the ex files

Daly vs. Daily

March 11, 2014

I disappeared.

I know.

I lost my voice.

I finally found it.

I used it today…on the phone with Blue Shield.

It took me 11 days and two hours to connect with a customer service representative.

Needless to say, I was at my breaking point.

If I wasn’t so accident prone, I would have just let the policy lapse.

This is a summary of our call:

BS: No ma’am, your husband could not have removed himself from this policy without your authorization. You’re the primary policyholder on the account.

Me: I realize this. And it’s miss.

BS: What?

Me: You called me ma’am. It’s miss. I’m not that old. I know I’ll continue to age but I’m not THAT old right now. For instance, the man you referred to as my husband is 15 years older than me. He is ma’am. I am miss. Make sense?

BS: Of course, miss.

Me: Also, as far as the law is concerned, he’s my husband. But that’s it. For the purpose of this call – if you could refer to him as ma’am or the man I’m waiting on to process the paperwork that will allow us to legally detach – I would sincerely appreciate it.

BS: Of course, miss. How about Mr. Daly?

Me: That’s the same person. I’m still legally married to that ma’am.

BS: *changes the subject*

BS: Mr. Daly would like to cancel his coverage, correct?

Me: Yes. I have an email here that says he called you a few weeks ago to make that change. He also needs me to pick up my hope chest. But I already crossed that off my list.

BS: I do have a note here that Mr. Daly tried to cancel his coverage and we told him he could not do so without your approval.

Me: (laughing) I bet he loved that.

BS: I apologize that change was not already made and confirmed. If you could verify a few things for me, I can cancel his coverage now that we’ve got you on the phone.

Me: Yes?

BS: Mr. Daly’s birthdate?

Me: I’m not sure. I need to text my mom. She knows. And she always answers my texts.

BS: Ok, miss.

Me: Is there anything else I can verify? He kept our cats. I know their names. He likes candy. Anything like that?

BS: Not really, miss.

Me: Honestly, I’m surprised you’re still on the phone with me. But I waited 11 days and two hours to speak to you (I even tried once in Spanish). I never planned on making this pleasant for either of us. I probably owe you a thousand dollars too. The way I see it? I really have no incentive to stop humoring myself. And of course I know when he was born…ish.

BS: Thank you. If I could place you on a brief hold, I will make these changes to your policy right now.

Me: That’s fine. But I know where your office is located. I will drive there if we get disconnected. Nobody wants that. And before you put me on hold, could you tell me if you still have his payment information on file?

BS: His payment information?

Me: Yes. The card that was being used for automatic payments on this account. I’d like to use that card to buy eye makeup remover while I’m waiting for you to come back on the line.

BS: *crickets*

BS: I’ll just be one minute, miss.

Me: Fair enough.

BS: Mr. Daly has been removed from the policy. Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: Yes. You can tell me how much I owe you. I imagine I’ll be penalized for the fact that no one confirmed this policy change weeks ago. Could you email me confirmation of the cancellation, a current statement and any other relevant changes to my policy/rate?

BS: I would be happy to email that to you. Your email address?

Me: *gives her my personal email address*

BS: Thank you, Miss Daily.

Me: Oh dear.

BS: Yes?

Me: It’s Paulsen. Miss Paulsen.

BS: But your email says…

Me: I know. My email says Daily. It’s spelled differently. And it’s not my last name.

BS: I’m sorry?

Me: Me too. Well, I’m not that sorry. It’s kind of funny. It’s Daly vs. Daily. He’s Daly. Like the Bob. I’m Daily. Like the blog. It’s like Kramer vs. Kramer. But better. Because there’s only bangs (no kids) involved.

BS: *crickets again*

Me: You have maintained an unbelievable level of professionalism on this call. I would have hung up on me long ago. Oh wait, your customer service line did hang up on me – more than a dozen times. I’d say we’re even. That being said, thank you so much for your help. If you were with me right now, I’d buy you lunch at Chipotle. But I have a feeling you don’t want to hang out.


Here With Me

May 16, 2012

This is a pretty long post.

Believe it or not – it’s the short (and PG) version of this story. I’ve been trying to put it “on paper” for a really long time. I always thought it would be my first book. But a lot of time has gone by. A lot has changed. And I’ve made some even bigger mistakes (which is sort of frightening). I don’t know if this life lesson deserves more than a chapter (or two). Regardless, I still wanted to purge all of this. I still wanted it “on paper.” Some of you already know this story. Some of you only know bits and pieces (sorry mom). I hope my love affair with reckless abandon will entertain those of you who have never heard me utter a word about this before. I think I managed to pull out the most interesting parts. I don’t blame you if you don’t make it all the way through to the end. I (literally) almost didn’t.

