01 October 2014

Thank God my grandmother was a seamstress

I don't even know why I try. Well, I do. But. It's just an on-going, constant, never-ending, up-hill battle with money. The harder I work, the less money I make. I don't seem to be working smarter, just harder. And for what? What am I gaining? More of the same unless I change my circumstances. 

Which I'm trying to do.

This isn't even remotely about wanting hords of money. Or having what everyone else has. I really, truly am content living very basically. It's about not having enough to provide adequately for things my family needs. I don't even have enough for my very piddling "basics" that some might call frilly. Make-up and hairspray. Deodorant. I seemed to be doing better on less, somehow, even though I probably really wasn't; and I'm just trying to figure out the suffocating question of how NOT changing my frugal, tight-ass spending habits all this time is adding up to being SUPER behind when I was just starting to move ahead from the not-so-bad behind!

I've gone over my statements, transactions. Other than the $45 I spent on three outfits that I desperately needed (so many of my clothes right now are patched up or getting holes, snags, or tears!), I haven't spent a frivolous red cent in the past three months.

I have to stretch everything. Make every single cent count.

I hate my job.

Not really. I just hate how hard I work for so little pay. I just hate that I'm supposedly a 'star' at what I do and have been told that I would succeed in other departments quite well, but that I "can't" be paid any more for what I do now.

I feel stabbed in the feet, hands, and back.

I just want to know what happened! What happened to being rewarded for a job well done? What happened to what I was trying to start? Savings, even ass-clenchingly tighter budgeting? What the hell happened in the meeting upstairs between my two bosses? What in the hell happened that made it okay for me to bring home, literally, hundreds less per month than the advisors, who've all been there a sum total of time less than I have? With a job that is only one - ONE - component of the whole spectrum of my position?

I'm not even questioning this for the sake of what's fair or not. I'm befuddled that I could be so blindsided with such an enormous lack of self-assessment. The nagging question is there. How? How does a person who can do every job and perform every role and master all of the positions there are in on section of a place get paid the least? I do exactly the same thing that each and every role does, AT the same time, on any given day.

I wear hidden holes and patches to work.

29 July 2014

Day 2 Positivity Challenge

1) Looting through hords of history and digging through the ole memory bank to scrounge up old passwords and old emails (because one leads to another, of course, in the search of old files which connect to each other; and the green grass grew all around, all around...) in order to find photos for a 5-photo composite for the Beautiful challenge and, in the process, finding old, old forgotten photos. The brilliant plus? Being able to get into Photobucket, an account I thought I'd lost, and find photos I was thrilled to find. (And some not.)

2) Being trusted, despite all the superficial jokes, at my place of employment to get my job done, to be the one people can rely on.

Okay, only two. Posting late. And number 2 completely flopped in my face today. Fail.

27 July 2014

Positivity Challenges

So I got nominated for the 3-day, 3-statement trend of sorts on Facebook today, but I'm going to keep going with trying ten a day on here because there really are more than three every day!

1) Trevor is learning Spanish as I type! He has his head phones on and is going through the introduction courses outlined on StudySpanish.com, repeating the vocal examples and trying to see if I understand. ¡Que maravilloso!

2) Waking up to cuddles with a certain adorable little 8-year-old who, for some reason, loves me!

3) Little games and big acts of love by same said 8-year-old who, on her own accord, "cleaned" the entire tub as well as the bathroom sink, and picked up her dad's clothes off the floor! I don't know what she cleaned them with, but man, does she make my heart smile!

4) Looking at my ring today. One full karat. For me. Brand new. For the rest of my life. For the REST of my life! No more having to play games, shop around, haggle, cry over hords of distressed dissatisfaction ever again! Just one person, the same person, the consistency and the awe of this perfectly imperfect man. Sign of hope and beacon of all the good one person can have in their life, for the wretched soul who never believed they'd get a second chance and a new lease on life.

5) Big giant hug out from Trev of the blue when doing laundry today. Just because.

6) In general, (today, yes, but in general) being able to put a positive spin on an outlook I'd have seen more negatively in the past. I kind of wonder about this mindset process as a whole, actually. Did I always have this chip on my shoulder? Where did it come from? Was I always this barky and negative? Most importantly, could I have maybe had a chance to get out of the house, change my circumstances for what I wanted, and handled single motherhood and newlywed life thereafter with a lot better outlook overall (i.e. without the damned struggle to make it from one memorization problem to the next) if I had never gotten into an accident that left me hella disoriented with absolutely zero resources for brain injuries? Who knows. At least I'm noticing that those tendency is shifting and evolving. My language is changing. My perceptions are fuller. The constant pressure in my chest from fear and needless expectations is decreasing exponentially. Yes!

