A Friday Fragments Post on A Tuesday

If it was Friday, this would be a Friday Fragments kind of post, but since it is only Tuesday, this really is something like, oh, “I Can’t think of A Single Thing to Write About But I Have Lots Of Random Thoughts Tuesday.”  It doesn’t have quite the ring of Friday Fragments, but same principle.

***I love the panic button on my car.  Not because I have ever had to use it in a real emergency (I didn’t really lose the car in a parking lot, I swear!), but for this reason alone: the neighbor hoodlums kids for some reason like to congregate in front of my house and lean on the back bumper of the car.  So watch out the window for them and hit the button.  I get a great deal of sadistic pleasure out of the fact that they jump and scatter-even though I have done it several times before. 

***I was laying in bed last night and thought, “Ah, it just doesn’t get any better than this.”  Clean sheets, I was tired, Steve next to me, the house quiet…there are days when that seems pretty close to heaven to me.

***I love working outside. Well, that isn’t technically true, because I am a rather lazy person, but I love this: getting all sweaty and dirty and looking at the finished project and thinking, “Well done.” And then I love being able to get into a cool shower and wash off the sweat and the grime and go to bed tired, feeling like I accomplished something.  I think when I grow up I want to be like Ms. Moon.  I already have the overalls and a funky hat, I am already batshit crazy, now all I need is a little bit of fallow ground and some chickens; THAT would make me happy.

***I dreamed last night of tamales.  Every year this Mexican place has a booth at the Square over the Fourth of July, and every year they make THE best tamales in the world.  The bad thing about it is that there is a very narrow window of time in which to procure them; last year at the parade I ended up eating tamales at 9:30 in the morning because had I waited until lunchtime they would have been gone.  They are that good.

***Today began the 4th of July festivities, and we started the morning off by going over the the Square to partake of the Kiwanis pancake breakfast.  How great is it to have a job where the boss stays in the office to answer the phones while we employees walk over to shove some pork and pancakes down our gullets?  I basically got paid to eat this morning.  Now THAT would possibly be a dream job I could sink my teeth into.

*** Our company finally has health insurance, at my boss’ expense.  Of course, it doesn’t do me any real good; it is a high deductible HSA plan, and I got outvoted because the others wanted this one so as to get a tax write off.  The boss is going to pay the premiums, as well as do some quarterly funding to make up for the lack of prescription drug coverage, but then of course we can contribute as well.  When I went over to sign the paperwork at the bank yesterday, she was like, “And it’s so great, you can deposit up to $4,000 this year!”  I just looked at her blankly, because yes, sure, I CAN, if I had, you know, $4,000 extradollars.  As it is, this particular health plan  really doesn’t benefit me at all, and in fact causes a couple of problems.  My anti-depressant runs on average about $100/month.  We have no prescription drug coverage; I never have, but have instead gotten my prescription free through enrollment in the Patient Assistance Program.  Which, since I now have this HSA coverage, I no longer qualify for.  Yes-one of the many things in life that looks good on paper-HEALTH INSURANCE!-but really isn’t at all useful for me.

On that note, I will stop pissing and moaning and just be grateful for the day.  We shall eat hearty tonight and watch fireworks and people-watch to our hearts’ content, and with luck and a small amount of skill I might be able to surreptitiously take some good pictures for blog fodder.  Believe me, our town is FULL of fodder, but I don’t usually carry my camera with me.  That could all change tonight….

***And oh, I have a new post up over at the Rocky Mountain Moms Blog today, should you choose to check it out.

Weekend Recap

No matter how good my intentions are, I can’t seem to get motivated to post on weekends; why is that?  I am also terrible about reading other people’s posts on weekends, so I look in my reader on Monday morning and wince.  I might read a few here and there, but not nearly all of them.  I like to think that this simply means I am not so far into my Blogging addiction as I think, or wouldn’t I be online a lot more? 

