SeaFed Sightings &etc

1. I keep running into little reminders that the technology I’m using is out of date. Flickr no longer talks to my SD card from my camera. I noticed this happening about a year before with Photobucket. I know I can use a usb cable to transfer the pictures, but it’s an old habit. Now I transfer them to a folder on my machine and then to the cloud. I suspect this is all because people do it instantly with their phones now–who uses SD cards anymore??

Likewise, Franny’s flip phone died a few months ago and I offered to buy her another one, or let her pay for her own smartphone. I was actually relieved that she went for the smartphone option, because the remaining choices for flip phones have gotten pretty dire. Our ol’ reliable go-to MP3 players have gotten worse over the past ten years, cutting features and support to the bone because they can’t really compete with smartphones anyway.

At the same time, I’m trying to integrate smart home technology in my house. Ray Bradbury made me think at some point I would talk to a wall and then get some scrambled eggs, but then my house would probably try to kill me before crashing into the sun. Spoiler: it might try to kill me anyway (should probably get pianos off top of bookshelves). But no. I am trying to add smart outlets to a house with a manual pencil sharpener still screwed into the wall in the laundry room.

It’s not lost on me that I’m writing this on a BLOG. Who even in $YEAR etc. Is this retro yet?

2. And now, a montage.

I got a blood blister at work recently, on St. Pat’s Day. I pinched myself like a moron in the handles of my snips SO HARD my fingertip went numb. After the feeling didn’t return for a few minutes I paused. “I better take off my glove and have a skosh of a gander,” as my old boss used to say.

Wut-oh. They started as gross jellyfishes and got a callused feel. I see why people say not to lance them. If you don’t rip them, they do a marvelous job of healing on their own.

My first blood blister! They were so big and black that my classmates in school the next week noticed them and thought I had just gotten marker on my finger. A week after the pinchening, on the way home from the last day of class, it started flaking off in the car, revealing naked baby skin underneath!

As I was leaving work yesterday, which is a big, partly skinned skyscraper downtown, I let myself out of the main gate…and pinched my pinky in it! DAMMIT.

Here we go again. Much smaller this time, next to its predecessor.

3. I saw SeaFed in January. I’ve been meaning to write about it since then, but it’s Zod’s honest truth that I completely forgot to several times. A cool thing about medication is that people who used to stress me out really super don’t anymore. I almost feel like I used to have an allergic reaction to them…I just couldn’t avoid having emotional hives. I just think of them briefly, go BLECH a little, and move on. A thing that a lot of therapy couldn’t effect.

I don’t think I’m fearless now, but I really like being more resilient.

Anyway, I hadn’t seen him since Franny’s eighth grade graduation. That occasion was a little nerve-wracking because I knew Franny would be nervous about Worlds Colliding and I knew he would be awkward (he was). He’s always seemed completely unable to modulate himself based on his relationship with other people and is an incessant small talker. But not much else, so he’s not really going to blindside people like he used to, like when he would self-admittedly “fuck with” people I had invited to our house for parties.

Franny’s grandfather lost his wife of a few years to brain tumors in December. He and her family arranged for a memorial service to be held at Pike Place Market, where she owned a shop for many years, and where they met, and lived for a time. My biggest, and perhaps only, regret from my divorce was becoming more distant from him.

It seemed necessary for a while, of course. Life went on, and he lost Franny’s grandmother, met his new wife, and then remarried. They moved to an island here and he retired. From everything I heard and saw he was happy and settled.

Her grandfather invited me to the memorial and I went, with Franny. Franny texted her father immediately after the death announcement, and asked for information about the funeral. Her father didn’t get in touch with her about it until about three days before, asking if she was coming. In his world, someone else always takes care of communicating and arranging important things.

Franny also had some major folderol with her father before Xmas, which resulted in her leaving early one morning during a visit, and getting herself home via bus and ferry. She tells me that she told him she was leaving the night before, which I believe. He sent me a somewhat surprised text a couple of hours after she texted me she left when he finally noticed she was gone.

She hasn’t been back since. She kind of threw down the gauntlet at that time, telling him that he needed to remember her allergies and her health problems. She’s given him literature to read about auto-immune issues and diet, and he admitted he hadn’t. I just don’t think he gets it.

As I’ve written about before, visiting any house for an extended period of time is very difficult. The ambient fragrance of the fabrics and environment, coupled with the smells of food that can make her ill is difficult. Then there’s knowing even if you fix your own food that you brought, you’re probably going to pick up some kind of contamination somewhere on the dishes or cooking vessels.

I know she’s been communicating with him about this for a while now, and his memory is terrible. I’m not sure what kind of effect this is having on the interest level in her life–she says he doesn’t really ask about her hobbies or interests or how she’s managing her health. Again, nothing beyond small talk. She told me recently that he seems “in and out” with his focus, and is reminding her of his mother before she fell into full-fledged early dementia. There and then gone again.

I know from experience it’s easy to downplay a bad memory, and if it gets worse over time, it kind of creeps up imperceptibly. People learn to work around and with your memory, and you learn to fake remembering that your friend changed roles at work, or that they already told you they were moving. It does come back when you’re reminded. “Oh yeah. I guess I’m just tired/spacey/PMSing/hungover” whatever.

This is just stage setting, I suppose. The important thing to know is that Franny hadn’t seen her other family since around Thanksgiving, and this was a pretty major stressful event for many people, including people who had lost their mother, grandmother, sister, or friend.

SeaFed’s family is chockablock with girls. He has three girls with his wife. His sister, the infamous Auntie Jaguar, has two girls. We walked in and saw the clump of Franny’s sisters and cousins together. I said hello to most of the girls and introduced myself as Franny’s mother. Franny’s firstborn sister would not speak or make eye contact with me. She is the clone of her mother, and as the oldest daughter, is bound by that sense of duty and loyalty that we unknowingly crush our poor daughters with.

