I’ll admit that I have been avoiding writing this past month. At work I have resorted to short and direct emails rather than longwinded missives the likes of which Gore Vidal never knew.
And, truth be told, I have been mourning the passing of a great friend four weeks ago – Brett Michael Jaffe, who left us too young. Brett’s death has caused some significant introspection about life, love, and death. The grieving process I have experienced with Brett’s passing reminds me a lot of going through my divorce. Divorce after all is the “death” of a relationship. Some days I have lingered over memories too long and other days seem more like a dream. Some moments are re-played on the DVR in my mind on loop and others have been forgotten. Mostly I have taken refuge in our three amazing children and in the arms of my best friend. Today is a good day and in spite of some painful moments, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!
Emily has been patiently cajoling me to write and has put up with my writing avoidance defense mechanism; as patient as a rabid zombie seeking a slow victim. So I write…. with some helpful interview questions cooked up by Emily “Bacon Slayer” Strabala-Reese / Reese-Strabala / Reese / Strabala (which is it? – a topic for another time).
Here are the questions she presented to me.
1. What is a “Fred-ism”? Give some examples of what this means. I think it would be good to clarify this topic so that you can begin using them when you write on our blog.
Funny! My Dad’s name is Thomas Frederick Reese. Born a really long time ago, he is the Aged P. He’s always gone by “Fred” to his friends (a.k.a. The Silver Fox). It stands to reason that a “Fred-ism” is something that Fred does, says, or is. I love my Dad! He’s been a huge influence on my life. He, like us all, has his faults and has made his share of mistakes. He will be 78 this year and he has put a bunch of miles on his body so we are trying to be honest about his health – some days are better than others.
I also think Fredisms are a secret code for those who know him to reflect on his craziness. My brothers and sisters can laugh and tell Fredisms to each other for hours. It’s like a secret club where you can only be admitted if you know all the quirks of our Father.
- a particular brand of OCD tendencies – like having to make certain that your house is perfectly clean before leaving for vacation (“Who wants to return from a trip to a dirty house?”)
- instead of having something defensible to say about someone’s worldview, just barking, “She’s not all there!” is his fall-back phrase. (Yes Dad, Shelly Berkley looks like “the Joker on speed.”)
- being on a first name basis with every employee of every Dollar Store or consignment shop in Sparks, Nevada. You should see the garbage he sends home with us. I shit-you-not this stuff is hysterical. I have personally received plaster hands in prayer; tin boxes, piggy banks of every shape and size (when one of my children mistakenly remarked that he liked them), “discreet” condom storage boxes (with pictures of sunsets and sandy beaches), dream catchers (Emily’s favorite), and all measure of Chinese manufactured bullshit to fill a dumpster the size of a small village. This is his latest gift. What in the hell is this? Best response might receive it in the mail next week so tread lightly.
When I was a kid I used to find his Fredisms annoying. Now I am just thankful that he is still around and my kids get to know what an amazing, if somewhat crazy, man this is.
2. Please give your rendition of the day you proposed to me. Wait. Also please tell me exactly when you decided you loved me so much that you wanted to ask me to marry you. I’ve never asked that question.
It was December; we were spending Christmas Break in Reno. It was cold! My parents had recently sold the home I grew up in and moved into a Condo that my Mother could not stand (Fred in his infinite wisdom sold the house “out from under me” as my Mother frequently recalls). I had purchased the ring a few months earlier but wanted everyone to meet you first. I had some ideas about how to propose that I’d read about or seen on television. One was to make my own light-up sign using a cardboard box and Christmas light – who do I look like Martha Stewart? I’d have cut myself and bled to death or been electrocuted. That was not going to work. It also snowed the first four or five days we were in town which significantly impaired my ability to plan anything outside. I was getting desperate! So I settled on getting to the top of the highest point I could safely get us to in a blizzard and simply getting down on one knee. So I proposed on the hill at McQueen High School. I remember you were wearing ugly black shoes that were not the best thing for a hike through 2 feet of snow. You said yes! The rest is history.
I decided to ask you to marry me after I drove a couple hundred miles in a snowstorm to see you play in the National Catholic Basketball Tournament in some far wintery region of Iowa. Quad-Cities I think. I had just returned to Kansas City from being in Reno for Christmas break when I received a “Dear John” letter from you. I was having none of that so Shane and I drove through the night to win you back.
Note from Emily: Devon, I remember having the best game of my college career that morning, not knowing you were sitting in the bleachers with Shane. When I came out of the game for a much needed break (and probably to change my uniform because the one I was wearing was too slimy from sweat), imagine my surprise when I saw you sitting there smiling at me. Well played, Devon. That sealed the deal for me, too.
3. Please tell the general populace why you think you know everything about everything. In particular, I am referring to the jobs you had which led you to the path of Nirvana and Total Enlightenment.
This is a “Fredism”. I use this line on the kids mostly but occasionally it is a pithy retort to any argument with anyone. I have worked in retail (youngest manager in Gantos story history), ice cream, and inventory control – I am therefore qualified to opine on any subject including fashion (although this is disputed by my two girls), Olympic diving (“He is gay, you can tell by the way he wears his Speedo to the left”), and the politics of Djibouti.
4. What, in your opinion, were the three toughest things about hashing out the particulars of our divorce?
- Child custody – I wanted the kids to immediately spend 50% of their time with me; this was not always practical but eventually worked out.
- Finances – at the time, the economy was shot (still is?) and I was not working. But again, this got worked out.
- Stuff – I did not want much but I had to say goodbye to things we collected along the way – can I have the little wood boxes back?
From Emily: No, you can’t have those boxes. I use them to store the various voodoo dolls I have created of you over the last 6 years. They hold sentimental bitter feelings for me.
5. What in particular would you want to see improvement on between the two of us and our current relationship? Please be brutally honest. Don’t give me that “I wouldn’t change anything, you’re perfect the way you are, I’m perfect and don’t need to change a thing” crap. I’m totally serious, here. Our dirty laundry can’t get any dirtier than it already is on this blog.
- You need to clean your house more.
- The kids need to take more showers at your house.
- You need to clean your car.
- You could make me White Chicken Chile once and a while.
- You need to clean your house more.
- Can you get a job soon?
- Don’t ask me if I think your current boyfriend is cute. He is ugly when compared to me.
Emily: I would love to get all sorts of defensive on your ass for these comments, but unfortunately, they are true to a degree. I did clean out the car the other day. I found some petrified chicken McNuggets under the back seat that I thought about saving for your viewing pleasure. Instead, I put them in the wooden boxes for safe keeping.
6. When you are dealing with clients who are going through a divorce, what kinds of things do you think about when counseling them through the process? Do you ever use us as an example? Does it ever cause you to be self-reflective? What is the toughest thing about dealing with Family Law and having been through a divorce yourself?
This is a great question. I think I am very good at this type of practice because I have gone through a divorce. I do try to encourage cooperation and use our own divorce as a model. Unfortunately, it is not always realistic – some people need to have their dumbass opinions corrected. I “know everything about everything” so it is “my way” or you can hire someone else. I do turn down clients – mostly they are people who want to “slash and burn” their ex-spouses. I will not do that – life is too short.
Blessings and Rainbows, Devon and Emily