Child Support Surrealism

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement. This is after speaking to the rep and waiting for the supervisor. Can you read my mind?

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement, on hold for a supervisor. Can you read my mind?

To call or not to call, that is the question.

Oh Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Child Support Enforcement Office, I just can’t decide if you improve or deteriorate my quality of living.

I called them today. I’m still unsure whether or not that was a good idea. I’m still unsure whether or not my calls actually matter to anyone other than myself. I’m still unsure whether my calls affect anything else other than my sanity.

I was on hold for 27 minutes which I guess isn’t bad compared to the record of one hour and one minute hold time in December. This time, it was Warren on the line which brought this to mind

Empire Records

Empire Records

Warren let me know that the gorbellied common-kissing jointhead (thanks Will) went into the Enforcement Office on January 23. He went in to negotiate a lower payment to have his license reinstated and was denied because when they pulled him up in the system, he had multiple child support obligations.

Pause. What!?

Apparently there is a note in the file that they denied him renegotiation because he has other cases that are delinquent. As in other children.

Now listen ladies and gents, this clouted fat-kidneyed boar-pig maybe a compulsive liar with a penchant for pulling cons, but if there is one thing I am 99.9% certain about him is that there are no other children. Previous pregnancies prior to mine? My understanding is yes and that it was terminated. Warren was all skeptical of me and my insistence on this and I knew with this horrible cold feeling in my gut this must happen all of the time, so I dropped it.

Warren said they were still waiting on that Income Deduction Order to go into effect. He also reassured me that they made sure to tell him he had to continue making child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. Ohmygodthankyousmuch for telling him that!! I bet you anything you guys changed his ways and made him realize what a horrible misunderstanding it was!! And clearly it worked well because I have gotten zero payments except for the $100 payment he made that day to get his license reinstated.

So you know, I had to wait until March but then not really because at that point they would send a follow-up letter giving the company another 20 days to comply and do you guys know what they do after that? They… send another letter… giving them another 20 days to comply. And then they would go and try and find a different employer he might be at. Oh and by the way, little known fact here– when an Income Deduction Order is pending, like this one, all other enforcement efforts stop. In other words, even if he doesn’t make the payments he was instructed to, they cannot proceed with enforcement until the total 100 days have passed.

So I’m all dismayed and stuff and about to hang up and then I’m like, “I need a supervisor please.” And then Warren was like, “Not a problem but I need to explain to the supervisor what the call is about” which I think is their way of asking “Sh!t am I in trouble? You’re not gonna tattle on me are you?” And then I was all like, “I just want to go over this enforcement stuff and the thing with the multiple obligations stuff or something.” “Oh ok sure” which means “Oh my god I’m not in trouble thank you lord jesus”.

So then, I got put on hold again but was so dismayed I didn’t even care about how long it was for and took that picture up there instead because I felt like this was crazy and worth documenting and it wasn’t even that long really before Ray was on the phone.

Do you remember Ray? I remembered Ray. Ray was the supervisor I spoke to the day I had a horrible experience with one of the customer representatives who was just telling me complete and utter nonsense and acting like she knew exactly what she was talking about when it was obvious she totally didn’t. Ray was all like “What the hell is going on with this case and why are people telling you crazy stuff!?!?! I will fix your case!!!” Which you know, A for effort on that one Ray but…

“Wow this case has only gotten $100?” he asks me. Yup. Ray turns out to be my senior case analyst and I really like him because he digs and finds things out and makes me feel like someone is actually caring about my case and is going to help things get done but it also makes me completely curious just how the hell these people do their job because no one knows what anyone else is doing and yet it seems like fifty million people can affect one particular case.

So Ray gets caught up with the case, because let’s be real– the guy hasn’t looked at it since the day I called him in November for sure. And then Ray lets me know what really happened. Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready? Do you have a tasty snack? Do you want to get a cool beverage, or a hot one if you’re freezing your bum off somewhere?

And get ourselves a snack!

And get ourselves a snack!

Ok

On January 23, the beslubbering beef-witted barnacle did indeed come to the Child Support Enforcement Office. They updated his information because he informed them the Employer information they had on-file (yes the one with the pending Income Deduction Order) was out of date and he gave them new Employer Information. He said he needed his license back. They told him that was fine, he just had to pay $1028.00. He said he didn’t have that kind of money. They said too bad. That’s where the story should end. Right there. But it doesn’t.

He explained that he has a new job but that without a valid license, he could not have this job. He probably explained what the consequences of not having a job would be as far as possible future child support payments go. Maybe he lamented the economy and told them about how much horrible stress he’s been on lately and how absolutely dreadful he feels about not being able to support his dear children the way he wishes he could, nay the way they deserve.  I don’t freaking know. But whatever he did, he convinced the person to take it up with a supervisor, who is not Ray because these negotiations happen “downstairs” and they are not involved with them, and then he convinced the supervisor to help him out.

