Saturday, May 20, 2017

My own little Madoff

I'm watching HBO's dark and compelling film, The Wizard of Lies, about Bernie Madoff. It staggers the mind to consider all the innocent people who entrusted him with their money and how they suffered because of his willful disregard for their well being.

And then it hit me. I was married to my own little "Madoff". A genial man who presented so well and yet, at the end of the day, was primarily concerned with his own needs at the expense of his family.

So I reflect on my losses and how we all suffered. It comforts me to realize that we will survive the nuttiness of recent events and if we are broken, we will mend stronger in the end.

Perspective is everything.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Why do we care?


I can devour a copy of People magazine like any other fan of the "celebrities" among us but sometimes the concept of "content" gets stretched beyond the point of credibility. With all the nuttiness going on in Washington and points beyond our borders, why would anyone care about the quality of Jennifer Aniston's slumber?

If only this article addressed something of true importance, like what kind of mascara she wears. (Do we really think she wears Almay because she's paid to endorse it on tv?) That this passed the litmus test of something worth sharing boggles the mind.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Update on a rainy day

I'm in that stage of the divorce narrative where our communications are strictly clinical. There is no emotion or display of feelings. Just detail to arrange and assets to negotiate. It's unnerving to be in my ex's presence given the huge role he played for over 2 decades of my life. That we now conduct ourselves with net neutrality astounds me when you consider he was there at the birth of our children. So, always something to feel weird about.

Because separating is an option available in the marriage contract you forget going in that this may be the direction things will go- and when love morphs to apathy, you have to take those cues and plot a new course. The finality has stirred up all sorts of earlier traumas and setbacks.

I examine my role, try to encourage myself that things invariably work out as they should, and then shoulder the burdens, obligations and goals that await. No matter how you prepare, your efforts can fail you in the end. Best to keep trying and maintain your sense of humor. Hopefully, time still heals all wounds.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Some Good News at Last


It's hard not to be anxious due to all the alarming events since Trump ascended to the presidency and a positive development in an ally across the ocean is a reassuring reminder that humanity still matters at the ballot box.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Notes on Self

I like to go where I am needed or where I want to be. That's how my mind works. Probably like everyone else alive who has personal agency and the determination to use it. Being obliged can be a blessing and parenting is one of those all encompassing efforts that always occupies some part of your brain (even as you navigate the world of paying work or fulfilling personal goals, which are very important, as your offspring will, if you are fortunate to witness, grow up and leave, becoming independent individuals themselves. But I digress.)

I use to chalk it up to my astrological sign, being a Virgo, that I excelled in service to others and maintaining organization and I know a thing or two about keeping calm under stressful situations. (Certain skills honed in my childhood. But I digress again.) Being a commercial photographer has been a perfect fit for my exacting vision and my ability to craft singular images.  A new task to execute and an outcome to chase triggers my adrenaline. Sometimes, as a photographer, I would feel like the conductor, stepping to my podium, the camera on the tripod, directing all the players, models, stylists, assistants to give me something memorable with a tinge of something else. Many days, I had the dream job.

Still, back then, 3 o'clock in the afternoon could roll around and a wave of melancholy could wash over me. Here I was, making my way as a freelancer, living on a quaint street in Greenwich Village, intersecting with talented people, making photographs, getting paid, meeting guys, going places, but I desperately wanted to be spending time with my children. Who didn't exist yet. I wanted to be home, waiting for them to come in from school. Or standing at the bus stop, waiting to pick them up. (which often became, in real life, grabbing them from school, hearing them complain or annoy each other,  to get to some extra-curricular somewhere with snacks packed and the others required to kill an hour, but I digress again.)

During those years of singledom (we'll call it my "Sex in the City" phase),  my biological clock ticked relentlessly. So I did what any family oriented, professional mid-thirties woman does. After a brief courtship, I married a very nice lawyer who was equally delighted to be marrying me. (For one year we lived in the Back Bay of Boston and our apartment alley bordered a playground. The sounds of the children playing tortured me with longing. Amazing when I look back on it.)

Despite all the ways we were a good fit, aesthetics, compassion, intellect, and looks, we were not well matched. 3 years later I was living alone in a loft in Chelsea, trying to figure out what life had in store for me. Was motherhood, at 40, even in the cards for me anymore?

