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ISO: Stability

Bear with me as I reflect on some out of the way things here, like the connection between Daytona and God.  I’m still unsure which led me to which, but here I am, borderline homeless in Daytona (defined soon) and wondering why after such fervent prayer, life keeps throwing me one backhand after another just trying to knock me down – which, admittedly, it has a few times in the past five months – and keep me from getting back up.

After losing my job in January 2013 due to the death of the owner of the company and subsequent company closure, I spend the next 8 months looking desperately for work that would pay enough to cover my basic expenses: rent, utilities, transportation, food… I’d taken a couple temp jobs in that time frame because they were all that were offered, but it was still nowhere near enough to cover even rent.  After my tax return had run out, rent of course fell behind.  I had given up numerous comforts (if you can consider a proper diet and asthma/heart medication comforts) in order to start paying a little over each week on my rent to catch up.  By August, I was essentially destitute. Knowing I couldn’t continue to pay rent, I gave my landlord 2 weeks notice and moved in with the man next door for a couple weeks.  That turned out to be a nightmare, as he was an ex felon and was extremely controlling and cruel.  He was also just plain disgusting as a person.  His treatment of me made living there unbearable and so I got out before I got into a situation that I wouldn’t be able to escape.

In September, someone I used to date back in 2010 contacted me from Daytona and offered to let me move in there.  It took a lot of very difficult decision making as this would put me 3 hours away from my daughter of whom I have shared custody.  Seeing her 4 days a week would then mean seeing her only once every 4-8 weeks due to miles, gas, funds, etc.  Without work and without a place to live however, I had to make the decision to relocate to try to get back on my feet.  You may as well have ripped my heart out of my chest and taken my last breath away because that’s what it felt like as I started heading to Daytona without my baby girl.  There was no work, unemployment had run out, my tax return and savings had run out, and I was without shelter.  What else could I do?

I get to Daytona and just as I arrive at the house, I find out the water has been shut off.  Not a good omen.  Ex is scrambling to find the funds and we are out of water for days.  It goes ok after that for a couple months, I learn my way around town but never quite feel welcomed. These people have a completely different set of ethics (or lack thereof) from the way I am.  I find work within a week of arriving, but instead of being helped to get on my feet as was promised, I end up financially supporting a household of seven people, sometimes in full, on bills, food, gas, cigarettes, personal supplies, household supplies… The ex… he makes a decent sum of money, netting far more than I ever have in a month, but spends it all as soon as it comes in. As many times as I asked him to sit down and create a household budget with me, he changed the subject. Soon, the money I was making was running out, leaving me with nothing at the end of the week for having to support everyone but myself.  That’s December, about the time his whole personality changed.  He began to withdraw, to push me away, then one of his own exes came back into his life. He stopped coming to bed, started staying up all night on the phone with her, spent nights out (taking personal supplies that made it obvious it was a planned “sleepover”), and started becoming emotionally abusive. Then mentally abusive, eventually moving into screaming, cussing, threatening and being all out vicious toward me.  At that point, I was scared as I’d been through this before and each time it only escalated. This man was becoming completely unraveled and was getting progressively and rapidly worse.

Come January, he’d left me for the third time.  The final time he broke up with me, he did so online without telling me, then told me finally and had the nerve to immediately ask me for gas money. Upon refusing to give it to him because – well – he’d just left me, he threw me out, first with 30 days notice, then with 3 days notice.  I came and went, sleeping where I could but the room he had just haphazardly thrown my few remaining belongings into was unlivable – it is a storage room, full of junk and mold, there is no door, no privacy, no bed, only a bare box spring, and a filthy couch that made me sick to sleep on one night. I felt like an unwanted dog being banished to a filthy kennel, only I think he’d have treated a dog better than he was treating me.

My dad being my angel, he ended up providing a clean, safe place while I looked feverishly for a roommate but Friday will be my last night there.  In the interim, a woman I’ve known for several years and used to work with ended up offering a room to me with her in Sebastian. We talked about it, sorted out the details, and I was to move in with her this coming Saturday, the 8th.  Trusting that my friend was acting honorably, I gave my daughter the good news that I would only be 45 minutes from her now instead of the impossible 3 hours and that I’d get to see her every week like normal again.  She was ecstatic, as was I as we miss each other terribly.  Well I don’t know what happened, but 3 days before I was supposed to move in with her, I noticed she’d deleted me from Facebook.  I called, no answer. I texted, no response. An hour later, I tried to go to her page to message her and it turns out she had blocked me.  There was NO warning or reason as to any of this.  I left her several voice mails yesterday and still no response, so my dearest William sent her a message on my behalf asking her what was going on and still has not heard back. 

