Sunday, December 26, 2010

Abnormal Life

The past couple of weeks have been weird... abnormal doesn't even seem to cover it...

We've been living in the apartment still... although it is empty... no beds, no blankets, no cookware...

A trip to the food bank got us food. The trick was to figure out how to cook it. Everything we have is packed and stored. We did have some cookie sheets, tin foil and pizza pans left here that we had forgotten. Yes indeed, I was scrambling eggs in the oven and slicing cheese with a pocketknife and we were all eating it with plastic Fozzy The Bear forks.

I've been continuing to work as much as I can, but I hit a roadblock when my car payment came due and I didn't have enough money to pay it.

I bought the car used and it is hooked up with a device that's connected to the ignition. If you don't make the payment on time, the car will not start.

I've called Jake basically begging him to send child support. He can't. He just got out of the hospital from having hernia surgery. I continued to call and pester him. He said he'd send something... over a week later now, and nothing was ever sent. He just said it to shut me up.

So, last Thursday the car would not start. We've been having to walk and do the bus-thing.

I started out being optimistic that I would still be able to work some, but the one day that I was called in, they called me too late to catch the last bus out to get there... I quickly lost my enthusiasm for that idea.

I kept going to Blob-Life to donate plasma. It is a ten minute trip there by car, about an hour to donate, so it usually takes about an hour and a half.

Without a car I have a 20 minute walk to catch the bus, 10 minute ride, another 15 minute walk, then I have to wait because I've gotten there early for my appointment, an hour to donate, another 15 minute walk back to the bus station where I usually have a wait of 15-45 minutes for the next bus back, 10 minute ride, and finally a 20 minute walk home.

It takes about three and a half hours without a car.

I've been glad to do it though. I need the money. I've been lucky too, as I've been on the border-line for being able to donate as my blood pressure has sky-rocketed again, my iron levels have plummeted and I've dropped five more pounds suddenly.

I spent the better part of another morning going down to get my food stamps reinstated. I hadn't planned on this. I thought I wasn't going to need them anymore when I got that super kitchen manager job... haha! Not being paid from that job kind of ruined those plans!

It was another long walk in frigid weather early in the morning to get the first bus... more walking and then waiting outside until they opened the doors. Two hours later though, I had success. Food stamps again, (for one month anyway) I had to sigh in relief.

Dani sleeps on the floor in her room, Wally on the floor in the living room and I've been the lucky one taking the couch. We've slept in our clothes and covered up with our robes, jackets or other clothes. 

We have blankets in our storage and I've been wanting to go get them, but... it means a long walk and carrying them back. I know it seems silly to make do without... we have all just been sliding down this dirty mountain of discouragement and forfeiting everything.  

We're playing a waiting game. How much longer can we stay here? Will the police come and arrest us?

We've been walking on eggshells. Our home is quiet. There is no music here. We're afraid to come and go.

The birds don't visit us anymore. We took the suet feeder down when I could no longer afford to fill it, over a month ago.

All I can look forward to is getting my next paycheck and being able to get the car running. We have to have the car at least....

The first moment that I was starting to relax a little and feel somewhat normal, I was in the restroom and it occurred to me to look for Dani's earrings that she'd lost. I looked around and then came out asking, "Dani? Did you ever find those..." and cut short by what I saw.

Dani was standing there with the front door open facing a Sheriff.

I walked up to the door and he handed me some papers.

He sort of choked, "You're being evicted," then he turned and left.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Just A Job

The catering job turned out to be sweet. 

Yes, it was... just... my... cup... of... tea...

It was a long day as we loaded into a van at 6am to ride to Seattle to serve 750 grocer supplier employees.

Once there we set up an outdoor kitchen under tents, long banquet tables that we fully decorated and prepared chaffing dishes that would hold the food all day. 

It was exciting. It's what I know how to do, inside and out, and it was easy... compared to the labor jobs I've had... easy money.... and very much fun...

The thing with Nature's got cleared up. Just as fast as I was dismissed from there, I was invited back. Not in the main plant though. Now, I've been assigned to the "barline", which is fine with me. 

The barline is different. It's easy. There's no heavy lifting. It's a stand-in- one- place-and-shove-granola-bars-in-a-box job. It's mind numbing. It's very boring. After a while your feet and back start to kill you. You rip your hands to shreds even wearing gloves... but it is a job.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The morning we left the hotel I think we were all in shock...

