International House of Fighting

Only a small percentage of marriages are happy ones, and if you are happily married you must know how much it makes all of the rest of us feel like losers.

There was no fighting in my failed marriage tonight and my moody teenage son was in one of his more pleasant phases. I was angered as soon as I woke up but it turned out to be just another one of those times where poor communication leads to misunderstanding. I have spent over 20 years trying to get my Ex to let me know what she is planning to do and when. It makes it easier for me to plan around or with her. Tonight, they were going to dinner without me AND they were going to eat at an Italian restaurant that I like but that they both complain about and refuse to go to whenever I suggest it. Ouch, once and then twice. I was angry as I showered, but not overly so. I am an emotionally battered husband. I have grown used to the abuse. The surprise ending was that they came home with some pizza and had brought me an eggplant hero. So, it was good that I did not lose my temper and curse them out. Of course, it all could have been avoided if they had told not told me that they were eating there without me. They did not change their minds because it had upset me. They had just done a bad job of expressing to me in words what was in their collective minds. Why an eggplant hero? Who knows?

The fighting in our house was on the bottom floor tonight. The couple who live on the first floor of our shared house were have a loud argument.  I was on the computer and listening to a baseball news podcast so I did not have music playing, but I might have heard the fight anyway because the guy was loud. I could even hear the cursing and that the fight was about money. I would guess that most of the fights that couples have are about money. Sadly, in my marriage, we fight about nearly everything. I do not like the way that she looks at me when I first see her. Stuff like that. I recently heard a theory that interracial couples fight less. My marriage is interracial. My Ex is a Filipino and I am a mixture of several different ethnicities. The couple that lives beneath me is also interracial if you consider being Jewish as race and not just a religion. I am not sure how Jewish people feel about that. The guy is Eastern European, and I would guess he is Greek. We are an International House of Fighting.

Comically, when my Ex and son came home only my son had heard the fighting. We both laughed at how oblivious to the world around her that my Ex is. I could still hear the fighting while we were upstairs laughing about it but she had not noticed it even though she had walked into the house and right past the thin wall that the fight was happening behind. I jokingly suggested to my son that I would go downstairs and show the guy how to give his wife an even better cursing out, sharing with him my years of experience. We laughed, happy that the fights were not ours tonight.

Trouble at the Bridge

It was a tow truck, towing a utility truck that had a retractable pole and that pole made it too big to be on the highway. The pole smashed into an overpass at full speed. Luckily, only one person was injured.

Unluckily, for me, this bridge is three blocks away from my house and it is the bridge that the bus uses to come into my town and take me to work. What do I do now? I can stand on the corner in below zero temperatures, for an hour, waiting for a bus that is never going to come because it has changed its course to avoid the broken bridge. There is no warning that the bus is never going to come. There is never a warning. The bus service in NJ is painfully bad. There is no information on the website about a new route, although I have learned from reading in my local newspaper that the bridge will be closed “Indefinitely” for repairs. Now I will have to walk and find another place to meet the bus. This will add another 30 minutes on to my one hour commute to work, and I have to guess which route the bus is taking. I might be waiting at just another obsolete bus stop.

I told my son about the bridge. A few hours later, while passing my Ex in our shared kitchen, I made the mistake of asking her if she knew about the bridge. She immediately grew argumentative and defensive, as if I was accusing her of having driven the truck. “Do I ever take that bridge?” she snapped at me, like I was wasting her time. She drives over this bridge quite regularly. It is our quickest access to the neighboring town. We drive over it at least a few times every week. Of course, it could be that in all of these 20 years of crossing the bridge she might not ever have known that we were on a bridge and that there was a highway underneath us. She really is that stupid.

The “Golden Rule” fails, again

My Ex hates me and I probably should hate her. Even given that, we share an apartment and parenthood of our now 17 year old son. It sure would be easier to do if my Ex would exhibit even a hint of decency.

I have been sick with the flu for over two months, off and on. The past couple of days were rough. I thought I had recovered but the flu came back with a vengeance. It attacks the respiratory system and the congestion induces vomiting. That is on a good day. On a bad day, this flu will give you a wicked headache too.

All this time that I have been sick, my Ex has been her usual indifferent and self absorbed self. What do I want, or expect from a room mate? How about asking me how I am feeling? Am I feeling better? God forbid, but maybe you might ask me if I need anything, but just asking about the status of my illness costs nothing. It is free.

