What? Me Worry?

Source: Mad Magazine

Let’s talk serendipity, shall we?

I am amazed at the moment at how some obstacles are smoothed out simply by doing nothing. It’s the ultimate reward for procrastinators or those caught in what we in polite society refer to as “circumstances.” Naturally, it doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, I see it as a strike against all those authority figures from my childhood. Take that, you previous brow beaters.

It’s also not the smartest approach to problem-solving either, of course. We can look no further than governmental bodies for what happens when things are swept under the rug. Be it carcinogenic water pipes in Flint or inadequate care at VA hospitals, problems fester until the public at large eventually shouts a full-throated roar of protest.

Occasionally, though, some of us mere mortals privately strike a little gold in the avoidance department. Take your humble blogger, for instance. I’ve managed to pull off a couple of feats lately and done absolutely nothing in making them happen. I’d say it’s karma or even fate, but then I’d be going all crunchy granola on you with that higher vibrational claptrap. So we’ll just chalk it all up to really dumb luck and leave it at that.

What originally lured us to live in Florida, or as Gorgeous might put it on a challenging day, “the false pretenses under which I was brought here,” was based on an understanding I thought I had with my ex-wife about a condo property that we still jointly own. The agreement — such as it was — lasted for a few weeks until my ex decided that it wasn’t in her best interest. So she subsequently changed her mind. At the risk of coloring myself a chauvinist, I’ll just leave it that it was her prerogative to do that. Words were quickly exchanged and then we collectively moved on in search of our separate Kumbayas.

In spite of that initial disappointment, my own internal compass was resolute. I believed, and continue to believe, that moving to the Sunshine State was the best decision. I love palm trees, beaches, and a place where election results are shrouded in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not invisibility cloak. And, okay, Florida not having a personal income taxes may play a small role here too. I do have my greedy side.

“Taxes? Never!
Source: Openclipart.org

Without boring you on the details (a sly way of saying that I’m still intimidated by my ex’s attorney), I have been waiting forever to have my name removed from the above property, and also a second one. It’s been both a waiting game and also a test of wills between the mortgage company and the tendency of my ex to make quick, sweeping decisions about her life. Time was on my side if I remained patient.

Sure enough, in January she decided that she’d had enough of year-round humidity and hurricane watches. With the snap of a finger she made plans to move back to California. Both condo properties were immediately put on the market, and now within three months there are solid buyers for both. Closing is scheduled for next week and a date has been set aside for me to go in to separately to sign the documents. In the language of my tribe, I’m kvelling.

The role I played in bringing this about? Zilch, nada.

I have had my share of sleepless nights thinking about it all, but I kept my mouth shut after our earlier row for fear of engendering any bad feelings or purposeful delays out of spite.

My new mantra for surviving life issues is a simple rhetorical device: “what would Donald Trump do?” I then do the opposite. Nevertheless, it is a shock to actually see a successful resolution come about. Which is more than he can say lately.

Source: Memegenerator.net1

The second area in which I’ve found some good fortune is with my part-time job. In January along with my W-2 for taxes, my boss extended her sincere thanks to me for coming aboard last year. She said she was pleased about how it all had worked out, and she hoped I was enjoying the job. She also said she looked forward to working with me over the next year.


Immediately I felt a pang of guilt. Missing from her message was any mention of the fact that I would be leaving by late spring or early summer because of our move north to St. Augustine later this year. I only see her occasionally because she manages several libraries, and I am but one of many staff members in her employment. I didn’t necessarily expect her to remember, but this seemed like such a lousy time to remind her.

A “hey, right back at ya, and oh by the way, don’t forget I’m leaving you!” response seemed a little course. I instead wrote a thoughtful reply saying how much I appreciated her hiring me, and that I hope I can use her as a reference when I begin looking for another part-time job sometime after we move.

Later that evening I received a very short response: “I now have some accounts in Jacksonville for which I’ll later need someone to service. Just one or two days a week. Care to talk about this?

I did indeed. The total sum of time I had thought about finding a job for after we move came to zero. Getting our ducks in a row with finding a real estate agent, obtaining pre-approval for a mortgage, and arranging for our down payment to be safely sequestered seemed like more of a priority these past few months than anything else.

But after several phone conversations and emails with my boss, it appears I also now had a ready job waiting for me on that other end. I will be servicing law firms and helping to maintain their lawbook collections. It’s a little bit of the cart before the horse, but who am I to question it? All I know is that I absolutely wasn’t looking for it.

