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Friday, May 27, 2011

My "mid-life crisis"( the last man I dated)

My girlfriend asked me today how do I manage to have such an "exciting" (her expression) life.
"I don't know" I replied. "It's always the same: I start out good and then something happens". It's true,scout's honour!..LOL..
But seriously, first off, not all that "excitement" is a good thing and most of it I neither wanted nor invited-I just found myself in it,as it was.
Take,for instance, a few weeks ago. I went to see my friends in Hawkes Bay. Very small place and nothing ever happens in there.
There I was, enjoying my friend's hospitality and his amazing cooking. Minding my own business. What could possibly happen,right?
Well,ready?
 Within 24 hours, absolutely unrelated to each other:
1.Found out one of my other really good friends took her power games a step too far,called her on it, lost a friendship. Just like that.
2.Received an email ( although much appreciated and long-overdue as far as clarity,honesty and finality goes) that effectively dashed any and all hopes I might have had for a relationship with someone.
3.Found out my accountant did NOT, in fact,prepare my taxes (I thought they were done a month ago and were waiting for me to sign). Fired him and had to look for another one in a hurry.
4.Received another email from Wellington court clerk saying that application I filed for divorce 3 days ago (I was there IN PERSON, mind, and clerk went over the whole thing before collecting the fee) is "incomplete" and I need to go back to the courthouse and swear out another statement.
5.Yet another email was supplied by my soon-to-be-truly-ex-husband stating that my application for a dismissal of the tax case in US was denied-which means I have to fork over quite a bit more money.
6.Was told by an attorney that I will have to file yet another court case (as Dispute Tribunal is not an option,apparently) in order to try and get 11K I've loaned someone, back. AND the defendant will have to be served with the subpoena "in person"-apparently that's the only way (she lives in Auckland and I really,REALLY don't want to see her again-thank God, it could be done through a third party).
Pheww... Just remembering all that makes me dizzy... But that's exactly it: "excitement" just happens to me.
I really wish it didn't.
But I digress... Right, my midlife crisis.
It was May of 2008. I lived in Napier. I've read an article about this new restaurant that just opened a few months ago-inside the old church building. It was owned by an American woman with, apparently, a lot of money, as it was really nicely done up. In the article, the owner was quoted saying that she is promoting "American" concept of service and encourages tipping. I thought  it would be a great place to work.
In all honesty, that restaurant and it's owner require a whole separate chapter: just to give you an idea, in 2 years the place went through 21 Managers and 11 Head Chefs and countless (I really did loose count) floor staff and lower-ranking chefs (commis,de parte,etc). Yeah, Karen (the owner) was quite something.

The first day I worked in that restaurant, a young guy caught my eye. He was a "runner" (he delivered food from the kitchen to the tables).
Adam (that was his name) was tall and lanky. Quite good looking. He was also very young-only 19 years old.
As days went by, I found him very capable as far as work was concerned-he was quick on his feet and seem to want to learn more.
I started training him as FOH waiter. He was catching on pretty quickly:before long I was able to assign him his own station.
Naturally, we talked a lot during the training and I found him interesting-he made me look at things from different,un-expected angles. Little did I know that he was under influence of variety of recreational drugs most of the time (that's why conversations would be so deep at times and other times he could barely manage to answer a simple question).
He told me about his girlfriend-apparently, they were together for a couple of years.
There was some attraction between us and he flirted with me mildly.
I was disillusioned,disappointed and deeply dissatisfied with both my then-husband and my married life. I was bored,as well.This whole "adventure" was exciting and it made working in that place bearable.
One day, when my husband was away in US for 3 weeks, I called Adam on a Monday (restaurant was closed, so we were both off) and asked him if he was free and wanted to pop into my house for dinner. He said, sure, he would love to, but could he bring his girlfriend along?
I was disappointed-that's not what I had in mind, but, that's what they say:"In for a penny, in for a pound". I told him to bring the girlfriend along-I like a challenge.
They turned up right on time: Francesca (the girlfriend) was really young and pretty. She looked just like a little doll. We had dinner and talked -mostly Adam and I-about hospitality business. That visit lasted for over 5 hours: we just talked and talked and Francesca was getting increasingly annoyed. Finally, she practically dragged Adam away.
Few more weeks passed and I got Adam a part-time job in another restaurant, where I worked on weekends. Yes, I had a plan (don't I always :).
That restaurant was a wedding venue and us,servers, did everything start to finish: we set the room up, served the food, cleared everything and "broke the room down" (folded and put away the tables, stacked the chairs,etc). That meant we usually finished really late (or,rather,early)-about 2-3am.
When everything was put away and everyone left or went to bed (the place is a lodge and the owner lives on the premises), I asked Adam if he'd like to have a drink with me in the dining room. We were the only ones there. We talked for what seemed like ages ( over an hour) and then he walked me to my car. And yes, there was a kiss. It was actually very nice: soft and tender and he wasn't trying to grab me and put his hands everywhere. He also said all the right things, like "I could kiss you all night"..LOL.. I later found out he was quite a little womanizer and constantly cheated on his girlfriend.
That was it-just a kiss, nothing else.
The next day all of us, the Church restaurant employees, were going on a road trip to Auckland. It was all-expense paid by the owner, as the Head Chef was competing in there and she was sure he'd win, so she took all of us to cheer for him (he took silver, to her chagrin).
Karen put us up in Langham Hotel (yes,that's right, nothing but the best). Management and supervisors (I was in that category) were supposed to stay two in each room. I paid Karen to have a room all to myself.
Again, I had a plan :).
Adam was staying on the same floor with the the bunch of guys. They ended up going out until really late,and got drunk and stoned. Nothing happened during that trip, except him and I going shopping for a bra for me and a pair of lacy panties for his girlfriend-yip,that's right. I've said it before: I am twisted.
When we got back to Napier, the flirting continued. I also  found out bit by bit  just how troubled Adam was. I've met his parents (I was introduced as his co-worker/supervisor, of course).
According to his Mum's tearful story, Adam was such a "good" boy (aren't they all, when they are sleeping) until he discovered drugs at age 16. He started missing school,hanging out with the "bad crowd" and, although quite capable academically, letting his grades slip.
He was arrested twice for drunk driving. Although he went off to the Uni (Wellington), that only lasted about 8 months, as he was partying hard and doing more drugs than studying. He went for counselling (briefly), but it didn't help.
He came back home, had a seasonal job and, when that ended, went on the benefit. That's how he found himself working for the Church restaurant-benefit office sent him there.
He still lived at home, did not contribute anything to the household and his parents just about had it with him: they were ready to lock him out.
He seemed to be improving a bit,though: trying to get his driving license back, showing up for work. He still drunk a lot and did drugs, but seemed to hold it together.
Adam told me that he "just gets bored". He freely admitted that his parents always managed to get him out of trouble, so he really didn't know how to provide for himself or worried too much about his future.
Couple of times he didn't show up for work and didn't call. Yes, guilty as charged, as if on cue, I got him out of trouble.
That restaurant was a hard place to work,mostly because the owners, who never worked in restaurant or owned one before,insisted on running everything hands-on and "their way".
They created truly impossible situations, where we (employees) had to "think on our feet" to "make it happen". As I have a lot of "American" experience, where we are used to handling "volume" and still maintain proper standards (NZ does not have "professional","career" servers/waiters to speak of-they are mostly high-school/Uni kids trying to make some money) , I was treated differently by the owners. I was given a lot of "room" as far as staff decisions were concerned. I vouched for Adam and gave the owners my personal guarantee. And he let me down time after time.
But we had fun playing all kinds of games:he was great entertainment value.
For instance, knowing his womanizing ways, I would challenge him: we pick a young cute girl from the restaurant staff and both try to hit on her. Whomever got her to bed first, would get treated to a lunch by the other.
Honestly, I never did take those girls all the way. Once I kissed them and knew they were willing to jump in bed with me, I always stopped: they were way too young and I didn't want to mess with their heads.
Adam, however, didn't have any such  problems: he slept with them every chance he got. He even broke up with his girlfriend for a while.
Adam's birthday rolled around and I bought him quite expensive watch (he didn't have one). I forgot that Napier was a very small town. Adam told his girlfriend that his Mum gave him the watch. Few weeks later girlfriend's mate, who sold me the watch, saw it on Adam's wrist and remembered selling it to me-she told Francesca immediately.
The dynamic between me and Francesca turned into a separate entertaining episode. She would text me, asking why I gave Adam expensive presents and why am I hanging out with him so much and I (being much older and more experienced) would not take the bait. I'd just tell her that I gave him the present because it was his birthday. And stop at that-I would not engage into any other discussions. She would still text me from time to time , but was getting really frustrated with my non-committal "nothing" answers. She had quite a potty mouth on her,that one..LOL..
In a twisted way we (Francesca and I ) collaborated sometimes. Like one time, when we were all at a party, I just wanted to mess with Francesca's head and she wanted to mess with Adam's. So I was flirting with HER in front of him and she was acting like she's into it (she wasn't,really,at all). She even sat on my lap! When I was ready to leave, I tried to give her a little kiss, but she turned her cheek instead.
I went home and straight to bed. Apparently, Adam didn't take the whole episode so well. He had a row with Francesca and the next day at work was acting uncooperative until the end of the shift, when I asked him what was wrong and he just lost it: he practically screamed at me, saying that Francesca is not a lesbian and she is his missus. His true (very unattractive,ugly,typical male) nature showed when he kept telling me that Francesca is "his" and she will always want "his dick" and she "belongs to him" and is "his property".
 I was not impressed. If he'd told me that he loved her and was hurt by what I've done, it would've been different...
Then one day Adam got arrested for driving drunk again: it was his third time before he even turned 20 and he just barely got his license back and bought a car. We all knew there was a good possibility that he'd go to prison. He was really scared.
He was about to get fired as well-he went AWOL for 5 days after the arrest and no one (including his parents) knew where he was. He did not call in at work.
In order for him to try and get a lighter sentence, he had to have a job, to prove that he was trying to improve.
I pleaded with restaurant's General Manager-no dice. Shaye (he is, actually, really great guy and awesome manager) simply had it with Adam-he wanted nothing to do with him anymore.
 I liked Shaye and respected him, but I told him that I will go over his head and get Karen to keep Adam on.
He wished me good luck.
I got my way, but at a price: Karen told me I would have to quit the Lodge and work at the Church full time,especially weekends. She worded it all very nicely, saying that I seem to be the only one able to influence and control Adam (yeah,right-no one could control him) and he clearly needed constant supervision.
Courts in NZ take long time to process cases: Adam was "remanded" twice, which means he was a free man for the next 3 months.
I got him to go see a counsellor, as well,and paid for it (so he can show the court during sentencing that he is really trying).
Few days after X-Mas we were working late and I gave Adam a lift home. We got out of the car and stood in front of his place talking. I asked him if I could have my "late X-Mas" kiss. He obliged (such an obedient boy he was when he wanted to be..LOL..). This time, though, he wasn't letting me go. The kiss was getting more and more passionate and he was gently nudging me towards the house. His hands were everywhere.
I didn't mind. We went into his bedroom and continued for a while. Then he excused himself to go to the bathroom. I just sat on the bed, fully dressed: I wanted to wait and see. When he came back, he waisted no time: we were naked and at it in under a minute. Sex wasn't awful, but it was nothing to write home about,either. It was over pretty quick. He actually asked me how I found his "performance". Of course, I said all the right things.
I've got Adan trained as a bartender and he was doing alright for a while. His girlfriend didn't really want him to work at the Church,though (because,although we both vehemently denied it, she suspected something was going on). Francesca tried to sabotage his employment every chance she got.
One Sunday, when he slept at her house,she instigated a huge fight, broke his phone and then, after he's gone to sleep, turned off the alarm. He did not wake up and, consequently, did not call or show up for work.
Karen had a meeting with me: Adam was on a very shaky ground.
I decided to be proactive and went looking for another job: for him and for me. I found it relatively quickly in a rather upscale winery-restaurant.
They agreed to take Adam on straight away and I was going to give a proper notice at the Church and start in a month.
In a few weeks Adam's sentencing rolled around. It was a shock: judge did give him a Home Detention sentence, BUT Adam had exactly one hour from that point to get home where officers would be waiting for him to put the ankle monitoring bracelet on! That's after 3 months of letting him go free and do whatever he wanted! You'd think they'd give him few days to get his affairs in order.
According to the terms of his sentence, he was not allowed to leave the house beyond the front yard, except to go to work, but that was just the problem: the work situation had to be arranged before he was allowed to go there: there had to be a meeting with his probation officer, his schedule had to be submitted a week in advance, a "black box" was to be installed in the work place to restrict the perimeter of his movements...
That would take days and he was rostered to work the next day and he only started there 2 weeks ago-they were not aware of his impending Home D.
I tried to talk to the management of that restaurant, but after some deliberations they informed me that they are not prepared to take all that on for a brand new employee who hasn't proved his value yet.
I was back at square one.
Off I went to Paul (Karen's husband)-they run the Church together. I pleaded a really good case. I told him that it would be such a waste for a young healthy person to sit at home all day and play with his PlayStation when he could be gainfully employed paying taxes. I told him that Adam would be a model employee, because he would be ever so grateful for this opportunity,etc,etc.
Paul promised to take my case to Karen. We had a meeting the next day (one thing I have to give Karen: she definitely does things "American" way-swift with no time waisting).
Karen told me she is prepared to hire Adam back and comply with all the Home D requirements, but I have to stay on as well ( I saw that one coming a mile away) and he absolutely had to be on his best behaviour. She also implied in a very round-about way that he would have to snitch on his fellow employees. That's Karen's preferred method of management: divide and concor and make everyone paranoid,looking over their shoulder,snitching on everyone else. She would have done splendidly for herself during Stalin's years in power in Russia :/
And so we were both back at Karen's employ.
It didn't last.
About 3 weeks into it,there was a big (about 180 people) function at the Church. Adam was bar tending. Right at the beginning of his shift he cut his finger slicing limes, quite badly. He wrapped it in cloth and continued working. At some point during the night he went into the kitchen to look for the first aid kit. Karen was passing through and saw him there.
Side note: Karen drinks. She drinks a lot. To a point where she has to be practically dragged from the restaurant sometimes. When drunk, she gets unreasonable and abusive with staff. She needs to be "handled".
That night Karen was well on her way to a happy oblivion. She had a go at Adam. He was having none of it. They ended up in a screaming match and he called he a "drunk" and told her to go "sleep it off". I tried to interfere, but he was white with rage and told me to"Let him handle it". I knew there was no stopping him.
He ended up being fired on the spot, escorted from the grounds, his parole officer was emailed right then and there with the notice of termination of employment.
I knew it was truly the end. There was no way Adam would ever be employed by Karen again.
At the time, he was living with 2 other flatmates and  had to come up with rent, utilities,etc. He couldn't move back to his parent's house, because Home Detention rules would not allow him.
He  was unemployed and with no means of support.
On his behalf, I went to benefits office and, to my immense surprise, they actually put him on a benefit!
I was buying his groceries every week and every Wednesday would come over and take him for his weekly check-in with parole officer-he didn't have a car and couldn't drive anyway (suspended license), plus he would never wake up on his own at 9 am. I also got Karen to pay him some money in exchange for signing "non-disclosure" agreement regarding the circumstances of his dismissal.
I've spent quite a few late nights at his place, having a couple of drinks and talking. Some of those conversations were quite unforgettable. As I've said before:he made me see things from really unexpected angles.
We've gone to bed a couple more times (literally, two). I've lent him some money (which he never paid back).
Towards the end of his Home D sentence, I got him a job washing dishes at my friend's restaurant. That place is a very small, boutique, ultra fine dining. The friend who owns it is amazingly talented Chef and his wife managers the place. They treat their employees like a family (truly) and now, 2 years later, I know it became a turning point for Adam. Although I don't keep in touch with him (we had a falling out shortly after I got him that job), I was told that he has really cleaned up his act: no more drugs,going to school and generally is a different,better person.
When him and I had the argument that proved to be the last conversation between us (I was asking to borrow his car after I've wrecked mine and he flatly refused), I walked away from his house and I knew that I was well and truly over men in general. Incidentally, it was 3 days after I told my husband to hit the road.
No, women are not always better and they are, definitely, much more complex and harder to deal with, but I still am willing to take a lot of grief from them and forgive them a lot.
With men I simply run out of compassion.
To give an example, when I meet a woman, we are on ground zero: I don't form any opinions until I get to know her a little bit.
When I meet a man, he is on ground "minus 20" with me. It would have to be some kind of guy to dig his way from 20 to zero and then higher.
I don't do it consciously: it just the way it is.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Realtionship equality

