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Barbara F. Graham

- About the Book

by Barbara F. Graham

Barbara F. Graham goes for the jugular with a compelling, true-to-life exposure of America's corrupt family-law system and how it is draining the nation. Make your own journey from Security to Serenity as "Ursula Charbonnier" triumphs over substance abuse in the family, rapacious divorce attorneys, and court-induced homelessness.


"Barbara F. Graham's nonfiction novel exposes the lawyers, judges, and many professionals as paid enablers, tied into the drug and alcohol abuser's denial. While dad is getting
high and living high, Ursula Charbonnier and her children struggle to survive, facing bankruptcy and homelessness. It is incumbent upon all concerned citizens to understand that the current system is abuser-friendly, rather than family- friendly."
- Monica Getz, Founder National Coalition for Family Justice, Inc.

"Chemical Dependency --- addiction to alcohol or other mood- altering drugs --- is widely-known as 'The Family Disease.' Barbara F. Graham has described it well in all its horror and deceit."
- Donald F. Cutler, Founder Freedom from Chemical Dependency Foundation, Inc.

"Brava! Someone finally had the guts to tell it like it is!!!"
- Marie Defina, Founder and Executive Director Domestic Violence Training & Resource Institute, Inc.


"SNOW JOB was my first pleasure in the venture of recapturing my life."
- Shirley L. Brulotte, Manchester, New Hampshire

"This is the best $20 I've spent in years!" - Marina V. Baker, Toledo, Ohio

"Not whiny . . . SNOW JOB clearly shows how The System can be just as nutty and 'malpractical' toward men as women."
- Nelson Page, Austin, Texas

"A masterpiece!" - Charlotte Fink, Las Vegas, Nevada

"We sold more than $1,000-worth in two hours!"
- Nancy Decaneas, Co-Owner Dragon Books, Weston Center, Massachusetts

Copyright ©1995 by Barbara F. Graham. All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate or distribute this material without consent from Barbara F. Graham and Hang On To Your Hat! Press. Thank you.


- Excerpt



by Barbara F. Graham


Barbara F. Graham goes for the jugular with a compelling, true-to-life exposure of America's corrupt family-law system.

Written in a spirited first-person voice, SNOW JOB tells the story of a Boston-area mother and her children who choose to survive the hell of substance abuse in the family -- only to find an even greater hell and danger awaiting them in the U.S. legal system.

This nonfiction novel describes the actual legal, spiritual, and financial consequences that befall family members as they strive to move forward and rebuild their lives. In contrast to most books on substance abuse, SNOW JOB takes readers into lawyers' offices, judges' chambers, bank mortgage departments, and medical settings where conversation is not a matter of public record.

Elements of this story will ring true with anyone whose life has been touched by divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence in all its forms (physical, emotional, financial), and a legal system that devalues the important job of nurturing the next generation.

An excerpt from SNOW JOB appears below. This book has been recommended by Freedom From Chemical Dependency Foundation, The National Coalition for Family Justice, and The Domestic Violence Training & Resource Institute. Following the excerpt, you will find information about the author.


by Barbara F. Graham

"The Charbonnier Matter," someone intoned, and then it was our turn. I followed Gabriel through the swinging gate, and the four of us, Chubb, Duncan, Gabriel and I stood before Judge Tracy. I didn't feel nervous. Just out of place. I was the only one of the five of us who had never had a drinking problem, and they were making all the rules. The rules that were about to change the lives of Spencer and Amanda --- and not for the better.

MacIntyre immediately launched into a diatribe about what a bitchy, big spender I was, and I would later learn that just by virtue of being Reed's client, Tracy already had me typecast negatively. The air fairly bristled with Boston class warfare: the poor Irish Judge vs. the wealthy Irish Lawyer vs. nouveau riche upstart Mr. Reed from New Hampshire vs. Mr. Duncan fair-haired Charbonnier Germane Senior Executive vs. Mrs. Conover Rich Bitch Charbonnier. I listed us silently as I heard Chubb tell Tracy, "If she were Mrs. Reed, Judge, she wouldn't have these problems."

"Of course I wouldn't have these problems," I wanted to retort, "because Reed wouldn't have been stupid enough to lose someone like me." But I had been coached: Shut up. Be courteous. Don't speak unless spoken too. Wear your black patent leather Catholic girls' school pumps, look demure, and for God's sake don't let them know how smart you are.

Then Tracy, MacIntyre, and Reed launched into a self- congratulatory dialogue about what a great job Reed had done in helping re-write the child support laws, how much improved they were. I was trying not to throw up.

As soon as I could manage it, I told the judge in simplified language how Dr. Arthur and I had worried for years that Duncan had epilepsy and possibly a brain tumor, and that only this past summer, we had learned he had been drinking secretly, and the children and I had immediately gone to Appleton Hall for help, and that I didn't see why my children should have to pay the penalty for my ignorance.

Tracy was thrilled to have a fellow-alcoholic before him. His eyes shone, even as Duncan protested, "Judge, I am not an alcoholic, and I don't have any drinking problem."

"Now Mr. Charbonnier, despite what you say, I know from my many years on the bench, that when the family says there's an alcohol problem, there's an alcohol problem. The family always knows." He wandered a bit in what followed, but basically he lectured Duncan about being in denial. "Now is there any hope of you folks getting back together?"

"No," said Duncan, too quickly, I sensed, for the judge's taste.

"I tried, Your Honor," I said more slowly, after a thoughtful pause. "The children and I went to Appleton Hall several times, and we asked my husband to come back with us and work on the problem as a family, but he refused. All the doctors have told me this is out of my hands now."

