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Montecristo Captain Quixote


The World Line of the Horizon Star

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world

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Montecristo Captain Quixote

Weekend at Bob's

I managed to spend the weekend with my daughters. I haven't been able to do that in far too long. Of course, it really isn't a case of "able", per se, but more a case of juggling my ridiculous priority and financial edifice around to accommodate the things I really want to do. It ain't pretty. Things are a mess. Gah! I've missed them, and missing them is the hardest thing about being by myself now. I was under the expectation that I wouldn't have to face this until they were adults and gone off to college, but this really sucks -- they're still just kids. What the hell is the point of getting married and having kids if your wife can just get bored of you and take all of that away, just because she's decided that she's "hungry for something else". Ever since she's been in high school that woman has gone from one man to the next. She's never truly been "on her own." She's always got someone new lined up before getting out of a relationship and her marriage to me has been no exception, except now she's taken my daughters with her. I would love to see her try what I'm doing. I know she couldn't cut it. I think I'm pretty much getting over missing Crystal, though. The more I look at things, and the more we quarrel over the stunts she's pulled, and the nuts and bolts of this divorce idiocy (it doesn't go away just because you have a "final" decree) the more I realize just how much more than a piece of paper separates us. That is not the case with my daughters, though. I haven't stopped missing them at all. I may be getting somewhat used to living alone, but the fact that I used to have them around every day sill weighs upon me mightily and sometimes I get aches which I imagine are mentally analogous to the phantom-limb pain that amputees get. It's another difference between the first big single-dom in my life vs. the second one (now). When I first got out on my own, I didn't have my children to miss.

Anyway, I picked them up around three o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday. It's a 100 mile drive, one way. The longest drives, perceptually though, are the ones where I am driving to pick them up, and the ones where I am driving back home, by myself after taking them back to their mother's apartment. Naturally, the second is the worst of these, because then I don't have the anticipation of their company to entertain me. For awhile, I was worried that Jackie did not want to go with me. Ow! I was really looking forward to going to the movies with both them to see the latest installment in the Harry Potter series and I was feeling really bad about her wanting to bail on me. At first, she didn't want to go, but I talked her into it. I must admit that her reluctance stung me really hard. I hadn't seen her or her sister in a month. She talked about being bored at my house, and getting into squabbles with her sister, and having other plans. I have other fears on this issue too, though. I wonder if she has the suspicion that she is being treated like some kind of pawn in the dispute between her mother and I. This damned bullshit is poisoning everything. Of my two daughters, she has always been the more cynical, and she is an adolescent now. Her insecurities bite her hard sometimes and it is difficult to watch. It is painful enough to see good people suffer with insecurities and over-estimated limitations, it is harder still when that person is your daughter. I have different insights than her mother on the issues going on in her life and it ties my guts in knots that I am so seldom around to be able to offer them to her on occasions when she may need or want to hear them. If you do it right, parenthood is something into which you invest your life. Sometimes, I feel so robbed I could puke. Divorce sucks. I don't care what wonderful feel-good bullshit you may have heard about second chances and new lives. Balderdash. Such thinking is nothing but the muzzy-headed cheap rationalizations of people who have no idea what commitment means. Okay, to exercise a talent which I heartily admire in one or two of my LJ friends, I'm cutting the whining off right here.

Things got a lot better after I picked them up. The long drive is certainly nothing if you have good company to distract you. We got engrossed in conversations of all sorts, what's been going on in our respective lives, songs on the radio, just all kinds of junk. I got so engrossed, I forgot where I was going and forgot to catch highway five south and ended up on ninety-nine, which is the route I would have taken going back to Lodi. I didn't even realize I had done this until we started discussing where to stop for lunch. I was contemplating the options available at Flag City, a small outpost of hotels, gas stations, and restaurants at the intersection of highways five and twelve, when I realized we were on ninety-nine and very much east of Lodi! Oops. Well, at that point, all of the restaurants in Lodi were pretty much an option, because we were going to have to go through town anyway to get back on highway five again, but we decided to stop at Wendy's. Gah. It's been so long since I had fast-junk-food! This is the first ketchup I've had in months! Yum! I got a frosty too. I've got to watch that. Since the ex left, I've lost about twenty-one pounds (down from 260 to 239) and it's still dropping, but not if I keep up the Frosty habit. Heh heh.

When we got back to Livermore, we decided to catch the 7:30 showing of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" at the Regal 20 over in Pleasanton. About half the theaters there are showing it, so we didn't think that they'd be sold out. The movie had already been out for a couple of days now, too, so that allayed our fears of not being able to acquire tickets. Of course, we got there early, anyway. We arrived at around 6:50 and found out that our assumption was wrong! The 7:30 was sold out. We did manage to get tickets for the very next showing, at 8:20. I told the salesperson that I wanted two adult and one children's ticket, because Jackie is thirteen, but he sold me an adult and two children's tickets because he apparently wasn't paying a lot of attention to what I said. I decided to take the windfall and not argue about it. As big as Jackie is getting (she's taller than Crystal's 5'3" now) there's not too much longer that she will be able to get away with that, anyway. Naturally, this left us with time to kill until the time they started admitting people to be seated, so we decided to wander around the mall there. We stopped in at Barnes and Noble but fortunately none of us encountered a book which we absolutely, positively, had to have, because I was already deeply into denial and spending money I didn't have for the weekend. After that, we checked out a video game store and both girls were telling me how very much an XBOX game system would be appreciated. Hmm. I'll have to keep it in mind, if I ever get on top of my budget again. Their birthdays are coming up later this summer. After the video game store, I was dragged into Coldstone's Ice-cream shop. Uh oh.