Jaguar strode up to me and I found myself hugging her. “It’s been too long!” I disagreed, but was externally polite about it. She’s fine, she’s just a person. She has become slightly more human to me lately (albeit from afar) since I’ve learned how insane she makes her oldest daughter, who is a teenager now as well. I got a chance to talk to Franny’s cousin, who is sweet, and to reassure her that her Jaguar mother was hell on wheels as a teenager.

Anyway, we chatted, and it was fine. I caught up with one of Seafed’s cousins, who was nursing her third child on a bench. My mental picture of her involves her still having braces, but she wasn’t much younger than I was when Seafed and I got married. Seafed came up and talk to Franny about her schedule of college visits, as if she was a distant niece. This gave me a chance to check out his gelled hair, which was cut and styled to hide a bald spot. It looks “hip” from some angles and sort of makes the bearer look like a surprised chicken from others.

Later her midget stepmother finally came clomping up to us in her clogs. From the few pictures I’ve seen of her post-children, she seems to have evolved into what I think of as that uniquely West Coast mom style that involves a million mix-n-match cotton layers, leggings, and sensible clogs. That day’s ensemble was black, of course. It’s a look that works really well and looks elegant on some people, and on others it sort of looks like someone covered a piece of furniture and that furniture had a baby with an overloaded laundry drying rack. Lumpy? Frumpy? I don’t know.

I was in my tallest heels and literally looked down on her stumpy ass as she talked, only to Franny, avoiding eye contact with me like her daughter did. I watched her and waited for a break in her stream of chatter so I could say something to her but it never came. Franny was pissed later that she didn’t acknowledge me. I wasn’t surprised.

“It’s cool, honey. I’m still that psycho who called the cops when they were on the way to the airport to go on their honeymoon.” I didn’t add, also that person who takes a whopping $400 out of her wallet every month for child support. Maybe someday she will have the unfortunate experience of encountering someone who will push her to the point of taking the very last ounce of shit from someone they will ever take. That can make a person desperate, vindictive, or calculating. But most of the time lately, at peace and indifferent.

The memorial was winding down and Franny brought her grandfather a glass of wine and we offered to make him dinner soon after that, which we did last month. We had a lovely visit with him and are hoping to do it again soon. On the way out of the memorial, I chucked SeaFed on the arm and said, “See you at graduation, buddy.” I hope that’s true.

I guess I’m thinking about this because Franny got a call from her oldest sister over there the other night, who apparently sounded a little angry and snarky (probably mostly sad) and not understanding why Franny is not visiting. She informed Franny that they are moving, to another house on their island. It was nice that she did the right thing and called; Franny is interested. Franny wondered to me where they would get money to buy a new, much larger house, since the old one sounds like it’s melting due to neglect and she said they still struggle to buy groceries every week. I guess his father feels he has no choice but to continue to support SeaFed.

No word on their impending move or new address from her father, of course.

The Devil’s Bargain

“How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is you wouldn’t.”

–JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Here I am behind a desk again. This is a strange one. No one really seems to know what the temp I’m replacing did, or who supplied her with work, or what I should be doing on a daily basis. I ask questions and my emails go unanswered. There are whole days where I don’t really speak to anyone. I am told I will be copywriting “soon” so that should be fun to exercise those muscles again.

I’d probably be panicking if I was trying to seriously get my foot in the door in marketing as an FTE, but. Eh.

So I have a love-hate relationship with situations like this. On one hand, I am making a paycheck again. On the other hand, it is taking me away from my precious math studies. MATH DELICIOUS MATH. I feel like I am not making progress towards my goals like I was, but it’s nice to have less financial pressure. I’m just going to ride this for now.

I know I have 3.5 hours completely alone this morning and no tasks, so it’s going to be a review of engineering and scientific notation. I cannot make this stuff up, folks. This is how exciting my life is.

We did St. Pat’s early because my sister comes on Mondays for dinner. I don’t know what possessed me to buy a lamb shoulder–so bony! But the meat was really nice. I did it pretty easy-style, no bells or whistles. We came home and went for a short jog–me, P., Strudel, the spaniels. I get a little kick out of thinking how ridiculous that little train must look galooping around the neighborhood, but I’m excited to run a 5K with Strudel in April.

When I got home I knocked together an “American” soda bread. Of course I had to add caraway, and I did sultanas and currants, which I think is more like the one in our ancient Joy of Cooking. I threw some fingerling potatoes, chunked carrots and onions, and wedges of cabbage in a roasting pan, and everything went in the oven. I had set the lamb on a delay so when I came home it had already been roasting slow and low. P. made a chocolate cake and frosted it with mint icing, and boom, St. Pat’s for people who are utterly mutts but the closest thing they have to a heritage is being told they come from Southern Irish trailer trash.

We did have some good news last night–the school district finally sent a letter saying Strudel was accepted to both tiers of advanced learning. The highest tier would require us switching schools, which we are not keen to have her do, so next year she will be in the rigorous program in her home school for fifth grade.

This is a long time coming–she’s been testing almost every year since kindergarten, and she had often fallen just one point short percentile-wise. We didn’t have her test last year because she was falling behind. Her terrible third grade teacher gave them ten minutes of math a day when she felt like it, and usually didn’t bother photocopying any homework for them. Strudel was put into a rigorous supplemental class this year and has caught up. I think she’s also doing so well in large part because of her diet. She has focus, energy, and is calm. (Like her mother, who can also math now.) I remember being her age and how hard it was to focus and take a test, even if I knew the material.

When we opened the letter I think we all expected disappointment again, secretly, but she SMASHED it. She was in the top percentiles and we did a happy screamy dance in the dining room. The only downside, and it’s a small price, is that she will have to retest every year to stay in the program. But she’s used to the testing and I hope she finds the challenge to be worthwhile.

Morgan was rather fried last night since she’s doing the morning shift of the pledge drive again at KEXP. She talks on the air for four hours and goes to her other job, and by the time I get to her she is pretty tired. I offered to let her run away after dinner and save more Twin Peaksin’ for next week, but we managed to fit in one episode anyway, before she had to run home and sleep.

