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Posts Tagged ‘children’

One Unit of New

A month of crunch at school, a new zeroed-in work schedule, a mild upheaval, a major trounce, new thoughts, refreshed views … that’s all it took to reintroduce me back into the world of blog.

I have a lot of back-reading to do on your blogs and I have swirling piles of ideas for my own. But for today, I need to feel the swing of a bat hitting dead center on a baseball and feel the sharp snap as it’s thrown back to me by my kids. Calzones for lunch and tilapia over rice tonight will bring some wholesome goodness and tang back into my mouth.

It lives and it is moving. And it is seizing the day!

It Was Only Today

It began as most every other day begins – opening the door just before, or exactly on the stroke of midnight. He could always tell the time because the clanging bells from an old church gonged faithfully, and steadily each hour. This time, there were three gongs left as he locked the door behind himself.

A chill escaped from the region of his lower neck through his upper back that caused him to shiver ever so slightly as he took off his coat and hung it up. It was the date, he knew. That date had come again.

Rich in self-loathing, he muttered an “Oh God” and drew on a freshly lit cigarette while he stared down at the empty street. He thought of the semi-celebratory opening of a beer, but was tired enough to deny the impulse. Standing in the shadows and grappling with a bout of ennui were to be the circumstances of the moment. He knew that today would not be unlike many of those days in the past. The past that alarmingly seemed to be distancing itself from his memories.

The church bells had gonged one AM before he realized how long he had been staring at the night zenith and mulling out of focus, listless in his stance with his broad shoulders drooping.

Sleep was alternatively deep and on occasion, frustratingly light – waking for no reason and without even a remnant of a dream sequence that might have caused him to awaken so sharply. Bright early morning came with the reminder that because he hadn’t slept his normal and consecutive hours in a row, he would probably take a late afternoon nap. A reminder that the date was just another to later tear off of the daily word of the day calendar.

Moments came that would bring capricious bouts of apartment cleaning spasms, but flickered and were extinguished within minutes. A brief, forced march to the outside world and through a local park had made him shower, dress and reintroduce himself to the warm sun above. The white noise of the busy city washed his brittle thoughts, and people watching as he sat on an empty bench handed him distraction.

The bells of the church gonged twelve times, each stroke deeply resonant and uniform with the last and the one after. The day was moving forward and already half had been lost forever.

“Is this how alcoholics begin?”, he wondered as he sipped on a long-necked beer back at his kitchen table. The growling that had begun as a plea had now grown to a snarl and he peered into the freezer for a morsel of microwaveable late afternoon snack. None called him to attention so he grabbed the closest package, heated it and gobbled even as it sometimes burned his mouth causing him to suck in air sharply to cool it off quickly.

Even more frighteningly than spending the day alone was the thought that if the opportunity presented itself, he was comfortably within the frame of mind that he would politely refuse. It would have seemed forced and would have come out of pity. The invisible barrier between his determination to make it alone and the unsettling shouting of loneliness had eroded to gel thin. What he wanted did not coincide with what he needed.

Six in total were the distinct reverberations of the gong. That meant six in total left. Six more to mark in sequence before it ended, lost to waves of eternity.

The inevitable call came later. First on the line sounded upbeat and he could almost touch his smile through the voice box. Second came, and with some enthusiasm expressed happy thoughts of love. Third spoke and uttered in teenaged monotone. It always happened the same way during this act: he asked more questions in order to keep the conversation flowing then they did, he always told them what a wonderful day it had been and that no, of course not, there’s more planned for later. “I Love You” to each having been dispensed, the line was vacated once more.

Inspiration to venture out once more was doused. Enthusiasm was strained from the nakedness of the phone call. It would have been a sham to drive somewhere random, find a seat at the bar, order a beer, have a small meal and smile. He felt that his thoughts would have been on display as if continually flashing on a rolling, red-lettered neon billboard circling above his head. Better to lazily lounge in the environment in which he was at ease with. One that knew the widening boundaries of his frustration and self-pity. One that knew with certain clarity what was stealthily bubbling up ever so incrementally and would be erupting soon enough.

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Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

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OK, Half-Full

Among the many lessons I continually repeat to my children is the one of the glass being half-full.

Dad (after sadly looking at the time): I only have forty-five minutes left with you.

Son (smirking): Dad, it’s not half-empty! Look at it as you have forty-five more minutes with us!

Dad (stunned): ”                                  ”

Sure, I’m lonely as could be right now while writing this, doing nothing, but I received an additional forty-five minutes with my kids today.

And that’s made all the difference.

When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

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I would feel …

It’s an overcast, grey, empty streets glossy from rain, chilly, messy apartment, nothing to do day here in my building. I’ve a self-imposed schedule that will bulk up my time, but you know what would make today meaningful?

The thrill of a phone call from my children. More pulse deafening than any various form of contact from anyone else, seeing the incoming number on my cell would jar me into splendid joy. I would know how my oldest did on his Learners Permit test on Friday. I would know how well my middle one felt he did on his Thursday at school when he had multiple tests. I would hear from my daughter, in her little girl voice, what she and her friends have been doing this weekend.

I would feel that I belonged.

The low voltage of steady, streaming, hair-raising electricity conspiculously felt sizzling between myself and the woman who I felt I would never finally meet. The comfort nestled deeply and securely within my soul, during a moment when she doesn’t know what I’m thinking, understanding with bright, iris cleansing clarity how fortunate and thankful I am that she has made the conscious decision to spend precious and unretrieveable seconds, minutes and hours with a guy like me. The silent promises I would keep armed and barricaded within my heart, the sacrifices to the belief in love I would be willing to endure and the chastity of single thought romance I yearn to happily embrace would all conspire to melt the vulnerability I feel with the touch of someone who is simply there and the susceptibility to widen arms to those who extend them in unison.

I would feel in love.

16 and a Volcano

The birthday boy, and his siblings, have just left and I watched as the rear red tail lights paced out of my view.

It truly was a great weekend. I told my now sixteen year old (!?!?) boy that it was his weekend and he could choose the itenerary for any activity, any show, any meal and basically, whatever he chose. I was the grantor of his wishes.

Two steaks marinated with either a barbecue or ginger sauce, scrambled egg breakfast muffins, a Harry Potter movie, killing Nazi zombies on Xbox, giving him time alone in the apartment while I towed his brother and sister to the mall to buy birthday presents from them, letting him have sips of my beer, allowing him to choose a t-shirt emblazoned with his favorite band’s logo from their official website, taking almost a hundred photos, a very expensive silver neck chain (something sentimental that will last I’m hoping), and ending it with a made from scratch red velvet cake with sixteen blazing and bobbing candles accompanied by a rousing version of ‘Happy Birthday’ while the camera rolled.

I love that boy, that broaching early manhood child of mine. That kid that’s now two inches over his tall father. That kid that possesses a killer sideways smile who still is not into girls yet. Thankfully.

It was also the weekend of a Krakatoa realization. Concerning his mother. My ex. I’ve been thinking …

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