I was just having a discussion with my flatmate. She inspires me and no wonder-she is a French actress,after all. That what she does for a living-inspiration.
We were talking about relationships and the way we approach them.
She made a good point. She said that a good relationship is like a tennis match: both people have to be involved in the game. If one person keeps serving the ball,running to get it and serving it again and the other is just standing on the other side, leaning on the racket, it will never work. The first person will get exhausted,frustrated and, in the end, will feel empty and used. The other person will feel nothing but boredom.
Sometimes we know the right way to proceed, logically, but years of conditioning,habits entrenched in us by our upbringing and previous relationship patterns prevent us from following it. Instead, we automatically go into the same old routine and then wonder why we get the same old result. We just can't seem to bring ourselves to be different, it seems wrong somehow, the brain does not reconcile.
From the very early age I was taught that I need to be unselfish, generous, thoughtful,considerate of other's feelings. My Mom taught me to always say "Thank you" and write a "Thank you" card/note for the presents given to me and  not to say anything if I don't have anything nice to say. I was taught that kindness and empathy will bring the same in return "tenfold".
I don't regret being brought up that way. What I do wish for fervently is that my Mom also told me about those who just take,take and take, never giving anything back, about those who prey on kind and unselfish.
There are so many of them out there.
I think the balance comes naturally. It is based on experience. Pity,sometimes it takes a while to "arrive", to feel the right balance, to do what's good for your soul, ultimately.
I've only arrived at that point about a month ago. There was no epiphany. It just came over me-the understanding and clear realisation of what it is I want and need (because sometimes what you "want" is not necessarily equals what you "need" or what's "good for you").
For a long time, I was the one "accommodating" the relationship: I took care of things in general and of my partners (financially and emotionally), I made sacrifices, I restructured my life to suit theirs... The pattern kept repeating itself, one relationship after another.
In the end, I felt used, unsatisfied, empty and unloved. And I would sit there and wonder why: I've given all of myself, I've made all that effort...
But that's just the problem, isn't it? I've given too much without waiting for any return from my partners, but, in my mind, I had this idea, that one fine day they'd want to do all these things for me and be there for me when I need their support...
 But why would they? They were never invested in the relationship to start with: I was the one making all the effort. It doesn't mean they were all bad or selfish people (although some of them really were). They just took what was presented to them on a silver platter. And who can blame them? I would've done the same.
I guess, in going through the same routines, I was also attracting certain kind of people.. "Rescue"'s, one of the girls I know calls them. Yes, that's probably the right term: somehow all of my previous partners needed my help (whether financial or emotional or both).
My flatmate did make me feel better,however: after I've told her the stories of my last 3 relationships, she made me see a different pattern. It appears that I was subconsciously trying to move away from what clearly was making me unhappy and, as the last one indicates, I was attracting people who were slightly different,better,than the previous partners.
Frenchy made me realise that in my last entanglement (that's really a proper name for it) the other person did not try to use me or take advantage of me in any way-not financially,emotionally (umm,that one is tricky,but we'll go with the flow) or physically. In fact, that girl made a point of saying that she "couldn't accept" certain something that I've offered (not material possession, that conversation was a bit deeper than that).
That relationship didn't happen,ultimately, but, at least, I am on the right path as far as my choice of prospective partners goes.
I do feel differently. Yes, I still want to be kind and generous, but this time, when I meet someone, I want to see them doing the same for me first. Generosity goes long way with me. Not just material, but generosity of spirit, emotional intimacy. I would like to see the other person willing to take steps to meet my needs, to make an effort.
With women ,it's always,always the little things that make a big difference. For me, it's not an expensive piece of jewellery or extravagant spending.
 It's a card, sometimes just a note or unexpected flowers for no reason-"just because" or a lunch prepared and packed for me by my partner,ready by my bag when I'm leaving for work.
It is my partner waiting for me,unexpected, when I come out of work, because we've been texting and she knows I've had a hard day.
It's her turning up at my doorstep late at night with a bottle of wine, just for a cuddle..
Connection between 2 people should be warm and nurturing,the one of total acceptance and support. The one of equality.
My flatmate gave me a pep talk, as I've been really busy these past few weeks and really didn't have a chance to even think about a relationship, never mind go look for one.
 She said that now, in my new, enlightened state, I should be in a different mind frame and projecting different "vibes" and will certainly attract someone who treats me the way I deserve to be treated.
I am very much looking forward to that, especially since my horoscope promises all kinds of good tidings :)

