Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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So You Wanna Help

As we approach the end of Hurricane Florence, we are going to have to deal with the aftermath.  That means damaged houses, lost jobs, community clean up, and displaced individuals, among other issues.  People will want to help.  Here are a few thoughts about that.

Don’t give used stuff.  People don’t want your old clothes, and someone has to wash, bleach, iron, sort and transport that stuff.  It’s not free by the time it’s all done.  And it’s not uncommon for bugs to become an issue while it’s being stored.  Give money instead.  That way agencies can buy things that are needed based on demand.

Don’t donate canned goods.  They also have to be sorted, packed, shipped, unpacked and distributed.  I’m told a 69 cent can of beans can end up costing $3.00 by the time all that is done.  Plus it takes manpower that might be better spent on other tasks, like debris removal.  If you want to run a can drive, please give the bounty to a local food pantry where it can do the most good.

Do give money.  First of all it allows agencies to buy what they really need.  The American Red Cross might supply beds to displaced survivors but they need cots and blankets to do that, which wear out over time and need to be replaced.  Second, many agencies give out gift cards or pay utility bills, which are obviously much easier to do with cash.

Do give blood.  Not only is there likely to be an increased need, but blood drives in the affected areas have been cancelled so supplies may be down throughout the region.  If you can’t afford a cash donation, giving blood is a good move.

Now maybe you’ve decided to give up this morning’s latte to help disaster victims, but what can you do with that $5.00?  You’ve heard all the stories about charitable organizations where 90% of the money goes to internal expenses like executive salaries.  If you decided to help, no doubt you want the most of your money to go to the disaster.  A good site to check out agencies is National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster .  Their landing page is all about helping Florence victims.  Another good list of options is this one from Fast Company.  Notice the emphasis on giving money or time.

All of which is to say, please give but be smart about it.  Give what people need and choose responsible organizations.  Be wise and be kind.  Your heart will be happier.


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Money

I know, it’s been a week since I posted anything.  I am visiting a friend, so I have been busy.  Friends are good.

Today I checked my bank balance and I am thinking about money.  Now I have a little money in the bank, I’m not freaked out about money, but it is on my mind.

So I’m thinking, let’s say I have $500 in my account.  It’s so easy for me to feel like, I can buy this $20 book, and these art supplies, and lunch for my friend, no big.  Except I still have bills (rent, car insurance, cell phone, the usual suspects) and that money needs to be accounted for too.  So I don’t have $500, I have more like $50.  Which is still okay, I don’t really need more art supplies, but it’s so easy to overspend.

I am really working on my relationship with money.  I have previously lived as though money were no object, it just didn’t matter.  But now I find I am not prepared for old age (I am in my 50s, old age is coming on fast!) and it’s a little late to start.  Not impossible, but definitely not easy.

However it’s only possible if I take control of how much money is coming in and where it’s going out to.  I must pay attention, which I’m not used to doing.

I have a friend who has an Excel spreadsheet with all, and I do mean all, her expenditures on it.  Not just her bills, but even a pack of gum or a bottled water.  She knows down to the penny where her money goes.  I admire her, but I would find that system a little stifling.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go out and spend money willy-nilly.

I did figure out that, just like the idea of dieting makes me want to eat, the idea of budgeting makes me want to spend.  It’s the difficult side of me, that wants exactly what it can’t or shouldn’t have.  Tell me no and probably that is the next thing I MUST do.  Not so much in friendships, but life in general.

I am on unemployment at the moment so there’s very little wiggle room with regard to money.  I need to play it close to the chest, yes I do, and not give in even when I have amazing coupons and a specific book I want.  I don’t need a book.  I do need peanut butter.  I guess I don’t NEED peanut butter but I eat it regularly for breakfast.  Mmmm, peanut butter toast, yum.  The point is, there’s only so much money and some things take priority.  Rent over extra gas to run around, for example.  I need a place to live, I can live without seeing my friends all the time.

So, relationship with money.  I guess it’s avoidant and passive-aggressive.  If only money would be in a relationship with me, then my being manipulative would at least have an effect.  Alas, it is just me and my financial resources.

I am working with a mantra, “there’s always more money”, as a way to combat that crazy urge to spend.  I don’t have to buy it now, I can buy it later, because there’s always more money.  There will be more money in the future when I need the thing, I don’t need to buy it right now.  I don’t need to have it handy in case I need it sometime maybe.  I’m not going to run out of money forever, I will earn more, I am broke not broken.  It gives me great sympathy for hoarders and bag ladies.  I don’t want to be either one.

I will figure this out.  I am smart and motivated and I don’t want to die poor.  I don’t need to die rich, but I don’t want to be hurting for resources when I’m old.  It’s just another puzzle in life.


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Ambivalent Job Search

Why ambivalent, you may ask?  Surely I am either looking for a job or not looking.  And well that’s the thing.

I’ve been a month with no income now and I am totally broke.  I didn’t think I’d have to wait this long to be deployed.  So I need some sort of paying gig for the next little while.  I will be checking out local food pantries for grocery assistance but I need to work for my mental health.  Days are starting to run together.  The other day I seriously asked my roommate if it was Saturday.  It was Tuesday.  Not good.

