Thursday, December 16, 2010

Contemplating Next Year

While it's still a bit early to start making New Year's Resolutions, it's by no means to early to start contemplating what to do with the year getting ready to start just a couple of rather short weeks from now.

While this past year has been full of changes, both good and bad, I am (in some strange regards) an eternal optimist despite what some folks might think of me.  Inevitably, I go into the new year with a hopeful heart that what has troubled me in the prior 12 month period will make it's way elsewhere, and whatever new things happen to crop up to take it's place are more easily and pleasantly dealt with.  Now, a week prior to the Christmas holiday, I find myself once again caught in the grip of that eternal optimism when faced with the prospects before me.

Aware as I am of the various challenges I will have to face over the course of the upcoming months (digging myself the rest of the way out of my financial hole, dealing with various other issues some of which aren't of the most pleasant nature) I cannot help but face the turning of the year with a strangely cheerful heart and lightness of spirit.

I have, after all, finally put certain things behind me which had consistently held me back in the past: numerous hangers on who weren't the friends they claimed to be, dragging me further towards financial ruin and headache than they were ever a help; certain emotional stumbling blocks which I clung to as though the security blanket of a small child, though the gods know that those items were hardly healthy things to have held on to over the years; my dependence upon others than myself for various things that I should have been relying upon only myself for.

As I look back over the past year's entries into this erstwhile journal, sparse though they might be at times, I find myself chuckling that I allowed myself to become so mired in my own past.  While those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, those who refuse to let go of the past are doomed as well - not to repetition, but to stagnation.  I'm incredibly tired of feeling like I'm stagnating, and therefore I'm making a conscious effort to put the past where it belongs - firmly behind me, not forgotten, but neither is it going to be clutched to me as a protective shield convincing me not to move forward into my own future.

It promises to be as much of an adventure as this past 12 month span has been, if considerably more pleasant in some respects.  I guess we'll just have to see how much of an adventure it turns out to be, and whether my eternal return to hope is justified.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Winter of Our Discontent

Life is a series of paradoxes.  At least my life is.  Some days seem to be so filled with paradox that I end up wondering how the space-time continuum keeps from unraveling itself.

The past couple of days have seen more paradoxes than usual though.  Something goes right, then I turn around and something else goes dreadfully wrong.  A few more things will pile up in the "OMG Wrong" box, only to have something thrown at me out of the blue that looks almost too good to be true.

This has not been a particularly pleasant winter for me so far.  My finances are in a shambles, and digging out of the hole doesn't really seem to be making any sort of significant progress.  My electricity has been off since the end of October, and the electric company won't turn it back on (in anyone's name) until my outstanding bill is paid in full.  Only I don't make enough money at the job I finally managed to find to get that bill paid off.  I only make about $450 every 2 weeks from the job I currently have, and the bill is $1000.  Even if I had no other bills that Have to be paid (which I do) it would take me 3 paychecks - 6 weeks - to get it turned back on.  With other bills added into the mix, such as keeping a phone turned on, keeping the water turned on, keeping myself fed (albeit not well) making payments to get last winter's fines caught up and paid off, and contributing gas money to the various friends who are hauling me around when I have errands that Have to be run...... it doesn't leave much in the way of funds that I can set back TO pay against that outstanding electric bill.

I've been staying mostly with a friend of mine who lives nearby, so that there is at least heat and hot water.  Unfortunately, various portions of her family are coming in for the holiday season, and staying at her house, which means that as of this weekend I have no choice but to start staying at my place again.  Despite the lack of electricity or heat.  After all - even though the furnace burns natural gas, it still requires electricity to run, since it has a thermostat.

So.  If I could find a room mate (a Reliable room mate, that is) I could afford to put whatever they were paying me in rent against that outstanding electric bill, and get caught up in short order.  But until I have the electric back on, finding a room mate willing to move in (that I don't want to kill within 24 hours of them doing so) is more difficult than Mission Impossible.  Wonderful lil catch 22, eh?  If I had X, I could do Y, but until I've done Y, X cannot  be accomplished.

I finally broke down this afternoon, put my pride aside, and called the various community help agencies in town, hoping that at least one of them would be able to do Something to help me out of this jam.  No such luck.  We're not even out of the first full week of December, and none of them have any funds left TO help people out.  Not even a bit, so that I can get part of that bill paid up, and perhaps find other resources to help with the rest of it.

I don't know what I'm going to do at this point.  I don't make enough money to pay it on my own.  The room mates who ran up the bill skipped out owing me money.  I can't get a new room mate until it's back on, so hoping for that sort of miracle is out of the question.  I don't have anything left to pawn or sell to try and pay on the bill - I've already sold everything that the pawn shops would take for more than $5.  I've asked for more hours at work, but I'm already at the maximum number of hours they'll give me - simply because they refuse to hire anyone as a full time employee, lest they find themselves obligated by law to offer insurance and other benefits that they don't want to pay for.

And as I was sitting here, trying to think of some alternative that I might have missed, I get a phone call.  Last winter, I had decided to try and go back to school for a degree in Culinary Arts.  Not so much because I want to work in restaurants, or anything like that, but simply because I enjoy being in a classroom setting, I love to cook, and the classes would help me improve certain areas of my skills that are lacking.  I was told when I first started looking into things that it would be almost 2 years before they had a spot available for me, because spaces were limited and offered to highschool students first.  Only it seems they've had a couple of people drop out of the program, and a space has become available Now, ready to start January 3rd, with a schedule that would not conflict with my overnight job hours.