My second introducrion to penis

I was 10 or 11 years old. Both of my parents were high-ranking (Olympic caliber) professional athletes, so when the school holidays rolled around and they were in some other city training, they would often have me fly to that city to spend time with them. It was never both of them at the same time, as they were in different sports and were training in different cities-they hardly saw each other.
I think that's when I first got bitten by a "travel bug"-I absolutely loved flying,airports,hotels,restaurant meals... It was great!
This went on since I was about 7 and continued all through my school years-until I was 17.
Mostly, it was my Dad who traveled extensively (my Mom's career was over by the time I was 10). I didn't get to see him much even when I was in the same town with him-after all, he was working.
For him it meant getting up at 5:30am for morning training, then I would join him and his teammates for breakfast at 9am, then he would be away at sea training all day (he was a Chef Coach of Soviet National Team in yachting) until dinner at 6 pm and then he would be in the room watching TV and falling asleep by 8pm-yachting is a very intense sport.
So I learned how to entertain myself since I was very young. I think it really was a good thing, as I've learned how to be responsible, how not to get lost and how to look after myself in general.
When I was really young (6-9), Dad would leave some money with a front desk receptionist for my lunch, and later I took care of all that myself.
I very much looked forward to these holidays and saved up my allowance. I was very good at budgeting even then :)
In Russia, summer (June-August) is a traditional holiday time. All schools have this time off and a lot of people try to schedule their annual leave for those months as well.
Very popular tourists spot in Russia is Sochi-city by the Black Sea.
A lot of people would flock to Moscow as well,as it was a capital.
During summer months,especially when Mom's volleyball career was over, we would try to spend a month together as a family somewhere (after my Dad finished his last competition of the season,usually held in Tallin in July).
During one of those holidays we were staying in a hotel in Sochi for the whole month of August.
Normally my parents would get a room with 3 beds and we would be sleeping in the same room.
Hotel rooms during summer months were at a premium and if you didn't have "connections" you simply could not get one.
As you can imagine, it was very corrupt environment, where hotel and duty managers were taking bribes for reserving and distributing the rooms (everything was owned by the Government, but still managed locally).
Each floor had a receptionist as well. She (always a "she", was seated right by the elevators and asked to see your room keys when when you attempted to enter the hallway leading to the rooms. Those receptionists had a list with the guest names corresponding to the room numbers. Again-plenty of opportunities for bribery, as you couldn't, technically bring someone in who wasn't a registered guest in that particular room.
My Dad knew a lot of hotel managers and those receptionists, as he traveled all over with the Soviet National Team. Those women loved him: he brought them presents from overseas AND he was a very good-looking men and slept with fair share of them as well.
One night, during our stay, receptionist told my Dad that one of the rooms on our floor will be unoccupied overnight and he can have it, if he wanted to have some "private time" with my Mom (obviously,otherwise impossible with all 3 of us sleeping in the same room).
So off I went to sleep in that other room, while my parents, presumably, engaged in hot love-making.
As I've mentioned before, I was very self-sufficient and welcomed the opportunity to just lay in bed and watch whatever TV channel I wanted.
I will never know exactly how it happened, but I woke up in the middle of the night and there was a man standing by my bed. I didn't know who he was (or,at least, I don't think I did)
He was saying "Shhhhh, your parents sent me over. They wanted me to make sure you're OK". Although the whole scenario was a bit strange, I was not alarmed at first. I was also a bit disoriented in the dark,having been asleep just a second ago.
The man sat down on the edge of the bed and started stroking me. Very gently at first and just my arm and back. Very soon, though, he was moving his hand between my legs. I froze. He was an adult and he said he was in my room at my parent's request. I was brought up to obey adults. He kept saying "Just be quiet".
I was scared now, but didn't want to scream and bring any kind of attention to myself, as I felt it would be interpreted as my fault, somehow. So I just lay there.
In the meantime, the man unbuttoned his pants and took his penis out. He was now stroking himself at the same time as he had his hand between my legs, molesting my vagina.
He was clearly getting excited. Before I knew it, his finger was inside of me, but he was quite careful with it, not being rough, probably because he was afraid that I will scream if he hurt me.
That went on for a few moments and then he maneuvered himself so he was rubbing his penis on the side of my leg,still having his finger inside of me.
Then I heard him groan and I felt something warm on the side of my leg. Next thing I knew-he was gone.
I never saw his face, because he never turned the light on.
I was laying in bed,scared and shaking. I knew I could never tell my parents about this,as I really thought that my Mom, especially, will somehow make it all my fault and I will be severely punished,as I instinctively knew that what had happened was a really bad thing,indeed.
I went to the bathroom and washed myself carefully. There was a bit of blood between my legs and I was a little sore, but not too much-bastard made sure that he wasn't roughing me up, so I won't scream.
I will never know how exactly  he got in the room and who he was. I do suspect it was someone who knew my Dad and my family (there were few of his teammates staying in the same hotel)-that's how he knew I would be in the room alone that night. I don't know how he got the key, but back then hotels used old-fashioned keys and a lot of those fit different locks.
It could have been that the floor receptionist wanted to make some money "on the side" and set the whole thing up in order to "sell" me to some pedophile she knew...
I blocked the whole thing from my memory for a long time.
It did come back to me when I was 15.
 I've decided that it was the day I will allow my boyfriend to have sex with me "all the way" (before then he never penetrated me, just rubbed himself on my vagina lips).
Well, we did it. When he finished and a few moments later realised that there was no blood, he didn't say anything, just got up and got dressed.
The atmosphere was tense and awkward and I was trying to make a small talk, but he was responding with "yes" and "no" only and clearly couldn't wait to get out of my house.
We've never talked about it again, but I knew he thought that I've slept with some other guy ( we were dating for 2 years). "Code of honour" was a pretty serious thing in my hometown back then. No  one just "slept with somebody". Having sex (especially at the age of 15) was a very serious decision, often leading to an engagement and marriage.
I also knew that no matter what I said, he would never believe me and it would just make me look guilty. So I said nothing. Our relationship didn't last much longer after that.
I haven't had sex again until I was 17.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Budget-I have to put my 5 cents in :)

I live in New Zealand and our new Budget was delivered yesterday. It is the most discussed subject right now-and for a good reason.
We are just a small island country, in all actuality. There are no major resources (I am not considering our millions of sheep "resources") and we are very far away from everywhere else in the world.
Although England considers us it's pet, I am quite certain it will not come to our rescue and pour billions into our economy,should we find ourselves drowning.
We are not a member of European community and thus shall not expect to be bailed out like Greece.
So Budget is really important: it is our future,our survival. It is very real and affects every one of us almost immediately (NZ only has population of about 4 million).
It is very much akin to a household budget.
I am politically agnostic-I only consider policies and Budgets for their practical merit, i.e. "bottom line". I can care less about the ideology behind them.
I don't like politicians categorically and have NEVER voted for anyone while I lived in US (in NZ it is compulsory,unfortunately), because I think they all terrible people with over-inflated egos who can care less about the future of their country and it's people. It's all about power and money for them.
What I do like is discipline (I've mentioned that several times before) and simplicity.
So, what is the bottom line? Just like in every household,we need to reduce expenditure and reduce debt.
It is that simple.
There are 4 key points in this last Budget that sparked huge controversy and polarized opinions:
1. Cutbacks associated with student loans
2. Cutbacks associated with KiwiSaver contribution (for those who don't live in NZ: KiwiSaver is government-assisted individual retirement plan-kind of like 401K in US-same concept)
3. Cutbacks associated with "Working for families" credit (tax credit for people with kids)
4. Partial sell down of some public assets (Air NZ being one of them).

