July 11th, 2005

It was a day that I intend to forget, but I doubt I’ll be able to.  I just came across the photos that I took the night my ex moved out without warning.  The events of the past 18 months or so haunt me from time to time.  Especially the weekends she takes the boys.

I had just returned from Minneapolis, and it was getting pretty late.  As I pulled into the driveway of the duplex, I noticed it looked different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Originally it was supposed to be a getaway weekend, where my supposed fiancée and I could spend a bit of time together without interruption.  We were supposed to go Milwaukee, and I had even made reservations at Sybaris, which is by no means cheap.  She had been down at her sister’s for quite a while, but didn’t give an indication that anything was wrong.

Towards the end of the week I ended up canceling the plans; apparently she didn’t want to go.  Since I had taken a few days off the following week, I at least wanted to do something.  My buddy Tim was moving to Minneapolis, so I offered to help him.

After I finished pulling the car into the garage, I opened the connecting door and found mayhem.  Stuff was everywhere, it looked almost as if we had been robbed. In the living room, things started to make sense.  Some stuff was missing, but other stuff wasn’t.  The expensive things, television, stereo equipment, was all there.  But lots of other stuff wasn’t there.  Her stuff.  She took everything she may have owned.  She even took down her new curtain rods, leaving the curtains in the corner and all of my belongings completely visible from the road.

As I canvassed the rest of the house, it quickly became clear that she had moved out.  And she took the boys with her.  No note, no indication that something had happened.  She was just gone… and took my life with her.

The worst was seeing the room the boys used to sleep in.  Virtually empty.  The entire house was like a tomb, so very quiet… but it wasn’t peaceful.  As I looked through the rooms I noticed that she had even picked through the toys, only leaving the ones that either I or my parents had purchased for the boys. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Of course, people go through this kind of stuff all the time.  She and I had been having a rough time, and I had spent far too much time at work on a big project.  But was it really worth destroying a family?  I hadn’t expected it to happen, that’s for sure.

I called my landlord to close out the lease the next day.  Regardless of what happened, even if it could be fixed, I knew I couldn’t live there any longer.

The Elmo Experience

A few weeks ago I made a decision that I felt may have been hazardous to my health.  I opted to purchase tickets for the boys and I to Sesame Street Live - Elmo Makes Music.  I knew that no good could come from it, but I decided to press forward.  For the boys, I say!

To start things off right, we got a late start and ran into a ton of traffic generated by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, whose first show started one hour later than Sesame Street.  To be honest, I wasn’t aware that they were playing, and I was even more surprised when I learned how many people were there.  In my way.

It was at this point that I learned my first lesson.  See, in a concert or other presentation, floor seats are the way to go, right?  You get the best experience from the floor.

Except when the audience is only three feet tall.  Whoops.  The boys spent the entire show on my lap, etc., because the floor seats were simply folding chairs so they weren’t elevated in any way.  Good to know, that’s for sure.

Regardless, as soon as we sat down, the inevitable events began happening.  Carter decided he was hungry.  Never mind the large lunch he just ate; he saw that other kids had popcorn and set his mind to acquiring some of his own.  I put up a defense for about 15 minutes before I finally gave in.  Then, not even 20 seconds after we sat down from buying popcorn, Carter then informed me that he absolutely had to go to the bathroom.  So we went for a walkabout all around the Arena so that he could hit the bathrooms.

5-10 minutes after we sat down?  Fifteen minute intermission. “When’s Elmo going to be back on?” Grrr.

The show continued on to show a segment of Elmo’s World, which if you’ve ever watched Sesame Street, it is the single most annoying portion of the show.  The same rough idea happens each show regardless of the topic, as happened here also.  Except, wait, Mr. Noodle is black now.  Last time I remembered, he was white as could be.  So I checked it out tonight, and I was spot on.  The guy I had in mind stuck out in my head for some reason; turns out it was Michael Jeter who also had a role on the TV show Evening Shade and also a ton of other stuff.  Then I saw that he passed on a few years ago.  Whoops.  Oh well, I suppose creative license allows for many odd things.  Who danced very well, in my opinion.

All in all though, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it would be.  The boys definitely had a blast, although every hour or so they ask me where Elmo is.  Of course I provide the correct answer:  Hopefully they tossed his ass into the garbage can with Oscar the Grouch in order to get a little bit of the ass-kicking he has coming to him.  He’s on Sesame Street so that all the other little boys and girls can see him too.