All I have to do, of course, is come up with $100 for uniforms (yes, uniforms for the culinary arts program - chef's whites) $150 for books, and convince the folks holding my student loans to put them back in forbearance so that I qualify for student financial aid.  Before next Wednesday.  Of course, if I Can manage to get them to put my student loans into forbearance, so that I qualify for financial aid, that would mean a $6000 Pell Grant check in a couple of weeks, which would cover my tuition and fees and books and uniforms and get all my bills caught up and maybe even leave enough left over to get a cheap PoS car to get to and from classes.  Which is going to be a major problem for me, since campus is on the far side of town.

If I don't jump at this opportunity to get into the program, it'll be at least 2 years before they have a space for me.  But there's no Practical way for me to take the opportunity that seems to be getting handed to me.  No transportation, half of my utilities off with no way to get them turned back on until the winter is nearly over, and no way to pay for tuition, fees, books, and uniforms right now.

And people wonder why I'm depressed.

End of the Year Ramblings

This has been a year of ups and downs that would  make a newlywed's bed look quiet and tame in comparison.  From the extremes of last winter's nervous breakdown, miserably failed relationship with a lard assed idiot, and the problems surrounding dad's continuing health issues and APS involvement with his "care," I've now started getting my life back in some semblance of long overdue order.

I'm finding that while I dislike having to answer to someone else, now that I have a job out in the wider world again (as opposed to the job of being mommy, home caregiver, nurse, maid, accountant, chauffeur, crises councilor, nutritionist, laundry service, physical therapist, speech therapist, social and entertainment director, etc ad nauseum) I'm truly enjoying being out of the house, earning a living of my own again, and no longer dependent on either someone else's income or good will.  Granted, things aren't yet where I'd like them to be, but they're getting there.  It's a slow process, crawling up out of a hole deeper than a grave, nearly 25 years in the making.  It feels good, being able to do for myself again after all these years, even if it's not doing as much or as quickly as I would like to see happen.  I keep telling myself "Patience is a Virtue."  Then the other voice in my head answers with, "But what did Virtue ever get for us??"

The down side of things not moving as quickly as I wish they would comes in the form of my Relatives.  Yes, those same relatives that I used to dread having to spend obligatory holidays with.  Especially that guilt trip inducing grandmother whom I Still refer to as "The Bat" (though honestly, that's a bit of an insult to harmless little night fliers the world over.)  I make a distinction between Family and Relatives for a reason.  Those whom I consider my Family I've chosen over the years, and they bear no relation to me as far as blood.  My relatives are a joke the gods played on me prior to my birth, and for which I doubt I will ever completely forgive them.

The Bat has taken it upon herself to contact my idiot brother - the same one that tried to Shoot Me a few years ago in a drunken fit, having decided I only moved back to Oklahoma to steal "his" rightful inheritance - and inform him that I no longer have any room mates living with me in the familial home we grew up in.  She was rather put out, when I told her that hell would freeze over, I would go without utilities or groceries and live out of a cardboard box on the streets, and put a gun to my Own head before I would ever allow him to live with me again for Any reason.  I put up with his crap for a while because I was obligated to do so.  I kept my mouth shut to dad about things my brother was pulling after dad's stroke in the interests of not aggravating dad's existing health issues.

But Not For Love Nor Money Does Anything - Even Shared Blood - Obligate Me To Tolerate The Abuse, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Threats, or Attempts On My Life Ever Again.  I will cut The Bat out of my life once more, even via infrequent phone calls, should she make any further attempts to subject me to guilt trips in an attempt to coerce me into allowing my brother to move back into my home.  I will shoot him myself should he make the mistake of showing up on my doorstep, and not bother to pause for questions.

Right now, I'm Angry.  Angry at the interference from a manipulative, abusive old bitch.  Angry at the attempts to coerce me into compliance.  Angry at the attempted guilt trip.  Angry that ANYONE would let my drug addicted alcoholic brother know about ANYTHING concerning my life.  Angry that he now knows that there is no one staying with me to act as a witness, should he show up and attempt to finish the job of murdering me.  Angry at the very idea that I have to once more start living my life in fear of the dark, and the possibility of a knife in the back or a gun pointed at my head, just when I'd finally gotten to a point where I felt like I could sleep soundly at night.

Later I'll quit being angry, and I'll just be sad and afraid.  Though being afraid tends to make me particularly angry at the world.  Especially at the portion of the planet that caused the fear.  I guess it's time for me to start keeping all weapons loaded all the time again, and one within hands reach regardless of whether I'm out or at home.  Even if I'm home and in the shower, or relaxing in the hottub on the back deck, or catching a bit of sleep before I head off to work.

We ask ourselves, when we get something like a Concealed Carry permit, and learn to use a handgun for our safety, whether we're capable of killing.  It's not a pleasant thing to contemplate.  And yet, here I am, contemplating it again, and debating whether I can afford some extra range time, and more ammo.  And asking myself whether I have what it takes to kill rather than risk being killed.

Because I know my brother.  He may be stupid, alcoholic, and drug addicted - but he's also persistent, and doesn't give up once he decides to do something particularly foolhardy.  Like killing me, to make certain that I can't steal a non-existent inheritance.