7) Phone call from my girls telling me they were home and chatting about their experiences with family in Seattle and in California.

8) FINALLY finding one of those advertised clothes shoppy things on Facebook that is a line of tops that I WOULD wear and could buy from.

9) Watching our favourite TV shows to relax on a Sunday night.

10) Ice cream runs.

21 July 2014

Counting all the a**holes in the room...

"Counting all the assholes in the room, well I'm definitely not alone..."

One of my FAVOURITE Volbeat verses. 

I love it because it doesn't put the singer of the lyrics (whether it's Michael Poulsen or me in the shower or you in the car) on a pre-supposed soap box about themselves in and amongst the company they willingly or unwillingly keep. It's a self-aware, no-bullshit statement about shitty behaviour. More or less. The lyrics go on to expand the statement.

I say this because I'm definitely not alone. Nope. I'm just professional about it. Or at least I try to be. Maybe it's my job, or maybe it's just because I've just been an infinitely nice person my whole life, in where I've always understood and respected that people who serve you food, cut your hair, wash your car, pump your gas, or bring you that next size up are to be respected because THEY ARE SERVING YOU, but I-i-i-i-i would never show up to a busy, insanely populated business and place and make demands around closing time. I know I would certainly never throw a passive-aggressive temper tantrum in which I'm giving the workers their options of what they should do for me while cussing out someone on my cell phone (where the hell are we, New York?) and pacing like a peacock, emphasis on the last four letters, inside and outside the front doors. Surely, I wouldn't do all of that and not notice that the nice lady on the end staying after hours to ensure that I got my prized possession returned to me and paper work completed promptly; and then LEAVE on her, leave all the employees who were staying late, all the employees whose lives were suspended for my selfish purposes, to pause and stand agape at my big-fish-in-a-little-pond superiority.

At least I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. Counting all the assholes in the room...

For the sake of balance and empathy, yes, if I were a hot shot big whig (in the middle of a farming state?) with lawyer-type deadlines and traveling with duress, I may be irked that I had to wait a meager twenty minutes after day's end to retrieve the end product of service requested.

But let's get real here: you called, you wanted shoved into a line up that pushed other customers (who were there first) to the side, we accommodated anyway, we told you five o'clock, and you called three, four times to check on the status of your order well before then (try all day), we continued to tell you five o'clock and you were still mad and dissatisfied.

The only thing I will give you is that we weren't done by five. We made you wait a half hour extra. For a job you demanded get done ahead of others who were ahead of you. Our bad?

At least you're not the only one in the room...

17 July 2014

"Stay With Me"

I have to count my blessings. This year alone has been filled with huge presents and big milestones. And I, for one, find the music hitting the airwaves these past few years has been really good, too. That really helps. Anyone who knows me knows that music is my breath, my blood, and ora-like extension of myself. When you just can't find anything flipping through the stations, listening to the countdowns, or on TV (especially there, with all the music talent reality shows!), you know you're hooped.

But in my life. Hopefully, not speaking prematurely, the meeting with the banker tonight was just the cherry on top. Back a few years, I was somehow miraculously blessed to get a brand new car and finance it myself. Shortly before that, I had secured a small-limit credit card with funds and work on my credit with small purchases. In between getting the card and the car, I started working for Ford, wherein I established I could provide for myself. Meagerly and just barely, mind you, what with the mega overdraft that's lingered around since a certain greasy creep was in my life, but there still existed a perseverance, I'd like to think.

Struggling since divorce to get on my feet, like any other Jane Smith, wondering if I'd ever get above water. Dreaming of a time where I'd at least be able to make it a little past each paycheck AND not have to depend on anyone to do it. Straining and popping veins over trying to stay in control of my finances and debts while watching those paychecks fluctuate in take-home pay, either because I'd forgotten some irregular expense or because the lady upstairs made a mistake. Wondering if I could be responsible--truly responsible--with money enough to earn good credit.

