Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stress monkey attack!

Why does everything turn to shit all at once? Have you ever noticed that? It's like some cosmic law that if something really big is about to happen, every possible thing must go wrong just before the big event.

For instance: A few weeks ago, Steve mowed the lawn. The iron cover on one of the plastic pipes sticking out of the ground in the front lawn was askew, and he accidentally hit it with the mower. The mower is supposed to have a special do-dad that means that sort of thing can occur without much damage, except our's was missing the do-dad and the drive shaft bent making the mower unusable. Literally, it wouldn't start. So, we tried to find out about getting it fixed. We called Lowe's, because that's where we bought it from, and they were suppose to get back to us within a week with information, which of course they never did. So we went in to Lowe's, and the lady at the counter said she couldn't tell us how much it would cost to repair, but we'd probably "get it back in a year" because they were so backed up. Steve called a mower repair company and it turned out it would cost as much as a new mower to fix it! Steve then decided that since it's a lost cause, he'd try to fix it himself. It's only $80 for the parts he needs, much better than the $250 to take it in to the shop. It's still in pieces, but the parts arrived yesterday afternoon. We'll probably have a mower this weekend.

I rented a mower at Home Depot for a few hours so at least the jungle of grass is manageable. The $25 rental was more reasonable than the $50-$60 to have someone come out and do it! The only problem is that while Steve mowed, I raked leaves and now have the most intensely painful blister on my thumb. It sucks.

Next, our car decided to go for a joy ride by itself! It rolled out of the garage- triggering the door to open, down our drive, across the street, made a slight turn, up the neighbor's drive, plowed into their garage, back forward slightly, and stopped. Looking at the logistics of this whole thing, it doesn't make much sense. At least it's covered by insurance, though.

There's been a load of other small incidental things going on, too. Stupid irritating things that just really don't need to happen, but they do. My son's school, for instance, sent yet another letter that due to his many absences, we need to have a conference so that they don't prosecute us. Thing is, he's missed one day of school this year when he was legitimately sick. The other absences he was at school but in counselling or his other class that he is expected to go to whenever he feels he needs the support. In fact, quite often he gets a note from the teacher that then marks him as absent. And they never fix their system! I can't provide an excuse for him being absent from school when he's at school! And last time they sent us one of these threatening letters, we called and they said to ignore it. I really can't ignore the threat of prosecution! Fix your bloody system!

There's also been stolen debit cards that had to be replaced making all the autopayments decline, messed up math making my prices on things incorrect, the cat disappeared for a few hours, blah blah blah. The list goes on.

You may be wondering what the big event is that has kick started this avalanche of crap. Well, we close on the house on Thursday. Of course, that's assuming the bank can sort out the mortgage stuff, we've had a few issues with social security numbers because the the Social Security Administration is a bunch of flaming assholes. Honestly, I just don't have good luck when it comes to bureaucracy! So fingers crossed for us that the shit storm calms and we survive the next few days, and then the next few months. I may actually be certifiable by the time we move!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Not the enemy

Have you ever had that feeling like you're in enemy territory and absolutely everyone is actively attacking you and doing everything in their power to bring you down in the most painful way possible? No? Well, then you must not have a severely crippling anxiety disorder. For those of you who said yes, welcome to the club. It's a crappy club that no one wants to be a member of, but you can never ever leave.

This has been a distressing week, despite good news. Unfortunately, one piece of good news does little to negate the verbal and emotional attacks that have come from within and without lately. It's exhausting, and made all the worse when sleep is a precious commodity that is chased away by the physical symptoms of stress: pain, mostly.

It all started when I decided to say something. It needed to be said, but I hate confrontation. I know it sounds odd since I always seem to be confronting something, but I prefer passive aggressive confrontation to actual out right "this is not working" because I've gotten so beat up about those direct messages so many times in the past. I'm not very diplomatic, so I normally have as many people as possibly read my negative message before sending it to the intended too make sure I'm not coming across as too bitchy. Even though I always seem to come across as too bitchy. With every good intention, I'm still told (figuratively if not literally) to sit down and shut up, I'm just a stupid little girl. It's frustrating at the best of times.

I also broke my own promise to myself- instantly beating myself up for my slip- and posted an opinion on social media. Obviously, not a popular opinion, because as most smart people know, you are only allowed to have an opinion on social media if everyone else agrees with it. You are allowed to have an original thought only if several highly educated strangers with a bunch of letters after their names had them first. And even then, only if everyone else in your social media sphere agrees with those thoughts. Otherwise you get called a sociopath by anonymous people you've never met, will probably never meet, and if given half a chance will avoid. Now, the dictionary defines a sociopath as "a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience." Apparently that definition is being expanded to someone who expects honesty and integrity from their fellow human beings. So, fine, I'll be a sociopath if that means I get to demand an honest day's work for an honest day's wage.

