The Burb

Mother’s Day weekend was a nice family weekend.  A celebration of the woman who brought forth my two precious children.  We had laughs, went out to eat and just enjoyed one another’s presence.  Kinda makes you wonder why we don’t have more moments like this more often…

After the weekend was over, life went back to everyone’s normal routines.  My youngest has been struggling with school and in conjunction with his therapists and us, we’ve been able to get him approved to finish out the school year with a homebound program and a personal teacher.  Grades look good in a majority of the classes, with the only exception being Algebra.  But we’re working on that one.

School is over for me.  As promised, I haven’t signed up for any classes and I’m slowly starting to reintegrate into how life was before I started going back to school.  It’s been a little bit of a transition for me.  Even though school has only been about 7 months for me, it did change the way I organized my time.  Time was a commodity that was precious because I had so very little of it to go around.  Now, with not having to worry about classes and school work, I find myself lost at times as to what to do and in what order they should be done.  More times than not, I’ve found myself standing in the middle of a room in the house wondering what the hell I need/want to do. 

The last couple of weekends, minus mother’s day weekend, I’ve been trying to catch up on all the maintenance stuff that I’ve neglected with our cars.  First up was the wife’s M3… In typical BMW fashion, this thing is a basket case.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun, nimble car.  Last of what I would consider the true M3’s.  However, it’s been in the shop twice now for an oil leak that no one can seem to find.  This oil leak… is currently the bane of my existence.  It taunts me every time I walk out into the driveway as I see the remnants of where it’s been parked.  My driveway, once, near spotless is now stained with oil from the places it’s parked overnight.  The underside of the car is a nightmare for me as when I get under it, I see a thin layer of oil on EVERYTHING, with little drips just waiting to fall on the pavement below it.  I cannot begin to tell you how much it infuriates me.  In the meantime, I’ve tried to ignore it… there are other items that require my attention.  So, I fixed an electrical issue, reset the stupid low tire pressure warning system (no… it does NOT have TPMS… TPMS is infinitely easier that this old antiquated system that BMW used on the E46’s), was going to replace the steering linkage knuckle that I suspect is the reason for the play in the steering wheel, only to find out that I don’t have the damn socket needed to pull it apart… Stupid European specialty tools… ugh.  This past weekend, I decided to tackle our dedicated family hauler, our Suburban.  I had done pads and rotors on it a few months ago, but the wife had just come back from an overnighter and stated that the brakes are making a lot of noise in the rear.  Low and behold, the caliper piston froze on one side and destroyed the pads and rotor… A quick search revealed that replacing the caliper with a remanufactured unit would be cheaper, not to mention less time consuming.  So parts were ordered and I began the process of replacing everything.  In my infinite wisdom, I decided I was going to replace all 4 calipers… I didn’t want the brake bias to be all jacked up because one was new and the other three were old.  Made sense in my head, but this requires brake lines to be disconnected, which then requires the brakes to be bled, etc.  This shouldn’t be a hard task, I’ve done it a million times with other vehicles.  However… GM can kiss my ass… in fact, any vehicle that has some kinds of weird ABS system that requires a scanner to open the ABS modulator valves can kiss my ass.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much brake fluid I went through… And brake fluid scares the ever living crap out of me because it will eat through paint in a quick hurry.  Anyhow… THREE brake bleed procedures later, it’s done.  While I’m at it, I decide to change the oil and filter, rotate the tires, etc.  No big deal, right?  I pull the oil drain plug and it looks odd to me… the drain plug is magnetic, so I’m prepared to see a tiny bit of metal, but what I was presented with can only be described as… a gob… of fine metal shavings… it’s a lot.  Like… I’m seriously freaking out at this point.  I go and grab one of my magnetic tools and sure enough… its ALL metal.  Now, I’m trying to figure out where did all of this come from?  What damage has it done?  How much time does this engine have before it fails?  Fuck.  Ove the past year, this this had a displacement on demand failure (DoD, active fuel management system, AFM) where a lifter failed, wiped out the cam, etc.  The shop I took it to replaced the lifters with non-AFM lifters, dropped in a mild street cam, custom tune and some other stuff.  Engine has not been quite right ever since as in I’m not at all happy with the tune, but whatever, it drives and has more power, no misfires, etc.  Before all of that happened, I replaced the entire front end… new upper and lower control arms, new hubs and bearings, new end links, new bushings, new ball joints, new ABS sensors, all new alignment, new tires, new wheels, new compressor for the air ride, new brakes, new transmission (it broke after we got it back from the DoD failure)… and now this.  THIS is a game changer.  I do not have the time, patience, energy or money to keep fixing the Suburban.  For the last year, this thing has been a money pit.  I don’t want to put a new engine in it.  I think I’m done with it… Time to let it go.  Ugh…

