Tick Tales of Misery and Occasional Ecstasy

June 17, 2010

The Divorce

Filed under: My Past, personal, Social — Tags: , , , , , — thetick @ 12:30 pm

It’s been a while since I wrote anything, mostly because of the Divorce. I really didn’t want to put anything out in public that could possibly cause me problems. The good news is, the divorce is over, and sooner than expected.

Here’s how it happened: The biggest delay was that the ex could not think of anything except staying on my insurance. I am pretty sure that fact, along with her lawyers trying to run up a big bill and get me to pay it, were the major causes of the huge delays. A Temporary Orders hearing at the end of January did not compel me to pay for her legal fees, which caused her attorneys to quit. At that time, there were several deadlines for turning in paperwork, as well as a date for the final hearing. The final hearing was scheduled for September, with a backup hearing date in June. My attorneys kept filing paperwork as ordered, and since a good attorney costs a lot of money, I was running up a huge debt. This caused my attorneys to also file a motion to quit.

At this time, I decided that something HAD to be done. There was no way I could get another attorney, since the first thing a good attorney does is check the case history and see what has happened before. They would also contact my previous attorney and ask why they quit. A lawyer generally doesn’t take a case when there is a history of non payment. So I bit the bullet, and called the ex-to-be. I explained what was going on, and that if we did not reach a settlement before the hearing for my attorneys to quit, neither of us would have representation and neither of us knew how to finish the damn thing. We would be standing before a judge, effectively saying, “What do we do now?” Generally speaking, Judges would rather judge than teach people how to get a divorce.

I finally got the ex to agree, in writing via email, to terms for the divorce. But the hearing date was rapidly approaching. I was a mess. My attorney was not returning calls, the ex was avoiding me, and things were just taking too long. I finally got the attorney to agree to draw up the Final Decree of Divorce and I got it to the ex via email. All she had to do was print it out and sign it in front of a Notary. There was only a week left, and she has a history of NOT doing things she needs to do in a timely manner. Since she had to sign the papers and also get the original to my attorney, PLUS show up in Court on the day of the Withdrawal Hearing in order to finalize everything, there were just too many variables, a failure of any single one of them would be disastrous. Since I was 1300 miles away, all I could do was send emails and make phone calls. But if I was there, I could actually make sure shit got done. I knew that I could eliminate all of the variables if I was there.  So, I drove to Texas.

I made good time, and left a voice mail with the ex the night before I would arrive telling her that I would be there around mid-day Thursday. She still had not done the things she needed to do, and the hearing was on Tuesday. My attorney needed the original paperwork on Friday to prepare for the hearing. I drove straight to the house where she still was living with her parents. No cars in the driveway, no answer at the door, no dog barking.  I walked around to the back of the house, I thought she might be out on the back porch smoking. No such luck. I was pissed. I thought that she had gotten my voice mail and had gone somewhere to avoid me. I called her cell phone, no answer. I called her Dad’s cell, then her Mom’s with the same result. I thought about driving to where her mom worked, then just called there instead. Her mom gave me permission to go around and pound on the back door since the ex was probably still asleep and her room is closer to the back door than the front. I finally got her up by pounding on the door that led from the porch to her room.

She still had not gone over her copy of the Decree. She wasn’t even sure if she knew where it was. Keep in mind, this is all taking place at about one in the afternoon. For me, the clock is ticking down rapidly. I had four hours to go over the paperwork, get her dressed (she was still in her nightgown while talking to me) get her to a bank to have the paperwork notarized, and then drive to my attorneys office to deliver the original signed document. After that, I could head to Houston to see my friends and have a great weekend before going back to Fort Worth for the hearing on Tuesday.

For an hour, page by page, we go over every single line item in the decree, which was the same as what she had already agreed to, except now it was in legal terms. That was what I was doing. Explaining legal terms. Finally, we get to the end and I ask her if she still agrees, and she says she does, but… She still wants to go over it with her Dad instead of just me. “Not that I don’t trust you, but I just want someone else to look at it,” she said. “So when will that be?” I asked. “This evening.”

