“Abaddon hath no covering”

I feel like what should be happening now is some kind of splashy graphic or a pithy quote announcing the END OF ALL THINGS LEGAL. Instead, let’s have some Titian. I always liked that guy.

I feel a little insensible in both senses of the word–cuckoo and numb. But I really feel like I owe you the end of the story, and I say that ungrudgingly.

Where were we? Previously on Legal Beat, SeaFed got slapped with court fees, which may have actually had some effect on him. He spent a week or so flailing around attempting to settle. My lawyer reminded him that he was in violation of a couple of court orders, and that we would request more fees if we walked in to trial, and was he ready for that jelly? It was true and also helpful, I think. We re-presented our final proposed plan, which is actually very simple so as not to cause any confusion. Differing interpretations is something that we’ve struggled with for many years. We got into it during the temporary plan, at some point last summer, over the wording of when he got her for alternate 5th weekends of the month when they occurred. In a nutshell, I think he is too stupid to understand complex sentences and he thinks I am evil. This affirmed the idea that the plan had to be simple, airtight, and not offer anything like that. First and third weekends is it. Years ago I floated the idea of Wednesday night dinners, but he was pretty dedicated to the idea that we would transport to him as much as possible.

Anyway: settling. This involved many emails from him, requesting such changes as replacing the word “by” with “at” in the context of pick up times. I made a last-minute change to the parenting plan involving making the times fussy and slightly inconvenient, so he would feel like he had something to change and nitpick, which he did, as I predicted. I think him feeling like he had a small “win” made it run through more easily, which is consistent with my past experience with him.

On Wednesday or so he declared we would not be going to court, and settling was eminent. He made a last-ditch attempt to get me to “take back” the fees I’d been awarded, if I wanted my lawyer to be paid in a timely fashion, since as he said (times infinity) “I have no munny.” I told my lawyer she could tell him that not only was she not awaiting payment, but that I had a legal fund set up to prevent future shenanigans such as attempts to completely rejigger her residential schedule as he did in late 2011. I concluded with, “Should this legal fund not be necessary, I will use it to buy a donkey and name it SeaFed and kick it when I’m cross.” I never waste my lawyer’s time (or my money) with asides like this, but I knew the light was at the end of the tunnel, and that the email had conveyed all the other information it needed to.

She translated this into Non-Fried-with-This-Shit Person, which is part of her job. He waited until the eleventh hour to sign the paperwork on Friday night, which, I kid you not, I believe was an attempt to get out of picking her up on his Friday night. I tell you, by that point we were mentally so finished with the temporary plan that required a drive through Friday night rush hour traffic in Seattle, and a water crossing. He could pick her up. Naturally, he was not having that. He texted me to have her call him, which was a real mistake on my part, since he gave her an earful of agita about me and how inappropriate I am. (This, of course, is the man who demanded in his last brief that I have COURT SUPERVISION because one single time I absolutely could not make the drive due to moving house last summer, in spite of the fact I gave him a few days’ notice of that one-time pickle.)

So what I did on Friday night, which is basically say “ok, I am throwing the temp plan into the Fuck It Bucket because we are settled and he’s signed and we are not going to trial” was pretty much a war crime. Additionally there was some jazz in one of his emails to my lawyer about being out on business until late or something so I didn’t know where he would be and what he was doing and I chose not to communicate with him about it. I hit a wall, I admit.

There’s this history with us…well, there’s a lot of history with us. But the relevant aspect of this is his extreme, almost childlike notion of “fairness” and what constitutes fairness to him. As an example, before he moved away we went, voluntarily, to mediation in 2007 to talk about what a new schedule would look like. He brought a calendar and a calculator to the appointment because he thought he could math his way out of this problem. We were on the dreadful 50/50 schedule with her then, and he wanted to make every attempt to keep her on that. What that would look like would be he would have her every weekend, all summer, and every holiday. That way, the calendar days would be about even. I could have her on school days, and I would be allowed to keep paying for her school myself. Sounds fair, right? WHEEEEE

Don’t get me wrong, here. I see exactly what happened and I knew what I was doing. The paperwork had not yet been filed, in spite of the fact that he had signed and agreed and the papers were in my lawyer’s possession. And so the settlement and new parenting plan was not yet Official. So here we were on the temp plan for one more Friday night. The peasants were revolting, however. Or I was, at least. (“You said it. They stink on ice!”)

