18 August 2014

If I Don't Write It, You Won't Know It

This title has been sitting in my drafts for 72 hours.

I've been trying to gather the desire gumption courage to lay it all out here.

Life has been testing me for a very, VERY long time, and although I still have hope that it will get better, I'm starting to realize than hope is waning and will be gone soon.

Things are excellent with Mike.

Things are irritating and frustrating at work.

Things are dragging with the divorce (although husband was beyond ready to get this divorce over, he is dragging his feet and delaying this process any way he can).

Things with Cam? Well ...

As they (I cannot seem to find a source) say,

A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child

And my child is beyond miserable.

Legal issues in the juvenile court system.

Legal issues in the adult court system.

No working car.

A job that ends in two weeks and no prospect for employment.

The final break-up of his 5-year relationship with his girlfriend.

And homelessness effective September 1st as Mike and I leave Podunk.

There's more, but I just don't have the energy to write it out now.

I'm using all of my energy just to get through each day with that proverbial *glimmer* still in place ...

10 August 2014

Sunday Stealing - 13 Things

1. Outside my window…
  Is a big, BIG world that I cannot see ... but I know it's there!

 2. I am thankful…
  For Mike. He has brought a level of balance and acceptance to my life that I never knew existed.

 3. In the kitchen…
  Is a sink full of dishes that need to be done.

 4. I am wearing…
  Really soft pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.

 5. I am creating…
  A life after raising my son, and it's exciting!

 6. I am going…
  To hell if I don't change my ways (which I don't plan on doing).

 7. I am reading…
  Blogs via my Feedly.

 8. I am learning…
  That life isn't often as well compartmentalized as I'd like it to be.

 9. I am pondering…
  My next career move.

 10. A favorite quote…
  People confuse bluntness with bitchiness. ~ JULIA STILES

 11. One of my favorite things…
  Are fresh flowers, no matter if they are from a florist, or picked from the side of the road.

 12. A few plans for the rest of the week…
  Plans? I'm supposed to have plans?I'm winging it!

 13. A peek into my day…
  Would probably bore you to tears ...

09 August 2014

I'm Going To Make This Place Your Home

Photo Credit
What in the world has happened to the apartment rental process??

It used to be that you bought a Sunday paper, scoured the classified ads, made a few calls, looked at a few places, put down a deposit, then moved in *GET OFF MY LAWN*.

Shoot! When I moved into this apartment in Podunk, I wasn't even required to sign a lease!

Now? It's gotten complicated.

Mike and I have been looking for a new place to live for about a week now. The area we are hoping to move to has a large selection of rental options. I guess that's what happens when you decide to move to a true suburb of Chicago with a population of 70,000+. This should be an easy process, but here's the rub ...

Most of the rentals are "condos". The buildings were originally apartment complexes, but during the housing boom of the 1990s and 2000s, when everyone decided they had a right to be a homeowner, the apartment complexes were converted to condos. When the housing bubble burst and homeowners started defaulting on loans, real estate agents picked up most of these for very little money. Now, most of these rentals are listed by real estate agents, not private parties, thus the rental process requires working with an agent.

Weird ...

Then there are the "traditional" apartment complexes, which are run more like hotels than apartments.

Rents are based on occupancy rate. If you happen to be looking for an apartment when there are several vacancies, your lease will require significantly less rent than if you need an apartment when the complex is full.

These places lure you in with low move-in fees ($175 surety deposit), but then when you add in the application fees (averaging $50 per person on the lease), and pet fees ($500 surety deposit + an extra $25-$50 in "pet rent" - yes, Scooter and Radar are coming with us), the cost to move in isn't really any less, and none of these move-in fees are refundable.

One complex we looked at also charged $5 per day for a visitor parking pass.


Mike and I have put in an application for a bright, modern, 2-bedroom condo in a perfect location. We are waiting to hear if we've met their criteria (in addition to employment and rental history verification, FICO scores criminal background checks are part of the application process). We could be moving into our first home together in as little as 2 weeks.