We each got the medium serving of ice-cream in the waffle-cone-bowl. Shannon got French Vanilla mixed with Oreos. Jackie had some sort of weird combination which she concocted for herself, and I had the "Cheesecake Fantasy." Oh, this stuff is the absolute crack of the ice-cream world. Cheesecake fantasy is cheesecake ice-cream with a mixture of blueberry and strawberry toppings swirled into it. Woof! I am so hooked. I'd never eaten in Coldstone's before. If I am not careful, I suspect that I will regret the fact that the one in Pleasanton is not the closest one. There's one in Livermore also, which is going to be a temptation every damned time I go to Wal-Mart, I fear. Yack! It was just that damned good!

After the ice-cream, we went into the theater to get our seats. It turns out that they were not letting anyone in yet. We were about forty minutes away from show-time. They were making people line up to get their seat. The line was enormously long. It snaked down the hall, out the door and into the parking lot! Yow. We stood in line for about twenty minutes. Shannon doodled with the pen and tablet I had given her before we left, and Jackie played her Gameboy. She's rediscovered Pokemon, after growing tired of it months ago, and having briefly considered selling her Gameboy. I settled for conversation whenever I could snag the attention of at least one ear and one eye of the same child. There had been people sitting outside the auditorium entrances waiting to get a good spot in front of every theater showing the Harry Potter movie. Some of these people looked as if they had been sitting there a long time.

Fortunately, the movie was reasonably up to the standards set by the previous installments, despite the change in directors, from Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuarón and change in the actor playing Albus Dumbledore, to Michael Gambon due to the death of Richard Harris. As I had been hoping, the special effects people did do a better job with the dementors than I had feared from seeing what they looked like in the preview I saw when the preview trailer first came out. Nevertheless, they still could have done a better job than they did. Also, I thought the acting was a tad "flat" in this installment of the series, but then some of that could be attributed to the way the story is being told, in a break-neck pace to cram in as much as possible of the story as told in the books. Emma Watson, the girl playing Hermione in the series seemed particularly uninspired in a couple of places during this movie, although the boy playing Ron seems to have improved since the previous movies were shot. It is definitely the adults who carried the acting in this one though.

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but I think the stories are getting harder to tell on film as the books progress. Rowling has created a very detail-rich world and her plot incorporated a great deal of complex story-telling. There are sub-plots and lots of parallel character development going on which are hard to capture in a movie. I believe that the stories themselves are getting harder and harder to tell in a two and a half hour format. Also most of the story telling is not carried in the visual element. Granted, there are quite a few areas in the plot that are well suited to a screen implementation, but the story itself, in its entirety, is very literary in its construction. The pacing of the story also presents challenges to a screenplay writer. With each subsequent movie, the impression gets more and more like the story is being "rushed" to get in the whole tale in two and a half hours, as if the movie were a visual Cliff's Notes version of the book. On the whole, I think that, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a great deal is lost in the translation to film. It is possible to get maximum enjoyment value out of the movies only if you have read the books; they are merely enjoyable as light escapism otherwise.

Sunday we stayed home. I spent some of the morning helping Shannon with schoolwork. She and I worked in the yard in the afternoon. She trimmed the hedge in the front yard and I mowed the lawn and moved some of the dirt that had been piled up on the walk in back. Little by little the place is improving. The yard is still chock-full of weeds though. Jackie spent a good deal of the afternoon on the computer chatting with friends and playing The Sims.

This is Shannon. She's doodling. I caught her unprepared in mid-smirk.
No, Miss Shannon, I don't think that my camera phone has the resolution to pick up any of that drawing.
This is Jackie. She's had previously been grounded from the computer for the past couple of weeks and so she is desperately playing catch-up with her online life. She has a billion friends, and she has to talk to all of them -- today.
Surprise, Jackie, ambush from real life.

In the evening, after Shannon and I got cleaned up from working in the yard, we went to Mountain Mikes Pizza. The pizzas there are really good. Now I have two favorite places in town to get pizza, so far. There was a TV in Mountain Mikes which was playing a basketball game. I kept looking over at it every once in awhile. I haven't watched anything other than DVD's on my TV since September. The darned thing just seems like such a waste of time now, frequently interrupted by insipid commercials. I noticed that the LA Lakers were getting "Pistoned," 79 - 70. Hmmm, perhaps their Muse has deserted them. Heh heh, maybe they'll play better if ingenuemuse embraces their kneecaps to her bosom again. California is really big on basketball. I never noticed basketball when I was in Ohio. In the Midwest, I think football (the American version, thank you) was the bigger sport in terms of fan appreciation. Out here, it doesn't seem to be as prevalent as basketball.

I gave Crystal all of the empty moving boxes which I had stacked up in my living room. There's another area where I am making progress. The place looks a lot neater and less cluttered without the empty boxes stacked up in there. We really had to pack them in. They all wouldn't fit into the trunk so we squeezed some of them into the back seat with Shannon. On the way back to Crystal's we stopped to let Jackie do some clothes shopping. She said that she needed a new skirt or pair of shorts, so we took care of that. By the time I got them back to Sacramento it was ten. By the time I got back home it was around midnight. I ended up doing the laundry before going to bed at 2:30AM.

