Category Archives: Some Kind of Crazy

Dear God, Where’s Mine?

A few nights ago, I got angry at God.

It wasn’t an overly dramatic scene. At nearly 2:00 a.m., I was in my pajamas, feeling sorry for myself as I overlooked 5th Avenue from the open living room window. I clenched my fists, beat them against my thighs and muttered, low in my throat (so as to not wake my sleeping roommate):

“Why, God? Why did you give me a desire for relationship and children when it’s so clearly NOT happening?! Just take the desire away! Else, speed it up already and spare me this misery! Quit teasing me! Everyone else has a partner. WHERE’S MINE?”

I shut the window, went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Okay, it was a little dramatic. I’m almost embarrassed to admit any of this because I want to paint myself the picture of perfection; as someone who doesn’t need love, romance or a committed relationship and family to be happy or complete.

Sometimes I don’t even know if I want those things. They’re too much work. I’m tired of feeling hurt. I’m happy taking care of just myself. I enjoy sleeping in. I like not having to take anyone else’s feelings into consideration when I make a decision. Being single is great, until it’s bedtime and you’re cozying up to just a pillow.

I share this — what I regard as weakness — because I know I’m not alone in my desire for more. I’m not the only one who cries to sleep on occasion, disappointed by my own hopes and expectations; disappointed in circumstance.

But look at how awesome your life is, Leslie. You just moved into a brand new, beautiful apartment in New York. You’re in Manhattan, right by the park. You don’t even have to live in Brooklyn or Queens! And the rent is affordable!

I know. I know, I know, I know. God has been so amazingly gracious and personal with each aspect of this apartment. I wake up every single day, grateful for my home. Not having had a place to call my own for fourteen months can stir a wellspring of gratitude, but beyond that, I have always dreamed of living in New York. And here I am, in a situation and location better than I ever imagined. I will shout from the rooftops how thankful and hashtag blessed I am to have such a wonderful place to live, in my favorite city. There is no question from Whom this gift came. God is so good.

Your career is starting to bloom again! There’s an album coming out in just two months, and you get to travel and live like a rock star! Your life is so cool.

I will not argue the coolness factor of traveling with — and as — a rock star. In three weeks, I depart for Japan with The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and, almost immediately upon returning, I head west for gigs and an album release show/party with Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses. Our newest record, “BLOW”, will be released June 10th and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be featured on it. I love both bands with all my heart. If I didn’t have these creative outlets, I would be terribly miserable.

But touring isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. Life on the road can quickly become weary and lonely. Ask anyone who travels for a living: you start to crave familiarity and the comforts of home after only a little while. It is difficult to make friends and plant roots in a new city when you’re always flying away. Once you’re on the road, you start to fantasize about washing machines, your favorite coffee mug and that one, special pillow that helps you sleep better than any other. Oh, yeah. The one you’re used to cozying up to every night.

It sounds like you’re just in another holding pattern. Look at how far you’ve come! Live your life and stop complaining.

You’re absolutely right, Voice-Inside-My-Head-Telling-Me-to-Shut-Up. But please explain to me why I burst into tears when I saw not one, but two fathers carrying their babies in slings at the park yesterday. Explain why I want to vomit when I see happy couples snuggling together; playing kissy face and ignoring the rest of the planet because they seem to be the only ones on it.

I remember those kissy-face days. I experienced some very recently. And they faded almost as quickly as they appeared.

Dear God, WHERE’S MINE?

You’re just hormonal.

Why, yes. Yes, I am. Here’s hormonal for you: I am thirty-six years old. My body is screaming for sex and babies. I can’t help it. God made me this way and I’m not very happy about it. I’m doing my best to control my urges. No sex? Add more cream cheese to my bagel, please. Cute baby? Replace her sweet face with that of a kitten. I think there’s an app for that.

*****

I plopped myself down in the pew at church on Sunday, hoping Dr. Timothy Keller would cheer me up with some very heady philosophy. My grumpy, gimme-gimme attitude needed fixing.

But Dr. Keller wasn’t preaching. A young Reverend spoke in his stead.

Ooh, he’s cute, I thought. Within seconds, I noticed a very large, gleaming gold ring on his left hand.

Okay. Next. Wait a minute! Don’t scan the crowd for single men, Leslie. Don’t scan the crowd for…

Too late. It’s just what single people do. We scan crowds. Especially church crowds. We will have sized you up by the clothing or nakedness of your left hand in a millisecond.

“Worship,” said the Reverend, “is a universal necessity to place our deepest hope in something. We expect and hope, in the end, this thing will save us. “

I started to take notes, and ended up writing one word over again: Idolatry.

The Reverend continued. “We can formally worship God, but still be giving our lives over to some other idol. We are convinced God is the best bet for us getting what we want,” he said.

Without being prompted, I immediately confessed my idols in writing.

Relationship. Love. Career. Money. Relevance. Success.

UGH.

The Reverend kept speaking. “Have you ever thought, ‘If only I had this one thing, my life will be meaningful’? And then you actually get that thing, and it’s powerless. It turns to dust. None of this sets you free.”

DAMMIT, I wrote and doubled-underlined in my notes. SO TRUE.

*****

I’m sure God forgives my cursing in church. What is more, I am sure He forgives me for idolizing anything other than Him and touting good behavior to get what I want. I really want to stop doing that.

God does not owe me anything just because I overcame tragedy five years ago. On the contrary, He is the reason I came out the other side, not completely fucked up. He is the reason I have joy in my life. God never promised me some fairytale ending. He doesn’t guarantee a tall, dark and handsome man to love and adore me, give me beautiful babies, then play Mr. Mom to them in Central Park while I rehearse my solo concert at Carnegie Hall.

It sure is a lovely fantasy, though.

The reality is, my Knight in Shining Armor is right before me, and He happens to be my greatest chance at love, ever. His love is unconditional. It is never fleeting. It never depends, nor wavers, upon circumstance or feeling. His love is constant, abundant and always available.

I’ll let you know if and when God answers my prayer about taking away the desire for relationship and children. My guess is He probably won’t, since it’s what makes me human. And, even if I do find myself a partner who eventually gives me babies, I doubt any of us will be surprised when I start complaining about parenting.

Until then, I must repeat the truth to myself. Life doesn’t always turn out how we want. I cannot miss out on what is good, right now, just because I long for more. I must stop whining about what I don’t have, because what I do have is far better than I ever imagined.

“Dear God,
Where’s mine?”

I’m right here.

 

Bigamy and Contempt (X and Sister Wife)

Against my better judgment, I immediately returned Sister Wife’s email.

I mean, come on.  I couldn’t let that one go.

I appreciate you trying to stick up for your man.  It’s so sweet.
I am sorry that your marriage to him is not legal.

See you in court.

She did not reply, but I knew she’d be back.

Anger, sadness, rage, hurt and adrenaline rushed through my body.  Still, I laughed and laughed with my co-worker, Shelley, who was on the edge of her seat during the entire email exchange.  (Sometimes tax preparation can get a bit dull.)

I finished the workday without incident and drove home.  I felt unsettled.  I picked up my journal and added to the previous day’s entry.

Oh, Lord, I have really got to focus on You.  How unfaithful I am!  In the midst of extenuating circumstances I cling to You, but when things seemingly “ease up”, I venture out on my own, inevitably failing and acting/looking like a fool.  Forgive me.