I pointed it out once, nicely. When I wake up and she gives me the silent treatment, our son follows her lead. She is teaching him bad manners. I appealed to her sense or pride. Did her parents raise her to be a rude and inconsiderate bitch? How would they feel, knowing how their daughter acts? Without a proper sense of manners, we are no better than animals. All of this talking went in one of her ears and out of the other, or it bounced off of that thick head of hers. The “Golden Rule” is that we should do unto others as you would like them to do for us, right? Everyone knows the rule. I am not asking to have my ass kissed, just some common courtesy. I ask them how they are feeling. I am the only person in this house that cares, apparently.

Because of my overnight work schedule, the sleeping arrangement with my Ex is that I use the bed in the day and she sleeps in it at night. Most couples that split up but stay together, one of them has to sleep on the living room couch. Either one of us does that when we are tired while the other one is in bed. If I ever woke up next to her in bed again, I might die from choking on my own vomit.

I wake up, they know I am sick and do not ask how I am feeling. Again, I pointed out to them that on PLANET EARTH this is not how human beings treat each other. Ask me about the condition of my health, when you know I am sick. It is easy. Not doing so is an insult to me.

I ignored it a few more times, but today I am feeling healthy. I have the lung capacity to give longer speeches. I tried yet again to get some respect in this house. It is not even so much as it is insulting to me as it is setting a bad example for our son. I know she hates me, she knows he hates me. She has probably convinced him to hate me too. None of that excuses their rude behavior. They should ask me how I am feeling, just to shut me up. There is no way that I am going to suffer insults silently. I am not that kind of guy. I feel like they are unhappy to see me get out of bed, still alive. They wish I would die. I am going to find it hard to be friendly with people that feel this way about me.

I would ask my room mate if they were still sick, even if I hated them, if only out of fear that what was making my room mate sick might be contagious.

Fatherly Advice

I sat down with my son when he was about 10 or so, still at the impressionable and teachable age. I explained to him one of the simplest rules for living. You can not tell the world to “FUCK OFF” until you no longer need it. You need to be self sufficient.

Then I sat back on my couch and drank my whiskey. It might be all I have, but I earned it.

Garbage

My wife and son, at some point, elected me as the official house “Garbage” man although I do not remember ever campaigning.

With my wife, it has been that way from the beginning. At first, we would leave the house together on our way to work and I would carry out the garbage. Once I got tired of waiting for her to get ready in the morning, I would leave without her and I took the garbage with me. After I took the job at the Post Office, my work schedule got fluctuating and crazy. For a few years, I would come home from work and find a garbage bag sitting outside of our apartment door. She had placed it there, for me to carry downstairs and out to the garbage. For the past decade or more, I have worked the night shift and I take the garbage out with me on my way to work.

For the past couple of days, I have been sick. I have barely been leaving the house. They have been leaving, but letting the garbage pile up. You would think one of them would think to take it out with them, especially on one of those days when the garbage pail was full that they replaced the bag but left the full bag sitting next to it. I live with two idiots.

My garbage torture does not end in my apartment. The family that has lived below me for the last few years is garbage crazy too. We had six garbage pails when they moved in, which was three pails for each of us. Soon after they moved in, the matriarch of their family caught me while I was either coming and going from our shared house and suggested that we get more pails. I told her that three was enough for me. I left it unsaid that if they needed more, they could buy them. They did need more. They generate a ton of garbage. So much so that they frequently do not leave me my third pail to use, they fill mine in addition to the five or six that they have. They also drive me crazy by throwing trash on top of the recyclables that I have put into one of the pails. Other than that one request for me to split the purchase price of new pails, we have never discussed the garbage. I just look at what they have done, shake my head and sigh.

The people downstairs like to bring their pails out to the curb early the night before it is to be collected. I get home from work early in the morning and bring mine out at that time, rather than leave it out by the curb overnight. No big deal that they never bring my pails out while they are doing their own. Not only do I not have a problem with that, but I will bring their pails out if when I get home from work and see that they have forgotten. The empty pails are what they are passive/aggressive about. Why do they leave my empty pails in the street while they are bringing back their own? Rather than reciprocate and lower myself to their level, I always bring in all of the pails when I see them empty on the curb. It is no big deal. The pails are empty, and they can be stacked before being carried if there are more than four of them. Can my downstairs neighbors possibly think that I would be annoyed that they brought my pails in? I think not.

Better yet, the empty pails will sit out by the curb forever if left up to the two lazy asses in my family. They will walk past those empty pails day after day, just waiting for their house “Garbage” man to bring them back in.

