Bad Advice Ruins Lives

Sad to see the dreams of a good man destroyed by taking bad advice.

I got some sad news not long ago. A very close former friend of mine sold his airplane.

He’d owned the plane for more than 10 years and had often told me of the role it would play in his retirement: he planned to become a CFI (certified flight instructor) and use the plane to do biennial flight reviews and some flight training. It was a goal I thought suited him and I supported it to the best of my ability — although there was nothing I could do beyond offering moral support and advice to help him achieve it. My advice: fly as often as you can, build time, build experience.

He didn’t take that advice.

I thought he was serious about that dream — like so many of the others he shared with me. But he never moved forward with any of them beyond making some notes on paper and buying domain names he’d never use. Maybe he wasn’t as serious as he led me to believe. I thought aviation, which we’d discovered around the same time, meant something to him. But apparently, it didn’t.

When he pissed off a friend whose hangar he was sharing and got the plane kicked out, the hangar he got in Scottsdale cost him far more each month, making the plane suddenly very costly to keep. (Some people just don’t know a good deal when they have one.) I suspect that was a factor in the plane’s sale in November 2013.

Not long afterward, he sold a condo he’d bought in Phoenix back in 2008. He’d bought as the housing market was falling but hadn’t quite hit bottom. He got what he thought was a good price, but the thing came with outrageous monthly maintenance fees that, when coupled with the mortgage, was a real financial burden on him. And, in all honesty, the place wasn’t very pleasant — its windows looked out onto a courtyard so there was no privacy unless the blinds were closed — which only made it darker and drearier than it already was. Most of the other units were owned by speculators and either empty or inhabited by renters. I’d advised him to buy the other condo he’d been looking at, a bright and airy second floor unit not far away.

He didn’t take that advice.

When he lost his job and got stuck in one he grew to hate, it seemed to me that he was working primarily to make payments on that condo. He was miserable most of the time, living in the condo part-time instead of the house he owned half of and used as his primary address. The house was completely paid off and far more comfortable, and it had a heck of a lot more light and privacy.

In 2011 and early 2012, I advised him to sell the condo, despite the fact that he owed a bit more than the market value. The loss would help on his tax returns and the sale would stop the bleeding of money for mortgage payments and maintenance fees. It would relieve his financial burden so he could live within his means and wouldn’t be a slave to the job he hated.

He didn’t take that advice.

I even offered to buy the place for what he owed. I’d take the loss. (I was a very good friend.)

He didn’t want to do that, either. Instead, he claimed he wanted to keep it as an investment and rent it out. And he expected me to help him.

But I’d already gone through the nightmarish experience of being a landlord and wanted no part of it. My refusal to get involved was one of the things that began the destruction of our friendship.

When I learned in March that he’d sold the condo in December, it made me sad. I knew that if he’d sold it when I advised, before he turned his back on our friendship, we’d still be friends. I don’t think he ever put a tenant in there, but I really don’t know. I can imagine him stubbornly paying the mortgage and taxes and maintenance fees on the place, month after month, before finally giving up.

The sell-off of his assets doesn’t really come as a big surprise. Nearly two years ago, he initiated a costly legal battle to end a long-term partnership and take possession of assets that weren’t his. He misunderstood the law governing the case. The very last time I had a chance to speak to him directly, back in December 2012, I tried to reason with him. I tried to make him understand how the law would be applied. His angry and defiant response proved that he had no idea what the law was. I urged him to talk to his lawyer, to have his lawyer explain it. I urged him to take the counteroffer he’d received from the other party — a counteroffer I know that party’s lawyers thought was far too generous.

But he didn’t take that advice.

It frustrated me. He’d always been so reasonable. He’d always understood the difference between right and wrong. He’d always had morals and principals that I could respect and look up to. But now he was acting unreasonably, doing something stupid and hurtful that was so obviously wrong. What had happened to him?

It didn’t really matter. By that time he was no longer my friend and never would be again.

AdviceInstead, he listened to other, newer friends — including one he’d only recently met — friends who apparently either didn’t know the law or didn’t know the facts of the case. They told him he could get so much more if he just kept fighting. They fed him lies about the other party, convincing him that the other party had been using and manipulating him for years, convincing him that the other party was now an enemy and couldn’t be trusted.