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At least with my divorce, we didn't have kids together but I still feel the pain that I am not even allowed to talk with my ex-step-kids. I helped raise them and loved them as my own and they loved me back equally. Fucking sucks, it does.

I know how it is when the kids don't have time for dad. My ex went through that a lot with his kids and it hurts, but just remember that Jackie is an adolescent and she's too busy with her social life to have time for *anyone*.

Thanks for posting pics of them. :)

I helped raise them and loved them as my own and they loved me back equally. Fucking sucks, it does.

Gee, that's awful. You do indeed have my sympathy. I don't think I want to know what kind of person could do something so cruel to you, but you are better off without him.

As for Jacqueline's social life, well, I'm not completely abandoned yet. I did talk her into coming down, and she had fun! I think she's worried about feeling like a ping-pong ball between her mother and I. I try not to vent my frustrations about Crystal in front of them. She's their mother and I know they don't really want to hear it.

Re: Yeah, divorce sucks.

I've been trying to reply, but it seems I cannot LJ to work from the office any longer.

Looks like it's working again.

Yeah, all this after we promised we would remain friends and I and my family could still see the kids. I don't think his new wife or his family wanted me to see them, though, and even seeing me ever again was probably just a reminder that our marriage existed. I was the one who wanted out, after all, even though he agreed it was for the best. Meh. It's depressing but life goes on, y'know? I was looking at their pictures last week and crying, wondering how big they are now, if they will always think of me and remember that I was their mom, too, etc.

Yeah, one thing you never do is speak ill of kids' parents in front of them. You can speak ill of her behind their backs all you like, though. :)

Parenthood does indeed rock!

Good to see that you were able to spend time with the girls; it sounds like you had a good time.

As a child of divorced parents, I understand many of your concerns. My parents separated when I was two, so I don't have many memories of them being together. I was fortunate in that they were able to be civil enough (most of the time) in front of me. I do remember hearing a few arguments, but it was usually fairly tame around me. I don't recall having been put "in the middle" of situations/arguments between them; I hope that your ex-wife is aware of the damage that could do to them now and in years to come.

Another thing that helped was that they only lived 20 miles apart; but after my mother remarried, that distance jumped to over 300 miles. I am sure that the distance doesn't make things "easy," but the best thing that you can do is to make sure that they know that you are there and always available for them.

If there's anything that I can do to be of assistance, let me know.

I too am a child of divorce, and a veteran as well. In my case, through much of my childhood, my biological father was a small factor in my life, (mostly by his choice.) This has led to estrangement as an adult, which is sad, but probably affects him more than it affects me. I was lucky, my mother married a fabulous man who was able to be the parent my father never was.

Not that you asked, but here's some advice, which is worth exactly what you value it at. (People from Michigan use extra terminal prepositions too. *smile*.) You will have to take the initiative to make sure that you stay in your kids' life. They won't, and this isn't because of any lack of love on their part, it's just that kids' heads are filled with distractions and buzz, and they will need to be reminded that you are there.

I have one other thing to suggest you think about. No matter how passionately you may believe that you are the aggrieved party, Crystal has her story too, and believes as passionately in it as you do yours. I suspect the truth lies between the extremes of your stories, motivated as both are by hurt, self-justification and the need to be able to live with yourself after all the dust has settled. Divorce sucks, as you and others have said, but failing to appreciate the humanity and experience of the other party involved only makes it worse for everyone, including the children. I've said the same things to her.

I for one am rooting for you to have a good relationship with your kids. My experience should not be repeated. Everyone will be better served if you all work this out so that Jackie and Shannon feel loved, not used. Everything goes two ways.

Chris, the possibly not welcome in this journal

I forgot about this comment until I ran across it while sorting through my e-mail. Sorry. Actually, I do have something to say about it.

The comment I was going to make is more of a question. Why does everyone buy into the egalitarian idea that people are pretty much all equal, that both sides in any argument have a point or are equal? The notion is so very unlikely, and people would realize it if they stopped to think about it before worrying that they won't appear "reasonable" if they pick a side. Of course, in this instance, people who don't know my ex and me cannot rationally choose a side. Consider though, that it is equally groundless to say that both sides have some sort of roughly equal justification.

Your comments aren't unwelcome. You usually have something interesting to say, and you say it well, to which I will admit, even when we disagree. Your first paragraphs are spot-on, though. I have been trying to stay in my childrens' lives. I just never thought that I would have the obstacles that I have had to overcome and from the quarters I have had to overcome them.

Re: Nah, not unwelcome.

The comment I was going to make is more of a question. Why does everyone buy into the egalitarian idea that people are pretty much all equal, that both
sides in any argument have a point or are equal? The notion is so very unlikely, and people would realize it if they stopped to think about it before worrying
that they won't appear "reasonable" if they pick a side. Of course, in this instance, people who don't know my ex and me cannot rationally choose a side.
Consider though, that it is equally groundless to say that both sides have some sort of roughly equal justification.

Hmmm, I have two answers to that question.

