Deadbeat Dad

I recently reconnected through social media with a friend from high school. Ok, a former crush. I’m very much in a relationship now and I think he is too, but it’s fun to see what he’s up to. The other day he posted something that really upset me….and not much on social media does upset me- not politics, not religion, not gross humor. He was complaining that his ex-wife was asking for more child support. It’s something a lot of men complain about, and it strikes a nerve because of my own experience and situation. Here’s the thing- child support is figured by a calculator in my state. You put in the numbers and it spits out the amount owed. The judge can’t change it, circumstances don’t affect it, it’s a purely mathematical issue. If your ex-wife can take you back to court and get you to pay more child support, it’s because your financial circumstances have changed, or hers have. Period. And she has every right to do that- it’s why the court allows for these things. He’s saying that he only makes $1000 a month right now and that she wants half. She’s raising 3 of his kids in another state (so not much visitation), and he thinks $500 a month is too much?! Seriously!?? And then he said that she makes enough and doesn’t need the money. Buddy, you created this family- you need to support it. Just because she has a decent job doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. Take care of your fucking kids and stop complaining about it!

I’m not the most understanding when it comes to these types of issues. My own ex-husband is not a part of his child’s life and doesn’t pay as much child support as he should. He also refuses to pay his half of the medical bills (which he is court ordered to do). I hate to say it, but you can see their priorities when a man doesn’t put his child’s financial needs first. Many get caught up with the fact that the money goes to their ex-wife, and can’t understand the idea that this money is actually for the children. They completely ignore what a woman often gives up to become a mother. I am biased in this because I dropped out of college to stay home with my kids. My ex-husband got his degree and has a good job with years of experience in his field, while I have been unable to find a part time minimum wage job in my area because I have been out of the work force so long. So when a man says it isn’t fair that he has to pay….I say that’s right- it isn’t fair that all the mother gets is your money when she should get your help, your career and prospects, and your undying gratitude for raising your children.(This of course does not apply in all cases)

Ashes

The fire has changed a lot of things for me. I had to move….luckily there was an empty apartment in the same complex that I could move into. My old apartment was cleaned out and taken down to the studs. There it sits, awaiting permits to be rebuilt. Every morning as I walk to my car, I pass by my old apartment. You can look through the living room window, in to the bare studs, and out through the gaping hole that used to be a slider into the charred backyard. My new apartment is the same set up as the old one with slight variations. The walls were placed in different places so that the rooms are different sizes than the old place. The doors fit better here, and there is wood laminate in the living room instead of carpet.

   It is starting to feel like home. Having renter’s insurance has allowed me to replace most of my lost belongings. It’s odd having all new stuff all of a sudden, but it’s nice being able to completely redecorate. I’m not trying to recreate my old look. I had a lot of vintage pieces and everything was white. I don’t have time to curate a new collection, so I am mixing in what is left of the old with new things. I have always loved an eclectic bohemian look, so that’s what it is. Antiques and macrame mixed with hides and ethnic prints…..all in neutrals and minimal clutter. That’s my look.

   Putting the house back together is the easy part.Putting my life back together, that’s the difficult part. I am finally able to sleep again. The kitchen is in working order, but we have no dining table yet ( I am having one made), so even when I cook there’s nowhere to sit and eat together. The living room desk is where every homeless item landed, and it’s driving me crazy since it’s the only place to sit and eat. I still have address changes to put in, and insurance things to deal with….and school, and work,  and life. I keep thinking that I should see a therapist, but I can’t even look one up and make an appointment. Sadness and loss hits in waves. Either I am manically trying to get everything done, or the depression cripples me. Most days I am fine. I am fine until I am not, and then I snap. I’m not feeling much support from friends and family (including my boyfriend), and the weight of everything lays heavy on my shoulders. People keep asking me if I am getting settled in with everything how I want it. I was in my last apartment for a year and a half and everything was not yet how I wanted it. A few weeks is not enough time for me to get things how I want them, especially when most of my time is already accounted for with school and work and driving the Kiddo around. When people ask how the new place is, I want to answer that it is an unlivable mess. It’s full of things I don’t want and empty of the things I need. I can’t seem to fit things back together the way they were and nobody else seems to care. But nobody wants to hear that, so I just say that it’s fine.

Fine is the most that I can hope for right now. Ok is as good as it gets. Some day, I hope to get back to being good.