So, a weekend recap. Friday evening, Steve and I went to the AA Speaker Meeting, then on to his old house to catch the two cats that were left there.  We (meaning Steve; they weren’t, after all, MY cats, right?) went armed with turkey and a towel to throw over them in case they got all spooked, but it ended up being very easy.  My chore was to slam the carrier door closed after getting Cat #2 in, and I thought I did a particularly good job.  We took said cats to his mom’s house, and she was thrilled. 

Jacquie and I had a yard sale on Saturday, and it was a total bust for me.  First, we got rid of the majority of our miscellaneous junk  things when we moved, and it hasn’t been long enough to acquire much more shit to sell.  Second, I kept finding things of hers that I really wanted, so I started out in the hole.  At the end of the day, after I paid for the things I bought, I came home with $12.25 in my pocket.  Still, it was a good day.  We haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together lately, so it was a lot of fun to just be together for the entire day.  We have such a great friendship, we can go from laughing to beat hell about the silliest things to talking seriously about recovery and relationships in a heartbeat-a particular blessing.  Owen and Hannah and her friend M. were there with us, too, but the girls actually went inside and slept the entire day (literally.  Like from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm.  WTF is up with that?).  Owen just hung out with Jacquie and I all day, and was as sweet as could be.  I came home tired from the sun and slightly sunburned, but feeling good about it all.

Saturday night, Steve and I got into our first fight since he moved in.  It wasn’t a big thing, and certainly not something REALLY worth fighting about, but it has been interesting in terms of looking at my behavior and trying to figure out why I acted/reacted the way I did.  There is no doubt he messed up a little, but I completely overreacted, and what should have been a minor skirmish turned into something much more ugly.  What it boiled down to is that I wasn’t getting my way, plain and simple.  I had a plan and it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to so I was pissed and threw a tantrum.  However, unlike a three year old who throws himself down on the ground and screams, I threw ugly words and bitter anger around like they were broken toys.  I have always known that this is a problem for me; only now, with him living with me and sharing all aspects of my life, I have to work a lot harder at curbing that “I want what I want” mentality.  In just the few weeks he has been there, I have gotten used to falling asleep with his arms around me, and  I felt horrible laying in bed next to him and having him turn away from me because I hurt him. 

Sunday was better; he worked, and Owen and I stayed home and cleaned out the freezer and fridge (can you say gross?  It smelled like rotting meat in there, and it turns out that it was.  Gag.).  I ran up and down the stairs 40 bazillion times doing laundry, and I literally did not leave the house all day long.  It was good for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was processing what had happened with Steve, figuring out what my part in it was and why I overreacted so badly.  I had to apologize to him when he got home, and he in turn apologized for his part in it, and we went to bed together instead of laying on a mattress apart

And today, the beginning of a new week.  A short week, as the office is closed on the 3rd, so there is much to be done in four days instead of five.  We are going to head out on Thursday night to camp in the desert before we pick up Eli and Sam on Friday, so there is much to be done at home as well.  And let’s not forget the 4th of July festivities beginning…the fireworks are tomorrow night (why then instead of Friday or Saturday is beyond me), so I think we are going to eat dinner in the Square and stay to watch them-and I will get through it just fine, and I won’t need to walk around with my arms folded across my chest and my teeth gritted; life is indeed sweet.

***Also, I think you have all forgotten that I am having a giveaway.  This week is the last chance to enter, so please click here and enter if you would like a chance at one of three prizes.  Thanks!

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments is brought to you by the ever-lovely, ever-eloquent Mrs.4444.  If you would like to take part, please go check her out, sign the little Mr. Linky thingy, and post your Friday Fragments.  They are all the little thoughts running around, posts that didn’t quite get fully formed or different things you have seen during the week.  Lots of fun!

***Hannah went to get her hair done after the hearing on Monday.  I came home from work to find a different girl.  They cut off a shitload of hair; I don’t know exactly how much, but a good 6-8 inches at least-from below her bra line to just barely at her shoulders.  I think she looks really good, and I think she feels good as well. 

***Almost every morning I see the same sweet elderly couple walking down the sidewalk holding hands.  It makes me smile every time I see them.