Let's look at those individually.
Student Loans.
Although I am a big supporter of education and do seriously believe that it is priceless, while I lived in NZ for over 3 years I've noticed a clearly emerging pattern.
A lot of youngsters (I personally know at least couple of dozen) enroll into Universities and Colleges  for the sole purpose of receiving Government grant (about $225/week, give or take), thus avoiding working and  enjoying doing nothing for a few months/years. These people have little or no interest in the subjects taught, they miss classes regularly, and, as a rule, have no intention of ever paying their student loans back.
I don't mean to say everyone is like that, but it is a fair percentage.
There is another category: people who do,in fact, want to educate themselves, but have much bigger plans for their future. As soon as they graduate, they leave the country to work for big bucks someplace else as a result of their qualification and, again, often don't bother repaying their student loans in NZ.
Bottom line is: if you honestly and sincerely want to educate yourself, you can and will do so,regardless of whether or not you getting Government assistance.
Case in point: I used to know someone, a girl from NZ, who lives in Australia now. Although she never received a formal University education, through reading,researching,etc she is on much higher ground  educationally than some Bachelor Degree holders I know. In fact, she is not even in the same ballpark-she is playing a different stadium,so to speak ( much superior one) and all that at zero cost to her Government and her fellow taxpayers.
Yes, if you want to become a doctor or an engineer, you absolutely must attend a formal school. But if you chose one of those fields, it also means that you're fairly committed and responsible.
Another side of this education coin,in my opinion, is that NZ puts way too much value in "paper" credentials and the country ended up with "pie in their face" twice in the last 3 years because of that (I am talking about false credentials provided by candidates for high-paying Government jobs,one of them associated with Immigration, another with military intelligence)
What I mean is so many jobs require certain formal qualifications. Although in some fields it is reasonable (like a University Lecturer, for instance), in some it's totally unnecessary.
Example: a lot of restaurants, when hiring a Head Chefs and a Sous Chefs and even a Chef De Parte's , require Level 4 NZQA certification. But what does that paper prove? As a long-term hospitality veteran, I am here to tell you: zilch,zip,zero. It just proves that you've gone to school and managed to graduate-it doesn't even specify your marks! It does not reflect your personal skills or even ability to perform the job required!
I've lived in US for 20 years and, although, I don't particularly care for that country, they did get some things right. One of those things is the fact that if you can prove that you're capable of doing the job, you can and will be hired, formal certifications be damned.
In fact, a lot of places require an "audition". For instance, when I applied for a job as a Nail Technician at the Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian hotel, I was asked to perform a series of services on the manager: pedicure, acrylic nails application, manicure,silk and gel nails application. They took careful note of my technique,timing and,most importantly, FINISHED PRODUCT. That's what it's all about: whether or not you can  deliver the result. I was hired, based strictly on the results of that audition. If I failed even in one area, all my certificates and recommendation letters would not get me that job.
The most desirable employers in US (those who pay big bucks) don't want to waste their time "training"- for the money that they pay, they expect you to "hit the ground running". I don't think it's such a bad concept.
So to get proper training and to gain experience, you have to start "at the bottom"-with those less desirable employers. They pay you less, but you still earn money while you're getting trained and,often times, this training proves invaluable, as this is "real time" which is much different from "class time" in controlled environment.
I think NZ Government would save a lot of money if they allowed or even sponsored more apprenticeship programs.

Kiwisaver.
From the outsider's point of view (mine,that is), Kiwis have very carefree attitude to living beyond their means. I wonder if they realise that NZ is called a "Nanny State" by a lot of foreigners. Everyone  here seems  to expect the Government to take care of them regardless of circumstances.
Here is one story. When I worked in a restaurant in Hawkes Bay, most of employees were high school kids or Uni students or those who graduated high school but couldn't decide what to do with themselves.
One of those (undecided) was 19 year old guy named Adam.
Although quite intelligent, Adam spent his entire days doing various drugs and drinking with his mates. He had potential,definitely, but he really did not apply himself.
When he was arrested for drunk driving for the third time in as many years, he was given home detention sentence because I wrote a nice letter pleading with the Court for leniency (otherwise he would have gone to prison).
He promptly got fired from the restaurant 3 weeks later (had a huge row with the owner and, although he was somewhat right, I couldn't do anything about it-the owner wanted him out).
So he found himself unable to leave his house,thus couldn't go looking for another job and without any means of support.
He gave me authorisation to apply for help for him from "Work and Income" (NZ welfare department). To my astonishment, they actually put him on a benefit (called "the dole" in NZ) of $180/week AND at one point, when he didn't have any money to buy groceries, they  gave him the voucher for $80 to do so.
So the Government paid all his expenses for 4 months while he was meant to be punished for wrongdoing! And he spent those months drinking,doing drugs and playing "PlayStation" (which he purchased with the "dole" money-that's why he was short on "food" money).
Towards the end, I managed to get him a job in my friend's restaurant and he is actually doing much better now:off drugs,cleaned his act and attending some classes to further his education. I give my friends credit for that,as they treat their employees like a family and really are a great positive influence.

But back to savings conversation: most Kiwis live "paycheck-to-paycheck" and don't have any savings whatsoever. That is why Government started KiwiSaver in the first place: they wanted to encourage their citizens to save. A lot of incentives were given, such as matching contributions and tax-free status.
But let's face it: providing for our future is our own responsibility. It is up to us to make sure we have enough money put away for "golden age". It has been like this for hundreds of years all over the world. Why do Kiwis think it's different for them? Why should they rely on the Government?
We are very fortunate we have a stable Government and peaceful country. Think about some South American and African countries where Governments change every few years. The suggestion of putting their savings into government's hands in those countries will make citizens laugh!
It is up to us to look after ourselves-we are adults,after all.

Working For Families Credit.
This is tax credit associated with having kids. I know I am going to spark a controversy, but here it goes: having kids is not a right, it's a choice and a privilege.
I am pro-choice, but before pro-lifer's start on me, let me say this: "choice" begins long before abortion issue even come into play.
It is a choice not to use contraceptives.
It is a choice to have unprotected sex.
It is a choice not to do anything about it straight away (in this age of morning-after pills, which are FREE in NZ, and various other steps that could be taken to prevent pregnancy).
And, yes, it is a choice to keep the baby when you know that you cannot ensure that the child will be cared for properly,fed,clothed and educated. Love is great, it really is, but it doesn't pay the bills and neither should the government be expected to.
I feel I have every right to say this,as I have decided when I was 19 that I do not want to have any children and am very glad that I did not bend under pressure of society, my parents and my husbands.

Partial sell down of the assets.
We have 16 billion dollar deficit. It is a fact. It does not matter at this stage how we got it-no reason to cry over spilled milk.
We need to reduce this debt. Partial sell down is definitely the way to do it under the circumstances and much more preferable to whole sell down.
We will still be able to participate in ownership (as we will retain majority of the shares) and,as major shareholders, we will partake in the profits. The assets will be protected from falling into overseas control.
This is a great way to reduce the mortgage instead of just paying the interest.
Example. Say you own an investment property and it brings in decent rent. So far so good. Now let's say you had an unexpected event that put you in financial hardship (you were made redundant and cannot find another job, your company went bust, huge medical bills,etc). You now have a sizable debt. Right thing to do would be to sell your investment property. Yes, it brings income, but not nearly enough to cover the gaping hole in your finances and you're probably running up your credit card balances as well. The golden rule: you don't borrow to save. It is much better to clear off your debts and start fresh.
Our Government doing even better: they are selling only part of the assets. To me it's a win/win situation.

In my opinion, this is very realistic Budget and if we do it right,we can and will be in black again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Funny/bizarre story

I have a regular client in NZ-kind of a nice guy.
We have interesting discussions.
I've told him long ago that I am, in fact, a lesbian (NOT "bi") and that I date women exclusively. I also told him my real age.
He talks to me about his wife, his business (he owns cafe in CBD),his daily goings on. I think one of the reasons we hit it off is that we have a lot of common ground as far as hospitality business goes and we bitch about customers and swap "war stories".
He actually met my "ex"-she came into town to drop off my car that I let her have while I was overseas back in January. I took her to his cafe-the coffee is really wicked and top notch.
When I'm in NZ, he books me every week or even a couple times a week sometimes.
I honestly have no idea why he persists-I think he is on a quest to get me to come, as I've told him I'm not capable of achieving that with a man. He tries hard, I'll give him that. Ain't gonna happen,though..LOL..
He usually turns up after he's been drinking or smoking pot, often both-and he rides a motorcycle while clearly off his face-I have no idea how he does that and, more importantly, how he never gets caught.
Normally I do not see or tolerate intoxicated clients. I either don't take the booking at all or terminate it early. But he is all right, so I make an exception for him.
The other day he booked me after seeing me just 2 days prior-that's really close even for him.
He turned up late, stinking of weed and with a fair bit of alcohol on his breath.
He was very excited. "I have a girlfriend for you!" he announced. I just stared at him.
He told me about this girl who comes to his cafe regularly. Apparently she's been coming for the past 2-3 months. He thinks she would be perfect for me.
"Why do you think that?" I asked.
"Oh" he said "She is really hot".  "Hot to your standards or mine?" I asked (he wouldn't know what my standards are,anyhow.
He proceeded to describe the girl, but then he told me how old she was... It took a lot of willpower for me not to burst out laughing: she is less than HALF my age!
And then the punch line came: apparently, he's been observing her and came to a conclusion that she's in love with her friend who is straight. And last week that friend changed her hair colour and now she looks like me, he reckons. So,in his male wisdom, he thought it would be great idea for us to get together!
Oh,where do I even start with that!...LOL.. My friends who know about my personal life are probably having a chuckle reading this now :) (yes,Un-PC Lesbian,I know you're cracking up).
Not to mention the fact that I can't even think of any common point of reference with someone THAT young. What exactly am I meant to do with them? Play "mummy" and tuck them in at night?
One thing is clear: he didn't think anything was wrong with that plan. In fact, if the girl was straight, he would not think twice about hitting on her himself (and he is older than me!).
This is such a typical male: a) they have that need to "solve" problems, to come up with a solution, b)they want to shag everything that looks good and damn the consequences-the whole "shag now,sort out the details later" attitude c) they think attraction based purely on physical appearance and d) they do think sex solves all or majority of the problems.
He basically thought that if I take that girl to bed and apply some skill, she'd forget all about her crush and her and I will live happily ever after... Jesus wept...
I just wanted to pacify him-I know he meant well, he just doesn't know any better-so I took the girl's phone number. I have absolutely no intention of calling her, of course.
He did describe the girl in detail, so when I was doing my daily morning walk and passed by his cafe, I actually saw her: she looked just like a kid (which she is,really) and appeared sad and somewhat lost. She was by herself. The last thing this kid needs is  mindless sex with someone she barely met.
This just illustrates the point: men are quite simple and primal. Simple in their motivations. I don't think they are capable of even beginning to understand women. Honestly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tomorrow may never come (Larisa)