So they said if he paid the $100 he claimed was all he had, they would reinstate the license. This is the bit where they also explained they would be sending the new employer the Income Deduction Order but that he must make child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. They probably thanked him for coming in. They probably wished him good luck with this new job and hoped times would be better for him. I don’t freaking know.

All I know is he walked out of there with a reinstated license and put a freeze on all enforcement efforts again for up to another 100 days. For $100. With an arrears amount over $19k and a past due amount that is now over $11k. After going six months without making any type of payment whatsoever.

Did they verify his claim of employment before agreeing to his offer of $100 to reinstate the license? Did they verify the other employer is indeed invalid? No. They don’t do that. They take their word for it.

They. Take. Their. Word. For. It.

They take their word for it!!!!

There are a couple more minor surreal notes to add to this already surreal story.

First of all, I explained to Ray that I know crazy things happen all the time but I was pretty confident that my children were his only children and that I was concerned that note was on the case file because what if it were to start complicating other things? Ray was hesitant and he clarified he could only discuss MY case information with me. But he looked up his social. And guess what????????

My kids are his only kids. So what is that note doing there? Was it an error? Did someone just look up his name, which also happens to be kind of common? Or did he maybe lead them to believe he had other children he was having trouble supporting? I have no idea but someone put a total bullshit note on my case file.

Second of all, he went to the Child Support office on January 23rd. He gave them the information for the new employer which most likely triggered the close of the other employer’s case. They sent the Income Deduction Order today, February 15. Twenty three days later.

He has had a valid license and a new job for twenty three days, has made no payments at all, and they just sent the Income Deduction Order that gets the 100 day process started, today. So he got himself, potentially, 123 days.

It amazes me, time and again, how inefficient something critical can be. I called the company I had information for, aka the apparent now Former Employer (seriously I lost track of how many jobs he’s had since we split). The receptionist informed me that although she was new, she was pretty certain he didn’t work there because she couldn’t find him on her listing. It took less than two minutes. If I was actually calling for someone else as part of my job, I would have left a message with the HR woman she transferred me to just to be absolutely sure and to get some real closure on something.

I love technology. I love automation. I really do. But we must always remember that computers, as brilliant as they are, are actually stupid. And as efficient as automation can be, humans are not automatic. In other words, when applying technology and automation to a human problem, one cannot simply remove a human from the process. My frustration lies with the fact that I am working with a group that does not (for whatever reason) do the work needed to actually address the problem of non-paying non-custodial parents. Every time I call, I am forcing a human into the process. And there is resistance. That is why the first layer is the representatives who answer the phone. My experience tells me they are often poorly trained, have no power, and don’t really comprehend the majority of their job. It is almost as if they are trained to be the buffer against reinserting humanity into an automated process.

This issue burns me up. It’s not even on a selfish, personal level either. Every time I call and deal with the incompetence at the Enforcement Office I am reminded me of the (now cruel) words of the intake coordinator who processed my case in the beginning– “Oh your case is an easy one!” And the fact remains, despite the insanity that I have been going through with this case, there are by far worse situations that end up there. There are non-custodial parents who flee the county, state, even country. There are non-custodial parents with children with three, four, five different custodial parents. There are non-custodial parents who intentionally leave the workforce and go on benefits to not pay child support. And so I burn inside for those cases too. Because if they can’t get mine straight and mine is really not that complicated, then surely there is no way a meatier case ever  gets close to resolution.

And so I hate calling because there is just never a positive experience with Child Support Enforcement. But I also must call because no one at that office cares about my children and their needs and no one at that office is doing the actual complex work that needs to get done to care for the children of this state. So I’ll keep nagging and pushing and escalating. I’ll keep getting worked up and I’ll keep fighting those frustration tears and I’ll keep trying to make a connection with someone, anyone, there.

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@$)^&@!&%$ Banks!

Please allow me to have a mini rant here. If you’re not in the mood for ranting, you can… go…. look at…. meditation stock photos.

Image from a Telegraph article appropriately titled “Bank Complaints: Don’t get mad, get even”

A couple of months ago, University Credit Union let me know it was going to start charging $2.99 a month for my formerly free checking account. I had been debating closing my account with them anyways because I don’t like ridiculous fees for what is most of the time just really stupid mistakes. In other words, I don’t think most people overdraft their accounts with a malicious intent. Most of the time it’s truly accidental. I mean ok I understand a $5 fee for being a dummy but $32? That’s absurd.  Anyway, I had made a couple of stupid mistakes already and I didn’t like being slapped with that huge insulting fee which doesn’t exist at ING Direct. Which by the way, if you’re interested in ING Direct, and you should be, email me and I ‘ll send you a referral so we both get extra money. Ok so back to the freaking point.