X is still an ass.  Granted, I emailed him immediately and egged him on, and he told me to fuck off.  So rude.  I can’t believe I was married to him.  I really, honestly can’t.  It is painful to think of all the years I wasted with him.

And I am still alone.  I was alone then, and I am alone now.

I am trying to digest the email from Sister Wife today.  It was just very disheartening and childish.  I confess my anger and sadness.  Lord, have mercy.  Please let X and Sister Wife find You, for they need You.  We all need You.

X has hurt me enough.  I am exhausted and I do not want to spend money on another lawyer.  Lord, would it just be done?  Please?

Could the good things come?  Will they?  Will I ever move forward, beyond the angst of the divorce; the pain of rejection and human loneliness?

I have come so far.  I want to KEEP GOING.  Help!

I still believe You have good things in store for me.  I believe it, despite myself.  Lord, help me to forgive X someday.  I want to not be angry with him.

But anger is still prevalent.  He hasn’t changed, nor will he.  I want his money and I want to never think of him again.  He still hurts me.

I just want to be loved.

I closed my journal, shut my eyes and allowed the tears to flow.  I had to gear myself up for yet another battle.  As much as I didn’t want to let Sister Wife affect me, her venomous words cut deep.

How dare she? 

Who was she, anyway?  Some 39-year old divorced career woman with a kid, who bore a frighteningly striking resemblance to my ex-mother-in-law?

WHO CARED????!!!

Why was X letting her speak for him, anyway?  She had nothing to do with our relationship, even as broken as it was.  If anything, she would benefit from the fact that her marriage to him was/is illegal, because, if they end up divorced, she won’t have to pay him a red cent.

Me asking for the last part of the retirement wasn’t any sort of personal vendetta, or attempt to woo my ex husband back into my arms.  Simply put, it was my entitled share to our Community Property.  Most property acquired during a marriage is owned jointly by both spouses.  In California, it is divided 50/50 upon divorce, annulment or death.

So, it really didn’t matter if I had or hadn’t “earned” my share.  It was just the LAW.

Hmm.  Guess X and Sister Wife didn’t pay much attention to the law, anyway.

I placed a call to the lawyer whom I had initially hired to help me with the divorce paperwork.  I left a message.

“Hi, there!  It’s Leslie Spencer.  Hey, I was wondering if you could help me with a contempt case…?  My ex-husband is refusing to pay me.  It’s been months.  Ohhh, yeah, and he got married before we were divorced… so, um, yeah, I wanted to talk to you about that…”

I released the phone from my ear for a moment and let out a belly laugh. I gasped for air and tried to maintain my composure as I returned to the phone.

“So, what does one do with a case of bigamy and contempt on her hands?”

Bada$$ Motherf@*ker

The only thing left unresolved in the divorce was my share of my ex-husband’s retirement.  He had agreed to cash it out.  I knew it would be easier on both of us if he did so.  For me, it meant less paperwork in the “do it yourself” divorce.  I surmised that, for him, it represented quick, fast cash. Most of all, I didn’t want anything more binding me to him.

Being made an involuntary sister wife was enough.

I had patiently been waiting for him to follow through with his agreement.  The last I had heard about the status of the cash-out was that it would be available in December, 2010.

It was now April, 2011.

Suddenly, I wanted the money. I was legally entitled to it.  Deep down, I knew it would be another battle, but I was willing to fight – just once again – for what I wanted.  I was tired of being nice.

I emailed him, asking what was going on.  He responded, and wondered why I was after his money.  It had nothing to do with me.  I had done absolutely nothing to earn it, even theoretically.

I was furious.  I was not going to be made to look like a greedy ex-wife.  At best, I would come away with $10,000.00.

It’s standard in a divorce, I replied. That is all. Nothing personal. I’m not interested in you or your life.

He told me I’d get the money.  He was just having trouble with one account.

I’d just like to see the checks in the mail, I wrote back, trying (unsuccessfully) to conceal my heightened emotion.

I hardly believe that accounting departments are dragging this out. This divorce could have been over MONTHS and MONTHS ago had it not been for, well, your laziness.  Please give me a weekly update on the progress of it all. Please mail me a copy of the letter. I am tired of asking, but I will keep doing it.  Just get it done. Finish it. Hallelujah, free at LAST!!!!!!

He responded, telling me that we were, actually, divorced.  He had gotten the papers in the mail.

I know!!!!! It’s the most amazing thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Too bad you got married four months too early. High fives to the sister wives!!!!!

He did not respond further.  I half-hoped that he had laughed at my sarcasm, too.  (I mean, COME ON.  How much more ridiculous could this circus get?)

A week later, I got word that he would be mailing my half of the proceeds.

To my surprise, I did receive the check in the mail.  He even included the balances on the accounts.  I was elated; overjoyed.  I kindly thanked him.  It was finally over.  I couldn’t believe it, really, so I double-checked the paperwork.  Sure enough, there was one account missing.  Two, actually — but one barely held $1,000.00.  I decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

Still, my heart sank.  A couple thousand dollars more was at stake.  I needed that money.  I most definitely had earned it, even theoretically.

Adrenaline and anger overtook me.  I had a little bit of downtime at work, so I decided to engage the “enemy” again. We re-assumed our battle stations, and shelled out piercing, quick dialogue.

Spoke with a woman from (your retirement company) today, I wrote, calmly.  There isn’t a good reason why the (last) account is taking so long.  Please get on it.  It is — again — beyond time for this to be done.  Make it happen.  I know you can.  I would appreciate it if you would please acknowledge that you received (this) email.

He had gotten it.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?  So, are you working on it?

He asked me to not talk to him that way.  He had just sent me a check for a lot of money, and, yes, he was on it.

Look, I just want this to be over with.  As I have said before, I want you out of my life.  You have dragged every single possible part of this divorce out as long as you possibly could.  It doesn’t take six months to cash out a retirement.
I don’t trust you, I don’t believe you, and I certainly do not respect you.  Just follow through to your end of the agreement like a man.  Thanks so much.
(Or, as some would say, “Money talks, and bullshit walks.”)

And then, he basically told me to, well, fuck off.

Brilliant response.
But, no, I will not “fuck off”.  This is a binding, legal document, which you are obligated to fulfill. If you’d like to not keep hearing from me I can hire a lawyer to ride your ass, but then that will cost you more money in the long run.  Your choice.

No need to get pissy.  Just get the money.  End of story.  End of a long, long story.

***
I finished typing the last sentence, quite proud of the Spinal Tap reference, my attempt to appeal to his emotions, and my ability to hold back at least some anger.
Moments later, I saw a new email pop up in the conversation thread.
I was shocked at what followed.
It was an email from Sister Wife.  She told me I hadn’t earned or deserved X’s money, and was disappointed that he had sent any to me at all.  It was of her opinion that I needed to get a job and fuck off.  I was the only thing standing in the way of closure.  She defended her “husband’s” character traits and informed me that I had failed at my my shot with him.
I was not allowed to contact him ever again. If I did, I’d have to deal with her, and she claimed she was one badass motherfucker.

Jail, Part One

March.

My tax job was, well, taxing.  It was a good distraction, however.  I was on a regular schedule.  Six days a week, I woke up, ate breakfast, went to the gym, went to work, came home, and checked the LA Superior Court’s website, hoping for my divorce to be finalized.

Every day, the status read: PENDING.

Pending.  The next chapter of my life was pending.

I tried to forget about my sister wife, and my husband’s failure to follow through with the divorce settlement.  I was tired.  I needed rest.  Yet, even rest seemed to be pending.