So after he started texting me about where is the kid, have her call me, I was very sad to get the phone back from Franny and to see the look on her face. Because when you tangle with the Scissorhanded Jizz Beast of Porkchopia, do you complain when you end up ass pregnant, unkosher, and with a bowl haircut? You should not. I, in a state of exhaustion that took off at least 30 IQ points, thought he was going to make arrangements to pick her up that night or the next day. I should have known better.

“He wants to talk to you,” she said, tears in her eyes.

She had accidentally pressed the “mute” button in handing it over, which led to several seconds of “Hello hello–honey I think he hung up…wait it’s still going. Hmm. Hello?” before he actually got me. That part was funny but remember: I played it straight. Imagine him, an angry little turtle flipped over on the highway, impotently kicking its feet one last time before the tractor-trailer comes along.

“I think there’s been a little miscommunication,” he said.

“Is that what’s happening?” I asked.

“SJ, did you sign the parenting plan?”

“Not yet. Do you have a reason to think I won’t?”

“It’s not filed yet, then.” Bingo. Rules lawyering to the very end. He went on: “I know we’re not going to be friends.” There was scolding, too: “I think it’s very inappropriate the way you use her as a pawn.”

“I’ll take that under advisement,” I said. “Did you want to pick her up in the morning, or…?”

I heard the click–he hung up on me. Left Before Signing hung up on me, can you imagine?

I can’t really defend myself with regards to Friday night. If that’s how he feels, then that’s how he feels. I suspect we were both too exhausted to do some basic communication. It wasn’t helping that Franny did not want to go over there. Is that an excuse? No, it’s not either. I do get tired when he makes these matoor mouthwords at me and then his every action reflects the opposite of what he says.

It’s a tough road to navigate, being split up with someone who has a philosophy that diametrically opposes your own. Historically speaking, I feel I’ve been in a position where he expects me to say “yes” to anything he asks regarding where/how/when to drop her off, to pay for everything, to deal with her healthcare and her schooling. I’ve accepted this, and I don’t feel resentful about it anymore and haven’t for several years once the initial shock of the reality of being divorced from him faded. Not to mention that I’ve been in the position of primary parent for several years, and now am receiving child support and the title “custodial parent,” I am just owning it. Sure, I’ll take care of everything and smile about it. If I felt like there was any niblet of parity or empathy there I would be more open to working with him in these rare situations, but it goes straight to rules lawyering on his part and “Oh god I am so tired I will just go fetal here for a minute or 30” on my part.

So, in very long-winded closing remarks, I don’t know how you deal with someone like this, except to do what I’m doing, which was to go to court and create the most airtight parenting plan that I could. When is it appropriate to make yourself a shield from someone? How big and wide can it go when you have a kid with them? When do you pull the kid under it, and when do you leave them outside of it? This is something I’ve asked myself. My hope is that this will let us all get on with our lives–I can parent her without the aggro of having to appear in court or try to negotiate terms with him or wait and wait while he decides if he will pay for things like a GAL or comply with court orders. He can spend time with her without having to wait for the caprices of Seattle Friday night traffic to deliver her. I am now scheduled to actually see him three times a year, and I imagine his wife will be delivering her on those times since it’s during the workday.

The next little challenge-that-isn’t really is Franny’s appearance in the school musical next week. She mentioned that her stepmother is telling her that I’m going to “attack” them since we’ll be there on the same night. Who’s pawning who? Shit, I don’t care. Just shut your fucking talkhole with that shit.

It is a fault of mine that my relationship and history is so bad with him that it’s better to both write this particular parenting plan and minimize my contact with him as much as humanly possible, and that is a shortcoming I hope she will be able to forgive me for. I have forgiven myself for having her with him. I could not have foreseen all this at 22, that’s for sure.

My lawyer presented the signed paperwork with the message: “Looks like you will have money left over for that donkey after all.”



HOLY FUCKING SHITBALLS; or, Guess Whose New Nickname Is “Left Without Signing”

Do you know that I won twice in court in ONE DAY at the SAME TIME??? Both cases were at 8:45 this morning.