Fire

I think I’m still in shock….I know I’m still in shock. Two days ago my apartment was involved in a fire. I haven’t slept more than a few hours since then. I spent six hours driving yesterday, and the rest of the day combing through soggy ash and recovering what could be salvaged. Nobody was home when the fire hit, and both cats are safe. Those are the important things. Everything else we are figuring out one day at a time.

Date Rape

As an Uber driver, I hear a lot of stories. First thing in the morning on weekends, you get the lost crowd. These are the folks who never quite made it home the night before. Sometimes they are just finishing up partying. Other times, they went to a party only to crash there or with a friend. Lots of times they met someone while they were out and went home with them. Believe it or not, I also pick up quite a few prostitutes at that time….and folks headed to the airport.

Last weekend, I had one of my most disturbing calls. I was en route, when the passenger called my cell to see how far away I was. She explained that she had never used Uber, and said that she was in a predicament. I just hoped that I wasn’t showing up to a case of domestic violence in progress. I found her outside her hotel lobby, and she looked like many of the young women I give safe passage to at this time of morning. She was wearing part of an outfit that was clearly from the night before, her eye makeup was sliding down her cheeks, and she carried a plastic bag containing the rest of her belongings.

As I drove toward her home, she told me her story. She had been talking to an older gentleman (mid thirties- ten years older than she was). They had met in person once, and the night before was their first date. He picked her up, took her to dinner, and then to a bar. At some point, he had a friend come pick them up and they went to a hotel. She was probably drunk enough at that point that she didn’t realize how fishy that sounds. She said he had done everything right at that point – picked her up, bought her dinner and drinks….we are socialized to assume a man will treat us well if he does certain things.

So, she found herself in a hotel room with tho men she didn’t really know. She said she remembers taking a shower…..and then waking up alone and naked. She woke in a panic, felt the need to physically feel her body to see if she were hurt, and checked her purse to see if anything were missing. 

The truly scarry thing is that she still did not seem to understand what might have happened to her. I would be willing to bet that these guys slipped something into her drink at the hotel and assaulted her. I tried to broach the subject, but she completely ignored it. I hope that she is safe, and that at some point she can deal with this.

Ladies….be safe! Be smart! If you’re dating, stay in public places until you really know someone. Be the one in control of a situation. Use condoms….and most of all, use common sense!

Unrecognizable 

My father is not a young man. He has not been middle aged for quite some time. I know that he is getting older, and losing certain qualities. He has a difficult time understanding conversation because his hearing is bad. He shuffles slowly and sometimes walks with his back hunched over. He is no longer comfortable driving at night, or more than a short distance. He is forgetful, and sometimes gets confused. And even so, I am caught unawares in his worst moments. 

This morning, he had one of those moments. He did not recognize me. The scariest thing is that he had been seeing me walking around the house getting ready all morning. I went out to put something in my trunk, and when I came back into the house my parents were standing in front of the screen door. I heard my dad ask my mom who was coming in the house….and he was looking right at me. I realize that these moments of confusion are still just moments, but this was a very scary thing. What else does he get confused about? Will be eventually not recognize me at all? What if this happens while he’s driving? How long can my parents really live alone in their own house without some assistance?

These questions have been rattling around in my head for a while and this episode brings them to the forefront. And what is a child to do about their aging parents? I don’t have room for them to move in with me (nor would they if I asked). I can’t leave the area where I am until my Kiddo finishes high school at least, and I wouldn’t want to move in with them anyway. They won’t leave the area, and don’t want to go smaller. I don’t know what the future holds for them, and that is frightening.

Growing Pains

I woke up this morning in a “family bed”. One cat was snuggled up beside me, the other lay at my feet, and The Musician snored softly from the other side of the bed. This is one of my favorite things….waking up surrounded by love. It wasn’t long before my bliss faded away as I remembered the conversation of the night before. The Musician is very passionate about politics, and his worldview is very different than mine. He is a conspiracy theorist to the nth degree. He believes that a corporate conglomerate is in control of our government. I sort of agree with that, but he believes that they are actively poisoning the population, are behind mass shootings, etc etc….and that their end goal is world domination. It just goes a little far for me. He wants to discuss his ideas, but doesn’t seem able to cope with the fact that I have a different opinion. He goes into a conversation believing that he needs to “enlighten” me. I tried to explain to him that this is not a conversation, it’s bullying. Yes, I heard your point and I understand it- I just don’t agree. To me, this isn’t a big deal. We are not going to agree on everything. That’s ok. As long as we are respectful, we can disagree and even have disagreements….. it’s healthy. He isn’t on the same page with this, though, and it’s a big issue for him. I think it reminds him of his long term marriage, but I’m not sure of that. I think that learning how to have disagreements and get over them is important, but he tends to clam up and run away. I’m not sure what any of this means for us in the long run, but it’s what we’re dealing with now…