I decided to close the credit union account BUT not right away because it was linked to the child support payments and I kept receiving promises of payment during this time. So I kept it open, made up my mind to send in paperwork to change the account the child support deposited into, and forgot everything.

Fast forward to September. The account had dwindled down to about $14 since the only thing connected to it was the child support deposits and those weren’t happening. But, oh no, my kids’ school pictures were coming and the only account I have checks for is the credit union. So I got online, checked the balance to see how much I’d have to deposit to cover the three $15 checks, and set out the next day for the bank. On September 18th I deposited $45. I got a receipt that showed I had just under $60 and threw it away.

Today I logged on to see if the checks had cleared so I could follow up with child support and make sure they had transferred the deposit info and then I could close the credit union accounts– including the savings one as they had just emailed a few weeks ago they were going to start charging $5 a month for THOSE accounts.

I was overdrawn by $25.

What. The. Hell?

Photo check one? Clear.

Photo check two? Clear.

Photo check three? Bounced and initiated a $32 NSF fee.

But how? I hadn’t touched the account since I deposited! I took a look and lo and behold there was a credit card transaction that happened September 13th that overdrew my account by a little more than $5.

Ok now the transaction is sort of valid. It’s a bill I pay. I had changed the credit card the last time I paid but for some reason it charged this old card this time. I never deleted it from their file (LESSON!). And it went through even though it was for $19.99 and the account only had $14 in it. But the part that is driving me insane is that it wasn’t there when I went on the 18th to make the deposit to cover the photo checks. I even had more cash on me but only deposited what I needed because I wanted to close the account.

And here’s another thing I don’t understand. If they did allow it to go through when it was overdrawn as the ledger shows then why didn’t it get an overdraft fee attached to it?

I called. They can’t help me because it’s a branch issue.

I went to the branch. I stood in line for over 20 minutes because everyone was out to lunch except one teller. I tried talking to her. She waved me off saying not to worry everyone does that, no big deal. So when I said great you’ll fix it? Oh no I can’t do that. Make your deposit and go talk to Member Services. Another line. This one I didn’t make. I left. I was starving and preferred to sit here and rant while I stuffed my face with a sammich than to sit in line for who knows how long to maybe get $32 back.

It’s situations like these that make me very very very distrustful of banks. How the hell was that transaction not there five days after it supposedly went through? Especially since I got a receipt on the 13th for that payment (didn’t show the credit card number that was charged so I didn’t think twice about it). And why do they allow credit card transactions to overdraw accounts without penalty and with full payment but not checks? And why didn’t I get alerted that my bank had been overdrafted on the 13th?

Ok my sandwich is done which means the rant is over. Your turn to rant about financial institutions and/or our own stupidities relating to money management.

And here we go

This is a money post. And it’s not a pretty money post. It’s actually one of the worst kinds of money posts I’d ever want to make. So you know, if you’re not in the mood for that on a  Friday, feel free to skip out and look at something else somewhere else. No offense taken, seriously!

Today marks the day I am officially, totally, and completely broke. Almost every single August bill is paid for except two. I think I can cover one but I’m not sure about the second one. I get paid once a month, on the last day of the month, and that paycheck covers most of my bills. Actually it used to cover all of them but recently my car insurance and my electric climbed up so it doesn’t cover everything anymore. I have absolutely no idea if or when I will see another child support payment. Last week I’d sent him a stern email that was very polite but expressed the direness of the situation. He never replied. I actually haven’t heard a peep from him in over a week. But the kids are really excited because he got a puppy. Just this week.

I could go on. I’ve heard a lot lately about the extravagant purchases he’s been making ever since he quit the job that had an Income Deduction Order garnishing child support from his paychecks. I could tell you all about those but frankly they make me sick and really angry and it just doesn’t help me in my current situation. At all.

So I won’t.

Today is the day I start living solely on credit. I have two lines of credit that I’m planning on depending on– Target and Chase. They both have high APR’s but Target’s is lower and you also get 5% off your purchase which helps barely mitigate the APR ouchies. The Target card will be for life’s necessities that can be bought there like upcoming school supplies, certain clothes items, etc. Chase is going to be for everywhere else. Oh yeah and it’s going to be for the Orlando trip as well.

Yes. I am making a very dumb decision. I am still taking my kids to Orlando next weekend for their birthday gift. They received money for the trip for their birthdays. They got small birthday gifts to save money for it. And I did have every dime of that trip saved up for. Until the money dried up.

I can’t take it away from them. I just can’t. A friend gifted me the tickets to Universal. I have to pay for Magic Kingdom and for the hotel. I have the money that was given for the trip. And the rest is going on the Chase.