So he kept feeding his lawyers money — tens of thousands of dollars, month after month. (I don’t know why the lawyers didn’t set him straight; maybe he wouldn’t listen to them, either?) And he kept harassing the other party with legal action, hoping that other party would give in to his outrageous demands.

And while all this was going on, my old friend began to take on the financial responsibilities of his new friend, helping her with mortgage payments and the like. He likely justified this by living with her, leaving the condo that was costing him so much money every month empty. She kept urging him to fight, to take one action after another to wear the other party down. She even began directly issuing orders to his lawyers and feeding them incorrect information that she misinterpreted from things she read online. She was rabid in her hatred, insanely jealous — or maybe, by some accounts, just insane.

But the other party in this legal battle was in the right and wasn’t about to give in, especially after investing in a costly legal defense. The other party needed to win. And unlike my friend, the other party was living within their means so there was money to pay lawyers for the fight. And to keep paying as long as necessary to bring an end to the battle and closure to the wounds it had caused.

In the end, my old friend lost his legal battle. The other party was awarded far more than the December 2012 counteroffer would have given. (After all, it really was a generous offer.)

I suspect my friend thought he would pay his legal fees with the proceeds from his win. I suspect he and his new friend looked forward to celebrating their victory over the other party.

But there was no win, there was no big settlement. Even later accounting for other matters proved disappointing. There was no windfall coming. My friend had acted on bad advice and had lost all the money he’d spent on legal fees plus the additional amount he’d have to pay over that original counteroffer.

Ah, if only he had taken my advice!

My former friend’s downfall fills me with pity for him. Not only do I care very much for him and value the years of our friendship, but I’m sad that he remains so close with the people who led him astray, friends and a lover so full of hate and anger and greed that they can’t see facts and listen to reason. I’m sad that they have his ear and are likely, to this day, giving him advice that will only cost him more in the long run. I’m sad that a man I once thought the world of has become a greedy and delusional puppet.

So he sold the airplane that would give him his retirement “job.” And he sold the condo that he claimed he wanted to keep as an investment. And now he’s trying to sell the house he has part ownership of. Liquidating his assets — one can only assume that he has money problems.

Meanwhile, he’s failed to comply with court orders regarding the case and has to defend himself against legal action related to that. More legal fees because he failed to do the right thing. What will happen next? Who knows?

It’ll be interesting to see if the friends who led him astray step up to the plate and help bail him out of the mess he’s in.

I know that I won’t.

Buying the Land for My Next Home

It’s a done deal. I’m a land owner!

Back in the summer of 2011, I had a chat with a friend of mine from the east coast about my summer job. I told him him how much I liked the Wenatchee area of Washington where I was working. As he reminded me just the other day, he said to me “Looks like you found your next home.”

I didn’t think much of that idea then. After all, I was married and living in Arizona in a house that would soon be paid off. Although I wanted very badly to move — and even started looking for a new place to live as far back as 2005 — my husband was firmly entrenched in a 9 to 5 grind after bouncing from one dead-end job to another. His only two suggestions for a new place to live — Santa Fe or San Diego — would simply not work for me or my business. So in 2011 I was stuck there in Arizona, waiting for him to wake up and dig himself out of the rut he was living in.

But in the summer of 2012, things were different. First, my husband announced that he wanted a divorce. That got me thinking about a life without having to wait around for him to start living again. Next, I started doing a lot of winery tours, including a flight to a winery along the base of the cliffs in Malaga. The winery was on Cathedral Rock Road, a 2-1/2 mile stretch of winding gravel with 10- and 20-acre residential lots overlooking the Wenatchee Valley and Columbia River. What a nice place to build a hangar home, I thought.

I had a friend who owned land along that road and one day, on a whim, I called him to ask who his Realtor was. I told him I was interested in possibly buying a lot on that road.

“It’s funny you should call right now,” he replied. “My wife and I just decided the other day to sell our lot. Do you want to look at it?”

I did. He described which lot it was and I easily found it from the air. I landed there one day, shut down, and got out to walk around. It was amazing.

Two Helicopters
On July 5, 2012, I met my friend Don at the lot — we both flew in by helicopter. I wonder what the neighbors thought?