My ex-GAL wanted to mediate like PRONTO, as soon as we were asked if we wanted to. She tried to hand me a cashier’s check for the first amount that I was supposed to pay, but since I had to cover SeaFed’s part it ended up being more, and I asked for what I had actually paid–$2000. I am supposed to get that check in the mail next week. WE SHALL SEE. She also complained at the adorbs law student mediators about how long it was taking, which I thought was pretty weaksauce. We were getting a mediator to draw up paperwork for my wimpy little small claims filing fee. Mediation can run anywhere from $100-$300 an hour, roughly speaking. We didn’t discuss any issues, just settled, BANG.

And then dig if you will, this picture:

If you cannot see it, it is the second page of the order to have SeaFed pay the new GAL his half within 5 bidness days, and then $3000 in reasonable Lady Jesse Pinkman fees since we had to make this motion at all. Wow am I getting an education. Ow, my character.

So a floor below me at the courthouse while I was in small claims, my lawyer and SeaFed were going at it. This week we had to knock together something called Motion to Enforce Payment of the Goddam New GAL Already. SeaFed’s rebuttal was I Do Not Have Any Munny and “hey do not look at my house that I own or my multiple vehicles or my job or anything thanks.” That guy actually asked for our local low-income child advocacy agency to intervene on his behalf. Holy cats!! And then, when the judgement was entered, SeaFed STORMED OUT. I am cringing at the scene that will play out at his house tonight when he has to tell his wife. Oy vey.

Did you know I am going to trial, supposedly, on June 10th? I think the commissioner wants it to happen Or Else. No more monkeyshines/continuances.

I will write more about my experiences in small claims court over the weekend. I am tired! I stayed out til 11 watching Much Ado About Nothing. I did not know it would go that late. But tonight I dine in hell, or probably at teriyaki.

This is incredible.

Well, it is to me anyway. I was curious to see if my terrible GAL had been run out of town on a rail yet, and lo, UW Medicine is employing her! As some kind of “pain consultant.” I found this yelp review on her (I REALLY don’t think she should have MD appended to her title), and it all sounds very familiar.

Choice quotes from the reviewer:

I spent hours painstakingly copying my medical records and I even made a late night trip to a hospital to get a copy of a medical imaging report for this visit, yet Dr. Ballantyne didn’t even glance at my records.

Even the forms that I was asked to fill out with all kinds of personal questions about my family and whether or not my parents were alcoholics or iused illicit drugs were not reviewed. These forms are copious, and a waste of time if you ask me if they are just going to ask you the question again anyway in person because apparently they don’t want to take the time to read.

Sight unseen of course, but this sounds a lot like my GAL intake forms.

When I researched this woman further, I found that she is a clinical social worker and owns a company that does parenting evaluations in divorce and custody court cases and reunification therapy/supervised visitation. How does this qualify her to do Pain Management? How did this woman get this job? Why is this clinic masquerading as a bona fide Pain Management Clinic? This is the University of Washington? Apparently.

A quick skip over to the staff page shows that the clinic employs another Ballantyne. What an interesting coincidence.

This is my happening and it freaks me out

Billy: I can’t imagine anybody firing you.
Penny: Neither could I. Now, I can visualize it really well. But you know, everything happens–
Billy: Don’t say for a reason.
Penny: No! No, I’m just saying “everything happens”.

–Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Hey Team. How’s tricks? I am taking two minutes to say that trial has been bumped. It was supposed to be today but got pushed forward a week. All I know about how these things work is what I’ve been learning as I go. Apparently we fell off the case schedule somehow, which the judge’s bailiff says…happens sometimes. SeaFed is taking things up to eleven right now. On Friday he was haranguing me via text because we were interpreting the temporary plan differently. He thought it was his weekend, and I did not.

I used to think that showing any vulnerability to anyone unfriendly was a weakness and would present a problem. That it would be used against me somehow later. I think it’s true still in some cases–you can’t really have a groovy encounter session with someone who is yelling at you for no good reason at a bus stop. I think I kind of fell inward because of I was raised. If I could make a hard shell around myself, nothing would really affect me. Pretty typical, right? I think this is a common reaction for kids exposed to abuse. I always told myself if I was a little tougher, I would be okay, that I could survive anything that dropped into my path. I read books on survival, like literal survival, a la field dressing animals, and I tested myself. I fantasized about running away to somewhere safe, and I didn’t think that place was in the world of any adults I knew, so I thought about the woods. My freshman year of high school, sometimes the only occupant of the apartment I shared with my mother and sister for several days in a row was me. I stayed up for days at a time just to see if I could. I taught myself how to meditate from a weird book I took out from the library and would zone out for hours at a time, just kind of maintaining. You get a little weird when you’re a social person and you spend that much time alone.