The story of how we met is just as good as the story you’re about to read. Maybe better. But I couldn’t bring myself to rehash them both. So, I skipped the appetizer and brought you straight to the entrée and dessert.

I followed a boy once – to his island of enchantment…

a cliff at a resort in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

We only spent one day together…before I was adamant I had to go back. One day was all it took. He was that great of an actor. I was sort of an actress myself. I pretended I wasn’t in over my head.

He barely spoke English.

I didn’t care.

He was beautiful.

So was the fantasy WE created (I have to take part ownership of the mirage).

I knew better. But I got on the plane anyway. And I went back…for him.

When he picked me up at the airport, I tried to ignore my stomach ache. I was pushing my own limits this time.

He took me out to lunch.

Lunch consisted of skewers of meat we bought from a street vendor. It was some of the best meat I have (still) ever tasted. I never asked what kind of meat we were eating. I didn’t really want to know.

The women outside their houses, near the meat cart, stared at us. They knew him. I could tell. And they thought I was a foolish little white girl.

I was.

After we ate, he told me he had to go back to work. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t take the time off. I had come so far…for him.

But I kept my mouth shut. He didn’t like being questioned. I learned this very quickly about him, and the men on his island. So…I carefully picked my battles, which was strange, because I had never really walked on eggshells for anyone.

He dropped me off at my “apartment.”

My “apartment” was a small room with a bed, a chair, a tiny television set (that only made white noise) and a shower that I almost refused to use. It was home to the first and largest cockroaches I have (still) ever seen.

my room in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

The “apartment” was part of a small complex owned by a local family. It was one of the nicer places to stay in this neighborhood…a neighborhood that was not visited by many tourists…let alone…foolish little white girls.

The couple that owned the property waited until he left…

They brought me their business card.

They knew him. I could tell.

The sound of the cockroaches click-clacking on the floor drove me to tears. The sound of their wings whizzing in the air was even worse. I finally fled my “apartment” for some fresh air.

I found a pay phone down the road. I called my mom and a couple of my friends. I told them all I was safe and I was having a great time. I was too proud to admit I already knew something wasn’t quite right.

HOURS later, he came back for me. He brought his best friend. And he brought his girlfriend, who had traveled from Texas to be with him. They seemed genuinely excited to meet me, as if he had been talking about me, a lot. I didn’t have to try as hard to make sense of what she was saying. That eased my mind. A little.

We drove straight to a liquor store.

The guys bought a huge jug of water, a large bottle of vodka and Crystal Light.

They poured out half the jug of water and emptied the vodka into the jug. They added the Crystal Light and shook it all up. I can’t remember what they called it, but they poured everybody a cup and we all got back into the car.

We ran every red light on our way to the club.

He told me it was legal to do so after dark. Because of carjackings.

After that response, I hoped we’d never slow down.

We never did.

We danced all night. I told myself I was not going home. Not without him.

The music stopped when the sun rose. Exhausted, intoxicated and exhilarated…we headed back to my place.

He didn’t stay long.

The fire in his eyes told me he had never been turned down before. No woman had ever refused to have sex with him.

But I did.

I have never forgotten the look on his face. Or how tightly he gripped my wrists.

I didn’t want to be alone, but I’m glad he left. The night could have taken a much different turn.

I knew, almost immediately, how naïve that was of me – to fly so far – for a fairy tale. BUT, I was taught, by my first love – that some things – were worth the wait. And I was still idealistic enough to believe that applied to every relationship.

Foolish little white girl.

His friends forced him to come back for me the next evening (I know he did not come back on his own accord). They brought me a sandwich. It had been almost a full day since my last meal. At least his friends refused to let me starve.

They took me to a baseball game. Sadly, I still wanted to be close to him. I still don’t understand why.

He sat several rows behind me at the game. I tried to enjoy myself anyway. But I spent most of the night worrying about how I was going to get home. I wasn’t supposed to leave for a few more days and the airport was at least an hour from my “apartment.” I had not actually eaten in a restaurant since I arrived and the thought of catching a cab was almost as laughable as me traveling all this way…for him…and for love.

They dropped me off after the game.

I’m not sure how – or why – but I knew he’d come back the next day.

We walked to the beach in the morning. He pretended like he was madly in love with me while we played in the sand (which is sort of how I wound up there in the first place). I’m not sure why I even agreed to spent time with him. And, I (admittedly) felt infatuated all over again. I still don’t understand why.