As absolutely illogical as it may sound to many, it’s worth it. I can pay for that trip for the next 18 years and it’ll be worth it. But to take it away from them? Less than two weeks away? I can’t do that. I simply cannot do that. Maybe I lack a spine. Maybe I’m just dumb. Maybe I’m materialistic and don’t really get it. At this point, I honestly don’t care.

I am in the dark as to what the future holds. School starts for me on the 22nd. Stallion starts school the 29th. Stallion is trying to get a second part time or a full time job and is willing to go to school almost full time and work more hours. I honestly sat down and considered a part time job for myself. But I don’t see how I could do it. The next four months are my busiest months of the year work-wise. People have suggested freelance writing to me. I think that is awesome, I do; but I have no clue where to start and not get taken advantage of and honestly, I don’t have that much confidence in myself. Especially right now when I feel incapable of making a good decision.

The state got in contact with me. They have enforcement orders for him. I don’t really know what that means or how that works. They mentioned something about their first step being to try and track down the employer listed but I warned them that itself is a very bizarre thing. The company has a website but it doesn’t exist in the state’s business listing. And every business in the state has to be in there. And the address for his employer is the same address as a different company that does the same thing. But at this point, it’s their turn to play detective.

The website says this about enforcement:

Some of the ways we get parents to pay are:

  • Notify the parents when they miss payments
  • Suspend Florida driver licenses
  • Take IRS tax refunds
  • Take Florida Lottery winnings if over $600
  • Take support payments from workers’ compensation and reemployment assistance (formerly unemployment compensation)
  • Tell employers to take payments from paychecks
  • Place liens on the parent’s car, boat, or other property
  • Report past due support to credit agencies
  • Place a hold and take money from bank accounts
  • Take the case to court because the parent did not do what the order says
  • Work with the court to issue a writ, also known as an arrest warrant. If you would like to see if there is a writ on your case, please use the Department of Revenue’s Writ Search Site.
  • Collect Medical Expenses Not Covered by Insurance

I don’t think he’s hiding money. I don’t think he’s making money. I think he quit a job that paid him enough for child support and living expenses plus gave him medical benefits and other perks because he didn’t like the amount that was leftover after child support. So he got the idea to go into business for himself. And I don’t think he’s doing too well. And he didn’t save up a dime to do it, he just jumped ship and did it. Maybe he got fired. Who knows?

What I do know is the income is gone. Pretty much the way I imagined it would go. It’s happened before and I have tried so hard to protect myself for when it would happen again. And I think I did a pretty good job. The last month child support was being paid regularly was in April. So I got through a few months you know? That’s something.

Up until this month, I’d paid way higher than minimum amounts on my credit cards. And when I used my Express card for work clothes, I paid the full amount off. But now, it’s back to minimum payments only. And I’m turning off my retirement contributions to get me about $190 a month.

The light at the end of the tunnel is a dim speck in November. Because you see, I should make my very last car payment in October. So that should free up $400 a month and it should also allow me to get a lower insurance. Oh and there’s Tinsel. She’s pretty heavy and should cough up a few dollars. That might be helpful for Disney actually.

So, three months I have to depend on credit. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe some kind of child support will come in. Maybe Stallion will get more work. Maybe I’ll get more work. Maybe the Lottery fairy will leave me a winning ticket under my pillow.

Maybe I’ll wake up and it’ll have been a really really bad nightmare.

I know this is long. And I really don’t expect anyone to actually read all of this. I write this for therapy more than anything else. And that’s why I’m going to say one more thing.

I’m not giving up on myself and my financial goals. I’m not going to embark on a shopping bonanza to end all shopping bonanzas. I’m going to cover our needs for three months and one biggish want. It’s less than $1k so it’s ok to call it biggish, right? Whatever, it’s still a selfish want and I know that and I’m going to have to deal with it.

What hurts is knowing that three months could easily set me back three years.

And ok, yes the fact the kids’ dad is who he is and how he is hurts too.

And that I still need something from him to survive. That I am not 100% independent. We’ve been separated for three years and still… That hurts.

I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from everyone on here in the past. I really hesitated coming here to begin writing this but I felt like if I just kept this secret, I wouldn’t be true to me. And I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors either. Yes, here is more proof that divorce does not get easier after a few years pass. And I’m not sure I can argue it’s gotten better because it hasn’t. Communication is the worst it’s ever been. Believe it or not, now is when I get upset when my kids leave me for his house. Because before I used to trust him as a father. Now I don’t.