There's also been an increase in unsavory characters around the neighborhood over the last few weeks. While walking the dogs, we came across two people who were obviously high on something that had fried their brains. We're not talking marijuana here, either. No, these two had all the signs of a meth addiction. Then, a few days later, while driving to the store, we had to avoid another one of these addicts walking down the middle of the street. Finally, yesterday while walking the dogs, there was a guy drinking out of a brown paper bag, using a tree to hold himself upright, muttering to himself, with a sign by his feet that may have been asking for money. I'm sorry to go back into my bitch mode, but I don't like having this kind of behavior so close to home! It's spring break for the schools around here and there are a lot of kids out and about playing in the nice weather. Knowing this is going on, I won't even let my 11 year old go to the mail box by himself. And that sucks. I also now suspect it's why Steve's phone was apparently stolen from our garage a few weeks ago.

So, with all that stress about the neighborhood turning to shit, it was really bad timing to receive notice from our landlord that the HOA has complained that our trash cans are visible from the street. Yeah, our's and most of the neighborhood's. We put the rubbish bins on the side of the house where we found them 8 1/2 months ago when we moved in! Plus, no we can't put them in the backyard because the fences are in such appalling condition that we can't open the gates. I told Steve I'll put a tarp over them.

Still, it's only our problem for another 2 1/2 months! That's the one bit of good news: our mortgage for Whanau Farm has officially been approved! I'm freaking out a little, but I can't wait to be in our own place again, far away from anything resembling the Nazi regime of an HOA.

Monday, March 9, 2015


I got an ad on my phone this morning for a new product Dove is pushing. It's a new line of hair care products specifically designed for curly hair. I am interested! My hair can use all the help it can get, mainly because I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with hair so I just kind of leave it to it's own devices. Sometimes it works, other times? Not so much. I figure I spent my formative years fighting the curl, when I should have been learning how to nurture it. Que sera!

Anyway, part of the ad that Dove has put out there is a factoid stating that only 4 out of 10 girls with curly hair think their hair is beautiful. I'm not sure where they got that number, but I believe it. In fact, watching the video with little girls saying how much they hate their curls made me cry. Literally. I was a big soggy lump on the couch wanting to hug each and every one of those beautiful little girls!

Then, Dove invited me, not personally but it could've been, to share my own story. They apparently want to write a book of poems about curly hair and are looking for free inspiration. Yeah, ok, I'm keen. So this is what I sent them:

            You can't keep a good curl down.

                I was born with curly hair. It runs on both sides of my family so I really couldn't help but be           genetically predisposed to the curl. I hated it. All the pretty girls in the magazines and on tv had           straight silky hair that flowed in a perfect cascade down their back. The only girls on tv with               curly hair were the outcasts and nerds. I wanted to be one of the pretty girls. I was nerdy and               outcast enough on my own, I didn't need curly hair to make it even worse!

                When I was a child, I insisted at the hair salon on having my thick hair all one, long length              to try to "pull out" as much of the curl as possible. I wore my hair in a pony tail every day,                  ashamed of my curl. People asked why I never wore my hair loose, until one day I did, and it              was then accepted that I should always restrain my untamed locks.

                When I got older, I spent a small fortune on relaxants, calmers, and straighteners. I used                   gels, creams, sprays, heat, anything to torture my hair into straightness. Nothing worked. As               soon as the slightest damp, the whisper of breeze, or even a wild thought touched my head,                 my hair would begin to frizz. There was just no taming the beast.

                 So I gave up. By this time I had a family, and financial responsibilities beyond hair torture.             I made peace with the fact that I would never have pretty hair. But then something odd began             to happen. I began looking in the mirror, and actually liking my hair. At first I was sure it was             a fluke. Just one of those days when I was in a particularly good mood. But it started                           happening more and more. I liked what I saw! I started not caring so much if people saw my               shameful wild curls and left my hair down. Another odd thing began to happen: I got                           compliments. "I wish I could have curly hair like you," women would utter the words with                   awe in their voices. "I've spent a fortune on perms trying to get a fraction of that curl," they                 would say, "You are so lucky!" And yes, yes I am. Not because I have curly hair, but because             I'm learning to love it, and love myself.

                 There are still days that my hair gets pulled back because there's just a little too much hair               to deal with that day, but that's ok, too. My hair is just like me: a wild, passionate, untamed                 beauty.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Women are second class citizens

My friend, Ivy, posted this article on Facebook today. If you don't feel like reading it right now, I'll break it down for you: working mothers get the shaft not only from men in the workplace, but also from other women. In some cases, especially from other women.

