I’ll Review

One final entry for September.

I was going through mail yesterday. I opened a bill, which I thought was for Rock Star, but instead turned out to be for Picasso. $1282 for a doctor’s visit that included 2 or 3 shots. Let that sink in for a minute. Almost $1300 for one visit.

Folks, I make less than $15/hour. I pay over $400 a month for insurance. After I’ve paid all of my bills I have about $300 left over from my paycheck. This bill will take me take me a year to pay off. Or, it would if I had to pay the entire thing myself.

After I briefly spiraled into hysterics I suddenly realized that this bill was for Picasso. He is the child that is still covered by the court order. Because Jerry Lee hasn’t gotten around to modifying the support order he is still on the hook for 71% of that bill. Now, whether or not he’ll actually pay it is another topic altogether.

I put on my big girl panties, took a picture of the bill, and sent him a text. Basically, I told him I had received the bill, he could pay the doctor’s office directly instead of me if he preferred, and that I didn’t expect him to pay it all at once. I told him I would like to get it paid within 3-4 months.

His first response? I’ll review.

Review what, motherfucker? You owe 71% of your son’s medical bills. Are you thinking that the entire bill is not for him? That maybe I snuck in a charge or two for myself or Rock Star? That maybe I don’t know how to compute 71%?

Well, as it turns out I stupidly got my figures transposed so instead of $910.22 I told him it was $922.10. So maybe he was correct in reviewing me. Nonetheless, I realized my mistake while I was ranting to the mobster and I quickly gave him the correct amount.

His next text? That is what my math calculated as well.

Really? You got a new method of computing 71% that somehow doesn’t add up to what I just told you? Is your 71% different from my 71%? I don’t think so.

I’ll just sit here rolling my eyes. As long as he actually pays I’m happy. Of course, Jerry Lee and I will be going back to court anyway to settle up on the court fees so if I need to tack this on I will.

I Roll My Eyes

It’s always an adventure. I’m talking about CF, of course.

At the end of last month, you may recall, I emailed him regarding alimony. He’s a self modifying fool when it comes to my money. I reminded him of what he actually owed, gave him the monthly shortage and asked him if he was finally going to pay his court ordered amount or if he was going to continue to pretend like he didn’t have a new job and he was sending me all he could. He never did reply to the email.

This month, when he sent his first payment, he sent a new amount. No explanation. No acknowledgement of my email. This one included change, as in, cents. Imagine a judge court orders your ex to pay you $2000 in spousal support. Now imagine, instead of sending half of that, a person sends $827.56, or some other random, bizarre figure. That’s what CF did.

Was this going to be it for the month? Was he punishing me for daring to question him? One never knows with him.

Fortunately for me he sent yet another payment. Same amount. This time, though, he had to write something. Alimony, grateful or otherwise.

That’s the whole point, isn’t it? I’m supposed to be grateful he’s doing the little bit he’s doing. He slashed child support in half and then dared me to come after the correct amount. Now he’s modifying spousal support on his own, as well. What are you going to do about it, Sam? I’m supposed to shut up and take whatever scraps he throws my way.

Normally, I ignore him, but I think that emboldens him. He begins to believe he can say and do anything he wants and I’ll let him. So this time I briefly commented back: I’m not sure you understand how court orders work.

That’s the big joke, though, isn’t it? He understands only too perfectly how they work. He knows they can be manipulated and ignored. A court order means nothing to him. He does what he wants. He’s gotten away with it since June of 2018.

In other exciting news today I got a call at work from Rock Star. I sent her $25 last night through Venmo. She didn’t even ask for it; I wanted to do something nice for her. She replied through Venmo, “You’re the best!”

Unless I mark the transaction as private CF can see who I pay and what it’s for (as provided by me) but he can’t see how much. I marked last night’s transaction, “More food.” He turned around and sent her $50 for “weekend fun”. Oh brother! As she put it, “I cannot even with him.” I think translated that means: He is so ridiculous and I can see right through this charade. I joked with her that I should send her more money and see if he ups the ante. If he does, we could split the proceeds.

At least she’s getting something out of it, right? His motives might be all wrong and the way he’s going about trying to repair his relationship with her is ham handed, but he’s sending her money which she can always use. Hopefully his next step will be to realize he also has a son.

My Daughter’s Legacy

I come from a long line of women cheated on by their husbands. My grandfather cheated on, and left, my Mamaw after roughly twenty years of marriage, resulting in a nervous breakdown on her part. Ultimately, she ended up moving out of her home and out of the state, and in with her mother, where she lived until the day she died. My father cheated on my mother repeatedly, until finally she decided she didn’t want to end up like her mom- in her 40s, divorced, financially destitute, and living with her mom. She reasoned that eventually he would find one he would be willing to leave her for so she got out when she was in her early 30s- after affair #3.

I thought I had picked someone completely different from my own father. Turns out they had more in common than I realized. I ended up like my Mamaw- minus the nervous breakdown.