I did NOT want to do that. If I could get it signed and to the lawyer, I wouldn’t have to spend the money on another night in a hotel. I asked if there was any way we could go to where her Dad was working and they could go over it. She started texting, and finally got an answer that yes, he could take a break and go over the papers with her. A half hour later, she was dressed (an all time record) and we were on the way down the highway. We meet up with her dad, and they leave me in the parking lot to go inside to review the papers. I sent an email to the attorneys telling them what was going on and telling them that I should have the papers signed, but I may be later than 5 o’clock getting them to their office. I knew that they often worked late, and was hoping that would be the case that night. I got a couple of phone calls from the X2B for clarification about things, sent a couple of text messages asking how much longer, and the clock continued to move forward.

My phone rang, and the caller ID said that it was my attorneys office. It was the secondary, cheaper attorney. She asked me if I would be willing to stay the night in Fort Worth, since she had called the Court and could get me in at 8:30 the next morning to “prove up” the divorce and it would be over, the Tuesday hearing would not be necessary. I emphatically told her yes. I believe it was a HELL YES! The only thing was that X2B wanted to attend the hearing, and I didn’t know if she would agree. Technically, only one of us had to be there, but I still am not a big enough asshole to just do it without telling her. I told the lawyer I would call back shortly, and sent another text to X2B. We were running out of time. She finally came back with her dad, who said that he only had one suggestion, and it was really minor. An ass-covering clause that he thought should be inserted over a very unlikely possible event. I told them both about the hearing the next morning, and her dad said he could take her to the court house. I offered to give her a ride home afterward so he could go straight to work. So it was agreed.

As we were driving off, I called the attorney back and told her to get us on the schedule, and that we were on the way to the bank to get the papers signed and notarized and I should be at their office just before five. We go to my bank, since X2B doesn’t have an account anywhere, and wait for ten minutes for someone to notarize the decree. The kid (probably only about 20) wouldn’t notarize the papers because X2B’s only ID is an out of state ID only (not a drivers license) that expired 2 years ago. I called the attorney back, and asked if they had someone on staff that could do the job without a current ID. She told me yes, and she asked someone to stick around until we got there.

The drive over was weird. For some reason, X2B decided that it would be a good time to talk about the good times we had in the marriage. OK, so maybe that isn’t so weird, but the good times she wanted to discuss were the good times we had in bed. We got to the attorneys office, and everything went as smooth as possible. Oh, and my backup attorney, the very nice lady who took it upon herself to get everything over with sooner than scheduled, was absolutely positively smokin’ hot.

Papers signed, notarized, copies made, hearing scheduled. After MONTHS, I start to relax. I am in a good mood. The weight of the world has been lifted from the shoulders of this puny Atlas. Also, we are hungry. I had promised to feed X2B in return for making the drive to Dallas with me to get all this done. She asks me if there is anyplace in particular I want to go, since there is a lot of good food in Texas that I just cant get up north. I am trying to decide between the Mongolian Grill, the Deli that has a great muffaletta, or some decent Mexican food. X2B tells me about a great place that they went on her birthday a couple of weeks prior, but cant remember the name of it. So she calls her mom, who kind of invites herself along and says that she will call her husband to meet us there. In other words, the night before the divorce will be final, I am having dinner with my ex-to-be in laws. And it was weird. We were all talking and joking and telling funny stories like the past two years never happened. Just another family dinner. There was one point when I felt sorry for X2B. We were sitting across from each other, and the cute little waitress seemed to take a liking to me. Every time she came to the table, she stood by me, resting her hand on my shoulder as she talked, joking with me and even giving me a hug. I noticed that X2B kept staring at her dinner when that happened. Finally, dinner was over, and I paid for X2B, and we parted ways.

Twelve hours later, I was at the courthouse. The attorney showed up soon after, and then X2B. I only had one concern left: that X2B would say something stupid, thinking it was clever, and the judge wouldn’t grant the divorce. This was a real possibility. The night before, when we were signing the papers at the attorneys office, the lawyer had asked a standard question: “Are you signing these papers of your own free will, and state that you have not been coerced in any way?” X2B answered, “Well, it’s not like I have any choice in the matter.” The lawyer had to ask her to clarify, and X2b said that she only meant that it was going to happen one way or another, so she may as well sign. I told her on the way to dinner that she couldn’t answer questions like that in front of the judge, since we had not attended the court ordered mediation the judge may not grant the divorce and we would be back to square one. I told the attorney that if it was possible, not to give X2B a chance to talk to or be questioned by the judge. She agreed with my reasoning.

