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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Owners Manual

I would have to say that like any story there are usually at least three versions.  That's because in any relationship  each person is having a minimum of three within that commerce. First there is how one projects themselves to you. second there is how you perceive that projection. Third is who that person really is, which that person might only be marginally aware of. With the sudden rush of life changes that happened in a short span, perhaps neither I nor the Planet had a clue who or where we were.

It was certainly a huge change for the Planet. One might say it had global implications. The ravages of child birth on a body are something that a male cannot, never will, and has no reason to want to imagine. Empathy has it's limits. Perhaps I was even less empathetic than some. After all I wasn't consulted on the commencement of the parenting. Girl friend soon to be wife stops taking pills without warning is a guaranteed pregnant Planet. Although I never brought it up and rarely thought about it, perhaps that was the first of the constantly multiplying three hundred pound gorillas that inhabited mine and the Planets universe.

I certainly love those little sputnik's.

So within two years my reality had altered. The inventory of  my life's concerns multiplied, I might add, in many wonderful ways. To have two healthy sons, a new home to live in, a dog (hound from hell though she may have been), and a spouse who would always reply “I love you too”, I figured I had achieved the American dream. Of course the implications of always hearing “I love you too” were lost on me at the time.

Daily travel from the heart of Indiana was a minimum of one hour each way, and that only after the Planet had gotten her brand new leased Jeep Cherokee. Because to travel the wild and woolly SS line usually made commute door to door a minimum of two hours each way. Driving not only cut that time to half but it also freed me from the mercy of the SS schedule, which gets sparser and sparser as the evening wears on. Miss a train and you now add an additional hour or two of away time at the best of times.

The separation by time and geography may not seem like much, and there are many that make the same a part of their business day. We all have to get to where the most advantageous commerce can be transacted. That's why we are able to outsource so many of our jobs. The lure of cheap labor has always been the motivation for expansion and colonization. Thus Indiana was always a perfect source for the Chicago area. Since most industry jobs are gone from Indiana, over the years I saw the numbers of people boarding that last inter-city electric rail line increase ten fold from what it had been at the outset.

Perhaps they were drawn out there to the Planet. Gravitational forces still have a many mysteries for us all.

Funny how easy it is to fool yourself into believing that everything is all right. Sometimes when you have the least amount of time and are the busiest, there is absolutely no chance to mull over whether you are happy or not. As crazy as those years were, I know now as I knew then that they were happy years. I can only speak for myself, because I now know that I can only be sure of, and responsible for my own happiness. Enjoy the journey because if enjoyment is contingent on an outcome, joy becomes a rare commodity.

Journeys there were many. Every day was a journey and as it becomes routine the weeks make you weary and months make more mundane occurrences a blur. Being one of the landed gentry in Hoosierville, yet spending most of my waking hours in the cement canyons of a major rust belt city often made me feel a bit disjointed. Having grown up being able to walk to the corner store , corner restaurant, corner bar, corner of the universe made me even more sensitive to the vacuum of the Indiana population density. But what population is there feels much the same about Chicago people as Chicago people feel about them. Us against them proliferates on the planet, whether you bring your own Planet or not.

For a city boy surrounded by the contrasts of the natural beauty and industrial scars of northwest Indiana, with it's lack of urban diversions, cultural diversity, as well as it's just plain sub suburban environment left me at a loss for diversions. Maintaining a household with expansive yard and home repairs kept me occupied over the weekends when the call of commerce didn't take me away. The constant demands and search for a balance between family and career eluded me mercilessly.

To make matters worse , as any new parent will tell you , children do not come with an owners manual.

Neither did the Planet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Formula for a Family

Formula for a family:

Talk about living together.

Significant other does not buy pills. Claims it was because she didn't have the money. Red flags should have started waving before my eye's. But they didn't so....

Have one hell of a wedding and honeymoon.

Learn to breathe.

Baby numero uno.

Honeymoon ends.

Enter the orbital adjustments of being a stay at home mom and no longer having a career. The spin of the Planet’s general disdain, that many career women have for stay at home moms, which though not immediatly apparent, was ever seething beneath the Planet’s crust.

The Planet latter claimed on our first visit to a therapist that she tried very hard at being domestic those early months, but just could not stomach it. If she was being domestic I did not notice. Perhaps another instance of my insensitivity.  But then it is very hard to tell with the bedlam brought about by a new newborn in the home. Only time I had to think was when I was at work, so I can only imagine what it was like having bee's live in her head those first couple of months.

It soon became clear that downtown is no place to raise a baby. Of course I may not have noticed, I was busy working while knowing that I was now the sole provider for three. Many would have found it comfortable to live on what I provided. But the Planet was not many. It was clearly time to find the picket fenced home sweet home for our family and I was fortunate enough to not have to drive us deeply into debt to accomplish this. Just what I considered a manageable mortgage on a home. I did so want to keep the Planet happy.

The Planets remedy.

Buy house move to another state.

Quote the Planet, 'I did not know what I was going to do, but I couldn't go on like this".
Was this first clue of postpartum depression or of plan to divorce when cash flow was adequate.
But first other global changes needed to be made. The Planet lived for change.
Change the company I had worked for for eleven years and work for the company the Planet used to work for. Fewer friends for me and even fewer old female consorts I suppose.

