Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My wife has come home... she's been sleeping a lot.

Okay, so my wife came back yesterday morning.  I tried my hardest to be there early, but her flight got in around half an hour early.  By the time I got there, my wife was sitting there on the curb with a sad face on.  I was sad that I didn't get there earlier -- I really made an effort -- I even took off work in the morning even though we desperately need the hours -- so that I could be the one to pick her up.

She's been fine these past few days.  She really hasn't said much.  She spoke about her experiences in Israel and her spiritual experiences with regard to her grandma's death.  As for us, she said that she cannot believe that the person I am would say the things I said and -- yes, these are her words -- I must have been possessed by the devil himself (I suppose she meant the Sattan or the Yetzer Hara) because all of my actions and everything around her seemed to go to extremes trying to stop her from going to Israel to say goodbye.  She felt like she did holy things there, and she really affected the atmosphere of those around her, including uplifting her grandma who was receptive to her words of prayer.

As for everything else, she's been pretty quiet.  I think she's jetlagged or depressed because she's been going to sleep around 7pm yesterday and tonight and I have not had a chance to spend any time with her since she's come back.  I get back at 6:45pm, we put the kids to sleep, and she's asleep minutes later.  My insecurities tell me to feel hurt that she hasn't made any effort to communicate with me or spend time with me, but I'm shaking these feelings off because whichever one it is, she probably needs time to come back to normal and regain her emotional and physical strength.

As for everything else, I've picked up the pace of my share of the housework to make things easier for her (and to keep me sane).  On top of that, I've been having meetings with law firm prospective clients and I am up to two clients, possibly as of tonight, a third.  We'll see. I am doing all this for us, you know... and to get me the hell out of that sweat shop of a document review project.  WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND works document review in NYC for $25/hr?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why G-d, why? Grandmother died. I feel horrible. :(

Wow, it can only go from bad to worse, can't it?

I've been waiting to hear back from my wife about the status of her grandmother.  When I asked her over a Skype conversation on Sunday, she shrugged, rolled her eyes and said, "don't ask."  Our conversation was superficial; I supposed she was stressed.  It kind of hurt that she was taking so much pleasure in talking to our kids, but she really had nothing to say to me.  You might answer, "well why would she want to speak to you, Zoe?  You're an asshole and you're slime for saying the things you have."  True, no doubt.  But this is the way she is even when things are good.

I was saddened that she didn't have much to say to me, if anything, and that she didn't lean on me or confide in me.  With the exception of our fights which you read about from my perspective only [via this blog], I'm really a hard-working, caring and loving husband who is an amazing father to our children.  No doubt, there are issues which have lingered throughout our marriage that I've been nudging to work out, the subject of our last fight being one of them.  [A piece of challah just got stuck to my arm as I was writing this, and when I turned my arm over, I saw it and I thought it was a scorpion and I jumped and screamed.  Luckily I'm alone and the kids are asleep as I'm writing this.]

Anyway, after not hearing from my wife all day -- her last day in Israel -- I figured that she would at least call me to arrange for her to be picked up from the airport.  She didn't call, and she didn't leave a forwarding number while she was in Israel, so all I had was the grandmother's phone number from her last two trips at whom she was not staying this time around (and that phone number rang and rang and rang with nobody picking up.)  I waited a few hours and hearing nothing, I sent her an e-mail telling her that I want to wish her well on her flight back and that she should call me so we can arrange for her arrival.

I got no phone call.

Then, hours later, her brother called me asking me if I could pick her up from the airport.  I told him I haven't heard from her and I was wondering how his grandmother was.  "Our grandmother died last night... Nobody told you?  We all knew about it first thing this morning.  The funeral was this morning."  Nobody told me.

Then my first thought was, "Thank G-d I called her up and convinced her to go after our fight, or else we would have gotten divorced over this."

I agreed to pick her up, and in fact, I insisted on picking her up.  Regardless of the hours of work I will necessarily miss for this, it is not even a consideration knowing that my wife just went through the death of her grandmother and a funeral!  I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of pain she is in.

I also cannot believe how dumb I feel for fighting with her about her going to Israel in the first place.  I am sure she will fault me for her grandmother's death, and she will fault me for stopping her from going and visiting, even though I was never opposed to her going.  I am so upset and crushed that her grandmother died, but even more so, I feel like such a fool that she died right as we fought days before about her going to Israel. I promise you world, I had NO IDEA she was this sick, and I thought she had many months of life left!  Many people get cancer!  They don't keel over and die overnight!  What happened to the whole "6 months to live" death sentence? AND EVEN THEN people live out years beyond that making jokes about the doctors ultra-conservative prognosis!

I knew that her brother said that she was doing very poorly when he visited just a week ago, but I didn't realize that meant their grandmother was imminently dying!  I had NO IDEA this was what was happening!  If so, I would never have instigated a fight over the text messages.  [They were half jokes that turned into a fight after she over and over misconstrued my words into something disgusting and ugly!  I was just making a point in the texts.  I didn't have any intention of her not going.  I was just feeling unloved and ignored, and I wanted some attention, appreciation, or acknowledgement that I was and am doing well in being a good husband and father].  I could just as easily take my $50K/yr on our single income and law school debt, rent, and daycare for two kids and I could watch movies every afternoon and evening sitting outside with a beer achieving absolutely nothing like so many people do who don't care to make a life for themselves.  But no!  I stay out until 10pm sometimes working my ass off learning new materials so that I can properly give my wife and my family what they want and need!  And when I am home, I AM HOME!  I don't take my work home with me.  I am playful with the kids, present and dominant as a parent, helpful in the home, and I am a good husband to my wife.  Now I'm the piece of shit who almost stopped her from seeing her grandmother just a few days before she left this earth forever.

I don't know how I can ever salvage this one.
Hey, out of curiosity, what should we look for in a marriage counselor?  How much should they cost, etc.?

What are the pitfalls, the benefits, the costs?

Can anyone share any POSITIVE stories?  I know the negative ones all lead to divorce.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

End of the TXT-MESSAGE-FIGHT story.

First of all, I stopped moderating comments.  Too often, I'll write something in the heat of the moment and not log on for another week, or a holiday will go by or something and I and everyone else don't see your posts.  So now it's no longer moderated.

As for the whole Israel trip.  Here is the end of the story.

The following morning, I was ready to talk to my wife thinking that she'd cooled down from the previous day's interactions.  The first thing she asked me is whether I take back all the things I said before and do I admit that I am a selfish asshole.  I told her that I was still sorry I said them the way I did, but I still meant what I said, but I thought I was right and that I'd be happy to talk about it like adults.

I can't recall the words that were exchanged, but they were primarily insults directed at me where she was venting anger and throwing insults my way, but no, she wouldn't discuss anything that was said.  Finally, I got ready, went to work, and kissed my three kids goodbye.  Knowing that my wife was flying to Israel that morning, I was horrified and sad that she was okay with leaving with such negativity between us, but she made no efforts to smooth things out despite my many attempts the night before and that morning.  Instead of kissing her too, I told her to "go to hell" and I walked out.

I couldn't believe we were going to part fighting like this.  She had deceived me in the way she handled the whole Israel thing, and I was right on the issues I presented to her in the text messages the day before, before they all escalated and exploded into a fight.  ...then my phone rang, it was her!

Ready for some kind of normal discussion, she called me up screaming at me about what an asshole I was, and how wrong I was, etc.  For the first time, I think ever in our marriage, I lost control.  I screamed back at her like a maniac.  She screamed at me like a maniac.  I couldn't believe the person I had become at that moment, it seriously felt like I was channeling my dad fighting with my mom when I was a young child before they divorced.  I mean, I was enraged, and so was she.  She was crying for the second time ever in our marriage, but even so, I thought to myself, "damn, I didn't know she knew how to cry."  Yes, that was an evil thought, but I was not in my proper state of mind.

I didn't back down by her crying, although I took note of its existence.  But I felt that I had a real issue here.  She deceived me and picked up and left the country all in a day's notice after talking about it for a number of months and not following up on it.  I don't know if I was more upset that she was flip-flopping so much, that she made one decision and by changing it so quickly, I felt that I couldn't trust her, that throughout all this fight, she didn't make the effort to read my e-mail or my explanation that I spent hours writing and thinking about (by the way, she *did* read it, but she told me she skipped over most of it because she felt "none of it was relevant.")  Not relevant.  That is what the whole fight was about.  I was telling her one thing, and she was hearing something completely different, ignoring me and making me feel invisible, insignificant, and unimportant, and it was me that would have to pick up the slack when she's gone and she didn't appreciate or consider it one bit.

In the midst of our screaming fight, I told her why I thought she deceived me, mentioning how she lowered the screen on the laptop so that I didn't see what she was doing.  She asked me if I was an idiot, and told me that there was a glare in her eye and so she moved the laptop away from her so that she could see me since I sat down at her.  The floor dropped out of my argument, but she kept hammering away at me.  I told her that my reactions were fully appropriate given the circumstances as I saw them, and given the way I interpreted a number of events to conclude that she deceived me, I had a right to be upset.

