Reflections on yesterday

Five years ago today, my life fell apart.

It was nearing the dinner hour when I got an instant message from Coleen, wanting to know if Lisa had driven down to Pennsylvania and “gotten Wendy.”

In August of 2012, Lisa added a new Facebook friend, Wendy – someone she had known from high school (although they weren’t in the same class).  She and Wendy were messaging constantly and, toward the middle of September, Lisa told me that Wendy had told her that she and Coleen wanted to drive up to New York to get married, since it was now legal in NY. We jumped through a lot of hoops to help make that happen for them and, on October 13th, 2012, Wendy and Coleen were married in my sister’s barn, with my stereo providing the music, and the Justice of the Peace a good friend of mine who had happily donated her day to perform the honors. It was such a great day for the two of them, and for Lisa and I, thinking back to how over the moon we were with our own marriage, and the long journey we took afterward to have that marriage recognized.

Within a month, the communication between Lisa and Wendy ramped up and it just seemed like it was out of control. They were constantly texting, emailing, messaging or calling each other — too much.

The week after Thanksgiving, I confronted Lisa about it, telling her that it made me extremely uncomfortable because it seemed the two of them were obsessed with each other.  Lisa said that Wendy and Coleen were having problems and she was just giving Wendy a listening ear.  I tried to patiently point out that, when you are in that much communication with someone, but you take extraordinary steps to prevent your wife from seeing your communications, it’s more than just a friendly ear.  I told her that she had to choose her friendship with Wendy, or choose her marriage to me.  She assured me that our marriage was important to her and that she would end all contact with Wendy.

Fast forward to March 20 when Coleen asked me if Lisa had come to get Wendy.

I asked “Why would Lisa do that?” fully believing that Lisa had kept her promise of no contact.  “Well, Wendy turns to Lisa whenever she’s upset,” Coleen said.  “Lisa tells me that she hasn’t talked to Wendy since November,” I said.  “No, they talk on the phone a lot,” Coleen replied. Coleen went on to explain that Wendy had left work early, claiming a migraine. When Coleen went home to check on her, she found that Wendy had moved out, and Coleen had no idea where she was. She was understandable worried and upset.

I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.  So, when Lisa got home from work, I asked her if she had any idea where Wendy was. Her reply? “I haven’t had any contact with her since you told me I couldn’t.” That she could look me in the eye and tell me that, knowing that she was lying, was devastating to me. But still, I wanted to believe her.

So, the next day, I went online to Verizon and looked over the phone records for the previous four months.  I found two calls to the 570 area code. When I googled the numbers, I found that they were assigned to the school district in which Coleen and Wendy worked. I asked Lisa about it that evening, and she told me “Oh, yeah, I accidentally butt-dialed that number a couple of times.”  “Why is that number even still in your phone?” I asked. Silence. Then, “I guess I forgot to delete it.”  When I told her what Coleen had said about Wendy constantly calling Lisa when she was upset, Lisa said that Coleen was just “fucking nuts” and that’s why Wendy left her.  “How did you know Wendy left her?” I asked. “Well, you just told me,” was her response, after a moment of thought.

A couple of nights later, she was having trouble getting her phone to do what she wanted, so she asked me if I would look at it. I took the phone and looked at some of the settings.  I noted that she had a few apps open and, when I went to close the web browser app, I noted that it was on yahoo mail login page. The username was filled in with lgolden45.  This was an email address that was previously unknown to me until that moment.  I said nothing, but my mind raced. Why did she have this “secret” email account? I vowed I would check it out.

The next day, while I was at work, I went to the email account, put in the username lgolden45 and the standard password that I knew she used for everything. It didn’t work. I then tried something using the address of the farm we owned, and I was in.

For the past four months, the two of them had been using yahoo mail all through the day as a sort of “messaging” system with one or two line messages and, as they used it more and more, it became clear that they had become more than friends.  At one point, Wendy had told Lisa “I want to bury my face in your crotch.”  I said nothing about having seen these emails. I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do. I only knew that Lisa had lied to me and I just couldn’t reconcile that with the Lisa I married.

