Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Hangover

It's been a substantial amount of time since I've posted anything. Everything continues to move forward. It's been over a year since I started this blog, and my how time moves on. So, why write anything now? Well, I'm in Clearwater, Florida, on a mini vacation. I'm taking some time away from everything since I haven't been away in almost two years. So, why not, right? Get some sun, even though I'm more pale than an albino, white crayon, see the Gulf, drink som...a lot of alcohol and take it easy with nary a care in the world? Right? Right?

NIEN!!!! (That's German for "No", they're a loud, expressive people)

Since my return to NY, I've enjoyed a lot of personal career success, reconnected with my parents, brother, nieces, family and best friends. In short, I'm home. But, having once again, no experience in the whole divorce ebbs and flows, I find myself in something that has been hastily labeled a "Divorce Hangover".
Now, you're most likely thinking to yourself: "Self, a hangover is never a good thing." Well, you're correct, it's not! Most of us have imbibed way to much alcohol at one point in our lives, and we've all regretted it, to vary degrees, the following morning. We vow to never drink again, as we stagger, slowly about our domiciles, cursing past selves and whatever our poison of choice was, the previous evening.
Ok, so what is a D.H.? Again, I'm using initials to save time, because, it's nice out and I'd like to get my ass in the water. What is it exactly? Well, in layman's terms, it's a range of emotions that you experience, typically anger, over time, after your divorce. Unfortunately, it comes from not being able to properly focus your anger and displace it on to someone else, or simply move on and; as Elsa sings "Let it Goooooooo!"
So, I got home from that God awful state that shall not be named, and started to re-establish my life in NY. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's had all passed and yet, one, creeping emotion was still lingering within me. Sadness. At least, I thought it was sadness.
It turns out, I've realized that I'm still angry. Like Mark Ruffalo, aka Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk in "The Avengers", "I'm always angry". That line always stuck with me. The idea of the Hulk, is that he is Bruce Banner's anger realized in actual, physical form. He is pure emotion. A blind destructive force that once subsides, has left a path of physical destruction in its wake. The key to Bruce Banner isn't that he reaches a boiling point of anger, the key is, he has this constant anger, below the surface, that he can tap to transform into the Hulk. He doesn't need external provocation. He simply IS angry.
For me, it's not simply outright, aggressive, over the top anger. It's deeper and more complex. My anger is a result of all of the loss, sadness, hopelessness, despair, and yes, overt anger that I experienced over a year and a half ago.
Sure, I'm content with my life, I look forward to what's next in life, I'm grateful for the opportunities and love I've received. I'm still able to live my life on an everyday basis. But, still this level of anger sits and waits. It looks to express itself at unnecessary times, hurting those I care for, and those who have become a footnote in my life. I say mean, intentionally hurtful things, in some weird attempt to satiate my anger and make myself feel better. And, as a result, creating emotional, collateral damage. This has not always been me, and it's concerning.
I believe with a combination of complete acceptance, therapy, time, and simply moving on, will ultimately put me in an even better place. At 35, I realize that there is always room for improvement, and I've got personal goals to achieve. In the end, all I really want or have ever wanted is inner peace, love, happiness and one day, a family.

This about sums it up...