I thought this was a weak argument, but misunderstanding the situation if she indeed had a "glare" in her eye -- have you EVER had that happen to you?  I never have, but I'll take her at her word.  All in all, as I described the other pieces of "evidence" why I thought she deceived me, she accused me of having a sick, dark, and twisted mind where I take everything and turn it into a criminal attack scheme.  I couldn't defend myself because I didn't know whether she was wrong or not.  I *do* have a sick, twisted, and dark mind, and I do see things from the "glass half empty, how can I figure out who drank it" point of view.

Anyway, I was exhausted and was tired of fighting, especially since I know I was thoroughly misunderstood -- hey, I was just commenting that it would be nice if she spent some time on me rather than herself, and this whole fight erupted.

...then she started the "I'm not going.  I'm canceling my trip.  I don't feel safe leaving my kids with a monster like you" talk.  I was thoroughly horrified, and saddened, because that is what people say before they get divorced.  I was hurt and belittled, and I was weak inside and wanted to throw up.  How could she say I was a monster and that she didn't trust our kids with me?  What, as if I would hurt my own children? was she KIDDING?!?

In my mind, she really was no longer seeing me -- just some monster she painted in her eyes.  Even today I am very upset about this statement, even though she turned it around later and said, "I meant that I couldn't leave the kids period, with you, without you.  The focus was me, and what a bad mother I would be for leaving the kids for five days."  I decided not to get upset about this, but days later, I am still hurt because she DID use those words.

Anyway, so here she is not going to Israel, and it would be my fault.  I called her some hours later and convinced her to go.  I told her everything would be fine here, and that my mother would take care of the kids while she was gone.  I told her I would take off from work and pick my mom up at JFK and arrange everything.  She should just pack and go because she should go see her grandmother.  When I saw she was hesitating because she didn't want to give in to me, I told her that she wasn't giving in to me by going.  We still had a fight to have when she got back, but I wasn't angry at her and the fight had nothing to do with Israel, in fact at this point the fight seems pointless and I'm not sure I even want to bring it up again until we're healthier like I thought we were.

So she went.  We've spoken a few times, but she's irritated.  She hasn't said a word to me other than she saw her grandmother and she wasn't doing well.  I'm sure we're fine, but I am on edge, and I'm sad we had such a fight over really nothing.

Bottom line, I completely regret sending her those text messages, and in fact, I wish I left the phone at home that day.  I don't think my points were invalid, I just lost my cool and I'm not convinced it was entirely my fault.  I am an asshole as she described me, and I am a twisted, dark, pig-headed moron, especially after I misjudged so much of what happened.

But all in all, I'm confused how we can go from so loving and in such good shape to this with just a few text messages.  What kind of anger has she been harboring for me and me for her?  I'm really saddened by this whole course of events, and I wish I could just turn back the clock.  But undoubtedly, there ARE some SERIOUS issues that need marital counseling, and both you and I are not kidding.

We just have to find someone we trust, and we need to figure out a way not to go broke or get divorced while going through the sessions.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Letter to wife [over TXT MESSAGE FIGHT] who is leaving to Israel tomorrow to visit dying grandmother.

Dear wife,

Okay, so you wanted me to read the text messages so you can show me what an unstable asshole I really am.  Really you are mistaken, and I feel that each and every text comment is justified by more than one significant event.  I am really sorry that my words hurt you, but you misconstrued so much about what I said, and contributed to the conflagration of words that were shared.

Upfront, I am terribly sorry I hurt you.  I was unaware that my words would affect you the way they did, I was unaware of how you were feeling about your trip [partly because you neglected to share your feelings with me yet again and YES, it seemed to me like you were the little sister that wanted to be and to have what your big brother and sister had and you were childish in feeling that it was unfair that your parents were not giving you what the others got.  I really didn't get any concern from you about your feelings about this trip when you spoke about it, and it seemed like it was a "thing you should do" rather than something you were moved to do.  I know how horrifying this may seem, but this IS the picture you were giving out and don't tell me I wasn't paying attention to you or what you said.  This WAS the message you were giving off.]

On top of that, yesterday when I came home, I saw that you were on airline websites and you actively tried to deceive me and hide what you were doing from me.  I saw what you were doing, and I saw how you lowered the laptop screen as soon as I noticed what you were looking at.  When I asked you about it and how we would pay for it, you jokingly said with a chuckle, "oh, I figured we would figure out a way to pay for it."  This enraged me, especially knowing our financial picture and our previous discussions of how you acknowledged that going to Israel would destabilize us financially and we would be paying it back for months and months.

I walked over to the kitchen and thought to myself, "you think your friend is destructive?"  "YOU are destructive to our lives, our happiness, and to our livelihood."  In my head, I went through all of the huge big-ticket items we have paid for you, including the exercise bug that you enthusiastically paid for when we had nothing in our bank accounts, but you promised you would use it every day.  But you lied.  Just like you said you would get a job, just like you said you would get me slippers for our anniversary (which you not only forgot, but you never got a gift and you neglected to make time for us to go out after my begging you to go out countless times), and just like you said you would help me as my "project manager" in my law firm and you would cheerfully run errands and do tasks for me that needed to be done, only to back out and complain any time I gave you anything to do.  In short, you lied, you lied again, and you lied again.  It it thoroughly important for me in terms of my value hierarchy that I am able to trust you and I keep finding over and over again that you say you will do one thing and then you do another.  It hurts me deeply that I cannot trust your word and this newly renewed desire to visit Israel just because your brother did just seemed to be childish, especially at our family's expense.  However, I said nothing.  I smiled, and I kept this to myself.

This morning when you told me that you conveniently found tickets to Israel and that you were leaving tomorrow morning, and that my mom who is flying in will just have to figure it out for herself [this after you joking that you wanted to disappear for a few days while she was here] really hurt my feelings.  I was minimally upset that I would have to take off work to pick up my mom and this would cut into work hours we simply do not have the ability to take away from [we are barely making it financially if I max out the hours and here you were asking me to take a number of hours off from work to pick my mom up because you decided to flee the country]... I was upset when you didn't think about anything except for yourself, and you didn't concern yourself with how my mom was to be picked up, or how this will change my work schedule now that I'll have to spend more time home with the kids since I can't leave my mom there all day and night alone in the house with two needy children.  It made me mad when you said you hadn't thought about any of this, but instead of sharing that I was upset with you, I kept my mouth shut and you took that to mean that I was busy.  I successfully again avoided a fight.

Then I sent you the text message, "I am excited that you have been able to pull off this trip.  Your determination is admirable."  Consider that as if I was shooting a cannon across the bow of your ship.  I was testing the waters and giving you a chance to explain yourself such as, "this was very important to me," or, "yes, I know this happened fast and I know it will be a destabilizing experience for everyone. Thank you for being there for me." 

When I got none of this, I got angry.  Thinking about how you have your crazes about going to nursing school, or whatever your craze is for the moment where you spend days searching out every detail of a program only to not follow through with it yet again, I got upset that you always get what you want and that it bothered me that you were not considerate of anyone around you.  I thought of my mom and how she might not meet our youngest daughter, and I thought of the law firm, and how it would be so helpful if you took even the slightest amount of interest or effort in helping me get started just like you spend your attention and your energies getting something you really want.  It hurts me how everything you want is always at the cost of someone else, and that you don't consider other people when making decisions.  You didn't even ask me this morning if I would be okay with it.  You told me, "I found tickets and I am leaving tomorrow."  In other words, again, I'm doing what I want to do because I want to do it and I do not care how it affects you, our kids, or anyone around me.  I'm just doing what I want to do.  This upset me and thus I wrote the comment, "I never know why you can achieve goals for you but you can never help achieve goals for us."

When you responded with "that seemed rude. do you mean why dont i ask my parents for money for other things that are important to u?", I was upset that you completely misunderstood what I was saying.  Deciding YET AGAIN to avoid a fight, I responded, "No. Your just good @getting things done when u put ur mind 2 it.  Just wish u'd get me outta here."

In other words, I was sharing how I was feeling and was looking for some kind of recognition that if only you would spend a fraction of the effort you spend on things for yourself on me or on us, imagine what we could get done together. that point, instead of reading or thinking about what I was saying, you decided to start a fight.  "seriously? that seems to be a disgusting attitude. I wonder what you would be saying if this was Rivkah [my grandmother] dying?"  That was not a nice thing to say, and I wasn't having a disgusting attitude.  In fact, if anything, I was still being completely supportive and was just pointing out [albeit with terrible timing] that it would be nice if you spent some time on us rather than on your own pursuits [and yes, going to Israel yet again seemed to be a meritless pursuit.  Your mom suggested that you call your grandmother, talk to her for a few weeks, and only then decide whether you wanted to go to Israel or not.  I heard of ONLY ONE CALL you made to her, and as far as I understood, you lost interest in the pursuit, just like you do with everything else.  You only started talking about Israel again when your sister went and you felt left out.]

