Post Election 2016

I had to go home from work yesterday because I started crying during Hillary’s (and then Obama’s) speech. In a government office where CNN is constantly on, I couldn’t escape it. I cried for my sister, who (due to pre-exisiting conditions) will probably lose her health care in the coming months, if Obamacare is repealed. My boyfriend (a mechanic turned student) would also lose his.  Like many Millenial couples, we’re not married so he can’t be added to my health plan.
I know many, many people in our country are unhappy with the state of their lives. We all had to face harsh realities in the past 8 years. But the key word was REALITY: the USA had a mess to clean up, serious economic, environmental and social issues we had to address. And we were, but the growing pains were VERY apparent. I understand that Obama was asking A LOT of from a country that was entrenched in the way things were.
But I really believe this country was moving forward. Thousands of people finally were able to get insurance. Love was no longer being discriminated against, and my own sister (plus many other friends) was able to finally get married to her partner. We had a president who was actually addressing the fact that our environment was collapsing, and for our kids to literally have a viable PLACE TO LIVE in the future, a major overhaul of the current dependence on fossil fuel was not only necessary but MANDATORY.
And yes, these things changes were extremely difficult for a lot of people. Jobs based on oil, coal and gas were going away, insurance premiums were going up, and people were suffering the brunt of that. I know this. I’m not ignoring this. I see my friends struggling with this everyday. I wish insurance companies and oil corporations had stepped up to offer a cushion for their employees, giving them incentives for being healthy, and ways to transition to green energy careers.  But they weren’t willing to take the financial hit the government was forced to hand out, and it ended up falling on the people. I don’t blame the government for trying to make us healthier and our environment cleaner. These are things that will benefit us in the longer run. But for half of our country, the immediacy of these decisions felt like an assault on their very livelihood. It was like a punch in the gut, which triggered a lot of anger.
For me, when faced with this reality, I had to ask myself “What’s more important? My personal finances or the viability of our planet? My bills, or a very sick person’s health?”  I suppose it all comes down to “me vs. them.” Are we willing to sacrifice parts of our lives in order for others to have a better one? I think that those 2 schools of thought are really the driving force behind what happened during this election. Are we able to look beyond our own struggles, or is the pain, loss, anger and hardship too much for us to bear? I think that when we are in a state of panic over the thought of eviction, bankruptcy, default and poverty (of our children!) we are unable to see beyond those psychological blinders. And as many Trump supporters might say “Why should we?”
But some of us really believe that if we pay our due then the government will return the favor. I am evidence of that. When the housing market crashed, and the economy was so bad I couldn’t afford my own rent, I moved in with my mom and saved until I could find a place (with government assistance). I relied on Head Start (a government funded child care), I lived off food stamps and did what I could (including donating my own DNA to a childless couple) to finally get where I could support myself. It was a combination of hard work, luck (or the planets :P), government help and support from family and friends. I used government programs the way they were intended. I watched my mother in her job as a Social Worker, and saw how our taxes went to work to help people. I saw the struggles, the defeats, the cheaters, but also the success stories (me).
 
I am not an island. I would not be living a reasonably comfortable life without the help of my family and friends and YES the GOVERNMENT. As a head of household and primary breadwinner, I know I cannot do it alone. I too have a family relying on me to support them. I have bills to pay like everyone else. I think both sides of the divide can understand this!  However, I do not blame my struggles on minorities or “illegals taking our jobs” or those who abuse the system. I don’t blame Obama for having to face almost a decade of problems to fix and making some of the most difficult decisions a president can make.
I don’t care that if taxes are high if that means a better education, health care and community resources for our kids. Some people do. I think racism, sexism, classism, and bigotry are behind a great many American’s decision making, but I know that good people voted for Trump too. People who’s lives were thrown into total chaos because of the changes Obama was making. I feel for all who suffered.
But I’m scared. I see people unwilling to be understanding and compassionate. The IDGAF attitude that elected Trump wanted to set a bomb off in our country’s face. OK, but how are we going to deal with the fallout? Who’s going to clean up (if possible) the mess? I feel like lines will be drawn, and innocent people like our children will suffer. There doesn’t need to be a war, but it’s almost as if people would rather see our country become an episode of the Walking Dead than continue the way it was going. And that scares the shit out of me.

Dooby

*Note: my apologies up front for this long, raw, post. I had to get it out. You may hate me after reading this.