I often wonder what legacy I have left for my own daughter. Is she doomed to marry a man who will lie to her and cheat on her? That seems to be our pattern.

It’s no surprise, then, that the song, “Just Like Him” by Brandy Clark hit me hard the first time I listened to it.

He was kinda like Superman

Show up, save the day, disappear and then

We wouldn’t hear from him ’til Christmas

He was a whole lotta fun

Til he got one drink too drunk

A fight would start, he’d be breaking hearts and dishes

I used to say that I’d be damned

Before I’d ever fall in love with a man

Like the one Mama wasted her youth on

I wait up all night alone I feel like I’m six years old again

You’re just like him

Daddy had the bluest eyes

Kept my Mama hypnotized

Now I finally realize the reason

They say love’s like coming home

And I came from a broken one

So why am I surprised you’re always leaving

I used to say that I’d be damned before I’d ever fall in love with a man

Like the one Mama wasted her youth on

And I wait up all night alone I feel like I’m six years old again

You’re just like him

Promises all sound the same

Swear up and down you’re gonna change

And you never do

And I’m not that little kid

That’s why I can’t do this again

You’re just like him

Yeah, especially that part about wasting my youth on him. That always makes me pause.

I love the mobster with all my heart and I’m so very glad I met him. Yet I always feel a little tinge of sadness that we won’t have more time because we both wasted our youth on people who didn’t give a damn.

I had to listen to the song a few times before it hit me: She’s not repeating the cycle.

Promises all sound the same

Swear up and down you’re gonna change

And you never do

And I’m not that little kid

That’s why I can’t do this again

You’re just like him

She’s walking away. She learned from her mother’s mistakes. She knows he’s not going to change and she’s going to get out and save herself. Hallelujah!

A few days ago I was reading a post. The writer mentioned that her daughter declared love to be a crock of shit. She thought her daughter felt that way because her parents, who had been together for thirty years, were no longer together. He left for someone else.

That got me thinking. Is it a crock of shit, or do so many of us accept so very little and call it good?  The stories I read over on Chump Lady keep me shaking my head. Frequently I wonder, “Why do we accept this behavior? Why are we so willing to accept scraps and to cater to people who don’t deserve it?” There is story after story of people who give and give only to be dismissed as though they’re nothing. The mom that works full time, does all of the childcare, takes care of the home, does all the cooking and the shopping while her husband hangs out in his den and plays on the computer all night. The husband that sends his wife off on a girl’s weekend because she’s “confused” and “trying to work things out”, only to later find out he’s actually paid for her and her lover to go on a weekend getaway. The person who throws a surprise party for their partner’s big birthday, and doesn’t even get a card for their birthday in return. The person who carefully selects gifts every birthday, anniversary, and Christmas only to be given some token gift year after year. The person who remains at home taking care of the kids while their partner goes out drinking with their friends. I could go on and on.

This is the point where we should actively teach our kids about good relationships. I’ve long thought they should teach a class on that in high school. In between the dating violence and the liars and the cheaters and all these different dysfunctional relationships these kids need to be taught this shit isn’t normal. They need to be told what to look for and what to watch out for. Give them an example of what is good and what is bad, what is normal give and take and what is dysfunction that should never be tolerated.

To my own daughter I would say: Look for the one who reciprocates. Does he do sweet, kind things for you? Do your needs matter? Does he pay attention to what you like and what you dislike? Does he listen when you tell him stories? Does he even exhibit any interest in your life? Is he willing to take care of you when you’re sick or listen to you when you’re upset? Does he laugh at your jokes? Does he tell you you’re beautiful? Does he make you feel loved and cherished? Does he call you by your name? Is he considerate of you? If it’s important to you, is it important to him? Do you remember his birthday and important dates while he blows them off when it’s your turn? Does he value your opinion or is everything done his way?

Don’t confuse the above with love bombing. I’m not talking about the guy who comes in and sweeps you off your feet. I’m not talking about the guy who makes grand gestures and tells you that you are the most amazing person he’s ever met and he’s madly in love with you and his life would implode without you in it. I’m not talking about the guy who sends big bouquets of roses to work so everyone can see how wonderful he is (although I’m not opposed to getting flowers at work) or who buys you over the top gifts so everyone can be jealous of you. I’m talking about the guy who performs loving gestures. I’m talking about the guy who knows you love chocolate dipped strawberries so he’s willing to buy a carton of strawberries and melt some chocolate and dip those berries for you. I’m talking about the guy who will rub your back or cut your meat up for you (true freaking story!) if you ask him to. I’m talking about the guy who will make you breakfast or wash out your shitty jeans or butter your roll for you. I’m talking about the guy who knows you love polar bears so when he sees one he picks it up for you because he knows you love them and it will make you happy.