Seeing that you were clearly misunderstanding me, and that this had nothing to do with you visiting your dying grandmother, I responded very clearly sharing with you my thoughts.  Quite upset at this point, I said, "The speed @which u pulled 2gether this trip has made me so angry I dont think I can even look @u."  "You are obviously an idiot if you think I am talking about your grandma."

It wasn't until a few messages later that I realized you were needing support because this trip was somehow affecting you emotionally.  You didn't let that on at all in our conversations and in our previous conversations. I explained myself and why I was texting, and you responded, "i dont care about why you are upset. I am going to say good bye to my dying grandmother."

At that point, seeing that you still did not even pay one iota of attention to anything I said, I wrote, "You are a fake. You are selfish. You are insensitive and uncommitted.  You are lazy.  You are a liar."  I carefully chose each of these statements because I *am* feeling these things about you.  Seeing that these things hurt you, I won't go into them.

So now it is almost 1am, and I am going to sleep not knowing anything about what is happening tomorrow, or whether you made some sort of arrangement with my mom who will be arriving shortly before your departure.  I bought you medicine and I scored a significant client for the law firm, but I have nobody to share either with and you have acknowledged neither.  This whole ordeal has left us not speaking, and that makes me sad as well, especially since all I wanted to say is:

"It is baffling to me that when you get an idea or a desire in your head, you take action on it so fanatically that it always comes to fruition, regardless of how it happens, you make it happen.  I just wish you put the same effort into our life and our goals instead of the things you do put your time into.  I am in a dead-end position where I have no internet, no telephone, and no freedom to advance our situation.  Only you can help me help us move forward, and it bothers me that you don't make the effort to do so, but instead you only follow your own pursuits as if you and I had different goals.  This hurts me deeply."

So I hope you enjoy your trip to Israel.  I know it is not a vacation.  I will be here if you need someone to talk to, but I suspect you'll hang onto your anger for some time.  I'm here when you want to talk.


Follow-up to text message fight with wife.

Tonight after I got home, she wasn't speaking to me.  I had an appointment with a client, and so when she overheard that I will be going over to his house at 8:30pm, she texted me from the next room, "I need you to pick up medicine for my flight tomorrow!! I thought you had a phone appointment."

On my way over to the client, I picked up the medicine.  When I got home, I read Ahuva's response to my previous post and decided to apologize to her.  I said, "I'm sorry for the things I said.  They were hurtful, they were rude, and they were uncalled for."  She said that I was borderline mentally disturbed, and she called me a pig-something asshole, and then went off on how I am so rude to focus only on myself when all she's done for me is play "poor Zoe" these past few days.  Practically in tears, she screamed, "I am visiting my dying grandmother!  I am not going to Israel on a vacation.  Do you think I want to leave my kids for FIVE days?  I'm going to say goodbye you asshole!  And all you can think of is yourself... I can never forgive you for this..."  I said, "okay, don't forgive me then."  "I won't, I promise you," she said.

I really didn't defend myself at all tonight.  As I figured initially from the text messages, she completely misunderstood what I was saying, and when I elevated the conversation to be more direct, she got further insulted.  In the end, I don't think she has a clue as to what I was saying.  I do understand her, however, and I feel bad that she was hurt today.  However there is that part of me (most of me) which with every fiber of my being says that I am unhappy with the way she treats me as a husband and in a relationship; I am unhappy with the promises she has made and has broken so many times over, as I hold her to her word when she says she will do something; and I am unhappy with the unbalance that is between us -- me killing myself to support us and her living in comfort with the kids in daycare and her going out with her friends as if I am making six figures.  So many wives complain that their husbands just sit around and don't help out.  While my wife does do some cooking and cleaning, and she does take care of the kids, as for me and us, I feel like she does nothing to further our relationship or our future and she denies the dire financial situation we are in.

So now instead of relaxing, it is after 12am, and I have secured a client that I have been working on for months now.  I am very honored that she has decided to go with me; I will be writing her patent.  I came home tonight with a check and a signed contract.  I was smiling and very excited, but my wife was nowhere to be found.  When I peeped in the bedroom, she was asleep and not speaking to me, so I left the check on the table for her to see when she woke up.  She said nothing.

So what am I going to do now that it is after 12am?  Before she went to sleep, she shoved her laptop at me and said, "look at the text messages you wrote, and then you'll know why I am angry at you."  I printed up the text messages in the last message in the order in which the texts happened, and now I'm going to write her a letter explaining [not defending] myself.  I'll send it to her so she can read it once she arrives in Israel.

Fight with wife over SMS TEXT MESSAGES.

Okay, so again, I am the asshole.  I am the mean, pig-headed jerk who wronged my wife in her weak moments as she was planning to visit her dying grandmother.  Now she is not speaking to me.  Here are the texts as they actually happened.

[Spaces indicate that a pause of time has occurred, and the double-texts actually were sent to me that way -- her computer has a bug that sends double postings.  It happens on her facebook account as well.]

1:05PM ME: "I am excited that you have been able to pull off this trip.  Your determination is admirable."
1:26PM ME: "I never know why you can achieve goals for you but you can never help achieve goals for us."

HER: "that seemed rude. do you mean why dont i ask my parents for money for other things that are important to u?"
HER: "that seemed rude. do you mean why dont i ask my parents for money for other things that are important to u?"
1:55PM ME: "No. Your just good @getting things done when u put ur mind 2 it.  Just wish u'd get me outta here."

HER: "seriously? that seems to be a disgusting attitude. I wonder what you would be saying if this was Rivkah dying?"
2:02PM ME: "Didn't get your last message.  It was the same as the one before it."
3:23PM ME: "The speed @which u pulled 2gether this trip has made me so angry I dont think I can even look @u."
HER: "now you are making me sick!!!!! absolutely disgusting how you are able to twist everything and make it so ugly."
4:42PM ME: "If that is your response then you are selfish and blind to things around you."
HER: "now you are making me sick!!!!! absolutely disgusting how you are able to twist everything and make it so ugly."
4:44PM ME: "You are obviously an idiot if you think I am talking about your grandma."
4:47PM ME: "You are an inconsiderate selfish person who is out of touch with the concept of us."

HER: "i dont care about why you are upset. I am going to say good bye to my dying grandmother"
4:59PM ME: "I think I have a right 2 b hurt esp. since you still have no idea why Im upset despite my txts."
HER: "and you are making me do it alone! I need a supportive, kind husband, not a poor me lets talk aboutwhyiam sad"
5:03PM ME: "I Havent seen anything Youve been writing. You keep sending the same f'd up message over and over."
HER: "and you are making me do it alone! I need a supportive, kind husband, not a poor me lets talk aboutwhyiam sad"
5:07PM ME: "Moron."

5:19PM ME: "You are a fake. You are selfish. You are insensitive and uncommitted.  You are lazy.  You are a liar."

5:32PM ME: "I am tired of you taking me for granted.  I am tired of being the only one in our relationship."
HER: "I will not be talking to you until you apologize to me. If you need help understanding why, i have your texts."
Okay, so I obviously made things much worse than they needed to be.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Selfish, Selfish, SELFISH!

I'm happy for my wife, yet I'm crying inside.  My wife dropped the idea of visiting her dying grandmother in Israel since my post a number of months ago, but now that her sister and dad just went, she wants to go too.  She does not realize that her sister is married and has a house, no school loans or daycare costs, AND a full-time job where she makes close to $50K/yr, and her sister's husband is in advertising and makes close to $80/yr with full benefits.  We are barely making ends meet on my temporary document review salary which is less than $50K if we're lucky.  I think it is selfish for her to think that we can afford it.

So last night I see her visiting airline sites --,, etc.  When I was in view of the computer, she lowered the laptop screen so I wouldn't see what she was doing, but I noticed.  Then she told me she was looking for tickets.  When I asked her how she would pay, she said, "I was thinking that we'd figure something out."  By the way, our financial picture is SO DIM that we cannot even pay this month's coming rent or our credit card bills.  This is the second month in a row this has been the case.  I smiled and walked away deciding not to make a fight over it and hoping again that she drops the whole idea of going because we simply cannot afford it.

This morning she calls me all excited telling me that her parents have agreed to pay for her ticket to Israel, and that she would be leaving to Israel tomorrow morning.  My mom consequently has tickets to come visit for a week to see our new baby (which will now be going on the plane with my wife the entire time she is in Israel); she will be arriving tomorrow.  (Now I will have to take off work to pick her up or have her take a taxi to an empty apartment which is disrespectful.)  Initially, the plan was that my mom was coming to help out, but then when she dropped the idea of going to Israel some months ago, my mom booked tickets anyway to make it a vacation.  Now my mom is forced to play babysitter again for a week, and I don't think it is fair to have asked her this again after the changed expectations.

So I got off the phone with her without voicing any disagreements or fights, but I was roaring with flames inside.  I sent her text message #1, "I find it admirable that you are able to pull off this trip" followed around 20 minutes later with text message #2, "I never know why you can achieve goals for you but you can never help achieve goals for us."  She responds, "that seemed rude. do you mean why dont i ask my parents for money for other things that are important to u?"   Horrified that she completely and obliviously misunderstood me, I decided not to start a fight, so I replied, "No. Your just good @getting things done when u put ur mind 2 it. Just wish u'd get me outta here."