*crosses fingers*

06 August 2014

My D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Might become final today by the end of August

(Thank you Tammy Wynette)

After 4+ years of separation, husband and I finally filed for divorce in late June. We decided to use just a single attorney (splitting the cost) to expedite the process and get through it with the least financial damage possible.

Things were going well ... until they weren't ...

The divorce process includes putting the family home up for sale - short sale. We are upside down on the mortgage (by about 25% of the total loan) with no hope of keeping the home long enough for it to actually become an asset.

In fact, the only assets we have in the marriage are our respective 401Ks.

In Illinois, the "standard" is that all marital assets are split 50-50. This means that husband is entitled to half of my 401K, and I am entitled to half of his 401K. This is where things started to get a little ... let's call it difficult.

Husband's 401K is SEVEN TIMES what mine is ... well ... was seven times what mine is ... before he took out a $40,000 loan to pay for step-son's wedding and step-daughter's car, then was laid off from his job and defaulted on the 401K loan.

But Illinois doesn't care about that loan. Illinois sees that loan as a marital asset that was used to cover non-marital expenses, therefor calculates my half of the asset based on the pre-loan amount.

In other words, I was going to just about clear out what was left in husband's 401K ...

And he's still unemployed.

When he realized that was what the law stipulated, he decided to revert back to his old ways - making threats ("I'll make sure you blow all of your money on attorney fees if you decide to try to take my money!"), giving me the silent treatment, delaying the listing of the family home by refusing to provide the realtor his financial documents, and generally being the ass he was the entire time we were together.

Yesterday, he apparently decided that being a bit more rational might just get him a lot farther (further?) than being a dick-head. He's come up with a settlement number that is much closer to what truly is equitable, he's provided the realtor with the financial documentation they need to get the short-sale application to the bank, and he has decided that his "What's in the house now is mine, mine, MINE!!!" may have some flexibility ... as in he offered me the informal dining room table and chair set, a gently used sofa, and other miscellaneous household items.

We are this close to a settlement agreement.

There are a few things that I am still concerned about, like who will be responsible for the utilities should he move out of the house prior to it being sold (his plan is to move out of state in the near future), as well as other expenses we might incur during the home sale process.

Based on those concerns, I've got a counter-offer in mind - about 10% above his current number. If we can agree to that number, this ordeal should be over by the the end of the month!

*crosses fingers*

*makes a sacrifice to the Flying Spaghetti Monster*

*throws salt over my shoulder*

*burns a sage stick*

05 August 2014

Hanging Out At The Bar

I've been working a part-time job at a local gas station for just under a year. I'm primarily a pizza slinger/kitchen helper, with a register shift thrown in on occasion for good measure. It's not a terrible job, but for minimum wage? It's a LOT of work with inflexible hours (shifts I can work in conjunction with my full-time job are either 4:30 PM - 10:30 PM, or 5:00 PM - Midnight).

Yes, this *is* the women's bathroom in said bar
About a month ago, my (former) hairdresser approached me with another part-time opportunity. Her brother runs the bar in Podunk and needed a personal assistant of sorts. The position pays double what I'm making at the gas station and allows me to work from home on my own schedule.

I stopped in and talked to him about what I could offer, and we made arrangements for me to begin this project today.

I'm really hoping this comes through (this is the second time we've attempted to make this work). It would mean I could leave the minimum wage gig and have a LOT more flexibility.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

04 August 2014

Adapt And Overcome ... Until You Feel "Comfortable"

One of the things that has happened as the result of having a childhood filled with turbulence (i.e. being the adult child of an alcoholic) is that I have developed a what I guess can best be called a survival skill set. Although not without stress and anxiety, I adapt well to whatever situation I find myself in ... especially the bad situations. Yesterday, it became clear that I have done that a little too well with life in Podunk.

Mike and I are planning a move to an area about halfway between our jobs. Right now, I have a 5-minute commute to work, while Mike spends at least an hour on his commute.

While looking at apartments and condos in the area we hope to move to, we decided to do a little exploring. I had never been to a Whole Foods (I know! Right??) and there was one in the area, so off we went. Mike warned me that many people find Whole Foods to be a religious experience. I was one of those people.