I didn't have enough money left to stay ANYWHERE for a week... My family is not going to help me. Doesn't matter that my daughter and I are fixin to be out on the street. I guess they are showing me tough love or something... and I am wondering where I went wrong to deserve that... to deserve this...

I decided that we should stop back by the apartment.

I really wanted to finish cleaning it up. I want it to be spotless.... just to show them that I am not some kind of lowlife... and also so maybe to avoid some extra charges for cleaning that they are sure to apply... yeah...I'm always hopeful.

We were kind of amazed when we found that the locks hadn't been changed yet. The key turned and the door opened.

We came right in, sat down, and looked at each other...

What now?

I've checked into shelters and the like... there aren't many... and we will have to split up. Dani and I might (and I say "might") be able to get into a woman's shelter. Wally's only choice is "the mission" and it has been full for months, turning men away.

So, we looked at each other...

Then my phone rang. It was Blob-Employ. I have been BANNED from Nature's. I cannot return to work there.

"What???? Why?"

"They said that you went on lunch and never came back, so you cannot return to work there,"

"Uhhhh... I never went to lunch actually. I was told that I was being sent home as I was on my way out to lunch, so I did as I was told and I punched out and I left," I said.

I was told that they'd check into it...

I felt doomed.

I am ohhhh soooo  screwed...

"We"ve got other things to keep you busy," she said. Then she lined me up for a 14 hour catering job in Seattle.

Although the job was good, and I wasn't fired or anything,  it did not put my mind at ease....

No more Nature's????

That cuts my chances of getting work.

So we were sitting in a pretty much empty apartment... still have the couch, the desk, and a couple of chairs...
and that's it....

I have one big day of work coming up but that"s it....

Talk about your heart sinking.... Mine was totally sunk and drowning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moving On Down

A nightmare of a day...

We had to move... We had no place to go.

Wally, Danielle and I worked together to pack. The mood was... weird... to say the least... stupid jokes... nervous laughter. I try to tell Dani not to worry when I am scared to pieces myself.

A major problem came to light, the truck we had planned to borrow had broken down. How will we move our beds? I just need to get them down to our rented storage place.

I placed an ad online and amazingly within minutes I got a reply. A local woman came by with her truck and helped us move them in exchange for ten bucks. I felt bad not being able to give her more and offered her whatever she wanted of our furniture. She took our TV and wicker rocking chair and said that she'd keep them for us until we had a new place, basically store them for us. The rest? She just shook her head and told me that she was "rather picky" and she didn't want anything that we had.

I was so relieved to see Tony show up a short while later and he ended up taking most of the rest of our furniture to put it in his buddy's storage. (Nothing else would fit in ours... you couldn't fit an envelope in there)

In the middle of it all I got a call from Blob-Employ, could I work at Nature's tonight? Uh.... I cannot turn down work, no matter how badly timed it is.... dammit...

We finished up... went down the road to rent a motel room and I went to work....

Okay, what I mean is we went to the place that advertises the cheapest rooms in town and they promptly charged us 60 bucks ( outrageous! ) for ALMOST the crappiest room I have ever seen (Moss Point Best Western in Mississippi was the worst)

I asked Wally to drive me in to work because I was a wreck and to top it off my windshield wipers stopped working. I live in a place where it rains 99% of the time and my wipers won't work????

Then I ended up being sent home after only working four hours.

I stood out in the parking lot in the freezing rain waiting for Wally to come pick me up and started wondering... why did I even bother to try to work today?...

When Wally got me back to the motel Dani was sleeping and I was astounded to see that it looking like the entire car had been unpacked and had exploded all over the room.

Sixty dollars gone... won't have enough money left to do a weekly rate somewhere else now...

What will I do?


I have been quiet. 

It's just been a period where I don't have a whole lot to say. 

It is a very humbling experience to flat out fall on your face and fail... and I don't mean getting an F in a college course or having a piece of artwork turn out yukky, or burning up dinner.... I mean majorly screwing up. 

I mean failing at life... providing what we need to survive... shelter, food, clothing... just THAT much... I'm not talking extras here... I've never had trouble with this before. I've always been able to get along, and do well!

I emailed a few family members and asked them for some help. 

People always say that it doesn't hurt to ask. 

I'm having to think about that... In my case it seems to always hurt to ask... always... maybe that's why I stopped asking years ago.... Maybe that's why I wish I hadn't asked now.  

Now as I'm still trying to gain some kind of confidence and self esteem or something inside of me that thinks..yeah, I deserve good stuff... seems like I keep getting rejected or insulted by my... family? Yes they are blood relations... Good Grief... 

