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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where To Go From Here.....Lost in Life

I'm long past that rosy future stage of my life.  I think I gave those glasses to Goodwill.

Once upon a time, things were....or seemed to be much easier.  Getting a job was simply a matter of putting yourself out there and applying.  Now?  Not so easy.  At least it hasn't been for me.  The part that kills me is that I'm a creative mind.  My husband came up with the idea for a pre-lit Christmas tree about twenty years ago.  I came up with the idea for pet insurance just about that long go.  Both of those ideas were swept away by someone else with more money or initiative or something and we sit here at home looking at those ValPak coupons with ads for pet insurance and the WalMart flyers with sales on pre-lit Christmas trees.

Last year I worked for Calendar Club.  You've probably seen the kiosks in malls where you live or even shopped them a time or two.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, it's a system where you pay an upfront deposit, and the company sends you everything you need to set up a seasonal kiosk in the mall to sell calendars and sometimes games.  Black Friday last year, we sold over six grand.  As the season wound to a close, I found myself walking around the mall more and more.  There was this perfect storefront that was vacant and everytime I walked by it, I could visualize the tattoo and piercing shop I wanted to open.  I spent one whole day at work sketching out the artwork for the logo.  Went home and recreated it as a graphic image and was so excited I could barely sit still.

Now, you're probably wondering why I didn't go for it?  Well let me explain.  I'm broke.  Literally.

Have you ever noticed that when you're struggling financially everything costs more?  No?  Well take a look at it.  You bounce a check, you have to pay anywhere from thirty to sixty bucks in overdraft fees.  Get your utilities cut off?  You have to pay a reconnect fee and sometimes a deposit.  Get behind on your mortgage?  You REALLY don't want to do that.  You end up paying lawyer fees in the effort to keep the house you call home.  Some people might say to just sell the house, move into an apartment.  Well people, I've lived in my house for seventeen years.  In case you're in the same position, I'll share another little secret.  Apartment costs have skyrocketed.  Sure, there are places that cost a little less than my current mortgage, but let's face it, they come with benefits.  If you're feeling optimistic.  Benefits like having an armed next door neighbor, in case someone tries to break in.  Benefits like added police the form of cruisers having your neighborhood memorized street by street.  Benefits like having your windows nailed shut in case you've always longed for a more creative way to escape a raging inferno.

So skip that little negativity rant and we'll move on.

It costs a small fortune to start a business.  A fortune that if you're in the category mentioned above, doesn't leave banks and lenders in a positive mind set when you go asking for a business loan.  We've all heard how easy it is for women and minorities to get funding to help start a business, but from what I've seen?  That's as much of a pipe dream as the idea that our economy is going to make a miraculous turnaround.

Once upon a time, I had a great job.  At least it seemed to be.  Until one day the boss walked in and said "I love you to death, but it's time we part ways."  Huh?  Maybe the "love you to death" part was buttering me up for the fact that he had no intention of paying me the almost $17,000 he owned me in back wages.  Or maybe it was to get me to reconsider filing for unemployment.  His lawyer seemed to think that would be easy.  "Let's offer Donna $3,000 as a settlement and tell her she can't file for unemployment either."  I'd say that wouldn't work, but it did.  I turned down the offer, and instead got nothing.  No unemployment, no settlement, no back wages.

Before you say anything, I'll tell you this.  I tried.

I went to the labor board.  They said they wouldn't deal with any amount over $10,000.  I offered to settle for that, but I'd already turned in my paperwork and that would have been fraud I was told.

No money to hire a lawyer, so I talked to Legal Aid.  Apparently we make too much money to qualify.  Too much being $20,000 a year.  Yeah, let's see you live on that these days.

Talked to the Commonwealth Attorney who assured me after viewing all the evidence that my boss would be taken from his home in handcuffs.  Felony stuff he said.  Couple of weeks later, after not hearing anything and calling a half dozen times, I was told there was "nothing they could do."  Oh.  Okay.  No reason, just nothing they could do.

Oh well right?

Little did I know at the time that I was gearing up to take part in a sleep fest.

I was diagnosed with what they call "Ideopathic Hypersomnia" about the same time.  Basically, it's narcolepsy without the annoying leg tremors and hallucinations.  Easy fix right?  They gave me a prescription for Ritalin and that worked great.  For about two weeks.  My house was immaculate.  I made so many craft projects I'm still trying to give them all away.  I was awake for three days straight, slept an entire day and did it all over again.  Then things evened out and my life became a bit more normal.  Still couldn't' get up in the morning without wanting to weep at the loss of warm sheets and a to-die-for pillow, but I could manage.  Fast forward a year or two and the Ritalin isn't working so well.  So they try Adderall.  Blah, Blah, Blah.  Same thing, different day.

Fast forward again.  Meds don't work at all anymore.  I can take three of either right before bed and sleep like a baby.  Until noon or later the next day.  Sleep doctor says I'm screwed.  Nothing new on the horizon, so best file for disability.

That's an entirely new animal.  I do recommend though that anyone attempting to file for disability do so through Allsup.  They've been a huge help to me, filling out all the paperwork for me, counseling me on anything from how long this might take to what happens if I'm denied.  I'm still waiting so the question remains....what do I do now?

I WANT to do so much.  I'm intelligent, creative, dedicated, loyal, and a lot of other positive things so why do I still struggle with making ends meet?  I've tried online businesses, selling crafts, did the whole home business thing, I've applied to over a 1,000 different jobs and not so much as a call back for an interview.  People have said it's because of my age and the fact that I was making too much money at my last job.  The same company could hire my daughter and pay her half of what they paid me easily and she'd be overjoyed and perhaps give them another 30 years which I'm unable to do anymore.  Is it that bad really?  That companies don't care about the skills or experience an older person could bring to the table?

I have no idea what to do anymore.  The bills pile up and I've pulled off about as many miracles as I can.  I'm hardly a miracle worker despite so far having held onto our house for four years on one income.  So that's where I am today.  Still sick, still depressed, still waiting for a half dozen things to coalesce so I can pay my bills and keep a roof over our heads.  Today is just one of those days that I feel like hanging it all up.  Giving up completely.  I can't, and I won't.  I'm not a person who gives up, but some days it's nice to just think about it.


AubrieAnne said...

Coming from an art background (loving it, craving it) and having worked for a graphic arts degree for 2 years, I must say that I love your logo. At first it was a bit hard to see what it said, but it only took a minute. The name is fabulous! I hope that one day you can make that dream come true, even if it's just a little part of it.

Anonymous said...

Id say reduce your expenses as much as posdible and try to find a way to start that business. Get a community together maybe a parner who will invest with you go to the free sba small business mentors they have in everytown, try crowd sourcing and dont give up. The only way my boss opened a coffee shop was by working as an investor for several years then using that leverage to start a business. Get mentors find resouces and focus only on that you have more freedom and space at this point in your life than you realize

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