New Glasses

Hey, it’s a slow news day, so I’m going off-topic for this blog.

I got my eyeglass prescription updated over the weekend, and got some new glasses — for free. Well, nearly free, that is. I had to pay for shipping and insurance, so they ended up costing me $15. Since a lot of people land on this blog, I figured I should drop the link to the company that made these glasses for me.

They’re called Coastal.com, and are headquartered in Vancouver, B.C. They run a promotion for new customers in which you get your first pair of glasses for free (plus, of course, the shipping and insurance); they do try to upsell you on lens coatings and upgraded materials, but provided you’re happy with what they offer, you can get a pretty solid pair of glasses for dirt cheap. You just need to use the promo code, which you’ll find on this webpage.

FYI, none of these are affiliated links, if that’s a concern to you. (UPDATE: One link is, sort of; details below.) I do have a few affiliated links on this blog that help to keep it afloat (you’ll know them either by the banner ads, or by the title text that informs you of their presence when you hover over them). So, I don’t get a penny from the links in this post; I just offer them as a public service. Heck, I figure that marital crises are stressful enough and can be very taxing on the finances, so what do you do if you need a new pair of specs?

Actually, I’m pretty happy with the glasses they sent me. They are well manufactured and use high-quality, polycarbonate lenses. (I know quite a bit about this as I worked in an optical lab when I was in college. Yup, I used to make eyeglasses.) Their production lab appears to be in Vancouver, and since I’m in the Pacific Northwest, I got my order very quickly: ordered on Sunday, arrived on Tuesday. From what I can tell, they courier them across the border to their US distribution point in Blaine, WA (home of the famous Peace Arch). Since I’m a couple hours south of Blaine, it makes sense that the glasses would get here quickly. I’d imagine it would take a few additional days to other US locations.

As a former production-line optical lab technician, I know what a rip-off retail eyeglasses can be; I worked that job over 20 years ago, and the mark-up on lenses alone was often about 2500%. The mark-up on frames was also quite steep. I did quite a bit of research on online eyeglass purveyors, many of whom offer try-at-home programs through which they send you a few frames to evaluate for free (or maybe for a nominal hold on your credit card); all of these were significantly cheaper than brick-and-mortar optician prices. Here are a few purveyors you might want to check out.

Warby Parker
Benji Frank
Fetch Eyewear
Dharma Eyewear
Tortoise  & Blonde
Collins Bridge
Classic Specs

I also have looked at some online shops that sell a variety of brands. This one, ditto.com, seems to be pretty good. If you click the link, you’ll get $25 off. And if two of you buy something, they’ll send me a free pair of specs. So, while that would not exactly defray the costs of this blog, it might help me to see what I’m typing a bit better. That can’t be all bad, right?

Okay, that’s pretty much it for now. Happy shopping. I’ve had quite a bit of fun browsing all this stuff myself.

Thanks for Visiting

Hello, dear readers.

I’ve been relatively silent of late, and just wanted to put a quick post up for those of you who come here regularly, and also for those of you landing here for the first time. For the latter, please have a browse around.

For the former, well, I’ve been busy. Busy, busy, busy. I am in the midst of the busiest part of the work season, and it won’t let up until August 16. By the way that is the same day I’m supposed to have a “status conference” on the paperwork my wife has filed with the court. She did this without consulting me, so I’m going to have to get a legal opinion on this. I’ve been so busy that I have not even been able to manage this, but probably will do so tomorrow. It seems like, at pretty much every turn right now, life just throws stuff in my way that prevents me from completing important tasks.

So it is.

I’ve had some interesting exchanges with my wife regarding our tax situation. She was initially very hostile and angry, so I sent copies of the IRS letter to her by mail. I had no reply, and with the deadline for response rapidly approaching, I reached out to her over the weekend.

Nothing. So I reached out again today.

The reply was curious: it was not hostile. It was factual and actually quite cooperative. She will be contacting a mutual colleague to try to sort this out. This colleague might actually (hopefully) deliver—and quite spontaneously, should it happen—a minor wake-up call of sorts.

You see, there are few things that are more grounding for an obstinate spouse than the reality of having to deal with real-world situations. Affairs are pure fantasy, and one of the best ways to interrupt them is to engage the wayward spouse with real-world concerns. As many of you know, my wife filed for divorce some months ago, and this was likely at the behest of the adulterer. Divorce litigation is a state- and county-level affair; tax concerns are federal, and therefore trump the more local concerns. So, I am just sitting back and awaiting the repercussions…

In other news, I have learned that my wife will be performing next month with some mutual colleagues, and the rehearsals are almost certain to take place at a colleague’s house just a mere 500 feet from here. She may even be there right now, for all I know.