First of all, I was actually not commenting on the correctness of either point of view, merely saying that each of you has your story and each of you obviously believes his or her story to be true. I was reminding you to take into consideration that no matter what you might think of Crystal's, she obviously believes it with as much passion as do you. The fact that in your interactions, you speak thirty words to her one does not change this fact. It has been my experience that people who hold such passionate beliefs about their stories are bound to distort what may have actually happened, which is of course the third story here and will never be truly uncovered. Failure to remember this fact will lead you to conclude she is lying when she may simply be telling a different truth than yours, a different section of the whole. Both of you tell pieces of the story. Both of you naturally gravitate to telling the pieces of the story that favor your positions. I've observed that in these journal pages, and in my conversations with her.

It's a natural tendency, one that is very hard to break away from or even recognize. It's the sort of mistake that has led to many an unnecessary war. She doesn't believe anything you say. You may find that unfair, but accept that it's true. You feel much the same about her. This makes for a shaky at best ground on which to build any trust. Each of you can tell stories supporting your position. Each of you, on hearing such stories would protest that the other misunderstood or is misrepresenting the facts. No matter how passionately you rail against this state of affairs, the two of you have very carefully built it for the last eighteen years, and it's pretty sturdy.

So, I'm not saying Crystal is right and you're wrong, nor am I saying the opposite. I'm saying that the entire landscape of your relationship is much broader than the stories either of you tells the world, yourselves or each other. You may well be telling the truth. She may well be telling the truth. Both of you might even be telling nothing but the truth. But neither of you tells the whole truth. You can't. You don't understand each other and never did, which is why she left you, if one has to encapsulate such a large event in a small sentence. If you had, perhaps you'd still be married and it might have been happy. Perhaps you'd have never married and be happier. But things would likely be different.

LJ has cut me off, so the rest of my comment follows.

Re: Nah, not unwelcome.

Secondly of course, I'm not someone who doesn't know either of you, as I currently live with Crystal and have observed with deep sadness and some anger the interactions between you. I've read all the emails, been present for all the conversations. Credit it or not, but I am as concerned with the children and their relationships with the both of you as are either of you. As I said in the original comment I made, I am a child of divorce and it had an effect on me that I'd not want to see duplicated, and it doesn't have to be. I could wish in a more perfect world that we three could sit down over coffee and talk about the things that affect Jackie and Shannon. One thing about which you and I completely agree is they are special girls who deserve the best that can be given them. I would stop a bullet for either one of them without thinking as if they were my biological children were it necessary, and I will do everything in my power to be a good part of their lives. I am not trying to replace you, I never will, nor do I think it appropriate to try. My role model is my own stepfather. It is also true that I am a de facto third parent though, hence my wish that we three could work together for them. That will not be until you two learn to communicate, a skill you never collectively had. She can do it, she and I communicate very well. You can do it, I've observed your writing to be intelligent and filled with feelings that are well expressed. If the two of you could let go of some of the anger, if she could speak her needs directly, if you could listen to what she's saying, rather than the tape designed to support your own preconceptions, I suspect you could find enough common ground to make a more functional space for your kids. I for one hope that both of you find the courage to do that. Neither of you are evil; both of you have grievously wronged the other. It's done and can't be repaired. What do you want for tomorrow?


Re: Nah, not unwelcome.

Well, as I said, you're reasonably well spoken, and certainly possessed of a certain surprising amount of brass, to presume to pass judgement on me, and second guess my thinking on this page, but you are certainly and completely wrong. Nevertheless, as I said, your comments were not exactly unwelcome as I have a certain small but fading curiosity about what you think. Since you obviously have no compunctions about giving me your opinion, I shall give you mine in exchange. It is also my turn to opine that it will not be welcome to you, but you came here twice to get it, so have it you shall.

I do not doubt for one second that Crystal believes what she believes passionately. Crystal believes everything passionately. She once believed that she loved me, passionately. I was certainly convinced. I loved her, even though I doubt that she's ever believed it, and I am totally out of ideas about what other kinds of flaming hoops I could have possibly jumped through to prove it to her. I certainly don't care now. She no doubt believes that she loves you too, passionately. Congratulations, for whatever little that belief is worth, for however long either of you can convince yourselves that it is true. You just haven't learned what I have learned: passionate beliefs are not worth beans, unbacked by reality. What Crystal believes anymore is not really my problem, nor do I care. You're right: volume and quantity do not make truth, but facts do. She knows what has gone down between us, over the last eighteen years, as do I. What the rest of the world makes of whatever snippets of clues or tales they pick up does not matter in the slightest. Who cares if some hypothetical "third story" is "uncovered" or if anyone other than she and I ever know the truth? I don't need anyone else's vindication. If she feels she needs yours then that is her problem, not mine. She lies, she has lied, repeatedly to myself and others, and she sees no problem in doing so, therefore she will lie again. She has burned me far too often than I ever should have allowed in the first place. She will not get the opportunity to do so again. I'm certainly not holding my breath waiting for an apology from her. I have had maybe a handful of those since I was married to Crystal, and never for anything other than trivial things -- certainly never for any of her "indiscretions," which in her mind, were no doubt completely justified. For what it's worth, what you believe matters orders of magnitude less to me than what she believes.

