What I Never Thought I’d Be Thankful For

I originally read this post over at Meadow DeVor’s blog and thought it was an interesting concept. When I was trying to think of the five things I was most grateful for, my mind kept pulling on one terrible thing and all of the growth that came out of what was at the time one of the most horrible things that had happened to me.

{and that horrible thing isn’t how when I went to finish this post I discovered the 600+ words I had finished and pictures were suddenly gone and all I had was the above paragraph}

20131128-224406.jpg

This will be the time that I talk (once again? I don’t know how often I’ve actually truly touched on this subject) about the time I was dumped and how I let it destroy recreate my life. When you date someone for four years, you are investing the time you’re presently spending with them, but you’re also investing in a future with them. You’re investing in the wedding that you’ve talked about, the houses you want to start looking at buying, and all that jazz that comes with the territory. Unless, of course, you’re us. In which case you’ll pretend to do those things, both be miserable, but then one of you dumps the other out of the blue after a 16 hour bus ride from a conference. Not that that happened (#ithappened). Anyway. Backstory as to what this relationship actually was – a coping mechanism.

I’m not a believer in using other people to heal. In fact, there was a huge purposeful waiting period between wonderful current bf and old bf just so that I wouldn’t accidentally use someone to cope. I began dating old bf about a week after my younger brother (who was 15) died of a cardiac aneurysm. Over the course of that 4 years, my family’s house burned down (and the family was saved by old bf), my 19 year old cousin was hit by a car and died, one of my dear friends died, another was in a major car wreck which left her with her back broken in four places, another friend committed suicide, and then there was the fact that I was already suffering from unmedicated OCD, general anxiety disorder, and major depression. Instead of trying to perform self-care and the like, I used my relationship to fill that hole. It gave me a person to be and tasks to fulfill. It gave me tangible “goals” to reach in the most unhealthy of ways.

In the aftermath of being told that I was a terrible person and the like, and being told that he never wanted to speak to me again (after spending virtually all of our time together), and dating my roommate etc…I had a really terrible time.

The bad: failed all my classes, got fired from two jobs, lost 30 lbs in less than a month, lost my leadership positions, didn’t finish graduate school applications, and disappointed myself and my family. I also went into a deep spiral of depression that I tried to cope with using extreme OCD tendencies that I already had that lasted for about a year. I also lost nearly every friend I had and felt like I had destroyed the reputation I had created for myself through years of hard work, and had destroyed my GPA in the process.

So why on earth would I be thankful for any of that?

  • It let me know who my real friends were There were people that I would have sworn up and down would attend my wedding and that now I don’t even have their phone number. And then there were the people who were stoic giants, even when I was being super crazy. The people who, two years later, are still in my life and are actually active participants in making it better.
  • It got me on a health kick – I realized at that point that I had gained about 70+ lbs dating him, and although a lot of the initial weight loss was not healthy, the difference in the way I looked, felt, and carried myself was drastic, and since then I’m down 40 lbs of that.
  • It forced me to acknowledge what love is…and isn’t – I had to acknowledge that love isn’t turning yourself into someone else to fill the other’s needs. I learned that it isn’t accepting less than what you deserve because you feel affection toward them. I learned that it’s not verbal abuse, it’s not a lack of respect or encouragement. And  I learned that you do not have to completely engulf yourself in a relationship to prove anything. I learned how to love truly and deeply without losing the love for myself.
  • It kept me from committing to a career path I wasn’t actually passionate about and has given me actual work experience – It kept me from just applying to graduate school willy-nilly because I felt like I was going to have to be the breadwinner if anything was to be done. I still haven’t graduated…and will be graduating two years later than even that year late, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. I’ve figured out a lot more about what I know and don’t know and real-world experience.
  • Lastly, it made me rediscover who I actually was as a person after that breakup, I couldn’t have even told you what my favorite color was. I couldn’t have told you my favorite television shows, my favorite games. I couldn’t even tell you what I was interested in. By being really abandoned like that, I had to go on this massive journey of self-discovery, and now I’m ten times the person I was. And instead of giving reasons like “we both like math and watch Chopped!” my favorite person gives reasons like “She knits, she makes bad jokes, etc..” and can actually appreciate the things that make me an independent entity.

So Happy Thanksgiving everyone 🙂 Sometimes it’s the things that seem the worst, and when times seem darkest, that something good is on the horizon.

Advertisements

How is Christmas this close? Whose idea was it?