These are interesting days. I daresay that it could be a thrill a minute, watching an affair crumble.

Otherwise, life is good; work is busy, and the social life is quite active. These things have contributed to my relative silence here of late. Please be well and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Petulant Frenzy

Zappa fans will of course remember those words: petulant frenzy. In case you didn’t know the allusion, you can just click the link.

The petulant frenzy to which I refer right now, however, is different.

They say that, when karma comes to fruition, it can often be unpleasant. However, there are times at which fruitional karma can put a smile on your face.

I arrived home from work yesterday quite exhausted. I was expecting some things to have arrived by mail, so I eagerly checked the mailbox. They weren’t there; instead, however, I found a letter from the IRS. I thought perhaps this might have something to do with my wife’s recent tax filing; she filed on her own and without reference to my income, and in a community property state like ours, that will not pass the IRS sniff test. So I quickly opened the letter.

What I found was even more of a surprise: they were questioning our 2011 tax return. In particular, the assertion was that my wife underreported her income to the tune of thousands of dollars, and as a result we now owed additional tax. They cited no fewer than four documents that had been furnished by employers to the IRS, none of which had been reported by us.

In April 2012, we filed our taxes jointly for the previous year. My wife was putting up a big stink about even doing this with me, however she did come over to the house with some receipts for various and sundry things that I could report against her various self-employment earnings. The problem, however, was that she did not have any documentation of those earnings. I do not recall why she did not bring them; she just forgot about them or something, but she did not have them. She never furnished them later, either. As a result, I took an extension on our taxes, in the hopes that she would come to her senses before six months had passed. No such luck. It was quite an ordeal just to get her to meet me to sign the tax return, but she did. This was about 2 weeks before she totally withdrew from me, starting the stonewalling that has persisted to this day. This failure to furnish required data has finally caught with her—or us.

Thus, I looked at this letter as a sort of manna from heaven. I immediately reached out to her and asked her to contact me regarding our taxes. Late that night (this timing has significance; I’ll get to that later) she responded, and I read that response early this morning. In her response, she petulantly remarked that she would not call me, and that I had to email the information to her. So, I gave her a synopsis and said that we did need to sit down to talk about this. A few hours later, the petulant frenzy spun out some more. She claimed it was all my fault, that I should just send the document to her colleague’s house, and that she refused to sit down with me to discuss this matter. My response was very measured: I told her that I did not have any of the data, that it was all information she needed to furnish, and that I did not appreciate her tone, or some of the things she said. In fact, I used the word “threat,” because that’s essentially what she was doing; I asked her to refrain from using any such further language, as I found it disturbing. This was not an ultimatum, but rather a statement of emotional transparency. I’ve yet to hear a peep back.

A bit later, I went out to run some errands, and stopped by the post office. My wife had sent me a letter by certified mail that I was not home to receive, and so I figured I should go pick it up. It was nothing other than her amended petition that she resent to me, and at considerable cost. This document was filed in violation of applicable court rules, and as such is essentially legally invalid. I already have a copy of it, and so I just disposed of it. However, in the envelope, she also included some small gifts I had given her; a couple of these were things I had made for her that she had specifically thanked me for just a few months ago. So now, she is trying to rid herself of these things. However, they are things that I can actually use, so my response will be to thank her for being so thoughtful as to giving me those things, as I could really make use of them.

You may have sensed by now that the behavior of the obstinate spouse often functions on the emotional level of a five-year-old. That’s pretty much where she’s at. As for me, I just looked at this whole situation with a smile on my face, and went out to buy a nice card that I’d put in to the letter in which I’ll be sending the tax documents. I won’t be returning those gifts to her—not yet, anyway—but I will begin sending things that I would certainly like to receive. I’ve got the next one lined up already, in fact.

When I got home from my errands, the mailman arrived, and, lo and behold, there was more manna from heaven: mail for my wife. So, I get yet another reason to send her this stuff.

They say that, in these “lone ranger” (to borrow a phrase from Mort Fertel) situations that things always get worse before they get better. I guess I haven’t yet seen rock bottom. My wife does seem very, very unhappy. Her whole life seems to have become one giant sham, and she is apparently working overtime to convince others, and especially herself, that it isn’t. She will likely soon see that a sham is a sham; there’s just no hiding from that fact.