In other words, this whole Israel trip thing again sparked my flaming frustration in that my wife only does what is good for her or for the kids.  When it comes to doing good for me, she does the absolute minimum.  This is not the same with me; I treat her well and give her everything she needs -- financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  I also spend time being a good father and a good husband when it comes to the kids and the household chores.

It just makes me so angry and so sad that here I am, stuck in this G-d foresaken document review project which pays net in the low $20's per hour without any benefits, where all internet is completely blocked and where there is nothing for us to do except sit at our computers and work all day and night.  We are forced to take an unpaid lunch break, which kills an hour of each day.  I can't search the web for better jobs.  I can't move forward to grow my law practice.  I can't make or answer phone calls with clients because there is almost no privacy.  I cannot even goof off and surf the web (not like I would).  But here is my wife, at home with two of our kids in daycare each day, at home with our 9-month old who is now crawling.  She does whatever minimum housework she feels like, and whatever else she wants to do, she does.  Sometimes it is laundry, other times it is an outing with one of her friends.  Sometimes she cooks.  I feel like she has no responsibilities other than as a mother and I am furious that she is not helping me get out of this terrible situation that I am in.  I am doing the lawyerly equivalent of flipping burgers at Burger King and I cannot get out of this hellhole of a vacuum of a document review project, and I could use just a little bit of help from someone to give me a lifeline so that I can properly get some footing financially and start my practice.

I feel that she should get a job to help at least save up for us to pay for healthcare or to help me start my law firm or to ease my burdens in supporting our family at $23/hour.  She used to offer that she would help me with the law firm, but she has done almost NOTHING I have asked her to do.  Every time I ask her to do anything, it is a burden and she complains and moans about how much of her free time during the day it will take away from her if she has to do the task I asked her to do.  Then when I tell her again exactly what I need her to do and she agrees to do it, she still doesn't do it.

I set up a law firm e-mail for her weeks ago and I gave her a number of things to do, but she hasn't even logged into her e-mail once!  She pretends to have an interest in my law firm and working for it every time I tell her to get a job, but then she never does anything when I ask her to do it.  She takes ABSOLUTELY NO INITIATIVE in moving it or us forward.

I am so frustrated, and I feel as if as selfish as I am, I got what I deserved in a wife.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hell, how do I file a law suit? Status on life.

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on where I am in life.  I have started receiving so many phone calls about mortgage foreclosure and bankruptcy, an area that I have spent the past few months learning about.

All in all, I believe I am ready to get started accepting clients, but my only question is... How the hell do I file a lawsuit, how do I know what kind of cause of action I should use, how do I file for an injunction, and what kind of pleadings do I use?

You would think that an attorney would know how to do such things, but believe it or not, we were never taught actual practice of law in law school.

I spoke to a bankruptcy attorney [also on the document review project]; he called doing the work we do "contract work," and he referred to it as a disease.  He has his own practice (just as I am starting my own), but he said that when he doesn't have clients, to bankroll his practice, he does contract work to pay the bills and keep the lights on.

I have a slightly different idea.  My wife and I are looking for some loan source so that I can start working full time right away.  Hitting the ground running at full speed is more likely in my opinion to yield results than dipping my toe in here and there.  The problem is that I don't see contract work as a disease; I see it as bitter-sweet shackles which stops me from getting started or succeeding in starting a firm.  It does pay the bills (most of the time, except these past few weeks where we almost couldn't pay the rent, and we even fought over this during an overly insensitive moment I had a few days back), but it absolutely KILLS all my time.

On another note, my COBRA health insurance runs out next month, and my wife and I do not have any alternative.  Paying for a plan seems so expensive and Obamacare is at least a few years out (and it will probably be legislated out of existence come November anyway).  We applied for the State's health welfare program, but we make too much money and were denied.  My wife and I have joked about how to get on medicare (think child #4), but the kids and me would still not be covered.  We will reapply for the State's health insurance program as soon as I lose my COBRA.  The reason we were denied was because they were all covered under my current plan which is still in effect until the end of November.


Starbucks employee, "You're allergic to metal spoons?"

Okay so I'm at the same Starbucks as I was last time, and I ordered my usual Venti coffee topped off with a bit of cold soy milk (parve, obviously).  This time, however, the woman behind the counter takes a LARGE METAL SPOON, sticks it into my coffee, and asks me something.

I didn't hear what she said because in my mind all I heard were the "wahkwahwah" sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher used to sound like.  I couldn't believe for me, that my coffee just achieved the equivalent status of Burger King.  Obviously it was kosher still [for someone who does not keep Cholov Yisroel], but that spoon was almost CERTAINLY considered dairy (or worse, traif), and my coffee was very hot.

So I apologized and told her that due to my very strict dietary restrictions, I cannot have any metal spoons in my coffee.  I know I phrased it weird, but I wasn't about to explain kashrus to a teenage Starbucks employee.  She understood me as saying that I had some allergic reactions to metal.  I held back a chuckle, and then commented that it was that way with me and dairy as well, so not to worry.

So for the past few minutes, I've been hearing her whisper to her co-worker that "I've never heard of anyone having an allergy to metal spoons!"

Later, she asked me if I can put a wooden spoon in the coffee for her to stir it for me.  Seeing that she had an unused wooden [stick] stirrer in her hands, I told her that would be fine.

We live in a silly silly world. :)


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wife inappropriately interferes with my law firm's business decisions.


I am a little bit upset.  A few days ago, a woman from our community was in an accident while driving on Kings Highway.  A car coming from the other direction made a left turn going full speed, and she hit the car head on.

I was a few minutes late to work (like 45mins late) because I was writing a letter to my document review project regarding federal holiday pay, and so I arrived on the scene just a few minutes after the accident.

Both the woman's front airbags were deployed, and the woman's arm was pretty badly beat up.  I asked her if she needed any help or if she needed me to call anybody on her behalf (e.g., police, ambulance, family), and she instructed me who to call.  People were on their way to help her and give her a ride home.  After making the calls, it appeared as if I was no longer needed, and so I told her I'll be heading off since I was late to work.  She was on the phone, so she nodded me goodbye, and I left.

Driving a few blocks, I saw police cars with lights and sirens rush to the accident scene.  It was at that moment that I remembered that I was a New York attorney, and so I realized how stupid I was, and that it would be to her benefit to have an attorney advise her and make sure she didn't make any admissions or offers to pay medical bills, etc., which may hurt her financially in the end.

I turned around, and told her not to admit guilt, and not to say a word to the other side (in other words, be polite, but don't offer anything to be nice) unless the police ask you for information.  It took her a few seconds before she remembered that I was an attorney, and she was very thankful that I stuck around until the cars were towed and it was time for her to go home.   While the incident was still immediate in my mind, I drew a sketch of where the cars were positioned, and where each suffered damage.  Her ride drove her home, and I lost an hour of work, but I did a mitzvah of helping her out in what must have been a scary situation.

For a few minutes, it bothered me that her arm was pretty banged up and that with the deployed airbags, she might have suffered head or neck trauma, so I left a message for her to go see a doctor as soon as she can just in case she suffered any injuries which might not be immediately apparent to her.  She called me back, asked me a few questions, and thanked me for following up with her; she told me she was going to see a doctor that day because she has been experiencing neck pains and headaches from the accident.

I felt pretty good that I was able to help her out, although in the end I came to work almost two hours late because of it.  My wife wasn't thrilled with the story either; she didn't seem to be so excited that I helped this woman out.

Tonight, having promised to bring the sketch I made over to her (but knowing that I'll be busy for the next few days), I decided to write her the e-mail I pasted below.  I've taken CLE classes in EXACTLY THIS SORT OF TOPIC (car accidents, personal injury, and insurance claims) and so I wanted to share what I knew and to help her out because I didn't know this sort of thing and it would have been nice for someone to have explained it to me should I have gotten into an accident prior to becoming a lawyer and learning what needs to be done.  Here's the e-mail:
Dear Bayla,

Please let me know if there is anything you need from me.  I'll get you the sketch I made; it's no rush -- it wouldn't even be relevant unless there was a lawsuit.

At this point you should be getting a copy of the accident report from the police and learning about what kind of insurance the people with whom you were in an accident carry.  You should also be taking care of your own health, and working with your insurance company to have your car repaired / replaced.  If the people with whom you had the accident don't have any insurance (chos v'sholom), chances are that your plan has you covered for uninsured motorist (among other forms from which you can probably collect immediately; it is not a lot of money, but insurance companies are quick to pay it.  To collect, it usually requires you to simply fill out one of the insurance company's forms).

One last thing.  While your insurance company probably is your friend, you still need to be careful even with them.  Before signing any settlement forms with your insurance company, read what you are signing, or have an attorney take a look at it to see what rights you may be waiving.  You should also dig up or print out a copy of your policy to see what and how you are covered under your plan.