“Let things come and go… The things that are meant to stay will stay…!!

-Sushil jain

Not Forgotten

I promise I haven’t forgotten about the blog. I’ve been trying to keep up with life these last weeks and it’s been… busy, to say the least. I actually have a draft entry that pics right up from my last post, but it’s not finished and I’m not at all sure if I should even try to finish it at this point. Some things have definitely changed since then, for the better.

But let me catch you up on recent events and happenings. The wife and I are in a very good place with each other at this point. As in, divorce is no longer on the table. I can’t even begin to express how this has impacted the entire family and the mood in the house. But, we are definitely in a better place now, which has led to things improving with our son. He’s still not returned to school physically since everything happened, but he’s been talking weekly with his therapist and he is making positive strides in school and at home. His grades in 2 of his 4 classes are stellar! And while he is struggling in the other 2, WE are ALL hopeful that he’ll do alright by the end of the school year.

Speaking of school… One of the reasons for my lack of posting was due to my own schooling. I made the decision to finish out my semester as best I could, and then… to withdraw from the college. I know… I know, I know, I know. With me coming to this decision, the likelihood of me returning to school again are slim to none. And you know what? I’m fine with it. I feel like part of everything that has happened up to this point was partly to blame on me having such a full plate. Full-time job, full-time student, full-time parent, no time for hobbies, no time for socializing, CORONAVIRUS, fix things with the house, fix things with the cars… All of that… with no kind of outlet took it’s toll, and EVERYONE paid the price. So, after much consideration and talking with the wife, a couple of friends, I made the choice to leave school. But on a good note. So, I did the best I could, and the semester just finished up this week and I’m done. I’m happy too, because I finished with better grades than I had thought I was going to end up with. There is still some administrative stuff to finish up with the school, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m done. The last few days have been nice and I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with my family.

BTW… DON’T FORGET MOTHER’S DAY THIS WEEKEND!!!

Okay, so a question to those of you who actually take the time to visit and read my ramblings… Do I continue where I left off prior to this post? Please post a reply with your opinion. I’d love to hear what you have to say. Thank you!

Nothing is born into this world without labor

Rob Liano

The Fall

It’s been a little over a week since my world was turned upside down. Over the last week and a half, my youngest made a very dramatic cry for help (cutting/possible suicide attempt) and my wife shortly thereafter made it known that she wanted a divorce. Aside from the other stuff I deal with on a daily basis (work, school, hobbies, etc.), the last two weeks have utterly shattered my heart, crushed my soul and set my world ablaze. I feel defeated.