***Holy smokes, do we have bugs right now or what?  Earlier this week when I went to fill up the dog’s food dish, there were five big-ass beetles sort of scurrying around in it.  The way they looked didn’t especially bother me, but the sound of their scrabbling little legs around the tin pie pan gave me the heebie-jeebies.

***I have been a single parent for so long-most of my parenting life, in fact-that it is a huge part of my identity.  One of hte struggles I am having with Steve moving in is figuring out now just what that means.  We were talking about that last night, how for him being the Older Single-Never-Been-Married Single Guy has been such a huge part if HIS identity that he is also in the same place in terms of redefining himself.  This isn’t bad, it isn’t like, “oh, my god, this is terrible…”  No, it is just a big period of adjustment.

***Our town has a week-long Fourth of July celebration, starting tomorrow.  We’re talking food in the park every day, music and entertainment in the bandstand, of course the fireworks and the parade.  When we first moved here it was all  I could do to go to the fireworks; to stand in this huge crowd and be jostled and bumped by hundreds of people I didn’t know really freaked me out, but I didn’t want the kids to miss it.  It is a testament to the power of anti-depressants (I am on one that is also used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and working a good AA program and going to therapy that not only will I go this year willingly, but am actually looking forward to it.  I shake my head at the wonder of it all sometimes.

***Michael Jackson dead.  Wow.  I actually really liked some of his stuff, and it is a tragedy that he died so young, and so suddenly.  However, I am just going to come right out here and say that he was O.D.D., and I have a hard time believing that people are as shocked as they are, you know?

Lighten Up!

The lovely Lady Lemon tagged me for this meme ( at least I think she is lovely, as I have never seen her), and since I haven’t done one for awhile and also needed some blog fodder that wasn’t all dark and depressing and shit, I thought it would be fun.  And it was.  So thanks, Lady Lemon, for saving ALL of us from despair for another day!

1. What is your current obsession?  Um, checking the blog to see if new comments have been posted.  There, I admit it.

2. What is your weirdest obsession?  Setting the alarm at night and then checking it six times before going to bed to make sure I set it, that it’s on, and that the music is loud enough to wake me up.  Every night, even when I tell myself “Yes, dear, the alarm is set, on, and loud,” I can’t help it; I have to check (and re-check, and re-check).  In another couple of years I’ll be all like, “Did I leave the iron on?  Better go back and look.”  Only I don’t own an iron.  A little OCD, anyone?

3. Recall a fond childhood memory? Clearly Lady Lemon hasn’t been reading me long; this one made me laugh out loud.  No, really, our family vacation to Kentucky when I was in, I believe, third grade.  We all went on this cross-country trip and saw lots of neat places and nobody got hit for the whole long trip.  It was lovely.

4. What’s for dinner?  Tonight?  Beats the shit out of me.  Since its my turn to cook, I guess I better think of something.  Last night was Steve’s night, and we had ribs and Dutch Oven potatos.  Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs is always a safe bet, and won’t that be a lovely follow-up meal?

5. What would you eat for your last meal?  That might depend on why it was my last meal.  Am I about to be executed for some  heinous crime and then be sent straight to hell after I am done twitching?  In that case, probably…a bloody rib-eye steak and a touch of lobster and asparagus pasta and an entire loaf of sourdough french bread.  I could probably manage a little dessert, too, like…a pan plate full of warm brownies.  With chocolate sauce and whipped cream. On the other hand, if I was about to die saving a child from a runaway wildebeest and knew that I would escorted into heaven by flocks throngs a gaggle a bunch of angels, I might have a light Sushi roll and some sticky rice.  Because I wouldn’t want to be full when I got there, as I bet the food up there is, well, heavenly.

6. What’s the last thing you bought? Literally?  Six toothbrushes, some Hooker Red fingernail polish (for my toenails), some nail polish remover, and a notebook.

7. What are you listening to right now?  My arthritic, newly incontinent Yellow Lab pant and wheeze, and the City trucks out trying to finish resurfacing the road (the one they were supposed to have done last week).

