Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

The Erector Set

Erector 1

All I wanted for Christmas as a child, was what every other kid had, Lego blocks.  But my request always came up short.  However one particular Christmas, since my family discovered I had this urge to build, gave me this box of scrap metal, called an “Erector Set.”  And yes, the picture above shows exactly what it was, a box of scrap metal.  It came with screws and nuts, some cheap tools, but the hopes of the manufacturer, and perhaps my family, would be that it would inspire  me to build things.  Which then might lead me to perhaps a career interest as I got older.

The box included some directions on how to build sample structures, and then, it was up to your own imagination.

Erector 2

So why do I write about this “toy”?

Recently, I had an experience to see just what might have become of me, had I chose to pursue my building skills with my Erector Set.  Perhaps, with stronger encouragement, I might have gone further than just the toy kit.  I think about it, as a “boring” parent who always bought the “boring” gifts for the kids (you know, those that might just be educational), I tried to pay attention to their interests, and then provide them with gifts that might enhance their dreams.  For instance, the “silly band” craze sparked a designer phase for my youngest daughter.  So during the summer, I purchased a loom for her to continue her hobby.  Now honestly, I do not know if this will go anywhere, but as her parent, I want to encourage her in any interest that she has.

When I look back at some of the things that I might have experienced, and yes, probably made a good earning, had I just stuck with that interest in the Erector set, I could be working for the Tran Siberian Orchestra building new stage sets that lift their performers over the crowds, or perhaps, assemble sound systems or special audio-visual devices like a television lift for a fireplace mount.

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What toy might you have had way back when, that had you kept with it, might just have turned into a dream career?

A New Achievement For “Paul’s Heart”

I have always enjoyed writing, and that has been the key, enjoying it.  I did alright when it came to school projects, as long as the subject inspired me.  But if I was forced to write about something, admittedly, I do not believe I put out my best efforts.

Several years ago, I returned to one of the hobbies I love most, recreational writing.  I had already been writing advice posts on internet support sites for cancer patients and survivors, but an opportunity came about once I had become a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a long term cancer survivor.

MSKCC had recently begun a new and revolutionary concept program called Visible Ink.  The program was meant for patients and survivors of MSKCC, and gave the opportunity for us to write, all the while being coached by professional writers.  It was voluntary on both sides of the pen.  But the best thing about the program is that it gave writers like me an opportunity to express our personal experiences, while at the same time, provided therapeutic relief from the many stresses we deal with concerning our health battles.

Each year, Visible Ink publishes a book, with dozens of stories written by very special authors, patients and survivors.  Some stories are about their own personal experiences, some may be about other situations.  A special night is held for the authors, where a select group of the stories are picked to be performed live, by professional actors and singers.

This will be the fourth year that I have had a story published in this book.  Other titles which I have saved on this blog as a “page” include:

“Cabbage – Not Just a Green Leafy Vegetable”

“Life On A Class Five”

“What’s Your Sign?  Mine Is Cancer.”

I have just been informed that this year, for the first time, one of my stories has been selected to be performed live.  I will not disclose the title at the current moment, until the book is published at least.  I have experienced many special events in my life, but this is definitely going to be one of the highlights for me

I informed my daughters tonight, whom I have always encouraged to read and to write.  Both of my daughters are very good story tellers, and great when it comes to detail.  They know about “Paul’s Heart.”  They also know about my other writing endeavors such as Visible Ink.  They were excited to hear that one of my stories will be performed and I told them that I look forward to having them by my side on that night as it happens.

There will be a video play of the performance, that will come later on.

A Time To Answer Some Questions


Under normal circumstances, when readers offer comments to my posts, I simply hit “approve”, and they end up posted.  I very rarely reject comments, unless they are clearly not constructive, regardless if they are positive or negative in tone.  Up until this moment, I have chosen not to publish comments from either my ex-wife, or her family because their comments have generally not been constructive.

In my post, “One Last Try,” I made one final attempt to my ex-wife to seriously consider the ramifications of insisting that I be put in jail for support payment arrears, a strategy used to convince parents (notice, I am implying both), who willfully neglect to pay their child support.  To avoid incarceration, the parent (usually referred to as a “deadbeat”), pays the arrearage, and avoids jail.  A parent who willfully does not make their payments, then avoids jail by making the payment, does not usually create irreparable ramifications, especially for the children involved in the case.