I am a big advocate of "live to the full extend today,as tomorrow may not come".
This philosophy is a direct result of many losses.
One of those (and probably the greatest one) is my now deceased friend Larisa.
I met Larisa when I was going through my Nail Technician school in Las Vegas. She was a friend of one of the Russian girls in Aesthetician class. Three of us became very close.
But I better tell Larisa's story.
She was born in Moscow and, like many Russian girls, got married very young. Back then and,as I am finding out, even now,the culture back home was to find a husband as soon as possible. Not necessarily a rich husband, just a husband. If you were single by the tender age of 25, you were considered "stale goods".
Larisa had a son straight away (another quite common trend back then).
She was always striving to achieve the best possible and financially comfortable future. All by herself-no thanks to her looser of a first husband.
So she developed some connections and got herself a job as a  manager for "intourist" (foreign tourists only) bar in one of the major hotels. It was a very plum job,as not only it paid quite well, there were ways to make all kinds of money "on the side".
Larisa has done well and managed to save up a substantial amount.
Things in Russia were taking a bad turn,though: government changes, Gorbachev,then Yeltsin... Larisa knew if she was to have any kind of decent life, she would need to move overseas.
Back then US was the most desirable spot for many Russians. It was not easy to get into,however.
Larisa gave her husband quite a bit  of money and managed to get him to US (using connections she developed at work) with the provision that he would settle in there and then she would come over with their son.
He called her regularly,telling her that things are going good and he can't wait to see them.
In the meantime, Larisa was working hard,trying to make as much money as possible.
When she was all packed,about 3 days before her departure, her apartment was broken into and most of her stuff was stolen (as it was so conveniently packed and ready to go). She always thought someone targeted her, someone who knew she was leaving the country.
So she arrived in Los Angeles... What she found there was not a pleasant surprise. Her husband, who always liked his drink,has now become a full blown alcoholic. He lived in a tiny shit hole apartment and owed rent and about $1300 in phone bills as well-he said he missed Russia, so he called home often. He spent all the money she given him. He was also unemployed.
It was up to Larisa to make things happen.
Her English was not good at all, but she was very beautiful,young,eager and full of energy. She was hired almost immediately as a sales clerk in one of Los Angeles' many clothes shops. She was paid cash (and not much of it).
She also picked up baby-sitting and cleaning jobs to make the ends meet.
Very soon she realised she would never make enough money to get ahead this way. Her husband deteriorated to a point where he just became a bum-she kicked him out and he was just drifting,picking up an odd job here and there,just to make enough money for the booze.
Larisa set her sights on Vegas. She moved there and got a job as a cocktail waitress in a shitty little casino downtown.
 Back then it didn't matter how pretty you were-in Las Vegas to get a job in a decent casino, you had to "pay your dues"-work in a shitty one for a while, so you can put some "Vegas" experience on your resume and then slowly move upwards.
The reason you wanted to work in a good casino,was that everyone was making the minimum wage everywhere-which back then was $4.25/hour in America. No one could possibly survive on that. It's the tips that made up the biggest portion of your income and the nicer the hotel, the bigger the tips.
At El Cortez, where Larisa started (a horrible dirty place) tips were almost non-existent, but she pressed on.
Good thing about those times in Vegas was that many new hotels were being build and each hotel employed between 3500-6000 people. There were opportunities out there,for sure. There were also a lot of eager hopefuls.
When Treasure Island started hiring, there were 4 applicants for each vacancy.
Larisa got a job there. It was definitely a great new start-awesome insurance package-very important in America, where cost of medical treatment can,quite literally,put you out of the house,great benefits and,yes,much better tips.
Inside each hotel there was it's own order of "who gets which section" to work. Sections were assigned to each waitress and some of those sections were much better than others as far as tips were concerned. For instance, being on the "general floor" where all the regular punters pulled the handles of slot machines was OK, but working the section with "table games"-Black Jack,roulette,etc was better. Better yet was to work in "High Roller" section (very high minimum bets and often no limit,thus big money) or poker room section.
Very soon Larisa got the poker room as a permanent section. She was quite happy: finally bought a decent car, got a nice apartment for her and her son.
 She met a Russian guy who turned out to be yet another looser: he lived in Russia (and we later found out had several "girlfriends" there), but would come and stay with Larisa for months at a time,completely at her expense, mooching off her and even asking her to buy stuff for him to take home. She caught him once actually stealing shoelaces from her boots (no, I'm NOT making this up-he was replacing her new ones with his old and worn ones!)...
In the meantime,poker room at Treasure Island was constantly filled with Russian professional poker players. One of them,named Lenny, took a liking to Larisa and asked her out several times. She always declined,as she never had any interest in him and told him she had a boyfriend.
Lenny was not an attractive man: in his early forties,with jowls and red hair,often unshaven. He was arrogant as well. In fact I cannot think of any redeeming qualities that Lenny possessed: either physical or personality-wise.
Months went by. Larisa always worked "graveyard" shift: 11pm-7am. One morning, when she was just about ready to finish,Lenny asked her how her boyfriend was doing. Larisa was tired and said without thinking: "I don't have one anymore. Haven't had for about 3 months now".
Lenny jumped at the opportunity. He asked her if she would have breakfast with him that morning. She had nothing to do and was,indeed,hungry.. So, without giving it a second though, she agreed.
It was a decision that would change her life forever.
Sometimes I do wish I had a time machine or a magic wand- I could gone back and drag her away from the person, who, for all intents and purposes would ultimately kill her.
Lenny asked Larisa out quite often after that breakfast. In fact, he was trying to seduce her as hard as he could and he put a lot of money into it: he invited her over his place and cooked her dinner (she said it was terrible,but she was a polite girl and acted like it was lovely).
He took her on all expense paid trip to Hawaii, with her son and (get this) her best friend Elena (the girl I would later meet at beauty school). I have to give it to him: Lenny was very shrewd. He knew Larisa and Elena are very tight and value each other's opinions. If Elena would voice serious objections, Larisa would, most likely,listen (especially since she was not at all "in love" or "in lust" with Lenny-she just didn't have anyone else and he was...there..).
So Lenny was trying to win both of them over.
He brought up marriage several times, but Larisa was adamant about not wanting to get married again. "What's wrong with the way things are now" she would ask. "I'm with you and it's all good". She would not even move in with him.
Then she became pregnant. It was a good thing, actually,as Larisa always wanted another child and was very much looking forward to raising him/her by herself with Elena's help. She wasn't planning to break-up with Lenny, but neither did she had big plans for a future together with him.
But Lenny was very persistent. In retrospect he needed to "own" her, as his property. To him, marriage was the way to do it.
He said all the right things about "child needing a father" and "having a complete family". He even bought a house-off the blue prints (it was just getting build) in a prominent subdivision and told Larisa he's done it for her and their future son.
She finally gave in. She was 7 months pregnant when they got married, wearing white pants suit as her wedding outfit.
Few months later her second son was born and the house was build. Lenny even hired a live-in Russian nanny (lovely older woman named Dina-she became indispensable later).
Lenny kept insisting that Larisa quit her job as a cocktail waitress at Treasure Island, but she was always independent and wanted to make sure she had an income of her own,just in case.
She was a free spirit and wouldn't take Lenny's shit-she always stood her ground and would not give in. They had a decent enough relationship, although neither Elena, nor myself (when I met them later) liked Lenny.
Larisa was so beautiful: delicate features, high cheekbones, blond hair,slender but statuesque. She was not tall, but had a "presence".
She was amazing person: kind and caring, forgiving. She was also a bit mischievous-in a good way :) She had a way of "engaging" people and was very well liked.
Lenny, on the other hand, had no friends,as I'm not going to count "poker buddies" as friends. He wanted to drag Larisa to all those parties with his so-called "friends"-people she hardly knew, with whom Lenny had business dealings (he was a Realtor,as well) and wanted to "schmooze". He wanted to show Larisa off as his prized possession and use her to charm other people. She hated that. Whenever she could, she would find an excuse not to go.
Then something terrible happened. I only found out about it much later.
Elena finally told me.
 I have a bad temper and always had zero tolerance for male predators and they were both (Larisa and Elena) afraid that things would get out of hand and situation would become even worth..
Anyway,here's what happened: Lenny had one of his famous "schmoozing" BBQ at his house. Everyone had a lot to drink.
At some point Lenny went to bed. Quite a few guests were still at the house. When Larisa went upstairs one of Lenny's "friends" followed her. He grabbed her,shoved her into the guest bedroom and proceeded to rape her.
She tried to fight him, but he was big and she wasn't... Million things went through her head all at once: if she made a noise, Lenny would definitely hear it and wake up. He would react, no doubt-he had a gun. Their son was asleep in one of the bedrooms. She was afraid of what might happen. She also (like so many female victims) thought that maybe she brought it on herself: maybe she dressed too provocatively, maybe she flirted...
Ultimately, she decided to just "ride it out" and try to forget all about it.
She thought that it was the end of it-she avoided being in the same company with that person from then on. But that's not how it played out.
Almost a year later that guy (who was still Lenny's "friend") got drunk and decided to tell Lenny all about it. He portrayed Larisa as a slut,of course.
Instead of even trying to ask his wife what happened, believing her and trusting her,Lenny  went berserk. No matter how hard Larisa was trying to defend herself, he was having none of it.
They fought for weeks. Finally, Larisa had enough: she told him she wanted a divorce, she could not bear to be with someone who had zero trust in her. She told him she wanted absolutely nothing-none of his money,no portion of the house.
Her mind was made up: she was going to move out with her kids and just start all over again. She wasn't at all afraid-she'd done it before.
But Lenny couldn't possibly let his "property" (wife and son) slip away like that. He had money, he could hire the best lawyers and in America that is pretty much a guarantee of success.
He told Larisa that if she attempted to leave him, he would portray her in court as a terrible, irresponsible mother, immoral person and a slut. He said he would parade dozens of witnesses in front of the judge claiming she had affairs with them and had sex with them while their young son was in the next room.
He told her she would never see her kids again-he'd make sure of that.
Larisa fought for a while,still.. But then she just gave in. She loved her kids. She couldn't imagine her life without them.
