Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Scribblings - Powerful

The most powerful I've ever felt, bar none, hands down (and any other superlative of which you can think) is the day I walked out of a lawyer's office. Let me explain:

It was about 6 or 7 years ago. It was just me, my husband, and our two sons, who were 4 and 3 at the time. We had been living in a house that belonged to my MIL. We moved (at the time we thought temporarily) into a motel, in part because the Texas weather had knocked down an old tree, clipping part of the roof by the kitchen. (If I remember correctly, my husband did not tell his mother about that ... and she found out the hard way.)

But she did find out and was (understandably) "not happy" about it. She was living in South San Francisco at the time, but her sisters and some of her husband's family lived in the same city we did. Word got back to her and she did not react "well".

We were informed (via her husband's sister) that they were peparing a "contract" for us to sign, designed with steps they believed would get our lives back on track. If we signed and followed their terms to the letter, all would be well and good. If we did not sign, or did not follow the contract, they would begin proceedings to get custody of our sons.

Now it was my turn to be "not happy". My life was not where I wanted it to be at that time, but I sure did not need big sister looking over my shoulder like a babysitter.

Anyway, about a week later, there was a knock at the door one evening. It was a process server with papers stating that MIL was suing for custody. Come to find out that the sister that was supposed to monitor us worked for a lawyer...the one representing MIL and her husband. She brought in a nice $5,000 fee for her boss for getting them to sue early.

On top of that, the papers requested for shared custody between MIL and my husband ... no mention of me except as biological mother of the boys and requesting a psychological examination. So now I was left with ... was my husband in on it and was this a way to get the boys away from me?

(A few days later, after DH had spoken to his mom, I got my own set of papers ... for custody between MIL and "us", while I was working nights at the local police department.)

Now I have suffered from depression since I was a teen. But I was the one working, bringing in money, keeping the family in a place with food, electricity, cooking facilities and a phone. We kept the boys safe and supervised. Living in a motel was not where we wanted to be ... especially with children, but it was clean, safe and better than some of the alternatives. And there was never any question about me harming the boys - physically or otherwise.

I was going at the time to the local Women's Center for job counseling (etc) and brought up my problem to them. They suggested I contact a lawyer and set up an appointment for me. It was hard not to mention it to my husband, but again at the time I didn't know which side of the field he was on. I went to the lawyer's office, and he looked at the paperwork. He said he would take the case, but it would cost $600 up front to start, and could go up from there. I thanked him for his time and left, as I wouldn't have had $600 total to give him, let alone to start.

Then I called West Texas Legal Aid. I had to call in on a Monday or Tuesday, to get an appointment for later in the week. Once they fill up their slots for the week (which usually happens on Monday) you have to wait until the next week. So I went in, filled out the screening paperwork - family and financial information, etc, and was told it would be looked at and if they could take the case, they would give me a call.

Well, I got a call that they accepted the case. So I had another appointment to go in and speak with a lawyer. He was somewhat gruff. But I guess if all you hear are people's troubles all day long, it can get to wear on you. He looked over the paperwork we had gotten from MIL's lawyer, and asked a few questions. He then went to one of his law books and copied out a page.

It turns out that MIL did not even have standing to bring the case. According to Texas law at the time, she would have had to have had the boys living with her for at least 6 months, to have ended not more than 90 days prior to bringing the case. She had had the oldest son for 4 months two years previously ... and that's another can of worms for another time.

In addition, I had people working with me at the police department who volunteered to be character witnesses for me, and we had pictures of our living conditions that showed the boys were not in danger.

When I left the office that day, I WAS WALKING ON AIR! I had gone in scared; if someone wanted to hurt me, there is nothing worse that they could do than hurt one of my children. When I walked out, I was buffer than Wonder Woman ... there wasn't anything that I couldn't do that day.

If you could bottle that feeling and distribute it, the FDA would probably rule it to be a controlled substance, it was THAT STRONG!

Oh, and MIL wound up dropping the case.


To see other great entries about powerful people, check out the main Sunday Scribblings page!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Silliness

This is a joke a friend sent me in the email:

The teacher gave her fifth grade class an assignment: Get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it.

The next day the kids came back and one-by-one began to tell their stories.

"Johnny, do you have a story to share?", the teacher asked. "Yes ma'am," Johnny replied.

"My daddy told me a story about my Aunt Nancy. She was a pilot in Desert Storm and her plane got hit. "She had to bail out over enemy territory and all she had was a small flask of whiskey, a pistol, and a survival knife.