I also understand full well that she doesn't believe anything I say. She never has and never will. She doesn't trust. She knows under what circumstances she whould lie and imagines, probably in no small part as a sop to her conscience, that everyone else is no more honest than she, so she assumes that people are lying to her all the time. It's a nice little justification for whatever she betrayals she feels like dishing out to others. She is one of the most untrusting women I have ever met and I've given her damned little ground for doubting what I say. There's nothing unfair about it; it's just tragically stupid, and it has been burning her as well as me, for as long as I've known her. Again, that's her problem, and now yours, and not mine anymore. Her profound lack of trust is why she wants to hold my check over my head. People who can't trust have to have power in order to feel "safe." She's in for a big disappointment. I've been telling her the truth for months now, and she's not been listening. Whatever money tree she believes is growing in my back yard and about which she believes I am lying, does not exist, and I'm tired of trying to make her see that. I'm tired of asking and pleading and begging. I'm going to look out for myself. It is no longer my job to make whatever hare-brained happily-ever-after she's cooked up for herself a reality. She's already wrecked everything I have attempted to build for the past twenty years. I am entirely tired of attempting to accomodate her and letting her use me. It's your turn now. I'm doing whatever I can to scrape her remains off of me and just forget about her, as much as that is possible.

Break for LJ comment limit...

My opinion -- you did ask.

As for your fifty-cent thirty-second analysis of my eighteen-year relationship with my now ex-wife, you should understand what it's worth, "Johnny-come-lately." You know, it does you no good to keep harping on this mythical "third story." It's a wash. People run to that position as a cheap way to assert a "higher wisdom" to which they have no real claim at all. Can the fortune cookie aphorisms. Here's a truth for you. Crystal has had someone on the hook for her continuously, probably since she's been seventeen or so. Before she met me, she had been with any one man no more than six months. She's burned them all, including me, and except for me, she's had the next one on the string before dumping the first. Call it bitterness on my part if you must rationalize, but it won't change the fact. When I met her she thought she was engaged to a guy named Christian. Well, he was something of a fool and an idiot, but she did burn him to get to me. I remember hearing her blubber how she'd fallen "head over heels in love" with me outside a bar in Athens close to two decades ago. I told her to finish up whatever problems she had with Christian before attempting to start something with me, and I waited for her to finish it and leave it burried for six months before getting involved with her. Of course, this is not to say that it did me any good. It is still a verity that even though you don't actually cheat with her, a woman who will cheat for you, will cheat on you, and so she did, repeatedly. You would do well to remember that, when your turn comes, however much you wish to crow about your success in effective communication with Crystal now. The men with whom Crystal takes up, tend to be of a type, unfortunately. Hubris is our nemesis. You won't see it coming. Even so, I managed to keep my family together for thirteen years, with very little thanks, and despite her antics. If you manage to still be with her eighteen years from now, I may come to believe that you know something about her, possibly even something that I did not, not that I will care. I won't promise that though, because maybe it will merely be that she'll just be too old and scared and tired to keep playing the field by then. You'll be the perverse winner in a cheap game of musical chairs -- you just happened to be there when the music stopped and she got tired of running from herself. At any rate, it's your gamble.

I'm sorry for your loss. As someone who deals with more adversity every day than you will ever know unless you should happen to receive a maiming physical injury, I don't have all that much sympathy for your poor me attitude, but I have been where you are now, and it hurts a lot. You choose to be bitter. That is your choice. I will not presume to question its wisdom further.

But you never did answer my question. What, with respect to the children do you want the future to look like?

Yes, and you still don't get it.

Sorry for "my loss" my ass. Don't flatter yourself with such a diaphanous hypocrisy. You crawled into bed with her without too much hesitation so you'll pardon me if I find that your throw-away statement of concern strains my credulity beyond limit. Besides, your pity is ridiculous coming from someone who has only been living with Crystal for less than a year -- as I pointed out to you, I was with her for eighteen. You don't know her like I do. Save it for yourself. You may come to need it. If you don't, you will be the first in a longer line than you probably know who hasn't.

I am not afraid of the school of hard knocks, so spare me the more-wounded-than-you'll-ever-be sermon. I have been awakened really, to certain difficult facts it is true, but what those are you couldn't begin to guess right now, and I don't regard all of them as hardships. I care for your concern less than I care for what you believe. My attitude is not "poor me," regardless of how much it may patronize your ego to think that it is. I knew the risks, and a bunch of friends and relatives pointed out the risks of dealing with Crystal, as well, a long time ago, but I made my decision anyway. You're flattering yourself tilting at a straw-man. I'll deal with the consequences of my own decisions just fine without your concern. I just want Crystal off my back and out of my life and my wallet where she no longer has any right to be. I will give her what I have been giving her for the needs of the children, which is much more than the average woman receives in a divorce and certainly more than almost any woman would receive in a divorce given our circumstances. If she is finding that, with her change of lifestyle, our children crimp her plans too much, they are quite more than welcome to come and live with me, if they want. Nevertheless, if they choose to live with her primarily, then what I want is to write Crystal a reasonable check, once a month, and then forget about her for the rest of the time, until the children no longer need me to write her checks at all, and then I don't care what happens with her at all.