We got the "for real" final eviction notice on the 3rd. Court ordered. Yes, I am being sued and everything. We were given ten days to get out.

My Aunt relied to my email saying that I have made some bad choices throughout my life and told me that if I have a drug problem I should admit myself to a clinic. 

Total shock.

Yes, I felt insulted, but seriously... that is so ridiculous that it's easy to dismiss... Puhhhh- Leeeeze.....

Drugs? ... Are you freeking kidding me?... I don't even know what "drugs" are during these times. Really. Pfft!  I've had to pee in a cup about 150,000 times out here, to apply for jobs, to go to any new temp job, to keep my jobs... 

Bad choices she said... I've made bad choices.... I am still pondering that one. 

Yes... I have made some bad choices in my lifetime. Hasn't everyone? 

I think I've also made some very good choices... in my lifetime. 

I always thirsted for knowledge and worked very hard at school. I never gave my heart away easily. I left my fist husband, who was abusing me. I worked very hard at my career as a cake decorator. I made a lot of brides happy. I raised two beautiful people that I am very proud of. I took care of my older brother when he was ill and brought him into our home to live. I left a loveless marriage. I brought my kids to a beautiful place that has fresh air, clean water and organic everything. I married a wonderful man, who is now the father my kids look to and my very best friend. 

I'm not going to list my bad choices. It would depress me and you probably know them all anyway... maybe another day when I feel like torturing myself I'll do that.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Call Me "Flipper"

Years ago when I had a TV and cable to go with it, I used to enjoy watching The Food Network. I especially liked the shows about how things were made, getting a peek into an industrial setting, the big machines and the people working on the lines. I remember thinking that a job like that must be pretty easy and a lot of fun.

Well? It's not. HaHaHa! Aw, it's not too bad really, but it really isn't nearly as much fun as it looks. 

I was called in to work for last night so I went. It was a 7pm - 7:30 am shift... I like to work the night shifts because they are easier to get and they pay more. 

I was put on one of the Triangles, a machine that packages the cereal. We were going to be packing the cereal boxes by hand.

They were behind on a big order so we were expecting to really be cranking it out... and that is what we did. The goal was to run it at 70 bags a minute all night. Bags, as in the bags inside your cereal box. Which means there were 70 BOXES of cereal coming out of it per minute. 

I will tell you right now that is fast!

As we phased into the shift and relieved the day crew I went ahead and took the "flipper" position. I like doing it and I think I'm pretty good at it. 

The boxes come out on a conveyor belt and go through two checkpoints. One blows off boxes that aren't sealed right, the other blows off boxes that are too heavy, too light, or empty. (Those boxes generally bounce off of "the flipper"... me.) It's best to stand as close to that area as possible. I know it sounds weird but it doesn't hurt if you're hit from up close.

It DOES hurt if you're standing six foot away and a cereal box is hurled and smashes into you. Believe me, even an empty box will leave a bruise.  

After the boxes pass over the scale they flop out on another conveyor belt that is in front of me and I "flip" them up on their side and put them in groups of six. I have a special method... the first two I flip at the same time, one with each hand, then I hold the first one still on the belt with my right and and flip the next four up with my left... then I do it again one hundred kabillion times. 

It probably sounds easy but try taking 6 cereal boxes that are laying flat, and flip them up on their side in less than six seconds. As you're doing this you must also check for "rejects" that the machine missed, flaps or bags hanging out, bottoms or tops not sealed, those you quickly shove off of the conveyor. 

The next guy in line grabs all six boxes and drops them into a big box, then puts six more in the same box, which he shoves to the next guy who folds the top shut and shoves it into the taping machine which tapes the top and bottom of the box.

There's another guy that making boxes that he sets in front of the guy that is dropping the six boxes in them, and still another guy at the end of the line that takes the filled taped boxes and stacks them on a pallet. 

I came home with my legs hurting, my back hurting, my feet, oh my feet, and my hands are absolutely screaming.

I like working there though. I have learned a lot about industrial work and I find it very interesting. Also there is one thing about it that is different from any other place that I've worked at out here.

I feel like I fit in. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reality Check

I'm calm... really I am... 

I'm trying to figure things out in my head. It's time to face some truths and accept them, and get on with it. I have been stuck on pause for far too long. 

The work situation out here is dismal. I need to stop being so frustrated by not finding what I'm looking for. I have to face it... what I've been looking for just might NOT be here. I might not ever work as a cake decorator again. I might not ever make decent wages again. I might not ever work "full-time" at a good company again.