Me being kind of fried and Morgan being VERY fried worked out, though, because Franny had a lot to say last night. She had another strange weekend at her father’s house. I feel funny about her weekend stories because it seems like she’s a terror over there, in part from how angry she feels about the situation. I was telling P. this weekend that I kind of feel for her stepmother but my loyalty is with Franny, of course.

“I feel like, ‘How can you not like and pet my flatulent, venomous snake?” I said to him, by way of explaining my attitude about it.

She was a little manic when she came back. She got into the bookshelves over there due to boredom and is cracking into Carl Sagan and John McPhee. Her father was always Mr. Popular Science guy, when I first met him, but after a few years the books weren’t read, they were just displayed. But she was full of ideas. It was very cute.

“I had no filter this weekend,” she declared. “My sister asked me if I like our room and I said ‘NO’ because I just feel like a guest and there’s always crap piled on my bed. And the kids just scream at the table through every meal.”

“You are sowing dissent,” I warned her, which of course fell on deaf ears.

“I was mean to my stepmother too. She buys all these dumb face creams and I walked in and she was piling some on, and I told her, ‘You know that stuff doesn’t work, right? You just get wrinkles anyway. She took a deep breath and she said, ‘Go. Away.”

OUCH. I am pretty sure that karmically, Franny just earned herself a face that will look like one of those dried apple dolls by the time she’s 32.

“AND SATURDAY,” she went on, “was kind of worse because they had dinner guests and right before they came my dad insisted on getting out a board game and setting it up so it would LOOK like we were doing something. I called him out on it. I said, ‘Dad, we never play board games’ and he said ‘So?” and I said, ‘It looks like you’re just doing this because company’s coming over and he said, ‘Ha ha ha’ like I said something funny!”

It got a little dark, then. She told us her stepmother asked her to fetch some pills out of her nightstand.

“There are prescription pill bottles EVERYWHERE–in the kitchen, the bedroom,” she told us. “Pills for anxiety, pills for depression, pain pills…she takes so many pills.” Her mother just had back surgery, and I think this is after knee and hip surgery a few years ago, and is laid up right now. Franny said there was some yelling from her stepmother about not being able to take care of one more person. And I knew from experience that SeaFed was numbered among those she is taking care of.

Strudel turned TEN last week and I was already feeling so grateful to have my youngest in the double digits. So grateful to have dug myself out of the health pit I had fallen into. And then to hear about how things are going at his house…I’m sure they will all muddle through, or they won’t, that’s life. But last night I had that “someone has walked over my grave” feeling, but not my grave. The grave I would have had, had I zigged and not zagged.

Batman’s to the left of me

So, Franny hath peaced out for this long holiday weekend, and her dad will pick her up after school tonight. SeaFed got a bug up his butt in December and decided we HAD to go to conferences with her main advisor this month and emailed me to that effect, saying I could go with him or separately, but he was going to schedule something. About once a year he comes out of the woodwork to do some kind of Parenting Action. This is fine. Basically this meeting is just a once-a-year check in that has a more flexible timeline than the structured “conference week” for youngsters like Strudel.

I replied to him, okay, my contract ends December 22nd, any time after that would be great. Maybe early January? I sent him another email last week to follow up–“Any word on conference times?” He replied and said “Franny was supposed to text me dates that worked for her teacher.” I asked her about this when she came home that night. “Yeah, I was supposed to text him but I’m still mad at him.” (This is about the whole “if she in ungrateful about treats that may make her sick, then let her not eat any cake, including cakes she could eat safely”).

She revealed a little more of her fury to me when I took her jeans shopping recently. I cannot overstate the value of taking your teenager out alone in a car to someplace like the mall. It’s like you bought the golden ticket to being unloaded upon, which is invaluable really. She said she’s overheard her stepmother doing the whole “We don’t even know if she HAS Celiac disease” loudwhisper [tm Grima Wormtongue] at SeaFed when she thinks Franny is out of earshot. To be fair I did have her tested after she had balked and was refusing to eat wheat and was already feeling better. Strangely I could not get either of my children to ingest wheat to do the test “properly”…. It’s like my whole household has this weird bias against explosive diarrhea.

But back to the matter at hand. Okay, first of all, you do not leave conference-arranging up to your fourteen year old, unless she is Rory Gilmore or Tracy Flick. Uh. I guess I don’t have a second point. Except to say that I think I am going back to work soon, so who knows when or if I can meet with this advisor. Also that I am a little disappointed that she is handling this passive-aggressively, but I know from experience that handling things aggressively with him kind of bounces off. She’s entitled to be pissed off. I printed off a few things about cross-contamination for her to give to them over there when she gets back.

While I wish I could be a fly on the wall for this conference (or attend, time allowing), I am tempted to just let it happen. I always feel that the more people who discover what he is like the better. Also I am super, super not worried about Franny’s progress at school in any way, nor do I have any questions really. We show up for events and she shows me her homework and she seems happy. She’s recently taken off on her DJ slot that she has on Wednesday afternoons, which is adorable. (“I played Nick Cave AND Roy G Biv by TMBG today!”) I am just happy to see her excited about art and music and her friends AND doing her algebra homework. He can go tick off the conference box. And he can deal with how mad she is at him right now…but realistically, he probably won’t figure it out.

The smallest drop of pre-Christmas can get you immaculate pregnant so always wear your rugelachs

Wherein we feature two basketball hoops, 70 quail eggs, Edith, “ten years ago”, and &etc.

PRESENTLY (h/t B-Potts) we are seated in the dining room, surrounded by the aroma of natural gas (well, okay, that gross stuff they use to scent it) and the windows open. There is a terrible grinding sound coming from the floor below me, but I am promised that the washing machine will be working by tonight, which is a fucking Xmas miracle in December. The cats and Horace are looking at me murderously, but Edith is chewing on a tendon that is almost as long than she is, with the attitude, “Tro lolo, it has always been this way and so I suppose it will always be.”

Puppies, like Earth girls, are easy.

