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.