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Cousin Vinny

The classic 1992 court room comedy starring Joe Pesci and Marissa Tomei is still a highly quotable and overall enjoyable film to this day. So, that being said, I'm going to completely contrast hilarious courtroom hi jinks of the 90's with my incredibly heartbreaking and somber courtroom experience I had on Wednesday, September 14th, 2016. Honestly, I'm beginning to despise Wednesdays. For some, it marks the middle of the week, inching everyone ever closer to the weekend, but, for me, it marks a day my wife abandoned our marriage, and a day my wife officially divorced me. So, fuck Wednesdays. Thursday, you're still okay, buddy.
So, yes, my lawyer called me last minute to attend court, as her lawyer and mine were hashing out the dissolution of our marriage and they apparently came to a swift agreement. So, I had to leave work and hump it out to Atlantic City Courthouse to finalize my divorce. I met my attorney in the hallway on the second floor, completely ignoring her, as she did me, and he gave me the basics of what was about to transpire in the courtroom. Shortly after that, we were all called in and sat at our respective tables. Mine had a plaque that read: "Defendant". Nick, Nicky, Nicholas, Mr. Bruno, Randy Watson, I had been given many names, but never defendant. It was surreal.
We waited on the judge, as he was in his chambers, presiding over another matter. So, we waited for around 15 to 20 minutes. In that time, my ex sat with her new b.f.f.l. (Best Friend For Life)/lawyer and they proceeded to laugh and joke about many a personal thing, that I clearly would have no knowledge of, in any capacity. In short, she was happy. A police officer had entered the court room who had known her attorney, she introduced him to my ex, and they flirted...right in front of me. I can see them now, recalling how they met, down the road, at our divorce. That alone was hard to bear witness to, and honestly I wish it upon no one. My ex chose to not treat the divorce process with the respect and gravity it deserved. She chose to act immature and childish. It was heartbreaking.
The judge entered, we stood, then we sat. He laid out how the proceedings would go and what we needed to say. My ex went first. Her b.f.f.l. asked questions they had most likely rehearsed dozens of times prior. It's as if she was acting and she couldn't wait to read her lines in front of everyone. It was, essentially, like a reverse wedding where instead of "I do", it's "I don't , not anymore."
I was next. My lawyer turned to me with the same line of questions. My responses were simple "yes" and "no". I stated them with a wavering voice all while staring at my blue, weathered plaque: "Defendant".
The whole proceeding lasted about an hour, it was the longest hour of my life. Her mother and sister eventually showed up to support her and sat behind me. I acted contrary to my normal, confrontational personality and simply stared ahead, at that plaque, into some fictitious abyss. After the divorce was finalized, she presented papers to change her last name, right then and there; using the final eraser stroke to completely remove me and us from existence forever. Then, it was over.
We stood as the judge left, she walked behind me to exit, I continued to look forward. Out in the hallway, I overheard her state something to the effect of "Thank God it's done." Again, immature and childish. My attorney, who had personally been through a similar situation, took the time to console me. It was kind of him. I walked down to the lot to my vehicle and proceeded to drive back to work. During that 50 minute drive, there was no feeling of relief, no joy, no hope...just sadness. Like that, it was over. Like that, none of it ever mattered.

*Not my attorney

Escape from New Jersey

Yes, my title pays homage to John Carpenter's/Kurt Russell's 1981 collaborative effort, "Escape from New York". Of course, their 1982 horror re-imagining, "The Thing", is still by far my favorite. Although, in order to use that title; I believe I'd have to reference my penis. I mean, I do like my penis, but I do not believe it deserves it's own article. Okay, enough about Mr. Wrinkles, because I want to discuss my eventual exodus from Southern Jersey.
So, after much thought and consideration, I've decided that, in the end, ultimately, I have to leave NJ in order to move on with my life. I lived down here almost 8 years, and as I reflect upon everything, I just can't help but think that I wasted my life down here. I mean, essentially, I'll be returning with what I had left two dogs. My choice to leave NY was for my ex-wife and our future marriage, and now that is gone. I've come to the realization that there is really nothing keeping me here and I'm not going to stay here to spite her. I've already wasted too much time away from my friends and family at this point.
Now, after all this, people wonder if I'm down on marriage or moving for the one you love. Short answer: no. Marriage is an incredibly rewarding experience when it works. As the years progress, at least for me, you end up loving the person more and more. Unfortunately, as my ex-wife, claimed in court, our marriage was beyond repair for the better part of three years, despite there being, oh I don't know, holidays, birthdays, vacations and the basic day to day in there that would contradict what she had stated. So, she would say she loved me less and less, essentially. But, despite that, I still believe doing anything for those you love with the best of intentions can be a good thing. But, as I'm a perfect example, best of intentions can be for nothing in the end. Which is a shame, but really, that's life.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Police Academy