One Thursday evening after work, I drove to my girlfriend’s house in Hollywood.  Several of us were getting together to enjoy some wine, hors d’oeuvres and girl talk. I was so stressed out with work and my “pending” marital status that I didn’t really realize how desperately I needed to relax and socialize.  It was a lovely evening.  We laughed, talked, drank wine and enjoyed each other’s company.  Around midnight, the “party” wound down and we all headed home.

As I drove back to Pasadena, I was overcome with thankfulness for my friends.  I impulsively reached for my phone to send a quick text of thanks and love to one of the girls.

That was mistake number two.

I had just made the transition from the 101 to the 110 freeway when I saw the red and blue lights in my rear view mirror.  My immediate reaction was one of indignance, and then the slow, sinking realization hit me.

Oh, shit, I’ve been drinking.

“Lord?”  I spoke aloud, as I carefully pulled off the freeway.

I’m not drunk.  I’ll be fine.  I should NOT have been texting!  Stupid!!  Still, I racked my brain, trying to remember how much wine I had drunk – also, how much I had had to eat that day.

I rolled down my window to greet the fresh-faced CHP officer.  He was cute.

“Have you been drinking tonight?” he asked, after the formal introduction was made.  He shined his small flashlight directly into my eyes.  The combination of the red, white and blue lights hurt.  I blinked, and tried to adjust to the brightness all around me.

I smiled, and decided to be honest. I can’t be anything other than honest.

“I had some wine, yes,” I admitted.  Mistake number three.

The 20-something CHP officer immediately asked me for my license and registration.  I nervously fumbled around and presented them both, but the officer wasn’t satisfied.  He asked me to step out of the car.

Oh, come on.  

I went through the motions of the field sobriety test.  I was happy to cooperate, because I had never been in trouble.  In fact, I had only received a few tickets in my driving career, fought every one of them, and won. I wanted to get through the damn thing as fast as I could.  I was tired.  All I wanted to do was go home and get into bed.

I was asked to hold my head back and balance on one leg.  I did it in 3” heels.  I was also asked to close my eyes, count aloud and estimate 30 seconds.  I did it in exactly 30 seconds.

Still, the officer motioned to his younger, blonder partner, who approached me with a Breathalyzer.  Was this really happening?  Surely I wasn’t drunk.  I felt fine.  I would never get behind the wheel if I had had too much to drink.  Furthermore, I was doing so well on my tests!  I was actually quite proud of myself.  Those tests can be hard to pass even without alcohol involved.

I smiled and blew into the machine, confident that I would pass this one last test.  I longed for my comfy bed.

The officer looked at the result.

“Okay, Spencer, I’m going to ask you to turn around and place your hands behind your back,” he commanded.

What is THIS test?

I shrugged and obeyed, and immediately felt the cold metal snap around my wrists.  My heart sank.

Great job, Les.  You’re going to jail.  Way to go.  Way to fuck your life up.  Awesome.

My thoughts ran wild as I stood, handcuffed, on that sidewalk in Chinatown.  It was almost 1:00 a.m.  I watched as the officers searched my car.  They rifled through sheets of music, empty water bottles and dirty gym clothing.  My body remained calm but my thoughts ran wild as they escorted me to the back of their black and white vehicle.  As we pulled away from the curb, I immediately passed harsh judgment against myself.

Oh, my god, I’m that person.  I’m a drunk driver. Oh, my god, oh, my god, oh, my…I AM SUCH A BADASS.

No!  Wait!  You’re not a badass!  This is stupid!  You’re drunk!  You’re NOT drunk!  This isn’t happening!  But of course it’s happening. Why are you at all surprised? Your life is such a fucking disaster, and now look what you’ve gotten yourself into.  Stupid choice.

You got what you deserved, you idiot. 

Never in my life would I have imagined that I’d be arrested for anything.  Yet, there I was, sitting handcuffed, in the back of a cop car, heading to jail, for driving under the influence.

I remained silent as the two officers handled me — a criminal.  They explained that my car would be towed, and that I could get it the next day.  They also explained to me that I’d be held in jail for at least eight hours, until I sobered up.

I’M NOT DRUNK!  I wanted to scream.

But I WAS.  I was legally drunk, and so ashamed.

According to the law, you’re a drunk driver if your blood alcohol level is .08.  I would later find out that mine was at .10.

My wrists started to chafe and bruise from the pressure of the metal handcuffs, but I silently endured the pain.  I exchanged somber yet witty banter with the CHP officers as they drove me to their field office to administer a second test on the bigger, more efficient breathalyzer.

All this time, I hadn’t shed a tear. I was strong.  I was a big girl.  I was responsible.  I wasn’t going to cry.

I sat on a plastic chair in the CHP field office, shifting my hands uncomfortably behind me, trying to alleviate some of the agonizing pain.  My wrists would remain deeply bruised for days.

“Ma’am, do you have someone who you can call?  Your spouse? “ My arresting officer asked monotonously, as he filled out some paperwork.

I fiercely fixed my eyes upon his.

“Not anymore,” I answered, and then averted my gaze.

Suddenly, to my surprise, I burst into massive, yet silent tears.  Shame, fear and embarrassment overcame me.

I am a criminal.

“I’m sorry,” I managed, as snot and tears streamed down my face. I wasn’t able to use my hands, so I raised my shoulder to my nose to sop up the fluid.

“This…is just…hard for me.  I made such a stupid choice.”

The officer — clearly ten years younger than me – looked at me knowingly.  “You’ll be all right,” he offered.  “This kind of thing happens to good people, too.”

But I’m not good.  I’m broken.  So broken.

And then they took me to jail.

Upon arrival, I was released out of the handcuffs, booked, and stripped of my personal belongings.  The last item taken was the string used to tighten the hood of my cozy, fur-lined sweater.

“What, do you really think I’m going to hang myself?!” I joked with the booking officer.  She glared at me, clearly not amused.

For a moment, I forgot that I was a prisoner, and not her equal.  I wasn’t ordering a hamburger or buying stamps at the post office – I was checking into JAIL.  My sense of humor was not appreciated.

The TV behind her blared loudly and her co-worker sipped black coffee out of a small, stained, Styrofoam cup.

“Oh.  I guess so.  Well, here you go!”  I gave it to her, cheerfully.

“Don’t worry.  You’ll get it back,” she retorted, dryly.  She then twisted her full lips and shook her head.

My arresting officer gently touched my elbow.  He had been standing there the whole time.  I realized I had started to become attached to the man.

“We’re almost done here, Spencer. I need to ask you a few questions first, though, okay? They might seem a little weird, but just go with it…”  He was almost apologetic.

“Okayyyyy,” I responded, and tried to exercise my cheerfulness once again.  I mean, if you’re going to spend the night in jail, you might as well have a good attitude about it, right?

The officer cleared his throat, and poised his pen above a sheet of paper.

“Do you have Hepatitis, VD or Chlamydia?”

I burst out laughing.

“Uhhmmm, NO.  Should I be worried about contracting that here, though?”

Wait — where am I, anyway?  I had no idea where I was, or how I was going to get home.  I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

He shot me a sly smile.  I was secretly glad he appreciated my sarcasm.

“Have you ever had TB?”

“No.”

“Do you have any special medical problems that we should know about?”

I snorted.

“I really hope not.”  Wakka, wakka!

“Are you pregnant?”

!(#(%)#%)@(%@)%@%!!!!!