8. What do you think of the person who tagged you? I actually haven’t been reading Lady Lemon all that long, but she swears like I do, has a hilarious take on things, and is also a lot deeper than she likes to let one.  I think.  So I got hooked with a comment she made about what a slutty friend was next going to do with her labia, and, well, I just keep going back.

9.If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would it be?An old stone house-large-with a large garden spot and lots of trees and window boxes full of geraniums in France.  A little village in France where I could go to the market daily and pick out fresh food and bread to eat that day (and cheese.  Don’t forget some nice ripe Brie.  I apparently have an obsession with food).

10.If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?  If it’s only an hour (which is, by the way, pretty miserly), I would have to say back to bed.  To NOT sleep.

11. Which language do  you want to learn? Well, first I would like to master the English language, as I hear people talk and I have no idea what they are saying half the time.  And then I would like to become fluent in French.  Brush up on the high school classes and become fluent so I can live in that house in the village and actually be able to speak to people. 

12. What’s your favorite quote (for now)? “There’s a lot about me don’t know, Mr. Smartyman!” (Anyone know the movie that’s from?)

13.What is your favorite color?  Orange. Or red.  And I wear both.  Not well, perhaps, but…I wear them anyway.

14. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?  She asks this like I have a plethora of items to choose from…probably my old ratty Old Navy Jeans and a red sweater.  With my red cowboy boots.  That I don’t have anymore because Eli’s fucking dog got hold of them.

15. What is your dream job? Writing things I actually get paid for while sitting at home in my pj’s slugging coffee.

16.What’s your favorite magazine? National Geographic.  It is, in fact, the only one I ever get.

17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on? The practical side of me says I would use it to catch up on some bills, but assuming this was somehow and EXTRA $100, well, a bunch of new books, easy.

18. Describe your personal style?  Um, minimalist?  Meaning, you know, I have no style?

19. What are you going to do after this? Go to the post office and stop at the store to get yogurt and string cheese.

20.What are your favorite films?  Pay it Forward, 300, Remember the Titans, Better off Dead, The Green Mile.

21. What’s your favorite fruit?  Blueberries.

22.What inspires you?  Well-written words, watching my kids branch out and try different things, knowing people who have made it through really horrible thigns and still manage to live joyful lives, the sound of the ocean….

23. Your favorite books? Almost anything by Anne LaMottHere If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup, the entire Anne Of Green Gables series (in fact, if any of you would like to know what to get me for birthday/Christmas/just because I kick ass, this would be an idea. Just sayin’.), almost anything by John Irving but most especially this book (which is how Owen came to be named Owen, BTW).  There are probably 100 more I could list, but as a favor to all of you, I won’t.  Oh, except the JD Robb series and the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (she has a new one coming out in September, so about that gift, you can pre-order on Amazon.  Again, just sayin.’).

24. Do you collect anything?  Snickering at this one…besides dust and books, no.  I am terrifyingly unsentimental.

25. Any advice that’s some from bitter experience?  Don’t pick up the first drink/cigarette/STD.  Once you do, it’s all downhill from there.

26. What makes you follow a blog?  A lot of things.  Sometimes the ones I read are those who I think would be my friends in real life, people to whom I relate on some level.  And that changes as different things in my life change.  A really great blog is one that ALSO changes over time.  Blogs that make me laugh are high on the list, even better are blogs that make me laugh while also kicking my ass with the real nitty gritty about life.  Blogs that take me to a different place, where I can learn about how different yet essentially the same we all really are.

There are rules to this meme, the only one I can remember being to tag four other people.  So, I will tag Julie, Michelle, Rachael, and of course April.  And if you don’t want to do it, that’s okay; I love you all anyway!

It's Not About The Money

He uses words like spic, nigger, faggot, chink  to describe those simply different than him, people of whom he is afraid.  We don’t use those words at our house because it just doesn’t matter; I tell my kids that I would really like an Asian grand-baby, as well has a pretty dark-haired, dark-eyed Mexican one, since I never had the opportunity to have one of my own.  When Sam was little and would play dress-up with his big sister’s clothes, he would say, “Get that off, are you a faggot or something?”  At home, with us, we say we will love him no matter what or who he is, we just want him to be happy.