Nowadays I care less if people see my human face. You want to throw my real actual feelings back at me and mock me for them? You are uninvited from this party, because not only can I not relate to you, but I feel sorry for you. Not that people care…but I can’t really achieve parity with someone I pity. I think some people never quite evolve out of that cruel childish place. And we all slip back there sometimes. I’m not saying I’m some kind of superior evolved creature.

Anyway, Friday was one of those days that I did something kind of unexpected. SeaFed started texting me, and lately he’s been trying to catch me out with some amateur Columbo shit. He emailed about a month ago and was asking me about upcoming dates in October that extend past the temporary parenting plan. I replied that I thought we should discuss it later since I reckoned the permanent parenting plan would supersede the temporary one. “Are you saying you’re NOT going to return her on the weekend of X?” he replied. No, that is not what I’m saying.

So when I started replying to his texts on Friday, we really went to the “does not compute” place. I told him, impolitely and forthrightly, that I felt his lack of ability to synthesize information was causing trouble yet again. Naturally, he replied with NO U and continued to harangue me. “You better consult with your lawyer,” he warned me. His inability to understand documents that get ever so slightly off black and white and require some thought and finesse means that he hits the wall and immediately starts demanding the kid. I’m trying to finalize a parenting plan that is pretty black and white. That is how wrong I was and how serious this was. I decided to tell him the truth. “I will report to my lawyer that you’re bullying me,” I said. I told him he was upsetting me by harassing me like this and that I wouldn’t be replying to any more of his texts that day. His last response included something similar to, “I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing here.”

His next move was to email me, my lawyer, and the guardian ad litem to tattle on me. He attempted to attach the parenting plan, but instead attached a different document, our Orders re Motion for Adequate Cause to Change the Parenting Plan, and cited sections from the temporary parenting plan that naturally were not there. I really didn’t see what good this might do. The GAL had finished her investigation (and was supposed to submit her findings on Friday but is AWOL, which is completely confounding my lawyer), and my lawyer wasn’t going to jump to help him with a contextless email with an incorrect attachment.

The point of relating all of this, which I am aware is beyond repetitious and tedious by now, is to say I’m glad I told him he was bothering me. He will continue to do so regardless, and obviously doesn’t believe I am having feelings or whatever. I understand that in communicating with him, achieving whatever goal we have is the first priority (establishing drop off time or whatever), but when things get circular like that, pointless, why not try a little personal growth? I don’t think he understood the “game I was playing” because I wasn’t playing one. This whole, um, journey for the past year and a half or so has involved him trying to get someone, anyone to see how I “tricked” him into moving away and giving up his residential time. I am constantly being tricky, and also probably glib.

I told Strudel’s dad what was happening with all this on Friday and he said something that brought me up short: maybe he’s acting like this because he’s frightened. He was hammering my lawyer with questions at the pretrial conference about what would happen and what trial is like and how long it is, and he has no lawyer, so maybe this recent increase in assholeism is fear-based. Much like I don’t really show him anything beyond the most terse responses, typically, I never see anything human from him anymore. Though, to be honest, a great deal of the reason I left him is because he didn’t seem to care about much of anything, in word or in deed. I got tired of all my feelings falling on deaf ears.

Feelings: I am still having them, shocking, I know. They are still pointless to share with SeaFed, especially now. And I know this. I am not affronted to be perceived as playing games. I am glad I was honest with myself and how I felt on Friday, though. It feels better somehow. I’m actually not freaked out, despite my title-quote, nor am I afraid like I was last year. Everything will…turn out. Like it always does.

In Other News.

Goethe hates Neato. Horace loves Goethe and just wants to be part of her life, man. Goethe loves Horace when she is not defending hearth and home from INVADERS! Get used to it, Gert. Neato works every day from 8-10 now.