If I need to take a job, I’d like it to be something I’m interested in.  I think I would like to be a peer support specialist but I am not certified for it.  I believe I could do it, I just don’t meet the qualifications on paper.  I have completed the classwork but I don’t have hours as an intern and I can’t afford to work for free.  I also don’t have a degree yet.  I only owe 3 classes, but I also owe the school money and until that is handled, there will be no classes for me.  Unfortunately, nobody cares how far along the degree process you are.  If you haven’t finished, you might as well be in your first semester, years of work don’t count.

I get lists of jobs every day from Indeed and CareerBuilder.  CareerBuilder has lately been sending me engineering jobs.  I don’t understand that.  Nothing about my resume says engineer.  Indeed sends me everything containing the word “peer” and the word “specialist” so that’s a pretty wide variety of options, very few of them in mental health.

I like my job with the government and would like to be doing it, but this no income stuff is bull.  I need money, doesn’t matter what I like.  On the other hand, I can’t spend 8 hours a day hating what I do.  Either I need something I could be committed to and give up the government position or I need something I don’t hate that I could quit at a moment’s notice when I get deployed.  Since this is civil service, not military, there is no requirement for the employer to keep a job for me.  I hate to take a job knowing I would leave it, but . . .

So why am I ambivalent?  Because I don’t know what I want.  I look half-heartedly in case there is something really good out there.  I apply to jobs I’m probably not qualified for because of the pay or my interest.  I am required to make a certain number of applications per week while I’m collecting unemployment, if someone decides to pay me.  But I really want to just do the job I am already hired to do.

I don’t want bad things to happen to people, but I need a disaster to happen so I can work.  And I am ambivalent about that, too.

It’s hard to hold two separate and opposite ideas in mind, and yet here I am.

Something good will happen soon and this will be a non-issue, I just have to hold on until then.


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The Tightness of Money

I need to pick up my meds.  I also need to pay my phone bill.  I can’t do both.

It’s been a long time since I had to say that.  I’ve had enough money for about a year, even a little extra.  But right now today, I am poor.

I wonder how I’ll make it without the drugs.  I wonder if it’s better to let the phone get shut off.  I wonder if the phone company has a payment plan I can use.  I think they do.  I’ll have to check that out.

Not that it solves the problem of finding the money to make the payment.

Having the car towed the other day didn’t help matters.

Let’s see, what can I look forward to?  A friend is sending me some money she owes me.  I have 2 trainings next week so that’s about $40.  Maybe less after taxes.

I’ve listed some stuff on ebay and etsy.  It’s not moving but maybe in the future.

I should get unemployment.  We are waiting for the state of Virginia to close out the claim so the money can come back to Texas.  Mind, right now, Texas says I don’t have an open claim.  I guess I’ll have to call them on Monday and see what’s going on.

Technically I have a job, I just have no work at the moment.  So here I am squeaking by.  I wonder what I can do to make ends meet?  And of course rent is about to be due.

So this is really testing my faith that there is always more money.  Let’s see if I can keep a good attitude.

My Etsy shop

my Ebay listing


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Towed

My car got towed last night at 11:10.

I need $300 to get it back.

So here’s the deets:

I live in a mobile home park with roommates.  We have 3 cars and 2 parking spaces.  Usually we just tetris all 3 cars into the allotted space.  Now the roommates own the place, so they get the “real” parking spaces and I fit in across the end of the driveway.

I went out to a support group yesterday afternoon and when I got back, they were out.  I parked on the side of the street in front of the house with plans to move the car later.

Roommates got home about 10:30.  They had been grocery shopping so I helped bring the groceries in.  We finished about 11:00.  If we had been 5 minutes longer, we would have seen the tow truck.

“You’re car still needs to be moved,” said L.  Well.  I was in the middle of something and figured I had time.  I knew the mobile home park had a parking curfew, but I thought it was midnight.  And of course I got wrapped back up in what I was doing and forgot.  Not that it matters, I was probably already towed by the time L reminded me.

So the place wants $300.  I don’t have $300.  I am scrambling for it even as I type this.  I looked at an online personal loan but the interest rate is over 350% and the payments are greater than I can commit to.  I looked into title loans but I drive a 98 so I can’t get enough money.  I am calling in favors from friends and selling a corset on ebay.  I’m going to see what else I can sell.  I have some hats I’ve made and other little items.  I’m really stressed.

Here is a link to the corset, if you’re interested:

corset on ebay


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Unemployment Application

In order to collect unemployment, I have to provide a form called sf-50 which shows my current status as non-pay.  I have a job but there is no work for me so I’m not getting paid.  That’s part of the problem with these on-call positions.

I have the form.  It was emailed to me earlier today.  PDF is a fine format.  Except.  Except the only option for getting this item to the unemployment office is to fax it.  I cannot email it or upload it to an account.

This gives me a chance for a small adventure tomorrow though.  Apparently I can do these things for free at the local workforce office.  Now notice that there is no local unemployment office, there is only the job placement office.  This is mildly annoying but the big thing is to handle it for the lowest cost possible.