Still have no idea why a friend of several years who so happily offered to have me move in with her, saying I’d done so much for her over the years, would – without any warning – delete me from Facebook, block me, refuse to answer her phone, return a text or a voice mail.  Why would someone do that? She knew what I had at stake. She knew I’d already told my daughter that I was moving back to the area, she even offered to come up to Daytona to help me bring some of my things down. The last conversation we had, she gave me the new address and we were making plans for the move this coming Saturday. It was all a go and she said she was happy to help, that I owed her nothing.  I would really love to know what is behind all this, why someone who was always so sweet would out of the blue do this to me.  Does anyone have any insight to offer as to why someone would do that?

So thank God I did not turn in my resignation at work, as I would have had to do had this move gone through.  Something stopped me from doing it, “Just in case.”  I returned to my search for a roommate and happened to call on a listing last night for a room for rent in the area… a little more than I was budgeting, but I will have to work something out if it goes through.  I spoke with the homeowner last night for a solid hour and she was very friendly, an older lady, who really seemed to resonate with me.  In exchange for helping her around the house, she offered to drop the deposit and pay for half the internet that I would be transferring over. I will be meeting with her tonight and am praying to God that everything works out and I can move in Saturday.  At this point, I have no other options so if anyone reading this would please join me in that prayer that I find a place to move into this Saturday, between my faith and your intercession, God can do some amazing things.

The other question bothering me so much is why does God continue to test my faith by allowing me to come into worse and worse situations?  I mean I have lost everything over the past 18 months, including access to my child who is the single most important person in my life.  I’d go as far as to say she IS my life.  Every time I have prayed on this, I have received the same answer:  “I do this to draw you nearer to me.  If you see that I can raise you from nothing, then you will have everything.”  But how much more pain and loss can I take?  I realize God knows my limits, but life has become unbearable far too often, especially in the past five months. In RCIA, they discuss depth of faith often.  It’s so difficult to have faith when all you’re doing is futile even down to your most basic needs being stripped away and the longer it takes to get an answer – or see a miracle – the further that faith sinks.  This becomes a vicious cycle as God detests the lack of faith and puts the person in an even lower situation, pressing the faith to return.  It’s a Catch 22 – how does it stop?  As life – and faith – elude me, I will leave off here, hoping some answers come in the way of a safe place to live with my meeting of this seemingly nice woman tonight.  Thank you for listening, and please – keep me in your prayers.

 

That Kitten Sprawl (Perblog 5-27-13)

Four gruesome months of unemployment finally came to a close in May when I started a job as a Paralegal.  It pays very little (net has been about half what I need to meet my bills, which have already been trimmed down to the bare minimum) and it’s practically out of town for me, but it’s work.  I’m only hoping that I do well enough for the promised raises to come through as indicated when I started otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to make it.  Well, the truth is, I’m not.  So hopefully those raises come through!

I’ve started a 9-part pre-RCIA line of coursework with the Catholic Home Study Service in preparation for my RCIA classes starting in October.  William has been a wonderful guide to me in my studies though I quietly wish he’d give me a little more crap when I don’t go to mass.  No nun-pun intended, but I’ve got to work harder on getting into the habit.  It would be easier if my church had services on Sunday nights, but there’s really no excuse for me to miss the 10AM mass.  I’ve slept in the past two Sundays though.  Shame on me.

A couple weeks ago, a new kitten came into my life, a very friendly little long-haired silver kitty.  We named her Bellamina – the name is bigger than she is, but not bigger than the ball of energy that she brings into the house.  She’s a bit codependent which is fine by me as she lays sprawled across my lap as I type, hugging my leg and just purring away.  The big silver and white pouf of a tail reminds me of a squirrel, all fluff that constantly looks as if it’d been rubbed by a balloon and static took over.  The cutest thing about her is when she’s being petted, she blows kisses.  It’s not a post-weaning suckling kind of thing, she literally just smacks her lips and blows kisses as a person does when calling a cat.  It’s more of a mimicry, and I’ve never seen another cat to do that.  She’s also got enormous paws which give her a comical lope during play, like a puppy who hasn’t grown into his feet yet.  She truly is a treasure.

This Memorial Day, I’m not sure I’m doing anything.  It would be nice to have a cookout or something but I don’t have anyone to invite or join at one.  Going to the beach would be a full on nightmare with the traffic.  I tried in vain yesterday, couldn’t even get close.  Actually had to back my car out of a parking lot because there wasn’t even enough room to turn around where all the spots were full and people had parked in non-spots essentially gridlocking the entire lot so that no one could pass through or out.