Turns out, I had three kids. I won't bore anyone who has read my blog. They are fine. They weren't miracle babies, I just found myself getting pregnant when I became romantically entangled again with a charismatic man. When my youngest was two, I felt I was the best person to take care of them (chalk it up to maternal passion). Our fiscal well being suffered and the marriage was stressed by not having two real incomes. It was a financial sacrifice to be a full time mom.  (But I think, if you are lucky and willing to do it, a great investment of your time.) The economy dealt us some knocks, and life upended. We were lucky to have resources, ingenuity and loans to get us through. Everyone (saved the marriage) survived.

Now with everyone scattered or otherwise engaged. there's no necessity to cook meals when I am home alone. (A task I undertook most days for my family members as children need meals on a regular basis. Keeps a nice level of sanity.)  But with the endless chores of an old house, I'm rarely at a loss for something to do. (And as young adults, my kids require minimal of me and I appreciate how able they are. So back to need.)

I like to be needed. It's interesting to me, I like to make things happen, make images, enjoy all kinds of culture and being outside, but I am happiest when I am needed and something is required of me.

Mid-divorce, I'm without a ton of mental clarity on the meaning of relationships.  I'm focusing on each day as it comes, tackling what's next- showing up on time and hopefully prepared. The goal then, is to use this liberty to step back, take stock of what happened and try to be needed by myself.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reflecting (and oversharing)

These days, I'm often overwhelmed. When I study my to-do list, I hear my pulse pound in my ears. I can fall in to a temporary paralysis and succumb to distractions (like the Times online) or peruse the Internet for engaging content.  Add instagram, facebook, blogger and email- a virtual bonanza of digital absorption.

I can't say I feel abandoned by my ex. I wanted us to separate. Our limited interactions were reduced to monosyllables while talking through doors. When he backed the moving truck into the driveway, I was more than ready. Bewildered. Mind blown. And ready.

He's a lovely decent man. Everyone who knows him says the same thing.  I affirm his many good qualities, and remind myself to judge not yet ye be judged.

Yet I'm still dazed by what happened. How my ex's love for competitive sport emerged as if from nowhere and became his mission.  How I watched him train religiously, while unable to secure employment,  running through our limited retirement savings as he chased his fitness goals.

(Last summer, I attempted a Hail Mary after listening to my ex describe his training session. I mentioned that if he put 10 percent of his athletic efforts in to the marriage, we might be doing a lot better. "Not going to do that." he quickly replied. And of course, I sound so insipid in retrospect.)

He's found a new community of associates and forged new friendships, one in particular with a gifted para triathlete. They work out together and last summer, when she got some disappointing news, he organized a special dinner and invited her family to help console her. He told me later that "I couldn't leave her."

It's not like you're interested in being reminded repeatedly how important everything is that has nothing to do with you or the family. (That's when you gather attorneys' name in earnest.)

Early September, by mutual agreement, I filed. My ex even went to my lawyer's office to pick up the papers to demonstrate how civil he is.

It's kind of great, while awaiting your estranged partner to hire an attorney and respond to your divorce petition to discover what he's really doing because his special friend posts about it on Facebook and thanks him for all his thoughtfulness.  You don't need to search your heart to make sure you're doing the right thing. Gumption kicks in. (Along with more tears)

Remember you self worth. Blog about it if you need to. Take a page from all the best playbooks, scour advice columns and soak up words of wisdom. Then get going and work on letting go. Enough already. Time to be an inspiration to yourself.








Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Friends of the Imaginary Persuasion



I'm in an ongoing process of revision. Most everything (save for my sexual identity and love of my kids, my photography and gardening) is up for grabs, but I digress. My ex is relocated, my kids are mostly grown and flown and I find myself connecting with fictional characters on tv because after all, they cheerfully appear in my living room with no invites required.

Finding myself in this condition was far from my plan. On a regular basis I am amazed to realize where I am but choice didn't figure large in my thinking. Events forced my hand and I'm going with it. (and if you find yourself needing background read this and this.)

I take my distractions where I can. Savor the pleasures of great characters, comedic writing and excellent timing, Kind of like the next romantic figure I'm hoping finds me or vice versa, depending on luck or circumstance. Or both.