Would you trust a man who puts his children on a big and fast boat with no life jackets on? You should see how Daughter came back from his house a few weeks ago– her face swollen with some sort of allergy. Baby came home with sneakers two sizes too big that his little friend that lives on their block gave to him. He’s sent the boys to school without underwear. Their clothes comes back reeking of cigarettes. Baby asks every day if he’s going home with Daddy and if the answer is yes he cries and clings to me and says that no he doesn’t want to go, he wants to stay with me. And some times it’s Daughter that asks and gets very sad when the answer is yes, it’s Daddy’s turn. Eldest is the only one that seems unfazed. He actually seems hurt by his brother and sister’s negative reactions. Baby now tells me he’s going to miss me. I remember the divorce class teaching us, DON’T SAY I MISS YOU. What do I say then? “I love you. Call me whenever you want.” “But Daddy forgot your number.” “Daughter knows it. And Eldest too. They will help you.”

And all that heart wrenching knowing they are going with this man who shows through his actions how very low on his list of priorities they are.

Something’s got to give. I just hope it isn’t me.

 

Project: Get Through This

Preface: This post isn’t coming from my usual point of view. It doesn’t come from the state of mind I’ve been in the past several months that has been secure and stable and forging ahead. I’m not really sure how it’ll end up or where I’ll go with it, I just know I have to write it.

“I guess life was going a little too well for us, we were just a little too happy, huh?” I said to Boyfriend last night after I’d spent several minutes pulling on my hair, blinking back tears, pressing my temples and exclaiming, “I don’t know what I’m going to do” in no less than 25 different ways, tones, etc.

I got some news yesterday that sucked the wind out of me and replaced it with an anxious and restless mini cyclone.

On Thursday, I got an AOL instant message from the kids’ dad letting me know his phone was not working, it was just going straight to voicemail, and he wanted to know where to drop the kids off that day. I told him at my Mom’s and he said he’d be there at one. I said ok and went back to my crazy busy day.

Yesterday I got a text message letting me know this was his new phone number.

And that’s when a cold feeling pricked under the surface of my skin head to toe. I asked why he had a new number. He explained he now had an iPhone and no more Blackberry. I followed up asking if Company had made him change his number or… was he no longer with the company?

No answer.

“Hello?”

“Left the company. Doing my own thing now.”

He went on to explain he hated the place since they put new management into place. He hadn’t told me because he had just resigned on Wednesday and they didn’t honor his notice. He ignored my texts about child support. I let him know my job was on the line and he responded with an expletive and wondering if I’d been looking. I explained I hadn’t been because I had a plan that would let me go back to school and have the child support cover the kids as well as his insurance cover them temporarily. He ignored that and asked where he could pick up the kids. I told him at my house as I’d taken the day off to spend a day of their vacation with them.

And so it was that the man whose almost paid off Chrysler was repossessed in December (affecting my credit, as I was the co-signer) pulled up to my house a few hours later in a brand new Infinity SUV. He didn’t talk about anything at all. He never told me not to worry, the child support would be there. Nothing.

And now I’m left wondering what on earth to do. I’m back to where I was over a year ago. My paycheck covers monthly bills. That’s it. It covers the rent and the electric and the car payment and the car insurance and the water and the internet and the cell phone and loan payments. I live really lean as far as these things go. I could cut the internet if I kept my job, but if I lose my job, I need the internet.

The worse feeling in the world is a lose-lose situation and I feel like that’s where I am right now.

If I keep my job, I can’t really get a second job as it doesn’t really accommodate one. If I keep my job, I have to pay for summer camp. If I don’t keep my job, I only have one month of expenses in place and now that child support will essentially disappear, I have no way to save up one more month’s worth in the next couple of months as I had planned. I am also pretty sure I won’t be able to get enough financial aid to support myself and my kids while I plowed through what would remain for my Computer Science degree.

My parents have already come forward offering their assistance. I hate that. I hate that their 32 year old daughter is incapable of supporting herself and her children.

And I can’t help it, there is a little voice inside of me saying, “Well of course not, you’re just a little woman.”

Shut the hell up stupid voice.

I am so angry that I am in this position. Again.

I am so angry that someone with my brains and with my work ethic and with my dedication and with my attitude can’t care for her family alone. I make $45,000 a year. There you go. I don’t care if you know or if you don’t. That’s what I make. And I can’t take care of myself and three kids. And it’s not because of a lack of restraint and responsibility. I cut, and I cut, and I cut.

I was so excited about the summer. I told the kids we’d go to Disney and Universal for their birthdays. I’d planned the most affordable way– go in the low season in July or August, stay the minimum number of nights, and only do one park, one day each.