What I Was Doing When No One Was Looking

1. Stress

HELLOOOO RACE FANS! I am moving in one (1) week! HNNNGH! My house is all crates and ACK again just like it was two years ago. In my spare time I have been painting and playing phone tag with contractors. If you’re extraordinarily bored I just threw up (HARF) a bunch of house pics on le Flickair. Yes, the set is called “Asshole Dream House.” Yes, I am properly ashamed of myself.

2. Court boring also stress

As a bonus, I am going back to court on October 1. I met with the GAL for the first time on Thursday. Why so late, you ask, when we’ve had the better part of a year to get ourselves investigated and shit? Because first I had Seafed insisting that mediation had succeeded (it didn’t, we never scheduled the second appointment or finished), and then he told the GAL to go away because we didn’t need her. And then he said he did not have money for it, not now, not two years from now, not ever.

My lawyer, who is so awesome I am unfit to touch the hem of her garment, was all, “SOOOO like do you feel like paying for all of the retainer then?” And I was like “UM LIKE TOTALLY NO this guy just got back from a vacation that he flew his wife and four children to, and then there was some bonus vacation on an island. Priorities man etc.” And she was all, “Yo this is like deadlocked then dog.” And I was like “FINE.” That is pretty much verbatim. And then I paid it. DOUBLE HNGGGGH. Yes, my lawyer is Lady Jesse Pinkman.

So last night as a result I had a dream that I was up betimes as usual and bammo, Franny had let all these people into my house and they were kind of noodling around or napping places. I said, “FRANNY WTF!!?” And she said, “Oh, they were at a party next door and needed a place to sleep.” Hmm, Franny letting strange people into my house…this is sounding all very metaphorical. Except to be fair I am letting them in.

Am writing the GAL down and will unleash that later. ~cryptic~

3. Workity

Child Labor Rules. That is all.

4. Other

Here is a seventh grader and a second grader on the first day (the 5th).

Here is a Strudel in a tree outside the new kitchen. I regret very little, but I do have a twinge that I cannot throw fuds out the kitchen window at my chickens anymore. I will have to get a slop bucket like a civilized wench.

Also, my face…it turns out it was just dirty. HA HA. The tea tree oil is TOTALLY eliminating the pain I was having. Once a day, cut in half with some sweet almond oil (massage type, just plain). I use about a tablespoon and swab it on with a cotton and then let it sit for about ten. Bonus: the cotton goes in my toilet bowl after where it seems to be keeping it cleaner. I got a brain wave and decided to start using Jason brand tea tree oil shampoo and HOLY CATS my head does not itch anymore. Great comments from Team Asshole here as well about the magic properties of tea tree oil. THANKS. DIE BUGS! Or Bug poop! Or WHO CARES, my face doesn’t hurt. Non-bonus: now that the inflammation is quelled, you can see all my cool exploded capillaries. CRONE-ESQUE.

Coming soon: post-court new assbanner. Can you incorporate fall and courtgasm? Let’s find out.

The sign over the door says “Give Up”

In the dairy aisle, at that time in the a.m. when it is all nice little old ladies, con brio: “BLOODY HELL, MOTHER!” Tooo much Buffy and Spike. The blue heads swiveled. I wished I was dead. Franny wished she was dead. And we laughed.

At the Nordic Hertitage Museum

At sushi, with chopsticks and a miso spoon [nonchalantly]: “I’m unforkened!”


At the antique store, confidently: “This typewriter’s broken.”

“How can you tell?”

“There’s no screen.”

Tryyy the motherfucking veeeeal people!

En Roy Dotrice Nouvelles

Franny is gone for one week each to Colorado and the San Juans with her father. She has a bad attitude about it in the way of eleven-year-olds who are not being allowed to sit around unbathed, reading comic books in their pajamas. He took her one day early and it was a FEDERAL CASE to even arrange that.

He emailed me the day before to tell me to remind Franny to loot a bunch of clothes and stuff from my house since she doesn’t have enough for a week’s vacation. Of course I paraphrase, but I tell you it was not an ask. Which, you know, I am still smarting a little over that whole being sued thing last fall. I don’t really think paying a small amount of child support makes this the Bank of Franny Clothes, especially since she tells stories about our clothes being absorbed into hand-me-down boxes for his other children. TAKE AN HOUR OUT OF YOUR FAPPERY-FILLED DAY AND GO TO GOODWILL FFS. Am I off base here?