As of right now I’m trying to figure out what to do for tuition and Christmas, and getting rejected from the position I applied for at Macy’s ( 😦 ) and not hearing back from Sephora ( 😦 ). I’m trying to use my connections at other stores (#nepotism), so we’ll see how that works out. I recently found out that we may be getting Christmas bonuses this year, which could range from 1-2 weeks worth of pay (aka $400-$800) which would be really sweet and would take a lot of the pressure to earn extra money before January off my back.

I’m also a little frustrated with my paycheck, in that I worked 1 hour of overtime, and my paycheck is $50 less than what it is when I didn’t work that hour. So I am a little peeved about that. I’m also a little worried about how much my insurance premiums may go up. We allegedly may get a raise this year, but I really don’t want to cut all of my monies so close…and all I see is my expenses getting higher, so I’m hoping a post-graduate job (#nepotism) will work out.

piggy-bank-with-a-santa-hat-on

So I have my big list of stuff I’d like to do for Christmas, although I don’t know if it will actually work out that way.

 

Right now I’m more concerned with what I’m making:

 

  • A gingerbread hat for the niece (crochet)
  • A sock monkey for the niece (crochet)
  • A sweater for the niece (knit)
  • A hat for the bf’s dad (knit)
  • A case for bf’s mom’s knitting needles (sew)
  • An elephant hat for my brother’s gf (crochet)
  • A hat for roommate B (knit)
  • A stuffed cat for roommate A’s bf (crochet)
  • A sweater for bf’s dog (knit)
  • Secret things for Korea best friend (secret)
  • Baked stuff for errbody! Errybody = coworkers (baking)

And then everyone else will probably have purchased gifts, pending on $$$. If not, I’ll have to make a few adjustments in my made purchases!

This Weekend (aka that time I secretly went to Disney World)

So do y’all remember that time I went to Disney World and was super upfront about doing it? Yeah me either. 😉

PLhMGLYh

bf and myself being touristy

I know what you’re thinking “Hey, don’t you have $14,000 in student loan debt??? Disney is EXPENSIVE!!!” Well, one of my friends began working there as a business analyst, which means perks, so for my birthday, he made magic happen! I had a really fantastic time. At some points it was stressful, but I really wanted to finally take a trip with bf and visit Disney as an adult (without children!). Plus we got to beta test the new Disney bands, which were really convenient and I really love!

Total Savings: $453.75

  • Admission to the park (2-day parkhopper): $258.80 (gift)
  • One night in the resort: $90 (gift)
  • Free night in his aparment: $90 (gift)
  • Splash Mountain Picture Pack: $14.95 (gift)

Total Cost: $120.15

  • Gas per person (4 – we made the 12 hour drive twice): $40
  • Stamped Penny (my favorite souvenier): $0.51
  • Food (trip there/back, Epcot Showcase Festival, dinner in Morocco, lunch at the Coral Reef, & dinner at a sports bar): $75
  • Purse to carry into the park: $5

So it was an incredibly inexpensive trip to Disney World thanks to a dear friend that I was so pleased to see again! 🙂

Thursday: I got off of work at 4:30pm, my roommate got out of class at 6:30pm, and we ended up officially leaving Baton Rouge at 8pm. We drove for a million miles. I didn’t drive the way up and mostly just cuddled with bf.

Epcot Showcase!

Epcot Showcase!

Friday: We arrived around 8:30am to find that my friend had gotten us a huge baker’s dozen of bagels from the glorious Panera bread. We slept all day, then went to the All Star Sports Resort to then take the bus to Epcot. We spent the rest of the night exploring, sampling new foods (Irish seafood & lobster shepherd’s pie, escargot, venison sausage, pickled mushrooms, kimchi, South Korean wine, creme brulee) and then we had Moroccan food at Morocco where they told the people it was my birthday…so free birthday baclava!

d7Zt3ofh

Seafood Bastilla at Marrakesh in Epcot!

Saturday: We got up super early (not actually that early) and headed to the Magic Kingdom! We went through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, rode the Pirates of the Carribean (and got stuck), then I got to meet Chip and Dale, then we rode the Haunted Mansion, and then wandered around Fantasy Land. Then we did the Splash Mountain (yes we did get the digital package) where the guy who checked us out gave me a Dale “nerd” pin because it was my birthday! We then hoofed it to Epcot to have dinner at the Coral Reef, which was pretty, but I wish their menu was bigger! We split up and bf, friend, and I rode the Finding Nemo ride, Mission Space, and went to shop at Italy, England, and tried haggis (pretty good). We went back to the Magic Kingdom to ride Space Mountain, and then split up again to ride the Stitch ride and shoot things with Buzz Lightyear (and rode the People Mover). We left around 8:30 to go get food and watch my university play football at a sports bar (probably the best food I’ve had in a while). We then hung out and went to sleep.