Lenny "broke" her. She became a different person after that. All the fire has gone out of her. Sure, she still had fun with us, girls, and still was hoping to open a business together with Elena, but she just didn't have that feistyness, that spark she had before.
She got her Aesthetician's license, quit her job at Treasure Island and her and Elena started a business. Larisa had Lenny to pay household expenses,etc, so she could afford to be at the shop full time, while Elena had to keep her job at Paris Hotel and worked their business on her days off (3 days a week).
They rented a space and my father (who lived with me at the time) helped them build it out and business was starting to take off.
Few months went by and Larisa started having bouts of "food poisoning" every few weeks: she would be very ill,throwing up for 2-3 days in a row, unable to eat and having terrible stomach pains.
During one of those bouts, she was lying on the floor,in pain, when Lenny walked in. "Bunny" he said (that was his nickname for her) what are you doing laying there? You have to be ready in half an hour-we're going to a party,remember?... Elena was there at the time-she told me later she wanted to strangle him with her bare hands.
Another few months passed and Larisa had visibly lost weight. She also looked quite gaunt and pale. We were worried. So was she, but she was putting off going to the doctor: partly because she was afraid of what she'd find out and partly because she had no medical insurance since quitting her job at Treasure Island and that was,in fact,scary.
Finally, she went. Results took almost 10 days to be processed (quite normal in America) and during that time she told us she "buried herself" a dozen times and had a great hope that nothing was wrong another dozen times.
When the results finally came back, it was bleak news: she had cancer of the stomach. It had to be operated on ASAP.
Lenny took her to San Francisco where the surgery was performed. It lasted 5 hours,as, when they opened her up, they had to remove entire stomach and a part of her liver-cancer spread out so badly. Her esophagus was to act as a stomach from then on.
Larisa recovered from the surgery in good spirits: although she lost a lot of weight and was really weak, she soon went back to work and was optimistic.
She was doing quite well for about 6 months. Then the pains started again. She went to get tested and discovered that the cancer was back and it was now in her intestines: that was not operable and doctors gave her 2 months to live.
Every time she had some food, she would have terrible pain for about 30 min. She was loosing weight and getting weaker and weaker. But she still fought.
She learned about this "homeopathic healer" in Los Angeles and had Lenny take her there every week. The guy was nothing but a charlatan, but the power of suggestion was great and she would feel better after visiting him.
A week before Valentine's Day, Lenny announced that he's going to Bahamas for 10 days to fish for marlin,as "all this"(Larisa's illness) was "too hard on him" and "he needed a break". He damn well knew it was the very last Valentine's Day he'd spend with his wife and he just buggered off (mind, they had a full-time leave-in housekeeper/nanny and Lenny never lifted a finger to do anything and had his meals brought up into his room, so  the burden of housekeeping/child rearing  was on him).
We were not going to miss him at all- I was just disgusted at his selfishness and complete lack of caring.
So Larisa,Elena and I decided to make a fun trip out of it, piled up in a car and went to California for 3 days.
Larisa attended her "healer" treatment and then we went shopping and had a great meal in a Russian restaurant in Santa Monica.
 Owners of the restaurant were so nice and understanding; we explained to them that Larisa is ill and would need a hot water bottle (we carried it with us) filled and applied to her stomach after the meal because of the pain and they were more than accommodating, even bringing over all kinds of special treats that were not on the menu!
That night we stayed at one of our friend's condos (they were gone on a holiday). We had some wine and cheese-Larisa decided "to risk it" and it went down OK and we just talked and talked. We drove home the next day.
In the next few weeks Larisa deteriorated quite rapidly: she lost even more weight and had very little strength. Still, she insisted on not staying in bed: she would come down,dressed, from her bedroom in the morning. She could only make that trip once a day, so she'd stay downstairs all day and then go back up at night.
She came over to celebrate Elena's birthday: nicely dressed and made up. She had to lay on the couch for the most part, as strength was leaving her, but she was still there! I am so glad I have the photos.
All and all, she hang in there for 6 months (after doctors gave her 2)- she was stubborn, I have to give her that.
I was on the phone with her one day and we agreed that I would come over her house the next day and give her a pedicure and a manicure: she loved the look of "french" nails and I promised I'd do that for her.
The next day I was at home,working on a nail client. My phone rang and caller ID showed Larisa's home number. I answered and started talking straight away,as I thought I knew who it was:"Hey, I'll be there in about an hour, I just need to finish this client, OK?".
The voice on the other end was not Larisa's. It was her next door neighbour, Angela,also a friend. She said "Larisa is dead. You need to come over. Please call and tell Elena, because I can't handle it".
I went numb. I knew this was coming, but I didn't think it would be that day.
I called Elena. Her reaction was about the same as mine.
Side note: you would think that my client, who heard the exchange and asked me what happened just got up and left? No,sirree. Not a chance. She squirmed a little and asked me if I wanted her to go! She actually asked! Such typical American attitude. She told me that she was "so busy" this week and really needed this pedicure (who the fuck "NEEDS" a pedicure??), but if I'd rather her go, it would be all right with her.
I just finished her as fast as I could- I knew I would be busy for the next 10 days with funeral,wake,etc
By the time I got to Larisa's, police were already there (they treat all in-home death as "suspicious circumstances" in America).
I also found out that Larisa died in her sleep-the housekeeper helped her go to the bathroom around 5 am and then suspected that she was dead when she checked on her at 10am and wanted her husband to find out (which would be appropriate) but Lenny refused to go upstairs and, finally, at 1 pm, he told Dina (the housekeeper) to "go check on Larisa".
When she came down and told him that his wife was gone, he made a big show of running up to the bedroom and falling to his knees by her bed,banging his head on the floor,screaming and carrying on-that's why Dina had to go get Angela, the neighbour.
All three of us (Larisa,Elena and I) were religious and Larisa always liked our Church (Russian Orthodox), so we wanted a proper ceremony for her. We had Lenny call and make the arrangements with the funeral home and the Church.
In the meantime, we had to follow through with some of the Russian traditions for the dead: all the mirrors in the house had to be covered,coins had to be put on her eyes (to keep them closed),candles lit and a bowl of water set out.
It didn't help that police was following our every step,asking what it was we were doing and why.
Finally,blessedly, Lenny was able to get hold of Larisa's doctor and he agreed to sign the death certificate straight away, which meant police left and we could have funeral home come and pick up the body.
We had to be quick about everything: it was April in Las Vegas, already very hot weather.
Next day was hard. Elena and I found out that Lenny made absolutely no provisions for Larisa's death. None. Although he knew she was dying.
So three of us (Elena,Lenny and I) went to the funeral home. God, I sure hope I would never have to something like that again.
First we had to look through the options for various services, discuss embalming (compulsory in US and Lenny was being stubborn about it and put us through hell, totally unnecessary), discuss "the vault" (concrete box into which coffin is placed before going into the ground to prevent caving  and fluids escape). Then we had to go to another room to choose coffin, hardware for the coffin and the lining. They don't actually have full size coffins in there: there are small partial versions, then a separate board with hardware (handles) and then drawers that you have to open one by one to choose the lining.
Elena and I were pressing on with it, while Lenny made a big show of falling to his knees again and sobbing loudly (to draw attention to poor him, of course).
Then all of us had to get into a gold cart with the funeral director and go pick out a plot (more falling down and sobbing from Lenny).
When we all got back, funeral director added up everything and came up with the total cost: something around $10K. It was awkward moment, as the amount had to be paid in full and right then and there for the funeral home to proceed.
Director put the papers in front of Lenny. Lenny didn't move. We all sat in silence for a while. Finally, I just pulled out my credit card and paid (Lenny DID pay me back later)- I just had enough theatrics for one day and my friend was dead,for crying out loud!
Larisa was embalmed the next day. I've made her a promise, so I went over to the funeral home and did her nails one last time-French manicure, just the way she liked it. I also put her cross on her along with some costume jewellery that looked quite real-Russian people,especially older ones,are terribly materialistic and I didn't want them to talk about her "buried without any jewellery".
 It wasn't scary or weird or even particularly hard: when I saw her, or, rather, a shell that used to be her body, I knew her soul was gone. It didn't even look like her.
In our religion, we believe that the spirit of the deceased stays with us for 40 days: we celebrate first 10 days,as the first step of departure and then 40 days,as the last goodbye.
We gave Larisa proper service: 2 hour service inside the Church, then her body was locked in the Church overnight, then another, shorter service the next morning. I know she was pleased-that what she would've wanted.
The ordeal wasn't over,though. Later still (about a month), Elena told me what happened the day after the funeral. Again, she didn't want to tell me straight away, because I would have torn Lenny to pieces and Elena wanted to be on good terms with him so she could have access to Larisa's little boy and take care of him.
Here's what happened. Larisa never liked wearing any jewellery-not even a watch. She always said it "got on her nerves". Lenny bought her quite a few expensive pieces and insisted she wear them when they went out to his "schmoozing" parties. But most of the time all the jewellery was locked in the safe deposit box at the bank.
It so happened that the jewellery was brought home shortly before Larisa's death. The day after the funeral Lenny went to look for it and, apparently, couldn't find it. He questioned the housekeeper (and NOT in a nice way) and she was really offended. Dina was so loyal and selfless, she couldn't believe he would even think of suspecting her of theft. Then, coward that Lenny was, he had Dina call Elena and ask her about the jewellery: he certainly wouldn't call me,as he knew the reaction he would get, the asshole! He told Dina that he saw Elena and I go through the house (and here I thought he was too busy banging his head on the floor) and the implication was quite clear.
We did,in fact, go through the house: covering the mirrors, lighting candles and picking out the clothes for Larisa's last journey. Certainly NOT looking for jewellery-we didn't even know it was IN the house!
Elena was upset: she got Lenny on the phone and asked him straight up what he meant. He backed off, but then said he knew that I put some jewellery on Larisa and he wanted to know what it was.
Elena has had enough! She told him that I put my own costume jewellery on her (including fake diamond wedding ring) so that all his "friends" and "associates" wouldn't think that he was a cheap prick for keeping his dead wife's babbles! She also asked him what he would've wanted us to do if it was, in fact, her real jewellery,she got buried with-dig her up and take it off??? Lenny piped down.
Three days later he found the pouch with all the jewellery in it-guess where? In his own desk drawer! Do you think he apologised to Dina and Elena? You probably guessed correctly-not a chance!