Our case was called, and my attorney and I approached the bench. My lawyer asked me standard questions, which were easy to answer since she had written them down on a piece of paper along with the answers and we were both following along. We finally got to the end, and the lawyer had to ask, according to the rules, if my wife was present. I answered and was asked to point her out. The Judge said “Oh! She’s here? Come on up!” X2B came up and was sworn in. My heart was pounding, since my lawyer had told the Judge that X2B was pro se, meaning she had no lawyer, and I was afraid that the judge would kind of act on her behalf. The judge just asked two questions: “Have you heard all of the testimony your husband has given?” and “If you were asked the same questions, would you answer the same way?” She answered yes to the first, and after a slight hesitation that my heart stopped for, answered yes to the second. The Judge said very well, I hereby grant this divorce and good luck to both of you.

My attorney went and got the official signature and an official copy for both of us, and we left the court house. It was finally over, I was divorced. I gave THE EX a ride home, buying her breakfast from the McDonald’s drive-thru before dropping her off. I just now realized, that the day we got married, we got food from a McDonald’s drive-thru right after that, too. It seems fitting, somehow.

I went back to the hotel, changed clothes and drove to Houston a free man. There was much celebration for the next two days before I left for home.

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June 5, 2009

Doubting a Decision

Filed under: My Past, personal, Social — Tags: , , , , , — thetick @ 4:39 pm

A couple of years ago, when I was giving serious consideration to actually leaving my marriage, I spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons. One of the biggest things was the subject of children. I had three kids from a previous marriage, and I knew that the current wife wanted to have kids.

I was getting older, and the thought of having another kid at my age was not appealing at all. I knew that if I were to have another child, it would be graduating high school about the time I was wanting to retire. There were a lot of things that I wanted to do in life, mostly traveling, and felt that having another kid would put a damper on that.

Christmas of last year, I had gone home to see my family. My sister had a little girl a couple of years ago, and this was my first real opportunity to interact with her. The thing that I remember most about that trip is my little niece sitting on a chair across the room from me and babbling on in her own language.  I started talking nonsense words back to her, which caused her no end of amusement, and I wound up teaching her how to do the YMCA dance. After several iterations, I realized that the entire family was standing behind me, watching. After I left, I thought “That was fun.”

A few months later, my oldest son came to visit for a week. I took him to DC and The Statue of Liberty. While we were sight seeing, I realized that I was feeling the same sense of joy showing him around and sharing the experience with him that I had always wanted to share with a spouse. I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, it was possible to have my dream of seeing the world, and sharing it not only with a spouse, but with kids, and it would be just as special. Maybe more so. I started wondering if perhaps having kids wouldn’t be a damper on the seeing the world experience, but possibly make it better. I started thinking about other people I knew that had kids, and still were able to travel and see the world. I thought about how I was envious of their kids for being able to broaden their horizons, while I never had been able to. I finally realized that it was a bit selfish of me to think sharing these things with my kids would be a detriment to my own enjoyment.

The last thing that took me by surprise happened just before the Memorial Day weekend. We were having a barbecue at work, and one of the girls at work brought her 5 month old little girl. Of course, all the women were passing this poor child around like a bong at a frat party. Once again, as has happened so many times, this little girl caught sight of me and just kept looking and smiling. Her mother was amazed at how much attention was being paid to me by her daughter. As I sat there, watching my co-workers play baby baby who’s got the baby, I suddenly realized, to my amazement, that I wanted a turn holding her.

It kind of freaked me out.

I have technically been out of my marriage for a year. It was almost a year ago that I left on the five week assignment, after which I left my wife. Except for the two weeks when I was back, telling her I was leaving and packing everything up, I have essentially been separated almost a year. It has been long enough that I have been thinking about the possibilities of getting into a relationship again. One of the things that had been bothering me was that the likelihood of finding someone who didn’t already have kids, and who never wanted kids, was very very slim. So I had to take a look at how I felt about getting involved with someone who already had kids, and if they didn’t, how I felt about the fact that if they didn’t have kids, they probably would.