"Well sometimes an alcoholic marriage can be saved, and sometimes it can't." Then he turned to Duncan. "I'm chairing the AA meeting in Stover tonight. Why don't you come, son!"

"Maybe I will," said Duncan ingratiatingly.

I rolled my eyes at Gabriel. I didn't like the way Tracy was lapping this up.

"I didn't do that at all well," I said to Gabriel when we got back out in the hall. "I was too emotional."

"Well, it was an emotional matter. You did just fine. Let's have another cup of coffee and talk about it." He handed me some money. "No cream, one sweet-and-low, and I'm going to the men's room."

"That's okay, I'll get this one," I said handing him back his money.

Then I ran after him, and caught him just short of the door. "Give me back that money. After thirteen years with Duncan Charbonnier, I promised myself I was never going Dutch again!" He laughed.

When Reed returned, Chubb came over to us, and I broke the rules by trying to talk to him as a human being instead of the opposing counsel. "Look, if you have any influence over this man at all," I implored, referring to Duncan, "get him to AA."

"For all I know, Mrs. Charbonnier, you planted the vodka bottles in his car!" he said coldly. How could he say that to me? What kind of a person did he think I was? I looked at him in total disbelief as he strode away.

"Gabriel, why did you even suggest I tell Judge Tracy the truth? Duncan denied my story, MacIntyre tried to impugn it; you were distracted by it; and I didn't help myself or Spencer and Amanda in any way. This whole process is a travesty. The court is in denial, anti-family, and thinks women who stay home to nurture children are complete fools, and it treats them accordingly! What goes on in Probate Court is a sociopath's dream and an honest woman's nightmare!"

"Ursula, this is the best western civilization has to offer," said Gabriel.

"Well, forgive me if I'm not impressed!"

Gabriel put his arm around me to comfort me as we walked out of the courthouse. But I was so mad I marched straight into Cambridge Street and the path of an oncoming truck. Gabriel pulled me out of the way, just in time. "We don't want anything to happen to you."

The support order was handed down several days later, about half of what we'd been used to living on, as Reed had so accurately predicted. Duncan did not pay us the first week's support "forthwith" as the Court ordered, and then delayed the following payment, so the children and I went for two weeks in December with no financial support from him whatsoever. The Court didn't mind. I was about to learn that millions of fathers don't pay their child support on time, if at all, and that they regularly go unpunished for it.

The message from "the best western civilization has to offer" boiled down to this: if you stay home to be a full-time mom and nurture children, you and your children become vulnerable to getting royally screwed by The System.

Was this the reward for staying home for nine years and for being a loving and faithful wife, partner, and friend? If I had it to do over again, would I stay at home and nurture a family? What a hopeless case I am --- of course I would! Maybe the legal system didn't value my contribution, but somehow I still did.

In the nine years I did stay home, whenever people out in the world would ask me what I did, it was my habit to reply that I was "the Curator of National Treasures." Occasionally people got it; more often they would launch into a discussion of art and antiques. To my way of thinking, our children are our national treasures, but it was painfully evident as I stood in Judge Tracy's courtroom that the legal system just doesn't see it that way. Reality was dawning: Duncan really does stand a good chance of getting away with systematically destroying everything I hold dear --- family, home, children and a happy, stable way of life.

How, I wondered, was I going to keep my kids happy, trusting, and well-adjusted in a court system that allows their lives to be torn apart?

Copyright ©1995 by Barbara F. Graham. All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate or distribute this material without consent from Barbara F. Graham and Hang On To Your Hat! Press. Thank you.

About the Author

Barbara F. Graham is the founder and president of Hang On To Your Hat! Press, Weston, MA. Established in March, 1995, HatPress published its first title, SNOW JOB, in November, 1995.

From 1985-1993, Ms. Graham was the founding editor of Chemical Design Automation News, the first and only industry publication to cover the computer-assisted molecular/materials design (CAMD) markets. She conceptualized, designed, established and managed the entire endeavor, overseeing a staff of 30 based in Japan, the U.S., the U.K., The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, and South Africa.

CDA News, which appeared monthly from its inception, published information on matters of technical interest relating to the use of computer-automation techniques in chemical- and engineered-materials research. It was read worldwide by corporate, academic, and R & D scientists; hardware and software manufacturers; medical and dental researchers; intellectual-property attorneys; and financial, advertising, consulting and public relations professionals involved in the commercialization of advances coming from CAMD.

In 1993, CDA News was acquired by a subsidiary of the Reed- Elsevier Publishing Group, and the editorial work was moved to London. Desiring to maintain a Boston base, Ms. Graham undertook several consulting projects on market opportunities in financial derivatives, foreign investment, and information technology.

Prior to establishing CDA News, Ms. Graham worked in New York for several years where she was involved in merger and acquisition analysis for Marshalsea Associates, a corporate financial consulting firm; corporate planning for Itochu, a major Japanese trading company; and management of international accounts for The Conference Board, an economic research organization.

Ms. Graham holds an M.A. in East Asian studies (specialization in Japanese Studies) from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in (Asian) History from Northwestern University. Ms. Graham is the mother of two teenagers. She divides her time between Massachusetts and New York, where she serves on the board of directors of The National Coalition for Family Justice, Inc.


Copyright ©1995 by Barbara F. Graham. All rights reserved. Please do not duplicate or distribute this material without consent from Barbara F. Graham and Hang On To Your Hat! Press. Thank you.

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