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)

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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.