Saturday, July 10, 2010

You Know, I Don't Find This Stuff Amusing Anymore

The latter part of this week was a wash with respect to productivity.

Starting late Wednesday night, my throat started to turn scratchy. By the time Thursday morning rolled around, the soreness worsened, my head was aching, I was measuring a body temperature of 101.3 oF. I took the day off trying to rest it off.

For a while, I feared that drinking no liquid after having three beers with coworkers at the end of Wednesday had left me dehydrated.

Past-the-sell-by-date acetaminophen, the only fever reducer on the premises, was having minimal impact on the fever. I had to pick up the kids from the dance school at 7:30 pm, since X was working until 11 pm. I picked up some ibuprofen on the way there and took them home, put them to bed, and slept on the couch at X's apartment, waiting for her to get back from work. I started to develop chills around 10 pm.

She got back from work around 11:15 pm, surprise to find me sleeping. I told her that I had been through a rough day with the fever and sore throat. She said that her friend, who had watched the kids during the day and brought the kids to the dance school for their summer class, had noticed that I looked rough.

I drove home shivering and climbed into bed. The chills subsided, but I woke up at 1 am measuring a temperature of 102.8 oF. I got up and went to the couch in the den, where there at least was a ceiling fan.

Not being able to sleep, I looked up my health plan to see if the primary care physician I specified some two years ago, but never visited, was taking new patients. The plan's network directory said "yes", but the website for the doctor's practice said "no". I decided it was a lost cause on that front, so I started to look for other doctors in network and in my zip code.

I found a doctor less than a mile away who was accepting new patients and called my network first thing in the morning to see how I should go about changing the primary care physician. I found out that the choice isn't handled by the network, but by another agency that deals with the providers. So I got that number and gave them a call. They said I should just call them back when I got an appointment set up.

So I called the doctor and got an appointment set up for 1:30 pm that day. Then I called the agency, which said "no can do". I said that the doctor was on the network. The person handling my call said that it wasn't enough to be on the network. The provider also had to be "contracted" with the agency.

I noted that made the network directory virtually useless because of this undocumented subsetting. The agent then looked up their directory and found four providers in my zip code who were listed as taking new patients. I started calling the list. One was taking new patients, but couldn't see me until next month. The next one's office wasn't open yet. The last two were at the same practice and no one could see me until the middle of next week. The receptionist there said I might want to try a Minute Clinic.

So I went to the Minute Clinic and waited for a little over an hour to be seen. I paid $122 for an inconclusive diagnosis, other than my throat looked "pretty raw". About $50 of that was spent on a tests -- a quick test for strep that turned up negative.

The second got sent off to a lab and wouldn't hear anything back for 24 - 48 hours. Because prescribing antibiotics for an infection is a no-no without evidence of a bacterial infection, the recommendation was to continue the ibuprofen and rinse the throat with salt water. The temperatures continued to vacillate above and below 100 oF for the rest of the day, with the fever being completely gone today. Throat is still raw, though.

I have a strong feeling that succumbing to this illness was driven in part to my body not being able to withstand a steady diet of stress over the past couple of months...

  • I haven't had a completely kid-free weekend in over two months. One weekend where I didn't have kids (June 26 - 27) was because X took the kids to the older daughter's dance competition in The Volunteer State. I wound up keeping them two nights before they left. Another weekend, the first in June, was offset by the fact that I put in 16 hours working at the daughter's dance recital and its dress rehearsal. Her reason for the extra weekends has been that she has had to work extra hours to pay for the house, but there have been a couple of weekends where I've found out after the fact that she wasn't working.

  • The divorce and mortgage have been a very stressful process. I already have noted some instances of X's bitchiness when I didn't have answers for her on whether the divorce was final or that my mortgage refinance was ready to close. In addition, the mortgage lender was being very invasive about some petty things. I understand their need for bank statements and pay stubs, but when they started to dispute the legitimacy of the divorce when they said that there weren't enough items listed on the division of property request list, I about lost it. Apparently because we weren't at all out war over everything, we were considered questionable, not taking into account the child support payments I had been making since X moved out in Aug. 2008 and the fact that she lived in a separate residence for almost two years.