"She drank the whiskey on the way down so it wouldn't break, and then her parachute landed right in the middle of 20 enemy troops. She shot 15 of them with the gun until she ran out of bullets, killed 4 more with the knife till the blade broke, and then she killed the last soldier with her bare hands."

"Good heavens," cried the horrified teacher. "What kind of moral did your daddy give you from this horrible story?"

"Stay the hell away from Aunt Nancy when she's drinking."

If you want to post your own Saturday Silliness, feel free to do so and post the link in your comment. We all could use a good laugh!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

North America vs. the Rainforest in My Backyard

I was just out on my back porch and noticed a distinct difference from a couple of nights ago. Then, it was overcast and misty and in the morning. You could smell the water in the air. It was a like a rainforest. The trees in our back yard are tall and create a canopy that doesn't allow light in, so if I REALLY s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d my imagination, I could believe it was a rainforest and that the crickets and tree frogs were monkeys. (OK, I did say stretch.)

Just now it was different. It is cool and crisp, a true autumn early morning (before the sun is up). So the yard is more like a North American forest. But the moon is full, or nearly so. You can drive down our little country road on nights like tonight without headlights and have no trouble. I can't even see any stars because the moon is so bright. It was so quiet ... not even a train going by across the street.


Monday was a day of noise - the 'noise' of work running through my head from the night before, the noise of the children going through the grocery store ("Can we get, can I have, look at this great deal Mom!"), the noise of the car on our too-long trip, so a little time alone on the back porch ... just me, nature and our quiet cat was pretty close to Heaven to me.

In a few hours the noise starts again, so for now I will revel in stillness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Second Bad Day

Sunday at work was bad.

Monday was not much better. We did have four staff that day, but one is pregnant, and the other two are always complaining about aches and pains. Granted, working there can wear a body down fast, but still.

I got two residents to take care of. I would say two of the harder ones, due to lack of physical ability on their part. The one had 5 seizures in about 3 hours and we were one away from having to take her to the hospital. She got both Dilantin (?) and Ativan. After that she was one on one supervision. So my other resident should have gone to someone else. But, and I believe it was in large part due to the other people working that day, they had me do the other bath as well. I was shaking so much by the time I got out of work, it wasn't funny.

Oh, one bright-ish spot: we met the new home manager yesterday. I had been hearing just horrible things about her kitchiness and was really not looking forward. Perhaps it was just the day, but she did not seem bad at all.

And then the alternator has slipped again, and I needed to get a jump to get the car started. I probably took a little perverse glee in the fact that he is young, handsome and built and most of the female staff in my home would be pea-green with envy when they saw his car driving after me on the way down to mine. *small, evil laugh*

I had to drive with brights on, because on regular, no light showed. The car kept shaking and chugging on the way home and I was praying hard that I would get there, and at the same time resigning myself that walking part of the way wouldn't be so bad ... who am I kidding, it would've been anywhere up to 15 miles and it was after midnight along a road that has major construction. It would have sucked. But by shifting between gears about every 50 yards, I was able to keep it going.

But the car and I hobbled and limped into the driveway and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

I don't know if I've written on here about my adventures at Maya's Mom. It is a website for parents and an incredibly wonderful online community of moms (and even a few dads). I've come across some great people and blogs there.

One friend has a blog called "Crunchy Domestic Goddess" (don't you just LOVE the name). She is running a contest for re-usable lunch bags. How cool is THAT? Economical and environmental all in one! Check it out here!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why are People the Way They Are?

I've been having a lot of trouble with my co-workers of late. There are three that are on the same "team" - which means they have the same days off, etc. At least two of them take their breaks and lunches together, whether or not it's convenient or practical for the rest of the staff or the residents.

For instance, in the afternoon at around 4, one of the residents gets "enteral nourishment" (which is the current p.c. term for "g-tube feeding"). She is supposed to have one-on-one supervision during this time, and we need two staff to take care of the rest of the residents during this time. As we only have four staff total per shift, this leaves us "out of compliance". But the staff don't seem to care.

I've started "pushing back", so I'm not exactly flavor of the month there right now. I guess people don't like it when you point out their hypocrisies.

I've tried going straight to the source, but they are like "what's the problem?" I've tried going to the senior staffperson, but she is one of the three in question. I've tried going to the shift supervisor in our home, but as the regular lady is on vacation, we have subs and they either don't want to deal with it, or have their a$$es regularly kissed by "the trio". Our home manager just left to take a job with the state, and our new one has not bothered to show up in the home on 2nd shift yet.

So I have been looking at other shifts or other homes. There are precious few other jobs in town that have the pay and benefits that I do now.