A few days later, I looked at the email account again and found that Lisa had expressed her love for Wendy, and how she wished they could be together.  It sent me into a tailspin. I took the next day off work – I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus on anything. All I could do was obsess with the fact that my marriage was, effectively, over. Once you get emotionally involved with someone else, it’s over. Home alone, I cried and screamed and raged. I worried and stewed over what I was going to do. I went into the bathroom and got in the shower and still, I raged and screamed and pounded the walls. How could she DO this to me?  Something happened to me that day in the shower.  Something dark and frightening. I literally SAW great pools of blood swirling around the shower drain as gravity pulled it into the pipe and out into the sewer.  I was horrified and yet mesmerized by the red swirls mixed in with the water – the outer edges of the swirls almost pink from being diluted by the water as it rushed toward the drain.  I looked down at myself, wondering where the blood had come from and saw both of my inner thighs sliced open, all the way through to the bone, gushing blood down my legs. All my brain could register was that I felt no pain and I should feel a shitload of pain from those kinds of wounds, but it didn’t hurt even a little.  The next thing I remember was waking up, sitting on the floor of the shower, my chin on my chest, with the water still cascading over my head. No wounds on my legs, only clear water circling the drain. I was disoriented but I was so goddamned sleepy I could barely manage to stand and turn off the water.  Somehow I managed to do so, and I got out of the shower, toweled myself off, and called my sister. I told her “I think I wanted to hurt myself!” It was all I could say.

She took me to the ER, where I was sent to the psych department, where we waited HOURS and HOURS, with reruns of “The Brady Bunch” playing on the television – if I hadn’t been suicidal or homicidal when I got there, that incessant showing of Greg, Marcia and all the other Brady’s would drive a person there quite quickly.

I was seen by the shrink. “Do you want to hurt yourself?” “No.” “Do you want to hurt anyone else?” “No.” And they let me go.  But, my primary care physician put me out of work for 4 weeks and prescribed an anti-anxiety drug which kept me semi-sedated (thus, out of work) and a lot calmer.

Eventually, within that next week, I told Lisa that I knew she had been seeing Wendy, and that she had seen her the weekend of March 4th when she went home for a family funeral. Lisa proclaimed that Wendy was just a friend, nothing more.  Over and over she said this.  “Then why did you lie about it?” I asked her.  She put it back on me, saying “Because you had no right to give me that ultimatum.” I was floored.

From that point on, Lisa didn’t even TRY to hide her contact with Wendy. I took to calling Lisa’s iPod her “girlfriend.” She suggested that I not go with her to her family’s Easter weekend, saying “I think we need this time apart.” “You mean, you don’t want me there so you can go see Wendy,” I countered.  I was told I was being ridiculous and how much it pissed her off that I could make those wild assumptions.

While she was gone, I tracked her cell phone activity online through the Verizon website which tells what cell phone tower the phone pings off during calls.  At 3:00 AM on Easter Sunday, Lisa sister called her.  Her sister lives in Tunkhannock, PA but the cell phone pinged off Meshoppen, PA. What’s noteworthy here is that the Meshoppen tower IS NOT a Verizon tower, but there is a Verizon tower only 2 miles from Lisa’s sister’s house.  This begs two questions.

  1. Why was her sister calling her at 3:00 AM if she was staying with her (which is what she always does for Easter weekend)?
  2. Why did Lisa’s phone ping off a non-Verizon tower in Meshoppen?

Conclusion: Lisa was not at her sister’s house at 3:00 AM Easter morning. Where else would she have been?

I confronted Lisa with this information when she got home. She immediately went on the defensive, wanting to know why I was checking up on her. I pointed out that if she hadn’t been acting so suspiciously, and LYING to me, I wouldn’t have felt the need to check up on her.  She then told me she had gone to see Wendy, but that they had “both fallen asleep” on the couch, and her sister’s phone call woke her.  I laughed without any humor at all. I pointed out that “I fell asleep” was the oldest, worst excuse in the book and that I thought she was smarter than that.

