Thursday, January 28, 2010

Solidarity in Blue Eyeshadow & Crazy Hair

I couldn't let the fabulous Sassafrass aka Jessica "dangle out here alone online with the people who publish photos of their stretchmarks and bunions..." as she so eloquently put it.  So I'm sharing some mortifying pictures of my childhood in the 80's.

This is the only copy of these pictures from a photo album that got lost when I moved to AZ, or in my sister's basement flood, not sure which.

Also, like Jess, I have moved the bright colors from my eyelids to my nails.  Yes, that's light blue shadow & liner in the big blond hair picture.  And if I could tell my 8th grade self anything, it would be to look in a mirror after gym before going to get pictures taken! Good lord girl...find a COMB! (and don't kiss that Chris boy either)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thinking Warm

When I start hating Chicago for dreary, gray days and half-melted gray snow, I dig up my pictures of Tucson so I can be warm inside my heart.  I long for sun drenched skin, sizzling hot pavement, and beautiful sunrises almost every single day over the mountains.  My soul sees these pictures and wants to just run away with my son to a place with almost year round sunshine. I miss sitting on my patio with the hummingbirds flying around, a cup of tea, and the sun rising up to shine and warm me.  In my current life or rushing and chaos, I miss the quiet of that time. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snips and Snails and Puppydog Tails

My son is going through a typical phase wherein everything has the words butt, fart, poops, etc.  I hope he grows out of this eventually, or at least out of my earshot, because it's gross even if it's normal.  I'm just not big on body-function humor.  Honestly, if he purposely puts his butt on his future wife and farts on her, like he does to me right now, I'm really sorry future wife!  Where he got this from I don't know because I'm pretty sure Disney doesn't have their characters farting on anyone...or at all.  Last time I checked Sesame Street characters didn't poop, and even Scooby Doo isn't that disgusting!  So I'll just be glad when this phase is less visible at home and left to impressing his friends.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

State Gov't vs. Federal Gov't


Let the battle begin!  My state government is taking the federal government on in a battle to the death to get my child support paid.  We'll see whose excuses win the battle in court, but my child and I are still the losers while my money is being held hostage.  I did all the footwork for them, and they still can't solve it without court.  Meaning, who knows how long it's going to take now.  I get to wait for the State's Attorney to contact me. Seriously, I wish I could sue them both for being completely incompetent.

A perfect example of the ineptitude of the child support system:
  • State office finally calls federal office on Wednesday, Dec. 23 after the two orders were sent & ignored.
  • Federal has recording of hours they're in office: M, Ts, Th, F from 9a-12 & 1-3p. NOT Wednesdays!
  • State leaves message thinking they'll get a call back.
  • State doesn't call again until Wednesday, Jan 6 - two weeks later and on WEDNESDAY!
  • State tells me today they can't reach anyone in federal's office.  Seriously.
So not only did they not try during the hours indicated on the federal office recording, they waited two weeks for someone to call them back.  Not calling back themselves the next Monday after Christmas, or even a Monday after New Years, but on Wednesdays, when it says clearly that no one is there!

Today the ex and I decided to work it out on our own while they delay paying me even longer.  It's obvious it's going to be a very long while until I see any money.  In all of this, I'm thankful my ex and I are pleasant to each other and can work this out while the government offices waste our time.  I can't imagine having to deal with the courts alone to handle this!  I really feel for the parents who are out there chasing an ex and dealing w/the courts to get their money, if they ever get it at all.

How the Government is Holding my Child Support Hostage

I know this is very long, but it's five long months of inefficiency and blame by two government offices. Offices put in place to make getting child support to custodial parents easier. 

Starting before my divorce finalized in 2007, an order to withhold income (child support) was officially filed with the courts and payments were taken from my almost ex-husband's paychecks.  He worked for a private employer, and I never had a problem receiving it.  His ex-girlfriend also had a previous support case that was set up through the state years ago.

Fast forward to August 2009.  My ex starts a new job with the federal government and I assume the change in information to continue my child support will be no problem.  I mean, this is pretty standard.  Mail the income withholding papers and it's done, just like with his previous job.

At first, I was optimistic about the process.  My divorce lawyer mailed the order of support to the ex's new job thinking it would get processed.  After a month, and two pay periods, went by I didn't get a payment.  I didn't receive any information regarding the child support paperwork or see anything online that would indicate a problem.  This began my long, horrible journey to try to get my child support.