Back to Where It All Started

I haven’t posted in a while, as I’ve been very busy; besides that, there hasn’t been a whole lot to report.

This past weekend, I went to the shrine where my wife’s affair started. I hadn’t been there in nearly two years. There was a big, semi-annual ceremony going on there, and the last time I had attended it was two years ago with my wife. Something told me that I should go; if I needed a reason, there were a few amulets and such that needed to be returned to the shrine, and then perhaps one new one that I felt I should pick up. In that spiritual tradition, amulets and other items one might use for personal use or for home altars are annual in nature, and need to be replaced every year. I had a few around the house that were 2+ years old, so I figured I should be responsible and change them out. This shrine is the only place in North America where one can do that.

Even the night before the ceremony, I was still unsure if I’d go. I wanted to be clear on my ethics and intentions; if there were any possibility that I would be going to mess with my wife’s affair—which still seems to be clinging on for dear life—then I’d just stay home. I was pretty sure that my intention was pure, but thought I’d better sleep on it.

I awoke the following morning feeling a bit ambivalent. My intentions were pure enough, I guess, but I just wasn’t sure if it would have been a good idea to go. So, I pulled down my I-Ching book and did a quick reading. The answer was unambiguous: I should go.

It was a fine Sunday morning, and I had some other obligations before the ceremony started mid-morning. Having taken care of those, I set off on the 40-mile drive to the shrine. I suppose I felt a bit nervous, because I did not know what would meet me there; I strongly suspected that my wife would not be there, but I just did not know what to expect.

I arrived and found that the adulterer’s truck was nowhere to be seen. In previous years, he would always be there; he volunteered at virtually every event, as he was more or less the highest-ranking member of the shrine, aside from the priest. It was my sense that, due to the affair, the adulterer and my wife had both gotten themselves banned from the shrine, or at least made very unwelcome. This is, of course, rather odd, as the adulterer lives about 2 miles from the shrine; given the remote location of the town, there really is no other reason for the adulterer to live there. They never did arrive.

But I did. As I stood in line to enter the shrine, the priest saw me and beamed a huge smile. He came outside to meet me, shook my hand, and greeted me with a warm and genuine sincerity. He asked me how I was doing, and I said, “excellent.” Upon entering the shrine, I encountered the priest’s wife. Now, she had been very vocal in her opposition to my wife’s affair, and went so far as to post a disparaging remark about it quite openly on Facebook shortly after that sordid mess had begun. She came up to greet me, and also seemed quite happy to see me. I’m sure it did not escape her notice that I was wearing my wedding ring. She asked me how our dog was doing, and then said she really wanted to see the dog. This also seemed like a very genuine connection. I returned the amulets to her, and went and bought a couple of new ones for this year.

The ceremony went as planned, and afterward I stopped by to thank the priest on my way out. Again, he was very genuine and enthusiastically thanked me for being there. I then returned home.

It’s hard to know what any of this meant. I think that, for me, there was perhaps some sort of sense of that karma coming full circle with my return there. It is of course said that all actions are interdependent, and thus I can probably expect some sort of karmic ripples to be sent out as a result of my visit. Those ripples will almost certainly meet my wife and the adulterer; when that could happen or the effect that might have is entirely uncertain. But, that’s really not my concern; it’s not why I went there in the first place.

I have come to a place of a certain degree of comfort in my situation, actually. This is likely the result of the regular contemplations I’m doing in my daily spiritual practice; these contemplations have recently shown me the deeper meaning of what is going on. I suppost it could be summarized in this way: happiness comes from positive actions, yet all too many people engage in negative actions in their pursuits of happiness. Buddhist doctrine holds that there are ten non-virtuous actions from which one should abstain; pondering these actions can be truly shocking, and can lead to greater compassion for those who engage in them, wittingly or otherwise. Although most of us unwittingly engage in about half of these actions fairly regularly, my wife’s list of non-virtuous actions resulting from her affair probably encompasses eight or nine of them. Pondering this likelihood has shown me the wisdom of stepping back a bit and allowing the natural course of things (i.e. karma) to just go ahead and play out. In fact, my earlier attitude, as seen in many of the posts here from, say, last year, more or less demonstrate how “tight” my energy was around the whole thing. I do think that maintaining that kind of “tightness” distorts things somehow, making it harder for the situation to resolve. I’ve pretty much gotten out of the way now, energetically speaking, so that situation can just collapse under the weight of its own karmic debt; that could happen at any time now.

As for me, life is good, and I’ve got a paid holiday from work. Time to wash the dog, I guess. Happy 4th to all of you.