In other news, my roommates’ cat Hamlet is not doing well.  The question is, do we let him keep going with poor quality of life or do we take him down to the vet and send him on his way.  I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.  He is a sweet loving kitty who cannot walk properly any longer and who is not grooming himself.  It’s not good.  And yet, at what point do you decide for an animal that enough is enough?  So sad.

Trying to maintain a good attitude.  Visiting friends and family, keeping busy, going to support groups.  I hope to make some art later today and take a shower.  It feels like a good day for a shower.  Study some Japanese, watch some anime.  It’s going to be a good day.

 


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Life Changes Fast and Slow

Do you remember a game called Boggle? It was a box with a grid in the bottom that held dice with letters on them. You shake the box to scramble the letters, then compete to see who can form the most and the longest words.

Sometimes I feel like I live in a Boggle box.

I feel like, for no reason I can discern, life is shaking me up and reconfiguring the pattern and I’d better adapt and do my best to get a high score.

Other times, I feel like life takes so very long to happen. Sometimes you’re doing everything you can do, but the process takes longer than expected or you have to wait on something else to happen that you can’t control.

So I’ve been having both situations simultaneously, and they impact each other.

I’ve had my job just over a year now, and I have been trying all this time to get full time hours. I can bid up again when the shift bids come in July, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get anything. On the other hand, I’ve been allowed to participate in some cool projects and offered a little additional responsibility, which is all good. My boss also showed me a job in another department that he thinks I should try for. It’s fewer dollars per hour but it’s full time, so I’d get about the same pay. The company likes to see wide experience in employees, so even though it’s sideways (ie. not a promotion) for now, it would be good to say I’ve done it. And full time employees get tuition reimbursement, so I could finish my degree. Education is very important to get ahead in certain types of job and it would sure help here.

So this is all very good, but it has taken a long time to get here.

Or at least, it feels like a long time to me right now. Because I am not making enough money for anyone in Texas to rent me an apartment on my own, and even if I have a roommate, most people want to qualify us separately not as a unit. I’m an adult, if I could qualify on my own, I wouldn’t be thinking of a roommate.

The people I live with are VERY unhappy that I’m here. I moved in about a year ago, and I believed I’d be able to get full time hours at work and I wouldn’t be here very long. We wrote a contract for 6 months, and I truly believed I wouldn’t even need all of that. Only it’s been 12 months, and I’m still here.

In January, the husband offered me a ride to work and said “I’m not telling you to get out, but the contract said January, and it’s almost the end of January, and you’re still here.” Um, how is that not telling me to get out? And there have been consistent reminders that I should leave on a regular basis since then, including a few actions that were clearly designed to make it uncomfortable to be here. Because apparently knowing you aren’t wanted but having no place else to go isn’t uncomfortable enough.

Now about 10 days ago, my daughter finally decided she’s ready to strike out on her own (see previous blog post “On Being a Mother Hen . . .”) and that changed A LOT about the kind of apartments I can rent. I’ve been looking at 2 bedroom apartments so my daughter could have her own room, but I can live in a studio if it’s just me. That changes rent from $800 and up, to $500 average. And THAT changes the income requirement from $2400 a month to $1500 a month, which puts things down into my price range. I was hoping to be out by the end of this month or during next month, mostly due to the time it takes to find a place.

Monday I went to a stress management session. My stress is so high that I am unusually grumpy and my stomach is creating enough acid to start damaging my esophagus. I have meds that should help until the root cause can be handled. While I was in the session, my phone kept going off with messages. I ignored it, because my powers of ignore are very strong but when I checked it later, my daughter had texted that I need to call her.

Your kid telling you to call her is very scary for a parent, but it isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s just too complicated for text. I called, but I didn’t know what to expect. She walked into the other room, saying “I don’t think it matters, but there are ears here.”

Hmmm, not ominous at all! It made me suspicious more than anything.

“The husband has been yelling at the wife for the past 2 days about evicting you. She went down to the police station today to get the eviction order.”

Well crap.

And, eviction orders don’t come from the police, so maybe she already had it and was getting a cop to serve me?

But there wasn’t anything I could do about it at the moment. It was my day off, I had a few errands to run still then I got a very long phone call from a friend. I made some more calls to rental offices to see what could be done fast.

I also talked to a very good friend — you know, one of those friends who is more like family, even though there’s no genetic connection — and he said, basically, I needed to get out of there regardless of whether was an eviction, and I could stay with him and his wife.

Sunday is my next day off, so I am moving on Sunday.

There’s much more going on here than this, which I may or may not post about.

But the point is that for a year I have been needing to get out of here. I have tried everything I knew and could not change my situation. I could see change coming, but I couldn’t hurry it up. Life was moving very slow. Then suddenly in the last 2 weeks, the situation changed. And on Monday, I was in the Boggle box.

Still trying to spell the new words, not sure if everything is fully settled yet or how long it will take to get into the new place.

Just the knowledge that everything is different and it’s a new game now.