Monday, April 10, 2017

States of Mind



Desire, loss, hope and fear dominate my current routine. A milestone birthday looms and I appreciate how quickly the years rush by.  The state of our world is an unrelenting news cycle of despair that underscores the here and now. Political refugees, famine, corruption, climate change and the constant awareness that greed is good- because isn't money the best signifier of one's worth?

Or is it the amount of friends on Facebook? Or likes on Instagram? Or views on a blog? Lately I'd gladly settle for some tender intimacies exchanged one on one in the privacy of a cozy spot without the need to document and generate buzz.

Either I am showing my age or my inability to ignore the events that surround me. Pick one.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Not Mine

It's my ex's birthday and I'm feeling similar to one of his acquaintances who doesn't have friend status on Facebook. Call/write/text him Happy Birthday or let it go? Surely in the scheme of his life and his new intimate circle of friends, does it matter what I do? Not much can prepare you for the fall out from a sentimental occasion that no longer has any symbolic meaning. I survived Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day and our wedding anniversary in a mute fashion as I grew accustomed to his radio silence.

I'm not a hypocrite- don't routinely wish people the best just to appear kind (because for the most part I actually am).  It's moments like these, freighted with memory and the reality of what is no longer and why that is so, that firmly ground me in reality. I wanted my marriage over, we were unable to resolve a single conflict between us, it was all, you do your thing and I'll do mine (my ex's governing principle) so I took the high road and decided if one person isn't going to make any effort for years at a time, why would I want to take this forward another second longer than necessary?

Still birthdays, the one belonging to the father of my kids, casts a silhouette in my mind. Its significance is diminishing with time (as is to be expected).

What a strange and odd series of events when the person who once held the most meaning for me has passed in to the shadowy realm of one I once knew.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Econ 101

There are a lot of guide books out there. Whatever your goals, quests, dreams, desires. Someone has penned some words of wisdom or mapped out a way to achieve your ends. In this time of transition as I live among the memories of unhappy and earlier happier times, I find myself immersed in what was and never was and all the hurts we inflicted on each other. There is a fair amount of shame in acknowledging I spent far too long with someone with whom I was not well matched. And now, as we navigate our final negotiation, it's strange to realize that what began as "love and passion" has devolved to who spent what and how. (and who owes who and how much.)

It's a poignant reminder that marriage has little to do with respect and caring and everything to do with economics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Who Doesn't?



Now that I am in the land of the newly single,  I know staying uncoupled is not my heart's desire. While my marriage didn't work out, being in a partnership had much to recommend it. Dating again is both nerve wracking and exciting and it's funny to find myself feeling like a teenager again in the body of a woman whose teen years are firmly in the past.

Watching The Bachelor this season provided an escape in to orchestrated romance. Fantastic locales, divine adventures, lots of alcohol and heartfelt confessions on camera. (Mostly) G rated bliss! Dating sites are no match for all the telegenic men and women who sign up to be observed, analyzed and dissed.

It looks like this year's bachelor might have found his one true love. He had casting directors to help find the woman of his dreams and talented camera operators to shoot them from just the right angle and in the best light. I have only intuition and determination to guide me. Throw in a little luck and I might find my own happy ending.
Wouldn't that be nice!

(And a diamond engagement ring- been there- done that. None required. I'll take a gem of a guy over an expensive glittery bauble on my hand any day.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sometimes words fail me



Each day it dawns anew that my life has been irreversibly altered, My marriage is really over. This is not a separation or an extended trip from which my spouse will one day return bearing flowers and brimming with excitement and relief to be home. He and I will likely never share an easy afternoon in one another's company tackling a to do list or dong an activity of interest together. The rift between us is permanent and real and I know, given how our relationship morphed over the years, a reconciliation is not in any one's best interests.

Mostly I am relieved. Our differences were fundamental and we shared little happiness once our kids were grown. But the routines of family life anchored me in a way I didn't completely understand. And being without the familial structure is like losing the scaffolding upon which I had come to rely.

I know there is an upside to all this. I get a chance to launch a new version of me- Dorothy 2.0. But there is a lot to mourn- not the dark moments of discord and frustration- but the times of feeling gathered at the table and sharing something routine together. That I sorely miss. Big time.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Unseasonably Warm for February

The end of the month approaches and the early bulbs are bursting out of the ground. There are signs of life everywhere. The hellebore's blooms should unfurl within the week. The political events that frame the every day are a constant source of concern, anxiety and bewilderment. The personal plane recedes.