Doughnut Showers

On Friday, the boys and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend of decidedly unhealthy breakfasts in the form of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Sometimes as I need to rely on incentive to positively reinforce behaviors.  Yeah, that’s gotta be it – definitely not because I have a sweet tooth too.

When we arrived, the boys begged and pleaded to go inside rather than go through the drive-through.  I relented because I decided to get some of that “My Dad is the Greatest! (TM)” feeling going on.  Oh yeah, and even dictators listen to suggestions from the subjugated from time to time.

Of course, anybody who has been to Krispy Kreme is fully aware that the process of making the doughnuts is made visible via glass viewing areas as soon as you walk in the door.  As expected, the boys made a beeline for the viewing area.

The next twenty minutes passed with a flurry of activity as I rushed to satiate the demands of two little boys who thought it was the coolest thing in the world that they could see the production of the doughnuts.  It’s a good thing they wash that glass… the boys were practically licking it in an attempt to see what the warm doughnuts tasted like.

The best part of the entire visit?  Carter and Toliver both decided that when the glazing was being applied, the doughnuts were “taking a shower.”  I passed that on the the clerk behind the counter (who was kind enough to give each of the boys a free doughnut) and apparently she’s never heard it described like that before.  I truly wasn’t surprised –  I encourage alternate thinking in my house.

As long as it fits within the expectations set forth by the dictator, namely me.

Toliver's Birthday

Toliver had a great 3rd birthday today, although I definitely found myself a bit frustrated.  Of course, it was completely my fault.

First, I slacked off when it came to wrapping the presents.  I actually did great (by my standards anyway) and purchased just about everything almost two weeks ago.  Since I’m a guy, that’s almost unheard of.  Turns out I guessed right; I’ve only had about an hour or so to myself where I could go shopping.

Last night I made a decision that I would start getting the presents wrapped.  I ended up watching some TV for a while, until it was almost midnight. Crap.  Even worse, rather than actually wrap presents, I decided it would be a good time to install my surround sound in the living room.  Sounds great now, but I still needed to get going.

My backup plan was lunchtime.  Unfortunately I had week willpower against peer pressure so I went down to Charley’s with Brian and Preston.  Whoops.  I ended up cutting out of work a bit early, and I was able to get everything squared away by 4:30pm.

Toliver had great fun opening his presents, but I had a bit of an issue with the packaging.  Whomever decided it was a good idea to secure a powered truck to a bit of cardboard with 8 screws and then make it essentially impossible to get the bottom side where the screws are deserves to be shot.  I wasted almost 5 minutes just trying to get to the screws.  The photo only shows a small portion of the anger.

Toliver got to choose where he wanted to go for dinner.  He ended up choosing McDonald’s.  Not exactly my choice, but I can cope.  That went all right for a while until the boys started getting overexcited, and then it just went downhill from there.

Regardless of the issues I came up against for Toli’s birthday (many of them self-inflicted) I think the boys had a blast, and I guess that’s what counts.

Excuse me while I go attempt to locate my sanity…

I Remember Everything

I was engaged to my ex for a little over two years.  Turns out that I stopped being interesting and important to her right around the time I asked her to marry me.


It was before Toliver came along, and Carter was about two years old.  She and I had some trouble in the past, and I had been busy trying to make a career for myself.  Things were a bit tough, but we managed to get along OK.

Or so I thought.

I didn't find out until after she moved out last year the true extent of things, but there was definitely some behind-the-scenes wheelin' and dealin' going on.  She had been playing the field for quite some time.  I had my suspicions, but Toliver came along at the end of 2003, and 2004 was spent figuring out how to pay for daycare and getting used to having him around.

Just as things got back to normal, I got private, earth-shattering news near the end of 2004, and it took me about 6 months to get through it.  Rather than get her support, she decided it was time for her to move out suddenly, even though she was definitely in the center of it all.

Looking back, I guess that 2002 was probably our best year, before we got engaged.  I enjoyed her company and still do miss her, but I've pretty much moved on with life now.  Sometimes looking through old pictures, even by accident, causes even the most resolute person to think back for a while.  But knowing that I'll be picking the boys up tonight from school helps to ease the pain.

A post from almost a year ago comes to mind.  Damn you, Johnny Cash....