I’m on vacation. Yah-TAH. I have no plans except to get out of town to Portland at some point soon. I’m enjoying hiding in my house when there is not banging noises. I think I like almost anything that changes my perspective some, which this remodel is doing. It has renewed my enthusiasm about having access to my very own personal washer and dryer that is accessible at any time day or night. That is really fucking special, isn’t it? How fortunate.

There have been small trials along the way, mostly under the column of capitalism fails. My contractor and I got our wires crossed and I ordered a tub and then he ordered a tub. Two tubs were hurtling towards my house from Kentucky. What a waste! My tub, which as it turns out was the wrong tub, had a bunch of fixtures I needed to fish out from under it, which involved cutting it off its pallet. I was afraid to have the tub come all the way to my house, thinking it would be a major fiasco to find strapping equipment to restrap it, and that it would take up too much room, since the non-Elco half of the garage is filled with things like dodgy dirt piles and tools.

So I decided the most efficient thing would be to drive to the shipping company that received the tub. They were amenable to this and were nice men to boot. One helped me undo the tub, fish the shower and sink fixtures out, and restrap it. I offered to pay for the materials but they waved me away. It was pretty cool to go out to a freight company in Woodinville. I need to find a job where I can hang out all kinds of places where no one wants me, like the laundromat and freight companies. I really wish I would have brought my camera. The office/dispatch area reminded me of some blue collar jobs I had in the way back before college. My back hurt just looking at the “YOU MUST BE COMPLETELY OFF DUTY FOR YOUR BREAKS” sign. I did get a sneak peek of the chrome lion footies as they will look on the correct tub and HOOBOY TACKY SHINY BONER AHOY.

The medicine chest arrived and when I brought it into the house I could hear the contents tinkling merrily–the mirrors were totally shattered. Also I have bought entirely too much tile, because I measured the basement before the plumber showed up and changed the design. The day they cut the cement floor open, many spaghetti poodles as well as other brik-a-brak jumped to their deaths off the shelf, gouging my toilet seat on the way down. There was something I’d never seen before that was original to the house–an electrical lock that opened the garage door, which was the entrance I was using for the workers. This lock is broken now. It’s these little things that I didn’t foresee happening that are adding to costs and are just kind of generally a bummer. It will be worth it when it’s done, though, and I am sitting in a giant vat of hot water reading a Lawrence Block novel.

I put the tile together last weekend to make sure I liked it and the design. This will be, basically, what the shower looks like when it’s done. If you cock your head to the left 90 degrees you will see what the vanity backsplash is meant to look like. Everything else is chrome and white.

This lighting is terrible, but let me assure you it’s a light green and black–Daltile “Mint Ice.” I decided to dance with the one what brung me and make the basement look like the upstairs. So, darker border tile, a “sizzle” tile and BINGO. It’s surprisingly hard to walk into a modern local tile store and get your mittens on boring 50s tile. HA.

Speaking of trashy writing like vintage Lawrence Block–I have written another short story, but unlike the one this spring which turned into a novella (whoops) and the one after that in the summer that turned into a novel (double whoops) this is an ACTUAL SHORT STORY. It’s about a woman who splits in two. I’m going to submit it to a few “exposure” (free) journals and see what happens after New Years. So that is a good thing that came out of my laundromatting.

I have been doing very little cooking, since my water is unpredictably off or on, and almost no entertaining. I did pickle a bunch of quail eggs on a whim, so these should be delicious in about three weeks. I used the last of my long pepper from my Victorian year. As well as allspice and mustard seed, so they will be Victorian goodness.

On one of my last days of work I decided to take the Elco out. It’s only coming out about weekly now, since it does not run as well in the cold, and as the former owner told me, “If the roads are icy and the back is empty, the rear can catch up with the front of the car and kill you.” Oh, okay. Good times. It’s rarely icy here, though, and the sunrises have been glorious lately. I think this car was made to be in Seattle now, really. Anyway I was driving it home and the volt gauge for the battery started jerking around.

“Nooooooo!” I melodrama-ed, which is my reaction every single time it’s not running perfectly. I ran home and played internet mechanic until I found out it was probably one of five things, all likely to do with the alternator. “What is an alternator,” I wondered to myself. I have made a vow to learn how cars go and so far I am doing okay with a lot of help. I gave P. the rundown of my findings and he volunteered to take a look. In previous lives before library school he was a tractor mechanic and a fishing boat mechanic, and what is an El Camino if not the bastard child of a boat and a tractor?

I added the weekly big gulp of oil and he looked from the other side. “Loose wire,” he said. I was so happy! I need to get a grip. (Not going to happen.)

As a finale to the 2013 part of the school year, Strudel performed in the holiday concert. She is in choir now, so she got to participate in almost every number done by each grade. Franny and I came to the school early so we could drop Strudel off with her music gang and we took a seat with a cherry view on the world’s most uncomfortable bleachers. There is not enough legroom for adults so all the parents end up sitting sideways and twisted for every event in the gym.

LO AND BEHOLD who should enter and make a beeline for where we were sitting but Loudmouth Nemesis Dad, who I have not seen since Halloween, thank fuck. Wait, what is someone who is like a baby nemesis who you only remember exists when you see them? A nemesette.

This jackwagon sat behind us and started making loud declarations about how busy they were and how stressed out his wife was. He has the loudest, most booming voice that can cut through, well, a gym full of parents and their excited children. “Well there’s the tree fundraiser,” he foghorned. “And my wife is busy with the wine fundraiser. She has to collect 35 more bottles! She is totally overwhelmed! And then we’re driving to Idaho for two weeks to visit my wife’s family…”

“Do you want to move?” I asked Franny.

“So much,” she said.

Our new seats were farther away on the other side and involved a very unpicturesque view of a basketball hoop. It was PERFECT.

SO. Let’s talk about TEN YEARS AGO. I am all over the place today, and I cannot even be arsed to use chapter headings or anything.

ANYWAYS. Look, Ma, I left my husband.

