Friday, November 03, 2006

Jail gives you a headache...

You know what, it "sucked" to be in jail, and my 2 days/2 nights in jail gave me the biggest headache I ever had in my life. It could have been thinking about my situation, but it's definitely aggregated by all these guys talking all night about the types of weed they've smoked, what other people call weed, how it feels when it's traced with something else, how they didn't learn their lesson and are back there, ad infinitum....

There is not a big African-American or Latin population where I live now, unlike where I spent the last 16 years. I'm sure if I saw the prisons over there, it would be full of Latinos and blacks, but here we had a lot of white folks in for the stupidest things. My biggest surprise was these two really young kids, in for armed robbery - one of them looked like he was still in high school. Another young guy was brought in, with his girlfriend, for walking with a glass of beer in their hands, they had just left a party that had spilled to the street. What a waste of my tax money! Another one was quite wasted, and that was probably why he decided to stick his pocket knife in his sock at the airport, instead of putting it in with checked luggage. Well, he won't be making it to his girlfriend's brother's wedding tonight.

The rest of the people were there for various drug offenses, and some for not appearing in court for previous offenses. Unpaid tickets brought in a few immigrants that didn't understand what was going on. I looked pretty out of place too, so when they asked me what I was in for, and I said "assault," they immediately knew it was for "D.V." - domestic violence. In fact, I found out that some of the regulars had been in here before for that offense as well.

We were a sad bunch, in the joint. You don't actually get "3 hot meals a day" as they say, so everyone would get happy to be given someone else's extra food. I didn't eat much, so was able to treat folks to most of my food. (Turns out two days of not eating much does not actually cause you to lose weight, as I found out.)

While waiting for my court appearance, this old black guy in the same room told a funny story about his arrest. He was caught with goods he stole from a supermarket; I think he had some meat, shrimp, some batteries, basically food and stuff he could sell. The funny part was that he wasn't caught on the spot, there was no security guard as such. A cashier got suspicious, and when this guy got out, the cashier followed him. While he was protesting his innocence, the batteries and a few other things fell on the floor from his jacket and pants! So when the cops came and took him, there was the obvious proof that he had done it, but since nobody had actually seen him take these, his case was "under investigation" only. He thought this was a sign from God that he should go straight, so he wanted a lawyer that would arrange drug rehabilitation for him. He had already been to a few of those, discussing the good ones with another one like him.

I was arrested on Saturday night, and was not out until Monday late afternoon. In the meantime, my wife found me a lawyer and was preparing to bail me out. She didn't have to, as not having a prior record and a job convinced the judge that she could release me on "Personal Recognizance". I plead "not guilty" and a pre-trial hearing is coming up next week. Originally it would be in another two weeks, but my wife, in trying to reverse what she has caused, spoke to the prosecutor and mentioned that she will soon be out of town. If the judge agrees, I can be back in the house while she's away, instead of continuing to pay for a hotel efficiency.

Weekend at the joint

Let's get right to it: I spent the previous weekend in the joint. "The" Joint, the one where they have overnight accommodations for some of you that smoked weed or sold weed or caught doing armed robbery or violated your probation. Silly me, and I thought everything was handy-dandy in my marriage.

So here I am, out of jail but staying at a hotel, with a "No Contact Order" that prevents me from going back home or seeing my son. See, when you're being blamed with domestic violance (or "Assault IV - DV", along with "Reckless Endangerment" since my child was present), you present a risk and the law needs to protect your wife and child. I'm not even supposed to talk to them on the phone. If they only knew which one of us is the vicious one...

The argument started simply -- she had been asking me "When am I going back to MyLand?" This isn't something I have a major preference for, except for two small considerations.

First, MyLand is 6+ 12 hours away by air, which is not an easy distance to travel (especially flying Coach) when you're with an infant who is jumping and screaming. An obvious solution to this problem, though not a perfect one, is to have someone travelling with her, so that she can at least go use the toilet every now and then during the trip. Given that her schedule is flexible -- she's not working and there's no pressing need to fly on a specific date -- we discussed that maybe I would come with her on the way, or on her return trip, so that she would only need to fly alone once. I also thought that having someone accompany her on the return trip would be another good idea. Silly me...

The second is that, her brother and his wife are coming to visit us for a few days next week. It would be a bit rude to not take that into consideration while planning her trip. But again, she's a 35 year old woman and is quite capable of figuring out her own schedule and booking her trip. There's no need for her to asks me this question, "When am I going back to MyLand?", over and over again...