First, I started with the federal department in charge of withdrawing the payments from my ex's checks.  They should have received the withholding notice from my lawyer and implemented it.   That's when I was told that they don't accept mailed orders anymore, such as the one my lawyer sent, and it had to be sent electronically from my state.  I was informed I had to fill out my state's paperwork just to get an appointment to begin the process & that could take over a month.  Basically a legal order could be ignored by the federal government just because they make their own rules!  A letter informing someone of the change would have been a standard courtesy.  I contacted my divorce lawyer to let him know of the glitch and he gave me some basic information about what to expect.

In September, I filled out and mailed the application and attached the current order, as indicated in the instructions.  I waited patiently and with optimism in my trusting little heart.  I thought, "I'll go in, they'll review & enter my order, and I'll get my money right after they send it electronically to the ex's job."  How hard can it be now that we have computers to send information?  It's not as if we were starting a new case or modifying anything.  It was a standard order being transferred to a new job.  Really basic! 

In October, I got my appointment with the state child support office.  I saw it online before I got the letter in the mail.  I should have known when I didn't get the letter for two weeks after seeing it online!  I had all my paperwork ready, and was prepared to wait in a lobby with a bunch of people trying to get money from deadbeats who didn't want to pay.  I assumed I'd be in and out pretty quickly though.  Note my continued optimism.  At this point, it was only 3 missing payments, 1.5 months unpaid.  I had my savings & school financial aid to supplement my monthly income.

So there wasn't a wait, but they were a mess!  The receptionist couldn't find my paperwork I mailed in, and the guy in the state office did not inspire confidence at all either.  He barely let me speak, said my appointment could have been over the phone, and got my information confused with my ex's first order for his ex.  I left feeling less optimistic but still hopeful that it would only be a month max, giving time for whatever research they had to do and the electronic sending of withholding notice.

I stalked the state child support website to see when it would update with my information.  I saw his ex get her payments.  I saw when her increase went through around the same time mine was being filed.  I waited through October since they get almost a month before anyone will do anything.  Nothing happened.

November still nothing.  December more nothing.

I made phone calls to everyone office possible.  I got hung up on after sitting on hold for 30+ minutes.  I've sat on hold for two hours at a time trying to get answers.  I've been given conflicting information.  The federal government said they never got the order, even though I have a copy that was sent.  The state government says they sent it but the back support takes months to review and post.  I don't even CARE about that and I just wanted a freaking payment!  My savings and financial aid dwindled, and I had to start working ridiculous hours every week.  I'm told the state will resend the order and I have to wait 10 business days to call back during the holidays where ten days is over two weeks.  I'm talked to like I am a moron who hasn't been calling for months to get money for her child.  The most annoying thing is that his job assumed I was his ex-gf and told me I'm getting my payments.  So obviously if one of us is getting child support, the system works in some kind of way.  Just not for me.  Yelling and crying don't work either.

Now it's January and I still have not seen a payment from his employer!  I'm so beaten down I didn't even want to call his employer to see if they got the second order and letter about noncompliance.  They again claim they didn't get it, but magically they got the order for providing medical...which he doesn't even have!!! WTF?!  My state offices indicated they're working on it and tried to contact his job, but I had to leave a message to get more information.

Supposedly there are daily fines for an employer disregarding an order of support, but apparently they don't apply to the federal government because they make their own rules.  Also, they just keep claiming that they didn't get it.  Somewhere, somehow there's a breakdown and no one wants to talk to anyone else to fix this.  I'm doing all the work to follow up and no one is telling me anything.  All I can do is pray that tomorrow I'm able to have the state office CALL the federal office and figure out what happened.

It boggles the mind that a legal order, already set in place and not changed one single bit, can take so long to get through the system!  This isn't them trying to find someone trying to hide from paying.  This isn't an order being modified in any way at all.  This isn't a new order that has never had a payment made on it.  This is a legal, binding document that is being ignored by the federal government because they claim they're not getting an 'electronic' order that supposedly goes in automatically.

Why didn't my lawyer or I get a letter stating they weren't accepting mailed orders when they got mine?  Why do I have to call and call and call to find this all out myself?  Why can't someone give me a straight answer?  How, in this day and age of computers or even old-school fax machines, can this not get figured out?  Why do I have to wait 10 to 15 business days before I can call anyone when the federal government hasn't paid me?  Why does it take 30 days from an order being sent out before my state can send a noncompliance letter?