But all of that happening in and around and amongst beautiful things like an engagement ring, a proposal, life with a man who helps me to see and remember all the good and beautiful things in life, there is hope and relief and a view of the horizon. Trevor hasn't given up on me. He is the very model of a good man, the kind your mother would want you to bring home, but also a good partner and a very best friend. While we go through life on our individual paths as companions for the other, we also come together and without becoming an unhealthy, fused couple; and I have felt, for the very first time in my life, a sense of individuality joined just perfectly with a sense of belonging, being involved in a common goal, a sense of having someone who, of his own free agent, is on my side completely.

And with that, the very starting point for me to see and look for the positive things. I think other people in my life have probably frustrated themselves trying to get me to see these things for myself--and I knew I needed to--but I had to get to that point by myself. Even though I still struggle with remembering to see the good things, I feel like I have help somehow. I feel like it comes more easily. And I feel like I have someone in my corner to help me when I forget.

It feels good to breathe.

29 May 2014


Just a few words for tonight.

I've learned quite a lot from this relationship and being in it. It's a lot like polishing rocks or going through finishing school. Kind of messy and uncomfortable and at times heart-breaking, but with beautiful results.

If I could pass any wisdom I've learned from going through this to my daughters, it would be to hold fast, be patient, and stay true to yourself. Because the ride is rough and uncertain and people will always criticize some part of you, and it's the criticism that can cripple, but it is far more important to learn the skills it takes to let it flow off you like water from a duck's back.

Because all defensiveness flows from insecurity.

You can't control what others say and you can't always control how you're going to feel about criticism, especially the kind that pokes at our vulnerable hot spots, but you CAN set yourself up for success by giving yourself an out that buys you time or have a few preset actions that you can take (and practice) to help you stay calm.

You can avoid unnecessary stress that comes from fights if you do this. You won't always avoid fighting, but you can cut down on the number of times you actually have to argue about something.

It also appeals to the "just having to say" what you have to say feeling, because you're being reasonable in your mind before you have to make the fight out loud.

SO many times I have acted or reacted hotly because I have felt attacked or critiqued unjustly, sometimes righteously so, but mostly not. Most, if not a majority, of the occasions with compulsion to speak out and defend against injustice (dammit!), once unveiled (in a number of ways but mostly after a hellacious verbal duke-out) are, in reality, one of two things: 1) born out of an underdeveloped sense of perspective or 2) the huge insecurity that comes with being wrong. It's not that I can't be wrong---I'm very okay with it. I just had to learn how to be okay with it, and then I had to learn about being gracious even if I knew I was right.

It has soured and tainted ALL of the relationships I've ever been in. Friendships, courtships, family, my marriage. I could psychoanalyze it all day long (and I have already done so) as to where that all came to be, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is that having a hot temper is not a cultural thing or an environmental thing or genetic thing. It is a you thing or a me thing. It is lacking patience in every facet of resolution, it is near-sighted, and an excuse to refrain from taking responsibility for how you see things, regardless of who or what taught you what you know or didn't teach you what you ought to know.

This has been a life long battle.

I couldn't  help but feel this huge injustice when I went out into the world and started experiencing lots of heavy, super-adult kinds of situations being as immature as I was. I felt like any time someone considered me to be an adult, it was a fluke. Yet I felt a lot of frustration over having to deal with abnormal life-changers without ever having gotten my footing.

But I want my girls to do better than me and their grandparents before them. I can finally, finally say it doesn't really matter if  Mom and Dad messed up or that I made stupid decisions that I can't change. What matters is that I don't want my girls to take on my deficiencies. And I want to equip them with the tools to do more than me. I would love it if we could avoid living the phrase "the sins of the [father] are passed onto the [son]." And Dad always said, "M'ija, make your weakness your strength."

After much bump-and-bruising, I have found someone who has seen me through this part of my life, lived it with me, is real and still loves me. It's made me a better person.

22 April 2014

The Power of Flower

So, for a little prospective trip down memory lane, today's ramble comes from the reaction I received today from a newly turned sixteen-year-old. My oldest daughter hit her sweet sixteen just this past Sunday, on Easter Sunday, on the year it was my ex's turn to have the girls for the holiday; and as such I didn't get to see her. I wondered amongst great pangs of grief what I could do from six hours away to make her day special. The Quinceañera she asked about maybe getting last year was, in no way made a reality. I didn't get one, and my dad was the Mexican in the family, so why bother handing down another lost and meaningless tradition? Especially now that it's mainly just another reason for rich and fake latinos to show off their money and we live in Canada where were were not, and still are not, surrounded by an extensive Hispanic community?

