Category Archives: work

[cranky] I’m a homeless squatter

eight.

Today marks eight weeks since my father threw me out of the house. Simple version, we had a misunderstanding over what was my money and what was his after State Farm settled the car claim from my February wreck. (Truck ran a red light on my way to work, shattered the driver’s side window with my head, totaled Camry, concussion, still have horrible left-side-only headaches.)

I’ve been lucky enough to stay at my boyfriend’s place (which is half of a mini-trailer), but his landlord figured it out two weeks ago. So in addition to never being there without him (I’m stuck at the restaurant/bar he manages unless I can make $0 plans with friends, or unless I’m in class) my car isn’t allowed to be there. And so the car lives at the bar now too. The car that previously belonged to my father, that he gave me (oh wait, just kidding, no gifts) when he got a newer car in March, is never with me. And for someone living out of their car, not having your car with you is actually really upsetting.

My boyfriend pays rent weekly, making it harder to save up money. He is the manager at a mom and pop type restaurant, not a chain, so he maxed out his hourly pay rate years ago and gets no benefits. He has been living with one of his good friends, but has a sort of separate bedroom in a mini-trailer in the backyard. It’s been alright, especially when we were both working all the time; but now that my work season is over and I’m not hearing back from job applications it feels unbearably small. I’ve got a reusable grocery bag of clothes and a beer box full of Etsy supplies for my online shop…. and somehow they’ve taken over the whole place. Also, a lovely summertime perk is the plethora of enormous water bugs (yes, there is a difference between a roach and a water bug, and the water bugs are usually 2″-4″ and fly. Also, water bugs come regardless of how clean or dirty your place is.) Last night I think we killed five in the first hour we got back to the bedroom.

and then shit happened

knock me over.

I was knocked on my ass February 1st. State Farm has reimbursed me nothing for my doctor bills (ER, family doctor, chiropractor, neurologist, several x-rays) and is currently ignoring me, so I’ve got to get an attorney. The bills that I’ve paid total definitely over a thousand bucks now, and I’ve got an ever-growing stack of bills from the mail. (I made a lovely $12 thousand last year according to my taxes, so that thousand really hurts and it’s now accruing interest on my credit card, which is not being paid off at the end of each month…)

Mid-February my boyfriend finally had the sore on the bottom of his foot checked out. This story will get its own post later. He was released almost two weeks after, and had two surgeries and enough antibiotics to make him sick as fuck every night. (it was great holding him every evening while he puked from the antibiotics, and the nurse would demand he eat again since he had just taken his insulin) He was diagnosed as being diabetic, and now takes insulin shots. His foot had a diabetic ulcer, which went septic the night before he finally went in. By some miracle they took a toe and put a dime-sized hole through his foot, but he still has both feet. Today he is walking around, no hole, working, and has sworn off flip-flops for the rest of his life.

gimme a break.

All this to say that the month of March was really hard, and he came back to stay with me and my father since my bed is more supportive and his place has no kitchen. (and his landlord is an asshole, in my most humblest of opinions) I was trying to work as much as possible, while making sure he got to all of his appointments and all of mine. He was ineligible for unemployment because he didn’t get hurt on the job. Temporary disability takes over a year to get. Luckily, in a sick way, his income was a few hundred under the line for “you’re responsible for all of it” and he recently (in June) got the paperwork to make lifetime monthly payments on his hospital and surgeon bills.

My father (my confidant, my support system, my grown child that I tucked into bed each night for seven years, my child that I made doctor’s appointments for, my sure-proof way to shorten panic attacks, my roommate) quickly decided that we couldn’t be at his house Friday afternoon until Sunday night so that he (the extrovert in all of this) could have his own space. The number of required days “away” continued to increase in April, and my boyfriend tried to go back to work since his savings had hit the “lets roll coins” point. It took three weeks for him to figure out how to alter his at-work work/rest/eat schedule without awful headaches and dizzy spells and pain. By the end of May he was back to his usual 50 hour weeks.

In mid-May my father and I had it out about the money that he feels I just stole from him (to which I continue to say, how can I steal my own money?). He told me to get out and never come back to stay at his house again. This was all through text, and was quite the panic attack inducer. I transferred my money back to him, but he was already in a full blown manic anger fit. Several years ago he was diagnosed with several Cluster B category disorders. I didn’t know this until after he given me the boot; I had always thought most of his problems stemmed from his childhood PTSD, which was pretty epic awful. Right now I don’t care to look up in my carry-everywhere-memory-notebook (yep, that’s a thing now. thanks truck concussion…) what his official diagnoses are. I know that he doesn’t take medication, he just started seeing a new therapist that he doesn’t like (and has told me he lies to), and he has decided that the answer to all of his problems is mindfulness. (Check out Deepak Chopra on Amazon, it’s very interesting but not a cure-all.)

You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters
changing.