But for a parent who is unable, and doing everything in their power to correct the support situation, having any other interests than that of the children involved is wrong.  In my post, I presented my reasons that I felt my ex-wife should consider the ramifications that will occur, not might, should she continue to press efforts to send me to jail for support arrearages that I am unable to pay at the current time, but am doing everything I can to correct the situation.

As expected, I received a comment to the post, signed as “Wendy’s Family”.  Rather than post the entire commentary, I will objectively post their questions, and give my answers to the best of my ability (they actually answered their own questions with assumptions which clearly is not constructive for the purposes of this blog).  I must admit, since it was written as “Wendy’s Family,” I do not know which family member it is, or if it is Wendy herself.

I will not dodge any question.  There are seven of them, and one comment.  Most of the questions have already been answered in court, and if there is anything that has not been discussed in court yet, I will defer.  But here we go…

1.  When I lived in Pennsylvania, why did I not pay child support?

This is unfortunately a complicated question.  Technically, I moved from PA at the end of May of 2014, and up until the official support hearing, I was not only never ordered to pay support, but living in the house I was not going to be required to pay any support.  But the fact is, I was helping to support the kids.  In the beginning of the divorce filing, I gave Wendy a certain amount of money, each week, which actually was double the amount that we spent on the entire family of four of us.  I did this each week, as long as my paycheck supported the amount, I gave that whole amount.  But due to other circumstances which I will address in a future question here, there were a few weeks that the full amount was not given.

And I made sure that I dedicated  this amount each week, because Wendy had lost her job, and therefore we lost half of our income.  But then I discovered that she had cashed in her 401k and was using that money for various purposes, none of which were going to household expenses in the beginning.  So I admit, once I found that out, I did stop giving that money.

One side note to this, on at least two occasions, Wendy made claims that I was not giving money for food the children and gas for her car.  Knowing that I did in fact give her the money, unfortunately as cash, there was no paper trail.  I got the idea that I would instead give her the money I was setting aside, in the form of store and gas “cards.”  This would force Wendy to use the money for which it was intended.  This was not received well by Wendy and her family, which resulted in an obscenity-laced threatening voice mail, which I still have on my cell phone.

But yes, in spite of not having been court ordered to pay child support, I did pay various amounts of money that I could afford.  In fact, an accusation was made by Wendy that I had not paid any support including since the support hearing, and I had relocated, which was not true and was recognized by the Department of Domestic Relations.  While not the full amount, for the first three months of the order, I was making at least some form of payment while I could afford it.

2. When you lived in Pennsylvania, you never paid the bills.

Again, this is partially true, but to no fault of my own, rather the result of losing one complete income of a two income family.  For the purposes of simplicity, with two incomes say… $4000/month from each parental unit… and expenses being $8000/month, it is simple math really that if you lose one income, you cannot meet the expenses created by both husband and wife.  And when one of those parents, say the non-working one, refuses to curb spending habits, it became impossible to keep up on the bills.

Instead, and as I testified in court, I chose to prioritize the bills to be paid.  I had to pay operational expenses to keep the utilities in the house first, medical bills, credit, and home (these are general categories just for clarity).  But clearly, losing one entire income would have a drastic impact on the ability to pay all of the bills.  Wendy and her family had a different solution, that I should get another job.  I was already working between 50-60 hours a week, plus running a successful DJ business until major heart surgery in 2008 forced me to slow down the amount of hours I could subject my body to.  But of course, nothing was ever said about Wendy getting a job or fighting for the job she lost.

But yes, I most certainly paid bills, just not the ones that Wendy and her family felt I should have.

3.  What happened to money from my former employer that I received?

Unlike Wendy, I submitted “discovery” paperwork, as ordered which disclosed all of that information, and was again re-stated at another hearing about two months ago.  In the meantime, I am still waiting for “discovery” paperwork from Wendy that was requested many, many, many months ago.  Although I testified to the use of my monies, until Wendy submits her “discovery” to the court, I will not discuss exact details.  But let’s just say, I already know how she spent her monies, and it was not necessarily on household expenses.