When Rooferman and I first got together, I gave him a dog. My gay friend’s hairdresser told me about a pit bull that a single mom was being forced to get rid of. She was going through a horrible divorce, had 2 kids and was working 2 jobs. She didn’t have time to take care of him, but she loved him so much she didn’t want to just send him to the pound.

Rooferman had mentioned that he wanted a pit bull if he ever got another dog, so I told my gay friend I we should take a trip down to New Mexico and check out the dog.

It was the middle of winter. We walked up to a shoddy-looking trailer, where an exhausted 20-something woman invited us in. Two kids were hanging off what looked like a miniature white horse. The dog stood about thigh-high, and had the biggest head I had ever seen. His jowls drooped in pink curtains, and he had chestnut patches splotched over his white skin. His eyes were calm and kind, as if he didn’t even feel the little rug-rats tugging on his ears.

The single mom bent down and hugged her dog when we said we would take him. As she stood up, we could see tears in her eyes. She loved this dog. We assured her we would take good care of him. He immediately refused to sit in the backseat of my car. Instead, he situated all 80 lbs on my lap, and farted the entire way home.

Rooferman was delighted when I presented him with this monster of a dog. Being good Stoners, we decided to name him “Dooby”, though most of the time we just called him “Doob” or the “Doobster.” He was a tank. The most lovable, happy, mellow tank in the world.

Of course, a lot of things happened between the day I brought Dooby home, and what eventually led up to the following events. We moved 4 times in the next 6 months. We got engaged.  I quit my job. We lived out of our car. We moved to New Orleans. We got pregnant. My gay friend got arrested. We moved into Rooferman’s parent’s house. He got another pit bull. We moved into a spider-infested cabin where LB eventually joined us.

I don’t really want to go into the depths of the misery I was living in after I had LB. My student loans had defaulted. Collection agencies were calling me. I was living off WIC and my daughter was living off my breast milk. Our propane was shut off. I never saw any money after I became solely dependent on Rooferman.

Then Dooby got hurt. One day he started limping, and eventually it got to the point where he was snapping at people, getting into fights with other dogs. It was obvious he was in awful pain, and it was causing him to react violently. We knew it had to be his ACL.

Our dog needed surgery, and I was completely helpless. I had spent every penny of my own money. I had no car. I had no job. I had an infant on Medicaid. I didn’t know what to do.

At this point, Rooferman had started to show his true colors. He was angry most of the time, and the stresses of our life had sent him into chronic physical and emotional shut-down. He would spend hours locked in our room, alternated with hours in the bathroom. Sometimes he just wouldn’t come home at all. He consumed copious amounts of weed to kill the pain. I don’t think he could bear to see the condition of our little family.

After Dooby had bit our neighbor’s dog and drew enough blood to require stitches, Rooferman said these fateful words to me:

“Take him to the pound, or I’m shooting him.”

I retaliated. How could he ask me to do this? I screamed and cried, refusing to take him to the pound where they would most certainly euthanize him. He was a 80-pound pit bull with a torn ACL, what good Samaritan was going to adopt that? While Rooferman was at work, I frantically called vets, asking for payment plans on surgeries. I dreaded the sound of a diesel engine, which meant Rooferman had returned home.

Maybe I was still in love with him at that point. Maybe I really didn’t think he would do it. Maybe I wanted to see what type of man I really was living with. Maybe I was in basic survival mode, and couldn’t think of anything other than making sure my baby was ok. Or maybe I should have blocked the door as Rooferman led Dooby outside. Maybe I was just a coward.

I never saw our dog again.

I feel sick as I’m typing this story. I feel disgust, regret, anger, guilt, pain and grief when I think about what happened to Dooby. I think about the single mom who hugged him the day he became part of our family. I think about the long, lonely days taking care of LB, with only my dog to keep me company. I think of choice Rooferman presented me that day, and how it killed just a little bit more of my faith in him.

I’ve tried to forget a lot of what happened during my relationship with LB’s dad, but sometimes it all comes crashing back. I probably wouldn’t have written this at all, except last night I had a dream about Dooby.