Stay away from the ones who take and take and take and never give back. Don’t ever make your needs smaller and smaller while you try to fill an endless void that can never be filled. You will be pick me dancing for the rest of your life if you do that because they will always demand more while giving back nothing.

Along that same line run from the ones who keep changing the goal posts. There are some people out there who will never be happy. There are some people who will always find something to complain about. Don’t make it your mission to change that. You won’t succeed. They will only bring you down with them. Leave them to wallow in their misery.

Keep in mind dating should be fun. It’s a time to figure out what you want. So if he’s already lying to you or cheating on you, breaking plans with you, talking down to you, breaking up with you numerous times and then getting back together, or doing any number of things you don’t like during your early dating stage, it’s not going to get better. That’s as good as it gets. You deserve someone who adores you, and in turn you should adore him.

Watch out for red flags, and when you see one don’t spackle. No, it’s not normal for him to blow you off to spend every weekend with his friends. No, it’s not normal for him to have female friends that either he doesn’t want to introduce you to, or who don’t like you. No, it’s not normal for him to tell you that particular outfit makes you look like a slut and it’s not normal for him to be obsessively jealous if you have male friends or have a regular conversation with someone. No, it’s not normal to sleep with your ex a few weeks after the two of you start dating. No, it’s not normal to call you names and say hateful things. No, it’s not normal to do almost nothing together as a couple. No, it’s not normal or okay if you plan something special for his birthday, or a weekend away, or do your best to make holidays or other occasions special, while he does nothing in return for you. Those are red flags, honey. Don’t. Spackle. Over. This. Behavior.

This is an oldie but a goodie. Anytime you find yourself thinking, “Life would be so much easier if he just died,” that’s a bad sign. It’s another big red flag. Get out. Save yourself. Similarly, if you find yourself recording messages for your friends and loved ones for after they find your body, that’s another big sign your relationship is failing and you need to get out.

Words and cards are nice, but actions are much more important. As the old saying goes, “Don’t listen to his words; watch what he does.” If he’s telling you he loves you and you’re the best thing ever but he’s sleeping with other women, doesn’t take your feelings into consideration, and/or mistreats you, he doesn’t love you. This is not a good relationship.

Don’t ever be so desperate for the fairytale that you’re willing to put up with endless amounts of shit.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and to say what you really feel, what you really want. If you’re afraid you’re going to rock the boat and he’ll be out of here then he’s not the guy for you. You can’t have a satisfying relationship if you always have to shut up and pretend everything is fine.

The cool wife/girlfriend is usually the one that gets cheated on. Stories abound of people who didn’t want to make a big deal out of their partner meeting up with an ex for dinner while they weren’t invited to join in, or going out with or texting opposite member friends, or co-workers.  There is no reward for being a doormat. Only more and more abuse.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask yourself this question: Is this relationship acceptable to me? You matter. Your needs matter. It’s not a license to act like a crazy, entitled person, but please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t sacrifice yourself for a relationship that is unworthy of you. If the relationship is not acceptable to you you have every right to end that relationship.

Draw boundaries. Rock solid ones. Boundaries are not a bad thing. Get it out of your head that they are, or that you’re unreasonable for having them. If your partner repeatedly violates those boundaries they are not a good partner. Recognize that. Do something about it. And by “do something” I mean leave. Find the courage and have the self respect needed to get out of a bad situation. It will never improve. When people realize they can treat you badly they don’t ever change. Not without fear of very serious consequences, and even then, that change may only be temporary.

Make yourself a list of things you want in a partner. Then make another list of deal breakers. Refer to those lists often. Don’t be afraid to end a relationship if you discover this person falls short of your list, or if one or more of his behaviors is on the deal breakers list. Obviously I’m not talking about the more superficial traits, like hair and eye color, height, occupation, etc. But if loving animals or wanting children or having a relationship with God is important to you, then it’s probably not going to be a good fit for you if you end up with someone who can’t stand animal hair, doesn’t want kids, and thinks religion is a crock of shit. Similarly, if you want someone who is faithful, dating someone who wants to be in an open relationship, or who fucks around on you behind your back early on in the relationship, is not a smart move. Again, refer to your two lists. Far better to end things early on in the relationship as opposed to investing years in someone who will only make you miserable.

If he sucks the joy out of life, he’s not a good match. Be with someone who brings joy to your life. Be with the one who makes everything fun, who brings out the best in you, who ignites your sense of adventure and your childlike wonder.

Don’t mistake good sex for a good relationship. There are people out there that would fuck a snake if someone would hold its head down. Those people don’t actually care about anyone; they only care about whether or not you’re useful to them. Don’t be useful to a person like that.

My darling daughter, find someone who adores you. Find that person who wants to please you, just as much as you want to please him. Find that person who loves you back just as hard as you love them. Don’t settle for a barbed wire monkey because you’re afraid. I know ending a relationship is hard. Staying with a person who doesn’t respect you will end up being infinitely more difficult.