“Hell to the no, and I don’t have any baby daddy prospects, either.  Thanks so much for reminding me of my plight.”

He half-laughed, signed his name to a pink slip of paper, which he then handed to me.

So not cool.

“Okay, Spencer, follow me.”

I obeyed.

He led me to a small, concrete room with a large, heavy door at the end of the corridor.  It held a cold, hard bench, a gleaming steel toilet and an observation camera in the corner of the ceiling.  An obsolete payphone barely hung onto the wall, and chunks of black hair littered the floor.  One other woman occupied the cell.  She jumped up, eyes blazing, as the guard opened up the door to deposit me inside.

I clutched the pink paper – my Prisoner’s Receipt — as they shut and locked the door behind me.

Over the next several hours, I would hit rock bottom, and that bottom would continue to give way.

Christians Aren’t Supposed to Take Each Other to Court

The second week in January, I moved into an apartment in Old Town Pasadena.  I had found a place on padmapper.com that advertised a “take over” of the remaining four months of a year lease.  I didn’t necessarily want to continue living in Pasadena, but I gave it a shot.  I met the girl who lived in the apartment.  She was a singer, moving to New York.  I tried to contain my jealousy. I fell in love with the wood floors, the price of the place, and view of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains from the window.

It all happened so quickly.  I knew I couldn’t live with Curt and Kathy forever, and I was antsy to have a place of my own.

The tiny studio was perfect for me.

At the same time, I felt terrible leaving Curt and Kathy.  Curt had lost both of his parents in a matter of three months, and a week after I moved out, their beloved dog, Max, died.  It was a difficult season for the Gibsons, and I felt as if I had abandoned them during their heightened time of need.

What kind of friend was I?!

I started to panic and wonder if I had made the right decision.

Jesus, I cried out, I need You.  I need You, need You, need You.  I need Your help, Your Peace.  I am so scared; scared (that) I am doing the wrong thing, or that I am out of Your plan.  But how could that possibly be?  You will take care of me. I just don’t want to be wasteful…I do not want to make mistakes.  I am…weak!  I need work.  I am settling in – I am so thankful, so grateful and blessed.  Will it go away? I’m re-building my life. Starting over.  Building again; beginning anew.

Almost immediately, I got a job.  I found work in a tax office, for the season.  I would work six days a week until April 18th.  It was daunting at first, but I knew I needed the money to pay for my newfound bills and rent.  I also needed the distraction.

I found myself praying a lot.  This time, I prayed for other people other than myself.  It felt good and necessary.  My neighbor, Boo, unexpectedly lost her beautiful, sweet two-year daughter, Emileigh.  Eme was born with a tendency towards seizures, but had been getting better.  And then, like that, she was gone.  The autopsy provided no explanation, and we were all left feeling robbed; empty.

I know how to put into words my feelings of pain and loss regarding my marriage.  It is like a death, but I cannot imagine the unspeakable pain of losing a child.  I attended the open-casket funeral and it was almost too much to bear.  I gazed upon Eme’s tiny, lifeless frame, and wondered why God allows such things to happen.  I think we all do.  I wanted to scream and shout to the entire congregation that there was, indeed, hope amidst the sorrow; the unexplained shredding of one’s soul.  Yet, I felt helpless.  All I could do was pray.

Oh, Lord, little Emileigh is with You now.  Such tragedy.  God, I lift up Deana (grandmother) and Boo, Cathy (aunt) and Barbara (neighbor) – the whole family.  Oh, that baby.  And High (father).  He loved his little girl so much.  Oh, Lord, would they cling to You; You, the EVER-PRESENT HELP in time of trouble. 

I don’t know much, but I do know this: God is good, all the time.

In the midst of everything, I started battling once again with my bigamist husband.

He wrote to me and told me that the retirement company had sent the wrong paperwork to the wrong address.  He would be out of town, and would get to it as soon as he could.  He added that I would get every penny of my share of the accounts.

I was over it.  Sick of his shit.

Wrong paper to the wrong address, I thought.  LYING PIECE OF SHIT MOTHERFUCKING LAZY ASS SON OF A SUGARMOMMA BITCH!!!!

I calmly emailed back.

I stand firm to my word.  You have had ample time to get it together.  I will file contempt of court, I typed, bitterly.

We exchanged emails back and forth, arguing about the time frame of the money that was due. Amongst my few menial requests in our do-it-yourself divorce, he had agreed to cash out his retirement funds, and send me a check by December.   I trusted that he would follow through with the agreement.

I was wrong, once again, to trust my husband.

He asked for more time, and I refused.  I wanted the money, yes, but more than that, I wanted the entire saga – ordeal – marriage – pain – everything that was associated with him – to be OVER.

I suddenly realized that I did, indeed, have a huge battle on my hands.  I also realized that I had the upper hand.  As much as I didn’t want to believe it, my husband was already married.  He was a BIGAMIST.  They make TV shows about people like him.  For crying out loud, we used to watch them together.

I didn’t want to have to go back to court, but if so, I was ready to go in, guns blazing.

I needed evidence of his stupidity.  My good college friend, Michelle, was a journalist who had worked as a reporter, anchor and professor.  She was able to easily obtain my husband and sister wife’s marriage license from the state of Nevada, and mailed it to me.

I threw it in my husband’s face.

You’ve had enough time. I’m quite sure you can figure something out.  I have in my possession a certain document from Nevada that will not help your “story” in court.

He obviously didn’t understand that I was talking about his new marriage.  He suggested that perhaps he add me to the account and I could cash out when I was of retirement age.

Unfortunately, I angrily responded, you agreed to cashing out the retirement in the divorce settlement. So, unfortunately for you, you have to follow through with your agreement, which is a legal court document. Might I also remind you that you are not yet divorced from me, which makes you a bigamist and a felon, but, then again, you probably already knew that.  I’m tired of this conversation. Send the check.

He said he would send it as soon as he had it.  He trusted that I would find it in my heart to give him time.

February 3rd. I trust that you will get it done.

He told me he wouldn’t have it by February 3rd, and was asking for a break.  He added that he wasn’t asking for any of my retirement, and then got upset that he had to beg me for understanding.  The conversation was killing him.

Not buying it.  Send the check.  If I do not receive a check in the mail by February 3, I will file contempt of court.  It is that simple.

He was tired of appealing to me, and, again, told me that I would have every bit of cash that was due me.  He then reminded me that he took all the credit card debt (a majority of which I had accused him of accumulating with his lover).  He reminded me that I had taken the car.  (Yes, I had taken the car. It was mine.  The paperwork was in my name, and mine alone.  I financed it, I was paying for it, and I drove it.)  He hadn’t asked for any of my retirement, and just wanted time to receive the checks.  He even offered to drive up and meet me to give me the cash.

I was having none of it.

You’re in for more than contempt, remember?  Bigamy is a felony.

He pleaded with me.

It’s all about choices.  You had an opportunity to make good ones.  Oopie.  I’m not interested in excuses. See you in court.

He said he was telling the truth, had no excuses, and pleaded with me to do it right.

We have differing opinions of what is right.

The truth is that you have violated the law. Willingly, even after knowing you weren’t divorced on 12/22/10.

Fool.

You can plead with the judge. I’m tired of your stories.  SEE YOU IN COURT.

And then, he tried to appeal to me as someone who “used” to love him.  He pleaded with to me as a fellow Christian.