Then he told me he had to go to work.

I took a picture of him walking away.

This was the last time I ever saw him.

the last time I saw him, at the beach in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

I stopped at a small store on my way back to my “apartment.”

I bought Cheez-Its, a soda and a pack of cigarettes (I convinced myself these three things would totally calm my nerves).

I sat in bed and listened to Dido on repeat. I didn’t have the energy to change out my CDs (iPods had not been invented yet). I had to listen to something – anything – to try and muffle the humiliation and the cockroaches.

I finally grew restless in my room and decided it was dinnertime (dinner = cigarette). I went outside to smoke.

Except for the stars and moon, it was pitch black outside.

I was numb.

I honestly couldn’t feel a thing…until I found myself staring into the whites of a strange man’s eyes.

When our eyes locked, he picked up his pace.

His skin was as dark as the night. I had no idea how his size compared to mine. I had no idea, if it came down to it, if I actually stood a chance. I could only see his eyes and his teeth – every time he opened his mouth and his raspy voice told me to “come here.”

He wasn’t speaking English, but I knew what he was saying.

I wanted to vomit.

I didn’t know what to do. But I knew I couldn’t just stand still.

Somehow, my legs outran his.

I locked myself in my room.

Looking back, that was probably THE stupidest thing I could have done.

He sat outside my door.

I turned on the television. The white noise was the only thing louder than his heavy breathing.

I emptied all of my bags until I found the business card the property owners gave me. I found my cell phone. I dialed the number on the card. I was positive this plan wouldn’t work. It seemed like an awfully simple solution. But I was desperate. And I had just trapped myself inside a windowless, cockroach-infested room.

They picked up their phone.

I could barely speak. I was hysterical. I didn’t even have a chance to say my name before my phone died. I @#$%ing lost it.

A few seconds later, I heard a knock – and perfect English – at my door.

It took them a few minutes to convince me to let them in.

The wife held me while her husband packed my bags.

They didn’t know the man outside my door. They never saw his face. He took off as soon as he heard their footsteps. But they promised me no one could hurt me now.

They told me they had their eyes on me this whole time. And they were glad I called. They said they knew I was calling as soon as their phone rang. They were glad they were there. And they were glad they could help.

They had been waiting for something like this to happen since they first saw me…with him.

They knew he would break my heart.

They moved me into their home that night.

They were English teachers. And their daughter, who was coming home in the morning, was a flight attendant for American Airlines.

They fed me Corn Pops and Diet Coke. The cereal tasted so good. It tasted like home.

Their daughter came home the next afternoon.

She was full of fire. And she refused to let me feel sorry for myself for very long.

She told me to get dressed. We were going out.

We picked up dinner and A LOT of wine. We spent the night with a group of her friends. They were all gorgeous and fiery (just like her). Most of them had small children. But the babies’ fathers were nowhere to be found. Needless to say, these young women weren’t just fiery, they were angry. They all LOVED and HATED men.

I could not have kept better company that night.

My story didn’t surprise them. They mostly laughed – sometimes WITH me and sometimes AT me. I didn’t mind. I felt safe with them. It was the first time I truly felt safe since I my plane landed. They could laugh all they wanted.

My new family cared for me until it was time for me to head home.

My new sister saw me all the way to my gate.

For a long time, I wanted to forget this ever happened. But it did. And if I had to do it all over again, I probably would. I don’t think I would have ever forgiven myself if I didn’t go back. I would have always wondered what could have been. The thought of never knowing gave me more anxiety than the cockroaches did. At least I know for sure. Nothing could have been. Nothing should have been.

The types of risks I take have evolved over time, but I still take them. I will always take them. I don’t feel like I really have a choice. Every once in a while I wish I did. Every once in a while, I wonder what it would be like to be a little more even-keeled. Like Bob. He’s so naturally good-natured. And so sincerely easy to please. Bob says I like to push things (he might have said people) to their limits. Perhaps that’s why the universe brought us together. Equilibrium (is that even a real thing?). I wonder if the universe considered that my limits (or lack thereof) might also put Bob in an early grave. Poor Bob (you were all thinking it).

On a serious (and final) note…I know how lucky I am to have returned home from this trip with only a few emotional scars. I am (still) grateful every day. While I’m not religious, I know I owe my homecoming to a higher power. Worse things, unspeakable things, have certainly happened to young women (and men) who didn’t even make such poor choices.


Be Nice…To Everyone

April 23, 2012

I’m not kidding.

Be nice. To everyone.