Find that person who brings out the best in you. That’s the person you want to be with. Find the person who makes you laugh, and lose the one that makes you cry.  As that saying goes: Find a man who ruins your lipstick, not your mascara.

And again I tell you, because it is so important, don’t ever make your needs smaller and smaller while you cater to someone who continues to demand more and more, appreciating none of your efforts. You want the man who thinks you’re worth the effort. You want the man who sees your needs and says, “Challenge accepted!”

Don’t be me, the person married to your father, the person who wasted her youth on someone who didn’t deserve it. Break this cycle. Demand more. Expect more. You are worth it. I was worth it. Thankfully, I know that now.

A Value Add To the Household

I was reading another board I frequent a few days ago. Somehow the topic veered to having a stay at home parent. One of the posters said this: I used to work with a young, single woman. We were union so wage rates were public…

One day she pointed to a guy that was earning the same wage rate as she did. “I don’t understand; he is buying a house and I’m nowhere near able to do that. We make the same money, both have two kids, plus he has a wife that doesn’t work so he’s supporting an extra person.”

I was shocked I had to tell her he doesn’t pay for daycare. Saturday mornings he works for his father-in-law while you and his wife are taking kids to dance and sports. He never has to say no to overtime because after school care closes at 5:30. Two adults are contributing to the forward movement of that family, not one. Yes, his wife eats, needs clothes, might need a night out on occasion, but she is a value add to that household.

It reminded me of an old post I wrote a few years ago, It Wasn’t a One Way Relationship. That was the post where I finally said, “Hey! We didn’t have the life we had strictly because of him and his ability to make good money. We had the life we had because I was willing to move all over whenever he got a better offer elsewhere. We had the life we had because he never had to take off work to deal with sick kids (or a sick spouse), never had to tell them he couldn’t come in after hours, never had to decline a dinner invitation with people from corporate. He also never had to wash his own clothes or put them away. He never had to work all day and then come home and figure out what he was going to make for dinner or clean up the dinner mess. He didn’t take our daughter to gymnastics anywhere from 3-5 days a week or our son to hockey or soccer or baseball practice. He certainly never had to think about me and my job when being offered a new, more lucrative job hundreds or thousands of miles away. He also never gave up friends, a social life, and activities when moving from place to place. I always developed a life and a social support; he didn’t.

While I would never encourage anyone to stay at home with their kids anymore I am also tired of this narrative that staying at home is a drain on the family resources, or that a stay at home parent offers nothing of value.

He was able to do a lot of things because I was at home holding down the fort. He also had many things done for him because I did stay at home. He was the hard working man and I had agreed to be a stay at home mom so everything house and child was my domain. Had I been working full-time I’m not sure I would have been willing to do all the laundry, run the kids all over, put his clothes away for him, done all the grocery shopping, cooked all the meals (and fixed his plate for him) and been responsible for all the house cleaning. I could do it when it was just the two of us and we were both working, but with two kids? I would like to believe I would have grown a backbone and told him I didn’t give a shit how much more he made than I did; we were both working 40 hours a week and those kids and the household were every bit as much his responsibility as they were mine.

At this point in time, after what has happened to me after a twenty year marriage, I would never advise a person to stay at home with their kids, unless they had a very marketable degree, one that would allow them to jump right back into the workforce with pretty much no pay cut. Nursing comes to mind. Or pharmacy. It’s too much of a risk. When you don’t have a job or a way to support yourself you are vulnerable and more than likely you will end up putting up with more shit than you should because of it.

Whenever I say that staying at home with my kids was the biggest mistake I ever made (aside from marrying CF, of course) the mobster always tells me that staying at home with your kids is the most important job a person can have. He tells me he thinks I did a wonderful thing and that I didn’t let anybody down. It was CF that let us down.

I don’t want this to come down to stay at home moms versus working moms. I’ve done both and for me being a working mom is hands down the harder of the two. I say this having done it when my kids were teens who were almost fully grown. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone does it when they have little kids. My hat is off to you!

But I’m also tired of this notion that staying at home has no value and that all we do is take, take, take from our hardworking spouses. I always looked at my marriage to CF as a partnership, and as the two of us as a team.

A football team is made up of people who have different positions. There aren’t forty quarterbacks on a team. There is a quarterback and a center. A tight end. A running back. A wide receiver. A kicker. A safety. Just to name the few I can think of…. They all have a different job to do. They don’t all throw the football. They don’t all run for a touchdown. They don’t all punt the ball or attempt to make a field goal. They don’t all tackle and block. The team wouldn’t be successful if everyone went out onto the field and tried to do the quarterback’s job. Or the running back’s job. It takes everyone doing their own specific job to win a game.