Sam is the one devout believer in the household besides myself, praying every night before bed and constantly asking God for blessings upon people.  People he knows, others he doesn’t.  When his little friend Isaiah drowned not long ago, Sam’s primary concern was whether or not Isaiah was in heaven, and could we please call his mom to tell her how very, very sorry he was?  He tells him that God is dead, or that God only watches out for people who go to church every Sunday.  At home, we say that God just loves everyone, that even those most lost and hopeless are loved by God, that everyone gets a chance to get into heaven.  Because God loves all of us, no matter what-just like mommies and daddies do.

He left when Sam was three, still a baby in so many ways.  Even before that, though, he was  gone, chasing the drugs and the women and the life he thought he deserved, with no encumbrances such as a wife and a child.  That hurt; it hurt a lot.  I won’t lie and say that this didn’t damage all of us in ways too many to detail here.  But I dealt with it, we all did, and gave him every opportunity to maintain a relationship with his son.  With the other kids, too, so far as they wanted one, and for a long while they did.  So he would call sometimes and want to come see them, and I would let him, and this would happen pretty regularly for a month or six weeks, and then he would disappear.  I would hear things about him from different people, I would kind of have an idea of his general area, but never really know for sure until he called again.  Sometimes a couple of weeks later, more often a couple of months, but he would always call and proclaim that this time he had changed.  He Saw the Light and realized how much he was throwing away, and could he please have another chance.  So we would start slow again, with some supervised visits and phone calls, and things would roll along pretty smoothly for awhile until he went off on a runner again, and then poof, gone again.  Still, I always gave him the benefit of the doubt, always let him come back and have another go at it-because it is so important for Sam to have his father in his life.  All of this before the divorce was even final; all through the year he spent in county jail, through the nasty, hateful letters sent to me, the nights where he would bang on my door and call me a fucking cunt and threaten to kill me or kidnap his son, I still let him see him.  Through the two weeks when an undercover police car was parked in front of my house for our protection because the Drug Dudes had made threats to us in hopes of motivating him to pay up, I still let him talk to his boy on the phone-because I believed it was important for Sam.

I knew what and who he was, and I tried to keep that from Sam because he IS his dad.  When he would drive by our house on the way to his new girlfriend’s house, he would wave and keep driving-and every time Sam would see him, he would get all excited thinking that this time his dad would stop.  The first time I allowed him to take overnight, he took him not to his house but to the house of his then-girlfriend, refuse to answer the telephone, and was three hours late in dropping him off-a direct defiance of my conditions for taking him.  So we started back from the beginning, with supervised visits graduating to short outings to another overnight; this time at my house, while I want out of town.  That time, he brought his then-girlfriend TO my house, fucked her on my couch while watching a porn movie; by this time Sam was 6, and had seen it all.  A year later, after having no contact, he showed up again, and it all started over again.  The last straw that time was when he told Sam, “I will be here next weekend for your birthday, and I already have your present, and your mom said we (by this time he was with his now-wife, though not yet married) could come to the party and have dinner with you.”  Very specific, as opposed to “I’ll see you soon,” and guess what?  He never showed up.  Never called, until two months later he called out of the blue and said, “I will be there to take Sam for the weekend,” and I said, “The hell you will; if you can’t be a stable, active part of his life, then you can’t see him.  I am done.”  He called me some choice names and hung up on me, and that is the last we have heard from him until he ran into Steve last weekend. 

So you see, it isn’t about the money.  Hell, Hannah and Eli’s dad hasn’t paid child support in over two years, and next month Eli is going to see him for a month over  the summer break; Hannah chose not to go this time, but the offer was there.  He calls them, he keeps abreast of their school stuff, and so hey-he isn’t perfect, we disagree, sometimes I think he is a real chump, but it isn’t about ME.  He loves his kids, and has tried to keep a relationship with them, and has integrated his wife into their lives, and that is what it’s all about.  If I could choose, obviously I would prefer both-child support and active involvement-but sometimes it doesn’t work that way and as long as they are loving on my kids, I don’t have to like them. 

