What’s the plan?

A coworker who is about 20 years older than me recently made the comment that her life did not go as planned. I won’t get into her personal business by describing the exact parts of her life that she was dissatisfied with, but there were a few. Then, less than a week later, a lab tech who was drawing my blood said, seemingly out of nowhere, that her life did not go as planned, and that looking back she would have made different choices in school, career, family, etc.

This sentiment has popped up a couple of times recently in my life, and it’s got me asking some questions. First off, what plan is it that we are supposed to be following? When I was twelve-ish, my plan was to marry Prince William. When I was seventeen, I planned on going to the University of Texas, then getting my law degree, and becoming a constitutional law attorney who would argue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, all while getting home in time to feed my husband and two kids. In my twenties, I planned to move to Chicago. When I got married, I have no idea what my plan was. And after I got divorced, my plan was just to heal. Now… I don’t know. I feel as if I’ve been treading water for the past few years. I’m in the water, I’m participating, and I’m not drowning, but I’m not really moving forward or making any waves either.

It also makes me ask the question of whether it’s too late to make massive changes in my life. I recently read this book, The New Old Me, by Meredith Maran. In it, Ms. Maran describes starting over in a new city, divorcing her wife, and getting into a new career at sixty. SIXTY!! And this, after having reinvented herself at 25, 35, and again at 45. While on one hand it gave me hope that it is never too late to start again, on the other hand it seems so exhausting. When do I “make it”? When do I get to the point where my plan has reached fruition?

Finally, I have to face the fact that even if I had a plan, even if I was willing to reinvent myself, I’m a scaredy-cat. I’m terrified of leaving my comfort zone. Even though my parents, my sister, and most of my closest friends have left Austin, I’m scared of leaving my cushy job and wonderful condo. Will I ever have those things in a new place? Am I just running away from Austin because I’m bored? Will any other place have as good of breakfast tacos? (No).

I really admire those people who have 5 and 10 year plans, who have a clear direction and road map for their life. I’m not one of those people. I never have been. I’m the kind of person that when I make goals for myself, it’s almost like I self-sabotage to avoid those goals. Work on my marriage? Meh, I think I’ll get divorced instead. Don’t buy anymore eye shadow palettes? How about 10 new ones in one month!! Work out five days a week? I’ll just stay home with my dog and read more books.

I seem to remember a saying – “Life happens while you’re making other plans.” My problem with that (and it is a minor problem) is this – why would I bother to make plans if life is just going to change them anyway? Isn’t that essentially setting yourself up for feeling like a failure? I’m fine with life having free rein, and I have always felt that everything happens for a reason. But if someone could get me that road map that shows me which direction to go, I would surely appreciate it.

– Finch

Sometimes people can’t hear you

I was so freaking mad yesterday, and you know what I was mad about? Movies. Specifically, about $200 worth of DVDs that Ex “borrowed” last summer. These included the first three seasons of The Clone Wars, all of which he had purchased for me as birthday presents; High Fidelity and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I had owned long before we got together; and Love and Sex, which was Tripp’s and my movie, so I think Ex just took that to break the DVD. He was supposed to bring them back, then he couldn’t. Then he was supposed to mail them back, and he forgot. Then he “did” ship them back, but they never made it to me, and he had no delivery confirmation or insurance placed on them.

I wanted to email Ex and tell him what a horrible person he was, explain how freaking pissed I was that he had taken these and never returned them, and let him know that he was lower than low to steal from me, especially when he still owes me $8,000 in unpaid bills (can you tell I have some pent up anger here?). Before I could dash off the email, I decided to go for a walk to work out exactly how I would tear him apart piece by piece when mi madre telephoned me. As I was explaining all of this, she started laughing, which is something she often does when I am mad abut something stupid.

“I’m sorry, I just think it’s so funny that you are mad about these movies when Ex owes you $8,000. Like, you know you’ll never see the money, but at least the movies he should be able to send back to you.”

She then went on to explain something to me which should have been self-evident, but which I very much needed to hear from an outside source.

“It doesn’t matter what you say to him in an email, or over the phone, or even in person. He can’t hear you. Do you remember how surprised you were when he didn’t understand why you wanted a divorce? You had explained everything for months, you all had been fighting for over a year, and yet when you finally said ‘I want a divorce,’ he felt it had come out of left field. That’s because he is not in a place where he can hear what you are saying. So while it might make you feel better to tell him off and curse him out, he will just continue to say the same things he always has, and he won’t understand why this is such a big deal, and you will only get mad all over again.”

This made total sense to me. How many times had I been in a situation where I just wanted to explain it to someone? “I never want to talk to you again, and let me tell you why.” “I need you to know why I can’t have you in my life anymore.” “Let me just set the record straight on why I am going to do what I am going to do, no matter what you say.” More often than not, I did not get the response that I was looking for in any of these situations. I would pour my heart out, end the communication, and then… they did not come running back to me with the correct response. Or if any of them did, it was way too late, and I no longer cared that they got it.

I did not send the email to Ex. Instead, since I get upset every time we speak, I think I should take some parental advice and not talk to him for awhile. Maybe not speaking will get my point across in a way that explaining things never has.