On my team CF’s job was to work and make money. My job was to take care of the house and the kids so that he didn’t have a million things to do once he got home. Everything was taken care of for him. My job was to be supportive. I did that by being willing to move around whenever a new job offer came up. I did that by never throwing a fit anytime he called to let me know he wouldn’t be home for dinner because he was going out with some people from corporate. I did it by not laying a guilt trip on him every year when he would fly out for a week for the production manager’s yearly meeting. I did it by handling everything on my own whenever he was traveling out of town, which wasn’t often, but it did happen. I was a value add to the household.

Another poster, a woman who has been single since she finally divorced her husband who had knocked up his mistress, replied: Frankly, I am sometimes amazed how much married, working women underestimate how much better off they are with a working spouse. I often hear, “Well, I made sure I made enough to support myself if I have to.” (Especially from a stepmom complaining about a mom needing CS). Yes, but you don’t have to and didn’t have to for the past 20 years. That gave you twice as much for retirement, college expenses, home improvement, vacations, medical expenses, whatever is important, than the one in a one income household.

I think it almost always comes down to the benefit of having someone else do the grunt work of childcare. I’ve heard stories of people who were almost ready to be fired due to missing work. Suddenly they’ve got someone who is willing and able to take on all of the childcare and that person is now thriving in their career. The first commenter mentioned that in 20 years of raising children her husband had missed exactly 16 hours of work because of kids; on these two days she was simply too ill to watch them. I believe one of those days she was actually hospitalized.

He could take all the overtime offered and never had to call in because of sick kids, never had to take time off to take a child to a doctor’s appointment, because he had a stay at home wife who did all of that. Same as my former husband. I’m pretty sure CF took less than a day off for children emergencies.

Right now my mom does those things for me most of the time. She’s the one that will drive Picasso to school and take him to his after school activities. She will bring him his lunch if he forgets it. She usually does my laundry and most nights she cooks. I do cook occasionally but she does it much more often. And when I was working two jobs and working fifteen/sixteen hour days? She was the one that made sure my kids got where they needed to be. She was the one who fed them. I don’t know if I would have been able to do any of that during that period.

Teamwork. It makes a difference. Having someone there to help support you is huge. You don’t all have to do the same thing on your “team” in order to say you’ve contributed. You just need to show up and do your part.

How You Doin’ Now?

After I hit “publish” the last time I realized I had left a lot of stuff out. Minor stuff really, but I tend to over share, and the last post was getting pretty long thanks to the details of the interstate meeting. This one got pretty long, too, so imagine how long that last one would be if I had remembered to add all of this onto it!

I forgot to mention that I emailed CF at the end of last month. Sorry, Sophia, I wasn’t completely stealth mode. I reminded him that his spousal support obligation was $XXX and he was $700 shy. I asked him if he planned on paying the rest of that or if he was going to continue pretending that he didn’t have a job and was sending all he could. Shockingly, I have heard nothing from him! He continues to send his self-modified child support, though. We shall see what happens later this month.

Turns out I am going to have to put my dream of being a singer in a rock-n-roll band on hold. Perhaps indefinitely. I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor to see about my high blood pressure. I kept telling myself I just needed to lose the weight. After all, back in 2015 after having a few higher than normal readings I was right back to normal once I lost 25 pounds on the divorce diet. Only it’s not so easy when you’re working full time and you love to sleep which means you don’t have time to make a sensible breakfast for yourself, or pack your lunch. Yes, I know I should do it in the evening. Sometimes I do. But most of the time I don’t, and I usually don’t have the time to make it the next morning. I know- excuses, excuses. Yes, so until I stop making excuses and actually start losing the weight I decided to do the practical thing and see my doctor.

Fun fact: One of the most commonly prescribed medications has a side effect in about a third of the people who take it. It produces a lovely chronic, hacking cough, or as my PA likes to call it, a dry cough.

At first I thought I could deal with it. I even thought, in the beginning, that my body would adjust. No. Your body doesn’t adjust. It’s trying to expel the kinins in your blood stream. Even better? The cough doesn’t magically go away the minute you stop taking the medication, which seems a damn shame because it sure as hell started the day after I began taking them.

It got so bad my voice was hoarse from coughing, I would practically squeak when I talked, and when I tried to sing I would either cough or sounded God awful! Again with the squeaking. After about 6 weeks of it I said, “Enough!”

I still cough more than I would like. I still have my moments where my voice is squeaking or hoarse, but it’s definitely less now.

I know I’m never going to become a famous singer. I don’t even have any real plans to join a band anytime soon- if ever! But I do love to sing. And the mobster thinks I have a lovely singing voice. He likes it when I sing to him.

It is getting better very slowly. I don’t cough constantly while I’m singing. I can even occasionally sound decent. Most of the time though my voice is hoarse and I can’t reach many notes. I’m crossing my fingers it eventually comes back because I sure do miss singing along and not hurting my own ears.