MUnm147h

I did something I’m sure

Sunday: We woke up and went to Downtown Disney! They had the Lego store and a ton of other things. bf got lots of goodies for his family and friends. We then drove the eight million hours (12) home.

Fancy magic bands! #betatesting

Fancy magic bands! #betatesting

So all-in-all a really fun, albeit exhausting trip. And don’t y’all feel special – this is the debut of mah face on BoF. #yolo. Or something like that 😉

New Baby!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that bf’s sister was pregnant, but she was! On October 7th (yesterday – and also my & bf’s anniversary), she underwent a c-section and we welcomed a…GIRL!!!! into this world!

So if I’ve been awol, it’s been through preparing and meeting Ms. Ayne-Kate. I’m not posting pictures on here, at least not yet, because even though it’s a semi-anonymous blog, I’d like to be respectful of her and bf’s sister/brother-in-law’s privacy. She was 8 lbs 9 oz, 20” long, and is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen.

I’ll be writing posts more conducive to finance later, but all I can think of right now is her tiny little tinyness and holding her again! And also finding knit/crochet patterns for her! I’m such a proud aunt 🙂

July: Month of Craziness

This. Month. Has. Been. CRAZY.

One of the consistently good things is how well bf stepped up to show his true colors and willingness to help gracefully when I really need it, and I am so grateful for him, his family, my own family, and my friends for their support through some of this nonsense. A lot of it is seemingly trivial, and I know this, but damn did it all pile on at once!

July 2, 2013

Being a good neighbor I jumped their car off, only to find that my own would not start later. bf drove me to work the next day and it was put in a shop Friday (since the fourth caused some wonky closing days). Found out then that the car needed an entire new engine…and since it was already on its last legs (200k miles, no ac, a lot of body damage, 15ish years old, etc), the cost of the engine outweighed the worth of the car.

So onto the car hunt! After two being purchased from under my nose (a Yaris and a Rio), I finally managed to find an Allero. Red, two-door, etc. for $3000 (amazing right?). It isn’t the cream of the crop, but it was within my price range and will get me from point A to point B with AC. This car was purchased June 18…so for the three weeks before that bf and his family let me live at their house (downside: no wifi), driving me to dealerships, work, my energy exchange for yoga, fed me, etc. My parents ended up finding the Allero and driving it the two hours to get it to where I live from where they purchased it, as well as actually doing the financing themselves since it was too old to be acceptable by my bank (so car note to the ‘rents!).

July 8, 2013

My boss calls my coworker and me into her office that Monday (keeping in mind that that is the Monday after I found out I would need to get a new car) to inform us that (in my own words) “I’m cutting both of your hours to 25 a week from 40 so that I can continue to not provide you with any benefits at all.” Insert panicking since with the added car note I was moving dangerously close to expenses > income territory. I began to desperately job-hunt, and ended up applying for 10ish within the first two days. My boss is not my favorite person in the world, but I did enjoy creating courses. If I could afford the software, I would definitely freelance…but yeah, cutting my monthly income from $1280/month (on a good month since I don’t get holiday pay or sick leave or overtime) to $850/month was not cutting it for me.

July 16, 2013

I began to have horrific tooth pain that I attempted to ignore (since I don’t have dental insurance). Ended up sucking it up and going to the dentist, where I learned that I needed a root canal. I proceeded to get one July 25, along with a credit line of $2000 that I had to use $1015 of which to pay for the procedure (not including the crown, which I have not gotten yet). On the 16th, I also refilled my Effexor prescription (after 3 days of forgetting – will never make that vomit-inducing mistake again) for a million ($104) at CVS. Going to do some shopping around next month.

July 24, 2013

I found out (after an interview) that I got a new job! It’s working as a front desk/copay desk assistant at a clinic for $0.50/hour more starting pay full-time with holiday pay, overtime, a 401K, dental insurance (where was this when I had to get that root canal!?), health insurance, and vision (if I so chose, which I won’t since I don’t wear glasses or any of that jazz). I start tomorrow (August 1).

July 26, 2013

I moved into a new house from my old duplex! It was a pretty hard 3-4 days with my brother and roommate moving everything around (them more than me because they’re both stronger and I had work). But I’ll have to post some pictures of it. It was built in the 1930s, is beautiful Tudor-cottage style with hardwood floors, a giant gas range (with a skillet top and two ovens), an enclosed brick patio, and in general is just classy and wonderful.