I'm not saying that I'm going to stop looking or stop being... hopeful... 

I'm saying that I have to stop counting on it... 

I'm trying to get my priorities in order. What do I need to do first to get myself out of this mess?

It's a tough question because there is so much I need to do that it's overwhelming. What makes it worse is the fact that I've postponed doing a lot of things. I keep thinking that someone will help me with it. Someone will help me find another place to live, help me find more work, help me with some of the paperwork and red tape I'm needing to wade through to get assistance... but that isn't happening and I need to stop thinking that it's going to happen. 

I have so many things that I'm worrying about... big things... earning enough money, keeping a roof over our head, keeping my car... How am I going to feed us next month? (My benefits have run out and I don't think I can renew them since I quit my job at Twilight... THAT was a HUGE mistake. I should not have quit. 

First things first... I've got to get my head outta my.... outta the clouds... The first step to dealing with the real world is living in it with your feet firmly planted on Earth. The past is gone and I am not the same person that I used to be. I need to ditch what's left of the ego that I used to have. It has held me back. I've turned away jobs and quit jobs because I've thought that I was beyond them. 

I've been submerged in a dream world that has not been good for me or for my daughter.

I've delayed doing things that I need to do because I've wanted to keep dreaming and enjoy my life as a graceful lady and a passionate lover with my new exciting partner. 

Now I'm starting to wonder if "dream" is just a nice word for "lie"... 

The truth is I'm a frumpy old lady that is barely employable and I'm going to have to fix that.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Am Not Hurt

I want to get drunk.

I want to get totally sloshy, messy, disgustingly drunk... I want to lick salt off the back of my hand, down shots of tequila and bite slices of lime until I can't see straight, until I can't walk straight, until I'm vomiting in the tub because I cannot find the toilet.  

The only problem with this plan is that I have no money to buy the booze... So, I guess I won't be getting drunk.

I want to scream. I want to scream my freeking head off like a crazy person. 


I won't be doing that either.

I want to cry... I want to cry hysterically.... I want to cry until I'm dry heaving and have the hiccups... 


That's just another thing that won't be happening. 

I have no tears. I have no emotions. I'm numb.... but I still would like to be even more numb, like completely
numb due to being dead drunk... 

I did cry a bit earlier today but it really was not enough. It was enough to get my lover to hold me for a few minutes after being invisible to him all day, but it was not enough.

I hurt him by not going on in to bed with him the past couple of nights. I didn't mean to, but I did. I have no excuses. I have no reasons. 

I went on to work, expecting to spend a 12 hour shift there, work all night, but they sent all of the temps home due to equipment failure. I worked for two hours. 

I drove on home bent out of shape. This stinks. No work equals no income. This means I'll have no money next week either. What the hell am I going to do?

For the first time in years I did not want to come home. What would I walk in to? Will I still be invisible? Perhaps the most frightening thought... a thought from days that are long past.... Do I care?  

No, it does not matter that people try to hurt me... It does not matter because I do not feel it. I do not hurt because I do not care. 

And I've got this great property for sale in the Everglades... it's prime stuff... really..

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Too Much Turkey

We had a nice Thanksgiving this year.

Probably the best part about it is that we actually had one... Last year, for the first time in my life, ever, I was not able to do a dinner... at all... I wasn't even able to come home for Thanksgiving last year. I was stranded up in Twilight after working and unable to get a ride home. While I was searching for a warm place to sleep, Wally and Dani were eating ramen noodles.... and that is why I did not write anything here during last winter... It was a bad winter... 

This year I invited Tony and his best friend over and the man (and the man's son) they live with. Tony and his friend came over. They were going to bring another turkey but it turned out that they ended up leaving at their home for the others. That was fine since we had plenty here. 

Tony's best friend has been a bit abrasive in the past, and I have been a bit insulting to him... but it was Thanksgiving and time to put all of that aside... 

He brought over deviled eggs. He was reading my mind there because I really wanted some, but was really too tired to make any. 

I had gotten up at 7am Wednesday morning, then I left here at 6pm to work at Nature's from 7pm- 7:30am. It had started snowing at 1am that morning, so by the time I got off of work I had to dig the car out and drive home in miserable weather.... the worst part was not really being able to see where the road was.... I made it home about 8:30am and we were already starting to cook. 

Tony and his buddy came over late in the evening and we had our dinner. The deviled eggs were amazing. They were out of paprika so he substituted cayenne pepper and cinnamon... yeah... It sounds odd... but I'm telling you.. it....was.....fabulous... in a delicious way. 