Mulling this over in my mind, I realized something. It wasn’t the kids that I didn’t necessarily want, it was child support. Child support, more than anything, has been that thing that has kept me from doing many of the things that I wanted to do. I simply didn’t have the money. I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t want kids , it was that I didn’t want kids with the X2B. I knew how that would turn out. I knew that she did not have the capacity to be a good mother. I also knew that there was a really good chance that we wouldn’t last, and I didn’t want to start paying child support all over again. I also realized that, because of the failure of my first marriage, I have never had a chance to raise a child of my own. My oldest was six when we split, the youngest was under two. My ex and her new husband raised my kids. It has caused a lot of problems in my head. Every time they screw up, I blame myself since I wasn’t able to be there for them. If they do good, I am unable to take any credit for it since I really didn’t have a big part of their upbringing. The best I could say is that I was the “cool dad.” I was the one that could relate to them better. I kind of had that grandparents attitude of “love them, spoil them rotten, then send ’em home.”

So, here I sit, getting ready to see a lawyer in a week or two to get the divorce papers ready for filing as soon as I legally can. When the judge signs, I will finally feel like I can get involved again, and I have doubts about my decision to not bring any more kids into this world. Right now, it kind of feels like I would not be opposed to the idea, as long as I felt there was a reasonable certainty that I would be able to raise them, and not just pay for someone else to do it.

Of course, this whole thing is rather academic. You cant be thinking about having kids if you cant find anyone willing to have sex with you.

April 4, 2009

It’s Official

Filed under: personal, ranting, Social — thetick @ 8:01 am

Last night, extreme boredom and a healthy desire for any kind of company drove me once more into the fray of forced socialization.  I decided to go have a beer or two, and to try out the last of the bars in town that had been recommended as place to hang out and meet people. The sports bar attached to the bowling alley.

Yup. The bowling alley. That should give some indication regarding this damn town, the bowling alley is one out of three recommended places. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bowl. I started bowling when I was six years old, and at one time I was pretty good. But bowling alleys are places you go with people you already know, not to try to meet people. The bar was nice enough, very spacious and big screens all over the place, a typical sports bar. They even have a Wii hooked up to one of them so you can drink and play video games. Guess what game they had up? That’s right… BOWLING. In the bar attached to the bowling alley you can virtually bowl. From what I could tell, the place does not get a lot of business because I watched the bartender get seven strikes in a row on the Wii. Obviously he has had a lot of practice. The first problem I had with the bar was the bar stools. The seat was almost four feet high. I felt like I was four years old again. I had to step up onto the brass boot rail near the floor, then onto the lowest rung of the stool before I could swing my ass onto the seat. I expected my beer to come in a sippy cup.

The second problem was the customers. There were about a dozen people in the place, four of which were female. Three of those were with a group that was playing darts, two guys for every girl. The last was sitting with her husband playing the trivia game. The crowd in the corner playing darts seemed to be having fun, the kind of fun you get when you are getting away with something. Like being underage in a bar. I sat and watched the video juke box playing rap videos while I nursed my beer, thinking things might improve as it got a bit later. The crowd grew, more and more people came in and started talking to each other and laughing. They were all guys. Now there was about five guys for every girl. I finished my beer and used the thoughtfully provided rappelling gear to get off my stool and went home. That was when I decided that it was official: I hate this town.

The next morning, I went to the coffee shop for breakfast, and talked to the one male waiter there, who actually has the appearance of someone who likes to go out and have a good time. He confirmed every observation I had made regarding the town. First and foremost, if you didn’t grow up there, you were an outsider and the only way you will have a conversation with someone is at gunpoint. He also confirmed that 99% of the women that he either worked with or knew because of his job were married or dating. And he also confirmed that this town sucks.

Being a glutton for punishment, and still bored out of my mind with no idea what to do with myself all weekend, I decided to waste some time. Normally, for me, this would have meant going to the various pawn shops and trying to find a hell of a deal on something I never knew existed, but could no longer live without. But there are only two pawn shops in the area, and their merchandise hasn’t changed since I got here. So, I decided to take a look at the Swap Meet.

Wow.

There were the usual people that you expect to see at a swap meet, the ones that don’t have enough for a full garage sale so they spend twenty bucks for a stall and try to get rid of all the baby furniture left over after the tubes got tied. But the thing I used to enjoy about swap meets were the regulars. The ones who are there week after week, who have a permanent stall and try to make a living out of selling shit nobody wants. VHS Tapes, old DVD’s, LP’s, knick knacks, candles with the Virgin Mary on them, rusty tools, knock-off designer clothes, bins full of dollar store items half off. There was one guy there who actually had some German WWII stuff, Nazi pins and medals, army helmets, and even a mold for making your own .50 caliber black powder ammo. That was the only tempting booth. The one that made decide to leave was one of the knick knack stalls. I wanted to take a picture of this, but the lady behind the table scared the shit out of me.