I was completely unprepared when the wife dropped her bomb on me. It literally felt like I had been slammed in the chest by a 10lb sledgehammer swung by the strongest man in the world. I seriously would have been less surprised or shocked to have been told I was the sole winner of the Powerball. My heart shattered and my mind was clawing at trying to find something to grab onto to help steady itself and make sense of what just happened. To say that stuff came out of the woodwork during that conversation would be the understatement of the century. 27 years of marriage was being picked apart systemically by my wife, targeting and finding every reason to justify her conclusion. She reached back to her childhood memories and attributed some of those things that left lifelong impressions onto the way she viewed my mannerisms. NONE of it was good. While I was trying to comprehend the scope of what she was saying, the onslaught continued. I had no defense, I couldn’t put up a shield to defend myself for a few reasons… Her chipping away was fast and targeted, my mind was racing to comprehend and analyze what she had just said, but by the time I could process it, she had already moved onto something else. Issues between us from years ago cropped up to the surface, although we had both changed for the better, none of that seemed to matter now. Recent problems that both of us have struggled with over the last couple of years came up. Physically, emotionally and mentally being present, on both her and my parts were brought up. I pointed out that over our 27 years, lots of things have happened, and through EVERYTHING, we’ve always managed to work through it AS A TEAM and emerged victorious and better than before. There was literally NOTHING we could not over come together. We were a FORCE TO BE RECKONED with… a true POWER COUPLE. We’ve both changed over ALL of the years, for the better and FOR EACH OTHER. Anyone who knew me 5, 10, 15 20+ years or more ago, wouldn’t recognize me today. I’ve prided myself on my ability to adapt and change to the needs of my family and wife. And right now, at this moment, all of it is for naught. Those words and actions fell on deaf ears. I was defeated. There was nothing I could do and I realized it. I stopped trying to fight back to keep my soul mate. I’ve always been vulnerable to her and this time was no different. My last words to her before the end of the night was that we needed to think about how this would affect our son. With the events of the previous week, it would be easy for him to make the leap in his own head that this was somehow his fault, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with this. Please bear in mind that this was not some kind of last ditch effort in trying to change her mind. I use a lot of critical thinking in my daily life and it’s just natural to come to that conclusion. I.E. Previously, mostly everything with son was fine. Then the cutting and hospital trip. Then, a few days later, parents want a divorce. Coincidence? No, it won’t be to him and that would come to fruition in the next couple of days.

I went for a drive. I needed to try and clear my head. It didn’t help. There were more questions than answers. I’m tired. I need sleep…

Feeling, as if defeated by life.

Rehana Rafiq

Endings, Beginnings, and Focus

The title… it seems out of order, but it isn’t

Let me catch you up. We are a modern family… husband, wife, 2 kids, dogs, jobs, school(s), responsibilities, a sprinkle of social interactions and a rabbit. <- (RABBIT?! WTF?) (pssst… hey, leave my bunny alone… he’s a dapper dude) The wife and I were high school sweethearts and have been married for 27 years. YES! I think in this day and age, that’s quite an accomplishment. Our 2 kids have seven years between them, with my oldest just getting ready to turn 22. My youngest (I’ll let you do the math), is a teen with all the normal trappings of what a normal teen goes through, and then some. You know what I’m talking about… anxiety, hormones, high school, uncertainty, the constant feeling of impending doom, girls, boys, social life (both virtually and IRL), homework, expectations, learning to drive (OMGWTFBBQ), self image… and a whole host of other things I’m not aware of because, well, I’m a parent and I’m sure he hides stuff from me. I KNOW he hides stuff from me. That’s fine, I’m okay with it as long as he’s healthy and safe. But that’s the thing… healthy and safe. And I’m not talking about the physical part of healthy and safe… It’s the psychological aspect that concerns me the most. The physical part will follow suit. You see, he’s transgendered and while nothing like physical changes or hormone therapy has been done, he’s struggling. He has a waging war inside of him. This is a topic that’s tough enough without factoring in the complexities of all the things that a teen typically goes through. IT’S A LOT!!! I can’t even begin to tell you. Some of you may know, a lot of you DON’T know. Again, that’s okay. Support. We all need support and he’s no different. Let’s fast forward a bit.