Living in the New Word

“I do want to live this way” she told him while they were scavenging for food in the world left ruined by nuclear apocalypse. This saddened him, because he was happy. He was the kind of man that a nuclear apocalypse had improved his life. Before the bombs dropped, he was poor. Now, after the bombs, he took what he needed from the rubble.

There was noise.  A car, or some cars coming down the road. She ran towards the noise, screaming for help. She is going to be raped and eaten, he thought, maybe both horrible things. He did not follow her. After walking away for half of an hour, he barely remembered her name or the sounds of crying and screaming.

The banana that he had found was sweet and only half rotten. He peeled away the skin and felt like a winner. Any day that he could exchange an annoying complainer for some half rotten fruit was a good day.

The Island

They say no man is an island, but PeterIsland Islebourne never got that message. He was a child prodigy, attending the best art school in New York City and producing amazing paintings. He dropped out of school when he was 10 years old, but instantly became an artist celebrity. His paintings sold for millions of dollars, but he became disgusted with this world when he was 15 years old and he took off to the seas in a little boat, to be his own “Island” just like he had signed all of his artwork.

Peter floated around on his small boat and amazingly appeared in populated or obscure places to produce a few pieces of art and leave before anyone knew who he was. Peter floated around the globe, somehow crossing the oceans in his tiny craft. No one could care less about their legacy or their personal safety than Peter did. The boat was small and he risked his life every time he set out to sail the seas. He paddled. He did not sail. That is how small the boat was.

Matthew Stulte first learned about the “Island” while in college researching for another project, but once he was hooked by the story, he remained fascinated. He wrote a book about the “Island” that a few people read, and he became the expert on the “Island” although he was 40 years younger and had never met Peter. There were people in the small world of buying and trading art that paid millions of dollars for a great “Island” work. While Peter the “Island” paddled and floated around the world, art collectors salivated while wondering when he would next leave behind something artistic. Most of it was “Found Art” type pieces, using whatever materials he was able to gather while scavenging for food. His charcoal drawings were the most popular. His “Bird Flying into a Sunset” charcoal drawing, that he left behind on Pitcairn Island, was sold for more than any of his other pieces. Some of his art was hard to verify as actually being his, because of his hit and run style. By the time people knew that the “Island” was with them, he had paddled away already. When an “Island” piece was discovered, Matthew was called in to authenticate it. Matthew has seen places in the world he never would have imagined ever visiting, just because Peter had left some art behind for him to find.

 

Matthew received a call to help verify a sculpture that was found behind a warehouse in San Diego. He flew out to see the totem pole type carving made out of something solid. It could have been gold, or pyrite. It was weathered and hard to tell. How had the “Island” found the 8 foot tall piece to start sculpting with, and then transported it to behind this warehouse? Matthew could see it was a genuine “Island” work. Matthew was not only an expert on “Island” art, but knew how to spot fake “Island” signatures. This totem pole had the real “Island” signature carved into it.

 

As Matthew was discussing the cost of acquiring this art from the land owner, who had a vague idea of what it might be worth, there was a vision out in the sea. A man was relaxing on a small boat. Could it be him?

 

Excitedly, Matthew stripped down to only his underpants and swam out to the small boat. It was a boat so small that Matthew could not board it to talk to the old man relaxing on it. “Peter?” asked Matthew.

 

“What’s up?” replied the most reclusive and underground artist in the world.

Peter refused to come on to the main land, but knew he was outside of San Diego. He did not have body odor but his skin was weathered and reptilian. His old hair, on his head and face, were gray and as long as it could possibly grow if uncut for several years.  Questions about where he had been and what he has been doing for the past 60 years were answered with vague replies, like those that would be coming from a brain that had been baked in the sun. Matthew had to conduct the interview that he had been waiting for all of his life while hanging on to the side of small boat and treading seawater. The most important question was of current relevance. Was the San Diego totem pole his work?  Yes, Peter had carved that several years ago. It had taken that long for someone to find it. The “Island had only just returned to the USA  a few days ago from being in South America.

 The “Island” complained about docking fees. Too many places that he wished to visit but he could not because he was arrested as being a vagrant. Where had the “Island” been? Here, there and everywhere.

 Matthew begged Peter to come back to society. He did not need to live like a homeless person on a small boat. He was famous. Matthew had even written a book about him.