We’ll see how this day pans out.  I’d hate to spend it just doing housework!

PerBlog April 10, 2013

Trying to come up with some radical new idea (ok, maybe “radical” in this day and age was a bad term) – a BIG new idea for research for my next FME article.  With everything happening in the news, I should not be at a loss for a topic, however my fear is that I will just come across as repeating the same news we’ve been hearing every day.  What would YOU like to read about, or hear a fresh view on?  Tell me in the comments!

Just to drop an update on myself, ever since my boss passed away on December 28th and the company subsequently closed on January 2, I have been seeking work.  For 3 1/2 months, I have been living on my tax return and the grace of friends and charity however that is all running out quickly.  If I don’t find viable work *this month* I will be facing very dire circumstances.  

The stress of this has caused my blood pressure to shoot up as the worry is constantly there, 24/7, and I have rarely been able to sleep at night for the past couple months.  A week and a half ago, I ended up having to break down and go to the doctor with the joints in my right wrist severely inflamed – I was unable to move my wrist, hand or fingers at all.  The wrist was treated and cleared up in a matter of days with a brace and a prescription anti-inflammatory but we still don’t know the cause of it.  X-rays showed no fracture, blood tests showed no elevated uric acid and therefore no possibility of gout, and the doctor also ruled out arthritis.  It remains an excruciating mystery but at least I have leftover meds to treat it should it recur. 

While at that doctor visit, whereas the wrist was treated quickly enough, the focus of the visit quickly turned to my blood pressure when my vitals were taken.  Back to that – my BP was 210/140.  YIKES!  The doc immediately gave me a Clonidine and told me to go to the emergency room however if you’ve ever read my previous post about Lawnwood Regional, you’ll understand why I was loathe to even consider stopping in there.  In the end, I did not go to the ER, taking the prescription for Clonidine and hoping that would start to lower my numbers.

Like an idiot, I started right in on the full prescribed dose.  Had I remembered the problems I had when starting on another BP med several years ago (heart rate below 60, fainting, inability to walk more than a few feet without severe difficulty in breathing), I would have started small and worked my way up to the full dose.  The first 3 days of full-dosing this time, same thing.  I was fainting, could barely breathe due to very slow heart rate, and (thankfully this was over the weekend) was barely able to stay awake for more than a couple hours at a time.  My thinking and reaction times were very slow so driving anywhere was NOT an option.  By that Monday, I was vomiting and fainting and I stopped the med completely (another stupid thing, but I did consider how my BP would shoot up in doing so). I called my doctor and told him I *have* to do this my way.  By stepping the dose up slowly over the next few days, I was fine on the prescribed dose.  Hitting my system all at once though is something my body just couldn’t handle.  

In taking my BP every couple days over a week and a half, I saw the numbers were going down but not nearly enough.  I called the doc and reported the latest readings and he still *insisted* that I go to the ER.  It was either that or drop another $60 at his office to be seen for another reading and a dose adjustment.  I did not have $60, I’d just dropped my entire unemployment check at his office at the initial visit, so this time I had no choice – I had to go to Lawnwood. 

Checking into the ER, my initial reading put the staff on alert:  240/120 – Hypertensive Crisis.  The previous afternoon’s reading was around 203/116 – I am willing to bet that just the thought of having to go to this hospital spiked it.  Immediately, I was in a bed hooked up to a monitor, getting about a dozen vials of blood drawn, the works.  The odd thing is, I *felt* fine, but this is why they call hypertension “The Silent Killer.”  They ended up doing a chest X-ray on me and an EKG.  Bloodwork came up clear, X-ray came up clear, I don’t know what the EKG said.  After receiving additional medication, 3 hours later my BP had reduced to 174/91 – the lowest it’s been since this whole ordeal started.  That was enough for them to discharge me with two new medications in a combo pill to be added to my original one.  

Because of the urgency in getting those numbers down to stay, I have gone headfirst into the full dose of the new med(s).  Since I lack a way of checking my BP at home (can not afford a home device), I have to go to a pharmacy or a fire station to get it checked for free.  Driving right now is not an option, so it’ll have to wait until my head clears from the new med.  What a headache this has all been, especially thinking of all the medical bills when I’m trying to survive on a tiny unemployment check that pays my rent but nothing else 😦

 

An Open Letter To Debt Collectors

Prior to writing this post, I had already chastised myself knowing I would end up using at least once the most over-used phrase of the past few years:  “In this economy…”  It simply has to be said because the situation has affected nearly everyone in every social class in America.  I did however resign myself to only using it once to spare the reader the groans and eye-rolling the phrase garners from even me.  You see, I too am a debt collector.