She was not going to get a car. Her father works two jobs. I'm hundreds of miles away living paycheck to paycheck. I thought about arranging a delivery of video camera accessories to show up at her door, but how would I know if she would still use them? And if she was still interested in making videos? And what I got the wrong kind of tripod or external microphone? The beauty products things has been way overdone. Money is a kind of copout and bland and pretty much the ordinary. Even though teenagers love money.

Flowers. She had never received flowers. Probably from anyone, but especially never at school, much less a job or other public place. Probably certainly not even in non-public places. Ohh, how I hoped this would brighten her day!

Flowers seem so... passive. I thought. I like getting flowers, but not every women really cares about that. When another gal from works gets them, it's all very nice and well, happy for them, but meh, seems like they're an overdone medium. And I don't have to get them. It's not like I'd probably even miss not getting any, just because it hasn't happened very many times and I have no expectations of getting them. Like. Ever.

However, I have received them at work and it has been quite lovely. And I know that my daughter has never had that experience. And while I thought about the possibility of being the plain, old mom that ruins her first set of flowers from a boy, I still thought it would be okay. I still thought it would brighten her day. And it still won't ruin the moment she gets them from a special someone, because those will be from him, or them, or whoever else that isn't me.

Fortunately for me, her father works in her school, so he was able to capture her reaction and text it to me. But the reaction I received from her choked me up even more. She told me (and I'm paraphrasing) through thick and thin, we will always love each other, that the distance may make us momentarily and temporarily bitter about the nature of our arrangement, but that nothing could ever stand in the way of that love.

These were words of a SIXTEEN year old. Sixteen! A child! And a young lady! My young lady! While standing from the vantage of a mother who, on one hand, would expect no less of the child I raised, I can't help but be enormously heart-exploded about it!

There are adults in the world, adults who I'm surrounded by, good and bad, for crying out loud, with less fortitude and contemplative reflection than that. But most hard- and heart-hitting is that moment. The moment. The moment you thought, as a parent, you ruined because of the ways you reacted to all the hard knocks of life actually dissolves into this time-traveling sort of undoing, where the actual beauty lies right before your face --- the beauty of your flesh and blood coming at you to say all the things you were trying to teach her, from her own lips, in her own way, completely stripped of influence.

For one second in time, you realize the influences that have surrounded her, but you also identify the pure light in her soul where, in that second, she's saying from her own heart, her own mind.

For one, tiny, mini, millisecond of time, all of the hard work you put in, all of the hours spent toiling over their well-being, all of the mistakes you scoured over, all of the lullabies you sang announce their worth in a loud, eye-blinding light when the free-agent voice of your child comes back to you with words like that.

She is the first lesson I ever had in unconditionally loving another human being. She has made me a better person, but also a better daughter and inspires me as a mother. I love you, Rori. Happy Sweet 16!

05 April 2014

Un-acquired Brain Injury

So. Some of the things that bother me the most, still, have to do with the head trauma I had (and have had) to experience and work through with practically zero support, some of the left over trailing feelings of completely ignored injustice from when I was married, and the overall madness of the things I feel I was taught to know (i.e. the way I actually processed the ideals my dad was trying to instill as a kid, versus trying to understand and incorporate his intent.)

It's occurred to me more than once to start journaling through that, but I just haven't. I dropped that ball when my marriage started swirling down the toilet. I quit writing about things I needed to process because I was still going through them. Sure, I was able to write swiftly, grandly, and dramatically about becoming a mom my first year of university, and all the tales that ensued because that had been another life. Another time. With other people. And I had moved to Canada. Writing about the life and stages of being a single kid-mom was easy while sitting from the vantage point of a married woman with two kids.

But married life was three life times ago. And I still haven't written things down past the first date with my ex. Meeting the new gal at work has unwittingly emphasized that for me. Little conversations with her over a cig in the smoke shack at work and a few stories from her have reminded me of that part of the story that involved my concussion. I learned there was an acquired brain injury support group right here in town. That would have been helpful to have fifteen years ago.