I didn't have a preference for when she left (actually, the sooner the better so she stops nagging and complaining), but I did have a request: Don't make it too long that my son forgets about me. I know she needs her family, she needs the moral and actual support that her sister and mother and aunt and cousin and whatever will give, in addition, this will be the first time some of them will be seeing the baby. In fact, nobody in my family other than my mother has seen him, and he's so cute that he deserves to be smooched by all the old ladies on both sides! But give me a break, I want to be there when he's walking for the first time, OK?

Her reasoning is that "since I'm not giving her any support or help with the baby," staying there will give her a chance to study for her exams. These are the same exams she's supposedly studying since we got married 2 and 1/2 years ago. The same ones for which I paid $5K for books and courses... I know they're quite difficult, and I'm not pushing her so that she doesn't get stressed (which, as you can imagine, is retold by her as "I don't give her any push, so she doesn't get the encouragement to study.") If she can pass her exams, a very lucrative job is a reality.

So that's what I say: "If you want to stay for 3 months or more, you need to commit to studying for your tests." She doesn't commit, but we still start planning the trip. How about from mid-November to mid-January? I can take time off from work and be there for Christmas and the new year. Hey, I have an idea: why don't we have my mother come back with you and stay with us for a while, so that you can get help on the way back, and since I know that you won't be staying with her when you're over there, she'll get a chance to be with the baby here. She would love that, plus, I promised her that "we would celebrate the baby's first birthday together."

Oh no, that starts it up, doesn't it? Here are some instances of what I'm being told:
  • "If your mother was so valuable, why didn't you ask her to visit when you were married to your first wife?" (But I did darling, in fact she came over and stayed for 3 months. OK, it wasn't right after I got married, but I was a student then and couldn't afford much. Plus, my ex-wife never brought this as an issue; they were welcome anytime I invited them. Maybe I should have invited them more? I would if I had known you would be bringing it up that much...)
  • "I don't want her to come -- I can't study when someone is around." (You mean, when there's someone at home to take care of the baby, you won't be able to study? Good reasoning there. Tell me again, why did you say you wanted to get live-in care?)
  • "Look at so-and-so: she didn't invite his mother to their house for five years -- she's only coming over now to help him take care of the baby." (Well, good for her -- what does that have to do with me?)
  • "You are a bastard -- if I knew how many brothers and sisters you had walking the streets, I would have never married you!" (OK, I'm as clueless here as you are, I don't know why this was brought up as a reason... Besides, even though my father was prodigal in this area, I don't have that many half-siblings.)
  • "If your mother is coming, so is mine! I'm not going to have my son have his first birthday without my family!" (Hey, that's a great idea... Why would I object to them visiting us anyway, they're always welcome at my house...)
  • "I'm not coming back by then -- I'm staying there for your son's birthday!" (I might have trouble making it both for new years and for the birthday, but regardless, it's not such a bad idea... The party would be better and bigger with more people that love him. My mother can still join us when you're coming back.)
But I insist that my mother join her on the way back -- and the fuse has been lit already. At this point, I need to clarify that her mother and cousin came to visit us just about two-three months ago, as we were moving into our new house here. I wasn't asked, they just came because she asked them, but I was grateful... I can't emphasize enough how useful it is to have someone else at home helping with the baby.

I think I have a right to invite my own mother to my own freaking house, so that she can see my son and my son can see her grandmother, wouldn't you agree? After all, what right does she have to tell me that my mother is not welcome in my house?

So this whole argument escalates... She opens the bottle of wine on the counter and starts drinking. This is on purpose -- she's trying to show me that she is pissed off. She knows that I know how sometimes drinking even a glass or two of wine makes her lose it, and pushes her on the deep end -- many past fights involved her throwing things at me after she got tipsy like that... She knows that she gets like this, and she hasn't drunk a glass since she got pregnant... (Ironically, we fell in love over many bottles of wine, in Paris of all places... When she didn't hate me this much, the wine was the perfect prelude for a great evening...)

There's a whole bunch of other things that she tells me, which I don't respond to, most of it revolving around my mother being a bitch and me being the son of one. She tells me angrily to take the baby and help put him to sleep. I take him upstairs to his room, and hold him and try to rock him to sleep... He's not an easy sleeper -- he has gotten addicted to mommy nursing him to sleep, and refuses. She comes into the room and gets the baby away from me, this time calling me a "Murderer! You didn't want your child!"

Ouch -- this I wasn't expecting and it hurts. She calls me that, because she got pregnant right after our wedding, and I told her that this was too soon. She had to go back to MyLand a week after our wedding so she could finish off her school, tie her loose ends, and join me here in the U.S. She would need to be there for 3-4 months before coming back to that we could build a home here. But the first week she gets back, she tests positive for pregnancy.