 Four months later: Supprise! Stop taking pills=baby number duo. The Planet had decided to get this birthing and fetching up business out of the way in one fell swoop.


These are the surprises I was learning to live with within the Planet’s realm.

So much in life can be looked back on with the epitaph of it seemed like a good  idea at the time. Motives for all parties are often muddled between what is said to be wanted, what others think is wanted, and what is really wanted. Often the latter is as hidden from yourself as much as it is concealed from others. Clarity is a hard commodity to purchase for the currency itself is often a mystery.

Within months there were ripples of dissatisfaction for all concerned. However with communication between myself and the Planet not being what it was either perceived to be or certainly what it should have or could have been, we were indeed traveling in a void. It is the things we try to fill that void with that in the long run become truly problematic.

The few months spent living in the downtown hi-rise were indeed a blur. By living so close to work the temptation was always there to stay a little later than necessary and still get home at a decent hour. Of course the job still had it's peculiar hours and work schedule and I was rather busy with the transaction of commerce. It was also possible to pop home if there was something that needed my attention. However I do not recall  many occasions where the Planet called. The Planet stands alone and it is up to you to know the call is there. I know that now. In reality it was only three months with young Clark that went by in downtown land, but from some reason it seemed much longer. Much longer for the Planet as became apparent. I had apparently made all the mistakes that really counted by then. The next thirteen and a half years were merely a relationship in it's death throes. Nothing passes quickly with the Planet. Geological time is marked differently than our perception of time.

So what were the reasons we moved to that distant and dark land of the Indians. First of the Planet wanted to be close to her family. She wanted the help with our first son Clark. Even though it would mean an almost four hour journey on a daily basis to my enterprise. This from my accustomed less than half hour daily jaunt. Could this have been in the Planet’s design as well?

But I wanted the Planet to be happy.

We also got a great deal on a house on the big lake.Home life was like living in a vacation home. At least it was for me.

Originally the plan was for the Planet to pick up her career after Clark  got a couple years under his belt. With the arrival of Addison that seemed to be on hold but I was under the illusion that the basic plan would be maintained. But the Planets appetite for consumption was only just beginning. The Planet had cast off two satellites within eighteen months of each other. A prodigious feat of creation. The little asteroids where perfect as asteroids can be.

What more could one ever expect from Judith Janet Planet. Much more was indeed in the offing.

The Planet would make good on that assumption in spades.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Caring for the Planet

       The wedding ceremony, the honeymoon, all seemed like a dream. Things were as marvelous as could be. Of course that was my view then and for years that was what I thought the Planet thought. I know now that I have never had any idea what the Planet thought. I know now it was foolish of me to presume such a thing.

Upon our return to our real lives we both went on with our careers. Although with the Planet's delicate condition our once rather party time relationship had to be curtailed. The wining was no longer an option for the two of us. But we still did a lot of dining. We both knew that our restaurant days were numbered with the approach of the Planets number one satellite. Perhaps this was where the seeds of resentment started to set in. The storms that were to become the Planets repertoire perhaps had there beginning there. But the  Planet was ever stealthy. If storms were brewing their was nothing appearing on the radar. After all the Planet was still careening in her single purpose orbit. I didn’t know it was decaying already. The honeymoon was over.  There was a nursery to get together. Shopping and decorating to be done. The Planet was nesting and I thought I was helping. Or was I? It was all a blur.

It was months of breathing classes, realization that we were soon to be parents, responsible for a new life. Both working . Preparing. But still two scared not so young kids diving into adulthood. Real adulthood. No instruction manuals come with pregnant women or children We only had our own parental experiences to go by. Those of course were on the receiving end of parenting. I was raised by people who had there training pre WWII. The Planet was raised by folks who had post WWII raising up. This detail would be very significant in our family life.

Birthing is a bloody business. But what happens during the gestational period ,as I found out years later, sets the stage in a world were there is no such thing as forgiveness. Apparently much can go unsaid and resolution is to be implicitly denied. Known or unknown. As we all know it is what you don't know that gets you. The Planet never speaks.

     If I ever meet the guy or gal who thought it was a good idea to have the father in the room for the labor and  birth of their child, I would I would smile and accept their opinion as just that. Well at least that is me, but I was in the same mode I would be in throughout our decaying orbit, Whatever the Planet wanted I would try to provide. In a hospital setting there is no more useless feeling than that of a prospective dad being there. I guess we have a value as a target while the mother is in labor. A woman who spends so much time claiming it's her body and she has reproductive rights, sure changes her tune when in labor. All of a sudden it's all you, the fathers fault. Like I'm the one who didn't buy the birth control pills and failed to tell anyone. Well she's in tune with her body. She'll know if it's her time to be catching for real. Those were thoughts I never shared. It was always unsaid. But through that experience I only loved the Planet more. She was magnificent. After twenty some hours of labor her Amazon OB GYN acquiesced and they did a cesarean section.  Clark was born healthy and happy, mother was sedated, and I finally went home and got some sleep.

It's what we don't fear that gets us every time.