Last week I traveled up there to get oriented with the accounts. My boss will be going away for five weeks, and I will be covering while she is away. The timing couldn’t be better because April was always the time in which we were planning to start looking at new homes anyway. Gorgeous will amuse herself in downtown Jacksonville while I work each time, and then at day’s end we’ll drive to St. Augustine for an overnight before spending the following day with our real estate agent. With a little luck, we might even find a place before the boss returns from her trip.

Things never quite work out this easy for me, so I am waiting for the proverbial Other Shoe to drop. At the same time, though, I’m also trying not to think about the following things:

  1. A Mega Millions winning lotto ticket.
  2. Airline tickets and hotel accommodations to see Phil Collins in London this coming summer.
  3. News that my ex-wife has re-married (re: end of alimony).

Not necessarily in that order, of course. I’ll keep you posted.

Until next time…


¹ This wonderful meme graphic from Memegenerator was uploaded by a Russian user. After a bit of consideration (preceded by the firing up of my malware software), I’ve decided not to provide the link for your own computer or phone/tablet’s safety. As Mr. Stills once sang, “paranoia strikes deep…

Birthday Benevolence

My first expensive present to my wife in 2012. The

An earlier expensive present for my wife in 2012. The “gastronomic return on investment” is still being realized.

This coming Saturday is my wife’s birthday. We are currently wrapping out heads around how we’ll spend the day and also what kind of present to get for her. She’s already rejected going to a fancy restaurant for a meal that would exceed $100. I’ve since offered her an item off her bucket list for a present, along with a nice dinner at a moderately priced neighborhood Italian bistro. One of the presents is a fun gift that I will enjoy seeing her have. The other, however, is one that screams of self-serving spousal chauvinism. Think cleaning devices and kitchen appliances. My fear is that she’ll choose the latter gift, mention it to everyone she knows, and all of this will result in a situation where friends and family assume I ginned it all up under a diabolical mask of “making the little woman happy.”

Source: TSREA.com

Source: TSREA.com

Gifts can be a field of land mines sometimes.

For the record, I’ve never really been a fan of birthdays. My own usually falls somewhere just before Chanukah. During childhood this resulted in the unstated but still practiced habit of my parents to combine the two events. The birthday present was almost always a token gesture, given along with a declarative assurance that something even more grand was just around the corner in time for the upcoming holiday. Hope sprung eternal.

Yet when the glorious day arrived, let’s just say the Festival of Lights was more about latkes and candles than it was about the treasures found in the annual Sears Wish Book. That whole “a present for each of the eight days” thing was still a good decade away from being a practicing reality.

“What’ll it be, apple sauce or a sour cream topping on your pancakes? And let’s hurry this along. Your father wants to watch Huntley and Brinkley in a few minutes.”

Good night, Chet…

Source: JewishJournal.com

Source: JewishJournal.com

My later, more enlightened self is actually quite thankful in hindsight for the memories of a predominantly noncommercial religious holiday in December. At the time? Well, let’s just say I wasn’t so enlightened.

Gorgeous and I each bring different birthday memories into this marriage from our previous ones. Her ex regularly feigned ignorance on the big day, resorting each year to making a joke about it being Christmas instead. Mine went to the opposite extreme with a desire to make more of it than I really wanted. My stated wish was that she not make too much of a fuss. I wanted a low-key day.  By year two of our marriage, with my not specifying any desired present, pleading for absolutely no party, and wanting only a simple dinner at home, I can still hear my ex’s plaintive cry of, For God sakes it’s your birthday! What is wrong with you??!” 

These days, my birthday week is when I annually remove myself from Facebook and temporarily close my account. While I was at first flattered and overwhelmed by the sheer number of birthday greetings I received, in recent years I’ve become weary of the surface and compulsory nature of the ritual. People with whom I have only a remote acquaintance, perhaps they might have sat next to me during seventh grade biology class, wish me a hearty happy birthday alongside all of my actual friends and family members. I recall one year staring at a birthday message from a Facebook friend for a full five minutes or so until I realized that he was the graduate student I met briefly at a former neighbor’s backyard barbecue six years before. I think he’s now teaching philosophy at some college in the southwest, and for some reason we still haven’t unfriended one another. So in order to avoid such strange interactions, I remove myself from the site for a week or so.