– Finch

Be careful what you wish for…

I just finished reading Eat Pray Love, and I was feeling very magnanimous and open with the world. So as I was trying to meditate the next morning (rather than getting dressed and ready for work), I decided that I needed, as Liz did in the book, to formally let go of Ex and Tripp. Yes, I realize that divorcing Ex was a pretty clear way of letting him go, but still – I wanted to do it spiritually as well as legally. I said “Tripp. Ex. I release you both from my life, from my heart and from my soul. I pray with all of my heart that you find happiness and that you you heal from any wounds I may have caused, accidentally or intentionally. Please go forth from my life and be happy.”

You know what really sucks about letting go? You are now thinking about this person. I had laughed about it just a month ago – why was I so caught up in Tripp getting engaged when we’ve been broken up for ten years, and I didn’t really think twice about Ex, even though we were marries for four years, and it had been only six months since our divorce. The very next night, I got the bright idea to text Ex. Because I missed him. Because I had “let him go” and put thought towards him.

So we start talking, and we’re having a fine conversation, and I’m telling Ex about this blog when…

“Would you be alright if I went out on a date?”
“Well… yeah. We’re divorced, you don’t really need my permission.”
“And we can still be friends?”
“Nope. You’re dating now, I hate you, there is no way we can be friends.” I was only half joking.

In reality, I wanted Ex to feel every last bit of pain and remorse that I went through; I wanted Ex to go through every second of heartache. You remember that movie Twister? When Helen Hunt and her aunt are upstairs at her aunt’s place, and the aunt says “He didn’t keep up his part of the bargain, to die pining for you.” Hunt kind of chokes up a bit, and says, smiling, “Was that too much to ask?” Then they laugh about it. I want to get to the point where I can laugh about it. Where I can say “I don’t care that you caused massive pain, self-doubt and hurt in my life. Just go off and be happy.”

Except, that is kind of what I did when I released him from my life. Which brings up another point. Universe?? WTF??? I ask you to make Ex happy and less than 48 hours he’s going on a date?!? I’ve been asking you to make me happy for six months!!! Where’s my frigging knight in shining armor?? You and I are going to have some words, do not mistake it!

So yes – I realize that I asked for this, that I prayed for this. And I am more than well aware that this is all for the better. I did not, nor do I ever, want to get back with Ex. And I also recognize that going on a date does not mean that he is happy. As is evidenced by this blog, I go on dates, and they don’t make me happy. I make myself happy with other things and friends. So yes, Universe, I am happy, and I really do wish well for my exes, all of them. But I’m just saying, sometimes getting what you ask for really bites the big one.

– Finch

So I married a tea-partier

My wi-fi was going completely haywire, and I couldn’t get the password to work to save my life, so I had to take drastic measures. I called my ex-husband. The last time we had texted, he had said that he didn’t think we should talk for the next few months because it “messed with [his] head.” Okay, whatever, I don’t have to talk to you or tell you how the dog which you left behind is doing. She’s much happier with me anyway. But when it comes to matters of technology, where even Time Warner Cable was unable to offer assistance, I had to reach out.

It started off well enough. “Hey, I hope this isn’t a bad time. The wi-fi is completely off the fritz, and I keep typing in the password and it’s telling me that it is incorrect. Do you remember what you set it as?” “Sure, I can help.” And he did. He figured out what the problem was, got everything squared away, even helped me set up a new password which would be easier for me to remember. But while we were waiting for everything to reset…

“I’m really disappointed that I voted for Obama.” Um, okay. “The first time or the second time?” Let me just add here, that we actually threw an Obama victory party after the first election. I should also note that I am a centrist Democrat. I voted for President Obama both times, I agree with 90% of his platform, and I had thought, with the exception of some gun laws, that my ex was on the same wave length with me. Ex comes from a gun-loving family, and he had made me more comfortable with them, but really, other than that, we used to see eye-to-eye.

“Well, the second time. He’s just completely trampling on the Constitution.” “How?” “Well he’s taking our guns away.” “Okay. Again, how?” “Well, he says that he’s going to sign all of these Executive Orders to take away our guns, and outlaw all but the most basic types of guns. Then he’s going to force us to get mental health checks.” “Well, I can see why you’re scared then, because you would most definitely not pass!” No, I didn’t really say that, but trust me, it is so freaking true. We then went on into a 20 minute conversation where he told me that he had military friends who were telling their commanding officers that they were not going to follow any of the President’s orders if he went through with these actions. Also, Ex had spoken to many police officers who said that they were just going to ignore any new gun laws, and Ex thought that was wonderful.

As I quietly sat there and listened to him prattle on, it occurred to me, some eleven months after our separation and a mere six months since our divorce, that I had no idea who this person was. This person who blasted the President for taking advantage of a national tragedy (“Don’t you think that he has the responsibility to respond to the shooting??” “No, he needs to work on the more important things, like stop taking all of our money.” “But you don’t work.” “That’s not the point!”) was so far removed from the man that I had married four and a half years earlier that I was suddenly uncomfortable talking about politics with him. I was always taught not to talk politics or money with strangers, and yet, here I was, doing that very thing.

We soon thereafter ended the call, and I went on with my day, but not without feeling a bit downtrodden. This was someone who I felt I had know better than my own self, who I had trusted with my innermost secrets and dreams, and who I had placed all of my trust and faith with, and I absolutely did not recognize who he was anymore. Do people really change that quickly? Or had this been who he was all along, and I had just ignored it? Either way, that is something which is going to be at the forefront on my next foray into dating.

Because, really, you like the idea of cops who ignore laws? What a dope!

– Finch