Am I different at 36 than I was at 26 with a three-year-old and totally freaked out? Yeah, I suppose I am. I’ve learned a lot, but sometimes I feel like the things I’ve learned about I will not have to go through again. Like, uh…tech contracting, maybe? I know how to do it, but I may never have to call on that special skill set again. I think I’m better at life in general. I learned how to go through a terrible divorce with years of custody fallout shit. Probably won’t do that again, because I know how to detangle myself from things now, as well as not getting with people who are rill bad for me.

This is what I, personally, would do differently, if my 36-year-old self was standing behind that little baby 26-year-old graduate student (ha).

1. Document all violence, big and little. I should have taken a picture of where his fist went through the wall, and when he put the doorknob of my new apartment through the wall. I should have called the cops when he was smashing the backyard. I should have called the cops and documented when he assaulted me after our separation, because then I might not have had to deal with the humiliation of the commissioner telling me in court that I “looked like I could take him.”

2. I should have kicked him out of our shared home. This, along with the documentation of violence, may have put me in a different standing for custody. I was operating from a place of personal ethics–it was not my house (his father owned it), so I felt like I had no right to stay. I’m sure my ex-FiL wouldn’t have minded, and if I’d daylighted the violence outside of court they might not have given him money. Hard to say now.

3. I should not have bothered trying to be friendly. This was a person I could barely talk to before I told him I was leaving him, so there was no point trying to chat with him after. I don’t think it hurt anything, per se, it was mostly just a waste of time and a headache. Cordiality and basic communication is different than friendly.

4. This is so small I hesitate to even mention it, but I left way too many things behind. Once the dust settles and you heal up emotionally, there was a lot of stuff I missed. Art I bought in Mexico, other dishes and appliances I’d had for years. I had to trade him a brand new Mark Bittman cookbook just to get the basic bitch Betty Crocker thing I taught myself to cook with, that I am emotionally attached to. Of course all the lovely Mexican art has been chucked now, but it was important that he keep it all at the time.

What would any of this have changed? Again, hard to say. You are rolling the dice when you set foot in family court. I’d like to think we could have avoided those two loooong years of 50/50 custody, as well as his bullshit claims that we should go back to 50/50 time when I filed for child support. But he moved away and his attention wandered eventually, so she has one room and a home base in the end. Would I do it again? Of course, in a heartbeat, and I would do it even more poorly if necessary. Things like my calavera last supper and my dignity lives on in my memory, at least. Merry Fuckmas.

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 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.

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!”

Soup!

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!

Commander Pineapple/Colonel Mustard Slash

“Then you have given up hope?”

“Hope of what, Sir?” she asked mildly.

Simon felt foolish, as if he had committed a breach of etiquette. “Well–hope of being set free.”

“Now why would they want to do that, Sir?” she said. “A murderess is not an everyday thing. As for my hopes, I save that for smaller matters. I live in hopes of having a better breakfast tomorrow morning than I had today.” She smiled a little. “They said at the time that they were making an example of me. That’s why it was the death sentence, and then the life sentence.”

But what does an example do, afterwards? thought Simon. Her story is over. The main story, that is; the thing that defined her. How is she supposed to fill the rest of the time?

–Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

It’s beyond the point, but I like to picture the main character as Gina Torres, though she’s a white Irish lady. It’s ok.

PNW Strawberries rather than store California ones

I have a little news so I will make a little post. ETA: Whoops, I am incapable of being terse.

THING THE FIRST: I have been a victim of FRAUD, FRAUD I TELLS YOU. I knew it was coming, due to my predilection to shop on dodgy sites at 2 a.m. and buy things like Drain Snake What Someone Has Glued Google Eye Onto (J/K, I always use the most trustworthy sites ever and this is not an ADMISSION OF ANYTHING, Giant Corporate Bank). I was looking over my account and there it was…Two pay-as-you-go phones, Match.com recurring monthly debit and then a cancellation (did you know that OKStraightPeople is $36 a month!!!???), and a pizza place in California.

It did not really bother me too much, since these things are so impersonal. I called, cancelled the card, etc. It did make me think of an old friend of mine who had her bank card number lifted right as she was traveling in to the U.S. and then went bonkers about how evil Americans crimed her, when it turned out that all the fraud was frauded in her own country. I still laugh when I think of that–not at the misfortune of being robbed, but how certain situations can bring out our deep and not-so-secret prejudices.

Heirloom is my favorite, though purple roses struggle here.

THING THE SECOND: I don’t know if this deserves its own Legal Beat update, but this is just to say that star of stolidness and screeds, Seattle Federline, is being VERY amusing as of late. Seriously. As you may recall a guardian at litem was appointed (by court order) to our case in December in the event that we did not just immediately settle.

We mediated in late January or early February and I don’t think I wrote about it because man was it a big bag of suck. That was when I was kind of running out of gas and jollytimes and working at shitty contract and this was just one more thing on the shit pile. It was shuttle mediation, where you sit in one room and the other party sits in the other room, at his insistence, which is unfortunate because I really wanted a chance to wear my new snake wig out somewheres.

The mediator was all Hard Bargain Harriet and I think she was trying basic bitch mind tricks or something, because I had canceled mediation the previous summer and I quote myself here (you’re welcome future biographer*):

For my mediation appointment with SeaFed we were required by the mediator to submit a statement saying why we wanted to mediate. I’m grateful to her for this since it clarified everything for me like bang. I would not allow myself to reply “I don’t want to mediate” so I made myself put “to appear cooperative,” which is a pretty shitty reason to do anything you’ll spend a lot of money on and get nothing out of (forced parenting class during my divorce comes to mind as well). He replied, well past the courtesy deadline the mediator asked for, naturally: “My purpose in mediating is to nullify the temporary living arrangement we’ve been adhering to and return to the original parenting plan.”

Well, that tore it. What a colossal waste of time this expensive discussion would be. I was also lulzing at the fact that when SeaFed is put into some kind of grown-up communication situation, he never uses one word when three officious ones would do, much like I imagine a twelfth-grade honors English essay reads. With a great sense of relief, I cancelled the appointment, saying that I didn’t think it was the right venue in which to make a change like this…because…it’s NOT.