Now, this isn't news for any mother who's been in the work force. When my son was a baby/toddler, I was a working, young, single mother (basically four counts against me) in the work force. It was a struggle, but I sacrificed a lot of my son's youngest years simply to pay for daycare. Because that's all I could afford, thank the goddess that my parents let me live with them and fed us because otherwise we would have been living on the streets and fishing for dinner in a garbage can. But, I had a job.

When I met my husband and moved in with him, I was suddenly plunged into being a stay at home mom. I didn't have a choice, really. Moving to a different country, I wasn't allowed to work for a long time because my visa didn't cover that. And because of daycare differences, it just made a lot more sense for me to stay at home.

Until he started school and my visa changed. Then I stayed at home because no one would hire me.

He's been at school for 6, going on 7, years now, and still, finding a job is impossible because no one wants the stay at home mom. They know what that gap in experience means, and they know that it also means that if the kids get sick, you're the one that has to stay home. If the kids forget their lunch, you're the one that has to bring it to them. If the teacher calls a meeting, you're the one that has to be there. Employers are completely unwilling to accept that.

Not to mention that you are either way over qualified for the job, your skill set is outdated, or, more likely, the potential employer is grasping at straws for a legally acceptable reason not to hire a mom.

Now, I'm "lucky" in that we do ok on one income. We survive. But it gets old hearing how "lucky" I am that I don't "have" to work. That my husband makes enough to carry me. Well, fuck you.

Last year, in California, I managed to get a retail job. Basically slave labor. I was always quietly surprised when I'd go into work that they hadn't instituted mandatory whippings. Although, I'm convinced that had a customer requested it, the management would have complied without hesitation and with a little too much enjoyment. Here in Texas, however, due to my son's issues, it's a little more difficult. I have to be available from 8:30am and 9am, and from 3:30pm and 4:30pm to drop him off at school and pick up at the end of the day. And although Steve works from home and enjoys more flexibility than most office workers, he cannot commit to being available during those times. That leaves me. And no employer wants to take that on.

I took that as a good reason to really pour my energies into our arts and crafts business, but even that has back fired. Since Steve is the artist and I'm only a crafter and "running" the business, the success of the business is attributed to him, it's failure is my fault. And right now it's not doing well. Mainly because I have no idea what I'm doing, despite my best effort.

On top of that, it seems like I just can't do a damned thing right. It seems like a bunch of my friends are buying houses, and it's all happening "so quickly." One put in an offer on a place, and if it's accepted she'll have 30 days to sell her place. It's been 40+ days since we put in an offer that was accepted (with a long settlement), but I have no idea if the bank is accepting the loan because they have to do an appraisal, but can't tell us when that will be. Or so I've been told. Now I have no idea.

All our fish are sick, and I won't be surprised to find them all dead in the morning. There's no reason for it other than the entire Universe is against me.

I'm tired of fighting right now. I need to recoop, but there's no way to actually do it. If I could, I'd sleep for a week just to get a little head space. No one around me is willing or able to give me the time I need to recover, though, so I'll just keep spiraling downward. Eventually, maybe, I'll hit bottom and be able to start climbing up. Until then? Who knows.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weird Texas

Furthering our adventures in Texas, and discovering the things that just strike me as being weird- though not always in a bad way.

So, it's the end of Winter- can't you tell with all the cold and ice and snow and screams of "ACK! Someone turn the heat up!"- yeah, me neither, but the calendar says Winter is coming to a close. Also, Wal-Mart agrees that it's time for warmer weather. For weeks now, they've had all the shorts, tanks, and togs (swimwear to Americans who don't currently speak Kiwi). Every time I walk in there I feel like Summer really is upon us!

So where are the jandals? (That would be flip flops in Kiwi speak.) I think I was still in high school when I got mine, and they are now officially worn through. As in I'm pretty sure it's now the skin of my feet touching the ground, which kind of defeats the purpose of wearing shoes in the first place. I need new ones, and yes, I'm crazy enough that even with the icicles hanging off my bird feeder outside, I need my jandals!

My point is, how can you be stocking bikinis and shorts while still only selling boots! I don't think I've ever lived in a place that hasn't sold jandals year round. They're an institution!

What's worse is that with this recent cold snap, I couldn't be staunch any more. I needed a few things to stay warm- a fluffy headband for walks and gloves. The stores no longer have those things in stock! Of course, I made myself a headband, which I'm in love with, and it got even colder so a pair of Steve's extra over the top warm gloves felt really nice instead of oppressive. I suppose I could use a beach cover up as a scarf, but I actually have plenty of scarves.

There was an ad in the paper this morning showing that the sports equipment store has them in stock, so maybe that's a good sign. Maybe Texans' feet feel the chill easily? Maybe most of the summer gear is stocked early, but they only get the jandals in stock when they're really serious about warm weather. Sitting here bundled up, I can only hope!