Lisa’s mother’s birthday is the 5th of May. That year, her mother was going to be 70 and they had a big party and get together planned.  I told my sister “Watch, as we get closer to the date we are to go down, she’ll tell me she doesn’t want me to go, that she needs time away from me.”  Sure as hell, that’s what happened.  But I had already been reading her emails and found that Wendy had reserved a room at a hotel outside of Binghamton, and they were planning to meet for an afternoon and evening of bedroom calisthenics.

Still, I said nothing to her about KNOWING what was going on, because of the emails.

She returned from her weekend trip and that whole week, from May 5th to the 10th was tense, and we barely spoke a word to each other.  I was still wimpy and emotional, not wanting to let go of our marriage. I was willing to do counseling and do the hard work it would take to get us back to a solid marriage. I think that, if she was being honest with herself, Lisa had given up that desire long before I found she’d been deceiving me.

She left on Friday, May 10th to head back down to the farm, where we spent weekends. She had told me she didn’t want me to go down with her, that we needed that time apart. As I had been doing daily since her Easter trip in April, I went to the Verizon web page to see what her phone activity had been that day. I found a number that was unfamiliar to me – but local. So, I googled it and found that it was registered to a woman that was a divorce mediator. THAT was when my spine changed from jello to steel.

Even though she had only left the house a few minutes prior, I called her. When she answered the phone, I shrieked “You called a LAWYER?!?!” She asked “How do you know?” I told her that I had been tracking her phone activity for the past two months, and that she KNEW I had that capability because I asked her about the supposed “butt dial” calls in February, and then her sister’s 3:00 AM phone call Easter morning.  She began screaming at me about tracking her phone activity and I told her that if she had nothing to hide, it wouldn’t upset her that I had done so.

I then told her “I know about the secret email account, Lisa. I’ve been reading your emails, and I know what the hell is going on with you and Wendy so don’t insult my intelligence by denying it. You’ve been cheating as far back as November, and you’ve been lying about it.”

I then told her not to come home. Ever. She could stay in the camper down at the farm, and I really didn’t give a flying fuck that there was no running water there. There was a roof over her head, and that was all she needed but she was not coming back to MY house. I had had enough of the lies, the sneaking around, the cheating and, worse of all, her tearing me down to justify what she had done.

Five years ago today was when it all started.

I wish I could say “I’m over it, I’ve moved on, I’m doing fine these days.”

I’ve adapted.

I got past the hurt and anger, for the most part. Days and weeks go by and I don’t even think about her.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss her still.  She was the love of my life and for 12 years she was my everything. I don’t know how to turn that off – how do you un-love someone? You can’t.

But, you can learn to live without them, and that’s what I have done in the past 5 years. I have learned to live without her. I have survived. I have thrived. I laugh and still have my sense of humor. I have my activities and my friends.

I survived Lisa.

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Alarmed but not alarmed

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I’m retired. Three times over, I’m retired.

I retired from my job at a local community college in December of 2014, started drawing my Army retirement in August of 2015, and started drawing my (reduced) Social Security this past September. So, I’m not just retired, I’m RETIRED.

All those years I worked, I promised myself that, when I retired, I was going to be really selfish with my time and my life. It was going to be time for ME.

When I first stopped working in 2014, I realized almost immediately that I could easily fall into a routine of staying up until 3:00 a.m. and sleeping until noon. I did not want that at all.  I wanted to be up relatively early in the day and have the entire day for ME. So, I started setting an alarm on my iPad for 7:30 a.m.  The app allowed me to choose music from my iPad for the “alarm” so I picked out a dozen or so of my favorite songs and, for those first 3 years, that’s what I woke up to.

Alarms are annoying. That’s probably why they’re called alarms. When you think of the word “alarm” it makes you think of being frightened or worried or panicked.  Well, when a sudden noise jolts you out of sleep, I guess the word is fitting.