This is something I didn’t think I’d ever be doing again. I’m donating plasma. I donated a few times back in my college days. I was dirt poor and needed money. They paid pretty well for a poor college student and I had a mad crush on one of the phlebotomists. I thought my plasma donating days were behind me but there’s a center not far from us and they paid out something like $175 for your first three donations. It was my daughter who actually talked me into it. She went twice herself until they fucked up her blood test and told her she had tested positive for the hepatitis C antibodies. They scared the crap out of her and it cost me around $500 to verify that she did NOT have the antibodies and it was a false positive. Nevertheless, she is now on a permanent ban list.

It turns out there are quite a few people I know who do this. OK, I know two. One is a woman who works with me. She uses the money as her grocery money. I also have a friend back in Utah who does it. I don’t know what we were talking about but she told me, unprompted by my own plasma donation story, that she was doing it to help pay for her daughter’s tuition. Her daughter is a freshman this year. At the time I had only gone four or five times, and hadn’t been back since May, right before I left to go to Virginia. I started back up in again August and I go twice a week. I’m putting that money towards Christmas. Even if it doesn’t fully cover everything it will be a huge head start.

I think it’s awesome that CF and Harley are living in a big 5 bedroom house with a gas fireplace, living it up and making sure they and her kids never go without while I have a big ass needle stuck in my arm for 45 minutes twice a week so that I can afford Christmas for my kids. There. I said it. Let’s move on.

It’s a lot different from what I remember. Back in my college days they would weigh you first thing when you came in. Eventually they would call you over to have your vitals taken and your finger pricked. Then you would go back to the big room and sit on the hard plastic chairs and wait for your name to be called. Then you would go back (or rather, through the door frame), sit in the big chair and wait to get poked.

Now you walk up to a kiosk and answer 25 questions. You sign in with your fingerprint. Then you go stand in line to wait to get your vitals taken and your finger pricked. They weigh you there, too. After that you immediately go stand in another line to wait for a chair. There is no big waiting room. There are very few chairs and those are generally used by the new donors as they wait to complete all the steps before being able to donate.

The biggest change is that everything is done with a machine right at your side. Before they would hang these IV bags- one for the saline and one for the blood. They would have to monitor you and then when you had filled a bag they would have to take it back to the centrifuge room and separate the plasma from the red blood cells. Then they would bring it back and put it back in you and then you did it all over again. Now it all takes place right beside you.

I think the chairs are upgraded now, too. They have a curve to them.

The other big change is how they pay you. I used to get a check. Hell, I worked at the grocery store in the plaza where the plasma center was located and I cashed many of those checks back then. Now it all goes on a debit card.

And of course, there are the phones. When I used to go many moons ago I would bring along a Soap Opera Digest to read. I’m sure other people would bring books so they could study. I might have, too, at one point. This afternoon I looked around and everyone was scrolling through their phones. I did see a guy on his computer the other day, and I’m sure there are other people who just sit there. Still, even on a really busy night when I’m waiting 30 minutes to get my vitals taken and then another 30 minutes standing in line to get out on the floor and into a chair, I only spend about 2 hours there. I had one disastrous donation which took me 88 minutes but usually I’m done in anywhere between 43 and 55 minutes.

My plan is to go through December. I’m not sure I’ll continue in January, although I may go back in the spring. My mom will be gone from the end of December through most of March, maybe even April. Picasso still doesn’t drive (his permit expires next month) and I will be the one picking him up from his various after school activities. The center is only open past 5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I could go on a weekend day but I’m usually gone a weekend or two a month so you can’t donate as often. They give bonuses for six or more donations so I try to go twice a week in order to maximize the money.

Finally, my Pokemon addiction is still in full swing. I am now a Level 34 (out of 40) and slowly gaining points towards reaching Level 35. I have surpassed the mobster. He was a Level 28 when I started, I believe. I caught up to him within about a month. We were neck and neck once I caught him. I leveled up to 32 before him. A day or two later he leveled up and passed me by something like 200,000 or 300,000 points. But, being the scrappy (and slightly addicted) Pokemon player that I am I gained on him, and eventually Leveled up to 33. I’m pretty sure I was halfway to achieving Level 34 when he reached Level 33. Then I leveled up again and I’m now over 500,000 points (out of 1,250,000) in. I’m hoping to reach Level 35 within the next week.

I know what you’re thinking. “How in the hell did we go from infidelity, betrayal, cousin fucking, and your destroyed life to all this mind numbing talk about Pokemon?” So thank you for listening and indulging my ramblings. I’ll be back to talk about infidelity again real soon.

How You Doin’?

Said in your best Joey Tribiani voice, of course.

Today I went to my interstate meeting. As you probably know I’ve gone back and forth over doing this. While Mississippi does indeed let child support go until age 21 naturally the laws of the originating state take precedence, which means I won’t collect child support on Rock Star even though she’s not 21 and is a full time student.

Not knowing what he makes now, and being told the judge presiding over this case probably won’t impute his wages, I went back and forth over whether or not to go ahead with the garnishment. I finally went online and found a child support calculator for Mississippi. When I put the information in, depending upon his salary now, I definitely got more than what it looked like I could have ended up with if we had to garnish in Kentucky. The problem remains I don’t know what he makes, but I fully believe he’s making more than he was.