 Peter did not come on land in San Diego. He did agree to attend an exhibition of his works in Brooklyn, New York City, but only because the weather was warm there this time of year. He did not go anywhere that it was cold. He refused Matthew’s offer of a ride. He would not fly or drive, stubbornly paddled to the event. It took him just over 2 months to get there. In Peter’s small sack of belongings there was a cell phone. It was several years old and the service for it had been disconnected. Matthew paid to have the service restored but was frustrated that the “Island” never once answered the phone. The only time he used it was to let Matthew know he was in New York.

 “I am here”: said the “Island”, sounding aggravated because there was no one waiting for him when he arrived at a Brooklyn shipping yard in the middle of the night. Matthew jumped out of bed and drove down to meet him. Peter had hidden his small boat was waiting on a street corner, wearing only a dirty shirt and a skirt type of garment that he had made out of some cloth. Peter refused any type of assistance, and would not get into Matthew’s car for a drive to the small gallery that was showing his exhibit of work. Matthew had arranged this exhibit a month ago, not knowing when the “Island” was going to arrive. Now that he was here, Matthew would throw a party in his honor. The “Island” walked the 30 minutes to the gallery and slept on the floor down a staircase near a fire exit, while he waited a few days for the party. He begrudgingly agreed to wear some clothes for the party. Other than that, he was either not around or would only grunt to Matthew when asked questions. Not answering yes or no, just a grunting animalistic sounding noise. Not a bark, but more of an annoyed type of sound.  

 Matthew called all of his contacts and put some advertisements on all of the artistic websites. The party was a great success. Hundreds of people attended, and everyone agreed that the “Island” was an asshole when we meet him in person. He could not have been ruder, and when he did speak it was something insulting. The “Island” thought all of his fans were wasting their time looking at his art when they should have been creating their own. He insulted Matthew by telling him that this exhibit did not include his best work. Some of these pieces were still unfinished. He had left them before they were done. Impressionist art is hard to judge, so a half finished piece could very well have been complete. We were lucky to find any of the “Island” art because he left them behind like trash, never giving a hint to where he was and where his art could be found.

 The one thing that happened which everyone wrote about on their art and party blogs, was when the popular movie star, Rich Michaels, told the “Island: that he was honored to meet him and that he wanted to play his role in a movie. The “Island” dismissively told him that he was not handsome enough. The ancient old man told a young movie star that he was too ugly to portray him. Everyone laughed, even the movie star.

At some point in the night, the “Island” slipped away. No one saw him leave and he  left no goodbye message, other than leaving the cell phone behind. He had dropped that into the toilet, with his “Island” signature scrawled into it before he urinated all over it.

Too Big

He was a big man living in a small town. He was actually too big for his own skin. His morbid obesity was the reason why he did not have a job. He was born a normal size but started to put on extra weight almost every day after that. He was a lazy child and his parents were not motivational. His parents were obese themselves so they did not notice or care as their child grew fatter and fatter. Once he entered the school system, he did not respond positively to the ridicule of his fellow students. They called him names, mocking him for being fat and slow. He just absorbed their abuse as he continued to absorb unhealthy foods in double or triple the recommended portions.

He graduated from the school system, or was pushed through it like a piece of waste, and spent the next seven years in his bedroom. That bedroom would become the model of the next place that he would live, a single room occupancy hotel. It had a television, a small refrigerator and a toaster oven. On his little refrigerator he had cut out of a newspaper, book or magazine the phrase “LESS INSPIRATION AND MORE PRODUCTION”, but we do not know where he got it from. He never had a microwave, not because he could not afford one but because he was unfamiliar with it and was uncomfortable with changes. When his parents died and he was evicted from the apartment that they had been renting, he lost the television. After that, his only source of entertainment was his radio. He liked to listen to people talking about things. He found their opinions interesting, but they never sparked any curiosity in his dull brain. He did read five newspapers almost every day. He had a ravenous appetite for news as well as for fattening foods.

There was a job that he had once but he lost it for being too sick with the illnesses that morbidly obese people suffer from. In an odd coincidence, the same man that was his guidance counselor during his high school years had lost his own job at that school and was forced to work for the social services administration, continuing be an inept failure at giving guidance and never once noticing or recognizing any of the names on the list of subsistence checks that he issued every month.

Unable to work, and nearly crippled with gout, the large man led a simple life. He would get his check once a month and wait for it to come again the next month. The apartment building that he lived in was within limping distance of a small grocery store and a bus stop. From the grocery store he was able to feed both his stomach and his brain, with unhealthy food and newspapers. The bus stop was his gateway to the rest of the world. He lived not too far away from a big city, but he had only been there a few times in his life. He was afraid of the city, and the city people.