For the first time in years my gravy did not turn out... *sigh*... It just never got thick... I don't understand it. I think I did it like I always do... but by then I had been going for about 36 hours with no sleep... so I dunno.

I was getting very tired but luckily Tony's best friend was being charming and interesting... instead of annoying.... so all was well with the world.... 

I didn't make it to bed that night. I totally crashed on the couch. 

Last night I didn't make it to bed either... I was awake through the night and in the early morning. 

Today has been misery. Wally won't speak to me. I am miserable. 

So that is the way that is... 

He's upset because I haven't come to bed the past couple of nights.... and that's the way that is.... 

I guess it should be easy for me to work night shifts and then on my days off just flip over and sleep nights. 

I does not work that way... not for me... 

We've been through this before. I see no point in trying to explain myself here... but here we go... one more time... 

He won't budge from his regular sleep schedule... midnight to 7am... and that is fine... there's no reason to change it. 

I am normally working during those hours... I was when I was at Twilight, and I am now. 

It isn't anything personal. I love sleeping beside my man and I want to be there... but it's HARD to flop my hours around constantly. 

I'm really tired. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Typical B-Ham B-S

What a day...

I am TRYING to get stuff done. 

I have realized OH SO CLEARLY that it so easy to QUIT stuff here but SO hard to pursue anything. 

I called about pulling Dani out of school... they were damn near tripping over themselves... yes YES! It's so easy! Just have her turn in her books and we'll take her right out! They were like, Yippeee!!! Yaaahhhh Whooooooo! 

Their reaction had me in shock. 

What the heck? Aren't they supposed to reason with me? Shouldn't this be a fight? Aren't they supposed to at LEAST ask me WHY I'm pulling my 16 year old daughter out of public school this year?

But no... that didn't happen. Freeking figures. I was mentally armed for bear and ready to tell them "what was what"... geez... I didn't even get to tell anybody off... They were so nice... It was soooooooo disappointing. 


Then I called the UNION. I had to leave a message of course. I quit Twilight and I need to get my withdraw card. 

I got a call back, not from my rep, but from another lady. 

Truthfully, I think that "my" rep was afraid to speak to me. I called her freaking out after Mr Dumass All-American left me one nasty note too many.

So, I got a call from her grunt... 

Well, I still have to pay Oct, Nov and Dec dues PLUS a FEE to get my withdraw card. 

Uh..... WHAT?


Oh good, at least I get to tell somebody off today! Let'r rip!

WHAT? I quit the first week of October... WHY do I have to continue paying dues AFTER that point????

"Oh, well if you ever want to return to work for Twilight again," she started and I cut her right off, "I will NEVER WORK FOR TWILIGHT AGAIN," I was seething... she was silent for a moment, then...

Blah, blah, blah, oh wait a minute... no you won't owe for December... You were paid up on your dues... so you owe partial payments for October and November... oh PLUS the fee.

I quit on October 9th... I can sort of understand having to pay Octobers dues... sort of... I don't understand 22 dollars worth of dues for 9 days... 

Oh good.... I don't have to pay.... Decembers... dues... huh? Back the truck up...

Why should I have to pay THIS months dues? For November?  I have not worked there this month! 


Yep, that's the way it goes... If I don't pay it then IF I ever take another bakery job that is UNION (which is just about all of them now across the country) then I will have to pay initiation fees all over again plus more fees... UNLESS I pay two months worth of dues for time that I WAS NOT WORKING at this company. 

Have I mentioned how much I love working UNION jobs? Sarcasm sarcasm... 

I have learned that there really isn't a way to fight it... All they do is take your money and do nothing for you that you aren't already covered by federal law for while they tell you about all these great things they are doing for you. 

The minute you call them with a problem they don't answer their phone... and there is no other way to contact them... there is no website... no emails... no addresses... just a phone number and an extension and "leave a message at the beep"... beeeeeeeep! 

I just freeking hate this crap and it irks me to the tenth degree. 

I guess I am spoiled. I worked for 13 years for an excellent company. It was privately owned. I owned a little part of it. It was not UNION infested.... I miss it now. I wish I hadn't messed that up. 

Lesson learned... dammit...

So then I called a lawyer that I was given a reference to... 

He seemed interested and I was to call back for a phone consultation at 3pm. 

I called at 3pm. 

I got an answering machine. 

I left a message.

I called back at 3:30... left another message. 

Umkay... this is B S.... 

I am sick of THIS place and THESE people!

Just thinking out loud... really... trying to restrain myself... 