4.  Why did I move to another state?

I have answered this several times on this blog.  But since the authors of the comment are the main reason (note – not all of the reasons, just the main one), I will clear things up for something that is not so simple as just dealing with a 72 year-old mother-in-law.  Wendy’s sister and mother have repeatedly threatened and harassed me.  I have every voicemail, text, and email saved.  Their hostility towards me, and repeated interference in my personal life and against my character, made it impossible for me to even consider staying local.  This behavior hit a climax following a hearing in October when Wendy’s mother made threats that she “wasn’t done with me by any means” and was “mad enough to get a gun and shoot” me.  Given that Wendy’s family had followed through on other threats, I had no choice but to take this threat seriously (Wendy calls it “free speech” and that her mother was just mad), so yes, when I visited my children last month, it was with a police escort called a “civil standby”.  It should be noted that police officers do not like this particular situation, and having had a couple domestic murders in our area in recent years (one involving a retired school bus driver), the threats were taken seriously.

Oh, and in case my sister-in-law is not aware, I know you spit “lungers” (phlegm coughed up from the lungs) all over my car, and that you had contemplated on spreading your dog’s feces all over my car.

These are just some of the examples of why, with the hostility, combined with employment opportunities, I chose to move to another state, away from my children.  Yes, it had to be that bad for me to move away from my children.

5.  What about the house?  What about your apartment?

Yes, the house appears to be heading towards foreclosure.  But to be honest, I cannot confirm this.  I have conflicting information than what Wendy is sharing with me.  And now with her boyfriend moving into the house with her, I kind of doubt that the house will be heading into foreclosure.  But with our final part of the divorce to be discussed yet, I really cannot comment further.  Bottom line, this was a house that we should never have been given a mortgage for as it was beyond our reach financially without working overtime, and when we lost that overtime, and eventually Wendy’s salary, we should have sold the house, when I got the final mortgage modification arranged when we had the chance, and she refused.

As for my apartment, many are fooled by the appearance of my one-room apartment.  While its setting is indeed quite beautiful, it is actually more affordable than if I were to try and rent a place back in Pennsylvania.  Because my credit rating has been in the tank since the loss of Wendy’s income and our inability to make all of our bills, I had to seek out an apartment privately instead of through a real estate company.  And by dumb luck, I found my current residence, but I assure you, as I testified in court, the rent is very modest, given its location.

6.  Did you really think you could wait to look for a job until the 11th hour?

Hardly, as I testified in court, and to other county officers, I had indeed been looking for employment as soon as I made the decision to move to my current residence.  And since June, I have applied to over 150 different positions, unfortunately with rarely an interview, and if interviewed, the position ended up being offered to someone with more qualifications.  But even as of this post, I am continuing to try.

But my in-laws are not privy to the information provided to the courts as I have requested and stated my reasons being that there is proven slanderous incidents by at least one family member in my personal business, and my concerns that such activity would occur again.

7.  There are 3 sides to the story… Wendy’s, mine, and the truth.

I actually agree with this, which is why the court had made the decisions it has so far, because the court has decided what is the truth.  But as far as the girls are concerned, the harm being done to them, is hearing their maternal grandmother and aunt cursing about me and making derogatory comments about me.  Or when the children are being involved in the divorce process itself by someone trying to be “honest” with their form of honesty.  But I assure you, their hurt does not come from me.  If they know even the slightest of the things that either mother-in-law or sister-in-law have done to me, they would be devastated.

While they were with me over the summer, and during subsequent visits, I have never discussed anything about the divorce with them, as I choose to let the children be children.  This is in their best interest, not alienating them from one or the other parent.

8.  Who is responsible for possible incarceration?

The question should not be who is responsible, because pointing the blame totally dismisses the impact it will have on the girls.  And that was the reason for my post, “One Last Try.”  It is not about blame, but rather what is being done to correct the situation, and while the remedy has not occurred as quickly as some would like, including me, incarceration has a permanent affect, especially on the children.  As an adult child of divorce, I know what my children are going through right now, all too well.  And when the damage is done to them emotionally, there is no taking it back.  And it will not be me that they resent.

But I am trying to prevent this from happening because I do know, that I have been doing all I can to get employed, and know that with an incarceration record, that will seal my fate with getting any kind of employment to support the support award, which will mean that my children will lose income, as well as health insurance, and definitely face harassment from classmates, none of these things are in the best interests of my children and I definitely do not want to see that happen to them.  Which is why, the only other person who can even have the chance to prevent this, while I continue to remedy the situation on my end, is Wendy.  The court will listen to a mother who wants the best for her children, and her “best” is not an entitlement belief.  The court will hear her request, and clearly act in the best interest of the children if that is Wendy’s request.  But since it is Wendy that filed every call to DRO, it is her that filed the complaints and must withdraw them.  So with this being the only possible remedy at the moment, it is not me sending myself to jail, I am still trying.

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