Covid… ugh… pain in the ass for everyone. AMIRIGHT? However, it has taken a very heavy toll on our school aged children. All the virtual this and that, classes, homework, lack of social contact and interaction… it’s A LOT… My youngest was not spared in this. He’s struggled like so many other kids. Grades fell, confusion, lack of clarity, shyness to reach out to teachers, not wanting to ask mom or dad for help for whatever reason… pride, fear of disappointment, indifference, lack of motivation, etc. I rode his ass for a bit, not too harshly in my opinion, but rode his butt none-the-less. Basically, I just wanted him to stay current on assignments. I even told him that the grades didn’t matter too much, just put in the effort. I kinda figured that if the attempt at doing the work and turning it in was happening, the grades would eventually follow. This worked for a while, and I was satisfied with the work being done. His mood improved, he didn’t feel overwhelmed because he was not behind, overall, things looked to be on the up and up. Then some things happened. Relationship break up, missed a couple of days of school, fell behind in a some classes, ANXIETY… email from a teacher to the parents about NOT having ANYTHING turned in from the beginning of the semester. Wait… What? It was a banner day for me… getting my ass handed to me at work and at school. (I’m an idiot… I decided that being a parent, having a full time job, and going back to school full time was a GREAT idea… uh, no. Huge mistake) THEN, the email. Well, I laid into him. Because, I was told and under the impression that he was doing work and turning it in. And now I have a teacher telling me otherwise. So, yeah, I was a little heated. I yelled a bit, frustration, disappointment, the feeling of being lied to… I told him that he had about half an hour until dinner was ready, and then afterwards, he was to sit at the table and start knocking some of this stuff out. He was disappointed… in himself, and in me for losing my temper. He was angry at himself for lying and letting me down. He was frustrated, his body hurts from stuff we’re still trying to figure out, (RA is the current thought), his emotions are in shambles, his hormones are all over the place, his pride is hurt… you get the idea. He disappears for about half an hour and I go and call mom to fill her in. I begin the conversation with, “I lost it on him…” and proceed to explain what had just occurred. A few minutes later, my oldest daughter’s BF comes to the door to get me and says I need to come inside right now. He’s white as a sheet. I go in and I see my boy with cuts and slashes ALL OVER both arms. There is quite a bit of blood… I go into full panic mode, tell the wife, scoop him up and off we go to the nearest Emergency Services Facility. Now, before I go any further, I must let it be know that he’s a cutter… as in, he cuts himself as a coping mechanism. This isn’t new. While this is obviously not the healthiest way to deal with things, this was his method of choice during extremely stressful events. (YES, we’ve talked to professionals about it in the past. YES, they said it’s not the best thing to do, should be discouraged, but is not the end of the world type situation. I VEHEMENTLY DISAGREE, whatever, what do I know.) Okay, so at the hospital, he’s being seen, mom arrives, kid is getting cleaned up. Lots of concern about mental well being, we get a referral to see a professional for him, cuts are superficial and we get sent home.

As you can well imagine, the next few days are spent making appointments, going to appointments, lots of talking, lots of lots of things. Mom is taking him to appointments, I should really be there too, but I’m not. I’m trying to focus on some school work and I’m having a hard time with some of it. I know… I sound like an insensitive dick. IT WAS NOT MY BEST MOMENT. I MADE A VERY SERIOUS ERROR IN JUDGEMENT. BUT, nothing means more to me than my kids. NOTHING. I will say… hindsight is 20/20. This would turn out to be the catalyst for my downward spiral… I’m still in it, by the way…

So a week since the ER trip… tensions in the house are so palpable, you can actually taste it… feel it. It’s everywhere in the house. Everyone is on edge. Concern and emotions are running high. Thursday night, right before 1130pm… getting ready for bed and I look at the wife. She’s in bed, but looks pained… distraught… definitely upset about something. Youngest is in our bathroom showering. I ask, “Hey, babe, you okay?” “No, I’m not okay,” she says. “Okay, you wanna talk about it?” “After he gets out of the bathroom.” So, he finished his shower, give him a hug and tell him goodnight. Door closes to the bedroom, and we start talking. I get an earful. About EVERYTHING this past week. I feel the weight of her words, and at that moment, I knew I had made some very poor decisions. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I made a mistake and I absolutely should have been at those appointments. I get it. I’ll do better. I promise. I will not let either of you down again. I’m here for ALL of us. More arguing, more words. More disappointment. More let downs. More failings as a father and husband. more… More… MORE… MORE. I say, “It sounds like… we’re done.” She replies, “Yeah, I think so.”

Divorce.

That was exactly one week ago today. A lot has happened in this past week too. Lots of emotions, lots of self-reflection, lots of making sure that kid has what he NEEDS, lots of energy… both being spent and absorbed, lots of… lots of… LOTS OF EVERYTHING. But much focus has been brought forth. And it is definitely needed for myself and my family.

Endings… Beginnings… Focus.