COUGH anyway once I got in front of her she said, “I thought YOU were the difficult one since you canceled mediation. I never would have advised a client to say that they merely wanted to ‘appear cooperative.” Okay, a. not my most brilliant move ever and b. way to play hardball, lady. I am shaking in my negged boots over here. She also told me that I didn’t have a snowball’s chance of getting what I wanted, in spite of the fact that what I wanted was what we’ve been doing, because she has Seen Things in Many a Courtroom.

This struck a false note with me, and I was done. We drew up something tentative, which SeaFed refused to sign, having been wanged by signing the Memorandum of Understanding in mediation in 2007. I took this as a clue that he was not buying her bullpucky either. I could not ask him, of course, since he was elsewhere. As I was leaving she said, “The next time we meet we push forward. We are not changing anything written down on this paper.”

“Mmmhmmm,” I replied, which is SJ for “I am done with you but have learned not to command people to fuck off and die willy-nilly.”

So nothing happened, and nothing happened, and we did not discuss mediation, and then in May(?) SeaFed sent a proposed parenting plan that looked very like the weirdy stuff from mediation. I made notes on it to the point where it became a different plan and sent it to my lawyer, asking her advice. Recently we had to furnish a witness list to court and get the ball rolling on the guardian ad litem and that is where SeaFed has decided to throw the brakes on. The GAL intake form was 107 questions (and there was a bonus “short” form about a quarter of that size). The retainer is $1450. I can’t imagine this had anything to do with the series of panicked emails he sent after the GAL contacted him recently. I reminded him we were on deadlines and that mediation had failed, due to the fact that we didn’t agree on anything and did not have a signed parenting plan.

“Mediation was successful!” he declared to me, the GAL, and my lawyer via email. “Expressions of complete and total surprise!” he narded on. I was ready to have my first appointment with the GAL and she called an canceled on me morning of. “Mr. SeaFed seems surprised and confused by all of this, so I will wait to hear back from him again…I know this is a court order but we should wait a bit if we can save you both some money.”

“Okay,” I said.

Later SeaFed sent out an email politely declining the GAL’s services. I had the exquisite joy of watching my exhusband politely decline a court order. Schadenlulz turned to schadenweeing my pants. I emailed my lawyer: “Can he politely decline a court order?” Her: “Um, no.”

I think the time is finally right to send on my proposed parenting plan–it’s ready now.

Nightmere

THING THE THIRD: Did you know that Modern Clue (aka Cluedo) has taken away the honoraries of the guests? I was thinking about how the men always had Professor or Colonel, but the ladies were all Miss or Mrs. This is very freeing, actually, since I remember the old names, but now Mrs. White is Dr. White when we play. Take that, patriarchy. And now Miss Scarlet is bringing Fierce Drag Queen realness.

I am almost always Colonel Mustard, since I have always identified with and admired pompous asses. His flavor text is still pompous: “Did I ever tell you about my glorious football years?” I approve. When I was a kid and I would stare at all the pieces in the Clue board that my mother and her siblings abandoned along with the rest of her childhood at my grandmother’s trailer, I liked to imagine the Colonel had elephant-foot umbrella stands and oryx heads on his walls.

Strudel cheats. “No, I have never seen a Mrs. Peacock card in my hand in my life.” Later: “Whoops!” You know if she is marking clues down mid-game and it is not her turn, then good fucking luck at the pool house. Usually everyone dies. I declare it Cluethulu.

* Working title: Cuntligula and the Art of Mastodon Maintenance

“If it isn’t Captain Clip-On.”

ONE THE GIVING OF THE FANGS

Recently I asked Strudel what her favorite part of Christmas is. I almost Pocahonta’d my pants when she said “FEAST.” Franny did the same, asked me what I was making before she went off to her dad’s for her first leg of the Xmas Cycle. (I get her back on the 26th.) I was thinking of not cooking at all since it’s been such a disaster lately.

I don’t think I even wrote about Thanksgiving and how it went–I wrote about it right before things went all LEGAL DOCUMENT and OMG A CAMEO STARRING MY MOTHER etc.

I was thinking about bunking on cooking because I was the first one with the stomach bug that was going around, and I was still kind of weak on Thanksgiving. The girls INSISTED I cook, and I already had the ingredients, plus I invited my sister, so I figured I should go for it. Sadly, I had to cancel on her last minute because P. was vomiting ON Thanksgiving Day, and I did not want to bring her into to a den of germs.

So we rallied and started cooking while P. was laid up moaning.

The girls helped, which was awesome.

Just as we were sitting down to dinner, Franny left and started barfing. Later on Strudel pretended to be barfing. “Yes mother, I made it to the toilet, vomited neatly, then flushed,” which had much the same effect in that I ended up coddling her and made a little bed for her on my floor. About a week later Strudel caught the bug for real.

2011 can bite a nutsack really. I am stabbing this year in its back on the way out.

I decided to just do a breast this year, which is still a sizable chunk of turkey. Of course I brined it and it came out very well. I took a picture and was going to post it, but it was a little…hmmm.

Uhhhhhhh

Ah yes, that’s what legless turkey makes me think of.

There was also some sweeee potato casserole, something I have come to very late in life. Dunno why.

And I made a pumpkin cream pie, which was mostly eaten by the person who was well enough to eat it, me.

I redid Thanksgiving a few days later using leftover stuffing and turkey and fresh cranberries and potatoes and there was much rejoicing.

Back to Christmas, which I started with waaay up there. Now through all my ambulations you can maybe understand why I am hesitant to cook a “FEAST” for Christmas. But if I do, it will be duck.

TWO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DEADBEAT DAD

A few days ago Strudel asked me about Christmas Steve. I had been telling the girls that I thought they were well-behaved enough this year that he might not even show up.

“I think YOU are Christmas Steve,” Strudel said.

“Mmmm,” I said noncommittally from the cheese log where I was perched.

“I think YOU do all the things.”

