March 8th, 2003

Things don't always go like you planned

I'd come out to LA to visit my folks on Feb. 6th, for my Mom's birthday. The boys came out too, tho' Gail wouldn't let 'em leave 'til the 13th. Was supposed to come back on the 17th; there was this blizzard. Re-booked the boys for the 20th, me for the 21st; got the boys on the plane and then I had a heart attack, minor, but enough to put me in the hospital. Now it's March 8th, I'm out of the hospital, have a stent in my chest, and feel fine, other than this nuisance-level pain in my groin where they put the catheter in. But I'm supposed to rest quietly for "at least a week", according to the cardiologist. I think I'll take his word for it.

He also says cut out the stress. I like the theory. But the main source of stress in my life is Gail, and she's never been much for taking other people's needs into account, least of all mine.

Brief background: Gail and I have two boys together, and had been one of the two cores of the Busy House polyclan. She had the career; I took care of the home front, did what I could to further the clan, and worked when and as I could. I did pretty well in the late '90's; had a six-figure job as an IT project manager for a couple of years. Not bad, considering I had no training whatsoever. She announced the end of our relationship in September of '99, effectively demolishing the clan but (due mostly to groveling, begging, and repeated home remodeling by me) staying as roommate and co-parent 'til August of '01. She then got a new job in South Jersey and moved out. The IT market had dried up by that point; I'd been out of work since January.

I spent the next year as full-time Dad, part-time home renovator, and about half-time applying for every IT job on the web, which helped about as much as folding resumes into paper airplanes and launching them into the Grand Canyon, only without the nice view. After Gail decided she liked her new job, she demanded that I move the family to somewhere convenient to her. I wasn't unwilling in principle, but it'd mean giving up a lot, and I wanted a reassurance from her that she'd be willing to pay for the move.

She refused. Repeatedly, vehemently, and at length. We went to a mediator; she stated the move as a pre-condition for mediation. I should have refused, but I was trying everything I could to keep my sons with me -- if she filed for divorce in the NJ court system, according to the half-dozen or so lawyers I consulted, "Mommy gets the kids unless she's a crack-smoking prostitute. Even then, she's likely to get 'em, unless she sets fire to the judge in his own courtroom." Daddy being the primary parent isn't a concept the NJ courts are ready to deal with.

Last summer, I'd arranged for the boys to spend a month out here with my parents. We'd done this for several years running, and they loved it. I also arranged to take 'em to Pennsic for two weeks. Gail decided she wanted to take 'em out to visit her parents for a couple of days as well, so she piggybacked a side-trip onto a business conference of hers, scooped 'em up in LA, and
took 'em to Arizona.

On the day I went to the airport to scoop 'em up and drive out to Pennsic, I got a call from my lawyer: Gail had filed for divorce, demanding full custody, and demanding it on an immediate "emergency" basis. The rationale: She wanted them to start the school year in the district she lived in, not the district the boys and I lived in and had been living in for twelve years. Astonishingly, she got it. My exemplary fathering didn't even come up in the courtroom. As a matter of fact, it wasn't at all clear the judge even read my response, it was just "Mom wants custody. Okay. Next!"

I just noticed I'm getting too long-winded about this. Gail got custody by court order, cut off all financial support the minute she filed, and offered to have me thrown in jail if I didn't cooperate in selling the house. I had to move right away to keep in touch with the boys; the poly community was a great help in getting stuff moved. But I still don't have a job; the industry I used to work in doesn't exist anymore. And now I don't have a house. And Gail's still not paying for shit. My lawyer thinks this is a classic gender-bender on a '50's divorce strategy; if she can run me out onto the street, she can get full custody on the grounds that I don't have an adequate household to raise kids in. It's working so far - I've got no income, no money, and the cards are charged out to the limit.

So, yeah. Cut down on stress. The doc had been getting ready to give me a shot of morphine as he said it; I suggested the best way to cut down on my stress would be to give the morphine to Gail rather than me. He was amused by the suggestion, but decided it was probably outside of his prescriptory powers.

So here I am, in sunny Southern California, resting and recuperating. And I really am. It's nice here. But my sons are back East, and bringing them out here with me is not a practical option. So I'll be going back, soon.

My hope is that I can have my life well-enough planned by then that I'll be able to keep it going. Hints and suggestions welcome, folks.

I'll get to the planning later. It's the cheerful part, planning almost always is.
  • Current Music
    5th Brandenburg, the Wendy Carlos recording