I'm sorry my ugly head is appearing to tell everyone to f*ck off but it's been a totally frustrating day... 

I would love to deal with just ONE person in this AREA that is not an entire FLAKE!



What in the world  is WRONG with these people?  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Doing "The Cereal Thing"

I was surprised to get the call and be sent back out to the cereal place, "Nature's"...

I like it there.

It's hard work usually. It's good pay always. It's long shifts. You gotta be ready to do the time.

The people are mostly great.


The management rocks.

It is the first and only place out here that I've worked where the management is professional. It's what I'm used to. After looking into it more... I have found that most of the management are Americans and Canadians from the east coast.... just an observation....

Once again going there is like returning home for me. They seem to like me there.

I like going there... except I'm not doing what I'd like to be doing. I'll doing anything they want. I'm just there for the paycheck. I am not their employee. I am just a temp. But I do think that I'd really like to be an Areoglide Operator. (It's a machine that makes puffed corn balls and puffed rice...) I started working on it before and found it to be fascinating.

When I started working at Twilight I stopped going to Nature's... since I THOUGHT I was going to have a full-time job as a baker with Twilight, with good pay, because that is what they said...

Anyway, it's kind of nice being back at Nature's even if I'm back to being a grunt and not able to train on any cool machines or anything.

Since I've been gone there have been a lot of new changes to the plant. It's gotten even cleaner, more professional, fine tuned.... There's new equipment. There are overhead conveyor's transporting product from the extruder's and the proctor out to the the triangle's...  and I just realized that must sound like a foreign language...

The extruder's are machines that make flaked cereals. The proctor is a huge oven that makes granola. The triangle's are machines that package the cereal.

Today I was placed on "almonds"... It's a rather important job. You make sure that there's enough almonds going into the cereal. The cereal that they were going into was a granola full of different kinds of seeds. 

It requires lifting 20 pound boxes of almonds and dumping them into a big hopper and making sure they don't get clogged up while going down the feeder shute to the conveyor belt which dumps them into the bucket belt with the main cereal. You also have to keep track of how many boxes you're putting in and which skids they are going into, plus a log of what time each skid was completed. It was very easy.

All was going well and I was just doing my job when all of the sudden... BOOOOSSHHH!!! I was covered in bran flakes! I didn't know what had happened at first... about a hundred pounds of bran flakes had fallen from one of the upper conveyor belts and I was up to my ankles in them! 

Then I noticed that they were also IN the almond hopper, and ON the conveyor belt heading toward being added into the main cereal mix.

I leaped off of the stack of pallets that I was standing on and slid across the floor through bran flakes to get to the emergency stop button. Once I hit that all of the belts stopped running, and it looked like I got to it just in time. 

Then I had a chance to really see what a mess we had. There were bran flakes in a 12 foot diameter that were about 8 inches deep. It was amazing really and at that point a bit funny as the triangle operator was just coming back from his break and his eyes widened and his mouth fell open. "We have a little problem here," I told him and his hands went to the top of his head. 

I was complimented and thanked for my quick actions to prevent our product from being contaminated and he sent me on lunch. They stopped the entire line to clean up and bring in another hopper to use for almonds. 

So that was the highlight of my three nights at "Nature's"... 

When I got home Saturday morning after my third 12 hour shift there I was very tired, sore, beaten and bruised. It's what I had to do to get a decent paycheck coming in though... 

It beats tossing around big dead fish... 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Say It Ain't So


An ugly word for an ugly mentality.

I've seen it. I've read about it. I've heard about it. But, I've not been able to say that I've ever experienced it first hand.... hmm... until now...

Yes, I'm a southern girl and I'll admit that there are some members of my family that are bigots. There just isn't a nice way to say it... It is what it is... I don't think about it often since I don't speak to them anymore. Oh, and just so you know... they are "equal opportunity" bigots, being prejudiced against ALL races and religions other than their own in a perfectly balanced way.

I was raised by my Mother, who was very open- minded and loving towards all, no matter what...

I've always looked at people and have seen their hearts instead.

What have I learned about people?

It does not matter if you're a man or a woman, young or old, what race you are, what language you speak, how ( or if ) you worship, or where on this Earth you live... we all have the same feelings.

We ALL have needs and wants, hopes and dreams, we get angry and frustrated, we all have fears... We laugh, we cry, we love, and we hate...  We grieve our losses and celebrate our successes.

The bodies, the faces, the preferences and the ideas may be different... but the feelings are all the same.


I'm having a problem with myself now...