“Do you really think I would eat part of your gingerbread house and give your sister a trophy that says #1 SUCKY on it in Sharpie?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“I see.”

“Are you Christmas Steve?”

“Yes, I am,” I said. She cried a little then, but now she thinks it is very funny.

“It was YOU ALL ALONG,” she says.

THREE RANDOMATA

Franny asked for guinea pigs for her birthday, and has been asking for them for months. I felt bad because as her birthday approached in October, her dad was serving me with paperwork to get back to 50/50. I did not want to be a dick about it, but I also did not want to be solely caring for her pets half of the time. I have lovely cats and chickens and other things that deserve my attention. My attitude is, guinea pigs are not my thing, but I will help and supervise to make sure they are getting proper care and nutrition.

So, after things had been settled court-wise, we took the plunge for Christmas.

This is Cloud and Misty. I am relieved a hundred times over that she did not name them Hammy and Porky as she originally threatened to. Misty, interestingly enough, is the name of one of my lawyers. Franny heard it and loved it. And now we have Legal Pigs. They are darling. I really wish I would have kept them as a child instead of hamsters, but they would not have done well with my mother’s laissez-faire attitude toward pets.

Speaking of fuzzballs.

Gertie hogs my cheez log. The girls have been with me for about a year now and they are doing really well. The kittens turned a year old in September but they still have a little of that adolescent thing hanging on. One thing that I did not really expect is how separate they all are. There will be no more than two cats on my bed at any given time. Gertie is like Nietzsche in that she will follow us around and see what we are up to. Matilda will sleep on my shoulder at night. Mere is still kind of her flaky temperamental self, but does well as long as I don’t pet her below the shoulders. She’s got that cat-sensitivity thing.

Someone stole the ladder, so we decorated the pear tree this year. Tres Charlie Brown, no?

What is happening in legal doings? I will tell you. Last time we spoke, I had just emerged from a courtroom, where I felt like I had been put on that life-draining rack Wesley ended up on in The Princess Bride. Since our next orders were to mediate, I thought things would be kind of calm since then. NOPE.

SeaFed’s lawyer sent an email saying that he had been “forced to withdraw” from SeaFed’s case. There is some speculation that it is less money-related, and more personality-related. I did not blog about this, but as we were standing in the hallway post court hammering out details of the parenting plan, his lawyer said to mine, “Your client is being VERY cooperative in this.” SeaFed would not move on anything.

At first I read this as a condescending head-pat, but now I wonder. Of course I said nothing and kind of forgot about it, since there were bigger fish to fry, and we were busy frying them.

I also discovered that SeaFed had been spraying my lawyer with emails, which she was ignoring, since he has counsel who should be contacting us for anything crucial. Then the withdrawing-attorney thing came out. Then last Wednesday SeaFed started hammering my lawyer and cc’ing me. He was threatening legal action over some confusing language in the temporary plan. He is absolutely a cornered animal right now.

I know I shouldn’t be at this point, but I was pretty shocked how nasty his tone was and how pointless and inappropriate his questions were. My lawyer advised me that this is a common tack to run up the other party’s bill. I implored her to shut him down and begin ignoring him. I think he is going to be a nightmare on a pro se basis as this continues.

And there was one other thing I did not tell you, because I did not realize it until a day after court when I got all my paperwork and read it. SeaFed was suing me for attorney’s fees in the motion to modify the parenting plan. As if I was just opening that frivolously!!

So, I have a couple of theories…behold the crinkling of my tin foil hat. SeaFed retained his lawyer to fight child support, and his lawyer suggested the best way to smash child support was to make a motion go back to 50/50 time. At the same time, of course, I was moving to modify the parenting plan, so I assume his lawyer hung on for that. Perhaps SeaFed did not see that as my next logical step. Attorney withdrew because of lack of funds, because SeaFed gambled everything on me losing the motion to modify. Or, he withdrew because of jackassery. It will remain a mystery.

This is the worst cat-and-mouse game ever. I am invisible and the cat has bells glued all over it.

The next move is to mediate. Our deadline is by the end of January, and the mediator is not even available until after the end of this month. She has requested that we mediate separately, and she is a guardian ad litem with training in child psychology so she wants to speak with Franny separately as well. This seems hopeful.

I have a bad feeling SeaFed will dig his heels in and not move on anything here, which will push us to trial next year. What’s he got to lose if he is going pro se? Or perhaps they will mortgage his house or he will beg his father for money.

The next thing also is I have a trial date on January 13 that I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT in all this–child support hearing. I was sent the paperwork alerting me that the trial is approaching and the prosecuting attorney’s office wanted me to sign all the motions and child support worksheets. If we both sign, it’s just settled.

Since he has not submitted one jot of requested financial information, I assume he is not going to sign the paperwork either. They have all his financial information from their research. I submitted up-to-date paystubs and bank statements and signed it all and sent it back. I reckon what will happen is that I will be made to show up on January 13th and it will go through automatically, really. The prosecuting attorney’s office had already decided there was justification to modify the child support order from $0, and now they have appended the recent court actions granting the right to change the parenting plan. I am hoping this will be the most in and out, non-teary court experience I have had.

The potential amount I am being awarded monthly is $340. I want to tell you I think all of this is over $340 a month. I cannot help but wonder what his wife thinks in all this. How would you feel if your spouse/partner had a child who someone else took care of most of the time and took care of 90% of the financial stuff, and not due to an agreed arrangement?

Anyway, that amount should cover her food, really, which will be a great boon. No complaints. It gets bumped again next year when she turns 12, and that should be it until she’s 19. We should “break even” on court costs and legal fees about two years into child support, but the knowledge that there will be official paperwork in place keeping everything straight is priceless.

First Date with SeaFed: Second Base, Third Base, Homerun

You know what’s even more fun than a bag full of rabid hamsters? Dating rules. You know what’s actually fun, though, for serious? BREAKING DATING RULES. SeaFed was a flagrant violation of at least one of the top ten “dating rules” (and probably three or more actually): do not date coworkers, or more elegantly put, don’t get your meat where you get your bread. I was never good at keeping kosher.