However, with Sam’s dad, his pattern of not just irresponsibility but downright cruelty toward his son-from deliberately undermining the things we try to teach him to driving by and waving and telling him he will be there but not showing up-goes far, far beyond lack of child support.  The parenting class I had to take in order to have the divorce decree signed (ah, the irony) went over and over again about how financial support, even above and beyond the court-ordered support amount-is just as crucial to a child’s well-being as an active role in parenting, and to a point I believe that.  However, if I had to choose between one and the other, I would take a father’s presence over the money any day, hands down.  In this case, we have neither.

On top of the lack of child support there is the fact that in the last three years, I have had $12,000 taken from my bank accounts and my paychecks in order to pay for bills he was ordered to pay; that does not include the thousands of dollars I spent getting my divorce that he was also court-ordered to pay for, or the “small” bills that I have had to pay of his.  Those small bills continue, and more and more of them show up weekly.  I can either pay them myself or have them garnished, either way I have to pay them, and will probably continue to do so for the next year until the Statute of Limitations is up.  So not only is he not paying child support, but his actions have caused extreme harm not just to his son but my entire family; being hungry hurts.  Going to school in too-small clothes hurts.  Being made fun of because your mom is poor and your dad is whatever he is, hurts. 

If he really wants to see his son, he will begin to prove to me that he is capable of being an honest, reliable, responsible person, one worthy of being around Sam.  Calling me a bitch and saying he just doesn’t want to deal with me-in public, to my partner and anyone else within hearing-is not something a normal, responsible person would do.  Having The Wife call my house in order to attempt to fix his problems is likewise not a responsible behavior.  And since I am not willing to throw Sam under the bus in order to let him prove he is responsible, the only real way he can start doing that is to begin to be financially responsible.  And I know that if he really, really wanted to be part of his son’s life, if his son’s well-being is at all a concern for him, he will do that.  He will take two jobs if he has to in order to make an attempt to pay what he is court ordered to pay, and he will call every fucking week and tell me how much he has changed and he is doing X, Y, and Z  to prove that to me and IF he can do that?  I will stand up and open my door and let him in.

And you?  You know I am writing this post for you.  This is the last time I will offer you any kind of an explanation for anything I write, and I will, as I said in yesterday’s comment, happily publish any and all deliberately antagonistic comments you post.  I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, on this issue or any other I might choose to write about.  However, there is a way to respectfully disagree, and being passive-aggressive about it is not at all respectful, nor is reading just for the sake of waiting for something to pounce on.  I think you believe that you are hurting me, and maybe in some ways you are-but as I told you before, you are, I think, burning a bridge that you will come to regret burning; the only person you are hurting is yourself.  I have never stopped caring about you, even now.  I still pray for you and am worried about you and hope that things in your life take off and help you soar. 

Sunny Days…Make Shit Stink

The sky is impossibly blue here today, not a cloud in sight, not even at the edge of the horizon.  I spent my lunch hour outside on the grass, ostensibly reading but really just laying in the sun, soaking it up.  It has been so wet here, so gloomy, that it felt like something close to heaven to simply feel the sun on my face and breathe in the smell of the damp earth.

Good, too, to have that bit of time to simply be.  With the events of the past few months, even the past year, there has been too little time to simply sit and listen, be still not just outwardly but inside where it really matters.  Also, my life is changing in big ways, so it felt really nice to sit in the sun and think.  About all that has happened before, and what is happening now, and all that is coming.

