Monday, October 20, 2014

Word Vomit

My ultimate goal every weekend is to get caught up enough on sleep and rest to be able to get through the following week. This is particularly challenging, though, because I usually work on Sundays unless I have specifically taken the day off.

I am not succeeding very well, in spite of falling asleep before 9 p.m. usually every single night. I rested Saturday, went to bed early, and Sunday almost killed me. I was at work at 7 a.m. and worked for six hours to move around departments of clothes, build shelves, climb ladders to retrieve tables, carry and push heavy equipment around the store. I am not in my twenties anymore nor even my thirties. I came home and collapsed for the next three hours. Even after I woke up, I was so zonked that I couldn't think straight the rest of the day. I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. woke at 10:30 p.m., was up til 12:20 a.m., then finally slept.

I woke up at 6 a.m. and showered and then lay back down again, because I was about an hour ahead of schedule. But I just couldn't get moving. I emailed my boss that I was running late, and still got to the office by 8:30, even though I didn't feel even remotely ready for my day or even my week. I sat down to an email about some work I did last week and mistakes I made because I was hurrying. My boss walked into my office to say hello, and I started to cry. I talked to her for a few minutes about the email, about how tired I was, about how useless I was. We quickly agreed that I should go home. So, I am trying not to think about the money that didn't get made today and instead hope that having the day off was enough to get me through the rest of the week.

I came home and cried some more. I called Heather because I knew that she would know with very little explanation how I was feeling. I am so tired that I can't do any of my jobs well, but I am too poor to quit one of them so I can catch up on life. Well, the teaching gig will come to its own natural conclusion, but then there is the little issue of making up that salary somehow.

My mom had called me Friday to tell me that her September rent check had bounced. This morning, while I was sitting on the couch and feeling numb and stupid and worthless, she called and let me know that for the second time in the past four or five months, somebody called social services. Somebody called in June or July, so I had to take time off work to go and speak with them about my mother's finances. And now that her rent check bounced last month, they have come around again. I called the bank, found out the balance, wrote the check to cover September, and asked about October's check. It was deposited ten days ago and hasn't bounced. I should call the bank back and just ask them if it has cleared, but I just couldn't do it today. And here I am just hoping that I'll have enough money for the goddamn cable bill again and any diabetes supplies we may need before my next payday. If nothing unexpected comes up, we should be good for groceries too, and the electric bill. My health insurance rates have gone up, so I really have to find new health insurance. As soon as I get more brain power, I'll get right on that.

After I went to my mom's and dropped off a check and updated her medications, I came home and took a nap. I got up and washed my dishes and cleaned off my counter tops while talking to the kids in the kitchen.

You know, the first time someone calls social services on you because they suspect that you are not taking good enough care of your old person, it's humiliating, panic-inducing, degrading. The second time, when you are home from work because of crying, and once again you are being told that you are not taking good enough care of your old person, you just want to cut open your own chest. Here are my financial records. Here is my work schedule. Here are my guts. Sift through it all. Take what you want. Let me know when you're done, and I'll just sew up my chest again and keep going. I don't have anything to hide. Everyone in my entire extended family knows that my mom helps out with the bills. It's not a state secret. I'm going to have to break down and go fill out forms for food stamps and reduced medical bills, because I don't see any answers coming down the pipeline. If I got rid of my health insurance, I could afford to quit one of my jobs. Of course, then I wouldn't have health insurance. And there are still things that I could lose to a catastrophic health event: My house, my car, everything. So, that leaves finding a better rate. Isn't our health insurance supposed to be going down?

Heather and I talked today about how we don't know what to do. Believe me, if I had some answers, I'd be implementing them. Today I entered the thought arena once again that I need to move, that I must go somewhere where I can find a full-time job. I am not sure where that is. When I was doing the dishes, Tommy was standing in the kitchen archway, looking across the house out the front door because he was expecting his girlfriend. He said, "Hey, Mom, next summer, can you get me a job at Department Store?"

I said, "Sure."

He continued, "I want to get a full-time job. I want to make some money."

I laughed bitterly and wiped out a big bowl with a regular towel I pulled from the laundry because I can't find my dishtowels right now. "Well, good luck with both of those things. You're competing against adults who want those things, and there really is no such thing as a full-time job anymore. But you can try to get a job, sure."

He looked non-plussed, even though he knows I was home washing dishes in the middle of the afternoon because I had a little crisis and couldn't stay at work. Sometimes doing a good job of keeping how hard this is from the kids means that they really have no idea how it's going or how the world works. But I didn't continue my rant. I just let the conversation drop. But this is how it's going to be, now, isn't it? I am soon going to be competing for jobs against my own kids, and they'll get the jobs because they don't almost die after six hours of physical work. And I want the kids to get work. I somehow persist living this fantasy that even though I am in this situation that I can't see myself out of, that my kids are going to go to college and get good jobs and have normal lives that include mortgages, car payments, and solvency. Even though I have no reason to believe that this will happen except that I don't really want to think about the alternatives.

I talked to my brother this morning, and we joked about combining households to save money. But it's not really a joke. Honestly, if we could find a way to be solvent and take care of my mom, I would consider a move somewhere with Matt and Heather and combining resources to live a little more securely so instead of two panicked households, we had one sort of solvent one. I am fine with the idea of a societal return to multi-generational housing, if that's what it takes. Instead of picking on adult kids who live with their parents and the parents who let them (because kicking them out will save everything-- new, decent paying jobs will materialize magically due to Tough Love. Dem kids just need more grit!), why don't we adopt this as a deliberate measure. We can spend tons of time running our own individual treadmills and keep trying to return things to the way they were-- each family living separately in their own abode, two parents who both have one full-time job. Or we can try to create a new infrastructure. It may not be a revolution, but I don't think my family is going to be the only family thinking about this. In fact, I'm probably late to this boat anyway. I will have to start looking into this and seeing what is happening on a grassroots level. I am a fan of the tiny houses movement, but that compartmentalizes and separates us, still. Maybe if we start combining households, three or four salaries will contribute to enough.

Obviously, I am overlooking the complications that would develop with multiple adults trying to share a household. It doesn't often work out well for college roommates or spouses, so can it work for siblings or adults who aren't related? There are some planned communities around this area that seem to work, but I don't know how harmonious they are, and I don't know how many kids (families) there are versus single adults.

But so far, every solution that I have some up with that involves me continuing to do this alone just terrifies me because none of them suggest any changes: I still have to work this Sunday. I still won't get time off at the holidays because of Department Store job. It is so funny-- when we give up wheat, we crave bread. I am craving time, time to think, time to reflect. The only reason I was able to eek out this rambling word vomit is because I had enough time off today to be able so sit and rest my head for a moment. The rest of the time, my brain alternates constantly between wondering how I can do a better job at work, thinking of what I have to get done for the rest of the week, counting the days til the end of the month and constantly doing mental arithmetic to make sure that we won't run out of money before the end of the month, wondering how I can get more down time, wondering what the best form of that down time is-- a nap? Washing the dishes? Cleaning the floor? Watching tv? Reading a book? Taking a walk? What single thing can I do with my small amount of down time to maximize the benefits of it? In taking care of myself in order to take care of everyone else, what does that entail? What do I need the most?

So, this treadmill of work, sleep, recovery, breakdowns, emergency breaks, work, sleep, recovery is going no where fast. I've got to start thinking out of the box, but first I need to rest my brain again so I can think.


1 comment:

  1. Do whatever you like. It is better to quit a job if you do not feel like working. Do what interests you. Best of luck! Keep on sharing your work with us.

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