I had intended to write and post a different blog today, but given the recent events in Dallas, I've decided to put it on the back burner, as I believe, the callous, cowardly acts of the shooters/snipers against the Dallas Police Department should be addressed. Why? Because, my older brother, Brian is a police officer. He's also a husband, a father, a son and a brother. He's a representation of a national police force that selflessly "serves and protects" all of us. The incidents that have occurred over the past several years in regard to the use of "deadly force" have been hotly debated, publicized, scrutinized, and sensationalized by all forms of the media and by extension, the internet; leading to an overall negative view of police officers nationwide.
We all have our opinions in regard to the police and the criminals/"victims" they've had to encounter while on the job. For me honestly, it's not a question of race, but a question of being a fucking criminal. You see, if you commit a crime, carry a pistol illegally, intend to hurt someone, or perform any of the innumerable criminal acts that are classified as "breaking the law"; the police will respond, then you will most likely come into conflict with them. It's pretty much a given. Police officers are trained to use their best judgement and skill set to assess a situation and react, sometimes within a fraction of a second. Many people fail to realize this and dismiss their actions as careless, excessive or unnecessary. It's easy to make these judgements from the sidelines after an incident has occurred, all with the wonderful benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision.
I love my brother. I've looked up to him since I was a child. We don't always get along, but we are still brothers. Of the two of us, he's the more level headed, knowing what to do and how to resolve a situation without letting his anger and emotions motivate him. Me, not so much. He's been a police officer for ten plus years, and he just recently made Sergeant. He has a masters degree in Criminal Justice and is more than capable of making the right decisions. He's chosen a profession where he protects others without regard for himself.
Look, here's how I see it, we thank our troops for their service, for defending our way of life, we thank firefighters for running into a burning building, and yet we neglect to thank police officers for putting their lives on the line everyday, locally, for us. We vilify them. We take them for granted. We shouldn't. Nor should we let the media fan the flames of hate with negative perceptions of these brave men and women, which then evolves into a wildfire, that in turn, incites such an extreme reaction from a few racist assholes. Those officers in Dallas, all while be targeted and shot at, defended those same people who were protesting against them. Think about that for a moment...let it sink in. Next time you see an officer, thank him or her for their service, because in the end, they're just doing their job...protecting you.

My brother, Brian with my niece, Ava.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Throw Momma From the Train

First off, I would never conspire to have my mother thrown from a train, despite what the 1987 Danny DeVito / Billy Crystal dark comedy film presupposes. Mom, Ma, Brenda, Polack, Pain in the Ass. All names I've come to associate with her in my 35 years on earth. What can be said about her? Those who know her, know where they stand with her. Either she likes you or she doesn't. There's no in-between, nor should there be in life. Gray, is an easy way to describe feelings towards any one person, but black and white, makes me sleep at night....that was an unintentional rhyme.
Brenda, a third generation 100% Polish American born in Poughkeepsie, NY, is the middle child of three and quite frankly, the most capable. She always has been. My grandparents, what little I knew of them, were for lack of a better word, alcoholics and dismissive. My mother, took care of her youngest brother in the absence of her oldest sister, my aunt, as she had left for greener pastures. So, to have so much responsibility thrust upon you at a young age can be daunting, to say the least. Yet, she did it. With the help of my Great Aunt Mika, and a simple take no shit attitude, she survived and at the same time, took care of her brother.
My Mother has been a symbol of forward momentum, an unstoppable juggernaut of "fuck you", I can do this, for many years. She's encountered many obstacles and assholes in her life, all while taking the hits and moving forward. She achieved management positions at IBM in the 70's, 80's, and 90's through sheer will. Most men, are intimidated by strong women. Not me. I was raised by one. Every time I've encountered someone with a strong, aggressive personality, I've always said or thought: "My mother could do worse."
Strong women exist. They have existed. This is nothing new. Regardless of your sex, if you're capable, you're capable. Men can be weak. Trust me, I've met my share, confronted them, and found them...lacking. So, it's here that I thank mom for my lack of interest in avoiding conflict, because there are so many who would rather avoid speaking their mind; and honestly, it's the few who accept confrontation who pave the way for those who simply remain silent and step aside. But, that's why we butt heads, Mom and I, it's the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object...or maybe we're just two, stubbborn Polacks. Honestly, I wouldn't have our relationship any other way...

A crumpled, colored on Poloroid...yup that's us.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Two Dogs and a Man