So that’s pretty much a brief summary of the more important things that happened in July. I’ll actually start posting more and catching up now that things are calmer.

tl;dr

Got a new car, new job, root canal, and new house.

Love & How it Makes me a Blithering Financial Idiot

As y’all may or may not know, I was ruthlessly dumped in a Greyhound station two days before Valentine’s Day after a 16+ hour bus ride from a conference I had been at for a week in 2012 by my then boyfriend of 4 years. Oh, didn’t know that? I think back then I was being respectful of his privacy and all that jazz (and he knows about this blog) so I was super vague, but whatever. Facts is facts. So why bring this up a year later? Well, aside from being emotionally devastating, there was a marked … decrease in the cares I gave about my finances for the next eight months. Hell, there was a marked decrease in the cares I gave about a lot of things. Those eight months were financially devastating…but they were also the months I…ahem…got my shit together for the first time in years.

I also lost my favorite jacket and debit card on this trip :(

I also lost my favorite jacket and debit card on this trip 😦

I remember the first and only big fight we ever had was about money. He felt I was taking advantage of him by him paying for our take-out and sit-down meals, whereas I thought it was balanced since he was using up my meal plan to have lunch every day. We decided the rule would be “dutch unless it’s your birthday.” And I think that actually worked for us for a few years. Until things started falling apart. And I could see that this was happening, but I didn’t understand why, and he wasn’t being upfront about it. So I began spending. Looking at my January 2012 expenses in January 2013 was horrifying. $30-$40 charges to restaurants, charges for gifts, etc. all over the place. Just to show that “Yes, I care! I want to treat you well.” But money and free meals weren’t what he needed, much like being treated the way I was being treated wasn’t what I needed, and this should not have been the first sign that being enamored with another person turns me into a financial idiot.

After him came a male friend that I had a crush on and had casually gone out with a few times. I was interning in Florida, and his family was visiting there, so I made plans to see him. Whereas he thought it would be a casual lunch (because he thought I was 30 minutes away), it turned into an affair that I spent most of my first paycheck from that summer on, from a new outfit to the gas to drive the … hour there, plus breakfast, a movie, the boardwalk, and my own lunch (at this point he wised up and insisted on paying for at least his own half).

It was a beautiful day, albeit maybe it could have had less events...

It was a beautiful day, albeit maybe it could have had less financially draining events…

Enter in bf, who has been mentioned in several posts. He pays for a lot of things. And holds my doors open. I want things to be even between us, although unlike in previous situations, our financial situations aren’t really equivalent. It’s been a real pain in the uh-huh to try to not go spend-crazy. So far I’ve actually been pretty good, in that we’re starting to hit where it’s not quite so heavily weighted in his corner, and we’ve started eating home-cooked dinners vs. going out, or if he gets take-out, I get us fro-yo or we pick up stuff to make root beer floats (which means dessert for the next million times he’s over) and picking dates like going roller blading or for walks or just watching X-Men on Netflix. I still spent a little more on his birthday present than I should have, and do spend a lot more on gas so that I can visit him, but I think so far I’m hitting my stride. The most financially irresponsible thing I’ve done was to take three days off to go on a family vacation with him and then spending about $100 on said trip, costing in total (through expenditures and lost wages) approximately $350-$400. Which, when all was said and done, was totally worth it.

So what have I learned through these experiences?

  • Eating homecooking  is so much cheaper than eating out
  • Money can’t buy love – you shouldn’t buy gifts to prove you’re valuable.
  • Don’t rely on someone else to pay for all your stuff. It’s kinda rude.
  • You don’t need to buy a new outfit for all your dates. They’re already invested if they’re sitting there talking to you and probably won’t notice if your dress was purchased a week ago or a year ago (unless you don’t take care of your things).
    Other people tend to be much less critical of us than we are of ourselves.
  • Compromise is key, as well as being honest and open about your financial situation. If visiting often will drive your gas budget into the red because s/he lives so far away, don’t do it. The additional stress will take its toll in other ways.
  • Remember that you can go to a concert or you can go on a picnic, and you’ll both enjoy yourselves because that’s the way it works. You’re dating for each other, not for events.

The number one thing I’ve taken away from this is that if a person likes me, they actually like me. They won’t be mad if I can’t eat out every day with them, they won’t be mad if I can’t visit every single day, and they won’t be mad if I ask for compromise (a balance of expenditures). They won’t require expensive and elaborate dates during which I have to force myself to entertain and think of ways to be funny. That being myself is good enough, and finding someone who respects the desire to be financially autonomous and secure and … gasp … might even share that desire is possible and may have even happened.