Also, while you do not need to make this decision right away, it might be a good idea to start thinking about whether it makes sense for you to sue to recoup some of the money you have lost in damages and injury from the accident.  They might be contemplating the same thing, and while there is no rule about this, it's probably better not to be on the defensive.  You would be seeking the maximum their insurance company policy covers.

G'mar chasima tovah,

  When I read the letter to my wife, she practically flipped out and forbade me from sending it.  She insisted that every normal person on the face of the earth knows this sort of thing, and that I'm being pushy and budding my way into her business and making us look like we are poor and looking for business when really I was trying to give her comfort knowing exactly what needs to be done.  And, I had no intention of charging her; I was hoping that by doing a good deed, she would, in turn, tell others how I helped her and thus I can get referral business that way.

But no.  My wife absolutely thinks I'm an idiot for writing such a letter, and she told me she would be very upset if I sent it.  She then told me that it's not tznius for a man to write such a letter to a woman, and that this woman would ask what I want from her from writing such a letter.  --Is she kidding?  I am a lawyer!  I was at the scene of the accident!  This woman is from our community and needed help!  If I don't follow up with her I'll look like I don't care and it will do nobody any good -- not me, not her, not the future of the law firm.

So for whatever reason my wife had (and now I'm pissed at her for interfering into my business efforts and holding me back from doing what I feel would be the proper thing to do from a law firm perspective), I decided to listen to her, and I wrote her a "I hope you're feeling better; let me know if you need anything" e-mail which in my opinion is a billion times worse than the letter I wrote because this short version looks like I am holding back information and begging for business.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So I'm sitting here in the city at a Starbucks with my laptop open, and some guy is making phone calls.  When he said his name, I typed it into Google, and found him.  He's a neurosurgeon.  When he walked by, I said, "take care, Doc."

Rosh Hashanna, 5771. Hopefully a better and more STABLE year than 5770 was.

I should start each blog entry with "AUIHBAWSIW," (as usual, it has been a while since I've written,) since each time I write, it is usually after a long time.  I guess this blog is one of those sucky ones where you wait for days thinking you're going to get content, and then.. NOTHING.  Sucks, I know.  I am sorry, please forgive me.

Really, this is one of those boring parts of life where nothing is new.  My wife and I are getting along, the Jewish holidays are here, and I'm working hard and being very aware of my sins and my transgressions, hoping G-d overlooks them and somehow finds the divine mercy to overlook them.  If I were him though, I wouldn't.  So here goes another f'cked up year.

I wrote the Lubavicher Rebbe a long P"N (pidyon nefesh, or pouring out of the soul) right before Rosh Hashanna.  My Rabbi, mashpia, and friend told me always to be careful what you write, and to describe your sorrows and your sins, and not to list the unnecessary details, because writing a letter to the Rebbe is not confession.  It's approaching a tzaddik (now nifter, or no longer confined to a body on this Earth just as my beloved Grandmother is no longer alive either) with respect, with humility, and as one of his Chassidim, asking for his blessings for a good year.  Can you imagine if someone walked over to the Rebbe and said, "Rebbe, I had lascivious thoughts which I couldn't control and I killed my neighbor's dog."  Well, I don't think he would reply with a smile in the least bit.  Anyway, that was the kind of Pidyon Nefesh I wrote.  It was immodest, brazen, and I shouldn't have sent it.

So what have I accomplished this year?  What have I gone through?  Well, in Rosh Hashanna 5769 (September, 2008), G-d decreed that I continue to work hard to save up a number of months worth of salary and get laid off from my job so that my wife and I can move our family to New York to be near her family.  We spent most of our savings on moving expenses and living without a salary.  This past Rosh Hashanna 5770 (last September, 2009), G-d decreed that we live in poverty, albeit with large injections of cash literally days each time we were about to run out almost as if we needed to learn to trust that it is G-d who provides our income and our livelihood, not our own hard work.  Literally days before we could no longer pay rent or afford to buy food, Hashem rescued us.  The first one paid very well, but only lasted from October until December.  We were incomeless and during that time, I took the Barbri Bar Review in preparation for the Feb. 2010 NY bar exam which I passed.  After the exam, from February until June, Hashem helped us survive by allowing me to win an unemploymnet dispute where I was awarded close to $7,000 in back pay.  Then in June, I got the document review position I am currently working at (which pays bubkis), but it pays the bills.  I started my own law firm, but have had only one client in a few months because I had to turn away all other clients because taking them would have required me to leave my stable document review position.  I am cool with doing this, but I see parnossa (earning a livelihood) as a monkey does, swinging from one tree vine to the next.  It ABSOLUTELY MAKES NO SENSE to jump to the next vine if one is not there.  In other words, my mashpia and close friends have told me not to leave what I have unless I have something equally as good or better to move onto.  Here, it would be stupid to quit my document review project (and get blackballed from working with them again) and take one case which will pay a few hundred dollars not knowing if there is a case after that one.

So now we're in the year 5761, and I wonder what G-d has in store.  I thought this year was a pretty shitty year until I just wrote it out for you and it seems as if I did quite well.  However, I must point out that most of the year, we were LITERALLY not making ends meet.  Most of the year was going from one miracle to the next, just to survive.  I acknowledge that.

What I would like is to have this year be a stable year where I get a few good paying clients who keep me happily busy working in my own patent firm, and while I'm working on those clients, I would work my butt off also searching for new business, and so on.  I've also been spending each day learning about foreclosure, bankruptcy, and my pet area of law, patent litigation.  If I can get enough clients to give me the comfort that I would get through the year unscathed, I would leave the document review project in a moments notice and would attend minyan every day and would do whatever I can to succeed.  I just need that comfort in knowing that something would be there as soon as I left the project.  Right now I have no clients and so it would be scary and very stupid to jump before I had something tangible to rely on in leaving the project.

My soul calls out to G-d and says, "I want to believe in you!  Please help me start my law firm and get clients quickly so that I can properly service them full time and support my family with ease!" 

Okay, this has been fun.  I need to get back to the reading I promised myself I would do before I went home for the evening.

G'mar chasima tova.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The salt... criticism?

The end of the story is that today, my wife confronted me after countless conversations on this topic that she feels that she is giving 100% and that I am being overly critical by telling her when something bothers me.

The most recent mini fight in which she flew off a handle was the salt.  I picked it up while preparing lunch in the morning before I ran off to my document review project, and it was slimy from the night before when she cooked the kids matzoh brei, a dish the kids LOVE.

I didn't think much about it, except that we have been married for four years and this has never happened, but I've asked her a few times to wash off the dish soap after she uses it (and the honey for that matter) so that the dish soap isn't all slimy when I pick it up to wash out the blender after using it each morning.  I just don't like sticky stuff.  I certainly wasn't angry.  I just didn't want a new habit being formed, and so I told her about it conversationally since she was standing next to me when the salt bottle slipped out of my hand.  She started yelling that I'm too critical, and that I don't think she's a good wife, and that I always have to criticize her about everything she does wrong.  I thought she was nuts because I certainly do not criticize her about everything -- moments before that, when I opened the fridge, the soy milk flew out and spilled on the floor because she stuffed it into the fridge on top of a pot of leftovers rather than putting it in its place which is on the refrigerator door.  This annoyed me because it has happened before and I've mentioned it to her to be more careful about it and it happened again.  However, with a quick swipe of a paper towel, the problem went away so I didn't say anything.

To skip ahead a bit, we've been fighting these past few days, and recently, she's been trying to be mean to me to hurt my feelings which hurt my feelings because I've never done anything to her to intentionally hurt her, ever, and here she's actively trying to hurt me.

Today she wanted me to take an extra hour off of work so that I can accompany her to the passport agency.  Yes, it's her newest necessity to visit her Safta in Israel who is ill.  No biggie.  Anyway, in the car, she started screaming at me that she is going to cause me the pain that I've been causing her, and that "you'll see what it feels like to have someone criticize you when you're already giving 100%."  As an example, she brought up the salt.  I told her that I wasn't criticizing her, and that most of the things that bother me, I let them slide and I don't say anything because I don't want to start a fight.  But when something is important, I say it.  I told her that when I say something, it's not that I am criticizing her.  There's a huge difference between telling someone that it would mean a lot to you if their behavior in a certain circumstance would be different, and telling someone that they are flawed because they neglected to do the behavior you asked them to do.  In short, I told her that I didn't want her to leave the salt shaker oily and I wanted her to clean it up after herself.  I wasn't saying she was a bad person or a sucky housewife because she left the salt shaker oily.  Obviously this is not the case.

She then started persisting why did I even marry her if she is such a terrible person, and if she does so many of these things that upset me?  I told her that had I known she did all these things, I may have considered them as factors in weighing whether I wanted to marry her, but its a little bit too late now, and one doesn't divorce his wife because she doesn't clean up after herself.  I told her that we're married now and those are things I will have to live with if I cannot convince her to change them.  She then went back into the "why do you want to change who I am?" conversation, when really I felt and still feel that asking someone to change a behavior (e.g., clean up after yourself) is not the same thing as changing who the person is.

