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