Over the following weeks, I brought other people to see it. My friend Pete. My friend Jim. My friends Don and Johnie. The day I met Don and Johnie there was the same day I flew in with the owners, Forrest and Sharon. We had two helicopters parked on the driveway. Turns out, Don had worked for Forrest’s dad when he was a kid. Small world, huh?

Forrest pointed out the boundaries of the 10-acre parcel. It sat on a shelf on the river (north) side of the road. A hill on the west side shielded it from the homesite on the next lot — which had also belonged to Forrest and Sharon. There were expansive views to the northwest to southeast — 270° — that included the city of Wenatchee, the river, the airport, and countless orchards. To the south were tall basalt cliffs. Although the land sloped down toward the river, at least 80% of it was completely buildable with a minimum amount of earthwork. Electricity, water, and even fiber-optic cable were already at the ideal homesite. Quiet and private, it was exactly the kind of place I like to live without being too far from town. And with friends living just down the road, it was a real win.

But it was the views that got me. I’ve always been a view person.

I knew before the middle of July that I had finally found the place I wanted to make my next home.

The Deal

The sellers told me what they’d planned to ask for the property and agreed to reduce that price for me since a Realtor wasn’t involved. I would, however, have to cover all the closing costs. I did some math and decided that the cost was reasonable and within my means. After all, my husband had told me he wanted a “fair and amicable divorce.” If we couldn’t patch things up when I got home in October — which I still had hopes we could do — I’d take my share of the value of our paid-for house in Wickenburg and apply it to my new home in Malaga.

Of course, this was before my husband got a lawyer and some very bad divorce advice. Before we began the year-long battle to settle. Someone’s idea of “fair” wasn’t very fair at all.

As far as the land deal was concerned, I wouldn’t be able to close until 2013 anyway. The sellers had sold another lot — the one next door — in 2012 and didn’t want two sales in the same year for tax purposes. Even though things on the divorce front looked bad, I figured that my husband would eventually get smart and take my very generous counter proposal.

I was wrong.

The Long Wait Begins

When Christmas came and went and my husband’s lawyer managed to postpone the court date from January to April, I realized I wouldn’t be closing as soon as I’d hoped. The sellers were very patient, though. We chatted once or twice on the phone during the winter. They weren’t in any kind of rush to close the deal.

In January, I flew out to Wenatchee for a week to see what the place was like during the winter months. I was a bit concerned about that big cliff on the south side of the property, knowing that the low sun angle and short winter days that far north could leave the land in complete shadows for days, weeks, or even months at a time. But in January, the lot did get some sunlight. There was snow on the ground that week but the road was passable — even in a rental car. I only got stuck twice and managed to unstick myself both times by myself. Driving up there in the winter would be fine in my Jeep or 4WD truck.

I got to experience the winter fog so many people had told me about. It hung over the river, right about the level of my lot. I went to visit a friend in Wenatchee Heights and got the pleasure of climbing above it, seeing the Wenatchee Valley as a white puffy blanket of clouds beneath the high hills.

I also talked to a builder and a septic system guy.

In late February I returned with a friend. I had to drive my truck up from Arizona to get my avgas fuel tank installed in the truck bed and move my RV down to California for a frost contract. My friend was very impressed with the land and shared my excitement about moving there.

Time moved on. There was a lot of talk on the news about property values recovering. I knew that property values in Washington were already healthier than those in Arizona. I worried that the owners would change their mind about selling or change the price. Several of my friends had already asked me if I had a contract to buy and I admitted I didn’t. I decided I needed to change that.

Fortunately, the sellers lived in Arizona in the winter, not far from my home in Wickenburg. In late March, I drove down to Sun City to meet with them, bringing along a standard real estate sales agreement I’d picked up in a stationery store in Wenatchee when I was last there. We filled out the form and I gave them a check for $5,000 in earnest money. The following week I opened escrow with Pioneer Title Company in Wenatchee. We’d agreed on a closing date on or before June 30, 2013. My birthday.

Financing Woes

Meanwhile, my divorce dragged on. My husband rejected every attempt I made to settle. He apparently thought he could get more if he let the judge decide.

The divorce put a stain on my finances. The legal fees drained my personal savings and began tapping into my business savings — the money I was setting aside for the helicopter’s costly overhaul. I had originally intended to pay cash for the land and finance the building, but now I didn’t even have enough cash for the land. I had to finance it.