We got to the post office, and it was closed.  She neglected to check the hours it was open.  I didn't dare say a word.  [I had to work an hour extra today because of it, but I'm pretending that it was open and we accomplished our purpose in having me go along with her.]

Shalom Bayis Issues -- Maybe because my wife missed the candlelighting time for Shabbos.

What a bad few days these past few days have been.  There has been almost no Shalom Bayis.

The issue has been my desire and my NEED for my wife to appreciate that when she comes up with a new thousand-dollar expense which "must" be done because it is a necessary, she owes me a duty to be at least sympathetic towards my feelings of loss.  Because while I've been saving up for something to further our family goals, she finds something that benefits *her* and thus we end up spending the money I saved up on her newest expense.

I usually don't disagree with her that her expense is not important, and I usually don't disagree with her or claim that it is not necessary.  But for G-d's sake, at least have some understanding that I will be sad that the thirty or so evenings that I put in five or six hours each night staying late in order to save up to pay for some goal have been lost because she found a new way to spend the money we have just finished saving up.  After all, I could have left at a regular time like everyone else and I could have come home at a normal hour, sat down by a television to watch whatever sports game is playing or play Nintendo Wii (we don't have a TV in the house or a Wii, by the way).  But no, I spent all that time saving up, and now it is lost... again.

So we had a really difficult few days.  For the first time in our marriage, my wife missed Shabbos candlelighting.  For those of you frum women, you're probably gasping.  I was horrified too.  Its not like she forgot; she just waited until the last minute and then calculated the time wrong because I told her an hour earlier that shabbos was at 5:05pm rather than 5:03pm (I was looking at the wrong week).

The gravity of this error is that according to our customs (and I believe according to Jewish law), for the rest of our lives, my wife will need to add an additional candle each erev Shabbos (Friday night) to make up for the one time she forgot as she did last week.

Naturally I was a little upset and I was embarrassed on her behalf, but I made sure not to say anything.  Her missing candle lighting (which is 18 minutes before Shabbos -- this is known and practiced by ALL JEWS, even those that are non-religious, non-observant, or reform) was the result of a long time fight of ours where I told her so many times that she is not allowed to wait until just before Shabbos to light candles.  Men typically use the 18 minutes to Shower, vacuum, and drive to shul because they do not have the candle lighting commandment to worry about because their wives are lighting.  My wife feels that she is also entitled to use the 18 minutes as she wishes.  We've fought about this so many times, but she would not listen.

Anyway, to my credit, I didn't say anything.  Not a critical word.  She started blaming me that it was my fault she missed the candlelighting time because of my error, and I told her that I would gladly take the blame for this.  Then she accused me about being so non-chalant and non-caring about this serious transgression.  I told her I was taking it seriously, but I'm staying quiet.  A few minutes later she was still going at it.  When I came into the room to see if she needed any kind words to make her feel better (I came up with some explanation that the candle she would have to add is to bring light to the world for the light that the world was denied through our error), she again accused me of taking this lightly, as if I didn't care about it.

At that point, thinking that it would be to her consolation and that it would help her to feel better about the whole situation if I was harsh to her (because I was really in a kind mood at that moment), I answered her accusation that "I'm really shocked and horrified that this happened, and I heard you vacuuming minutes before Shabbos and I thought you were psycho for waiting until the last few minutes before Shabbos came in."  To my surprise, this set her off on a rampage of screaming, the part of which that affected me was that she screamed that I am wrong for using the 18 minutes, and that she has just as much a right to use it as I do.  This was an ignition of our old fight, and I told her emphatically that woman are not allowed to delay the lighting of the candles once the 18 minutes have come up.  When she screamed something back to me, I told her she was crazy.  At that point, she lost it and started screaming that I should leave and never come back, or something like that.

I was already dressed to go to shul, and I was happy to leave, but even with my key, I believed that she would lock me out (we have two locks on our door), and I wasn't in the mood to be banging on our door looking like the guy who was kicked out of his own home.  It was also a very hot and humid evening, and I didn't want to spend it sleeping outside with the ants and the garbage in my shabbos clothes.  So I decided that I didn't trust her not to lock me out and I didn't leave.  A few seconds later, I decided again that if this is G-d's will, then I'll take the punishment.  After all, it was because I came home late in the first place [because I was taking my time] that I accidentally read the wrong Shabbos time from the calendar after I got home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My afternoon rant. Now the bad part... Wife rant.

A little side issue that has been bugging me is that I feel as if my wife does not appreciate the time I've been spending working.  A fight we had this morning was that I told her that she cannot treat my project as a stable job because likely any day, it will end.  I also told her that when "shopping," there is nothing wrong with getting what is necessary, but if she spends money on something that is outside our budget, as a consequence of her momentary gain of pleasure by making the purchase, she is taking away from our long-term savings and my ability to provide for us.  Our agreement upon starting the project was that until we have at least six months expenses and rent saved up, any extra money that I make needs to be saved so that I can start working full time on the law firm.  So far I have ZERO saved since I've started this project. 

I also told her that even if she spends money on expensive items outside our budget, she must understand that we need to earn (and I consequently need to work for) whatever she buys.  The context of this was that we had a huge fight last week over her not being sensitive to my feelings of loss when I hesitated her taking a trip to Israel to visit her sick grandmother.  Basically, she just assumed I would come up with the money or work to pay for the trip, and I was hurt that she did not acknowledge the many hours *I alone* would have to put in to finance that trip.  I was also sad that she didn't even acknowledge that her trip would be a huge financial setback in our plans to save up to start the law firm.  She didn't even consider that I was sad about this and it took a fight to get her to acknowledge this.

So on a smaller scale and as recent as this morning, when we took the kids to the zoo on Sunday and she wanted to buy a monkey doll with the zoo's logo, "just so that our child can remember the experience," I told her that I'd rather buy that same monkey doll at Wal*Mart for $10 rather than $30 at the gift shop.  Later on as we were leaving, she disappeared and after taking a few minutes to find her, we found her purchasing the monkey doll from the gift shop.  "There we go," I thought. "That will cost me around an extra hour of work sitting at my computer in the torturous and boring document review project."  I agreed that it was a nice gift, but it wasn't until this morning that I told her that I was upset that she bought the doll after I told her not to.  "I wasn't asking for your permission," she barked back.  I told her that we are already barely making ends meet even with my project, and that the extra money she spent will force me to work extra time just to dig ourselves out of the hole that the extra $30 purchase.  I told her that I wasn't upset about the purchase, but I was upset that she was disregarding the fact that someone (namely, me) will have to work and toil to pay for that extra purchase, and I thought it was insensitive to force me to be the one that has to cover it, especially after I told her that I didn't want her to buy it in the first place.

"Well I want to live a regular life, and regular people buy things," she said.  I told her that we are not regular people; that Hashem has not given us a job, but only temporary income, and that we need to respect the money we are given and not waste it on frivolities.  On top of that, I need to work to pay for everything she's buying, and I'm not in the mood to kill myself to pay for wasteful purchases that have no value.  "Well I'm going to live a regular life," she said. 

At that point I lost it.  I asked her if she was crazy, and whether she understood that I am the one that needs to pay for everything she buys, and that she cannot live a regular life because we cannot afford to pay for the things she is purchasing.  I also told her that I was upset that she didn't acknowledge or pay any sensitivity to the fact that I am the one that has to work to pay for all this, and that I'm not working to pay for a stupid doll!

At that point, I found myself on the verge of tears, and I couldn't hold back my shaky voice.  I was about to start crying, so I walked away.  I kissed my kids goodbye, and without saying good bye to my wife, once again I walked out of the house and left to my work.

It occurred to me that she was being sarcastic this morning, especially since we had an all-out fight on this very topic just before Shabbos.  Although I wasn't sure.  I texted her shortly afterwords, "Hi honey, apparently my phone does still have some battery life.  I realized after I left that you were joking about" ...and then I left the rest of the e-mail blank because I couldn't think of a way to phrase it, and either way, I wasn't so sure she was joking.  To my unsurprise, she didn't write me back.

I hate having this distance between us.  I hate not liking her.  It hurts every time I think of our fights.  I wish she understood what was really going on.  I wish she knew how her actions affected our family and our shalom bayis.  I wish she was more sensitive to these issues.  I'm sure I'll get a "what were you talking about, I always save money" comment from her in a few days when we finally resolve this.

I just wish we were operating from the same place.  I wish we were a team, rather than me being the silent supporter of our affairs, obviously no pun intended.

My afternoon rant. First, the good part, sort of.

Much has happened these past few weeks since I wrote that chippery and overly positive piece of garbage I call a plan of action.  My document review project, which I accepted under the rationalization that I will utilize it to the best of my ability to maximize my ability to support my family while I pay the bills and start my law practice; well, let's just say that like so many things, it is not working out the way I planned.  The initial plan was to get to work each day at 7am, put in 8 hours (the required minimum).  Early afternoon, I would head off to a law library or to Starbucks to do legal research on how to practice the areas of law that I have chosen for myself and my practice.