She's ecstatic about this, me, not so much... This is my second marriage, I don't know how things will go. I feel that there are so many things we haven't done together yet; I always dreamed that we would travel around together, sample many more wines, enjoy ourselves while we're independent and then decide on a family when we're both ready. My reluctance is obvious, and not welcome at all. I tell her that she's making a mistake, that I'm not ready emotionally and financially, that she can get an abortion - it's not even a week for God's sake... I tell her that she has no idea what being a parent is like, she will have to give up her dreams to be a mother, that we made a mistake by not being too careful but it can be fixed. She won't be convinced, and she starts hating me for this. After attempting to convince her with all my might, I admit failure finally at week 7, and start preparing to become a father. In fact, our mothers find out about the pregnancy during a visit to her work, and they are joyous! They celebrate it all together, and playfully act angry with us for not telling them. I start telling people at work that my wife is expecting, and accepting their congratulations.

Then the embryo decides that she's not ready either (not that we knew whether it was a girl or a boy). At around week 10, my wife has a miscarriage. We're all sad, but my wife is devastated... She blames herself for continuing to work while pregnant, while I blame myself for pressuring her so much for an abortion and causing her undue stress. I'm able to use my frequent flier points to get a flight in 2-3 days and be with her for support. It helps a lot, and I promise her that she will be a mother again, when we're ready. I tell her that the next time it will be different... I truly believe in that then, but I know now that the flight should have been as soon as I found out about the pregnancy, not after the baby is lost.

Anyway, a long digression to explain why she would be calling me a murderer. I hand her the baby and say nothing, I go downstairs to turn off the TV, sit on the couch and try to read a newspaper to keep my mind away from it all. By this time I might be thinking that I had enough of this and it would be great to just take off.

Then she comes and turns the fight physical. She's still holding the baby, since he has refused to sleep while she was in the room either. She slaps the newspaper off my hands. I stay quiet and pick it up again. She jumps on my knees (which hurts me like hell, since my feet are up on the side of the baby's playard and my legs are straight) -- I kick her back in the legs in defense. She stumbles and gets angrier, then starts spraying a carpet cleaner to my face and whereever else she can reach. I try to take it off her hands and push her away to get her away from me.

She tells me to get out, get the hell away -- and I'm already making my way out. She's making a 911 call the next minute, and trying to explain where she is and what her name is and what I have done to her. I'm fed up with her, and trying to get out, away from all this drama -- she's in front of me this time, trying to prevent me from going out. I don't bother pushing her to get out, I turn back to use the garage door. I need to stay out and think this through clearly: I've had enough and I think I want a divorce.

I'm able to find a hotel and sleep it over. I spend the most of next day walking around, just trying to get a clear vision of things that happened last night. More than that, I want to know if I'm ready to have my son grow up without a father, like I did until age 6 when my mother got remarried. She's calling me non-stop, possibly to apologize, but I have my phone turned off for most of the day and don't answer her calls. I go get a haircut instead, trying to lose this nasty feeling of helplessness.

Finally, I answer her call around 5:00 and tell her that I will be home soon. We're supposed to visit another couple that have an infant daughter, they're maybe the only people we know here. Maybe she's called, made up an excuse and canceled, maybe I will tell her that I had enough and want to break this off. But as soon as I see my son, I know that it will be close to impossible to let him go. Yes, she has called our friends to cancel: "Oh, I think he's got a fever, let's have a raincheck." We both feel bad about what happened last night, and she hugs me to say she was worried sick about me. My face is still a bit long, but truly I'm happy to be home.

When we hear the knock on the door in about an hour or so, she knows immediately that the cops are back to see what's going on. I didn't have a chance to ask her what happened, whether the police came after the 911 call, and what she told to them. I open the door, and I'm arrested right then and there, but I'm still hopeful at this point: if I can just explain to them it wasn't my fault, she escalated the fight, that she was never in any danger... Hey, wake up already!!!

Misery loves company?

By all accounts, I should be a happy man. I earn above the median income, I'm healthy (though I would probably benefit from some exercise, a few minutes every day), I have a better than average looking wife, and a really wonderful 9 month old infant son. I live in my own home (well, it belongs to the bank really for another 30 years, but my name is on the title anyways) and drive a nice car.

Don't let it fool you though. Every day, when I come home from work, I don't know if I'll meet someone completely dissatisfied about every aspect of her life, or someone hell-bent on making my life miserable by blaming me for marrying her. If you ask my wife, she won't tell you that I'm the most insensitive, uncaring, selfish son-of-a-bitch in the world -- that would be wrong. See, she doesn't want anyone else to know about our reality, so those words of compassion are for me and me only.

I'll go over a lot of detail using the shroud of anonymity that the net thankfully gives me. I've often thought about writing these in a journal so that I can analyze incidents that happen, at a later time and with a clear mind. If you're reading this, maybe you will help me make sense, or share my misery with your stories...