Can Safely Say the Foot is Healed

And I say that without a return visit to the podiatrist.  I spent much of today on the move, on foot.  I was in no pain when I was finished, and sighed a little when each journey ended.  (I let out a mental “Awww!” when I came to my destinations, much like a kindergarten class when playtime ends.)  I was not in pain at the end of any of these walks, nor am I now.

I took three major walks today, and I jotted down the times in my breast-pocket notebook once I ended them.  (I used the stopwatch on my cell phone.)  Taking the first step toward the divorce, I took the bus down to a law office in German Village this morning, and decided to walk back, since I left my return time open-ended on the affidavit I gave my supervisor.  The walk was 49:46.01 minutes long, and the distance was 2½ miles, according to Google Maps.  (I didn’t use the exact course it plotted, but its distance figures are good enough.)  The office was just south of Schiller Park, and I stuck to the streets the whole time and didn’t try to shortcut through the park itself.

Susie will be returning to her Monday home school history class next week, and several books from its reading list arrived at the Whetstone library during the day today.  (So did the DVD of The Accused I reserved last week; I have never seen that movie.  That’s odd, since I was living in Boston at the time the gang rape in New Bedford occurred, the “Big Dan’s” case on which the story is based.)  Susie was at the library already, and I took a different route than usual.  I rode the Indianola bus (as usual) north, but got off the bus at the corner of Indianola and Fallis (once again, cool the mirth: It rhymes with “Wallace”) and walked west until High St. and then north.  This was 19:04.76 minutes, covering 1.1 miles.  Susie and I walked home, which took 44:47.87 minutes to cover two miles.  The total was 5.6 miles.  I keep telling myself I should get a pedometer and track a day’s walking in earnest.  (I do have one, which came in a Happy Meal several years ago, but I never calibrated it, and I’m doubtful as to its accuracy.)  I was also carrying a knapsack full of the books for Susie’s class, so the walk was much more aerobic than usual.

In the ’70s, Mad published a Dave Berg “Lighter Side of…” cartoon that featured a young man boasting about the 100-mile hike he and his friends will begin the following day.  He tells his girlfriend they plan to cover 25 miles per day.  While going over everything he packed, he realizes he forgot to buy salt tablets, and he’d better hurry to the drugstore and get some.  The drugstore is just around the corner, and in the last panel we see him hopping in the car and driving there.  That’s one of the many reasons I’m glad that I don’t even have that option.

Today was “Would you correct my report?” day at work.  My co-pilot is in training, so I fielded her tasks, as well as my own.  I offset the boredom by listening to Oprah: A Biography, by Kitty Kelley, on CD.  I borrowed it more out of morbid curiosity than anything else, and I find myself thankful that Kitty Kelley will probably be dead by the time I reach any fame or notoriety.  (After reading The Lives of John Lennon and Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!!, I felt the same way about Albert Goldman.)

I began the audio book thing in the summer of 1986, when I had a less-than-thrilling temp job with the State’s Division of Elevators, typing elevator (and earlier, boiler) records onto a database as they were converting to computerized records.  I seem to remember the first extant book I listened to (borrowed from the library) was Herman Wouk’s Youngblood Hawke.  My dad referred to it as my “offsetting therapeutic support.”  I used to love the narrator’s instructions preceding the actual start of the book.  My friends and I always got a laugh out of this:

Should a cassette fail to play properly, hold it flat in the palm of your hand and slap it smartly against a hard, flat surface.  If this does not work, and you cannot otherwise free the reels, call us at the number that appears on the enclosed copyright information card.  Give us the name of the book, and number of the cassette.  We will immediately send you a replacement at no charge.  Discard the broken cassette.

I normally loathe waiting rooms, but the one I visited today redeemed itself.  There was the usual scatter of dog-eared two-year-old magazines, and some toys here and there for children dragged along by their parents, but there was a waist-high bookcase with a sign HELP YOURSELF TO A BOOK! against one wall.  I came away with a Signet paperback of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

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"It’s Complicated" Doesn’t Sum It Up

Facebook’s choices of “Relationship Status” are quite limited.  In addition to “Married,” “Single,” “Widowed,” etc., it lists “It’s Complicated” as one of the choices.  Several people I have known–from Ohio University, from college, from former jobs–have listed their statuses that way.  Many times, I didn’t feel I was close enough to them to ask them to elaborate.

I now list my status as “It’s complicated.”  It will be complicated for some time to come, but I already know the outcome.
>Steph and I decided, calmly, without tears, raised voices, or words spoken only to be regretted later, that we will end our 14-year marriage as soon as it is practically possible.  Neither of us have been happy for some time, and what will ultimately constitute happiness in our eyes differs so radically that remaining together will ultimately breed only resentment.

I wish I had the answer to when this will come to pass.  In 1975, the group Tavares released a song that said, “It only takes a minute, girl, to fall in love.”  That is true, but to fall out of love takes many years and, in many cases, a few thousand dollars.  This will be an amicable divorce.  After we sign the paperwork, I can see Steph and me going out to lunch together.  We are not going to enrich lawyers, because we come to the table in full agreement regarding custody for Susie (Steph will retain full custody, but I will have very liberal visitation rights and will still have a voice in decisions that affect her life and well-being).  There isn’t that much joint marital property, since we don’t co-own a home, boat, or vehicle.