Too Much Love

A year and a half ago, when I moved into my apartment, I had no plants. I hadn’t had a plant in years. Now, I look forward to the one day a week that I can take care of my plants. Early on in my marriage I planted a flower box, which I quickly killed through over watering. I still overwater  plants to death sometimes, but now my apartment is brimming with healthy houseplants. I have learned to cut back on the water, and I also have figured out that certain types of plants work better for me. Houseplants that are hard to kill and require little light like Pothos, Snake Plants, Spider Plants and Philodendron grow well for me.Sometimes I pick up a new plant to try, and it dies. This used to bother me, but now I just see it as not a good fit. I’m not a bad gardener (clearly, since I have a wonderful pothos that trails halfway down my bookcase), and it isn’t a bad plant….we just aren’t compatible.I guess this is how I view relationships as well. The Musician and I are very compatible in many rudimentary ways. We speak the same love languages and so we make each other feel very loved. We aren’t so similar in other ways, but those things are not so important to me. Those things worry The Musician sometimes, but not me. I feed fed, loved,nourished, and connected. Views on politics or media preferences are really just extraneous to me.I don’t think we are in danger of over-watering, so all is well.

Assault?

Because The Musician plays in a lot of bars, I spend a lot more time in bars than I used to. I never have been a big fan of the bar scene, but I love watching my man play with a band. Yesterday, they were playing at one of their regular bars. It’s a quirky spot with a really nice group of regulars. This is a country bar, and all the regulars two-step…. something I haven’t learned to do yet.
   Yesterday, there was an odd man at the bar. I saw him go up to some of the band members and give them hand signs rather than exchange words. This seemed odd, and he also seemed aggressive. I was trying to pay attention to the band, and not this strange guy. I was hoping he had left, but that was not the case.
   This odd man came very quickly across the room to the table I was sitting at, slammed his bag down on a stool, slammed his beer down on the table, and motioned to me that he wanted me to dance with him. I shook my head no and said that I didn’t dance. He paused a beat, and then he grabbed my wrist hard and tried to physically pull me onto the dance floor. I again told him no. He seemed to get aggravated, but he left me alone after that…although he stayed in my proximity for a while which made me uncomfortable. My wrist was smarting for several minutes, and my head spun. This happened in a crowded bar on a Sunday afternoon….10 feet away from my boyfriend and his band mates, and across the table from several friends….and nobody saw. I went through two different scenarios in my head. Clearly, this guy was drunk, and also there was something”off” about him. I didn’t really get hurt, he stopped after the initial attack, and I didn’t want to cause a scene. On the other hand, I felt very violated. I had already said no, and he tried to physically force me. His behavior was not acceptable whether it was observed or not, and he was a threat to other women in the bar. At the next break, The Musician and I went outside and I told him what had happened. He didn’t want to cause a scene at a place where he works, so he quietly explained the situation to the bouncer and asked him to take care of it. The guy caused a big to do when he was asked to leave….trying to sneak back in, and getting the bouncer so mad he was yelling at the guy. I did not want to witness it if a fight was going to happen, so we snuck back in the side door.
   Later that night, when the band leader heard about it he said to let them know right away if anything ever happened again. It’s nice to know they have my back, but said that we live in a world where it’s so common.

Rideshare Driving Sucks

Sometimes, my passengers have heard (from Uber commercials mostly) how much money you can make rideshare driving. They will say something about how much money I must be making, or what a great job it must be. Usually I try to keep it positive without out and out affirming….”I’m a student, so the flexibility is great for me…”  or something along those lines. More and more, I am edging toward the truth though. Rideshare driving is a crappy job. I’m ruining my car making minimum wage and not getting any of the benefits of being an employee. Yes, you can make decent money..
driving drunks around all hours of the night or if you have a nice enough car to work one of the high end platforms. I do neither of these. Today, I drove a man from near the happiest place on earth into the West side of the big city. His ride lasted an hour and fifteen minutes in  moderate traffic. I made just over $40 on that ride…and it took me three hours to get back home in Friday rush hour traffic. I had already been driving for over 7 hours at that point. Many of my rides net me under $5, and very few people tip. I do enjoy my passengers, and I like to drive, but a if I could find another way to make ends meet, I would. The navigation we use is so bad that it makes me want to cry. If you type in the name of the local airport, it takes you around back to the tower instead of the terminal. It routes behind a pin so that you end up on the other side of a culdesac, and today I had a request come in with no address- only a street name. What I make doing this is not worth the hassle of it, but I’m accustomed to eating.
If you use rideshare services, please don’t be cheap. Don’t wait out surge pricing, try to escape fees, or use a lower platform than what you need. Be civil to your driver….TIP your driver, and act like a human being instead of an animal.