Just in the last few days things have taken a turn for the better, but I’m still shocked at the things my father said and the way he said them. He has let me come back and get some stuff, but he is always there watching. It’s still a full-blown what the fuck situation in my head. My boyfriend and I are usually good, but living in about 100-150 square feet with a fucked up toilet has caused some serious rudeness and yelling on my part. He is doing me a favor letting me live there, and protecting me from the landlord.

We have no money saved. We live paycheck to paycheck off of his paychecks and my bit of Etsy income, and the food stamps he finally started receiving. It’s all I can do to not fall into the “no one will ever call me back” hole, and I desperately don’t want to go back to the theatre and all of it’s bullshit in August/September.  It is shocking and disgusting that medical emergencies create financial emergencies that can leave a person paralyzed and in despair in their day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck life.  Between my boyfriend’s social worker and a family friend that is a social worker we attempted to tap every potential resource that might be available. In the end, he got to go have a few check ups at the local clinic for crack heads and he got approval for food stamps right as he was going back to work.

We have plans and ideas and thoughts on saving money, moving, borrowing money, getting better jobs, building up an emergency fund…. but I had no idea just how absurd and awful things can get, and I’ve had the easy version. Homeless, yes, but I’ve had a bed and roof and air conditioner and water bugs every night where I’m squatting, and I’m so grateful for that.

*disclaimer, purchases made on Amazon or Etsy through the above links may give me a commission

[cranky] periods and porta potties, and bullshit at work, oh, and cleavage

A month ago, four hours from home, I arrive at this new work site, 6:45am, bleary-eyed and desperately clutching my nearly empty coffee cup. Turns out we were called in early just for the sake of being early and sorting paperwork, which really only took 20 minutes. By 7:45 my bladder is full of coffee and I have to ask where the restrooms are… only to find out that we had access to porta potties. Perhaps if I walked half a mile up the road to this fancy arena people would be there and let me in to use a real restroom. But that was perhaps. After tucking a just in case tampon into the shorts I’m wearing (which are really my new boyfriend’s extra pair of work shorts) I hand my helmet to one of my female coworkers and head to the row of porta potties. My hands have already touched the gross “community box” of hard hats, borrowed someone’s pen to sign paperwork, and had just touched the door of the porta potty. While trying to keep the bottoms of my shorts from touching the pool of water around my boots, I discover that I have indeed started my period. And I have no where to wash my hands before I use the tampon. Surely comical if anyone had been watching, I managed to keep the shorts out of the puddle and put in the tampon. About to walk out I remember, I still have no where to wash my hands. I clean my hands to the best of my ability with the one-ply, but have no choice but to walk out, grab my hard hat, and get ready to work.
dont dumb yourself down

It’s a male-dominated field and we’re in the south. Essentially, if you aren’t a badass feminist with a point to prove you won’t last more than a few months. As a general trend around here, the women have a larger skill set and a better work ethic. The men can get by as long as they’re very muscular or tall, or if they’re funny and love to kiss boss-ass. A large number of the guys will flat out tell you that they would rather have only guys working with them. More and more are getting smart enough to keep their mouths shut and just look down on you. As long as they don’t grope and don’t name call, they can’t be called out for being sexist, so they can’t get in any trouble.

If the work community doesn’t want women around, all they have to do is keep providing porta potties– no one wants to feel dehumanized, which is exactly how I felt using dirty hands to put in a tampon while making sure my shorts didn’t get wet. Maybe if cargo shorts were made for women and not nearly-exclusively for men I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bottom two inches of fabric getting pee on them. Maybe if there was just a jug of water nearby for hand washing I would have felt much cleaner.

Besides the panties and bra, my clothes were asexual. No, actually, that’s not true. Asexual would be fine. I was wearing men’s shorts, and men’s steel toed boots (what? women wear steel toes? never. hope they made a small enough men’s pair for you). I was wearing a t-shirt that I got after a show, which meant that others there had the same shirt too. And because of my big boobs, I can’t get away with a tank top or a cut-neck t-shirt to provide the twin heaters with some ventilation. The fastest way to be sent home is to have any sort of cleavage. (The fastest way to be sent home SHOULD be not wearing steel toes, or not wearing your hard hat.)

cleavage-12

Indecent and distracting, boobs are definitely evil and always dangerous for men. Before and after every show the lights are on. During the show, the lights are off. When the lights are off the men can stare at anything and anyone without being caught– they can watch dancers change backstage, they can watch singers strip down and redress with so few seconds that modesty has no time. We are all human, and the understanding is that no one is watching because no one cares, because we are all people, with variations on the same parts. But the problem is that some of these guys are watching. And their bosses know, and don’t care. Some of these guys are watching the private dance studio 14 year olds change clothes, they’re staring at the bouncing boobs of a 19 year old college dance major. But it’s dark, and no one can see where they stare. Until the lights come on, and then suddenly they’re in deep shit for staring at the tiny bit of a coworker’s cleavage. So in an effort to save the good old boys from any embarrassment, cleavage goes home immediately so that guys don’t have to be reprimanded.