During the next few months, we will be settling financial matters, as well as making decisions regarding health and insurance.  We need to satisfactorily resolve these be for we set foot in the Clerk of Courts’ office to ask for the divorce paperwork.  No-fault divorce is the law of the land in all 50 states (except New York, but no-fault divorce will go into effect there next month), so we can end the marriage without any finger-pointing or negativity.

Indeed, no one is the villain here.  I have long realized that I would make a terrible spouse for anyone.  I married Steph because I held a glimmer of hope that maybe I was wrong about that, and I was shaken by the idea of spending the rest of my life wondering.  However, 14 years of marriage has proven to me that I am a person who should not be partnered.  I am also coming to wonder if partnered, not-partnered is hard-wired genetically, like being left- or right-handed.  When Steph and I married, many of the guests whom I invited came to the ceremony with a “This I’ve gotta see!” attitude.  When I made a visit to Cincinnati a month or two after my marriage, I stopped in a bar I used to frequent.  My former across-the-street neighbor was tending bar, and he said, “Paul, you’ll never believe this.  The craziest rumor’s been going around Clifton about you…”  He stopped in mid-sentence, glanced at the ring on my left hand, and said, “Oh, Jesus!  It’s true.”

Surely, I had no positive role models of marriage growing up.  My parents were monsters, people who had no business marrying, and even less business parenting.  I tried to take into consideration that not all marriages are like theirs, but they were so unavailable to me emotionally and spiritually that I learned to draw on my own resources, maybe to the point that I am either unwilling or unable to fully ask or receive that from anyone else.

The entries I post after this one will not all focus on the divorce.  Both Steph and I are maintaining our lives and our interests.  Steph is returning to the choir at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, singing at the 9:15 a.m. services.  I will continue to habituate the Sporeprint Infoshop and the events that interest me when I see them posted on the Columbus DIY message board.  We remain living together, although my office is now my bedroom.  (I have a twin mattress on the floor, which I upend when I am not sleeping.  Or at least I will upend it once I buckle down and clean this room–I’ve taken a page from Oscar Madison at his worst lately.)

While mustering the words to describe this turn of events, I went and pulled down my diary from the summer of 1996, the year we married.  Scotch-taped inside one of the pages, after an entry a week before the wedding itself, was a paragraph I clipped from The Discoverer, First UU’s newsletter.  We had mailed about a hundred invitations already, but in case we missed anyone from the church, we submitted this to the newsletter:



A similar announcement ran in the newsletter of 

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which Steph also 

attended at the time.  We had an Episcatarian service worthy of King’s Chapel in Boston.

We mailed out many wedding invitations, and people learned the date and time as soon as the next day, or a week to 10 days later, depending on the vagaries of the U.S. Postal Service and how far away from Columbus they lived.  But the news of the end of our marriage, because of the Internet, traveled to people we love at the speed of light.  This afternoon, Steph and I sat down, each of us in front of a laptop, and wrote the following Google Document, which we emailed to friends in our address books:

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with some sadness and some relief that we share news that we are ending our marriage as soon as it is feasible to do so, most likely within the next 18 months.  We will be sorting out some financial, health, and insurance matters before we even file for the divorce and expect THAT may take upwards of six months.  In the meantime, we consider ourselves to be single, simply roommates who happen to be co-parenting.  

 We have decided that our priorities are Susie and our respective roads to happiness.  That means there will be major changes ahead for all of us, but that we will try to keep things as level as possible for Su as we can, though, at some point, we will stop sharing the same home and that will mean huge changes in her life as well.  Luckily, we are all resilient as hell and will get through this just fine.  

 Before you all start guessing at the whys and wherefores, we will tell you that no one here has done anything really wrong.  Over many years together, we have grown apart and gone our separate ways, so much so that we now find our paths lead in opposite directions.  If you want to know more specific details than that, you are welcome to ask.  We will tell you whatever you want to know within the boundaries of our own abilities to know.  We do, however, ask that you not question Susie about any of these matters.  If she wants to talk to you, she will let you know and we would be glad she has reached out to someone.  But, please let her be the one to open the discussion.  

 One thing we can tell you for sure is that our daughter will be in Steph’s fulltime custody throughout these months and into the future.  Paul will remain her loving and devoted father with all the responsibilities and rights so accorded.  

 The divorce will be an amicable one.  While the marriage may be ending, the friendship and deep respect we have for each other is intact, if not stronger, for having made this decision.  We leave the marriage with no animosity toward each other.  We do not feel that our many mutual friends need to “choose sides”.  We will always be a part of each other’s lives.  We do ask that everyone show Susie the support and love that she will need during this difficult time to come.

 Peace to All and Blessed Be!

Steph & Paul

 That is about all there is to report at the moment.  There is a financial morass to sort out, because both of us want to emerge from this as unblemished as we can.  I would like to think we will sail through that, but reality is much more different.