I'm now finding myself fighting feelings of prejudice towards all of the people that I have met in the town that I live in now. I'm ready to just say that I think they ALL are a bunch of ignorant jerks just based on the few hundred that I've encountered... out of the thousands that are here... not really fair when I think about it...

But... I have been on SO many situations here where I have not been treated fairly AT ALL... What is going on?

I don't understand what has been happening to me here. I was thinking about it today... this latest "kitchen manager" job is the third job that I've had here where I was promised certain wages and certain hours and as soon as I started the deal was suddenly changed... Is that normal here?

Or am I just getting special treatment?

I reported for the "temp" job. It's another industrial gig. Okay. Fish processing. Hmmm... It started out pretty lame as we were instructed how to put on our plastic aprons. (Duh) I think I can figure that out. I was issued boots that I stuffed my jeans down into and these plastic "sleeves" that had elastic at both ends to fit from your  wrist up your arm... hairnets of course... yes, I know how to operate a hairnet also. Then we got these funky gloves, like work gloves but they had rubber nubs all over them. The nubs were small but kind of long and they were all over the entire glove.

No earplugs required.. YAY! Thank goodness!

So I was dressed to kill and ready for action and went out on the floor, trying to avoid being run over by a forklift, to meet the supervisor.

"Name?" he asked.

"Mendes," I said.

"Yes, yes..yes, I want you over there on the line. Just ask the girls what to do,"  he said.

I walked over to where he was pointing and the two young women standing by a conveyor belt. One of them flashed me a bright smile and called out "Hola!"  (uh oh.... did he put me here because he thinks I'm Spanish?") I instantly replied,"Como esta?" Then she asked me what my name was. I think. I only caught the word "nombre" ... (oh boy)  I told her my name and then she tried to pronounce it.. "Keem?" ... uh yeah... Kim... She leaned in close making a funny face trying to pronounce my name..."Keee-yam?" uhhhhh yeah.... close enough... "Ehh..." she said then with a nod and immediately dismissed me...

The rest of the night the ladies spoke only to each other and they spoke so fast I couldn't understand much of what they were saying. Their communication with me consisted of whistles, nods and hand signals.

Maybe they thought I was going to be a weak, lazy white woman? I don't know.

Through the night as we worked together it got better... maybe because they realized that I could pick up a wooden pallet and flop it down on the lift table with no problem... maybe others had been afraid to even try? Maybe it was because they saw that I'd pitch in and help where I was needed?

All I have to say is that I'm glad I've been working as a baker for the past couple of years because this was a full shift of constant lifting... It was kind of like doing weight training with aerobics for eight hours. I'm in fairly good shape luckily... if I wasn't, this would have killed me. As it was I came home very tired and rather beaten up... It was tough.

Those gloves I was telling you about? I wore holes in them... In fact I wore holes in TWO pairs of them. 

Oh... and fish?... dead fish?... are totally gross...

We all laughed when one of the forklift drivers got soaked by a power hose by accident and after that I was called over and included in the group when one of the other drivers came by and handed out sticks of gum.

By the end of the night I was accepted by the Hispanic group of people there. They didn't seem to mind that my Spanish is bad. Their English was bad. We understood each other well enough. 

I guess it turned out okay in the end... even if the hours were crappy and pay was pitiful... 

It just made me start thinking about the way I have changed... I look at people differently now. I've been judging them and putting them all into a category... just because they are from... HERE... 

Sometimes I think I am crazy. I think I am not well accepted here because I am from the South, and also they seem to think I am Latino. I don't understand it. How could it be? 

I start getting angry and thinking that all of "these people" are idiots. I find myself feeling like it's "us" against "them"... like we are different in some way. 

It's ugly... and I don't like it...

I don't want to be that way and I don't have to be anything I don't want to be... So, I'm taking a pause and trying to alter my mind-set about "this place" and "these people"....

Then Dani brought up the mail. An update from her high school was in it and she was excited to see it.

She opened it up and...

It was written in Spanish. There were no English interpretations included, just Spanish. 

I just sat there looking at it and blinked in disbelief.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holding My Breath

Not much has happened...

I'm still waiting to be kicked out of here. We are dead silent when we hear someone coming up the stairs or worse yet, knock on our door...

The temp place "Blob Employ" has been punishing me... this always happens if I turn down a job they call me in for. They don't take it well if you say "no thanks"... The best thing to do is just let the call ring through, get the message and then bust yourself calling back FAST if it's a job you want to go out on. If you don't want it.. hey, you didn't get the message in time.