I couldn’t BELIEVE that he was appealing to me “as a fellow Christian”.  It was abhorrent.  It made me sick.  I wanted to scream and throw things and rip his eyes out all over again.  He made me so angry.  His lame attempts at trying to appeal to my emotions didn’t work anymore.  He didn’t even respect me enough to capitalize my first name.  How dare he try to appeal to my love for him?

No, I do not love him, I wrote, later that evening.  He got that right.  It hurts too much to  love someone like that.  All the while, I feel like I’m NOT being a Christian if I deal with him.  At the same time, I AM NOT TAKING ANY MORE FROM HIM.  His abuse is over.  It’s not about the stupid money, which I know he has.  I’ve already wasted energy being upset.

I need help forgiving him.  It’s all still very real, raw and painful.  I worked so hard to try to save the marriage because I thought it was right.  He just doesn’t care.  He doesn’t do anything with integrity or concern for others. Lord, I know it is not my place to judge him.  Please help me release my anger.  I give it to You.  I pray he will come through with the funds from the retirement.

I’m still so hurt by him.  The very thought of a life with him makes me so angry, like it was all a lie.

The war continued two days later.  I shot the first cannon.

You skipped a court-ordered hearing on August 23, 2010, I wrote.

In the divorce settlement filed October 8, 2010, you agreed to cash out your retirement, and said that you’d have a check to me in December, 2010.  It is now February, 2011.

On October 28, 2010, you received a check for… half of your share in the sale of (our house).

You got re-married in November of 2010, without actually having been legally divorced, which makes you in violation of California Penal Code section 281.

I do not believe your stories about not having any money, especially considering the very recent transaction of the sale of our home, and also considering the person to whom you are, at present, illegally married.

You have been given more than ample time and grace to follow through with your divorce agreement.  Clearly, your (in)actions – as always – have spoken louder than your words.

He told me he had put his share of our house’s profit towards another.

See you in court.

He pleaded, once more.  He offered that had no right to quote the Bible at me, but I knew, in my heart, that this whole thing was wrong.  I should know that Christians aren’t supposed to take each other to court.  He promised to pay me and he would.  He needed more time.  It had shattered his heart to have to beg me for more time.  He would have extended me grace, if I were the one begging him for more time.  He offered that he was trying to do good in the sight of the Lord, and would never turn a deaf ear to someone who was asking for more time.  I should know these things.

I couldn’t take any more.  I wanted him to be locked up. I wanted him to be put away, forever.

Little did I know that I’d be the one to end up in jail.

Sister Wife

Christmas.

I was alone in Curt and Kathy’s luxurious mountain retreat-like home, while they were away in Colorado.  Jeff and Jenny invited me to spend Christmas morning with them and their adorable son.  Almost as soon as I arrived, they showered me with bountiful, thoughtful gifts.  I felt so loved.

I have amazing friends.

A couple of days later, my mother showed up at the front door, just passing through after visiting my grandmother.  I explained to her how my court hearing had gone, and vented about how frustrated I was that my husband was engaged to some random woman.

“Leslie, he’s already married,” my mother revealed.

W H A A A A A . . . ?!?!?!

I was so shocked that I couldn’t even exercise my potty mouth.

How does she know?! 

Since I had stopped researching my husband, his adventures and stories on the internet, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that his wedding picture was plastered on a website.  My husband had even twatted about his nuptials.  (Oh, pardon me: “tweeted”.)

My mother had a history of tracking my husband’s every move.  I had to firmly tell her to stop sending me information about him.  It was too painful, and detrimental to my healing process.

After my mother left, I sat alone in the kitchen, fingers poised above the keyboard.  I made a decision, and shakily typed in my husband’s — and his wife’s — name.

I took a deep breath.

There they stood, in a small Vegas chapel, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. Vomit.  I was immediately shocked at how much the new wife closely resembled my mother-in-law: blonde hair, extremely frail frame, strong jaw.  My husband was clothed in same expensive-looking suit that he wore to our divorce hearing.  I felt embarrassed for him.

He married his mother. 

I read the small article and subsequent congratulations that accompanied the picture.  The headline?  MERGER.

They were married on Saturday, November 20th “in front of family, friends, and business associates.”   The article referenced both of their “tweets” about their wedding.

His:
Life. Is. Perfect. . . Or saturday night it will be.

Hers:
The first day of the rest of my life was beyond perfect. So much love and the most beautiful friends and family..thank you [husband] . . Everyone who attended thank you for making the room glow with Love. Here’s to doing next level shit.

“Next level shit”?  Uhhhh, I think bigamy takes things to a whole new level, for sure.

Shit.

OH, GOD.  I HAVE A SISTER WIFE, I realized, and immediately called Andrea and Joy to tell them the news.  Andrea rushed right over.

Oddly enough, we couldn’t stop laughing.  It was just the most bizarre thing, ever.  How does one process that information?  It’s one thing to discover your spouse’s infidelity, or to hear that they are dating someone while you are separated.

My husband got married without making sure he was divorced.

WHO DOES THAT?!?!??!!!?!?!?!??!!?!?!?!!?

I tried to rationalize like a dude.  Wouldn’t he want to play the field a bit?  He was free to sleep with whomever he wanted, no strings attached.  He was finally free to discover himself.

He was free to do whatever he wanted, except ONE thing.

As the information and reality sank in even deeper, I started to experience a vast array of emotions: anger; hurt; confusion; rage; frustration; embarrassment; further betrayal; relief.  I was livid with my mother for dropping that bomb on me.  At the same time, I figured it was best that I knew.  On the other hand, what was I going to do about it?  It would have been better to know a week earlier, so that I could have tattled to the judge.

No wonder he looked so nervous in court.  He is a BIGAMIST!  HE COULD HAVE GONE TO JAIL!!! 

My mind drifted to my sister wife.  For some reason I had no immediate ill will towards her.  I actually felt sorry for her.  She was even more clueless than my husband, and she was supposed to be some hot-shot, savvy businesswoman.  It was obvious that he was marrying her for her money.  He needed someone to take care of him.  I had quit that job.

I then started to feel like my entire marriage really, truly was a lie.  The institution of holy matrimony had been bastardized and shat upon by an ordinary cheater-turned-bigamist, who sported meaningless tattoos.

It was all a show.

He doesn’t know who he is. 

But I knew who I was.  Or at least who I was supposed to be.  I had always known.  I felt like I had been rescued from the circus freak show just in time.  This discovery was a huge turning point in me finally letting go of the boy I once loved.

The New Year dawned.  The only thing left unsettled in our divorce (besides the new, illegal marriage) was the money that my husband had agreed to split with me.  I knew he had it, and I wanted it.  

For months you have been telling me I would have the retirement funds in December 2010.  It is now January 2011, I wrote, calmly.

Please provide an accurate statement of all funds in all accounts, along with a check for my half in thirty days or I will file for contempt of court.  If you do not comply, this will result in your arraignment and additional hearing(s).  You are required by law to meet the terms of the divorce agreement or face costly sanctions.

He responded immediately, and balked at my tone of voice.  It was as if we never knew each other.

You have thirty days.  And, no, I don’t know you. At all.  Whoever you once were is a faded, distant memory.
Do not contact me for any other reason than news of our divorce settlement. I do not know you, and I certainly do not appreciate being still legally married to a bigamist.

And then, the War of the Words began.

Neck Tattoo

The day before my court hearing, I received a long-awaited package in the mail.