And that was the challenge. Everyone told me I should get a construction loan, but no bank wanted to finance the land and building with the type of building I’d decided to build — a pole building with living space. Understand that my first priority was to get storage space for my helicopter, RV, and vehicles; I’d build temporary living quarters above the garage to live in until I could afford to build a “real” house. I did not want to live in my RV year-round. But banks wouldn’t finance that kind of building because they couldn’t get comps for it for appraisal purposes.

My New View
In April and May, my future home was covered with huge yellow flowers.

So I decided to finance the land and pay cash for the building. And I found a lender who would not only lend me the money on the land, but offer a great deal on that loan. You see, because of the size and location of the land, it qualified for farm credit. I could get a farm credit loan.

In May 2013 I finally applied for the loan. In the financial information section of the application, I listed all of my personal and business assets except my home — after all, my husband wanted it and would likely get it in the divorce. (I certainly didn’t want it.) Being completely debt-free, I look very good on paper. I was sure I’d get the loan.

But there was a snag: the lender said he could not process the loan until my divorce was finalized. I needed the divorce decree.

Once again, I found myself waiting for my husband.

The Bridge Loan

In late June, when I still didn’t have a divorce decree in hand, the owners agreed to push back the closing date to July 31. I had to cough up another $5,000 for the escrow deposit. That wasn’t a problem. I’d been working on cherry drying contracts since the end of May and had a good cash flow again.

But I was getting worried that the sellers would back out. The real estate agent who had sold the lot next door for them was nagging them about listing the lot they were selling to me. I knew that they’d be able to find another seller pretty quickly, perhaps for even more money.

Meanwhile, the lender had already told me that once they got the divorce decree and a preliminary loan approval, they still had to get an appraisal for the land. That could take three to six weeks. They refused to get the appraisal without preliminary approval, even though I offered to pay for the cost without any guarantee of the loan. The loan simply could not move forward without the decree and even when that piece of paper was produced, I could expect to wait up to two months for the loan to be finalized.

There was no way I could meet a July 31 closing deadline.

I racked my brain for options. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m a very resourceful person. But I was coming up empty.

Except for one option.

Early on, the sellers and I had talked about them carrying a loan on the land. I had done this with a condo I sold back in 2008 and it was one of the best deals I’d ever made. Monthly income at a good rate of return — surely two retirees would like that. Yes, they said. But their accountant advised them to not allow me to build on the land until it was paid for in full. Obviously not a workable solution for a long term loan.

But how about short term? Would they be willing to carry it until year-end? By that time I’d surely have the farm credit financing I wanted.

We spoke about it and I was frank about my concerns. They were frank about their Realtor wanting to list the land. They came up with terms I could live with. I requested that I be allowed to put a septic system on the property — the last component I needed to move my RV there — and they agreed. After all, it would increase the value of the property. We went to the title company agent and she drew up papers.

There was only one more requirement: that I get a life insurance policy for the amount of the loan naming the sellers beneficiaries. No problem, I thought.

I was wrong.

The insurance agent informed me that if I got a life insurance policy in the state of Washington I was required by law to list my husband as a beneficiary. While it was true that I could list him for just $1, I had absolutely no intention of listing him on any financial transaction I made. I was told that if I represented myself as an unmarried woman, I would be committing fraud and the policy would be invalid.

And that made me wonder about how the property would be titled if I closed before the divorce decree was filed with the court. As far as I was concerned, it had to be titled, right from the start, to me as an unmarried woman.

So I had to wait.


Meanwhile, the sellers came to the title company office and signed all the necessary papers to sell to me and set up the loan. I told the title company that I couldn’t get the insurance as quickly as I expected. (No lie there.)

Yesterday’s blog post goes into a bunch of detail about my wait for the divorce decree. It finally arrived on Tuesday, July 30, a day I now consider Freedom Day, the first day of my new life.

I spent most of Tuesday talking on the phone and exchanging email and texts. There were so many people who wanted to know the outcome, so many people I needed to talk to. It was a good day. I ran my phone battery down three times and got all kinds of good wishes from friends, family members, and even business associates.

But on Wednesday morning, I headed down to the insurance company to get that policy taken care of. It took 30 minutes and $70 to get what I needed. I decided to take it over to the title company, which was nearby, and drop it off.