 I dreamed I saw a white dog laying on the side of the road. I stopped the car I was driving and got out. The dog was beaten, bruised, bloody, barely alive. I called Animal Control. I saw that Rooferman’s name was on his name tag. Animal Control arrived and I said I wanted to make a report against Rooferman for cruelty to animals. The guy from Animal Control looked at my dog and shook his head. “He doesn’t look that bad,” he said. He picked Dooby up and threw him in the back of his truck. Then he drove off, and I ran after him, screaming and crying for him to bring my dog back.

I don’t know why I had this dream, or what it means, but I’ve been upset all day about it. I guess that’s why I’m blogging, because I can’t get it off my mind. I don’t know if its because I’m on this Deja Vu/Memory research kick, but ironically, I’m reading this parenting book about dealing with your unresolved issues before you pass them on to your kids. Maybe my brain is telling me I’m obviously not over this.

I don’t know what to say to you, Dooby. I’m sorry I let this happen to you. I wish your life wasn’t cut short the way it was. I miss you, and I loved you very much. I hope you are in a better place.

Bitterness

Hey everyone. I woke up every day this week thinking it was Sunday, so now that I’m actually facing returning to work tomorrow, I finally feel normal*.

*Indication number one that you have no life.

There are three posts I really want to write. Obviously, since this has become my new obsession, they will be on some Single Parent media representations I absorbed myself in this week.

  1. A single mom on an Episode of Intervention (yes, I’ve been staying up late watching Youtube again).
  2. The humorous, only slightly offensive, realistic depiction of single parents in the movie About a Boy (which I finally got around to watching, 6 years later).
  3. The extremely complicated, shocking, emotional and right-on performance of Maggie Gyllenhaal as an estranged single mom in SherryBaby.I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but the movie is just so damn important to me that I keep f***ing up every attempt to write it.

I also completed my Admin Assistant test for this new job. Did I mention if I get hired I can take one college class a semester for…..well…..free? If I stayed long enough, I could chisel a Master’s Degree out of thin air.

I don’t wanna blog about Rooferman today. As my friend Elly commented, I should try not to be bitter. Even though it feels so good to be bitter. Its like picking a scab. Its dark, its disgusting, what’s not to like?

During my Junior year of college, I lived with Elly’s ex boyfriend, where Henry Rollins  was the God of his idolatry. I forget the quote exactly, but it went something about locking yourself in your room and being the King of Misery and Depression. When someone asks you to go out, you say “Noo!! I can’t! I’m too busy being the everlasting, Almighty Lord of Darkness!” 

  What about that quote from White Oleander?  Where Single Mom Michelle Pfeiffer says “Love humiliates you. Hatred cradles you.”

Yeah, that’s pretty much as bitter as you can get.

I’ll see you all in December.

Steady

Rooferman tried to weasel me out of more time last night. He called 30 minutes before I was to pick up LB, saying they were at a restaurant and they just barely got their food, so it would be really nice if we could keep her a little longer.  Just barely? It was 7:00 pm. I could see another long night ahead of me.

The Assclown was making me into the mean mommy again, stealing the poor child away from the good daddy. I would swoop in like a vulture and pry the food out of our cherub’s mouth, dragging her away to the dungeon of single mommyhood. 

I could fabricate every vindictive idea in my mind as to why he waited till the END of his visitation to take his family out to dinner, but I’m making an honest attempt to erradicate my life of anger and spitefulness. I’m trying NOT to buy into the war fantasy I’ve so adeptly inserted into my subconscious.

I didn’t give him a yes or no answer. I told him I would call him when I was on my way to the restaurant, and he could meet me outside. I let myself watch an extra 10 minutes of the Jets/Patriots game and headed into town. 5 minutes later, I was waiting outside of Appplebee’s. LB emerged with the whole family, her face smeared in chocolate.

Blondie’s offspring ran right up to me and shouted gleefully, “LB ate LOTS of ice cream!”

Great. No sleep for me tonight.

I handed Rooferman the schedule for the Love & Logic parenting class we are required to take next week. Its actually a 5-week session, but I doubt he will keep showing up. He told me he had to go back to court next week, so his schedule was a little tight. I told him I would see him next Tuesday. I received the look of death from Blondie (oh right, its parent/teacher conference night…*snicker).

LB replayed her Tuesday routine, walking her feet up the wall as I tried to tuck her in. She asked met to sing her a lullaby, and proceeded to drown me out, singing the same lyrics at maximum volume. I finally sat down at 10:00 pm to update my Netflix queue. Behind me, I could hear the feetsie pajamas shuffling up to my chair. LB, wide-eyed and bushy tailed grinned at me.