I interviewed for the job on Halloween. It was a record store with a good rep, which is to say they played their music loudly, their clerks ranged from stoned, asleep, to Jack Black-snotty, and the selection was good. I had only worked in one music department before, as a Best Buy Smurf, but I have always had a good hustle and talked a good game, so they were willing to try me out. My future (male) boss, who was interviewing me, was dressed in drag for Halloween, not even drag-queeny, but with an unappealing shade of coral inexpertly smeared across his small lips and leaking into his perpetual stubble. He briefly mentioned that there was a jazz section upstairs and that it pretty much belonged to one clerk–SeaFed.

On my first day I was introduced around to the other clerks. SeaFed came breezing through the breakroom pushing his bike and my boss, now in his regular uniform of a threadbare tee shirt and holey jeans, introduced me to him. “This is SeaFed. He runs the jazz department and thinks that American jazz from 1955 to 1968 is the only legitimate form of music, so heads up on that.”

“Hello,” he said, and winked at me. He had a nice voice. He still has a nice phone voice, albeit with that grating Seattle/PNW accent. You don’t put a dagger in a bag, you put the “dayger” in the “beg.” The stuff that goes on pancakes is see-rup, not “sir-up.” The accent is subtle, to me, but I hear it.

When we were scheduled together for the first few days I tried to figure out what his deal was. He was always flirting with me, but he seemed to be always flirting with everybody–customers, our boss, other clerks, men, women, trash cans, it did not seem to matter. He just oozed charm.

I came home and told my roommate about him. “He has the most intense blue eyes,” I said. “Hmmp,” she said, which is what she usually said about guys I was interested in until she found a way to sleep with some of them, then I presume she found more to say to them, at least. (More on her during another first date story.)

I started to get the vibe that he was gay for some reason. And this is not a “ha, ha, I thought my ex-husband was gay when I first met him” part of the story, obviously. I just did. I had to ask around, because I was curious about him. A couple of co-workers were of the opinion that he was straight, and while they could not recall him dating since starting at the store six months before me, they did remember him talking about girls or something. I decided to flirt with him more, just to see what would happen, and since I was only dating a couple of people very casually at the time.

After a couple of weeks, he asked me out, in that low-key way that the very young work things out. “Soooo you want to hang out or something?” he asked.

“When?” I said.

“How about tonight?”

“Sure,” I said, pretending to be calm.

He gave me his number and told me to call him at 10 that night. WHOA THAT WAS SERIOUS, MAN. You have to be completely cool to start a date at ten. I had been in Seattle for three months and had been 18 for only a couple of weeks. Having a very late-night date felt very big city and grown up, so obviously I still had the bruise from where I landed when I fell off the turnip truck.

I transferred SeaFed’s phone number off the back of my hand to the mirror with my eyeliner, so I wouldn’t lose it in the shower. I got ready, showering, dressing, and putting makeup on very carefully. At the appointed hour I called–no answer. I called back a few minutes later–still no answer. I left a voicemail. After an hour, I realized I had been blown off and gave up.

I saw him at work the next day and was cool to him. “Uh…so,” he said. I gave him the eyebrow of mild indifference. “Sorry about last night. Can I make it up to you tonight?” He smiled his sexy “I’m not exactly Jude Law, but Jude Law isn’t here, is he” smiles and I broke yet another one of those dating rules–don’t give someone who dogs you out another chance. He didn’t even have a good excuse as to why he blew me off. It was 10:30 at night–I can’t imagine he was so busy. Nor did he claim emergency. I am a recovering dumbass so I decided it didn’t matter.

We were set for him to pick me up at my place and he arrived right on time, pressing my buzzer, which made my heart leap. “This could be fun,” I thought. I emerged from my building to see his friend in the front seat. “Maybe SeaFed’s dropping him off,” I assumed.

NOPE. The friend, who was an asshat I saw a lot more of after that, unfortunately, was along for the ride. I told myself we were just “hanging out,” as he’d said, and this wasn’t a date as I’d assumed. We picked up a bottle of wine and went back to his house. Was I supposed to be doing this, going back to the house of a man I barely knew with his friend? Probably not. Luckily for me, typical SeaFed in those days was more unthinking and tuned out than malicious.

I chatted with both him and his friend for a while and got very tipsy. The friend told embarrassing stories about SeaFed. I didn’t know it at the time, but being a superior pompous ass was kind of his trademark. He told me that SeaFed used to smoke American Spirits because he misread the label as “non-addictive” instead of “no additives.” I hardly noticed when his friend disappeared off to bed (it turned out he was living with SeaFed for a bit), since SeaFed was the one who was interesting to me.

He moved fast. I stood up, probably to get some more water to mitigate the after effects of the red wine. He stood with me, and leaned in to kiss me. He was assertive, but not rough. I was relieved he was taking the lead because none of our attempts at dating had gone the way I had expected real actual dates to go.

Before him I had fuckbuddies and people I pined after who would sleep with me once and a while and the kind of relationships you had in high school–I had higher standards for the way we would get to know each other, for some reason.

The sex was okay. On the scale of all the sex, it rates a “hmm…meh.” On the scale of first date sex, I think we can say it was your pretty typical tipsy young people hetero first date sex. No one achieved enlightenment, but no one ended up with an accidental wang in the ear. He was your typical pasty skinny white boy thing, with extraordinarily large and well-defined thighs from all his bike riding. No other tattoos or identifying marks.

After it was over, my crotch felt funny, and not in a typical “I just had ill-advised sex, I know, because I can see my bad idea pants on the floor from over here, and boy condoms are still kind of irritating” way. I put my hand to my baby cannon and kind of gave it the once over…HO my labia piercing was missing. It had gotten knocked out during the humpenation in the humpery.

“Oh no!” SeaFed said when I told him.

“It’s okay, it never really healed right,” I said.

If that’s not sexy, I don’t know what is. You bring a girl home and she tells you that her genital piercing never really healed right. Rawr! After that, we saw each other most nights.