Closing Papers
I’d signed half the papers before I realized I was actually closing on the land deal.

The title company agent was full of congratulations for me. We went into her office where I handed over the insurance paperwork. She pulled out a file and had me start signing papers. I’d signed about four things when I realized something with a start: I was finally closing on the property I’d been trying to acquire for the past year, the property where I planned to build my new home and life.

I voiced this realization and she confirmed it. All she needed was a certified check for my downpayment and a voided check for the automatic loan payments. I handed over the voided check without hesitation, glad that I’d brought along my checkbook, tickled that it included my new physical address as well as my P.O. box mailing address.

It made me very happy to see this line on the closing papers.

Afterward, I went to the bank to get the certified check. I’d already transferred the necessary funds into my personal checking account, so it only took a few minutes. I then drove back to the title company and dropped off the check.


The deal was filed with the county on Thursday. I’m now the proud owner of 10 acres of view property in Malaga, WA.

Next up: getting a septic system installed, power turned on, water turned on, and bids for my building. You can bet I’ll be pretty darn busy over the next few months.

News I Could Use

I’m finally free.

Regular readers of this blog know that since the end of June 2012, I have been going through an extremely ugly divorce.

I won’t summarize the outrageous chain of events again here. If you want to get an idea of the crap I’d been dealing with for more than a year, read “The Divorce Book” post and follow some of the links in it. Then read any post tagged divorce that was posted afterwards. Give yourself about eight hours — there’s a lot of material to wade through.

Our case went in front of a judge in May. The second of two half-day court dates was May 31. As I left the court with my lawyer, family, and friends, we were happy, in a weird sort of way — more relieved, I guess — that it was finally over.

But it wasn’t. They dished out some more crap, like fish that had flopped themselves out of water, thrashing a few more times in a futile attempt to — well, I really don’t know exactly what they expected to accomplish with that final bit of harassment.

The Wait

The judge told us on May 31 that it would take 2 to 3 weeks for a decision. I waited anxiously, completely unsure of my financial future.

In the meantime, I was chomping at the bit, eager to get on with my life. I’d been in escrow for 10 acres of view property since late March. I couldn’t get financing without a divorce decree. I couldn’t put in a septic system or enter into a contract with a builder until I owned the land. I was living in a fifth wheel travel trailer on a friend’s land. That was fine during the summer months, but what would I do later in the year if I couldn’t get my home completed before it got cold and the snow came?

My anxiousness over the waiting was a strange thing. At first, my attitude was hopeful, sure that my future would be decided any day now and prepared for the worst.

Then, when the third week rolled along, I started getting worried. It would be this week. What would he decide? Could I really deal with the worst? Would that be what I faced?

When the third week passed without the judge’s decision, I felt sort of relieved. And even though I expected the decision any day, I continued to feel sort of relieved every day it didn’t come.

But time was not my friend. No matter what the judge decided about the division of assets, I needed that piece of paper to get on with my life.

The Deadline Approaches

The law gave the judge 60 days to make a decision. As we got closer and closer to that deadline, I started to stress out again. Had the judge forgotten us? Why did he need so much time? I called my lawyer and he had his assistant follow up. That was on Friday. That’s when I did the math on timing. The 60th day would be Tuesday.

By Tuesday morning, I was a nervous wreck.

I had a charter on Tuesday morning. I had to be at the local airport with the helicopter at 9:30 AM to fuel and wait for my passengers. They had a meeting at 11:00 AM 60 miles south. I was trying very hard not to think about what I should learn that day. I was trying to stay focused on the charter flight before me, thinking about the TFR we’d have to avoid on our way south, thinking about my fuel load with four people on board on a warm, humid day.

My phone rang at 9:17 AM, just as I was heading out to the helicopter. It was my lawyer’s assistant.

“I got the judgement,” she said. “Do you want to hear it?”

I immediately began to cry. It was finally over, but did I want to hear what the judge had decided?

“Is it good?” I asked through sobs.

“Yes,” she replied. And she began to read.

The Result

It was good. The judge had done the right thing, the fair thing, the thing we expect judges to do.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I had been plagued by unfairness, dishonesty, and a complete lack of ethics and morals from a man I’d loved and trusted for more than half of my life. As I prepared to turn my fate over to a judge, I feared that the legal system would fail me, too. I knew the law, and I knew what was fair. How would the judge interpret the law in our case? Would he allow my husband’s lawyer to wield the law as a weapon against me, forcing me to give up so much that I’ve worked hard for my entire life? That was my fear.