That worked for a few days, until they ran out of documents for us to review and I was let go for a few days.  Then I was called back for one or two days, and then let go again because again.  It seems as if the people behind the document review project can't get their documents in order for us fifty attorneys to review them.  In other words, they were overzealous in their hiring so many attorneys when really they only had the workload to keep just a few of us working.

Then a week or so they called me back again, this time for a different project for the same client.  I worked my butt off to help them make their deadlines, often working well into the night.  I practically killed myself (staying all hours into the evening, and even coming in on a Sunday all in one block of time) thinking that all these extra hours would really help us out financially.  It was the financial boost I was looking for.  Then came Tisha b'Av and I had to take off that day.  I resumed the following day with the crazy hours and over the rest of the week I finished off the project.  But, it turned out that with all the days the week before that I was out because they had no work for me (I was off half of the week the week before), plus the day I had to take off for Tisha b'Av, I averaged 40 hours for each of the two weeks -- in short, the minimum number of hours I would have worked had I just shown up each morning and left at 3:30pm to work on my law practice.

Wow was that a disappointment.  On top of that, the project provides no benefits, no overtime, no soda or snacks (I really don't care about that, but it was something I noticed about the project right away), and in short, the guys next to me call the floor we work on a sweat shop.

So as of yesterday, I resolved to only work the minimum amount of hours and to resume the studying to start the law firm practice.  I hope that soon I'll be able to move from studying about how to practice to generating clients and actually practicing law.  The goal here is to get enough clients so that I can walk away from the document review project and start focusing full-time on my law practice.

Reader asks why I complain about money problems while I send my kids to daycare and offer my wife a maid.

In moderating the blog's posts, I came across a reader who made the comment that it makes absolutely NO SENSE to have a STAY-AT-HOME MOM and yet send the kids to DAYCARE (a.k.a., "SCHOOL") while at the same time complaining about money.  There was a maid comment in there somewhere also.

[The comment was a reply to my posting here.]

In short, I couldn't agree with you more.  My wife has this crazy idea that she deserves to have the kids in childcare as soon as they're old enough to walk, and that she deserves a maid to help her with the housework.  From a sympathetic point of view, I understand that with three kids under three-years-old, they could be a bit much to handle.  But then again, why have them if you are not going to take care of them?  I don't remember my parents shipping us off to daycare until at least Gan.

In my wife's defense, she does an amazing job taking care of them, and the reason we send them to daycare is because it really is too much for her to take care of all three at the same time.  So far only our oldest (now three years old) is in daycare.  In September, our oldest girl (almost two years old) will be starting daycare.  The goal here is the selfish goal to give my wife some breathing room so that she can read her books and spend more time with the youngest one, who is now trying to learn to crawl.

Additionally, the benefit of school (a.k.a., "daycare") is to develop our childrens' social skills and to get them to interact with other children.  Could she do this without me spending an arm and a leg on tuition this early on in our lives?  Of course.  Would she?  Not a chance.  She'd have regular play dates, but the truth is that if the kids are not at school, they'd be playing with their toys or watching Baby Einstein videos over and over again (by the way, no I don't recommend them).  What I omitted to say is that above and beyond the social skills, the kids benefit from being immersed in a Jewish environment where they learn Torah and are taught things they likely would not learn through osmosis in our home.  We obviously spend time with chinuch, but not for five hours a day.  Plus, I'm not even around during most of the day because for now, I'm working.

Bottom line, I am not so upset the kids are in daycare.  Really it is beyond my wife's interest level or emotional capacity to handle them full-time.  When the kids are in daycare, my wife is human and is able to eek out a smile once in a while at the end of the day.  I don't think my daughter needs to be in daycare, but she is ready to have friends to play with.

As for a maid or a sitter, we pay for one when we need one.  So far my wife has been pretty good about this and has only invoked the sitter from time to time.  She's been holding off on the maid for now.

This is the nicest answer I can answer at the moment.  I'm a bit upset at her now as we speak.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Recap: Links showing what I was doing with all this goal setting, and why I shut down the blog for these past few weeks.

Just in case you are wonder what in the world I've been doing today with all of these goal setting posts, please feel free to CLICK HERE to the "Goal Setting" post which explains everything I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

Since I'm sure you know that for a short period of time, I put the blog on hold and made it "INVITE ONLY," allow me to explain.  I actually just put a lock and a freeze on the blog because I wasn't sure whether I wanted to delete all old content or not.  A lot of what I wrote is a liability to me as an attorney, and should I ever need to divulge this blog in a law suit or in a disciplinary proceeding, I believe that much of what I wrote may be damning to me and my reputation.  Even though I have unlocked the blog and you can see this again, I am still unsure of what I should do with the old content.  My first post this morning after unlocking the blog can be found by CLICKING HERE.

I welcome your comments, and I welcome your input.  I will make the decision as to what to do with the old content in the coming days and weeks.

Warm regards,
Zoe Strickman


• Vision: I am an attorney who has successfully set up my own law practice.  I am disciplined; I work smart, and I focus my attention taking part in revenue-producing activities.  I make my own hours, and I make it a priority to let Hashem fill my coffers with cash and abundance, and I focus on doing what I need to do to return my attention to my family, Torah, and Hashem.  I *am* a dynamo.  I am a patent litigator; a patent prosecutor; an engineer.  I help people defend their homes against foreclosure, and I help them restructure their affairs through lawsuits or bankruptcy to allow them to have a fighting chance to get back on their feet so that they can life long, fruitful and meaningful lives.  I love the patent litigation cases, and I pride myself in being a federal litigation attorney.  I am an expert in federal procedure and I am an expert in the ins and outs of the areas of patent law, patent litigation, foreclosures, and bankruptcy law.  I am the go-to guy when someone gets in trouble.

I have a multijurisdictional practice in both Texas, New York, Israel, and China, and I travel back and forth to each to monitor the attorneys who are part of my firm.  I have monthly management team meetings, and I have advisers of all kinds at my meetings.

I started my practice immediately after I saved enough money working document review projects to have six months of salary to keep my family comfortable while I built my practice.  I started off in my home office which was equipped with state-of-the-art and smart technology (smart doesn't mean expensive).  I kept my files digital and electronic, and I had systems in place to handle all aspects of my practice.

Shortly after working a few cases, I built up enough savings to move into a shared office.  I worked there and grew my practice, hiring a number of paralegals and an assistant to handle my caseload. 

From there, I expanded my practice and hired one attorney in New York, and one attorney in Colorado to replace the work I was doing so that I can grow the law firm and focus on the good cases.  I went on to grow the practice with more and more attorneys until I was a functioning law firm which operated independent of my efforts.  I am financially independent, and I move into fringe areas of law which bring juice and excitement to my life and to the lives of those around me.

• Purpose: Working my own practice gives me the freedom to be the master of my own salary.  The work I put in is commensurate with the benefits I reap.  I am able to work on terms which allow me to prioritize religious holidays and family, and there are no bosses which I need to clash with to enforce my religious practices.  I am able to be near home and to be a father and a husband, and I am able to work on cases which are exciting to me in the area of law I have chosen to practice.

• Roles: Attorney, Patent Attorney, Patent Litigation Attorney, Patent Protector, Patent Protector, Giver of the Home Shield, Protector of the home, Bankruptcy expert, Litigator, Friend of the people, enemy of the banks and of  those who brake the law.

• 3 to Thrive: Learn areas of practice, Set up office & web presence, Work on client's files.

• Resources: CLE courses, other attorneys, state bar.

• Qtr Goals: Save up six months worth of expenses.

• 1yr Goals: Transition into 100% private law firm practice, cash positive, positive cash flow, steady flow of clients.


• Vision: I am comfortable with my levels of chassidishkeit and observance, both when I am alone (and standing before Hashem) and in view of my community.  I am a regular guy, and I do what every Jew should do.  I have all of the activities that a Jew should do as a habit, and I take an enjoyment with being a Jew.  I am comfortable with my relationship with Hashem, and I always strive to answer questions and to always deepen my understanding of Hashem, the spiritual and physical realms, life as we see it, and ourselves and our souls.

Every morning I wake up and say Modeh Ani, and I happily wash negelvasser which I prepared for myself and my family the night before.  I say the morning berachos and daven Shachris.  I make sure to stop each day before sundown and daven Mincha with a gartel and a hittel.  I study torah each day, including Chitas, Rambam, and each week I have a set time where I learn chassidus, nigleh, and halacha.  I take time each day to devote myself to teaching or reinforcing a law or concept to each of my children, and each evening, I daven maariv before attending to my evening activities, which sometimes includes Farbrengens, shiurim, or community events.  I make sure to go to bed while I still have energy to prepare for the following morning and to say kerias shema al ha mita.  I go to bed and review the events of the day, and I make note as to where I could have been stronger, and where I succeeded.  I thank Hashem for giving me this day, and I go to bed to sleep and dream.

• Purpose: I am a Jew, I should act and be who I am.  I have an obligation to Hashem and to all other Jews to be the person I was made to be.  I have no right to let anyone down by affecting them spiritually through my lackings.  By strengthening my observances, I bring berachos down to myself, my family, and to all around me and beyond.  I sustain the world from destruction.  I give others the ability to enjoy their lives in a world that is more friendly and kinder to its inhabitants. 