With my own siblings, I still make the effort to mail out a birthday card in time for them to receive it on their actual day. I will then follow-up and make a phone call to wish them congratulations, and also to remind them that they are still older than me (that joke just never gets old). I arrange for this in a methodical way each year with repeating reminders on my smart phone’s calendar to buy the card and mail it out a few days before the actual date. I like to be organized about it.

My siblings will in turn contact me on my special day too, though not usually in the same fastidious manner. One sister likes to send a well-intentioned text message; another will make a phone call; and the third without fail will call to tell me how she bought a great card, but sadly it’s still sitting on her desk awaiting to be personalized and mailed. It’s actually turned into a campy tradition, though one that’s embarrassing for her. As a joke, she’ll in good spirits send it to me about four or five months later. Their phone calls I love to receive. The text message greeting from that one sibling? Not so much. Come on, Sis, really? But hey, as John Lennon famously sang, “we all doin’ what we can.”

Still, spousal birthday celebrations should be different. Even your humble and most decidedly jaded blogger can understand that. Your spouse is the person to whom you give a sole and unrequited love. The unique way in which the day is celebrated should be a testament of a shared affection. After all, as we get older the number we have left become even more precious.

Our plans are still formulating for this Saturday. My only rule is that Gorgeous needs to let her clients know ahead of time that she will be unavailable. One really should not have to work on their birthday if at all possible.

What remains, however, is the matter of the gift.  Please-oh-please-oh please, don’t let her ask for a vacuum cleaner.  If that somehow get out, I’ll never hear the end of it.

Gorgeous with the Williams and Sonoma salesman in San Francisco in 2012 after he rung up her new KitchenAid.

Gorgeous with the Williams and Sonoma salesman in San Francisco in 2012 after he rung up her new KitchenAid.

Can I Get an ‘Amen Please?

Source: wellsphere.com

Source: wellsphere.com

So good things can happen in divorce after all.  One very tough lesson both in my career and certainly so far in retirement has been that absolutely nothing happens when you hope it will.   Whether it’s been a raise, a promotion, a new job, or an early retirement offer, I have consistently had to experience an episodic delay for that elusive goal at the finish line. Each. Thing. Just. Takes. So. Long.¹

Amazingly, your humble blogger finally caught a break this weekend.  Like tumbling blocks, my earlier post regarding my ex-wife’s portion of my retirement annuity knocked over related matters into additional activity.  Instead of it simply being a one-off action, we decided to take the bull by the horns (just for clarification, I’m speaking metaphorically of my retirement annuity and not any individual person), and just see if we can perhaps speed things to a final negotiation over her alimony payment.  Prior to this, it had been agreed that we would wait till this coming December to start those talks.

But beginning last Thursday evening, when I first queried my ex’s attorney about negotiating earlier, and well into late last evening when we traded e-mails that looked as if an agreement might turn out to be futile, we nonetheless all woke up this morning with compromise in our hearts.  Or maybe we were just sick and tired of each other.  Either way, I have achieved a final accord with my ex that completes our alimony struggle.  We agree on one set amount from now through December, and then starting in January we have a new, final amount that lasts forever or until she gets married.

I now repeat my earlier request to the single, eligible bachelors out there who have an income and a pulse: please contact me if you are looking for an available, single woman.

I remarked to a friend earlier today that I feel as if my retirement is truly beginning now. Since I retired from my career last August, the uncertainty about my annuity and my ex’s portion of it, plus the final alimony amount, has been hanging over me.  Any action I take, whether it’s been one of those occasional toe-dips in looking for a part-time job, or perhaps just posting a Facebook picture of myself relaxing on the beach, has had an edge of incompleteness to it because everything is still somehow connected to my not having those details finalized.   Now it is indeed final, and things seem to be more grounded in my mind.

This milestone also has an impact on my blogging life.  With the negotiations finally behind me, I am not so concerned about my ex discovering this blog.  I’d still prefer that she not, but I can live with it if she does.  Starting with my very next posting, I can “unmask” myself a bit and write a little more detail about my life and career.  I will, however, take the very sage advice of fellow bloggers Heather B. Costa, Kate Loveton, and Kong’s Conservative Komments and keep most of my identity private except to friends who already know me and are regular readers.  But for now, feel free to call me Marty.  I’ll even still answer to Snakes.

Gorgeous and I will celebrate this evening with a cocktail and dinner at a nearby ocean side tavern.  If you’re there too, drinks are on me.

¹   My thanks to “A” for teaching me that crazy syntax.