I had another go with Lenny when he kept putting off ordering and installing Larisa's head stone. Larisa's grave only had a plaque on the ground and,as spaces are at a premium, and graves are all close together, people just kept walking over her grave. It is a very bad thing in our religion. It means that soul cannot rest.
I found this place on the Internet that could do a beautiful headstone for only $2000! And ship it for free!
Lenny said he'd look at it. Few months later, when nothing happened, I asked again. He said he was told that a year needs to pass and the ground  needs to "settle". I replied that it was in the old days and reminded him about the "vault".
Long story short, over a year later, I got him to order the stone from the Internet and then had to get him to go to the cemetery and pay them to actually  install it,as it was just sitting there in the shed and he wasn't returning their calls.
I would have gladly paid for all that myself, but Elena asked me not to do it, not to upset a delicate balance between Lenny and us, again, for the sake of Larisa's kid.

I've talked to many doctors during Larisa's illness and since. They all tell me the same thing: we all have cancer cells in our bodies. Different factors create environment in which they (cancer cells) begin to grow. One of those factors is extreme stress.
Larisa's stomach was always one of her weak spots: she even became a vegetarian because she felt that meat  "just sits in her stomach" and is too heavy. Larisa did not smoke, she never did any drugs. She bought her food in the "health","organic" grocery stores and she didn't like junk food.
Without any shadow of a doubt, I know that it was Lenny's behaviour, his threats to take away her children, his not letting her go that caused her "extreme stress". He might as well put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. He did kill her, but in a way that he could never be punished for.

I miss Larisa. I think about her often. I wish I told her that I loved her one last time and didn't wait until the next day, because by then she was gone.
But I also know that God, in his eternal wisdom,has spared her. He decided that she's had enough suffering and delivered her to a place where there is no pain and anguish, no broken hearts and broken promises.
He finally gave her  peace. For that I am grateful and I am happy for her. I know she is in a better place.

Tell the people you care about that you love them often. Don't wait to do things you want to do. Live you life to the fullest every day. Give happiness a try, even if you are scared of failure, of rejection, because you may not get another chance: tomorrow may never come.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Husband #4 (and the last one,for sure)