As soon as I saw the familiar manila envelope sitting in my post office box, my heart leapt for joy.  This was it! I was finally divorced. Christmas had come early. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

As I giddily tore open the package, I noticed something was wrong.

All of my divorce paperwork had been returned.

How could this happen? What kind of cruel joke was being played on me? Furthermore, what could possibly be wrong with the paperwork? It was supposed to be the “easiest” divorce in the history of the world. We had argued over nothing, the house was already sold. For crying out loud, the Respondent was already shacked up with someone else. I felt like I couldn’t move forward in my life without being legally divorced, so why couldn’t it just be done?

I figured out what was wrong: I had forgotten to write an address on one of the forms. Now it would take at least two more months for the paperwork to be routed back through the system.

Please join me in a repeated chorus of all your favorite expletives here!

I started to cry, right there in the post office. I had waited so long for that envelope to appear so I could finally mourn the end of my marriage to completion. I didn’t expect this anger and frustration to come bubbling up, yet I quickly talked myself out of my tears. Instead of cry and feel sorry for myself, I had to take action.

I quickly filled in the missing addresses on the stupid-ass form and drove downtown. I blazed through the courthouse, on a mission to re-file the documents. I had a court hearing the very next day, but I wanted to show the judge my earnest effort and honest mistake.

Surely he would grant the divorce in person, after realizing that I had just forgotten to write down a simple address.

I re-filed the paperwork and drove back to Pasadena. There was nothing else I could do but pray.

Oh, God, this has to be done. I am screaming inside. I want to throw up.
I trust You. I trust You.
There are no restraining orders, custody orders, nothing. Just an error. Name, address, date. SERIOUSLY?
Oh, the anticipation and subsequent disappointment…

The next day I awoke at 3:40 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up, ate breakfast, dressed in my “court clothes” and prayed.

D-Day had finally come.

Andrea accompanied me to court. We arrived at 8:30 a.m. and slowly made our way up to the 5th floor, to the room where my case would be heard. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I half-hoped my husband wouldn’t show up, but as soon as I got off the escalator and rounded the corner, I saw him.

He was standing alone, wearing an expensive-looking suit. His blonde hair was slicked back tight, away from his large forehead. He had a fresh tattoo, too: some sort of inscription that seemed to crawl up his neck.

I shuddered.

He has a neck tattoo. He’s wearing a suit. He’s engaged to be married.

I started to feel nauseated, but pushed the feeling of weakness back down. I couldn’t look at him. I would deal with the emotions later. Right now, I had to get divorced.

I marched straight past my husband and headed towards the docket list that was posted next to the courtroom door. Andrea trailed behind me, in all her silent strength and support. I followed my finger down the list until I saw our names.  We were number 10. Next to my husband’s name was the acronym, OSC. It stood for “Order to Show Cause”.

Since he hadn’t shown up to court back in August, the judge wanted an explanation for why.

Good. I hope he gets in trouble.

As we entered the courtroom, Andrea and I took a seat in the very back, on the left: the Bride’s side. My husband sat down in the second to the last row on the right side of the courtroom. I glanced across at him. He looked nervous; almost sad.

I started spouting off court lingo with Andrea, which prompted the woman in front of us to turn around and ask a question. She, too, was battling through a divorce. That day’s particular hearing was for custody of her son. As we chatted, we quickly discovered we had gone to the same college. I gave her a high-five (“Go, Eagles!”) and we joked a bit about contributing to the sad, staggering statistic of divorce. We were all members of the same club now. She had the same, knowing look in her eyes — one of deep pain and lingering injustice. Yet, she pressed on. Andrea and I encouraged her and it seemed to help her relax. She thanked us for the glimmer of hope and cheer in that otherwise dark courtroom.

The courtroom’s participants were soon called to order.  We were instructed to check in with the bailiff.  As I made my way towards the front, my husband slipped into line, directly behind me. I sensed his familiar presence, yet, something had changed.

“Hi,” he offered, casually, as he moved up in line to stand next to me.

I didn’t look at him.

“How are you?” he asked.

I threw him a sideways glance.

“I’m just fine,” I replied, shortly.

“What’s an O.S.C?” he asked.

I sighed, loudly. I was sick of doing everything; taking care of all the details.

“What does that mean?” he prompted again, more urgently.

Part of my heart went out to him. We had shared so much. I recalled, deep down in the hidden crevices of my soul, that I had loved — still loved? –  this man standing before me. We weren’t supposed to be getting divorced! We were supposed to be strengthening our marriage and cracking jokes about the fact that we were in court in the first place! He had promised me that he would be faithful. He had promised to love me until death parted us. We had so many dreams together that we were supposed to accomplish.  He was supposed to be the father of my children.  We were going to conquer the world, together.

Our love story will go down in history: It just wasn’t meant to be.

Before me stood a broken man who broke his promises. I saw him in a fleeting light: so lost, so helpless, so very unattractive with that tattoo on his neck.

I shook off any sort of compassion I felt for him in that moment.

“Listen, you’re on your own here,” I said, then turned on my heels, and went back to my seat.

The judge entered the courtroom, shuffled his papers around, adjusted his glasses, and called our names first.

It all happened in such a flash. The judge declared that our case was “relatively easy” and wanted to get to the bottom of it. He asked my husband why he hadn’t shown up in August.

“I was disoriented,” he answered. “I had just returned from Australia.”

The judge peered down from his bench, accepted his bullshit excuse and gave him a verbal warning. He even forgave the $200.00 fine for my husband’s failure to appear.

The judge then turned to me.

“I see that your paperwork was returned because it is incomplete,” he stated, as he inspected the small collection of papers in our file.

“Yes, Your Honor, “ I answered.  I quickly added, “But-it-was-only-because-I-had-forgotten-to-put-our-address-on-form-FL-190-what-a-silly-mistake-don’t-you-agree?-All-the-paperwork-is-complete-and-we-even-sold-our-house-and-agreed-on-everything…”

I raised my eyebrows and shot a knowing glance over to my husband. He nodded in agreement, even though he had no idea what was happening. It was the last moment we would ever share in that regard. He knew how to read me. He knew me deeply; intimately. He knew to not question me. He knew I was doing what was best for both of us; he knew I had taken care of it all.

The judge inspected both of us for a moment.

“I’m continuing this case to April 14th,” he ordered, as he shuffled our documents to the bottom of his pile. “I want to look through your file and see exactly what is going on here; exactly why it is incomplete.”

Nooo! I just want this to be over! I’m going to die right here in this courtroom, in five seconds.  Five…four…three…

The judge continued.

“If you receive the paperwork in the mail with my judgment form and signature before the next hearing, you will not have to come back to court.”

I can’t hear you, Your Honor. I’m dead. I just died right here. Please send someone to collect my body.

“Thank you, Your Honor,” I managed feebly, as I fought back tears.

And, like that, we were excused. Our judge had a lot of cases to get through. After all, it was the last day of the year for the LA Superior Court system. They would go on a two-week hiatus so the court and its employees could enjoy Christmas with their families.

Christmas was just three days away. And it was now ruined. The present I so desperately wanted — a finalized divorce! — was now coal in my stocking. Instead of celebrating underneath the mistletoe, I had my dragged-out divorce hanging over my head.

I bit my lip as hard as I could to keep from crying, and made my way back to Andrea and my purse. My husband was busy on his phone. As I waited for Andrea to gather her belongings, my husband tapped me on the shoulder.

“What was our court date again?” he asked, distracted by an incoming text message.