Last night was a little frustrating. I was trying to pull my taxes together. According to the sheet they mailed me I needed three years of taxes, my last three pay stubs, a log of all his payments, proof of my expenses, and proof of insurance. The pay stubs were a no go. I had one current pay stub, but it was from May or June. I had the insurance information and the payment log, and believed I had all of the tax information. Naturally, I did not. Or rather, I somehow didn’t have a copy of my 2018 taxes. I did eventually find my 2016 and 2017 taxes.

I figured no big deal because I had my password to the tax website. Come to find out I couldn’t get onto it because my accountant hadn’t invited me to look at anything.

Fortunately, my accountant also happens to be a dear friend of mine. I was able to text her and she emailed me a copy this morning.

Here’s the fun part. Mississippi is one of only four states that only takes into consideration the non-custodial parent’s income. Why they need my information is beyond me, but I gave it up willingly.

When I went to the meeting I found out she didn’t need my taxes, and the fact that I didn’t have my recent pay stubs was not a big deal. I didn’t have to list my living expenses; she never even asked if I had them. I was asked if there had been any overnights with him (for the kids) in the last 12 months, and she verified that there were no child care expenses for them. Yes, the joys of divorcing when your kids are teenagers.

I did have the insurance information and the print out of the brief conversations between me and CF from the beginning, showing he absolutely knew he owed more in support but refused to do so until I did the legwork. I also turned over all of my payment logs. He really should thank me for being so honest. I know it’s a pipe dream but seriously…. I could totally throw him under the bus.

Here are some fun tidbits from this meeting.

Apparently the verification of employment came through while she was on vacation. It did specify what he was making. But she can’t tell me how much he makes. Yes, that’s correct. I’m supposed to be getting child support, we’re recalculating due to this modification, but I’m not entitled to know how much he makes or how much I can potentially expect to receive.

A first I thought she said they weren’t going to be garnishing him. They would order him to pay and he would have to pay at the courthouse. I did clarify and they will be garnishing. But this is where it gets fun. Because he will be ordered to pay through the courts he will not get credit for any payments he makes directly to me. So… if whatever he’s ordered to pay is more than 50% or 60-65%, depending on how they rule, that will just be money I don’t receive that month. From the way she described it he would continue to accrue arrears. That sucks. Well, let’s say it could suck. It all depends on what he’s making now. It could result in me getting more than just spousal support for a longer period of time, if 50-65% of his check doesn’t cover support but it could also mean I get less than what I’m already receiving now each month. I’m hoping not. I’ve been running the numbers based on what I think he’s getting paid and I’m pretty sure he can pay whatever the court orders. The problem, of course, will be that he probably won’t be making any dent in his arrears.

I about had a heart attack towards the end. She had an affidavit for me to sign and #4 on that affidavit was something to the effect of, “I do not wish to be paid directly anymore and I will no longer accept direct payments.” Um…. yes, I will! Until you get me a new order and he’s garnished I will take absolutely every penny he gives me. She went on to explain that once this was filed I would have to update their office each time he paid me; otherwise, he would get no credit for it and it would be like he hadn’t paid anything. Once again I say he should thank me for being so honest! In the end though she double checked with someone else who told her she could simply remove that last line, which is what she did.

She included spousal support! I was so thankful. I was going to ask if they could try to include it but she included it from the very beginning.

Now I wait. Sixty to ninety days. In the electronic age.

I have to admit, despite all of my hemming and hawing and getting slightly frustrated with gathering what turned out to be mainly unneeded documents I feel a lot of peace right about now. Whatever happens will happen. I keep holding onto the fact that regardless of whether or not he ends up paying less in child support it will be taken out automatically and he can no longer play games. I don’t have to deal with him any longer. I will never have to wonder if he’s going to pay again. I will never again have to ask him what his “plan” is.

Only one more obstacle to hurdle over. That is the legal fees he owes me. I emailed my attorney Friday before Labor Day and then again last Thursday night, asking where we were in regards to getting a court date. She finally replied back that she was really sorry, she has been swamped for months with trial after trial, and she’s been understaffed for half of the year. She told me she hadn’t yet filed my show cause due to workload and other priorities, and assured me she would get to it as soon as she could.

My immediate thought was I would just find another lawyer; however, that’s easier said than done when you live 600 miles away. Plus, there’s that little matter of a retainer.

If I go with a new attorney I’m going to have to come up with a $3000 retainer. With my current attorney I have no new retainer. I pay as I go.

My plan right now is to let her know that spousal support and child support are supposed to be taken care of through the support enforcement agency. The only thing she will need to argue is the unpaid legal fees. I’m also planning on asking her when she thinks she might be able to get around to this. By the end of the year? Sometime next year? Her answers to those questions will determine what I do next.

