully, some of this did worry me, but I don’t think it was quite as scarring as we might imagine nowadays.  I just did my drills and kept on growing up.

With all this tension piled on a ten-year-old, it’s a wonder that I did not end up on an analyst’s couch long before my husband left.  On the other hand, maybe it explains a lot…C

Sunday, July 11, 2010

C: Road Trip Report

dixiestampede We’re back, after one night on the road.  MIL, Aunt E, my Mom and I took off for Branson, Mo. yesterday (Friday) to see The Dixie Stampede.  Aunt E (like me!) has a life-long love of horses.  We thought she’d enjoy seeing the Stampede, which is performed mostly on horseback.  We had a grand time, meandering up through North Arkansas and back.

Below is a not-so-good picture (sorry about my lack of photo skills) of Aunt E enjoying seeing some of the star performers up close—such beautiful horses!DSCN1139

Is it okay for me to say that I don’t particularly like Branson?  We had fun  taking Aunt E to the Stampede, alright, but I just find Branson, itself, a bit kitschy…well, more than a bit.  But we enjoyed zipping in and seeing the show and zipping out.

We came back down through Eureka Springs to drive around and see all the Victorian homes.  The hilly, cobbled walking is a bit much for my octogenarian travel mates, so we toured in the car but still had a grand time doing it.  Here is some of what we saw!


Eureka Springs was the perfect place for Aunt E to find a couple little souvenirs for her friends back East.

chalkmonster We even drove up to view the area where the Passion Play is performed  and there are scaled-down recreations of the Jerusalem Old City wall, etc.  We drove by to see the Christ of the Ozarks Statue.  Let me ask again:  Is it okay for me to say that I loathe this particular piece of statuary?  Can one even call it that?   I think it may be one of the ugliest attempts at art I have ever seenarkansas barn..and, for something that really ought to be hidden away,  it’s so danged big!!  My brother-in-law calls it “The Chalk Monster,” and I’m with him…

We meanpeachesdered back yesterday, oohing and aaahing over the beautiful Arkansas landscape, spotting out scenic old barns and purusing  produce stands for fresh peaches (success!) and local watermelons (we’re too early).  We crossed back to our side of the Arkansas River at Toad Suck Dam, loving telling Aunt E the name of that place!toad suck

In all, we had a successful, fun trip.  I think it was uniquely female in character—mostly looking, little action, which was just fine with all of us!

Glad to have my own bed last night (what does that say?)…C

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