But the answer was no, he would not allow it. He made a decision based on the reality of the situation. He did what was right and fair.

As my lawyer’s assistant read each paragraph of the divorce decree, I sobbed. I cried for joy, mostly — at least I think it was joy. I cried to release the anxiety that had been building up for the past few weeks. I cried because I knew that my year-long ordeal was finally over and that I could get on with my life.

And I cried from sadness. I cried for the man who had been tormenting me for the past year, the man I still loved, knowing full well that he would have been so much better off financially if he’d simply accepted my very generous counterproposal back in October. I cried knowing that if he’d just sat down with me in October with our lawyers and we’d hashed this out then, we could have gotten on with our lives — perhaps even as friends — without the heartache and financial burden he’d forced on both of us. I cried knowing that the man I’d spent 29 years with had a sense of morals and ethics that would have prevented any of this from happening — and that that man had been smothered out of existence by the greedy and vindictive old woman he’d chosen to replace me. I cried because she’d made his bed — by running his side of the divorce for him — and he’d slept in it — by letting her have complete control — and now he was paying the price. I cried because I knew he hated me for reasons they had cooked up to justify his treatment of me — delusions that had taken over his mind. I cried because I felt so sorry for him.

Yes, I cried for the inconsiderate bastard who had asked for a divorce on my birthday, the man who’d locked me out of my only home, the man who had been harassing me for the past year, the man who had dragged me through a costly legal battle to protect what was rightfully mine.

Love is strange.

When my lawyer’s assistant was finished and I hung up the phone, I cried a little more. Then I pulled myself back together, dried my eyes, and headed out to the helicopter. I needed to put the past behind me. I needed to stop thinking and worrying about a person who didn’t give a damn about me and get back to the business at hand: making my new life.

Ball and ChainAt 9:45 AM, I was on the ramp at the airport, waiting with my helicopter for my passengers. It was the first day of my new life as a free woman.

One Pilot’s Stupidity Makes Us All Look Bad

Helicopter pilots: choose your landing zones wisely, please.

As a helicopter pilot, one of the questions I get asked most often is: “Can you land anywhere?”

In most cases, the person asking the question is referring to the legality of landing anywhere — not the ability to land anywhere. Helicopters have the ability to land almost anywhere, but not every landing zone is legal. I address this in quite a bit of detail in a post titled “Finding a Legal Landing Zone” that I wrote back in 2009. The facts still apply.

Unfortunately, not everyone considers the legality — or even the safety — of a landing zone before setting down on it. This brief news piece linked to by Vertical Magazine’s Twitter account is a good example. The gist of the piece:

A Monticello man has been charged by Nassau County Police with landing a helicopter in a grassy area full of pedestrians near the Nassau Coliseum minutes before midnight on Saturday night.

Nassau Coliseum, in case you don’t know, is an indoor arena where the NY Islanders play hockey and concerts are held. I saw quite a few concerts there in my college days. And hockey games.

On the night in question, there were about 100 drunk kids, aged 14 to 18, wandering around the building when the idiot pilot — honestly, what else can I call him? — came in for a landing in his Bell 407. He had to abort one landing before succeeding on a second attempt. At least 20 pedestrians were walking in the area.

I don’t think I need to tell you how stupid this stunt was. Drunk kids in the landing zone? All it takes is for one of them to walk into the tail rotor to turn a fun night of teenage drinking (yes, I’m being sarcastic) into death and mental trauma. Even if the kids weren’t drunk — and the pilot may not have thought they were — they’re still pedestrians in a landing zone. You don’t have to be drunk to walk into a tail rotor, as evidenced here and here.

And it’s not just the tail rotor that’s dangerous. Although visibility around a helicopter is good, it isn’t 360°. The pilot could have struck a pedestrian on the way down — or even landed on one.

Sure — nothing happened in this case. But the cops came, arrested the pilot, and seized his helicopter. And I think he deserves everything he gets.

You see, irresponsible pilots who pull dangerous stunts like this make all helicopter pilots look bad. People connect his action to the group he’s a part of. Hence, all helicopter pilots are reckless individuals who would land among a crowd of drunk teenagers.