About 8 or 9 months ago I changed the alarm app to something different, which fills the screen on the iPad with the “clock” and allows the user to adjust not only the color of the digital numbers, but the brightness as well.  It has a sleep timer function, and also allows me to choose music from the iPad as the alarm.  This newer app also has a selectable feature to have the alarm gradually increase in volume so it’s not a sudden, heart attacking jolt out of sleep.

About the time I kicked the ex out, I stumbled across the music of Peder B. Helland and I instantly and completely fell in love with it.  I downloaded an alarm clock app to my iPad which allows me to use music from the iPad for an alarm, instead of some annoying sound. After all, I don’t HAVE to get up at 7:30, I CHOOSE to, so why have something that is just going to jolt me awake?  I set the alarm to play “Piano Meditation” from an album named “Flying Birds” by this composer (although it does not appear that this album exists any longer for whatever reason). This app also begins the alarm muted and then gradually increases the volume until it is at full volume. But, because the music is so soothing, it is not annoying whatsoever.

Now, I wake up every morning with this beautiful melody playing and actually, physically smile when it softly pulls me out of my sleep.  It’s serene enough that I can doze back off and not be annoyed, too.

I find that when I start my day this way, it sort of sets the tone for the entire day. I’m energetic, happy, and motivated to do the things I must do, and to do the things I want to do.

Yeah, the word alarm invokes fear, danger, or warning and yet, I no longer get this from the device used to awaken me each morning.

I love being selfish and doing good, nice things for me.

Give this a listen. You won’t be sorry.

 

Money, Money, Money…in the rich man’s world

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I retired from my job of 21 years in December of 2014. It was about eight months earlier than I planned to retire, but I got so sick of the bullshit that flowed out of the director’s office on a day to day basis, I decided that the 12% I would lose off my retirement was a good investment in me, so I left.  For the next eight months I lived off about half of what I was used to having come in, so I had to borrow against my home equity line of credit to make ends meet.  Again, good investment in me, because I wasn’t working anymore.

Eight months after I retired, I began drawing my Army retirement, which really beefed up my bank account every month. I was making about $100 a month less than I had been when I retired.  Minimal interruptions in my life, since I wasn’t commuting back and forth to work. My need for gasoline dropped dramatically and that almost made up for half of what I wasn’t making in actual retirement pay. So, needless to say, I was in a good place both physically, mentally, financially and pretty much every way I could be.

Last August I started drawing my Social Security.  With the orange nightmare in the White House, I was honestly afraid that it might not be around if I waited until I was 67½ to draw the full benefit, so I opted for the lower benefit at age 62.  This money was simply gravy, and I have been very comfortable since that kicked in.

Fast forward to that dark day in December when Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican assholes passed that scam of a tax plan, giving huge tax cuts and breaks to the ultra rich, and the likes of me bearing the brunt of the cost of that plan.

All three of my retirements are exempt from state taxes. NY State does not tax Social Security, nor do they touch any money that military or military retirees make.  Also, my contributions to retirement were made on a pre-tax basis for Federal purposes, but NY state collected taxes on it as I earned it so, they’ve already gotten their due from my civil service retirement.

When I set up the military retirement in August of 2015 I voluntarily went to an additional $15 of Federal withholding each month, just in case. Social Security does not allow for Federal withholding and there are about six hundred hoops to jump through to change withholding on my NYS retirement.  At the end of 2015, I upped my additional Federal withholding to $39 in anticipation of an increase in income with Social Security starting up, just in case.  I am claiming single, with zero exemptions, and an additional $39 in withholding. That’s an additional $468 in withholding for the mathematically challenged.

I started my tax return two weeks ago.  With only four months of “additional income” for social security, I OWE $1,012 in Federal taxes. I OWE that much.  It would seem that the new tax tables are already in effect for this new tax scam that was passed in December, and the vast majority of us middle-class chumps are going to get fucked financially.

I did the only thing I could do.  With all three retirements, I got a small cost of living raise, totaling $88 between the three pensions.  I’m now having THAT voluntarily withheld as well.  I am not hopeful that I won’t have to pay Federal taxes at the end of this year, as I will draw an entire year’s worth of social security along with the other two retirements. $1524 in extra withholding, and I’m not hopeful for next January.