I fear G-d, and I fear retribution and punishment for my inequities.  I do not want to be punished physically or spiritually, and I fear the effects NOT doing everything I can can bring upon myself, my family, and my community. 

I desire reward.  I desire to be one of those who are helping out and who are doing what they should rather than being one throwing a monkey wrench into G-d's plan.  I desire peace of mind and peace in my heart and soul.  I want to know why Jews historically have kept their faith, and I want to contribute to the survival of my people and our covenant with Hashem. 

I want spiritual knowledge of the unknown.  I want to understand and grasp the concept of G-d so that what I learn can change me into the person I desire to become.  I want to be able to feel when something is spiritually wrong and I want to be attracted to actions, events and activities which are spiritually uplifting and beneficial to me and my family.

• 3 to Thrive: Berachos in their proper time, Torah study in all its forms, Community Activities

• Resources: Rabbi, Community, Torah

• Qtr Goals: To daven 3x/day, berachos, kerias shema; negelvasser; Chitas & Rambam, set times for learning chassidus, nigleh with a Chevrusa; to make it a habit to spend time each day teaching my children.

• 1yr Goals: AGAIN:
Wow, this goal setting thing is quite tiring.  My brain is physically exhausted.  I'm going to keep plugging and chugging along.  Let's see how much of this I can bang out. -Zoe


• Vision: I am financially independent.  I have no need to worry about finances.  The amount of money I bring in each month easily and effortlessly covers any expenses we may have.  Our lifestyle is well within our earning capacity.  We live comfortably; we take time to enjoy ourselves, and to provide for ourselves the environment to create meaningful experiences for ourselves and our children.

My bank accounts are filled with cash and our retirement accounts are funded.  We have safety accounts and money set aside for any contingencies, and life events are planned for and funded before they occur.

Financial management is simply a matter of monitoring the automated systems that are already in place.  Money comes in and goes out according to the plan we have set out, and money is spent according to our value.  We use money to improve ourselves and our lives; we do not waste it on frivolities that will satisfy a momentary urge.

• Purpose: To feel the juice of life.  To experience meaningful experiences.  To create an environment and to place ourselves and our children in scenarios which teach them about Hashem, about family, about love, and about the value of life.  To teach our children concepts so that they can be financially independent, and to be financially competent so that they will never have money worries and so they can life a life of peace of mind and peace of heart.

• 3 to Thrive: Automate income and expenses, set up monitors and tracking systems for when we are close to going beyond what we want to spend, create ways to enjoy the money we have to create meaningful experiences.

• Resources: Wife, Internet, Communication.

• Qtr Goals: To have enough capital saved up to start a working law practice that pays the bills.

• 1yr Goals: Have the law firm provide us with enough of an income to allow us to plan a vacation which will be meaningful to both my wife and my children.


• Vision: To my wife, I am the man of her dreams.  I am strong, witty, loving, supportive, caring, and I make her feel like a woman.  I help her reach her potential, and she helps me reach mine.  We lean on each other, and we care about and think about each other regularly.  My wife thanks G-d and me that I am in her life.

To my children: I am the roll model they need.  I am strong, and they know without a doubt that I love them completely and infinitely.  I support them and show them by example of who I am the kind of people they want to be.  They aspire to follow on Hashem's path, and I am a roll model to help them achieve this goal.  I take time to teach them and to play with them and to challenge them to grow and expand their minds, their hearts, and their souls to be the best they can be and to live their lives according to the principal of CANI (constant and never ending improvement). 

To my parents: I am the son they never thought they could have.  I show them that in spite of a parent's failures, children can and do correct their paths.  I inspire them and I show them that living the path of Hashem IS the correct path, and that a life with compromises leads to grief.  I show them that they are loved, and I make them desire to be better people. 

To my brother: I am an endless source of love and compassion.  I forgive when others would burn bridges.  I am kind and sharing.

To my in-laws: I am the father of their grandchildren.  I am a part of their family.  I am their daughter's other half.  They feel comfortable with me, and me with them. 

• Purpose: For my wife: To add meaning to my wife's life.  To make her feel cherished, important, and loved.  To fill her needs and overwhelm her with more than she could ever have asked for out of life.

For my children: To inspire them to be strong where I was weak, to feel comfort where I felt none, and to have such a strong foundation that they are able to confront and overcome life's challenges with ease and joy.  To teach them how to be a Jew, and how to walk the path of Hashem and to act in the footsteps of the Lubavicher Rebbe.  To inspire them to be religious, well rounded, confident, mature, and learned.

For my parents: To teach them that there IS redemption.  To teach them that love happens not because of what they do, but because of who they are.  To inspire them to each day be better.  To inspire a burning desire within them to be part of our children's lives.

For my brother: To show him the secular world that he lives in is garbage, and to inspire him to become a better, more responsible and mature person.  To lead by example and show that having a happy family while being religious is possible and is the better way to live a life.

For my in-laws: To give and enforce the notion that we are family, and that they are accepted and loved at all times.  To eliminate any fears that they are outside the family circle because of any kind of religious observance on our part, and that they will have an important role to share in the growth of our children.

• Roles: For my wife: Pillar of support, quiet speaker, unending attention giver, all ears, careful listener.  Lover, care free and calm lover of life.  Appreciator. 

For my parents: Loving son.

For my brother: Forgiving brother.

• 3 to Thrive: Stay in touch with each at least weekly.  Invite over for events; visit when possible.  Share meaningful experiences over the phone / video.

• Resources: Wife, Children, Rabbi

• Qtr Goals: To have each feel loved and accepted by me.  To smooth out any feelings of adversity felt by each.  To inspire talk of a visit for an upcoming event.  For in-laws, to maintain a feeling of equality and equal footing.  To eliminate any feelings of charity on their part, and to inspire in them a comfort that their daughter and her family will be safe in my hands.

• 1yr Goals: Have each share their meaningful experiences with me.  Have each feel close to me as if I am someone who cares about what they feel and we are part of their lives.


Now I'm going to set my vision and my goals for each category.

Vision: I am a well sculpted, strong, healthy, fit machine of a man, and I am full of life.  People call me a dynamo.  I wake up each day with pure boundless energy and breath to run in step with the physical world with a smile and with ease.  I am a carefully sculpted and am a strong powerhouse of a man, built like a tank and strong.  I am ultimately flexible, and am in the shape of my life.  At sixty-years old, I am fully of healthy pure vitality, my body is as strong and young as a thirty year old, and I am wise and well.  I love the adrenaline rush of a good run, and I love sweat while those of my age group begin to age and shrivel.  My mind is at its peak performance, and life is clear and meaningful.  I grow old gracefully, and I pass from the world with a tear and a smile that I lived my life full of purpose.

Purpose: I see my children grow up.  I see them become parents.  I see them raise their children.  I share many meaningful experiences with them -- the juice of life.  I stay a man and a pillar of support both physically, materially, emotionally, and spiritually for my wife.  I get to know my maker, and I rectify my blemishes.  At the end of life, I feel an inner calm that I have done my part to fill my purpose on this Earth, and I have protected and preserved my body so that I can do them with vigor and excitement.

Roles: Dynamo, Fitness Expert, Lover of Life, Breather of Life, Strong Father, Healthy Husband, Body-Mind Synergist.

3 to Thrive: Drink 3L of Water/Day, Daily Sprout Green Veggie Drinks, Daily Sweat and Adrenaline.

Resources: Pete Egoscue, Fitness Books, Family Support

Qtr Goals: Reach 225 lbs., Doctor clean bill of health, Daily Routine = Habit.

1yr Goals: Achieve and maintain 215 lbs., Habitualize goals.  Buy new clothes to fit new size.


So... I've been listening to taped by Dave Allen and Tony Robbins' "Time of Your Life" course that I bought years ago, and I've become a sort of "to do list" freak.  I tried and REALLY ADOPTED Gina @'s TODO.TXT software (I got it running on Windows XP using cygwin which is considerably slower than it was using .sh on Linux), but this is what I deal with using Windows now that I decided to have a law practice.  Running a law practice on the Ubuntu Linux operating system was really difficult to accomplish, so I had to switch back to the evil Windows XP (I wouldn't even try Windows 7 on my slow X41 Tablet laptop).

So the TODO.TXT works well, and I like the idea of having everything in a text file which is the crash-proof option of preserving work without relying on a piece of software's proprietary software format.  The problem is that even with tweaking the code and applying add-ons to allow for listing to-do tasks by project (+LawFirm @Home, etc.), it still doesn't allow me to work with my tasks in a way any other than a to-do list.

So in short, I'm doing a life planning session right now, and so I figured since I'm typing it anyway, I'll put it on the blog and I'll share it with you.

SO FAR, the CATEGORIES of my life (with descriptive titles to excite me) are:



Okay, now let's go into depth the areas each category covers:




AS A JEW (YIDDISHKEIT, in no particular order):


Let me know if I've forgotten anything.