So, they sent me out to "the fish place"... I'm not ready to talk about how super fantastic that was...

Other than that I've been trying to get other things done but right now every little bump seems like a huge mountain. I'm getting discouraged so everything seems "hard"... or even "impossible"...

I've decided to take Dani out of school for the rest of this year and put her in the online schooling program called Insight... there are a few reasons for this...

She is very unhappy and really struggling in school right now, (not with the work, but with her peers) and I feel it would be best to get her away from these two-faced, lying, back-stabbers for a while. Perhaps the ugly rumors and accusations about her will get stopped... There will be no need to search her and then call in cops to examine the M&M's found in her backpack... These jerks will find someone else to pick at, poke and smear.

I'm familiar with Insight and know it has very good academic programs. Another plus is, when we move, even if we leave this state, her schooling will remain the same and I believe that they will even pay for part or all of our internet service while she is enrolled, which would really help me out.

Now the issue is taking her out of school... The task seems overwhelming. I have a letter written. I can't find WHO to send it to. I need to set up a meeting... and I'm stumped as to who to call.

I emailed a lawyer. He only does workman's comp cases. He gave me a referral. I have not called yet.

I emailed Gina and went over there to pick up my paycheck. I worked 9 days for her, a total of 39 hours and she paid me 118 dollars. I just grabbed the check and left.

I'm just not up to confrontations right now. I'm not up for the fight. I'm beyond being tired of it. I can't do it... not today... maybe tomorrow... maybe not...

After working at "the fish place" I felt rather run down. I came home sore and beaten up, and I started getting a sore throat. That's my cue to take it easy until I feel better. I simply cannot afford to get completely sick.

I finally went to the food bank today. I had to, since 118 dollars did not go very far. I dread going there although all in all they do their best to make it a pleasant and not so degrading experience. The people there are very nice.

During the hour we waited outside in line I thought about all the times I have donated to food banks and many other charities... and how I never imagined that I would ever be one of the people needing to receive those donations... and when I get back on my feet again I'm going to donate again and pay back what I've gotten.

Wally went with me to carry stuff. I handed the lady a piece of recent mail and she looked me up in the computer system and I got a card with a 3 on it because that's how many are in our household to feed. We went through another line then to pick out items and were told how many we could have according to the number on our card.

They had meat today, (unusual) so we got sausage patties and frozen catfish. There were also half gallons of milk, eggs and cereal... canned tomato, rice, salad dressing and butter, The fruits and veggies are loose and always mostly rotten so you have to pick through it, but they pretty much let you take what you want and I've never seen anyone take more than they could use... We got a bag of salad mix, a bell pepper, onion, carrots, collard greens, potatoes, basil, a pear and a banana. Breads and toilet paper were at the end of the line.

Before we left our phone rang... Blob Employ... I was assigned 3 night-shifts for this week at the cereal plant! LUCKY DAY! I have work! They are 12 hour shifts and the pay is much better than the fish place!

I was able to stop holding my breath for a moment and let out a big sigh of relief...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Being Home

Since I've been home this past week in the mornings (instead of working) I've been hearing Danielle getting up to get ready for school. 

There is no loud alarm. She just gets up quietly. She puts on coffee. Then she spends about an hour in the bathroom applying war-paint and making herself smell good. She makes herself a bowl of cereal and drinks a cup of coffee and then heads out to catch her bus. 

Just like a tree falling in the forest... this happens whether I am home to hear it or not. 

She has always been like this... 

She gets herself off to school... She has never lost a house key. She actually GOES to school. She looks great. She's alway clean. She works hard in school... she has to work at it... it does not come as easy for her as it does for some people. She gets excellent grades. She's very responsible. 

Over the past few years I have gotten to know her better and our relationship has greatly improved because of it. She is pretty open with me now... and still... anything that she doesn't feel that comfortable coming to me with, she will go to Wally about, knowing that it WILL get back to me...

Because of her daily actions, I do not view her as a drug addict, or as promiscuous, or as a person needing psychiatric "help".... 

I view her as an above average teenager and I am quite proud to be her Mom. 

With that much said.... 

Yes... she has made some bad choices, some mistakes.... mistakes that she is still paying the price for.

I'm not going to blame others for her choices.... but I will say that I am seeing too many similarities to Dani's high school years here and Tony's. I am hearing Dani say now what Tony said a few years ago. 

I also know that my own problems that I've been having here ( in the workplace and with "friends") are not so different than the problems my kids have been facing.

It's giving me a lot to think about.