Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Which I File the Papers

The local branch?  The maple kind, yeah?
The local branch, could I go there?  Would they accept the filing there?  Did I have to go to the main courthouse, far away in the county seat?
Who could tell me?  Only automated answers, no help I could trust even if a person answered.  They're all civil servants, marking time until their union-enforced ten-minute break, who cares if they give this desperate woman with social anxiety and OCD the correct information about where to file the papers to legally separate herself from the man she has been married to for TWENTY-TWO YEARS.

This is really happening, I am doing this.  The decision has been made.  I am merely carrying out the plan -- going to the courthouse (fuck, the COURTHOUSE, OMG) but it's not open yet.  Okay, then, Starbucks, double tall soy vanilla latte, feigning nonchalance, waiting for it to be time to drive up the street.  Isn't it on the right?  The even numbers on the right, the odd on the left side of the street.  Isn't that how it goes? Maybe not in this town.  Rules are never followed when I need them to be.  I drive to where I think it is, but maybe not and there is traffic behind me, I shouldn't slow down to check.  Nope, that was it, there I go right past it.  Now a U-turn, but now there's a median and nowhere to cross so another U-turn.  The symbolism is not lost on me.  It never is.  My life is one fucking symbol after the next.  That's the way my mind works.  Metaphors in everything.  Fuck there it is, a low-slung building, ranch-style, mission-esque, my Kalifornia Kitschy Kounty Kourthouse.    Papers in my briefcase in the trunk, *are* the papers in my briefcase, *is* my briefcase in the trunk?  I have to check, I always have to check, I could check and see that they were there, and then check again and they'd be gone.  I try to make it easy on myself by announcing the beginning of a new system:  I'm going to keep these important papers HERE.  THIS will be the new place for them.  And promptly forget so that there is new terror when I go to look for them everywhere but in the NEW PLACE.

Lately, this has been getting worse, I think as a function of having no real system any more.  I haven't put a new system into place, so these little "okay THIS is the calendar I am going to use from now on" and write down five dates in it, then lose it, or abandon it for some new system that will be equally ineffective.   ZOMFG and then I got my first smartphone.   Assistant kept nagging me, then begging me, then shaming me.  "Klonnie, they're a dollar now, you deserve it, what the hell are you waiting for, get the contract while he still has to pay for it."  Assistant is so wise.  Young enough to be my daughter, yet so far beyond me in so many ways.

So I got the smart-phone on a recent impulsive, defiant whim.  And now add guilt to the mix (kidding, it's the main ingredient), I'm supposed to be using the phone to run my life and whatnot but I don't know how and I keep meaning to sit down with it and really learn it but there isn't that "okay this is the official smartphone-learning time."   So I catch as catch can (note to self, GTS the origin of that phrase sometime) and fly by the seat of my pants (ditto) and just teach myself to do the basic things like jot notes, ask Siri for directions, send texts (now I can see the conversations, or in my case, my unanswered messages to Mr. K., four in a row or even five sometimes, screenshots are awesome little pieces of evidence aren't they?), and run my FB page (not very well, the app is weak and I'm dumb about what it can do).   Let's see, what else?  Oh!  Rdio is cool but I thought it was a free trial but now that's over but everyone else can still make it play songs and all I get are playlists.  Whatever.   I manage all this better on my Chromebook, anyway.  The Chromebook rocks, thanks, Google, for that, for everything really, except it sucked not having bank when you IPO'd, once again a missed opportunity, once again a disappointing metaphor.   On the other hand, talk-to-text has been life-changing.  Welcome to the conversation, as my asshole friend likes to say.  (This is a test to see if he reads my blog.)

Where was I?   Right.  The courthouse.  Right.  I got the big shakedown at the door, two sheriff's deputies lanky and laconic.  ("Morning, Sheriff," I always think when I see them, tipping my imaginary hat and straightening my imaginary holster like in Bonanza or some shit).  There is one of those metal detectors like at the library although the one at the library is only there to make sure you're not walking off with some book you didn't check out.  Library larceny, although let's face it, that's almost always an oversight, just forgetting to check out the book, you're not really there to STEAL FROM THE LIBRARY and isn't the whole concept of a library kind of larcenous anyway, considering you are getting to read a lot of material whose author has only been compensated once despite the fact that hundreds of people are going to enjoy it for free?  Don't get me wrong, libraries are in my top five favorite things today.  Wouldn't it be cool to make a list like that every day or a certain day of the week on the Facebook page, only call it Today's Five-orite Things?  Hang on, let me ask Siri to remind me about that later.  Siri-mind me.

Where was I?  Right.  So I got through the metal detector (sorrow detector?  bullshit detector?  idk but I got through), and the next thing was to determine what line to stand in for which window.  It wasn't a huge decision, but I was having trouble seeing because Maintenance must have been hitting the place pretty hard with some anti-seasonal allergen tear gas made of onion juice, although looking around, it didn't seem to be affecting anyone but me.  So I figured it out and got in line and there was only one other person at the window so I waited pretty far back because I figured if there was ever a time to respect someone's privacy, this would be it, and not some pharmacy consult (because let's face it, I've listened in on a couple of those and I could have done a better job with no notes).

Suddenly, it's my turn and I make my way to the window, which is low enough that even I gratefully accept the chair that awaits my bottom.  I sit with all my papers, looking at them and praying that everything's in order (even though I don't pray ordinarly, apart from the "dear lord I'll never ask you for another thing if you <insert some dreadfully important and yet somehow inconsequential thing>).  So far so good, as the very kind woman (thanks be to the Goddess of Insecurity and Social Anxiety) is stapling and stamping to beat the band and I overhear at the next window, a man talking in a very agitated manner, with a heavy accent.  He's supposed to be paying child support from what I can gather, but he was sent to the wrong office (I KNEW it) and now they can't help him and he has to catch a bus and take a 45 minute ride and he's already had to miss work and they might give his spot to someone else if he doesn't show up in 20 minutes.  So right then and there, I knew my problems were pretty insignificant, relatively, so I started having some embarrassed guilt, which helped strengthen my resistance to that onion juice tear gas that had been plaguing me earlier. When the woman asked me for my $400 check for the filing fee, the flash of adrenaline I felt before I remembered I had it in my wallet made me feel very much like the woman in the that meme about first world problems.

JK I only have one Lexus.  JK I don't have any Lexus.

So.  Ticked and tied.  Licked and stamped.  Done and done.  I walked out through the metal detector again (had I somehow PROCURED a weapon in my brief stay in the clerk's office?), through the doors, out into the parking lot.  I looked down at my hands.  Trembling.  But other than that, I didn't feel much different.  Married, divorced, separated, it's complicated.  It's just a Facebook status in the end.  So much more to a person than whether they were ultimately brave enough to stand up and say "enough" to propping up an alcoholic, "enough" to emotional abuse, "enough" to feeling panicked and inadequate and scornful and alone.  There had been many tears, and doubtless there would be many more.  But today, I stepped out into the mid-morning sun, thankful that the traffic would have abated by now, and that my drive to work would be smooth sailing.