  • X has been sending a steady stream of money requests... I've paid 100 % of the younger daughter's all-day kindergarten tuition (first two installments totaled $600). Paid for two months' worth of summer dance classes at $135. Because she was in danger of not having enough money to close on her house, she asked for two sums of money -- $1,059 and $1,500 over a period of three weeks. This was on top of the $3,600, half the 2009 tax refund, that she claimed entitlement to even though she was not gainfully employed, save for a couple of part-time jobs in 2009. Pile on that the cost of trophies won at dance competitions.

  • The President and the CEO have no clear vision of what they should be hiring for our department. All they know is that development isn't as fast as they want it to be. The CEO gave me flack a couple times the past couple of months for not being more aggressive in recruiting at the same time that the President told me that we needed to be careful about starting salaries. The CEO decided that we needed a VP for me to report to, so they did some recruiting, brought in someone I once interviewed with back in 2007. After many hours of interviews, the other managers decided the candidate wasn't a fit. So CEO decided that maybe we should hire this over priced guy we considered for a UI Engineer who was making more at his current job than what I make. So we brought the guy in for another interview with management. It wound up with a split decision. Meanwhile, our team gets a candidate we talked to back in Oct. 2008 whom we bring in this week, and the President starts talking like we might not hire him even if he does well on the interview.

  • The Executive VP of Sales continues to target big clients, and because his sales team can't carry their own weight in the technical vetting, both my team and I get brought in on conference calls, sometimes just so they can show they have someone with a big title on the line. As much as a big game he talks about "strategic HR" and hiring only "A team players", two of his hires he brought on in February already have been canned, and another is on the bubble.

  • My IT guy, who got me in hot water with the President when I refused to fire him on the spot back in April, decided that rather than work with me in a smooth transition out, he would quit on me with minimal notice in mid-June, once he got the mortgage for his new house closed and started a new job the very next day. Since then, my systems engineer and I have been slogging through the IT demands of some very non-technical people.

  • Two weeks ago, the display on my 2 1/2 year-old laptop refused to re-illuminate after bringing it out of sleep mode. I feared the worst, thinking my laptop had died completely. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to ping the computer from my other old laptop and got a response. The webserver also responded to requests, so things were still alive. Found out later on that the issue was caused by a horrible defect in the video chipset and was so onerous that Apple was replacing the video hardware at no cost, even if the machine was no longer under warranty. A local Mac reseller got my laptop fixed and it was back in my possession at the end of the week.

  • During a pool party at my dad's on the 3rd of July, my stepmom called us aside to talk about her situation. She said that she had seen the doctor recently and had been diagnosed with severe depression, caregiver burnout, and ADD. She was in need of some time away, and wondered if we could take turns coming down to visit my dad while she was on a brief vacation. I can tell from his actions that my dad can be very high maintenance, so I don't think she's exaggerating. My brother and I were willing to do this, but it saddened me that he has become such a drain.

  • My house is still a mess, and most nights I can't bring myself to attack the paper pile I've mentioned in prior posts.

  • I think my car has suspension problems and its air conditioner is non-functional. The thought of having a car payment again terrifies me.

  • With seemingly annual repair bills of $300 on the heating and air conditioning, I know it's only a matter of time before I'll need to replace that.

  • My attempts to locate some divorce support groups on around here were futile. One is closed to new members, and the other is about 25 miles away and meets on alternating Sunday evenings. The ever helpful organizer of the closed group said I should go look for a support group at a local church (heaven forbid there should be respite for those in crises of faith) or start one of my own.

I have been talking about being in an increasingly dark space for a while. And I know I've gotten advice and even talked about getting help. I think the illness this week was my body telling me, "We can't go on like this."

So on Wednesday at 3:30 pm, the first time that one of my eligible doctors can see me, I'm going in for a check-up, and I'm going to talk with her about how this is taking a toll on me and that I probably need formally evaluated for anxiety and depression, if not Asperger's.

I've also decided that its time to say no to X on money. We've got a divorce decree in place, with a child support schedule based on state guidelines that factor in income, health insurance, and child care costs. The child support payments she get are as much as her pre-tax income for her job over the same time interval. If she can't make that work with her life, then she needs to do one of the following:

  • Readjust her lifestyle (e.g. give up the deluxe cable package with DVR and the Droid Smartphone) and live with what she's got.

  • Get a higher paying job.

  • Find a sugar daddy.

