Wednesday, December 7, 2011

With This Ring, and That Ring, and Those Rings...I Think I'm Screwed

Similarities between Ringo Starr and myself: 1) We both play drums. 2) We put up with a lot of shit in our bands and just sit there, rolling our eyes, waiting for our parts to play and try to play nicely with everyone. 3) We're both so unconventionally attractive that there's something downright adorable about us, we each married the first person who paid us a crumb of attention and later in life, two objectively smoking hot superstars fell in love with us. 4) We're both Christian Hindus with Buddhist tendencies. 5) We wear a lot of rings.

I've always loved rings. At present, I wear the following:

Three intricately patterned sterling bands on my left ring finger that my best male friend gave me for Valentine's Day in 2010, representing our friendship in the past, present and future. Next to that, I wear a sterling and CZ glitzy eternity band that I bought myself, and on my right hand, I wear my father's gold wedding band on my middle finger and a pretty sterling and blue enamel/CZ on my other right finger that I bought myself for my 3-year sobriety anniversary. On my right thumb, I wear a thin white 18k band that was my Polish great-grandmother's wedding ring.

I used to wear my Polish grandmother, my Nana's, white and yellow gold and diamond wedding ring, but as I was losing more weight and packing up boxes to move out of my apartment in Chicago to move back in with my mom, it slipped off and I can only imagine that it landed in one of the moving boxes. I suppose someday when I move back into my own place, I might get lucky and find it among the rest of my belongings in an unlikely box of God knows what.

My Tatus was looking at my hands at the movie theater the other night, and I don't know why, but he pointed out the rings on my right hand, I think, saying they were nice, so I told him about the one that was my father's, et al. He'd already seen and heard the story of the rings that my best male friend gave me when we went to see The Flaming Lips last summer and I was telling him about my friend and the drama that surrounded me wearing the 3 silver bands on my ring finger. Maybe he was looking at my hand in disappointment that I'd gone back to biting my fingernails. I don't know.

My brother is going through a divorce. He always wore his wedding band, but would take it off whenever he drummed, always putting it either in his pants pocket or his backpack. He wanted to wear it until the divorce was final. Recently, it mysteriously disappeared. Steve filed reports with building security at NIU, where he works and where his church is gathered, he looked everywhere, but it's gone. He thinks that's sad but kind of befitting, for his marriage wasn't much of a marriage for a very long time.

I know all about losing rings.

When I was still drinking heavily, I was pawning off a lot of the rings I had collected in order to buy alcohol, including the Tiffany & Company sterling/gold funky ring Craig bought me for my 21st birthday, that was only worth about $250, but I pawned it for like $25 and it was worth more to me in sentimental value than I could ever express. I probably bought 3 or 4 cheap bottles of wine for it in exchange. Tiffany still sells it to this day. Someday, I'd like to replace it.


How did I afford to move into Camp Swanky when I separated from my husband in 2007? In a manic and very drunk haze, I asked for the help of the president of a company I used to work for, R.S. Owens, an award manufacturer (they made the Oscars!). I was a marketing assistant there for 2 1/2 years in the late 1990's, and during my tenure there I took a year off on disability so that I could stay home and abuse narcotics. The rest of the time, I was a focal player in the marketing game. I brought new, artistic concepts and great writing to the company, and felt that I had a strong chance of making a career out of marketing, despite my disdain for corporate America. Unfortunately, once I became addicted to narcotics, took over a year off and came back, I was demoted to the order entry department and eventually quit my job at Owens totally (after I was clean but still not diagnosed or treated for bipolar).

The president, Scott Siegel, and his late father, Owen, were generous to a fault. Whenever one of us employees needed some extra money, they'd loan it to us on the spot and take it out of our future paychecks. They were kind and didn't ask a lot of questions. They'd advance me expense report money to go on business trips and ask for the receipts later. We were trusted, and they were taken advantage of.

I picked out my apartment, from what I recall, drunk and loony. I was on the Chicago firefighter job waiting list, prior to the physical agility test I later failed due to my drinking, and had a new landlord who was naive enough not to run a credit check on me first, which would've been a disaster. I literally rented it without any idea as to how I would summon the rent.

I emailed Scott Siegel for help, citing that Luke and I were in a bad situation and really had to get out, and that I was beginning a new business venture that could've afforded me the capacity to pay Scott back and have plenty to live on to spare. When I walked into Scott's office in order to get the loan, I was visibly and olfactory-obviously drunk. I presented a loosely compiled business plan on how to pay back the $10,000 he was going to loan me, a venture that never came to fruition because of my addictions and mental illness, though I didn't realize it at the time.