“Mommy Hanna you get on compoodor? Mommy Hanna you come back? Mommy Hanna you take shower? Mommy Hanna you go nite nite?”

Nothing quite so picturesque as a 2.5-year-old Gemini hopped up on sugar at 10:00 pm with the full moon blaring down on her her rug-rat hair.

And for some reason, It didn’t bother me last night. There was no mommy meltdown. Even as she crawled into bed with me at 4 am. Even as her tiny fist slugged me in the eye around dawn. My heart stayed at a exhausted, yet steady pace.

Do it yourself Divorce

Last night I went to the Pro Se Divorce Clinic sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center. I was nervous. I don’t know why. I guess I don’t have much faith in the court system, having seen a lot of friends go through legal agony and eventually losing. Even though Rooferman and I never actually took the vows, I figured it was free information, so what the hell.

The Divorce Clinic was presented by Colorado Legal Aide, who informed the group that the reason they put on Pro Se Clinics is that they have a 3-year waiting list for people wanting a divorce. 3 Year Waiting List. Christ, that probably means half of La Plata County wants a divorce! Sadly, I’ve already applied for Legal Aide, and do not qualify.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I walked into that room. I think I was waiting to be discouraged and intimidated by the court system, and my lack of legal knowledge. What did I leave with? Gratitude. Thankfulness. Even a tiny bit of confidence.

For the first time, I was glad Rooferman ditched me with the engagement ring still on my finger. I was the only person at the clinic who didn’t need to go through a divorce before filing for custody. After sitting through an hour and a half of explaining dissolution of marriage, financial assets, filing fees, due process, summons, certificate of service, freezing accounts, my head was spinning. I was totally overwhelmed. There was no WAY I would have remembered all that stuff, had I wanted to file for Divorce.

I looked across the table. There were three couples: one White, one Latino and one Navajo. The Latino couple didn’t say a word the entire 2 1/2 hours. The Native couple was on the ball. They knew their rights, they knew what questions they wanted to ask, they even knew how to work the high-tech coffee maker, while the rest of us balked at the single serving filters.

 The White couple totally baffled me. They laughed and joked with each other the entire time. They asked if they had to file all the same paperwork if they agreed on most issues and if they had to serve each other if they were still living together. I looked at them and thought: These people want a divorce? Why? They get along! They are civil. They look like they actually LIKE each other. The husband even gave his wife his coat when the temperature of the room dropped to 50 degrees.

I really should have been applauding them. They are going to have a great divorce. They probably won’t use the kids against each other. They may even remain friends. Maybe the fact that I can’t even have a phone conversation with my ex was pricking my ego. Maybe I assumed that all failed relationships end like mine, with pain, abandonment and bitterness.

I looked at this couple and my evil internal voice screamed “You get along! You treat each other with respect! Work it out! Don’t get divorced! Don’t you understand how much I wish I could have that?!”

I was judging them. I don’t know the details of their marriage. I don’t know what happened to make them think they couldn’t save their relationship. The pain and suffering of my life was like a black spot on their silky white marriage. After living with a man who would routinely tell me I was a half-ass, that I “didn’t take any pride in my daily work,” the fact that this man put his coat on his wife’s shoulders, triggered such an insane emotional response in me, that I really don’t know how to explain it. It was almost like they were obligated to me (just for treating each other like normal human beings) to work out their marriage.

In the end, I talked to the attorney who had so graciously volunteered her evening to heap information on us poor saps. She was very smart, very reassuring, and actually made me feel like I could do this on my own. I’ve been researching custody in Colorado for almost a year now. I’ve filled out the paperwork about 10 times, but never had the guts to submit them.

But you know what? I think I’m almost ready. I have perspective now, that my life could be a hell of a lot worse. I could be legally attached to this deadbeat. I could be financially responsible for the hot check he wrote last week. I’m not, and I’m grateful. And I really don’t have anything to be scared of.

Right?

P.S. The update on the hot check is nothing really. Poor Ruby went over to his house like I suggested, knocked on his door about 10 times, and waited. After a few minutes of no response, she left him a note in his truck, informing him of the situation. Wouldn’t even answer the door for his own mother.

I’m starting to think the day I pawned that ring was the best day of my life.