If it's this bad for me because of a simple job change from private employer to government employer, how broken must it be for others?  Sadly, if I had not been married to the ex and had the state do my order originally rather than a divorce lawyer, this would all be a non-issue.  I don't understand why the state support offices don't process child support orders to begin with when a divorce is finalized.  His ex-girlfriend didn't have any of these problems with the job change because she had to go through the state in the first place.  This whole situation has been completely overwhelming trying to navigate a system they make so difficult.

Finally, the big question is why doesn't he give me the child support payments directly or send them to the disbursement office rather than building up back support all these months & watching me struggle?  It's valid and seems to make sense if we thought a payment wouldn't mess up things even more.  Seriously, they can't even figure out why my order isn't going through, God forbid I put a payment through the completely separate disbursement office and I might break the system completely.  The ex and I are on civil terms and we've discussed this at length.  I was also told later that until my account showed any type of balance, his payment would be returned to him or go to his ex-girlfriend's account!  Also, he has helped out but we both thought that with each check the support would be taken out.  We're both at a loss now.  If I don't get answers tomorrow, he and I will have to discuss how to fix this problem.  My hands are tied and I am physically exhausted from this endeavor to get my son's money from the federal government. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

Decade in Review

Since it's going around the blogger interwebs, I figured "why not?"

2000 - I don't remember that well.  I had two big breakups.  One was a long term boyfriend I left and the other one, while shorter, hurt just as much since it was because he indicated it was because I didn't want babies. (Oh the irony in hindsight.) 

2001 - I got really skinny (125#) from mostly eating goldfish crackers and M0untain Dew (not recommended) and basically lived in a Yah00 chat room.  Although that's how I met my ex-husband (Mr. Man), I can see how shutting everyone out in real life might have been was a tad extreme.  I started blogging on diary-x and livejournal.  I was probably the most free and happy I'd been in a long time that summer.  I worked nights for a while and then later got an awesome job that paid crap but I loved it.

2002 - I was really happy.  Things were going smoothly.  Then I had a car accident without insurance (oops), gall bladder surgery without insurance (ouch), and filed bankruptcy (sad).  I also lived in a mansion just renting a room for three months and then with my sister for a year.  I did my first ever cross-country road trip.  Mr. Man and I went to AZ to see his family.  I was so in love.

2003 - Moved to AZ to live by myself and my cousin helped to drive just an SUV full of my things.  The rest got left in my sister's basement.  Then there was a flood in her basement about 3 months after I got to AZ, and I lost all my books and everything else I'd been saving for years and years.  Gone. But I was still in love! Mr. Man finally moved in with me for a few months then was back in IL for school and work soon after.  It was hard.  We had a great summer visit in IL though.  I kept busy with my new friends who were all really kind to me.

2004 - I got lazy about my weight and gained about 40 pounds, which probably looked better than 125 did.  I was working and I started college again.  I visited my family and Mr. Man for Christmas & New Years.  I got engaged on Christmas Eve and then married on the day after New Years. I went back to my life in AZ right after the ceremony without my new husband.  I quit my job to go to school full time.  I was not the happiest wife living all alone and it certainly showed.  Mr. Man and I decided to separate for good after only 8 months.  It was a sad end to the year. 

2005 - My mom came for her first visit and I hid that I was separated.  I had hid that Mr. Man and I were not together in AZ from my whole family except for a select few.  I was embarrassed to tell my family and I felt like a huge failure.  I got straight A's in the community college, which was great when I applied for 4-year colleges!  Then Mr. Man showed up unexpectedly in August (as was his M.O.) to get the rest of his things, and we kinda sorta made a baby that day. *Ahem*  No, it was not a joyous, bring-us-back-together moment when I told him.  I dropped out of the college I was so excited about, and moved home to IL to have my baby...alone.  I walked right into single parenthood hoping for a happy ending. Yes, everyone asked if it was his since we lived in IL and AZ respectively and everyone knew we were separated.  Hilarious.