Working it like a Bad Relationship

I remember distinctly, the words as they left my mouth, “No, I guess I would be okay with not having kids.” The taste. Bitter, empty, and aching. One of the first signs that I knew deep in my heart that the relationship wasn’t going to work in the long run. That there were small things that kept me complacent, happy even, but that also kept me from imagining us celebrating our retirement by parachuting in Australia.

Now I am happy, more than complacent, and imagining swimming with the sharks. No, something else is giving me that bitter, empty, and aching feeling. That thing is my job.

manager%20ignore

I absolutely love working in instructional design. Creating coursework from start to finish, working on a wide array of projects (which allows me to switch focus when I hit a block and still be constructive), working in terms of learning outcomes, and being able to apply my knowledge of learning styles, types, and diversity to be able to appeal to a variety of audiences – all of that gives me amazing fulfillment. What started out as a “student job” of 24 hours a week has turned into a 40+ hour a week “jack of all trades” job. A job that allows me to [barely] pay my bills.

So if I love love love the work so much, then what is giving me that bitter, empty, and aching feeling? The work environment. I’ve read about others’ experiences with a rough work environment and thought “They should toughen it out. It’s a job. They’re not supposed to be really easy.” That was until I actually had a job that has a rough work environment. That has more than its fair share of office politics that I keep finding myself in the middle of, day after day. That I have gone from working for $9.50/hr and doing 2-3 projects like my coworkers to being paid the same amount with 9-10 projects with additional tasks and responsibilities that weren’t present three months ago. It wasn’t until I was filling out my timesheet that I realized just how much I was doing and at what cost.

I was starting to have stomach cramps again (I’m prone to ulcers), I was bursting into tears when I got home, and sleeping (on average) 10-13 hours a night. I was being told, “Put that project on the backburner and use this video editing software you’ve never seen before to create a scenario, script it, and narrate it for our 2pm meeting with the head of the department.” At 10am that day. And then, to make matters worse, I kept working and reworking my budget to see how tight it really is. Until I finally realized I needed to apply the same mentality I have when dieting.

If I want to eat more, I work out more. So if I wanted more money, I would have to make more money. 

So what were my options? Working 40+ hours 8-5 didn’t leave me with much free time. Would I cut down my office hours to take on a second night job? I made the decision yesterday to ask for a raise for reasons stated before. I have been working here for over six months, which is the traditional “probational period” after which to decide if a raise is appropriate. And just to make note, I didn’t switch topics from being overworked to underpaid. My real issue is that I feel know that I am being considerably undercompensated for my work. And it’s incredibly emotionally stressful to not feel like I am treated as if I am a valuable team member. Being told is one thing, but then following that up with piling on projects like I was a pack mule or course factory is another entirely.

donkey 2

I had begun to feel taken advantage ofmistreated, and underappreciated. I felt as if my needs weren’t being taken into consideration and that I wasn’t being treated fairly. All of these began to resonate of a bad relationship. As she has told me repeatedly, “You are an excellent team player, and I know you always have my back. You have never, ever told me no and have always done everything that I asked, from working under incredibly tight deadlines to coming in on Saturdays/skipping lunches.”

So what did I ultimately do? 

Well. My boss came to me. A coworker of mine resigned and thus her position was open…and my boss wanted me to apply for it; however, I cannot fulfill some of the requirements until May. So she said “I could try to ask to pay you a dollar more, but I don’t think it will happen with sequestration and budget cuts, so don’t get your hopes up.” And cited that I got “less supervision” and was “learning valuable skills” as reasons that made up for my heavier workload and identical pay to my coworkers.

So I spoke with the head of our department. Not in an “I’m tattling and hate my boss” sort of way, because I don’t. I just don’t think that I’m being fairly compensated and will do what I need to to make that happen. It never hurts. And so I presented my case, the way I know I am coded, my job description, and what I was actually doing. I made sure to speak very respectfully of my supervisor and made clear we had already discussed this and that I was just making sure I was being as constructive as I could be with whatever I could do to aid in this process. And now I will wait and see.

TL;DR

Sometimes work can be like a bad relationship. It can provide enough immediate benefits (security, experience) to keep it around, but there are issues that are detrimental to creating a long-term scenario. In both situations, the ideal way to deal with it is to talk it out and make a serious decision as to what is truly the most beneficial outcome. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen in my case, but it’s turning into a wait and see. So we’ll wait and see.