I attempted to reference "Three Men and a Baby", unfortunately there is no actual child and I'm only one man. But, I do exude the 80's sexiness of Steve Guttenburg, Tom Selleck and Ted Danson combined, so that's a considerable plus. Yes, losing Homer has been difficult and quite frankly it's going to be hard to get past. I honestly don't believe I'm ever going to see him again. I'm coping, but it's difficult as he's my dog and my son, and I will miss him. But, as I've stated in previous posts, from darkness, there is light, and that being said, I've adopted my brother's seven year old Miniature Pinscher, Jessie!
Interestingly enough, Min Pins are not in fact, Doberman Pinschers who have been left in the dryer for waaay too long, it's actually a common etymological misconception. Min Pins are more of a cross between a German Pinscher, Italian Greyhound and Dachhsunds. So, it's like a German sausage combined with a skinny stromboli in a hot dog bun that barks.
Anyhoo, my brother and sister-in-law were kind enough to let me take her off their hands, as they have enough on their plate with two daughters, two cats and another dog, and since it's just Hermes and I, it made that much more sense to taker her. I've had Jessie for several days now, and she's been quite the snuggle bug. The tiny squeaker likes to be where you are, and literally sit and lay on you. Of course, she's small enough, that I barely notice. I actually have a buddy when I now play video games, as she sits on my lap and the armchair, quietly watching me shoot demons from hell in "Doom". Yay for company, and shotguns!
Hermes and her get along really well as both are energetic and enjoy running around outside, taking in the summer breeze. They're still getting use to each other, but in the end, I know they'll make great siblings. I know Hermes misses Homer as much as I miss him, but we've got to make the best of this situation. So, the house now feels slightly more full with a 15 pound dog added to the mix, and an extra set of puppy paws clicking and clacking on the hardwood floor. In a strange way, it feels more like home with two dogs, even though it has been my home for the past three and a half years.
So, what's today's message? For the past six months, I've been struggling with why everything has happened and why I've spent eight years of my life down here. I've been trying to make sense of all it. I know that it's not going to all come at once, like some large epiphany, (which I believe is bullshit), but more like a mental puzzle; but one that's composed of disparate pieces, slowly being assembled in an attempt to form a bigger, cohesive picture. Currently, one piece is taking care of Jessie, because I believe it's the right thing to do. I see that I need her as much as she needs me.

She likes bald men.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Like Father, Like Son

Yes, the title is from an obscure 1987 comedy starring the late Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron. We, of course, had it on VHS, as my mother owned numerous films on tape and we were kind of like Bruno Blockbuster. Again, for you kids, VHS is an acronym for Video Home System. You see, you had to place a cassette tape in a "VHS player", then watch it, then, if you wanted to re-watch it, you needed to rewind the damn thing and wait at least 5 minutes. Shit. The video quality was also subpar when compared to today's "4K HD 1080p holy shit the football players are in my living room" video clarity, we all take for granted. But, I digress. So, today's blog is about my dad, Art, Art-man, Dad, or as my mother affectionately calls him: "Art, you asshole." I honestly thought that was his name until I was eight years old.
My father came down this past January to keep me company and we were able to catch up on a few things. I've mentioned him in previous posts, and the lasting impact he's had on me to "do the right thing" and be a "good man." He's a rare father figure, born in 1945, counting on my fingers, that's almost 71! He's lived through the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, get the point, and he still maintains a moral compass that I've yet to really see in anyone male his age or younger. Examples? As I'm sure you're asking, well, I have a few...
Having married my mother, a strong independent woman, whom I'll address in another post, my father was above the sexism that usually permeated his generation and era. If he really wanted a woman who kept her opinions to herself and cooked in the kitchen, then he clearly wouldn't have married my mother. So, I'd like to think of my father as progressive in that sense. Of course, my mother's general "take no shit attitude" rubbed off on my father after 45 years, but, I'd like to think that some of his rational, less than aggressive approach to conflict has rubbed off on her...wait, no, it hasn't.
My father never drank, although he did smoke for 6 months in high school, he was a good son to his mother, my grandmother, Rose, staying with her and keeping her company in an empty house; as he was the youngest of four and felt it was the right thing to be with his mother. He's an intelligent man, reluctant to take praise for his accomplishments or simply doing what needs to be done in the face of darkening adversity. He seeks no joy in humiliating others, just simply talking to them and being a decent person.
So, yet again...what's my point? I believe, on some level, all men eventually become their fathers. I see it in myself at 34. I sound like him, I make noises like him, creaking, cracking, snoring, I hum like him, I have his ears, I even am starting to grow the "Bruno Sunroof", i.e. balding, if I didn't shave my head. It's funny, my dad use to read the Poughkeepsie Journal on weekends in the living room, and I would remember putting my hands on his face to touch his stubble and thinking how scratchy it was; I get that same feeling when my stubble grows in, or if I ever shave my beard. I feel my face, but at the same time I feel my father's. I catch myself saying things he would, words of wisdom or insight. But most of all, I try to keep my moral compass straight, just as he's done many times, even though I've faltered in the past...a lot..I need it now more than ever.

Art and Nick