What sent me over the edge was a conversation she started today while she was fixing our older daughter's hair for her team's performance at a local dinner theatre tonight. She tells me that she's signed up to work the concession stand for the dance school at all of the home games for the local pro football team, so she'll need me to have the kids those days even when it's not my weekend to have the kids.

She's worked some of the games in the past two years, but never all of them. When she does it's an all-day thing because they have to be on-premise for the setup, and then they have to wait a couple hours afterwards because they have to turn the money into the bank at the stadium. On the days when it's a Monday Night Football game, I've had to take off work early to get the girls.

I asked her how many home games there were, knowing that there would probably be eight of them plus some other special events. I expressed reluctance to just accept that. She said that my other option was to pay her for a babysitter during that time because it didn't make sense for her to work the games, which earn her maybe $8/hour for tuition credits.

I started to put together an argument that the child care allowance for child support was based on child care needed for employment, not sub-market barter work, but I stopped myself because I remember from the parenting class that potentially contentious financial discussions shouldn't happen in front of the kids, and both were present. I told her that we'd have to have this discussion at a later time.

I am angered by the sense of entitlement she continues to have, even now that she is supposedly on her own legally. Making such an in-your-face demand for time or money after you've repeatedly offloaded extra overnights and requested or demanded thousands of dollars in assistance beyond an already generous child support allowance seems like a really bad calculation. Prior to the divorce, I was more lenient for many reasons... wanting her to get on her own on an even keel, wanting the kids to be taken care of, not wanting the kids to be let down over the house. Now I know this has done nothing but to create disrespect.

The following scenes capture that lack of respect in a nutshell...

Scene 1: On June 28, X sent me this text message:
Ok (older daughter) is performing at (northwest side dinner theatre) on july 10 at 6. Tickets will be 146 total for all of us to go. Then they will watch high school musical Tickets r 25, 25, 48, 48. I could pay for one ticket if u wanted to pay for girls

I agree to this. On July 2, she sends me a text telling me to drop off a check for $146 at the dance school mailbox for the tickets. I presume that she is going to pay me back for her $48 ticket. A week goes by without reference. Today, I send her a text message asking if she is going to reimburse me for her ticket. She replies, "Sure." At the performance, she hands me a $20 and a $5. I ask her what that is for, and she says, "The ticket." I thought about asking where the other $23 was, but I got the hint.

Scene 2: We drive separately to the dinner theatre late this afternoon so that I can take the kids home with me for the evening. As I arrive, she tells me that I need to go back to her place because the older daughter needs the gloves and bracelets for her costume. It's about 5:20 pm, and the dinner starts service around 6:30 pm.

I tell her that it is probably going to be a little over an hour to make the round trip, because it's about 30 miles. She then gets testy with me about it saying that if I can't do it, then she'll just have to do it. This is not a realistic option because she will need to help the daughter get ready for the performance during that time.

So I set off on my way, trying to go as fast as I can without running afoul of speed of safety. About 25 minutes into the trip, she calls me to ask me whether I've made it. I tell her that I'm still about eight miles away. She seems irritated and tells me to call her when I get to her place.

I get to her place and get the forgotten items and head back up. About 30 minutes into the return trip, she asks me where I am. This time, I am a couple miles short of the exit. I arrived right around 6:30 pm. Just in time to catch the last line of buffet goers.

In the grand scheme of things, a couple of gloves and bracelets seems inconsequential. Even if she were the only one lacking these accessories, she was in a troupe that numbered over 20 dancers. She was among the younger members, who are less visible. It was an exhibition event for which the school received no compensation, yet the dinner theatre sold 81 tickets to the families of the dance school student body. It was not for a competition, where they would have gotten docked points.

I've been in this situation numerous times before. I am given ownership of a problem that is of her making (like forgetting to make sure all costume items are packed). There is not so much an expression of remorse at having to ask or even gratitude that I would do this for her. There is only disbelief that there would be any other option than me doing what she wants done. It's a dynamic I've seen in our relationship from the early days, on the wedding day, and even during the divorce.

I have been subconsciously aware of it. I think now that I am no longer legally bound to her, I am free to admit its full existence in all of its ugliness.

I don't know what I hate more. Her for treating me this way over the years or myself for having not stood up to it. Either way, there is no other word for it than "hatred". I FUCKING HATE IT.
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