Here are your withholding tables, in two parts:

withholding 1

withholding 2

See, here’s the thing – with each monthly retirement check, I make an amount on the second line. So, let’s say I make $1,500 in each check.  The Federal withholding would be $79.40 plus $47.76 (12% of anything over $1,102) for a total of $127.16 each month.  This figure represents only EIGHT PERCENT total withholding on $1,500 per month.  The problem with this is that, $1,500 annually is $18,000 a year which is subject to TWELVE percent tax rate under this new plan. So, already you’re in a deficit if you are single with no dependents.  Yes, the standard deduction for that single, kidless person is $12,000 for an adjusted income of $6,000 and, while that puts the taxpayer in a lower bracket, it’s still a bracket of TEN PERCENT, so that individual is having 2% less withholding taken out and will owe taxes at the end of the year.

I am in the 38,701 to $82,500 bracket under this new plan which makes my tax burden 22%. At my current level of withholding (12% plus the additional $88), I am still looking at having to pay another $7,300+ in addition to my Federal withholding.

DON’T just trust that your withholding will take care of your tax liability. If you aren’t getting at least 12% withheld, you’re going to end up writing a check to the IRS in April.

So tired of all this winning.

 

 

To know her…

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To know Sadie is to love her – all of her.

Often I have said that she is too smart for her own good, as she seems quite adept at problem solving and, most especially, training her Mom.

When she was a very young adult, around a year old, she figured out that if she stood on her back legs and tapped my cheek as I sat on the couch or recliner, I’d think it was cute and give her treats. It worked. As she grew older, I tried to pretend not to notice and, when I did that, she’d just reach up and pull the treat container off the end table and then give me a look that seemed to say “That was just in case you were too stupid to figure out I want treats.”

She meows at the sliding patio door when she wants to go out on the patio, or stands on her back legs and taps the knob on the door leading out to the garage when she wants to go out there and explore.

To say the least, she lets her desires be known.

Around 5:00-6:00 every morning, she wants me to pet her. She nudges my hands until I give in and pet her. Recently, I’ve been playing possum and pulling my hands either under the covers or under the pillow.

It took her less than a week to figure out that, if she “kisses” me, her whiskers tickle my face and that rouses me quickly.

Dogs and cats are going to take over the world, I’m sure of that. And, given how adept they are at problem solving, coupled with their ability to love unconditionally, I think they’ll do a much better job of it than we “intelligent” humans have throughout the millennia.

The newer, slimmer Me

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If you’re unhappy with your BMI (which determines if you are of normal weight, overweight, or obese), just add inches to your height.

On inauguration day, POTUS was officially recorded as 6 feet, 2 inches, per his physical exam conducted just after the election.

His recent exam (about a week ago) shoes him at 6 feet 3 inches and 239 pounds.

In the first place, if this is 239 pounds, then I’m a size 2 (at 5 feet 3 inches, 185 lbs).

Image result for picture of fat trump

Secondly, at 6 feet 2 inches, his BMI is 30.68 which reaches into the classification of “obese” by virtue of the fact that it is over 30.  Adding that inch? Yeah, it drops him below 30 to 29.87 so that he cannot be officially classified as “obese,” but merely “overweight.” Now, I’m sure plenty of people lie about their height, especially men, for various reasons but, realistically, as we age, we get SHORTER, not taller.

It is reported that he eats very much like a child.  Time Magazine reporters, in the spring of 2017 had dinner at the White House with Trump, Pence and others, and reported this:

“As [Trump] settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else.”

He also has a predilection for fast foods, often consuming Big Macs (note, that’s plural) and fries, claiming that fast food places are “cleaner” than many restaurants.

So, at least for me, I lose a full BMI point for every additional inch I add to my height.  I no longer need to diet! Today, I started out with a BMI of almost 33 but now that I’m 6 feet 1 inch instead of 5 feet 3 inches, my BMI puts my weight within normal parameters. I am no longer obese, or even overweight.

Now I need to go buy new pants to accommodate my longer legs.