And it’s gone. And it hurts. They’ve been so excited you guys. They’ve been looking forward to that so much and why shouldn’t they? They don’t ask me for much, you know? They don’t make demands of me for new this, that, and the other. My Daughter’s school sneakers are falling apart  and she doesn’t freak out demanding I get her a new pair. My Eldest mentioned the other day his school shoes were pinching at him. He got a Nintendo DS3 game by accident. He didn’t demand I buy him the Nintendo DS3. He was going to trade the game away for an old Nintendo DS game. I haven’t paid them an allowance in eons.

And this one little thing. This one thing that Baby asked for almost every single day for three months until finally I told them that yes, yes we could go– this summer, for their birthdays. And now…

These are the magical years. These are the years where something like a quick trip to Disney and Universal means so much for them.

And summer camp. They are so excited about summer camp. How on earth am I going to pay for Summer Camp? If I lose my job, ok at least I can spin it that we can spend the summer together and we can do lots of free things to keep it fun. But what if I’m lucky enough to not be laid off? How can I pay for Summer Camp? We need to eat. We need gas in the car to move us.

I know that there are answers. I know that there are solutions. I just can’t see them right now. I can’t see them because it’s dark inside.

I am so angry that this idiot of a man still affects my life. Do you see what I mean when I tell you divorce is forever when children are involved? Just when you think you’re done scraping what’s left of the yuckiness off of you, you get a whole new shitstorm sprayed all over you.

I knew this would happen. I did. I know this man is not dependable. I know this man is selfish. I know this man does not truly grasp he has three children he is responsible for. I know this. But I honestly thought I had a couple of years left. I thought his need to keep up with the Joneses would keep him employed long enough for me to get “there”.

Unfortunately it seems he is getting assistance in keeping up with the Joneses as evidenced by the Infinity. Where the hell did that car come from? Seriously. His car was just repoed. His parents have never been able to help him financially a day in his adult life. The rich girlfriend? I guess. And maybe she’s able to maintain appearances so he can “do his own thing.”

For those of you newer to the blog, the reason I know this means child support will disappear is because I’ve been in this predicament before with this man. The only reason child support was coming in steadily was because they were garnishing it from his check. When he was in charge of child support, it never came. And when it did come, it was crumbs.

I feel sick. I’d better get off here and do some cleaning. It’s what I do when I’m stressed out and frustrated and feeling hopeless. I don’t know why and I don’t really care to understand. I just know that I’m looking around my house and am itching to scrub and shine and throw away and straighten.

Sorry about the unloading. I’ll be ok, I know it. Just maybe send me some positive juju if you get a moment. I know lots of people need it way more than I do, but I’m ok with leftovers.

Walled In, Walled Out

Closing In On Me by Heroethic on Flickr

 

Tired today. Of a lot of things for a lot of different reasons.

Physically? That’s easy. Daughter asked to sleep with me last night. This never happens so I allowed it. This never leads to a good night’s rest on my part and I knew that going in and it was no different last night.

I lay there for a while between Daughter and Boyfriend (seriously, I have the lamest nicknames) listening to their generally synchronized but still completely different breathing. Daughter’s was mixed in with a slight whistly wheeze and Boyfriend’s was rougher with an occasional snore. Daughter’s was shorter than Boyfriend’s but they pretty much started and ended at the same time which is impossible for me to understand right now much less explain.

There’s a lot of yawning going on here.

But I’m also tired in a different way.

Why are so many people angry today? Fearful? Depressed? Anxious? Hopeless? The election insanity is not helping, I know. The economic crisis. It just feels like everyone is on the brink– ready to explode. And instead of coming together, reaching out, embracing each other, linking arms, we’re taking sides. Division, division, division. What happened to all the shades of gray?

White people here, Black People there, everyone else over there somewhere. Men here, women there. You “others” just go and hide somewhere so we don’t have to acknowledge your existence and recreate our nice little division system.

Republicans here, Democrats there and the rest of you grow a damn spine and either take a side or shut your mouth because this has nothing to do with you. Conservatives here, Liberals WAY over there, Moderates please see above Republicans/Democrats memo re: “the rest of you”. And by the way, changing your mind is something that no longer exists. It’s called flip-flopping now and it will not be tolerated, respected, or accepted.

United States vs The World. Poor vs Rich. Corporations vs People. My Pockets vs Your Pockets. Progression vs Regression. Spend vs Save. Capitalism vs Socialism. Free Market vs Regulation. Healthy vs Sick. Big government vs Small government. Rent vs Buy. Illegals vs Citizens. Baby vs Fetus. Hetero vs Homo. Stay at Home Mom vs Work Outside Home Mom. Atheism vs Theism. State vs Church. Single Parent vs Married Parent. Slut vs Prude. 1% vs 99%. Planet vs Global Warming. Custodial Parent vs Non-Custodial Parent. Religion vs Science. English vs Math. Candidates vs PACs. Fact vs Opinion. South vs North. East vs West. Blue vs Red. Manning vs Tebow. Blog vs Trolls. Star Wars vs Star Trek. Facebook vs Google+. WordPress vs Blogger. Knit vs Crochet. My Way vs The Highway.