This is all just so SIGH. Picture me, waiting outside of the girls’ school last September, on a sunny fall day waiting for Strudel, and knowing that he is about to pick up Franny. I expected him to be in his car, but up he strolls, knowing that we have been exchanging nasty emails all summer, with his threats getting cranked up up up post-child support all the time until I knew he was about to sue me. Like, as I was standing there I was expecting summons that week.

“How’s it going?” he said, GLIBLY, as he walked up. UM I’M ABOUT TO GET SUED BITCH is how it’s going. P.S., by you. I don’t feel like chitty chatting.

I get tired of this push push pull, you know? But I cannot stand that car dealer mentality (I know, insulting to car dealers) where I am being pecked for everything on the off chance I might say yes, or maybe he thinks it’s legit? I cannot tell anymore.

Do you get locked into eternal combat with something or someone and then imagine yourself letting go? I let go of a lot of things–with other people, with work, with my girls. It’s better to give when you can. What do you do when you cannot give that one person anything, because you know you will never get anything in return and it won’t benefit your kid to boot and you are just empty? I cannot imagine what letting go looks like. I feel that this is a major personal flaw right now. I have sensible talks with myself about being mature and flexible and then I just imagine myself bending over and taking it up the butt with a bowling pin the size of the Eiffel Tower (try to sleep tonight now, I defy you).

I’d like to think that when the ink is dry on the parenting plan, which is coming, SOON, like it or not, I can let a lot of this go. I sure it’s been a long year reading all this blibber blubber about court, but I think I’m in the home stretch now. Then it’s the fun part–I’ve saved every bill and I’m going to add it up. ALL OF IT. It’s going to hoit. How’s that for an x-ray into Changing a Parenting Plan for Dummies, and We Do Mean That You Are a Dummy. And probably like a recap about what I did right and wrong.

The bummer part is that every situation is different and walking into a court room is a coin flip, but I tell you I would do it all again. There’s also some stuff I have to keep under my hat til the paperwork’s signed, and then…oh yes.

And then I am on to other things!

Legally Pink

Update: My life continues to be a struggle not to dance around while shouting WHAT UP WITH THAT.

But first, I want to be serious for a minute and issue an apology to everyone I didn’t write to for letter writing month. Here is what happened: I got wrung out last fall, started a new work contract in January and thought for February I would try something different. Can you just put walnut catsup into an empty gas tank and expect it to go? No, you cannot. February was useful in that it really made me confront the fact that I had about zero creative outputs left in me. I choked on writing a really gnarly letter and just fell off everything for a while. Not much reading, not much writing, no drawing, not even shopping cock n balls onto selected foreheads with purchase. So I am sorry I did not write to you! Please know that your addresses have been shredded in triplicate.

Secondly, what is happening in legal land? ONLY EVERYTHING. This transparency I promised is paying off, albeit slowly. Welcome to my nightmare. I may have mentioned previously that I have a trial date in October, which is the drop dead date, the parenting plan gets decided. In the meantime, theoretically, we are settling. Not much is happening, at least not quickly. I’m working on the parenting plan with my lawyer now. Things were not progressing fast enough for SeaFed, who demanded to see my draft of the parenting plan and refused to sign some standard court-required progress paperwork, which, yeah. That’s a bargaining chip. Oh WAIT NO, that’s a possible non-compliance hearing.

There was a surprise side order of stupid when he did not check the temporary parenting plan and booked over my vacation and refused to change anything until I made a formal request to ask…for…my…time? Don’t bogart the tail pipe, man. I sent the kid over with charts of what made sense for summer (basically trading time since he had taken a bunch of mine). Every time I wrestle with this fucking proverbial pig I get muddy but sometimes it works out and I get mud and a happy kid, at least, who is glad not to be spending seven accidental weeks there. I returned her call after she left me a message saying her father had conceded finally.

“MOM summer is working out!”

“So, are you happy?” I said.


I like this outcome because I am hoping she feels like pitching sense to her dad actually gained her some ground for once, even though I’m sure it was my last email to him with my lawyer cc’ed on it. I have her back.

The next thing is awakening the kraken guardian ad litem. I have a hundred-question intake form to fill out this weekend. ABOUT THINGS THAT HAPPENED TEN YEARS AGO. FFFFfffuck I think I was a unicorn then.