Unfortunately, just because I work in the field does not mean I am immune to the phone calls day and night, often far in excess of the number of calls allowed by the FDCPA for consumer collections.  As a commercial debt collector, I too have been hit hard by the fallout of failing businesses across the country, layoffs, bankruptcies – these all affect my net income.  Most commercial debt collectors do their work on a commission basis.  When a debtor doesn’t get paid by their customers, a client doesn’t get paid, therefore the collector can’t get paid.  This puts the collector in a situation of less money coming in which of course means less money available to go out to their own bills.  These economic failings we have been enduring for the past several years have had a ripple effect all the way out to the edges of the American picture.

This brings me to the heart of this post: What I want to tell every bill collector out there who continues to ring my phone from 8:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night sometimes with only minutes between phone calls.  First realize that no, I am not going to answer your call.  Calling me from a number that identifies you as one of my creditors or a collector only to turn around, block your number and redial me as an unidentified caller does not work.  I still know who you are and what you want.  The simple fact of the matter is the more you call, the less likely you are to get even a call back from me.  I don’t want to talk to someone who just keeps harassing me.  Your bill will be paid using any means that does not require I speak to your under-educated and typically rude representative and it will get paid as soon as I have the money to do so.   I know who I owe and I know what I owe.  I know when the bill was due.  Your repeated phone calls (as well as texts, e-mails and form letters) will NOT make my paycheck get into my bank any faster.  You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear again:  You’ll get paid when I get paid.

How bad are the calls?  Out of approximately 30 calls a day, one or two may be personal.  Those personal calls often get missed because your collection departments call so many times a day that I am pushed to the point of having to turn off my phone.  If I leave it on, the battery is dead inside of two hours due to the sheer volume of phone calls from collectors.

Collectors:  Do you think I want to be in this situation?  Do you think I am simply not paying you because I don’t want to?  Or can you for just a moment stop and ask yourselves what might be going on that is causing this situation?  I am a single mother with no support system who has taken a 35% pay cut this year, down from an income that I was just barely scraping by on last year.  I have had to make major sacrifices just to keep a roof.  It is hard for me right now.  Much more so than you ever cared to ask.  When it comes down to putting gas in the car to get to work and being able to feed my child today, those needs are going to come well before your medical billings from 2009 when I broke my leg.  That certainly was not something I planned to do or asked for.  When the water bill gets raised from $16 a month to $45 a month for the same usage without any warning or reason, it’s going to take someone on a very limited income a bit longer to find a way to pay it.

The auto lender that is also a part of the problem will start calling the day before the payment is due then continue relentlessly even after it has been paid, likely due to one of their databases not being updated with another.  Regardless, you of all people DO get paid every month.  It may not always be on time, but you get your money.  Don’t start calling me until I am 30 days past due.  By then I would expect you to start to worry.  Just back off a bit.  Please.  Believe me when I say that my car is my lifeline.  If there is a problem that will put my payment past 30 days, I will call you and ask for an extension or other help.  Your hounding me does not help either of us – and that goes for all of you.

A couple years ago, I received a letter from a person I had been collecting from on my own job.  I’d worked with him over a year and because I would work with him, he did end up paying off his debt in full.  It just took a little longer than anyone would have liked it to, including the customer.  In his letter, he mentioned a documentary he watched that portrayed bill collectors as people who stop at nothing to get the money in, going as far as to make threats on the debtors, corner them into making promises they could not keep then holding that against them, and pushing some people to the point of suicide with the unending demands that could not be met due to a wide variety of personal situations.  His letter was full of accolades giving examples of how I had changed her perception of the “typical” debt collector, how appreciative he was of my willingness to work with him and not harass him while still working the account.  Even slow progress is progress after all and more often than not working with a debtor will get an account paid more fully than would happen if they are beaten into just ignoring the calls.

Collectors:  If you were on the other end of the phone, who would you be more likely to work with – the person who rings your phone at all hours 3, 5, 7 times a day and won’t work with you – or the person who lets you breathe long enough to find a way out of the predicament, the one who offers you solutions over threats, support over arrogance?  Take some advice from these examples.  Back off – just a bit.

Be a part of the solution – NOT the PROBLEM!

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