First Fight

   It’s been two and a half months with The Musician now. Things are going well…so well! It’s still a struggle balancing everything, but I usually keep it together. Tonight, though….we had our first fight…except that it wasn’t a fight because we never said a word to each other. I had a long day, leaving for school at 7:30 am. I got my math test back and was disappointed in my grade. I had to go straight from school to my BFF’s house to babysit…. spending a few minutes with her when I got there lending some emotional support. I tried to get some homework done while the kids were playing, but I had to make them lunch, then take the older one to volunteer at the horse stables, run lines for the little ones play, pick my own Kiddo up from school, get us all something to eat and then get  the little one to rehearsal. By the time we made it home, it was 6:30. I was already tired, but had laundry and errands to run and The Musician had missed it when I told him he should pick something up for dinner on the way home, so he needed to eat. I started laundry and The Musician and I headed out to get him dinner and run to the store. We got back, I put groceries and laundry away and was in the bathroom just wishing that I could crawl into bed instead of packing to go out of town the next day. I had hurt my back the night before, and was feeling physically at the end of my rope. As I was sitting on the pot, the cat jumped into the bathroom window- a common occurrence. What came next was not common at all….I was hit by a shower of dirt! I guess the cat tried to jump into the hanging planter, but the wire it hangs from slides so that it can stay balanced. The planter was tipped sideways and potting soil covered the entire tiny bathroom! There was dirt piled up in the tub, on the floor, even in my pants. At first I laughed at the nutty cat…then I realized that I was going to have to clean this all up before I went to bed. The Musician heard the commotion and looked into the bathroom. He asked if I needed the vacuum, and I said something about needing a lot of things, but firstly needing to finish up my business. As the reality of the situation set in, I became frustrated and angry. I was tired, my back hurt, and I would have another hour of back breaking cleaning to finish before I could sleep. I knew that it was my house and my pet, it’s obviously my job to clean it up, but I guess I expected The Musician to offer to help….or at least give me a hug and say he was sorry I had to deal with it. Instead, he sat on the couch looking at gear on his iPad while I schlepped cleaning implements and soiled linens back and forth. I knew that most of my anger had nothing to do with him, so I didn’t say anything to him. I didn’t want that rage to be directed at him when the mess wasn’t his fault. But the longer I held it in, the more angry I got at him….how could he sit there and not say anything? He knew what kind of day I had, that I hurt my back, and that the next day was going to be long and arduous. How could he not even offer to help? I mean sure, there was no way both of us could even fit in the bathroom together but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate the offer. He is usually so thoughtful and caring, so to see him just shut down like that surprised me. I started the shower curtain in the wash, since it was covered with dirt, and finished cleaning the bathroom. I sat down to watch some TV and couldn’t get the TV on…more frustration! I went to use the restroom, but The Musician was already in there. I heard the shower running, and I asked through the door if he was taking a shower without the shower curtain, but he didn’t hear me. I just imagined the bathroom that I had spent an hour cleaning being doused with water, and my head nearly exploded. I went back in the living room to watch bad TV and eat junk food alone and try to cool off. When I came to bed, The Musician was already there. He seemed to be asleep, and still hadn’t said a word to me. I crawled into bed, and after I settled in he put a hand on my waist and told me good night. Just that caused my anger to flash again, and instead of saying what I wanted to “Oh, you’re talking to me now?!” , I stayed silent. He pulled away, and got up a little while later. I thought he just went into the living room, but when I went to the bathroom I discovered a text from him saying he was sorry about our little falling out, and that he would be back to take care of the house while I was gone unless I changed my mind. WTF?! I asked him to please come home in the morning so we can talk. I can’t leave town for the weekend with things like this. We are going to have to learn to get through these kind of things….