Several things on top of the court issue.  One is that Sam’s dad has re-appeared; he went into where Steve works last weekend, not knowing that he still worked there, and his first words upon Steve recognizing him were, “Oh, fuck, I knew I shouldn’t have some to town.”  From there it went on to, “It’s all about the money and I don’t understand why I don’t have any rights and I just don’t want to have to deal with that fucking bitch.”  Nice, isn’t it?  So lovely to know that as usual, Sam’s well-being is foremost in his mind; he didn’t even ask about Sam.  Steve gave him my phone number, but it took over a week for him to call, and even then, it wasn’t him; he had his wife call and leave a message, but with no call-back number.  Later, she called again and had the balls to leave a rather cunt-ish message about how now that they finally have my number (for the record, I had the same telephone number for six years, until we moved into the new house in January.  And if he had maintained any sort of relationship with Sam, he would have had the new number as well, right?), SHE would like to talk to me to “go over” the money issues, and to see if I would let the kids talk to him since it was Father’s Day.  I was very glad that we weren’t home when she called, or I might well have lost my shit on her-because how dare he call after over two years and suddenly decide he wants to talk to Sam simply because it was Father’s Day?  And what right does his wife have to EVEN get involved in this? 

However, the fact remains that he is still Sam’s dad.  And I know that Sam would love to see him, which is where the conundrum lies.  I am not willing to risk him breaking my baby’s heart yet again by leading him to believe he is going to be around only to disappear-because every single time he has appeared like this, he has turned around and left Sam again.  And again, and again.  At the same time, I know that the only way for him to prove himself worthy of being called “Dad” by this amazing kid is to let him have a chance.  It’s a catch-22 situation, that’s for sure.  I have been thinking that if he calls again, I can tell him, “Okay; you start paying your child support, and if you are consistent for six months, you can start calling him once a week.  If you can’t follow through on that, you don’t deserve to see him.”  (Before any of you get up in arms about how awful it is that I would use non-payment of child support to withhold visitation, just-don’t.  There is a long back-story to all this but the long and short if it is that I have full legal and physical custody of The Boy, which was given to me after a really long battle where my ex-husband was in JAIL for forgery and fraud charges in addition to drug charges yet I had to prove myself fit to parent.  There are reasons for this decision, okay?  Reasons that have nothing to do with the miserable $200 I am supposed to get every month from him.  Trust me on this one).  I am glad that Sam isn’t home right now to overhear any of this, to have any reason to know it; not until I know what to do, and how to do it.  And right now, I just don’t have a fucking clue.

Yet there are sweet things, too-sweet things which I don’t know how to deal with very well either.  You all know by now that Steve and I are living together, which is a far cry from where things were a couple of months ago, but-it is what it is.  He has his own issues, which you know about, and those have in part prevented us from moving in together long before this.  I have my OWN issues, too, that have contributed to this.  It is so easy for me to get on here and talk about him and his issues, but it is much harder to come here and talk about my own.  So much easier than saying I suck at intimacy,  that I am terrified of giving my heart over to someone else, that it scares me to love anyone too much.  Even though the rational part of my mind believes in all of that love shit, it is still hard to convince myself that it isn’t just going to rip me apart and shatter me all over again.  And sure, that could happen-there are no guarantees.  But-maybe I think it is time to simply let go a little, to open myself up to it.

All in all, though, it is pretty hard to revel in the sunshine while also brooding about what may or may not happen, without lugging around this suitcase of old stinky shit along with me.  Because it is sunny, and hot, and that baggage really start to stink after a time.  Maybe I can simply try to place some of it on the side of the road and make the load lighter.

And The Verdict Is….

He entered the courtroom hunched over and pale, his previous swagger and pride gone missing.  We were there first, sitting through interminable hearings and arraignments and postponements, waiting for our turn.  I knew he was there somewhere, having seen his car outside, but he didn’t enter the courtroom until just minutes before our case was called.  Then, his sleazy attorney walked in ahead of him, smoothing his too-big suit jacket over his considerable waistline, and CF skulked along behind like the mongrel dog he is.

The judge went through all of his rigmarole about whether CF understood the charge to which he was pleading guilty, if anyone had coerced him to change his plea, etc…and then he read aloud the one charge to which CF was pleading.  It was terrible to have read out loud the nature of his charges, and that was the point where Hannah started to tremble.  Prior to that, she sat still and cold, her only movement that of squeezing my hand tighter and tighter.  As the charge was read and expounded upon, she began to shake, and when CF uttered aloud those word which we have so longed to hear she broke down in tears.  There was more legal mumbo jumbo, then “the matter” was set for sentencing on August 31st.