2006 - Our son was born in May & I created this blog not long after I think.  Before the birth I was a temp, lost a real job, and then got evicted two days before Noah was born.  Mr. Man & I were moving boxes into my cousin's basement in the rain and we got rear-ended very gently but still. Noah came the next day, 1 day early, via c-section only 12 hours after my water broke.  I got my tubes tied.  Four days in the hospital and I spent those four days arguing about what to name our child.  I had one 20 minute visit from Mr. Man in the hospital, and my cousin was there in the delivery room.  My dad came and got me after Noah and I got out of the hospital, and he took me to stay in WI.  He had a stroke a week later on Mother's Day.  It was a scary and hectic time.  I eventually found a job babysitting part time overnights so Noah could come with me.  I was broke but not broken.  Having a newborn was easy and I think I surprised everyone that I wasn't always in a panic.  He was easy and I felt calm.  I was just...careful.  Hey, I have a thing about germs & I had grand plans about parenting!  So sue me.  I moved back to my cousin's house in IL around Christmas.

2007 - Mr. Man and I tried to work things out, sort of, or something.  It didn't work.  I got a job I liked, but Noah got sick from the daycare and kept getting sent home, that ended that.  It was hard.  I was stressed out, angry, completely focused on my life, and just not as nice as I could have been.  I was trying to pick up the pieces and nothing was working.  Living with others is not my strong suit, to say the least.  Things happened and I ended up in transitional housing.  So while I was technically homeless from the time my child was born, this was a time when I hit a wall and ran out of other options.  At the same time I needed to move, we found out my mom had pancreatic cancer.  At that time we didn't know if it would be weeks, months, or years.  Usually it's weeks.  We got lucky and her's is slow growing and rare.  Through all that, Mr. Man and I were not being nice to each other, and I filed for divorce.  I really second guessed this decision but I had to do it to stay in the housing program basically.  Over the course of a year I went on 2 or more interviews a week with no results.  It was horrifying and discouraging and incomprehensible.  I went to job seminars on improving my resume and interviewing.  It was the start of the economy crashing, and I couldn't understand why I couldn't get hired when it was never a problem for me before. The worst one was going on a second interview for a large national lab and they lost funding the next day which caused a hiring freeze.  It's the first time I cried in front of other people in years.  My weight went back up to where I was when I gave birth to Noah.   It was the worst year ever. I basically lost everything & alienated most my family.  The only good thing that year was starting my single moms group.  I also learned how to be really resourceful.

2008 - I got my job working from home, transitional housing ended with drama over my working from home, and my toddler tried to take me down with his terrible twos!  Throughout all of the insanity I stayed in school.  My grades fell but I kept going.  The hardest part of my year was dealing with a very active, strong-willed child.  My blog may say differently, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it! LOL 

2009 - I had the horrors of potty training, chasing my child support through the government systems, and almost flunking out of school.  That was it.  Compared to to 2007, I'm happy with that! Everyone else in my family had some personal struggles this year.  I had a few financial bumps but I really felt good in general this year.  I worked 55+ hours a week every week and failed at finding time alone.  I mostly struggled with parenting issues and if that's the worst of my stress, I'm cool. 

2010 - I guess these would be my 'resolutions'.  I'm going to work on being a happier parent, and being healthier so I can enjoy my son to the fullest.  Noah starts preschool this year since potty training is complete (just nighttime).  I also have plans to move in the spring to a somewhat nicer area.  I hope to start seriously dating and we'll see where that goes.  It's a good time for changes that I choose to make, rather than change I have to make due to circumstance.

You know, I look at this and I realized it could have been so completely different.  In 2005, I almost terminated my pregnancy and now would have had my Bachelor's in Computer Science and be working on my Masters.   I could've stayed in AZ and not destroyed my credit by moving back to IL but I wouldn't have my family or even the ex (Mr. Man) around to help me at all.  I also would not have my job working from home, which even on the worst days isn't as bad as commuting in the snow early in the morning.  This also was one of those moments were I remembered everything happens for a reason.  Had I not lost my job/apartment when I had NOah, I wouldn't have been in WI for my dad & stepmom after his stroke.

Even though there's been SO many struggles to get to where I am now, we made it out okay.  I'm content, and my child is happy and just wonderful.  I often remind myself how lucky I am to be where I am now.  I see people walking in the frigid cold and snow and I am grateful for having a running vehicle, warm clothes, my apartment, and food to eat.  My family completes that picture.  Through everything it always comes back to family.  Nothing else matters.

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts with Thumbnails