We know better. But does the public? Does the local government?

A few years back, the city of Scottsdale, AZ instituted a town ordinance prohibiting the landing of a helicopter anywhere except at an airport or approved helipad. Why? Because an idiot pilot decided it would be fun to land in a culdesac of his subdivision. Neighbors didn’t think it was such a good idea and complained. It went to the city council and they “fixed” the problem by making it illegal.

(Wickenburg has a similar ordinance, although a pilot can get permission, on a case-by-case basis, by talking to the police chief before landing. And the police chief can deny the request.)

My point: think before you land off-airport. Think about the consequences of your actions. Think about the safety of the people on the ground. Think about the potential for complaints.

And don’t be stupid.

The Man I Fell in Love with is Gone

And I don’t know who this other guy is.

Yesterday was my second court appearance for my divorce.

The first didn’t really count — it was just an appearance to set dates for the appearances that would follow. My husband and I both showed up with our lawyers. Neither of us got to say anything of substance to the judge. They set dates, we wrote them down, the judge left, and we left. Simple.

Yesterday’s appearance was different. Yesterday, we were each put on the witness stand and questioned by the two attorneys. At stake was who would be able to live in the house and use my hangar until the divorce was finalized.

I don’t want to go into detail about what was said and done. Two reasons. First, I don’t want to save the experience forever on the pages of this blog. It was extremely painful to me on so many levels. Second, my lawyers would probably scold me, depending on how much detail I provided and what I said. It’s not worth pissing off my lawyers or getting into trouble. My legal team rocks.

But I do want to briefly touch upon what I realized when my husband came to the stand and began answering questions that he and his lawyer had likely rehearsed in advance: he was not the man I fell in love with.

It’s funny, in a way, because it looked like him and it sounded like him. But the things he said were not the kinds of things the man I fell in love with would say about me. The man I fell in love with loved me just as much as I loved him — if not more. He always spoke kindly to and of me. He always defended me.

This man, however, was in attack mode, bending and stretching the truth (almost beyond recognition) to make a case against me. The man I fell in love with would never do that.

No Real Surprise

I don’t know why this surprised me so much. I knew the man I fell in love with was gone. I knew it this summer.

In June, while going through a pile of papers that I’d brought with me to Washington to sort out when I had time, I came across two greeting cards that the man I fell in love with had sent me years ago. They were the kinds of cards people in love share with each other, sometimes for no apparent reason other than to express their love. I can’t remember exactly what they said, but I do recall one of them mentioning “love” and “forever.”

I sat on the floor in my RV, looking at the two cards and thinking about the man who had sent them to me years ago. And as I thought about it, I realized that that man was gone — dead, I thought. The man I’d left in Arizona in May didn’t give me cards or flowers or anything else for no special reason. The man I left in Arizona spent most of his time glaring at me when I did something he didn’t like. The man I left in Arizona seemed almost too eager for me to leave.

So I wrote a letter to the man I’d left in Arizona — who is apparently the same man who showed up in court yesterday. I appealed to him to remember the old days, the days when he told me that I needed to “make it happen,” the days when he was an idealistic dreamer and inventor. I asked him what happened to that man. I told him what I suspected: that that man was dead.

I didn’t know it, but as I was writing that letter, the man I’d left in Arizona had already found my replacement. His response to my letter arrived in my mailbox, forwarded with my mail, the day after my birthday, the day after he told me he wanted a divorce.

Right now, all I regret is sending the man I’d left in Arizona those cards. They’re gone now, along with the man who sent them to me, the man I fell in love with. I’d really like to have them back to help me remember him and the way things were.

The Upside

Amazing as it may seem, there is an upside to all this.

Listening to the man in the witness box bend and stretch the truth to build a case against me was like a slap in the face — a slap of reality. Although he’s spread the word among family and friends — and even to me in email messages and written notes — that he still cares about me, that’s so obviously not true. It’s just another lie in a long series of lies that were likely spun to put me off guard about what’s to come. The man in the witness box doesn’t give a shit about me and the 29 years he and the man I fell in love with spent with me. The man in the witness box is simply seeking revenge for imagined offenses. The man in the witness box cares only about himself.

And knowing that now, without a shadow of a doubt, will help me begin my healing process.