The first thing that hit me when we walked in the door was the smell - it was a wonderful combination of fresh flowers and produce, with a hint of hot deli thrown in. I had to just stand at the entrance of the market and gather myself for a moment.

Then we started our tour.

The colors were vibrant. The selections were amazing. I saw items I've only ever seen on episodes of Chopped. And the people ...

The people were just as vibrant and amazing as the store itself!

That visit to Whole Foods made me realize just how well I have adapted to life in Podunk ... and that isn't a good thing ... at all ...

I'm excited to be exploring our new life in a far more diverse area. I felt surprisingly comfortable yesterday - there is something to be said for selective anonymity. No one there knew me. They weren't going to report on what they saw in my shopping cart. They weren't wondering who the scary black man was with me. We fit in ... something we've been seriously lacking in Podunk.

02 August 2014

You Can Call Me A Rugged Maniac

I've become one of those people.

The ones who brag about their athletic prowess on social media, eliciting the reader eyeroll.

The ones I used to make fun of ...

One of my co-workers, who happens to be half my age, is big into obstacle runs. She's been doing them for about two years as part of her love affair with the Crossfit "cult" (don't get me started on that tangent).

About a year ago, she talked me into registering for an obstacle run being held in Podunk (a LivingSocial deal offering half off the registration fee was a strong motivator). We registered for the event, only to have it cancelled a week before it was scheduled to take place.

In all honesty, I was relieved. I had doubts about my ability to complete the race without killing myself, or at the very least, having to be carted out on a stretcher.

A year later, with the encouragement of that same co-worker and a Groupon deal, I registered for a Badass Dash - a 7K obstacle run. I was nervous as hell. I knew there was no way I'd be able to run the entire course, and I doubted my ability to even finish.

But I did finish.

Worse yet?

I really enjoyed doing it.

Sure, I was sore for two weeks (Really ... TWO weeks), and I had more scrapes and bruises that a 5-year old riding a bike for the first time without training wheels, but I finished the course.

Today I will be participating in my fourth event this year, and I couldn't be more excited.

It turns out that all of my fears - from being discovered unconscious in a supine position somewhere on the course, to being the fat girl who doesn't even belong on the course - were all unfounded.

These events are about team work (even if you are participating as an individual) and SUCCESS.

The events are run so that the elite, competitive athletes can do their thing and be challenged, and the weekend warriors can also do their thing and be challenged.

Today, I'll start the Rugged Maniac course in a slow jog, and likely be walking by the time I hit  the first obstacle. I'll attempt to complete every single obstacle - some I'll get through all on my own - some I'll need help to get through - and there will be one or two that get the best of me, and I'll have to walk around them.

And that's okay

I'll still feel accomplished when I hit that finish line!

01 August 2014

30 Days of Writing: Write Yourself Alive!

I've been looking for a reason to write

Some motivation

Some accountability maybe?

Not a day goes by that I don't think about this space - what it used to mean to me - all that it documents. I miss it.

I haven't figured out a way to respect this space, while respecting the privacy of the people who are important to me, and I've allowed that to silence this space.

I still have many blogs in my reader. I haven't given up on others. Not sure why I gave up on myself.

But I did.

Then today, I came across Jana's post.

As corny as I usually find these challenges, maybe the Write Yourself Alive Challenge will give me the nudge I need.

To find myself again.

To be myself again

22 May 2014

"It's one thing to read about what goes on in my head

And something entirely different to live with it every day."

I said these very words to Mike last night

Much of my waking hours are spent in a state of near-exhaustion. And at night? Uninterrupted sleep evades me.

Normal daily functioning leaves me drained. Making a phone call requires a level of concentration and determination usually reserved for tasks like proving the Pythagorean theorem. I role play the entire conversation with if/then statements, trying to anticipate every twist and turn of the conversation before it ever happens so that I insure I get the information I need while meeting social expectations. If, by chance, the person is not available and I have to leave a voice mail, my stress level dramatically increases. Each time the phone rings I fear that it is - or isn't - the person returning my call. If I answer the call and it isn't them, I don’t know what the person calling is going to want, and I don’t like not being prepared with an answer. If I answer the call and it is them, I don't know if they have the answer to my question and fear I might then be unprepared to get the information I originally called for.