The reason I'm jumping straight to number 4 is that I FINALLY was able to file for divorce from him last week!
New Zealand requires 2 years (!!!!) of separation before you could file for divorce-even if you have no children, no property, nothing to share and are both perfectly willing to part ways. It really is preposterous, but this IS the country I wanted to live in, so I have to take good with the bad.
While filing the paperwork and answering mandatory questions, I did some calculations and came to the stark realization that I've been with this man for 16 years! I seriously had to calculate again, 3 different ways to make sure. This is, by far, the longest relationship/entanglement I've been in. It's almost half of my life-and I wasted it on some guy! I am not very happy with myself at the moment, but we all know that our past is just that: our past and there is not a damn thing we can do about it now.
I met C (my soon-to-be ex) in Las Vegas when I was 27 (he was 43). I was working as a stripper in a really small,out-of-the-way club,had a "day" job as a waitress in Tropicana casino and was turning an occasional "trick" when opportunity presented itself.
He came to the club and bought a couple of lap dances from me. We started talking and I asked what he did for a living. He was very cagey,just said "retail management".
 Soon it was my turn to go on stage, but when I was done, C was waiting for me and  handed me his business card. Card listed the name of the very prominent jewellery store, family owned and C as a Senior Vice President-his last name was the same as the store name!
 I was blown away-it was well-known Mormon family that owned the store and C was one of them! He asked me to stop by but to be discreet.
I did like him-there was definitely some chemistry between us and decided then and there that I would definitely go check it out.
At the time I had a live-in boyfriend, but we were never really serious and it was agreed from the very start that neither one of us had any intention of getting married. Besides, I owned the house we lived in and paid all the bills (story of my life,really-I AM honestly working on changing my ways), so I didn't feel any guilt.
I looked through all my jewellery and found a piece that needed fixing. I dressed appropriately: short skirt and low-cut top: nicely displaying my assets, but tastefully so :).
I went to the store and C and I ended up chatting for about half an hour. He  asked me out for lunch (very quietly and discreetly).
When we met for lunch, a week later, he told me that he is married and that he is, in fact, an active member of Mormon church. He said that he finds himself wanting something, but he won't have sex outside of marriage-he said he's interested in BDSM.
I am not a stranger to THAT game-I've done some dominatrix gigs and told him that I would be willing to accommodate him. Truth was, I was starting to really like him and just wanted to see him again.
He called me a few days later and asked if I could come by the store after closing-when everyone has gone home. I was quite excited about the prospect. But later he chickened out and cancelled: said he just felt too bad about doing it and couldn't go through with it.
I was not about to leave it at that. I called him at the store and just chatted for a while.. About nothing,really. He called me again in a couple of days and said that he booked a hotel room and wants to see me.
This time he did show up, but was really nervous and asked if we could just sit and talk for a while. Well, could we ever: I am a Gemini (and we are known to talk people's ears off) and a shrink to boot!
It didn't take me long to get the truth out of him: he was extremely unhappy in his marriage: hardly any sex at all and very cold at that, no passion or love or any warmth left in the relationship (and never really been to begin with), couldn't even talk to his wife about anything and they were completely on different pages (hell, not only they weren't in the same ballpark,they were playing different stadiums). He said he had never,ever had sex with any woman other than his wife (over the years I found  that to be true)
Eventually, he said he wanted just hugs and kisses and some warmth. We did that.. For a while.. That lead to a blow job, which he stopped midway, because he was overwhelmed with guilt.
He left shortly after.
To be completely honest, I now viewed him as a challenge. Yes, I really liked him, but I also made it my mission to "crack" him. It was a formidable challenge: active devoted member of the Mormon church, married, 4 kids, member of a very prominent family and quite a few organisations and charity boards: a lot of people knew him and he would run into someone he knew almost everywhere he went.
In retrospect, I think I was so keen because I subconsciously went for unavailable men- I never wanted it to become "real" committed relationship that lead to marriage, but back then it seemed very real to me. Hindsight is always 20/20. If only I knew then what I know now....
I planned the big seduction scene: got a penthouse suite at the Treasure Island Hotel, hired a limo. I instructed the limo driver to go to the store and ask to speak to C. He was to tell him that the Mayor is in the suite at Treasure Island and she (yes, Mayor of  Vegas was a "she" at the time) needs a discreet appraisal.
 None of it was very far-fetched,as a matter of fact. Things like that went on in Las Vegas all the time and C's store was the oldest and most trusted- it was the first and only jewellery store when they opened in 1939 back when Las Vegas was mostly just a big train station.
Driver was to give C the key (you couldn't get to penthouse floor without the room key).
C did as he was told. I was waiting for him in black over-the-knee high-heel boots and a little black dress. He was surprised, but not overly so-he did suspect something.
I sat him on the couch and sat myself on the coffee table in front of him. I put my feet (still in boots) on either side of him. I pulled him close by his tie and told him that I was in charge.
I've done this enough times to know when people let go or "surrender" to lust: their irises "melt". It's hard to explain: you need to experience it to know what I mean.
 C was gone: I knew I would have my way with him.
And I did. It was over very quick and sex was not good at all, but it gave me a great degree of satisfaction: I "cracked" him!
I did fall in love with him,though. I think I thought I wanted him because I couldn't have him.
We started an affair. It was not easy. I would wait for him in the car after work (he locked up the store at 6:30pm) or he would meet me during lunch time: lots of BJs in the car...LOL..
We also went on out-of-town trips sometimes (when he could find an excuse).
Every few weeks or months he would call me up and end it-tell me he can't handle the guilt, can't do this to his family,can't do this to me...
But then a week or so would pass and I would call or he would... Or I'll wait for him after work.. Or he'd pretend he needs to stay at the store after hours, full well knowing that I will be driving by on my way home and see him there alone and come in...
One time after one such "break-up" I waited for him in the parking lot in my car. He locked the store,saw me and got in his car. I followed. He pulled into the drive-through of some fast food restaurant-there was a line. I got out of my car and came over to his car's window. We ended up passionately kissing right then and there-until the cars behind us started honking!
Another time we "broke up" I planned another "scene". I booked a room in Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City and bought 2 first-class plane tickets (for C and I). I had a lawyer friend of mine create a real subpoena (don't ask-I was VERY resourceful..LOL) claiming that C is needed as a witness for a deposition on a jewellery fraud case in NY and the trip is all-expense paid by the defence.
I had yet another male friend of mine (it's amazing what men would do for a little action-I only wish women were that easy) to actually go to the store and "serve" C the subpoena.
This plan didn't work: I miscalculated,as I planned for 3-day weekend and weekend was a REALLY big deal for a Mormon family. Plus, it was a rough time for the store which was family owned and he would have to tell the family and they would want to know the details,etc.
He called me, quite upset, and told me that it was a "silly stunt" and he wasn't going.
I ended up going on my own. As I've already booked a working lady with BDSM tendencies for us and, being a working girl myself, didn't want HER to be out of $$$, I went through with the booking.
It really is a subject for a whole different entry, but that was the girl who, for the first time, taught me how to "let go" and who pushed my boundaries beyond any limits I thought I had. She made me tell her my deepest secrets and fantasies (which, by the way, I was never able to tell anyone else since) and she did to me something I call "getting someone out".  It means that, as you're having sex, you become aware that some time (usually between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes) has lapsed since your last "conscious" moment, the moment you remember  and the present moment. You "lost" some time, yet you weren't unconscious-you were "out". It involves completely surrendering any and all control-something that's usually next to impossible for me.
 Only one other person was able to do this to me since-and only twice.
 Unfortunately, if this happens with your partner,there are consequences: when you are in that state of "out" you say things that, although certainly true at the moment, cannot be superimposed into real,everyday life. You give the other person complete control and power over you. It's a very strong "head rush" for them. It takes a certain degree of maturity to separate "real" from "fantasy". If they try to take this into real life, it causes huge problems. In my case, I am a very independent and strong-willed person and no one ever has control over me in real life. I am always in charge. So when a partner is able to "get me out" it confuses them-they think they have control: from now on and forever, when it's not the case at all. It causes fights and, with my ex, it was one of the things that broke down the relationship.
At any rate, the trip to NY did not go wasted :)
My relationship with C went on like that for years. I dated someone else briefly, but that was definitely a no-go (but a lot of fun,as that guy was a wealthy Englishman and I got a fabulous England/France holiday out of it).
I got to know C's family: it started with me chatting with his father at the store,as I was a "regular customer" and the I was introduced to his mother and,eventually invited to a family dinner (C had 4 brothers and 1 sister, all married with several kids each, so it was a big family). I started calling C's father "grandpa".
I think C's father thought I was this lonely little woman and Mormons tend to "take people under their wing". I genuinely liked "grandpa"-he was nice and funny.
When C's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's desease and had to be put in a special facility,as she could no longer look after herself, I visited her often, did her nails, chatted with her on "clear" days, when she could remember who I was.
When she died, "grandpa" was depressed and very lonely, so I took him out to dinner at least once a week and would stop by the store to chat with him.
Before long all Cs brothers and sisters viewed me as a "family friend". I was invited to their houses for holiday dinners and they all even came over my house once. I was involved in their lives: weddings of their children,birthdays.Yes, C's wife was present at all those functions. At one point, when C's youngest daughter was getting married, I was at their house (C's and his wife's), doing wife's and daughters' nails.. I still have photos from that wedding: myself and the wife, myself,C and his wife...
Yes, I am well aware that I am twisted and perverted..LOL..
When the whole family went on a holiday to Australia and I met them there and spent a week with them all (including C's wife)!  I absolutely loved the power of sitting with them all at the dinner table, them being devoted Mormons and righteous people and me, C's mistress!
As I've said before: my mind is a dark place and even I sometimes am afraid to look deep into it.
Things were not going good with the store and more than once I've given C money to help him out (as much as $7K and $10K at a time).
When the family sold the store and C couldn't get a job, he decided to open his own shop. I went to work for him for free (while continuing stripping and turning "tricks" to make a living) and again supported him emotionally and financially.
After just a year it was clear that the business would not survive.
One day C called me: he said he was on his way home to tell his wife all about us and ask for divorce. All I could think was "NOOOOO!!!" I told him to slow down and think about it, but there was no stopping him.
 He was going just to walk away from the store: he owed 3 month's rent and had a lot of other bills and absolutely no money to pay them. He didn't want his wife to "be a part of it" and "suffer",as she was "the mother of his children" and, according to their religion, he was supposed to provide for her (wife quit school when she married him and never worked,even when kids were older-she just stayed at home staring out of the window most of the day).
Because their house was part of the personal guarantee for the business loan, C had his father borrow another $300K ("grandpa" already gave him $400K to start the business) to bail the house out. All that money came from C's family trust, which was meant to be every one's inheritance. It is now depleted and C's father and family severed all the ties with him-they are all very bitter.
C and his wife had substantial equity in the house and real estate market,although declining, was still pretty strong in Las Vegas.
Wife went absolutely berserk! The language she used: and such proper Mormon woman,too..LOL..
She demanded a quick divorce and wanted majority of the assets. Well, C, being ridden with guilt, wanted to give her absolutely everything-he told me he wants to salvage the relationship with his kids by providing for their mother.
So she walked away with roughly $220K cash and debt-free (she made sure she drove away in a car that was paid for and left him with the truck that had a loan on it) and he came to me with just clothes on his back and over $700K debt.
C was excommunicated from his Church and went on to live in his trailer at his brother's back yard: although I owned a huge 5 bedroom 3 bathroom house, he didn't want to move in with me and "live in sin"-because of his kids. I know, funny...
He had no job, so I've asked a friend of mine to give him a job in his mortgage company. C knew nothing about mortgage business, but it was a very good friend (ex-client) who liked and respected me and he was willing to give him a chance-he even put him on a salary for the first 3 months (mortgage is commission strictly business,normally).
I've paid some of C's debts that absolutely had to be paid: taxes,etc. The rest he filed the bankruptcy for.
His kids,who originally didn't even want to talk to him,thawed out.
 I remember going to Utah for 3 days and building out (just C and I-I can be handy when I try :)) unfinished room in  his daughter's house. They were young (daughter and her husband)and had no money and 2 little kids and I thought it would be kind of fun: we brought all the supplies with us and framed,dry-walled,finished and painted the whole thing! It increased the property value by $8K.
After another year C wanted to "make an honest woman" out of me. He staged this "surprise" engagement party. I must say: I LOVE surprises. I absolutely melt when someone I like turns up unexpectedly or sends me flowers or does something spontaneous like that.
C did make a good effort with the party: it was my birthday and he booked a private room in my favorite restaurant and invited my close friends (even those from out of state). He wasn't careful enough,though, and I knew it was coming. But I pretended to be surprised. It WAS nice.
Problem was, after so many years, he simply worn me out. I was tired of struggles and his forever going back and forth.  Sex was never any good and by now it became a chore (the one I didn't enjoy in the slightest). But I said "yes". We got married.
Honeymoon was a bit of a disaster. I thought I would really give it a chance and told C EXACTLY what I would like in bed and how to do it. He would start, but could never seem to do as I asked. It never happened.
Few months went by and I knew that things in US are going to shit. So I went to NZ for a month to investigate my options. I've been coming to NZ since 2001 and always had the notion that I might want to live here one day.
The only available option was through Skill Shortage List. And it had "chef" in it.
C always told me he wanted to be a chef. He did cook some large family dinners, but he wasn't trained, qualified or capable, really.
I paid $1700 for him to go to cooking school in Las Vegas. He was able to go for only 2 months,as it was time for him to come to NZ-I've secured a job in a cafe in Napier for him and went back to US to sell my business and all the furniture from the house,organise the shipment of the motorcycle I gave C for his birthday a year before and rent out my house. There were some other things to take care of as well. As always, I was the one to tie the loose ends.
In the meantime, C lost his job at that cafe (like I said, not capable), but was able to get another one. By the time I got to NZ 3 months later, he managed to spend most of $10K I gave him-he was quite good at spending money.
In order to comply with immigration requirements, I paid $4000 for "on the job assessment" that was done by this chef out of Hawkes Bay, who does this kind of thing on a regular basis and thus is trusted by immigration, so going through him is a sure thing.
That assessment was really nothing: C had to take some tests at home, where he could use a computer to look up the answers and was filmed doing some chopping in the kitchen. That's all. And just like that he had level 4 NZQA Chef qualification! I also hired  immigration consultants to guide us through THAT maze (another $3000).
8 months later I had what I wanted: NZ permanent residency. Total cost: $12K. Money does buy you pretty much everything :/
I kept pushing C, hoping that he would strive to get better. He did listen and as he got jobs at better restaurants (at my urging), he was improving.
In the meantime, I slowly came to realisation, that this relationship does absolutely nothing for me: I still take care of majority of expenses, I cannot count on my husband to make any decisions, I cannot count on him to take care of me,  sex is lousy and really is a chore-I was absolutely dreading the times when I knew I had to provide it for him,as I was supposed to,as a wife, and he sure wanted it.
I was profoundly unhappy.
Then we received a letter from US tax office: we've been audited and we owed $12K. I was frantic and my husband just sat on the couch and told me:"What do you want me to do? You know I have no money".
I wanted to scream: but you're a man! You are supposed to take care of things. Just for once,take charge, come up with a solution (that doesn't involve ME paying someone).
But there was no point-people don't change. He wasn't going to become this knight in shining armour all of a sudden.
That's when I realised I would be so much better by myself: having just myself to worry about and to take care of things,instead of trying to care for someone else as well. He was a dead weight on my back, drugging me down.
A week later I was driving home from work, my mind on overdrive, trying to figure out what to do. I wasn't paying any attention to the road and blew straight through the "stop" sign at the intersection.
 I T-boned the car passing across. It's a miracle both myself and the other driver walked away from that crash,as my car was so badly damaged, I had to push the door with both feet to open it. Both cars were "totaled" by insurance company later.
I left the car there to be towed,gave statement to the police and walked home (only 2 streets away). It was suddenly all very clear to me.
I walked into the kitchen, C was sitting at the counter. I told him that I totaled my car and,"by the way, I want a divorce".
He told me he had a feeling it was coming for a while and went for a walk to compose himself.
We moved to separate houses 3 weeks later.
That was it. I felt so liberated, so free.
I started dating a woman very shortly after that and it felt so natural: I had no problem introducing her to my friends. I had no problem walking with her down the street holding her hand. I kissed her openly and quite passionately at my friend's restaurant.
I had no problem telling people I'm gay.
I was finally living the life that was long overdue. I should have done this years ago,but we can't change the past-I'm just trying to make the best of the present now.