Having no other collateral, horrible credit, and angry at Craig, and just wanting out of the marriage and the townhouse we were renting (but had slept in separate quarters for 6 months prior), I gave Scott my most prized possessions: my wedding and anniversary rings. I remember enough about that day to tell him that I didn't care what he did with them, but that I didn't want them, and that if I never paid the loan back, he was welcome to sell my wedding rings.

My wedding rings were beautiful. It took Craig months and months to pay the engagement ring off, and we'd go visit it at the jeweler's when we'd go in to make a payment, and they'd let me try it on, until I finally received it in the fall of 1994. An engagement ring with Craig's grandmother's diamond in the center, with baguettes and round set stones, encased in 2 custom-made matching wedding bands that made a bold trio. I also had an anniversary band and another ring. I remember Scott putting them all in an envelope, sealing it up and putting it in the safe in his office. That was the last I saw of my wedding rings. Upon leaving, I recall Scott wishing me the best and telling me not to show up to my next whatever NOT reeking of wine. Fair enough..

Yes, to date, I haven't had the income or opportunity to pay Scott back, so I have no idea what he did with my rings. I emailed him several months ago explaining essentially who I am nowadays, and who I was in 2007. I was too non-functional to hold down a jobby-job, unlike now where I'm working steadily and supporting my family, and I was waiting for my call from the Fire Department, and blew that to hell, as I've said before. I told Scott the story of the last 4 years and explained why I had the nerve to ask a question as stupid (yet ballsy) as "If you still have them, could I have my wedding rings back?"

I offered Scott small amounts of money to pay back monthly until I either loan myself to death in grad school or after I get my doctorate. I plan fully to make good on that loan, if it kills me, whether he still has my rings or not.

Reason being, I feel very differently about my ex-husband now than I did when we separated, and we have Luke together, and it'd be fabulous if Luke had that engagement ring to either hand down or re-craft to a woman he chooses to marry later in life. The rings remind me of the good parts of my marriage. Of the bond between Craig and myself, and how that might be important to Luke someday. I hold no more malice or anger towards Craig and love him to pieces. It's something important in the framework of my little family. Callously and without immediate remorse, I told Scott Siegel that I didn't care what he did with the rings, I just needed the dough and wanted to get the hell out of there.

Scott never emailed me back after I gave him my life update and asked if perhaps he'd consider small payback amounts in exchange for the rings back. I wrote on his Facebook wall asking if he'd received the email from me, and he responded that yes, he did, but wasn't ready to write back to me, or was trying to find the right words to say, or something (we're Facebook friends, amazingly enough). I haven't heard from him since, and that was months ago.

In my email, I thoroughly apologized for having taken advantage of his generosity and begged for the chance to take the AA step and make proper amends to him for having harmed him. To date, he's never counter-sued me for the money, sent me to a collection agency, or sent anyone to my house to break my knuckles for not having paid him back. He's just good people and I was a sick, crazy bitch who preyed on that and threw away priceless treasures because I held a grudge against Craig and wanted to move out and move on. I think I explained to Scott in my email that leaving Craig in the first place was a huge mistake on my part, and that it all quickly went downhill from there.

In all likelihood, unless I loan myself out or become a doctor quickly, I won't be in the position to walk in and give him $10,000 and expect to see my wedding rings again. But I maintain that I'd be willing to set up a payment plan with him and was very curious to know if the rings were still in his possession or not.

Basically, on a grand scale, I pawned my wedding rings for alcohol, just like the Tiffany ring I got from Craig as well. Just to get a divorce and have my own place. Out of spite and hurt feelings and drunkenness and mania, I made a huge, big, devastating, life-altering mistake. Oh, and I gave away my rings, too.

I think I'll post one more gentle reminder to Scott's Facebook about the matter and leave it in his court. He may have bad news for me, that he sold them years ago, or that they're worthless and he threw them out, or that I don't deserve to have them back after what I did to him, which I honestly don't deserve, but I would love the chance for him to meet the new, the real Andrea Miklasz, when all he knew of me when we worked together was that I eventually had a problem with narcotics, and all he saw of me in 2007 was desperation and severe, numbed illness.

A lot of people give away prized possessions before they commit suicide. In a lot of ways, trying to drink myself to death was a slow, more-or-less legitimate type of suicide. Just as a suicide takes a life that you can't get back, sometimes your possessions, which are just temporary tokens in this life, are also lost forever.

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