You know all those pairs of shoes you see hanging from power lines? You ever wonder what happens to them? They hang there in the breeze for months, then they just disappear. I always thought that the power company removed them if they happened to be doing work there, or the shoe laces would eventually rot through and they would fall to the ground, possibly hitting a car in the windshield. But now, I know the truth. This lady takes them. She somehow gets those shoes down from the line and takes them home. Then she fills them up with dirt. Then she plants something in the dirt, and when it sprouts, she takes it to the swap meet and sells it for twenty dollars. Twenty. Frickin. Dollars. For an old shoe with dirt in it. Normally, I would have just laughed at the idiocy of this. But there was a lady there trying to haggle a discount price for a matched set.

I weep for the species. And I hate this town.

March 27, 2009

Mathematical Improbability

Filed under: humor, personal, Social — Tags: , , — thetick @ 11:49 am

I was recently talking with two of the ladies I work with, and we were discussing various things. I mentioned that I had bought a Play-Doh Fun Factory for the express purpose of making Space Invader cookies. The younger of the two, in her early twenties, was amazed that I knew how to make cookies. I then went on to describe a few of  other baked goods that I am able to make. I knew that many of the terms I was using were going over her head when she described an egg separator that had been given to her by her grandmother, and I had to tell her what it was for and how to use it. Then she asked why you would want to separate the egg yolk from the egg white. The first thing that popped into my head was that egg whites are used for meringue. I then also told her that I use a egg white and water mixture to dip chicken into before coating it with my own special blend of corn flake crumbs and various spices and seasonings. I explained that by doing this, I was able to get a crispy outer coating, while the chicken inside remained moist and juicy when baking, rather than frying. At this point, she turned to the other lady and asked, “Are you hearing this?”

The other lady looked me in the eye and asked, “How in the hell are you living alone?”

Further discussion reiterated what I had been told in the past. Women who are already attached see me as the embodiment of what they wish their current partner was more like. While I am not currently ready to start dating again, the conversion did get me to thinking about the time when I am ready. As things stand right now, I am still married, even though I have been separated for over six months. I cannot change that fact for another six months, due to state laws regarding divorce. But that even outs, really. Most “professionals” state that you should give a year after a divorce before you start thinking about dating, so by the time I can file for divorce, that year waiting period will be over. Once the Judge signs the paper, I can date again and not violate my own personal standards regarding cheating on a spouse, and will have completed the recommended period of  “alone time.”

As I went through the rest of the week, going to stores or restaurants, I began to take a greater notice of the females I encountered. Things didn’t look good for the future. The ones that I saw that met my indecipherable criteria for interest all had a similar health issue: A huge tumor growing on the ring finger of their left hand. More commonly referred to as an engagement or wedding ring. Since a friend of mine has been studying statistics and probability and we have had several discussions about it, I thought I would run the numbers and see where I stood.

I pulled up the Census data, as predicted for 2008 and then looked at the demographic breakdown for different categories. I then used my own “rule of thumb” and “SWAG” estimates on the hard data. (If you don’t know what SWAG is, it is an acronym meaning Scientific Wild Assed Guess)

I used population data for the county rather than the small town since it gives a much larger sample to work with. The county population is 14 times higher than the town, and the county is so small that nowhere in it is a drive of more than 20 minutes. The county population is 42,190 people, with 50.5% being female. So there are more women than men, so far so good. I now have a group of 21, 306 women to choose from. But wait! Not all of them are in my age range. Luckily, the census data had already selected a age range that fits my personal age range of date-able women, the 25-44 bracket. Only 29.9% of the population falls in that range, so now I am down to 6,370 date-able women. But I do have standards, and I will only date unmarried women, so combining the demographics of “single, never married” and “divorced,” there is only 32.4% out of those that I can look at. This leaves 2063 potential subjects.