Of all the elements listed at the top of this entry, I'd like to zero in on the things that led to my concussion, but also everything else I had to deal with coming out of that haze because, well, I just haven't yet. And right now, it's been at the forefront of my thoughts since having brain injury discussions with my coworker. I realized that I haven't really talked about it. Not like I needed to achieve closure, anyway, and that's largely in part due to the stupefying lack of support surrounding the event.

There was none for me, and who the hell really knew or cared that I struggled to gather my wits about me, combated shitty memory loss, or fought with the demonic frustration that I encountered daily (getting lost on a campus I'd already spent two years on, losing my keys or homework papers, forgetting my bassoon fingerings, for fuck's sake) while still trying to be a mother. Don't even get me started on that part of those days. I barely remembered being a mom.

Because of all that I experienced during that time, what somehow made it all very much worse is not that no one but NO one seemed to have any clue as to how brain injuries affect people and that ignorance and apathy abounded in circles around me -- even those closest to me. It was that my mother was a nurse and knew, at least from a theoretical, textbook vantage point, what brain injuries are and how they affect patients; and still said nothing to defend me when I told my uncle (a man as close to me as my own father) to fuck off.

Sweet little subplot to the nightmare of surviving a hellacious roll-over just outside of my hometown, my head being bashed on the ground like a rag doll until the vehicle came to a stop, tearing apart the muscles in my then-fiancée's back and shoulders, and my year-old daughter being ejected from the vehicle with merely a scratch, is the ginormous custody clusterphuck between my parents at that specific time.

According to all the accounts I received post-fog/haze (and probably some during, although I'm sure I could never recall), my kid brother was stashed away somewhere "safe" by my dad in attempt to "hide" him from my mom, who had flown all the way from Nevada after hearing about the accident, with my brother, who didn't want to live with her anymore. Dad wouldn't give up my brother's location, cops got involved, an arrest was made, and a night in jail was spent.

All remaining family members were related to my mom and naturally sided with her. And, as the three of us immediate family were trying to recover at Grandpa's house, I vaguely remember looking out the front room window seeing my dad pull up and hearing my uncle say, "oh here comes the jackass." The night I hurled the F bomb at my uncle.

I just think my father made SO much sense, too, what with his irrational passion for avenging a child's custody arrangement and all, when a) the custodial parent is successful, stable, and primarily concerned about getting to Wyoming because of the accident and b) my ex and I were recovering from a fricking accident! It not only created drama for my mother, who was accused of being the creator of the drama, but just like always, Amy got pushed to the back of everyone's thoughts. Including the major head trauma that prohibits me from remembering, even to this day, the least of those first few days, weeks, months.... maybe years...

But of course I was going to defend my dad. I guess. In the stunted, limited capacity that I was able to defend him. It's not that I didn't agree with my uncle, it's just that I couldn't. Not on principle and certainly not when those principles and emotions and just about anything irrational was of searing, heightened, pressing urgency and, at that time, the only brain function I had.

To the back burner the accident went, and with it the presence of mind from anyone around me to consider the idea that maybe, just maybe, Amy wasn't being herself. Nope. The order of things which followed is still a blur, but I only remember wanting to flee because Grandpa was furious, the old Zephyr he was going to give us to take back to our college town was being taken away, a night at a hotel we couldn't afford...

None of this was supposed to be like this. Jumbled wires crossing. The concussive hit we all took. The sheer seven-ton weight of fault and responsibility on my shoulders that didn't even hit me in full until I got the photos of the metal carcass that used to be the Tracker. Nothing processed in a timely fashion. Upon leaving town -- two weeks later (it was only supposed to be a two-day trip) -- we passed the area where the Geo Tracker flipped three times to a halt on its roof. Was that it? I pointed and asked. For the first of what would be several hundred more times. Yes, it was, my ex answered patiently. Then with a sigh. Then in frustration and eventually irritation. What happened again?

Fumbling my way through life getting back into the swing of the school year was probably, by far out of all the stunts I've ever pulled or been responsible for, the second-hardest set of consequences I've ever had to deal with. The effects of the events of a split-second moment have been endlessly far-reaching. Yet, no  one to this day has given a shit about it. All I got was a "there, there" and a huge guilt trip about telling my uncle "f*** you."

Not that it was up to other people to give a shit. In the end, there is always a way around blocks in the road of life. It's just that I never lamented this in the way that I needed to because I was too busy trying to get back to normal to pay attention to how virtually ignored I was. Truly a recurring theme in my life.