I glared at him. It was all I could do to not scratch his eyes out, kick him in the balls, or scream at the top of my lungs in that cold courtroom. Why couldn’t someone just arrest him? Why did he deserve such grace, time and time again?!

He sensed my anger.

“Come on, Les. What was the date? Just tell me!”

I looked at him briefly, then at his neck. I shook my head, placed my hand against the door and pushed it open. I left, without a word.

I had gotten a closer look at the tattoo.

It was his fiancée’s signature. And he was her problem now.

Engaged

I learned of my husband’s engagement one late November day.  I had driven to San Clemente to visit a favorite, wonderful college friend, whom I actually hadn’t seen in a couple of years.  We met for lunch in a little burger shack by the coast.  As we sipped our frosty beers, I assured my dear friend that I was doing well, and I was happy to be moving forward.

She was proud of me.

She then told me that my husband had recently breezed through her office.  She works for a magazine that pays him to write stories.  She explained that it was really difficult to see him.  All she could do was flip him off.

I laughed.  It made me feel good to know that I had such loyal friends.  After all, we had all gone to college together.  Even though she was my good friend first, she had been a part of both of our lives.  She was a bridesmaid in our wedding.  She knew of all the intricacies of our relationship from day one.

And she knew something more.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, Leslie,” she hesitated, after we had enjoyed an evening of dominating karaoke at the local sushi bar. (She is amazing, and is reigning karaoke champion!)

“But I really feel like I should…”

My heart sank.  I did not want to learn that my husband had actually been cheating on me for years, or that he was dying of an incurable STD he had contracted from one of his lovers.  I really just didn’t want to feel like more of a fool than I already was. Nevertheless, I braced myself for impact.

“What is it?!  Tell me!  JUST TELL ME,” I implored her.  I wanted to hear it and just get it over with.

My friend took a deep breath, grabbed my hand and held it tightly.

“He’s engaged.  He has been since May.”

?!?!?!?!?!?…

“Oh.”

I swirled the small bit of wine in my glass, and furrowed my brow as I allowed the information to wash over me.

“Well, that makes sense,” I said, as I looked up with a smile.  (I had gotten good at smiling through the pain.)

And it did.  Strangely enough, it made total sense – why he kept running off, why he was so eager to get rid of our house; why he didn’t put any effort into repairing or ending our marriage; why he couldn’t look me in the eye.

Then I started to do the math.

“Wait a minute.  I filed for divorce on April 2nd, without him even knowing.  He was served divorce papers on April 30th.  He was engaged in MAY?”

Motherfuckery.

And then, to my (even further) surprise, I learned that his fiancée wasn’t the Ukrainian.  She wasn’t even the Investment Banker.

She was an older woman in “the business” that had a lot of money.  It was no secret, either.  My husband had come into the magazine’s office, bragging about his engagement, the trips he was taking, the cars he was driving and how much money she had.

He was set for life.

I felt the vomit rise to the back of my throat, but swallowed it.  I then washed it down with the remainder of my glass of white wine.

“Well, they deserve each other,” was all I could manage to say.

I didn’t want him back under any circumstances.  At the same time, I was hurt, and shocked at how quickly my husband was able to move on.  Was I missing something here?

My longtime friend apologized over and over for being the one to tell me, but I profusely thanked her for being the one – and, also, for telling me in the first place.  Sure, I felt like a total idiot, and as a wave of embarrassment set in, so did the pain.  Only, this time, the pain was totally unfamiliar.  Uncharted territory.

I had spent so much time healing.  I was done being wounded.  Now it felt like someone had just shot me, point-blank in the chest, with a hollow point bullet.  I felt every ounce of agonizing pain as the bullet entered my flesh, tearing through and maximizing the damage to my already-fragmented heart.

On the drive back to Pasadena, the reality started to sink in: I had been played.  The uncontrollable sobs began again.  I hated being back in this place.  I hated crying over him.  I hated the injustice of the situation. I hated being miserable, and I really hated the thought of him being happy and in love.  How dare he?!

I just learned that X is engaged to be married.  He lives with her, was all I managed to write the next day.
It hurts, God.  I feel like a fool but I also know I am free.  Definitely free but also beat down.  I need You.  I need strength.

Ten days later, true to (laughable, insane and unpredictable) fashion, I received an email from my husband.
(My “husband”. Yes, he was still legally my husband, even though he was engaged to someone else!)  He wrote to let me know that he was still working on extracting the retirement money that he owed me.  He assured me that he would write me a check.

I was angry. I wrote back immediately, careful to not acknowledge his new relationship status.  A flurry of quick email exchanges followed, a la text messaging.

Great, you can tell the judge on December 22nd, I responded.

He replied and told me that we didn’t need to go to court.  His understanding was that our judgment would be ruled, and we didn’t need to be present in court.

Pardon me?
just don’t even know how to respond to that.  Good luck.

I was shocked.  What was happening?  Was he really this checked out?  Drugged out?  Or just plain stupid?  He couldn’t even communicate in proper English. I started to panic.  I knew we had a court date in a few weeks, and I wanted our divorce to be final more than anything.  I reasoned that if he didn’t show up – AGAIN – our case would be extended, AGAIN, and I’d continue to live in limbo.

I am convinced that limbo is much worse than actual hell.

I wrote once more, and tried to be as clear, rational and business-like as possible.  I even provided him with a link to our personal case via the Superior Court’s website.  I had been checking it religiously to see if the paperwork had been approved.  There was no reason for the divorce to not go through, but I couldn’t risk missing the December court date.  Surely the judge would grant our divorce in person, if nothing else.

We have a court hearing on December 22, 2010 at 8:30 a.m., I wrote, as calmly as I could.

The reason why we have another court date is because you failed to appear at the first hearing on August 23, 2010. 

Our divorce is not final.  If it were, we would have already received something official in the mail.  You can check the status of the divorce here.  Type in the case number.  Else, be looking for an official notice in the mail to notify you if the hearing has been canceled.  

Yes, the paperwork has been completed and submitted, but it is up to the judge to make the official ruling.

I am sure we both do not want it to drag on any longer.  

I am keeping a copy of this email to submit to the court if necessary.

He never wrote back.  I would quickly learn why.

He was in deep, dark trouble.

“That’s Not a Real Gun!”

The day after my 33rd birthday, I was held up at gunpoint.

After rehearsal on that Tuesday, several of my fellow cast members and I celebrated our end-of-the-summer birthdays at the Cat and Fiddle in Hollywood.  We enjoyed bonding over cocktails and several raucous games of darts. Rehearsals for our show, Merrily We Roll Along, had been intense over the past several weeks, and it felt good to blow off some steam.

Before we knew it, we had closed down the bar.  As we dispersed to our individual vehicles, my friend Dave offered to walk me to mine.  Being the independent woman who I so love to be, I declined his offer.

“Naaah, I’m fine – I’ll be fine.  You don’t have to walk me to my car,” I dismissed him, gathering up the mass of birthday balloons by each individual string.

“Les, I’m walking you to your car,” Dave stated, firmly.

“All right!  All right!”  I conceded.  “You can walk me to my car!”  I had parked a little far away.

I was not used to kind, gentlemanly offers as such.  Later, I’d be more than grateful that Dave insisted upon accompanying me.

Toting my balloons in one hand and my green purse hoisted upon my right shoulder, we made our way across Sunset Boulevard.  We talked and laughed up the side street where my car was parked, about a quarter of a mile away.

It was a little past 2:00 a.m.