Not bad. Even if I assume a 1 in a hundred chance, there are still 20 to pick and choose from, and that is based on the hard data. But I haven’t added in the SWAG data yet. Based on information gathered from various sources, basically meaning that I got to know a few people at area restaurants and bars and flat out asking them about women that met my attractiveness quotient, approximately 60% of those without rings on their fingers are currently involved in a serious relationship that has been going on for quite some time. Eliminating those, we have 825 remaining possibilities. Keeping my eyes open in grocery stores, restaurants, etc, I have concluded that I only find 1 in 3 women in the area attractive. Now I am down to 272. Given my own quirks,  I would estimate that only 10% will either share or be able to accept the odd hobbies and interests that I have. Now we are down to 27 possibilities.  Assuming that there is only a 10% chance that two people will have a mutual attraction for each other, I am down to 2. Then we figure in the possibility of a chance meeting putting these people in contact with each other, which I calculate by adding myself to the number of possibilities and dividing by the total population, I am down to a .0007% chance.

What is the point of all this? Nothing really. Nothing more than a diversion into applied mathematics. A very complicated story problem. “Given the above data, how many one dollar bills Tick will need each month for the tipping in strip clubs? Solve for XXX.”

March 3, 2009

Blog Frustrations and Legos

Filed under: Lego, personal, ranting, Social, writing — Tags: , , — thetick @ 10:41 am

Before I ever started this blog, I had been reading several others. They were interesting, funny, and on occasion, insightful. This is what I wanted to be. I thought that as I used the blogas a venting location for the frustrations I was going through withmy marriage and other things, I would be able to be witty and bitter, kind of like old school Denis Leary. Angry rantings of a bitter person that turned out to be hilarious. In the beginning, I had a moderate amount of success with this as I told stories about what had happened. I had continued using a moniker that had been placed upon me by coworkers, Bitter C.

Since I left my wife, the amount of things that have happened for me to be bitter about has decreased to almost zero. Of course, the things that could   be happening in my life that would make for an interesting blog has also dropped to zero. I really don’t have a social life in my new locale, the people here frighten me. I thought I would be used to rednecks and hillbillies. I grew up in Idaho, and have lived in Arizona and Texas. The people here in West Virginia are a different inbreed of redneck and hillbilly. One evening, not long after I arrived here, I was sitting in a Chinese Buffet restaurant, in a booth behind a man and his two young daughters. They were all very loud people, and it was impossible to not overhear. The first indicator that I was in a different world was when one of the girls made a comment regarding an earlier incident of her fathers flatulence. “Well, that’s why your mom left me,” was his reply. After that, I heard the following: “No! It’s your birthday, and we are NOT going to go to the damn Dollar General! We’re going to Walmart!” and “Boy, I wish I had had smart kids.”  The apple cant fall far from the tree when it doesn’t fork. It reminds me of the joke where a man was trying to console his brand new ex-wife as they left divorce court by saying, “Don’t be so sad, we’re still cousins!”

So, the blog has suffered. you are supposed to write what you know, but if I were to do that, all I would talk about is what I do when I get home after work. It doesn’t amount to much, and it doesn’t vary much from day to day. Boring life, boring blog. Occasionally, I will find an off the wall story on Fark or Digg, and it will fire me up enough to write a post about it. That doesn’t happen very often. Things that interest me are typically fringe or niche topics that the general populace doesn’t “get.” Things like Anime and Lego’s. But, just so I can post something,I am going to talk about Lego’s anyway.

I have been a huge Lego fan for a long, long time. After my first marriage ended, I bought a lot of Lego sets. It was a way for me to spend my weeknights at home. I hadn’t wanted my first marriage to end, and it really tore me up. I was on anti-depressants for a while, until I found that they were doing more harm than good. I was using sleeping pills nightly to go to sleep. The hours between work and sleep were the problem. My brain wouldn’t shut the hell up. It would interrupt TV shows and movies, making me wallow in the events that caused my depression. Reminding me that at that moment, my ex-wife was in bed with the boyfriend that she had left me for. Lego’s were an escape. It gave me something for my brain to focus on. I was able to occupy my brain so it wouldn’t have time to show me imagined scenes of what could be going on a thousand miles away. It was too busy trying to tell if the brick in the instruction manual was dark gray or black. It was busy trying to figure out what step had been screwed up so it could be fixed. The number of dollars spent on Lego’s was directly proportional to my level of depression. The more depressed, the more Lego’s were bought.