Yet the entity that stalks me on this blog whenever I go public bothers me more than I care to admit.
So, if you are reading this, and would like to subscribe to Curb Appeal in Sleepy Hollow please send an email to dorothyhandelman@gmail.com as I intend to make it private once and for all soon.

Otherwise- have a good one and as my kid likes to remind me when I remark on the nicer weather..."Thank you global warming!!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

And so it goes



I am particularly sad lately. Empty nest for the most part and spouse relocated to his solo abode- I am sprung in to a new sphere.  My children have minimal requirements of me- I am free to steer my boat wherever I need or wish to- all my decisions are about me, for me and include mostly only me. I have to admit, it's a little heart breaking after all the years contentedly embroiled in family life. I have arrived in a country I didn't necessarily want to visit- but really felt I had no choice. I was not of the happily married persuasion and life was stretching out too far in front to suffer indefinitely what had become our distant, sad marital discourse.

I can say I saw it coming. Have anticipated all the events that have transpired up to now. The tangible reality of what is my here and now is overwhelming and requires my best effort yet. Wish me luck that a new normal  of connection and caring awaits me in the future.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trying to Feel It


Mid divorce and the stresses I avoided as my marriage unravelled are surfacing. It's easy to succumb to traumas small and large. I'm a goner. Staring at the ceiling, trying to figure out why so much has gone off the rails. An unscheduled day is a golden opportunity for my loss and frustration to overwhelm me- digesting the minutiae of the death of my imperfect union. Now, recently positioned as single and not reversing the course, I am with ample opportunity to dissect the past, re-examine my distant but economically stable father, and the myriad of men (starting with 4 older brothers) who have populated the skies of my firmament if not held me firmly in their arms on a romantic basis (relatives excluded)

So, it's with a jaded eye that I anticipate the arrival of Valentines Day. Truthfully, my heart thuds more than pitter pats and I wish I was busy with some clever missive about love and it many wonders.

I'm working on it.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Working my Attitude


There's a lot to feel affection for, especially one federal apppeals court judge in Washington State who issued an opinion that blocked the enforcement of a misguided Executive Order issued by our new President.

My heart is full of warm feelings for those who seek to do good and who get up every day with a desire to make the world a better place. Now that's love!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Thinking Valentines




Feburary 1st means only one thing- that there is a scant two weeks to create a Valentine (or not) if I so choose. I'm not exactly overflowing with romantic feelings... but I have lots of appreciation for the good that exists.

Hoping some inspiration finds me soon. There isn't much that's nicer than expressions of love.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Had To


As anyone going through a divorce can attest, it's pretty stressful. Compound it all with my spouse's change of heart over the years, where earning a living took a back seat to his passion for competitive sports, while we were faced with two kids in college- well, it took a toll on everyone and I get that I am probably not the easiest person to be around at this time. My parents are long gone, my one remaining in law has stars in her eyes where her son is concerned- so I and our kids will be pulling our resources and our attitude together the best we can.

I understand the need to put my best foot forward with an emphasis on framing the facts of our situation in a positive light. "We are not utterly broke!! We are all in good health!! We will figure this out!! Dad is a good guy!! Adults go through things that defy explanation!! We will survive!!" etc etc etc. But to compound my nuttiness, someone has been stalking me on my blog. Looking at the same random posts over and over again numerous times a day for months now. Is it some kind of weird messaging? An anonymous form of cyber stalking? It got to the point that I no longer wanted to post anything. A kind of violation that on top of everything else made me feel more vulnerable than I already am. So, I changed my settings. The general public won't always be able to access this self referential effort of mine. No great loss in the scheme of things- just a measure in place to set some limits on the crazy when there is so much crazy everywhere I turn. (Trump as President- the ultimate crazy!!)

So, if you are reading this and feel like it's another snooze fest in the land of personal narrative- I get that. And if you understand and want to take me out for a coffee, or a drink,  or offer one of my mostly decent caring offspring a job, find me- I would be most appreciative. (and probably more than you'll ever know...)