Why are we so eager for a fight? Why are we so ready to jump? Why are we convinced someone/something is surely out to get us?

It is so exhausting but as much as I want to just let it go, the fighting is all around me and I can’t always stop from being caught up because so many times it just goes too far. We can debate but stick to the facts, not your interpretation of them. Contrary to popular belief, reality does not have a liberal bias. We can debate, but refrain from insults. We can debate but please keep your ears open as much as you keep your mouth open.

Every day it gets louder and louder. Everyone is screaming to make this point and that point, to be seen and to be heard. Look at me! Listen to me! Pay attention to me!

When did we forget we’re not animals? Our gut instincts are about as right as often as they’re wrong folks. Why are we listening to them more and more instead of listening to each other? My gut might tell me punching your face would be the most effective way of getting you to shut up but my  mother taught me better than that. Who do I listen to? My gut tells me to blow my paycheck on whatever I want, when I want it but the people I respect tell me to at least save some of it and I’ll be better off in the long-run. Who do I listen to? My gut tells me I should work hard to get ahead and you should do the same for yourself but Mother Teresa taught me the value of working hard to get many of us ahead together. Who do I listen to?

Isolation everywhere. Bickering. Divisiveness. This whole feeling that if you see things one way, you must be crazy/uneducated/immoral/fanatical/classless/lazy/dirty/pathetic/foolish/not human.

We don’t want to accept each others differences, we just want to know what they are so we can somehow gain the upper hand.

Isn’t it interesting how the most hyped movie right now is this thing called The Hunger Games? And the central plot to this wildly popular movie based on a wildly popular book is a bunch of fights to the death? We are drawn to this concept like moths to the flame.

There can be only one.

It’s stifling. It’s confusing. We’re being forced more and more to take narrower and narrower sides.

Am I the only one feeling claustrophobic?

The Other Reason You Should Be Angry About Trayvon Martin’s Murder

I want to say I am really proud of the discussion raging across the United States right now regarding racism which has been brought on by the tragedy of Trayvon Martin.

However, I am frustrated this discussion is completely overshadowing what I see as the key to this tragedy– the fact that George Zimmerman was licensed to own a gun. Why, why, why is gun ownership still so easy to come by in this country?

We are so advanced. We spend ungodly amounts of money on defense on a national level and services like the police on local levels and yet we insist on being armed. Why? Do you honestly think your little gun is going to protect you against the top military in the world? Do you honestly think your little gun is going to do a better job of defending your family than the highly skilled local police force?

What is it going to take for this country to let it go? At the very least, can we please make it insanely difficult to get one? How is it that one must go through major steps to become a teacher, a police officer, a fire fighter, a doctor, a lawyer, a pilot, or whatever else requires licensing and yet a paranoid man with a history of violence (against police) can obtain license to own something that is specifically designed to end lives?

I am irate, like everyone else, about the police response and handling of the tragedy but the bottom line is it shouldn’t have happened in the first place and not because we’re in 2012 and still grappling with racism. Blacks shoot and kill blacks every day. Whites shoot and kill whites every day. Men shoot and kill women. Women shoot and kill men. Children shoot and kill children.

Why?

Because it is too damn easy to get your hands on a gun in this country.

Yes, talk about racism. Let’s grapple with that monster. But for the love of god, let’s not look past what actually ended Trayvon Martin– a loaded gun.

With all of the technology and all of the services we have in place, there is absolutely no need for gun ownership. Asking for a license to own a gun is simply the equivalent of requesting a license to kill.

Self-defense? There are other methods that do not take a life and they are getting more effective every day.

The number of people who save themselves because they owned a gun is negligible, especially when compared to the number of people who died because of a gun that is fired by rage, fear, shame, anxiety, intoxication, paranoia, or any emotion that pulls a trigger– none are positive.

Yes, I am angry that in 2012 there are still idiots who find other people suspicious because of the color of their skin. Yes, I am angry that in 2012 there are still people in charge who take sides because of the color of a perpetrator’s skin before considering the facts. But, I am angrier that in 2012 there are still people who can get guns– especially people with a history of violence and paranoia (over 40 calls to 911 reporting suspicious activity or people is paranoia).

We need to come to terms with race in this country but we also need to work towards tighter gun control laws so these types of tragedies don’t happen as we work towards a better tomorrow.

What will break us finally? Columbine didn’t do it. Virginia Tech didn’t do it. Trayvon Martin isn’t doing it. The countless stories of shooting murders and fatal shooting accidents that appear in your local newspaper don’t do it. What then? And why should we wait until that sort of tragedy to take place before we move to action? Hasn’t there been enough bloodshed already? Haven’t enough black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Native American boys and girls been buried already?