After the depression eventually faded, I was able to actually enjoy Lego’s for what they were instead of as an escape. I had moved on to a higher paying  job, and was able to afford bigger (and cooler) Lego sets. After ten years of this, I had accumulated a huge bucket of Lego’s. I decided to put the whole lot on eBay so I wouldn’t have to move them again. I sold them as a lot since I had not been saving the boxes, and when I took the models apart, I just threw the parts in one big bin. I sold the whole collection for around $1100. This was the biggest mistake I have ever made on eBay. Since then, I have attempted to obtain some of the sets that I had sold, and found at least three that are selling for more than I sold my entire collection for. I learned my lesson.

After I was laid off in Washington, I went back to Idaho and then Texas. I had been unemployed for a long time, and wound up working at Walmart to try and keep up with the wife’s medical expenses, child support and car payment. Depression had sunk in again. Working at Walmart did have one advantage, the head of the Toy department really liked me and would let me know when Lego sets were going on clearance. I was able to start collecting again at a discount. After leaving Walmart and getting a better job, I kept an eye out for Lego bargains, and the collection grew again. None of the sets were as cool as what I had before the eBay mistake, but the sets were able to turn my brain away from the deepening depression I was falling into as a result of another failing marriage.

In 2007, Lego announced a new set to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the original Star Wars movie. They already had the Star Wars license, and I had several Star Wars sets, but this was the pinnacle of Star Wars Lego’s. It was a detailed model of the Millennium Falcon, scaled to the same proportions and the famous Lego mini-figures. It would be the largest Lego set ever made at 5,195 pieces. This was the acme of geekdom for me, and I had to have it.

Lego Ultimate Collectors Edition Millennium Falcon
Lego Ultimate Collectors Edition Millennium Falcon

The big problem was cost. It was only available on the Lego website, not in stores, and would run $500. As much as I loved Lego’s and  Star Wars, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money. So this purchase has been a dream of mine for two years. One of those “someday” things that you hope you will get around to, but fear you never will. Well, this year’s tax return was probably the largest I have ever received. I followed one of the rules that I have tried to ingrain into my kids, “Do the have-to’s before you even think about doing the want-to’s.” I used the tax return to pay off my motorcycle, which gets me an extra hundred dollars a month in my pocket. I paid off two old debts so that they would get off my credit report. I put a decent chuck of money into my savings account, giving me my safety buffer that had been lacking since I moved up north. And I still had enough left over to finally get the Millennium Falcon.

There is a mall about an hour away from my house that has one of the few Lego Stores. You can get the “Lego Exclusive” items there without having to buy them over the Internet and wait for shipping. As an added bonus, if you buy in-store, they have those little cards like coffee shops that they stamp for every number of dollars which entitles you to gift cards. I have a policy to never spend money I don’t have in pocket. I don’t spend money based on the anticipated arrival of more. I had received the tax refund, paid the bills, and could finally make the long drive to get the Lego set that weekend. And… I had to work that day. One of the rare occasions where I need to be in the office, even though the likelihood of anything happening was slim. So I sat, all damn day, thinking about how I could have already gone to the mall and gotten home with my dream Lego’s and be putting them together. Finally the end of the day arrived, and I went to the mall. I walked straight to the counter, where I was courteously asked if I could be helped. “I would like one Millennium Falcon, please.”

It was a long walk through the mall back to the parking garage, that box was heavy! It weighed around thirty pounds, and was awkward as hell to carry through a crowded mall. If I hadn’t been so enamored of my purchase, I would have used it to start smacking people. I simply cannot believe the society we live in. More than once, I saw the slow moving people in front of me turn and see me walking behind them with this huge box on my shoulder, and not move to the side. I even had one idiot walk a bit faster to get on the escalator before me. Dude, there will always be big soft pretzels available, I don’t think the extra two seconds would have caused your death by starvation. Fucker.

I got my purchase home, and finished up the previous Lego project. I have been assembling every Lego set I have so that I can document missing pieces so I can replace them from the Lego web site. Then I started sorting the Millennium Falcon pieces. With almost 5200 pieces, this is not a set where you just dump them all in a Rubbermaid container and start building. Well, OK, you could, but it would increase the build time immensely.

I have been taking a digital photo of every single step of the assembly, and will be posting it to another web site, once I get it done I will post a link here. In the meantime, I just have to remember to take the time to eat while I build. And I have already picked out my next Lego purchase. The Eiffel Tower.

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