If I have to talk to to someone face-to-face, it's even more tiring. It demands so much energy. I have to remind myself to look at them when they are speaking, and when I respond. I have to attempt to listen to them while insuring that I am following the "rules" of social engagement. I have to listen to their tone and watch their body language to decipher what might or might not be behind the words that I am listening to.

And all of these things are happening simultaneously.

Do you remember when computers were slow, and you'd get the Windows hour glass turning over and over again while your computer tried to launch an application? That is what my brain feels like.

I never stop thinking - planning - anticipating, even during the most mundane tasks. Before I drive to the market to pick up a few things, I think about the drive there. Which is the most efficient route? Which route has the most traffic lights? What is the traffic going to look like at this time of day. While driving, I'm anticipating speed limit changes. An escape route (from my car and from the road) should there be an accident. Did I remember my wallet? Is my debit card in my wallet? Or will I have enough cash to cover the purchase. What if I have to pay for part of my purchase in cash and part of it on my debit card? Will the cashier roll their eyes at me? Where is the best place to park so that I will be able to find my car again? Is it close to a cart corral in case I need to return a cart?

And all of this happens about 2 minutes into my drive

And it continues

Getting together with friends or attending a social event is especially challenging. I like to get out of the house and feel like I am an important part of the larger world, but then I have to think about where we are going. Is food involved? What will I eat? What will I wear? Do I look fat? Frumpy? Slutty? Inappropriate for the venue? Should I bring a jacket? A sweater? What will we talk about? How will discussions go? How will I respond if someone has had bad news? Or really good news? How will I reply if they ask me how Cameron is? How much information is too much information? Or should I just be transparent?

And all of this happens right after someone has said, "We should think about getting together."

Once firm plans are made, it gets even worse.

I have very few friends, in fact, I don't have a single friend that I talk to daily, or weekly, or even consistently once a month. It takes so much effort for me to maintain friendships. In theory, Mike "knew" what he was getting into before we started dating, although I cannot help but wonder if he'd do it all over again knowing what he knows now. I long for that comfortable space where I don’t have to think so much about everything I’m saying and doing. I envy others that feel that sense of ease throughout their day, without over-thinking and analyzing every encounter.

All of this effort and thinking and questioning and planning is overwhelming enough, but on top of that? I tend to absorb other people’s feelings.

If someone is angry, I can feel it inside. It rattles me and distracts me. It’s like the air around me is charged with the emotion they feel. The same goes for other emotions too - sadness, anxiety, frustration, disappointment. I absorb the feelings of others' like a sponge. I wrestle around with them inside me, fighting over control of my own emotions. But I always lose the fight, and my own feelings are wrestled away from me as I’m forced to exist within the anger or confusion or embarrassment of someone else. And they don’t even know this is happening. That their feelings have taken me hostage. It’s not their fault, really, so why should I tell them?

Sometimes, especially during high stress periods of my life, I turn to other things to quiet the thoughts and anxiety

Facebook games

Garbage television



And although all of these things work for a short period, in the long run they just complicate matters. I know that, yet in the moment, that immediate relief - that quest for a quiet brain - is a stronger pull than the long-term consequences

I can’t help but think that none of what I've described even comes close to really conveying what it's like inside of my head. I just don’t have the ability to put into words the complexity, ferocity, and relentlessness of my thoughts. I would change it in a heartbeat if I could. When people say, "Just relax and let it go," I wish more than anything that it would actually be possible for me to do that. To be a freer version of myself. To be able to just sit in the moment and take in only what was right there, right now.

I would still be the same me, but a better, less exhausted me.

I would like that very much.

12 February 2014

Where did my words go?

Did I use them up on twiter in 140 character bits?