Furthermore, they are not "the" children; they are my children, and Crystal's too, for that matter, but they are in no way yours, however much you try to insinuate yourself into the equation. You are only part of the problem, not the solution. To fancy yourself anything else is delusional. For you to put on airs of objectivity is pompous buffoonery. If Crystal wants to indulge your little fantasy of instant-family, just-add-you, that is her business. For what it's worth, you can take off the Mike Brady hat any time now. Frankly, to myself and others, it just looks tawdry on you. She can indulge you to her heart's content, and I couldn't care less, but don't expect me to indulge your perverse curiosity. What I want for my children is entirely beyond your scope of concern, and probably understanding as well, and I will not discuss it with you, over coffee or otherwise. If Crystal wants you to know anything, she is freely capable of relaying it to you. From personal experience though, I wouldn't hold my breath -- she often takes a perverse delight in being reticent, even when it works to her disadvantage. You'll see.

My opinion -- you did ask -- more

Your "concern" with my relationship with my children also doesn't impress me in the slightest. It is absolutely none of your business. Whatever homey fantasies of family-hood which you and Crystal may be entertaining in this farcical game of "House" you are playing, you were not there when my daughters were born, or when they learned to talk and to walk, and when they were hurt, and I was, every day for the past thirteen years, and with any justice, should have been for the next nine or ten as well. As far as I can tell, you will never have those kinds of experiences with any children of your own -- more's the pitty for you. I am their father, and I need no reassurances on that fact from you. You are not their father, or even a "third parent," defacto or otherwise, and you never will be. At best, you are a fifth-wheel with whom Crystal has chosen to entertain herself. If you want your own relationship with my children, then you are free to attempt to build one. As any fool should be able to readilly surmise, I am not the jealous type. Certainly I am not jealous of my own daughters. They are of course free to make their own judgements with regard to your character as well. Personally, I find your sense of ethics absolutely contemptible, "Polyamory Boy." It takes a particularly weasily turn of mind to be able to allow yourself to be drawn into someone else's troubled relationship and screw someone who has vowed herself exclusively, theoretically for life, to someone else, behind the spouse's back. Nevertheless, I don't really hate you. I know for a fact that it was not you that instigated this cheap charade. Given the way you have leapt into this mess, and from what I have seen of your philosophy, I find it hard to believe that you gave your actions much serious contemplation at all, so it is a complete waste of energy to despise you, just as it would have been to have despised any of the others, and besides, it does me no good to curse you. A faithless woman is the worst curse a man can bring upon himself. Trust me. You let your doom in by the front door. Indeed, you are sleeping with it in your bed. To paraphrase Lincoln, you have desecrated yourself far beyond my meager power to add or detract. If anything, perhaps you deserve sympathy. I don't know. I believe that Jackie has already demonstrated to her mother her feelings on Crystal's behavior with you. I didn't approve of her actions, and I made it quite clear to her that it was completely and intolerably unacceptable, but I did thoroughly understand what motivated her. I think in some ways, she understands her mother better at thirteen than I did at twenty-seven.

In short, Crystal and I will indeed hash out this ridiculous mess, one way or another. If you wish to be her comfort and support and tell her how wonderfully justified she is then that is your business, but I will never regard you as any part of this. You are each other's problems, not mine. As for "Crystal's needs," and whether or not she ever can "speak them directly" I could not care less. I have already accomodated that woman far beyond what any sane man would consider justifiable. In my opinion, my children have "as functional a space" as they are going to get, given the current circumstances, which will be changing, nevertheless. No, the issue is merely the money. Once that is settled then I will be able to have an absolute minimum of contact with Crystal and that will suit everyone just fine, I think. It is indeed done, and contrary to whatever delusions you may have been suffering that made you raise the point, I do not want to "repair" the relationship. It cannot be repaired because as Crystal never tires of pointing out, I cannot fix her and I have no desire to suffer any more use or abuse from her as she is. What I want to do tomorrow is get on with my own life and have as little to do with Crystal as possible.

Re: My opinion -- you did ask -- more

Ok, you did answer my question. We will have to agree to disagree about Jackie's attitude, the girl is a chameleon and shows you what you want to see to avoid confrontation at any cost. And, like it or not, your relationship with the children for whom I've taken a chunk of responsibility does matter to me and is my business. Anything that brings harm to them is most definitely my concern..

I return your dismissal of my judgments about you with dismissal of my own. You have no knowledge of me, my ethics, my life experience or my motivations, because you've never asked. Had Crystal not already left you in spirit, I'd have never taken up with her, I don't break homes. Reflect that on the night I met her, you had just offered to pay her to be your domestic if she'd stay. Good marriage that. You will of course dismiss that as well, but there it is.

So go ahead and blame everything on Crystal. Perhaps it helps you sleep at night. Some of it is likely just. Ask yourself though, why is it oh ethical one that from September to May, you *never* initiated a plan to see your children? If you saw them, which you did by my count a total of five weekends plus a week at Christmas, it was because Shannon had called you or Crystal had asked you. Odd how that pattern changed after you spoke to a lawyer and learned that one way to mitigate the settlement was to increase your time with them. You said it yourself, it's all about the money.

Good night sweet prince.