I’m going to be so glad once all court proceedings are over!

Now for some good news. I kind of got a promotion. It’s “kind of” because technically it’s a lateral move but my supervisor is doing her damnedest to get me more money. I began training a few weeks ago and actually did part of the job on my own last week. They’re going to make the announcement tomorrow morning.

Finally, my mom and I are heading down for Family Weekend at Rock Star’s college. The mobster wasn’t going to attend but then Rock Star asked him if he was coming so he decided to make the trip. Today was quite the day for him as well; his delivery was extremely late so he’s very behind and now he may not be able to make the trip once again.

Now you’re all caught up and hopefully I’ll be able to focus more on writing blog posts!

Welcome To Fall!

Okay, technically I know it’s not really fall. That doesn’t happen until the 21st. Yet every time Labor Day passes by I count that as the unofficial end of summer, much like Memorial Day seems to be the unofficial beginning of summer despite summer not really beginning until June 21st. Or, 22nd or 23rd. I can never remember. But I’m pretty sure it’s the 21st.

Once again I am stunned at how quickly the year is passing by.

It used to be that summer was my favorite time of year. I’ve come to the conclusion that summer is a young person’s season. What’s not to love? You get to run around in shorts and barefoot; you’ve got no school so your days are your own. It’s late nights and late mornings. If you’re a college student, sure you may have a job, even a full-time job, but you’ve got the entire summer ahead of you. You get to see your friends from high school that you don’t see throughout the year. You make plans with your friends from college. It’s a wonderful time.

Now I can say that autumn is my favorite. What’s not to love? The pumpkin spice lattes (hell, the pumpkin spice everything!), cooler days and nights, bonfires, soup for dinner, football, back to school craziness, sweatshirts, flannel shirts, Halloween, Thanksgiving. I had a lovely sign that I bought for all of a dollar at Target that listed all the great things about fall. I miss it.

Sadly, I think I love the idea of fall more than the reality. In my perfect world I would be sipping pumpkin spice lattes while walking along in my flannel shirt or sweatshirt, taking in the beautiful colors of the changing leaves while the ones that had already fallen off the tress crunched beneath my feet. Not that many years ago Friday nights in the fall were supposed to be spent watching my daughter cheer, watching my son at half time in the marching band, and cheering on our football team- in Virginia. Now the fantasy is that the mobster and I would take in a hometown football game and then retire back to our house to light a bonfire, maybe make some s’mores and sip a glass of wine or sangria. At some point there would be a hayride. We’d go to an apple orchard and pick apples, maybe grab some caramel apples and some apple cider as well. A little caramel vodka mixed with apple cider is amazing! I hear they have apple cider donuts as well. And pumpkin donuts. We would get some of those on Rock Star’s field trip back when she was in preschool. We’d have “Soup-er” Sunday where I’d put on a pot of soup or two and let it simmer all day. Maybe we’d have kids coming in and out of the house to take advantage of the home cooked goodness. We’d throw a wicked awesome Halloween party and have cute couple-themed costumes. And Thanksgiving would be an epic holiday with lots of food and our families coming together.

The reality is I might have a grand total of two pumpkin spice lattes before the season of peppermint takes over. That’s if I can get my ass to a Starbucks. I no longer go to local high school football games; my daughter doesn’t cheer anymore and Picasso has no school spirit. He also chose the cello over the trombone once we moved here. Plus, the mobster doesn’t live up here so we couldn’t go to a game anyway. I have a fire pit I bought myself for Father’s Day two years ago but I’ve used it twice; Picasso used it once with his friends. I haven’t been on a hayride in years. While I would love to take a trip to New England to see the foliage I haven’t yet. The closest I came to sipping a pumpkin spice latte and walking through the leaves while taking in the color changes was last November when we walked the brick lined streets of Germantown while I sipped a diet Pepsi and threw leaves in the air. Picking apples at an orchard seems like a family thing to do, or at the very least a couple thing. I have one kid away at college and another who would have absolutely no interest in it; meanwhile, the mobster lives 600 miles away. What does that leave in my fantasy world?

I could buy a caramel apple and apple cider. I do love the caramel vodka and apple cider combo. I highly recommend it if you’ve never tried it. I can do the soup and wear the sweatshirts and flannel, although come to think of it I think I only own one flannel shirt anymore. I do occasionally watch college football on TV and we’ll all be going to the game at Rock Star’s college this coming weekend. Thanksgiving is always nice now, too, although it’s a hell of a lot of work! And not spent with the mobster either. 😦


Nonetheless I still enjoy this time of year. I love looking at all the cute decorations. I love the scenery. I love the changing weather. It’s always great to pull out those clothes you haven’t worn in six months or so. I love thinking about all the possibilities, all those fantasies of the perfect fall. And I’m looking forward to some new adventures with the mobster this year.

Happy Fall Y’all!