As we approached my vehicle, I noticed another car drive up, slowly, alongside me.  The passenger leaned out the car window and called to me.  I couldn’t understand him, but, for some reason, I assumed he was asking for directions.  (Because, of course, a man would be asking for directions at 2:00 a.m.)

“I’m sorry, what was that?”  I asked.  I was happy and always welcome the opportunity to be helpful.

“Gimme your purse,” he demanded, somewhat quietly, as the car slowed down and stopped just in front of mine.

“WHAT?”

The car stopped, and the man got out.  He kept himself backed up against the open passenger door.

Gimme me your purse,” he demanded, a little louder.

I looked at him for a moment, scrunched up my face, and responded,
“No.”

“GIMME ME YOUR PURSE!”   He gestured with his right hand.

At that moment, I noticed that he was holding a gun.  It rested gingerly up against his waist.  It was aimed right at me, almost politely.

I sighed.  I glanced back at Dave, who was on the other side of the car, standing frozen, with his mouth agape.

I turned back to the guy with the gun.

What came out of my mouth next baffles even me.  Contrary to everything I have ever been taught – or shall we say instinct, maybe? – I took a step towards the man and his gun, and got angry.

“FUCKKKKKK YOUUUUU!”

The “K” sound rolling out of my mouth felt like I was delivering a bullet right back at that stupid guy and his dumbass gun.  It felt really good.  I gestured dismissively towards the gun, and continued to curse.  Loudly.

“Get the FUCK out of here!  That’s not even a real gun.  I don’t have any money, anyway.  FUCKKKKK OFF!

The guy looked at me briefly, and, in an instant, got back into the car.  His driver sped them away.

I watched the car’s tail lights disappear around the corner, opened the rear door and tossed my green purse inside.

I made eye contact with Dave over the roof of my car.  His mouth was still agape.  I started laughing.

“Do you realize what just happened?” He asked me, in disbelief.

I kept laughing.

We got in the car and I drove him back down the empty street, across Sunset Boulevard, and onto another “much safer” side street where his car was parked.

We sat in silence for a moment, until I burst out laughing again.

“Leslie, do you realize what you did back there?”  Dave was shaking his head.

I hadn’t really taken the time to process it.  To be totally honest, I am sure the alcohol I had consumed assisted in my “bravery”.  I hadn’t had time to think about my word choice, or the consequences of my actions.  I most certainly wasn’t representing Jesus very well.

But it was beyond that.  I was fed up.  I didn’t care if I lived or died at that point.  I was in pain. I was tired of people taking from me.  I liked my green purse.  It was mine.  I didn’t feel like giving it away without a fight.

We “debriefed” a little further, making sure each other was okay.  We truly wondered if the gun was real or not, but, regardless, Dave thanked me for “saving his life.”

“Anytime!”

I drove home carefully, replaying the events of the past hour in my mind.  As I got home and quietly slipped into bed, it started to sink in.

I just told a guy pointing a gun at me to “fuck off”.  What is WRONG with me?  At the same time, I’m feeling like a badass!  Thank you, God, for protecting me.  That situation was in YOUR hands and YOU protected me.  Not my own strength, at all. 

A few days later, as the endorphins wore off and the Facebook “likes” and attention from my story dwindled, I was able to process a bit further.  At the same time, I entered into a brief period of darkness and confusion.

I CAN’T DO THIS, GOD.  I CAN’T.  I can’t live this life.  I can’t do anything without You.  I see happy couples, people getting married all around, people with babies, happy marriages.  And I am living with Curt and Kathy, unemployed, no one to go to sleep with at night.  My husband chose to leave me, time and time again.

I know I didn’t come this far to fall.  But I can’t do this.  I am a troublemaker.  Getting mugged and not even caring.  Sometimes I wish I would have been shot and killed that night.

I know you love me, God, I know.  But, being honest, I don’t even know how long I can do this.  Do not let evil win, do not withhold blessings from me.  I cannot see.  I cannot understand because my understanding is finite; human.  I am scared.  I am anxious.  I need Your peace.  I need guidance.  I am utterly, completely dependent upon You I cannot see the future; I don’t even know what You want for me.  How, where?

You haven’t let me down thus far; I KNOW I can trust You.  I have to trust You.  I want to trust You.

Psalm 39 echoes in my heart.  I still wish You would take my life.  Just take me home.  I am ready. 

I cannot do anything.  I need You.  I am exhausted from trying to be self-sufficient.  I know You have plans for me, but what?  I must be patient. I must be still.

“Be still and know that I am God”.  ~Psalm 46:10

I Hate Being Divorced From You

I immediately contacted a lawyer.

I explained to her my situation.  I wasn’t able to afford a long, drawn-out divorce battle, and my in-laws were holding the Quitclaim Deed hostage.  My husband and I had nothing to fight over, really, but his parents’ cruel and intrusive involvement was making things far messier than they needed to be.

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do.  California is a no-fault state as far as divorces go, so I really couldn’t plead with the judge for some favoritism.  I had to re-focus on moving forward with the paperwork, and accept the fact that I’d have to split everything 50/50.  I was doing all the work, and even helping my husband along, just to get the damn thing done.  I knew, deep down, he would do nothing.  

After all, he was out of the country.  Per usual.

The lawyer gave me sound advice, and, for a nominal retainer, helped guide me through the paperwork.  It would take about six months for the whole thing to go through, provided my husband’s cooperation.   There might still be a way for me to keep my house, but the lawyer posed an interesting question.

“Do you really want the responsibility of a house at this time in your life?”

I sighed.

I didn’t know.  I just didn’t want to lose everything.  To me, the house was a symbol of maturity; adulthood.  It meant I was responsible.  I loved my home, and I wanted the safety and security that accompanied it.

For the next month or so, my journal entries were full of anxiety and confusion.  I had re-entered my social life, and it was met with enthusiasm, support and encouragement. It felt good to return to some sense of “normalcy”, yet the old life was still hanging on.  I had random bouts of grief, where I felt crazy, inconsolable and out of control.  I had random crushes on men, all of which I knew were futile to pursue or entertain.  I wasn’t ready to move forward in that area of my life, at all.

I wrote out my crazy.

Feeling extremely lonely.  Sad.  Vulnerable.  Frustrated.  Wishing my husband would email me and just BE A MAN.  Seriously.  Wishing a man would take me in his arms and love me. 

Why can’t anyone love me?  Oh, my heart, my heart longs for love, my heart longs for someone who loves You, who will love me.  God, forgive me for being impatient.  There’s my husband, whom I still love.  Or do I?  Do I love him?

All of this distraction and I’m not focusing on my divorce.  It’s hard to let go of the life that I loved with my husband.  I loved my life with him.  I don’t know how to wrap it all up – not sure what was right and was truly was wrong.  I am so easily distracted and disappointed in myself. 

I know I have to heal.  And I cannot hurry anything up.  Patience, not immediacy.

I pray about the divorce and the next step I’m supposed to take.  Oh, LORD, it’s terrifying and I feel paralyzed.  I want to go back to a month ago where everything was clear, where I trusted You 100%.  It was just You and me, God.  And it still is, but I’m getting foolish…I feel like crying, I feel like being bad, I feel like I want to crawl under the covers and sleep for a week. 

I’m so real and raw it’s scary.

And then, out of the blue on a typical June Gloom day, I received an email from my husband. It was simple.  He hated being divorced from me.

Little did I know, he was a newly engaged man.