Re: My opinion -- you did ask -- more

What you believe about Jackie's attitude is of no concern to me. You've known her less than one year and I have known her since before she was born. This is especially unimpressive to me when it is patently obvious that you are just parroting Crystal's own opinions on the subject at me. Perhaps she throws you a treat when you do that. Nevertheless, she, and you by extension, are wrong about Jackie. I have my own opinions. If Jackie comes to value my opinion more than Crystal's rather disparaging-sounding one, then I would be more than ecstatic to have she and her sister come live with me, and I have made that quite clear to them, because it is true.

...for whom I have taken a chunk of responsibility...

That's mighty big talk for you to be spouting at the man whose money is keeping a roof over your head and allowing you to parasitcally play house with his ex-wife and children. Pardon me if I don't sound impressed; I'm not.

I don't need to ask about your ethics; I have seen them in action and that has spoken much louder than your words ever will. You can spare me the new-age puffery about her "leaving me in spirit" too. A simple consultation of wedding vows reveals that they read "until death do us part" not "until we've 'left in spirit.'" The fact is, the two of you were screwing each other behind my back before she ever left and before she filed for divorce. No, you didn't break a home -- that was beyond your pitiful power to accomplish. Crystal did that. She is quite adept at betrayal, as you may come to find. In addition to that, the "polyamory" you mention on your bio page is nothing more than the high-toned rationalization of guys attempting to justify the fact that they do their thinking with the little head. It is impressive only to college freshmen co-eds, fresh out of highschool, and the philosophically clueless.

Re: My opinion -- you did ask -- more

It's sad to think that you will likely believe that you have bested me in a contest of words that for my part never existed. I've done my best to extend an olive branch to you because I am concerned about your children. You can only respond with insult to me and the woman I love more than you are capable of understanding. I've managed to thrive without your wisdom for almost thirty seven years. I imagine I'll manage to continue. You can't see past your bile to realize that some flavor of peace would do your children better than your instability. So be it then, I'll continue cleaning up your messes as long as it is necessary. You are a bully, and as all bullies are, you are at heart a coward. You couldn't face the challenges I live with every day. I dealt with your kind in the school yard when I was six, small for my age and blind. I suspect I'll manage that too with you.

Fare you well then and stew in the poison of your own making. I'm done with you.

There IS no contest of words. I just reject your take on things.

I don't need to "best" you in a "contest of words." I just refuse to sanction your "spin" on what the two of you did. Certainly I refuse to swallow this outrageous B.S. on my own damned page.

Yes, I am such a mean bully, I let my wife walk on and use me for years, and stupidly and groundlessly forgave every time, and gave her another opportunity to stick a knife in my back. If that makes me a bully then you live in a warped world. You really can't hit a target, can you? I would remind you that this is "my yard" where you are standing. You came over here, olive branch or no. If you don't like my opinion then don't come here looking for it. It's not like I'm stalking you. You're not worth it. Get used to the idea.

You have some nerve coming here and sanctimoniously preaching peace at me, after what the two of you have done. Here's a clue though, contrary to whatever inflated idea of your position in this mess is, I do not want war with you. You are not worth it, and you are not the problem. You can also stop hiding behind my children any time now. It does not impress me. It is not your place to point out or "clean up" any hypothetical "messes" which you may deludedly believe exist betwixt myself and my children. That's my business and I really don't care to hear about whatever role your messianic complex has assigned you today. My children certainly don't need saved, certainly not from me, and certainly not by you, but you go ahead and preach all you want to them. They have minds of their own and can form their own opinions of you without any help from my part whatsoever. Of this I am sure. I never mention you to them. Peddle it somewhere else. I'm not buying.

Re: My opinion -- you did ask -- more

Furthermore, not that I owe you any explanations for my actions, but when I offered to pay Crystal to keep the house and "be a domestic" it was only because she claimed that she felt bad about living at my expense and giving me nothing of any of the fine things which she had vowed to do once. Funny how that tune seems to have changed, isn't it? I was offering her an honorable way to stay and keep a roof over her head and food on her table and keep my children, and her, with me without the strains of our relationship problems encouraging her to do something rash and ultimately counterproductive. Even then, I was in fact still worried about her, and to be truthful, I still loved her and entertained fantasies of fixing things with her. She is the mother of my children, and that creates a powerful bond with a man who understands what family means. It's too bad she's probably not going to be the mother of yours, so you're never likely to ever understand what I mean by that. It's too bad too, because it is an experience not to be missed. At any rate, to me, that would have been in keeping with what I had vowed to do. In my reading of them, those vows were not ever mutually conditional. They had appeared to me to be mutually unconditional. Had I wanted to be obstinant, I could have dragged out this divorce by stating that I wanted to attempt a reconcilliation with her and the court would have denied the divorce to her until she had at least tried seeing someone about the issues betwixt us. Perhaps I should have done so. It certainly would have cast an interesting light on the low comedy the pair of you had staged in Sacramento when she filed, wouldn't it have. At any rate, I should have known she already had someone new on the string. It fits her modus operandi. You can spare me the cheap verbal legerdemain, also. The night she "met" you was only the night she met you "in the flesh." I'm literate, and I've seen what she had to say in her first journal, Hoss, so that cat is long out of the bag. Furthermore, you were screwing her by the time you went to that Day in the Zone Concert with us. That too, was heroically accomplished behind my back while Crystal was still living with me. No wonder you acted like a quiet little nebbish then. It's hard to socialize with a man while you're fucking his wife behind his back, isn't it. You sell your honor cheaply, with such easily exposed mis-truths but perhaps they help you sleep at night.