The more I think about this, the more I believe that no matter what punishment the Court recommends or agrees upon, there isn’t going to be any justice.  4 months in county jail or 4 years in prison, both are equally meaningless to me.  I looked at him across the courtroom and saw what I believe to be pure Evil in human form.  I looked and saw the very beginning glimpses of stress and fear carving new lines into his face, and was glad.  So far as the law goes, it isn’t going to be enough, and I will always carry with me the belief that no punishment could in any way atone for what he has done.  We accomplished what we had as goals from the beginning; some sort of punishment, the requirement that he register as a sex offender, and the hopes that he won’t be able to do this again.  The rest?  Doesn’t really matter.  Or rather it does matter, but we can at least rest in the knowledge that we have done all were capable of doing. 

It isn’t enough, though.  God, it can never be enough.  When he left the courtroom, we had already gone outside, so they walked CF out the back door and to his car, with a fucking police escort.  And we laughed, standing over by Jim’s truck watching; we laughed, because the idea of any one of us doing, what?  Launching ourselves across the lawn like rocks from a catapult, to do just what?  Kill him?  It all seemed so ridiculous. Any one of us, had that been in our minds, would have done so long before this day.  Spit at him?  Call him names?  Make spectacles out of ourselves only to bring more trauma to this little girl?  I don’t get it; and Hannah cried again, saying, ” But I am the victim; how come we have never had a police escort to our cars?”  Too many times through all of this, today included, I haven’t had any answers to 95% of her questions.  I just hug her and say, “I don’t know, baby, I just don’t know.”

Not enough.  We will all be able to get the help we need now, most importantly Hannah, and we will move forward, but this isn’t going to go away.  The first time a man who wants her because he loves her touches her breast, Hannah will flinch.  It will take time for her to accept the touch of anyone, and a lot of patience and love from her future partner, whomever that might be.  She will sit in the front seat of a car on the way to the movies, maybe on a first date or maybe on a tenth, and he will reach across the seat to touch her leg and she will feel afraid and maybe a little sick.  No matter how much therapy she gets, no matter how much she comes to believe that she is in no way to blame, that her body is sacred and beautiful and hers, there will be echoes of this underneath, bubbling up from underneath when she least expects it.  She will feel those echoes ten years down the road when the doctor tells her she has a daughter.  She will feel them when she sees a man who walks with the same gait, or wears the same hat, or has a particular look in his eyes.  And she will learn somehow to be okay with these things, to talk herself through the momentary panic and reassess the reality, but those echoes?  They never go away.

They say we can ask for restitution at the sentencing.  Restitution. It sounds like a nasty word, and makes me gag just a little bit to think it.  As if some kind of monetary compensation is going to absolve him of this.  As if a dollar amount somehow makes this okay.  He used to slip me money on occasion, or help with things like school clothes or treats for the kids, and I want to scream at him, “Did you think that you were buying my daughter?”  This feels like the same thing.  Also, what value do you put on innocence stolen and broken dreams?  How do you put a price on depression and failing school and spending time at the nuthouse?   And I think of the time off of work and the additional expense and time involved in taking care of Hannah through all of this, and I think, “Fuck you; this is my job.”  None of this makes any kind of sense to me; not one little bit of it.

So we got through today, and it was good in some ways and not so good in others.  However, regardless of what effect it has had on us, we are at least one step closer to the end.  And that?  Is a good thing.  Jacquie and Jim took Hannah out for lunch afterward, then Jacquie took Hannah to get her hair cut as a celebration of sorts; we are hoping that a new haircut will somehow boost her a little so that she starts feeling better about herself.  An outward change that shouldn’t be necessary, but somehow is.  Tonight, I think that Steve and I will splurge for pizza, a way for us to be together and do something that normal people do.  And it isn’t going to change anything, isn’t going to affect the outcome in any way, but will be a visible move toward getting on with the business of living.  I keep saying this, because it is so true, that it isn’t enough, but it IS.