Because you never know when you’re going to have to eat dinner with some chick you hated (loathed, actually) in high school.

Let me explain.

Meet Goins…

Natalie Daily on a cruise with her high school sweetheart

Goins has a first name, but I haven’t used it since I was about 14 years old. I figure there’s no sense in starting now. I don’t even think Bob uses it (we still stumble on Goins paraphernalia from time to time). I would have tried to hide Goins’ face, but he’s the only brown dude I dated for almost a decade. No matter what I “named” him, his caramel-y guns would have given him away. Sorry Goins. Well, I’m only sort of sorry (but you already knew that…purely based on the picture I have chosen of my thin arms and your good looks).

Goins is a pretty solid dude, and he’s sort of the sacred cow of ex-flames, so I’m not ever going to say anything negative about him or our relationship…other than this…

The only unforgiveable thing Goins ever really did was force me to purchase and eat fat free cheese. And, the only reason I forgave him for this was because later that summer (or a summer soon after), he gave himself Salmonella on a grilled chicken and mustard diet. The sucker ate SO MUCH grilled chicken and mustard (with half a yam) that he gave himself (and potentially all of his roommates) Salmonella. The price you pay for beauty, eh Goins?

Note: I know Salmonella is not funny. But Goins survived. So did his roommates. Fat free cheese isn’t funny either. I cried for hours. I don’t think he let me buy avocados or popsicles at the store that night either. What an a$$hole, right? I was totally oppressed.

In any event, over the course of our “career” – Goins and I broke up a handful of times. I’m sure he blames every single one of those times on me (which is cool, they were probably all my fault). During one of those very dramatic breakups, Goins took some @#$%& from another school to a dance.

Enter Amber…

ex-arch nemesis and high school sweetheart at a dance together

I didn’t know anything about Amber, other than her first name was my middle name. And I hated her even more for that (as if she did it on purpose).

The thought of the two of them at a dance together tortured me. The photo evidence sent me over the edge…in the way only a teenage girl could be sent spinning (it’s admittedly terrifying for all parties involved).

Eventually, Goins and I got back together. But I never really let it go. I never forgot about Amber.

Fast forward (about 17 years later).

Guess who is best pals with Amber and her family? Guess who hangs out with them all the time? Guess who loves Amber’s children as if they were her own grandkids? Guess who gets text messages from Amber and can’t stop laughing about them while she is at dinner with me.

MY @#$%ing MOTHER.

Apparently, my mother, Amber’s family and Amber “have been friends for years.”

It didn’t actually dawn on me to start asking questions about this Amber character until I got a message on Facebook from a very old, dear friend that said he thought it was funny that he “saw my mom more than he saw me.”

Before I got my answers, I heard from ANOTHER one of my friends from high school about how much fun she had with my mom at a pole dancing class. I mean, my mom has always had moves on the dance floor. But WTF.

Note: My mother is not a stripper. This was one of those “girls night out” kind of gatherings. At least that’s what I was told. I was assured that nobody “made it rain.”


My mother had totally betrayed me. She was hanging out with THAT girl that wrecked me in the 10th grade.

And, as if the little well endowed weasel (meaning Amber) had not already worked her way into the hearts of enough people I cared about – I found out she married another one of my friends from high school. In fact, Amber married one of the cutest boys from my high school (hi Darren!). I loved to flirt with him (probably when Goins was watching) and then pretend like I wasn’t capable of doing anything like that (adolescence is AWESOME).

Last night – I met Amber in person for the very first time.

And much to my dismay, she was sort of irresistible.

So, here’s a little picture I like to call “full circle”…

Natalie Daily and Amber reunited and reminiscing

Thank you for dinner Amber (and for not poisoning my pork). Thank you for letting me reminisce with your hubby (I really missed hanging on that guy, I have pictures of my own you know, I just don’t go around texting them to other people’s parents, ho). Thank you for introducing my family to the rest of yours. Your children are beyond beautiful (I even like their smart little mouths). Thank you for the photo of you and Goins (it makes me laugh…so…hard). Thank you for the belly laughs and all the Chardonnay. But most of all, thank you for helping me let go of one of my last few grudges. Only like two or three more to go (but I’m not hopeful…this one took nearly 20 years).

All jokes aside, now that I know you, I hope we’re friends forever. We could get into all sorts of trouble…me and you.

And here you go Goins. I’m kind of cruel but I don’t want people to think you always made that stupid face. This is what Goins looked like when he wasn’t showing off (not that I would know anything about showing off).

You’re welcome.

Natalie Daily and the Indecent Proposal dress at Senior Ball