Re: My opinion -- you did ask -- more

You idiot! I'm laughing as I read this. You have no clue of the chronology, the history or the story. Ah me, the comedy.

You ought to go join the Taliban, as your views on family and marriage are quite consonant with theirs. Perhaps you subscribe to the proposition that there is no reason why a marriage should be broken up? Perhaps abuse, physical or emotional, doesn't provide sufficient justification? Oh sorry, I forgot. Your conduct was blameless, pure as the driven snow. You really do have the soul of a zealot for all your attempts to cloak your actions in the mantle of rationality. Everything you did was right and everything she did was wrong. You might actually believe that, which speaks volumes. If you don't, then all this sturm und drang is merely the raving of a man unable to look himself in the mirror. That too would speak volumes.

And if you didn't feel the need to justify your behavior, then why did you concoct that explanation that wouldn't convince anyone? What audience are you playing to? You were certainly not being civil to me. Are you playing to the other readers of this journal? Or are you whistling past the graveyard of your own sense of inadequacy and shame? Who are you addressing? It's laughable.

You know, maybe I do have some of my chronology wrong. That certainly was the point of sneaking, wasn't it -- to deceive -- facts get lost. Ah well, it's not important. Carry on -- you don't need my sanction. I have no idea what you are doing here looking for it. Your business and mine coincide not at all. Go away, and make both of us happy.

Who cares what my views on marriage are? Certainly Crystal didn't care, nor obviously do you. Write your own rules. You've certainly managed to do so thus far. Crystal thought she should break up her marriage and run off with you, and so she did. It's not like I was keeping her in durance vile. She would have had fewer boyfriends if I had been. Quit hanging around my page looking for my permission -- you definitely haven't needed it up to this point, and I hope you're not holding your breaths waiting for it. You leave me alone and I won't harangue you with my low opinion of your behavior. If that makes me an abusive Taliban in your opinion then you have really not been paying attention to current events or you are just that delusional.

As for justification, no, I don't need to justify myself to you. You got my opinion. If you don't like it consider that they are like assholes: everybody's got one. Go find someone's you like better. Go blow smoke up each other's skirts. It seems to be a game you enjoy well enough. Quit expecting me to watch. Quit worrying about my mirror. I shave every morning and I can assure you, we get along just fine, not that it's any of your business. I really don't care anymore. My opinion and two dollars will get you a nice cup of coffee. Get the two dollars from somebody else. What I've already offered Crystal is entirely too much.

As for whom I am addressing, it's you. This entry has long scrolled off anyone's friend's page, and that's just fine with me. No, I was not being civil to you. How clever of you to notice. I tend to get that way when I've had my fill of someone's B.S. when they try to feed it to me. If you feel the same way about my opinion, then scram. Nobody made you come over here; you did that on your own initiative. If you don't like what I have to say, then quit commenting on my page. It really is just that simple. You're kind of becoming as tiresome as SPAM. If it makes you feel any better, put your hands over your ears and hum loudly as you metaphorically walk away. Crystal is really good at that trick. Ask her to teach it to you sometime. Never mind, she will eventually, when she gets to know you better.

Re: My opinion -- you did ask -- more

For what it's worth, no, I don't blame everything on Crystal -- only that for which she is guilty, no less by her own admission and actions. I also blame her for what she is doing now, making outrageous claims to maximize what she can grab out of my wallet after practically dismissing me from her life and the lives of our children. That's pretty ironic for a woman who tells her friends how she has come to learn how truly unimportant money is. A nearly amoral hypocrisy appears to be one characteristic the two of you have in common. How charming. Maybe this relationship will take.

As for the change in the pattern of my visitations with my children, not that I owe you any accounting whatsoever, I was busy looking for a house and trying to figure out how to make my house work, after Crystal left. I'll not deny that I found it somewhat problematical. After the move, I really didn't have the money to put in the gas tank and buy food and entertainment for Jackie and Shannon after trying to accomodate Crystal's "needs." You are right, of course, about the change after I visited with the lawyer. From the wealth of information I acquired from the woman I was able to infer that Crystal had practically engineered her filing to guarantee her maximum revenue and control, over my money and the lives of our children. Certainly it has allowed her to maintain control of visitation time nicely, hasn't it. Her disingenuous offer to "forgive" the difference between what the court (in ignorance) "awarded her" and what I was able to pay, was certainly an amusing attempt to have a financial club to hold over my head, and extort who knows what from me by threatening, at some future date, to "call in my debt to her," which would just have gotten deeper every single month until Shannon reaches majority. Not to mention the fact, that such a large chunk out of my finances surely would ensure that I would not even have the werewithal to see the children except when she felt like doling their time and my money back out to me, regardless of how "magnanimous" our "joint custody" looked on paper. That's why it changed, Hoss. I'm not tolerating that any more. She has been playing these childish little power games on me for almost as long as I have known her. Wait until she pulls them on you, or perhaps she already has, and you like it. Whatever floats your boats I guess is okay, but don't talk to me about it being "only about the money with me." You look extremely silly with your rhetorical pants down around your ankles. For what it's worth, I don't really care what either of you rationalize. It's her ridiculous insecurities barking, but I don't have to pay them any mind anymore. We're not married any longer, and that is suiting me better and better every day.

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