Or was it on Facebook, where I spend more time telling people to simmer down rather than actually engaging in meaningful dialog

I suppose I could have depleted them on tumblr, although I've run out of things to say there as well


I think Mike took my words

And listened to them

And let me know that they make a difference

And now I need nowhere else to share them

21 January 2014

Just Write: Thugs

Having grown up in Seattle during the time when they didn't have an "American Professional Football" team, celebrating when the Kingdome was constructed and the Seahawks were finally a part of the NFC West (then later the AFC West, then back again to the NFC West), and cheering for Jim Zorn and Steve Largent like they were family members (Seattle fans have always been the 12th man), I was thrilled to see the Seahawks beat the 49ers and head to their second Super Bowl.

Enter Richard Sherman's interview with Erin Andrews ...

I have no issue with Richard Sherman. He is a 25-year old who had just made the play of a lifetime to win the game of his lifetime. He was fueled by adrenaline and competition. He was in the moment - raw and unfiltered - and gave FOX some amazing footage.

I do, however, take issue with the name callers that clogged social media.

Racial slurs and innuendos were hurled far and wide, and all that I could think was, "These are the same people who teach my son in school, who will interview him for jobs, who will watch him closely as he walks through department stores. These are the people who think these thoughts, but keep them undercover until they feel protected and fueled by the anonymity of the internet."


It was the most common word I saw used to describe Richard Sherman.

Dictionary.com defines THUG as:
a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer
Richard Sherman is an American Professional Football player, not a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.

One has to wonder if the same word would have been used to describe J.R. Sweezy or Zach Miller had they had similar post-game interviews.

My heart tells me no - they would have been seen as "intense" and "competitive".

Do not be fooled, racism is alive and well, society has just gotten much better at keeping it to themselves ...

At least until they have the protection of anonymity on the internet.

And that hurts my heart.


In an attempt to revive this blog, I've decided to participate in Heather King's "Just Write" campaign:
Write whatever is happening around you WHILE you are writing (sometimes that’s the very best) OR whatever DETAILS you remember about your day or a specific recent-ish experience.
Next, try not to clarify or explain what you want to speak through your post too much. (Try not to force a theme or message.) Just write your experiences. What did you: See? Smell? Touch? Feel? Hear? What did it make you think?
Then watch how your ordinary and extraordinary experiences speak all on their own. That’s it!
A special thank you to Jana for continuing to blog and inspiring me to attempt to get back to the platform that was (and still is) my first love. 

14 January 2014

Just Write: The Probation Officer

Sitting in her office yesterday, I had hopes that maybe ... just maybe ... Cam would suddenly be inspired to get through his probation as quickly as possible - that he would realize his best choice (in a very bad situation) was to buckle down and get busy doing what needed to be done.

The first 10 minutes went well. Cam's probation officer went through which parts of the probation requirements he had already met (letter of apology, payment of court costs/fees, etc.). Then she brought up school, and the fact that Cam will have to graduate from high school in order to be released from probation.

Things went sour ... quickly ...

It became the ONE THING that elicits Cam to dig in his heels and fight

A power struggle

There was no empathy on the part of the probation officer. She couldn't, even for a moment, acknowledge that the situation Cam finds himself in SUCKS. Yes, it is the result of an impulsive decision. Yes, he is accountable. He knows all of that. What he craves is just for someone to acknowledge that this place he is in isn't a cake walk.

She chose to go with ...

"Do you know why I do this? I do this because I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Chicago. I do this because I have children and a family of my own. I do this because I have a relationship with God."


And then that last thread Cam was hanging on to snapped. It wasn't pretty

As a parent, there are places you never imagine you'll find yourself in. One of those is the juvenile justice system probation office ... 

We go back February 17th

I don't anticipate this visit will be any better


In an attempt to revive this blog, I've decided to participate in Heather King's "Just Write" campaign:
Write whatever is happening around you WHILE you are writing (sometimes that’s the very best) OR whatever DETAILS you remember about your day or a specific recent-ish experience.

Next, try not to clarify or explain what you want to speak through your post too much. (Try not to force a theme or message.) Just write your experiences. What did you: See? Smell? Touch? Feel? Hear? What did it make you think?

Then watch how your ordinary and extraordinary experiences speak all on their own. That’s it!
A special thank you to Jana for continuing to blog and inspiring me to attempt to get back to the platform that was (and still is) my first love.