There was a horse racing track only a 30 minute bus ride away from where he lived, and he was fascinated with gambling on horse races. His father had told him “You have to be in it, to win it” which is always true. He did not understand that his father had lost the game of life, and he was unsure of the odds against becoming a millionaire by gambling a subsistence check at a racing track.

Every day, he would purchase his 5 newspapers and take the bus to the racing track. Most of the days, there was no live racing and he was watching horse races on televisions from other race tracks. He did not know where those racetracks were, geographically, but he did remember some of their names. He treated news and food the same way. He would read and purge. He might have read that the one of the countries in the world was at war with another one, or that the small town that he lived in had hired a new police officer that was the son of one of his long ago classmates, but he was not friendly with anyone from school. He was not friendly with anyone in the building that he lived in, or at the race track that he went to every single day. The people who worked at the track and at the store that he bought his newspapers and food every single day  knew him but would be unable to guess what his age or even what his race was. He was simply the fat guy.

He was a failure at the one thing that he focused his attention on, horse racing. Most days he came home a loser, and on the days that he won a small amount of money he would celebrate by having sex. Not sex with a human. Instead of eating one of the slices of warmed pizza that was sold in the store next to his apartment, he would buy a second slice and let the cheese cool off, then lay on top of it until orgasm. He would throw that slice of pizza in the garbage afterwards. He never ate those slices. Anyone who would do that was a sick pervert! But, sometimes he woke up hungry and did take that slice back out of the garbage to eat. Sometimes was almost every time.

He lived in a part of the world where there were a few months of cold weather, and he hated those months. His obesity made that time of year unbearable and also the bus service was terrible, slowed down by the occasional snowfall. Cold afternoons at the bus stop for our hero. Shivering, aching and having trouble breathing while waiting for the bus to take him to the horse racing track. He might as well have been working in a coal mine.

One cold and snowy afternoon while waiting for the bus, something in him snapped. He could not bear it any longer. He had to get out of this life. He limped over to the store and bought a cheap plastic gun. He limped down the road to the bank. He had limped to this bank before a few times over the past several years. It was a long limping walk but he knew about a bus stop that was closer to the bank than the one near his apartment. That bus as going to be his getaway bus. He was getting out of here.

The bank teller could not understand his horrible handwriting on the note that he used to try and rob the bank. No one, to this day, can fully decipher what it said. Even after graduating 12 years of institutional education he could not correspond.

He stumbled out of the bank, with the toy gun in his hand, and was shot dead by the rookie police officer that his small town had just hired only two weeks ago.

The Gift

I had two arguments with my ex-wife in 2012, in addition to the daily unpleasantries that we exchange as a couple of people who still live together long after the love has gone. The second of those fights was when she ruined my birthday celebration and as a rule, I try not to make the same mistakes twice. My mistake last year was inviting someone who does not like me to a celebration of my continued existence.

The problem is simple enough to solve. She should no longer share a table with me. The complicating twist is that I do want to celebrate my birthday with my son, who was conceived with my ex-wife back in the time before she confessed to only pretending to like me. We all still live together, and I did not want to put him into an uncomfortable position of making his mother angry by his joining me for a party without her.

My birthday dinner, which should have been a source of joy, was instead something that I was dreading because of the memories from last year. The easiest thing to do would be to simply give her another chance to ruin yet another one of my pleasures. A few nights before my birthday, she asked me what the dinner plan was just as if last year had never happened. I told her that the pain from her insult was still fresh in my mind, which should surprise no one because I am the kind of person that holds grudges forever. I told her that I did not think I could celebrate with her. The day before my birthday, I spoke to my son about it and told him that I preferred to eat just with him, but to keep peace in our house I would try and ignore the presence of someone who does not like me.

This is when my son gave me a much appreciated and unexpected birthday gift. He took it upon himself to talk to his mother and suggest to her that she sit this dinner out. He ignored my advice of not getting into the middle of the conflict, and he resolved it. I am baffled and surprised that my ex-wife was not any nastier to be around than she usually is, considering that she had been uninvited. I have no idea what he told her, but apparently he has a future as a diplomat. She wished me a happy birthday in the morning and was laughing with our son when I woke up later that night, after my birthday had been celebrated without her. The next day, it is back to our usual routine of living with someone that you wished was someone else.