Emergency Funds: “Oh Sh!t” vs. “D@mmit”

Image is from a 3M security glass ad campaign but it makes you wonder: If you had to do something dramatic to access your emergency fund- would you do it so often?

You know those pet peeves that are so trivial, you really have a hard time justifying devoting a lot of thought, much less an entire post to, but you just can’t stop thinking about it and you rant anyways?

This is one of those. And if you just go on and run away from this blog today, I totally get it just come back in the future because I’ve never really done this and I don’t think it’ll be much of a habit for me but today, it’s on.

I am going to make this post even more ridiculous by talking about a trivial pet peeve that is related to something I hardly even talk about anymore– personal finance. Why I don’t talk about it much anymore is another post entirely and we’ll get there one day, just not today.

Today I’m going to focus on the supposedly sacred and magnificent “emergency fund.”

Everyone who knows anything about personal finance knows about the emergency fund even if they don’t call it that but I’m not talking about those people today so don’t think about them right now. For the uninitiated (and it’s a good thing, I’m starting to think), an emergency fund is a bunch of money stashed away strictly for the use of EMERGENCIES.

From Merriam-Webster,

Definition of EMERGENCY

1: an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action
2: an urgent need for assistance or relief

When it comes to personal finance and the “emergency fund”, it’s referring to definition #2. In other words, your life just got a kick in the ass of varying size because something went wrong and it is having a direct impact on your needs being.

Did I lose you?

Ok, emergencies in the personal finance world should be things like:

a) Loss of income due to job loss, severe reduction in hours, medical leave, abandonment by partner, etc.
b) Loss of something/many things critical to daily life such as a main source of transportation, a refrigerator (stores food which is kind of a need), heating or cooling (in extreme weather conditions), a home, etc.

It is these epic “Oh Sh!t” moments that are supposed to be when an emergency comes into play. But if you read some personal finance blogs, you would not know this. And that annoys me.

Why people tap into “emergency funds” for things outside of true emergencies is beyond my scope of understanding. You can have an emergency fund AND savings you know. As a matter of fact, you should definitely have both and they should be built up at the same time in my honest opinion because otherwise you know what’s going to keep happening– tap, tap, tap into the emergency fund. And if, god forbid, a true emergency strikes?

Having a real “emergency fund” is a pretty scary thing because it is a solid acknowledgment of the fact that the world we live in is, at its core, entirely unpredictable and out of our control. And this spans every single aspect of our lives– even the things we cherish most most dearly. It’s terrifying. And having the emergency fund as a real emergency fund is a conscious acceptance of that fact.

You know, we really can’t budget for every single curve ball life throws our way. Some are real gentle and easy to nail but others can be some sharper ones that are much harder to nail. But just because the sharper curve balls cause some sort of unpleasantness in our lives doesn’t qualify it as a real emergency.

A lot of people have a lot of different savings methods. Some people have targeted savings accounts. Some people have a myriad of savings tools in place for a myriad of different methods (like CD ladders plus mattresses plus whatever else it is that lets them sleep at night). And they’re all really cool and I think you should definitely think about something that works for you. Just leave the emergency fund alone.

Here’s an idea– leave the emergency fund for the true “Oh sh!t” moments in your life but have another fund in place for the “D@mmit” moments too, because hopefully those happen way more often in your life than the other ones do. In a perfect world neither would happen, I could eat a plate of slutty brownies without ill effect, and all three of my children would be perfect little angels who make no messes at all, ever. But that’s not the reality of the world and we just need to move on.

If you can’t decide whether or not something is worthy of an “Oh sh!t” or a “D@mmit” ask yourself this– how far are you willing to go to access the money needed to cover the expense of said “Oh sh!t”/”D@mmit” item? The ones that you would do even the thing that would make you cry? That’s an “Oh sh!t” thing and a perfectly good reason to access your emergency fund.

Do you use and abuse the term “emergency fund”? Do you think I’m being sort of insane about this? I know it’s probably a semantics thing at play but god bless my English-loving heart, I can’t let it go! Am I sort of justified? Do you do the thing where you have an emergency fund and you absolutely refuse to let it go below such and such a threshold because that’s too risky? WHY DO YOU DO THAT? Why not just take some of it out and save it elsewhere and then bulk all your savings up together? Is it because saying you have an emergency fund of such and such amount makes you feel better even though you and everyone else know it’s not just for emergencies? Is it a peace of mind thing? But wouldn’t it be better to have another fund and a TRUE emergency fund or would that be too much money in savings for you to be comfortable with? Do I need a brownie?

Mmmm slutty brownies... What was I mad about again?