Tuesday, October 27, 2015

the evil small print of rideshare driving

Every couple of days I fill up my tank for $45. For twelve hours of driving Monday through Thursday, I typically make about $85 a day. Saturdays I drive from sunset to sunrise and make about $200. Fridays are interesting because I want to drive both day and night but I often find myself physically unable to endure it. Unfortunately, I have to pee at least every couple of hours. Restrooms aren't as accessible as you'd think, especially overnight. I put about 4000 miles on my car every month. My maintenance interval is disturbingly short. Had I foreseen my reliance on rideshare driving for income, I would have chosen a much more fuel efficient and cheaply serviceable vehicle. My 50k service is overdue by 4000 miles, and it's not looking like I'll be able to do anything about it anytime soon. The average cost of this service is $1200. I have no idea where to get such an amount unless I reconsider the whoring idea I previously dismissed.

The worst of it all is that I'm just barely scraping by (paying rent, car note, insurance, utilities, tuition, food and random things I purchase to gain access to restrooms while on the road). I haven't begun to save for taxes or make a dent in my credit card balances. I haven't even made a credit card payment in a couple of months and I'm sure Western Dental will be ringing me any day. At the end of this week I'll need to decide whether to save for rent (which is already scheduled to be a week late) or keep the electricity on; I won't be able to do both unless something miraculous happens. Living without electricity doesn't seem possible. Most of my food is frozen, and eating out is not an option. The last two months of grueling Arizona summer skyrocketed my bill to over $500 just keeping my studio apartment 85 degrees.

The new job is part time. I didn't realize that when I accepted the position, but I still want to keep it since it's at a great company and the holiday season is upon us. I may be able to work more hours during the mad shopping rush. I definitely want to minimize my driving during the holidays since there seems to be double the amount of vehicles on the road (with more inexperienced and infrequent drivers out there screwing up the delicate balance).

This is a very rough transition - a perfect storm. I've never had to worry about money as much as I do now. I've never had to push myself so hard to make so little. I've never felt so utterly alone and helpless. I'm trying to stay positive, but I feel like I reach my limit daily. It's uncomfortable in a scary "why don't I just buy a gas can and set all this shit on fire" or "I could disappear from this life and be a drunk transient" kind of way. I often wonder how people come to the decision to rob others. That type of desperation that doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather be homeless. Then I think of being homeless, and I'm pretty sure I'd need to be as high as a kite for that. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad? Then I think of the homeless addicts I see on the street, and I think that I'd rather be dead than be a zombie like them. This is where it always ends. These are the thoughts that press me on through this endless mediocrity. Maybe if I push though one more day, things will start looking up. Maybe tomorrow will be better or easier. Maybe I'll survive the storm. Maybe. I'll just have to stick around and find out.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Every Day I'm Hustlin'

It's not a very exciting life, at least not when you remove the anxiety and worry. I was offered a job working aa a cashier at a store that I used to frequent when I had disposable income. I start my training on Friday. I have some reservations. The company is another that I absolutely love, but again I wonder if the work will be tolerable long enough for me to move up.  There's also a nagging feeling in the back of my mind telling me that independent contractor driving would make much more money, but the amount of mileage I'm building up on my car is staggering.

I feel very fortunate to have found a few additional income options other than selling all my stuff or whoring myself out, and I'm looking forward to making money doing something other than sitting on my ass for fourteen hours straight.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Roses and Thorns

Someday this book will be done and I won't need to spend hours at a computer screen tearing open old wounds and sobbing my eyes out. I just need to keep reminding myself that this cannot last forever. 

I have bouts of depression when I just can't think about it anymore because I feel too fragile to go on. Eventually I come back because I know that nothing I do can be joyful until I get this nagging, miserable story out of my head and heart. I hate it but I need it. It's like having an old clunker as my only transportation. I'm not sure if it'll start today, and once I get it going I may not be able to shut it off, but it's what I have right now and I gotta take care of it.

Mom has stopped telling me that she loves me at the end of our telephone conversations. I wouldn't say that I miss it since it always felt out of place. The woman never told me she loved me growing up or when I needed it. She just started saying it about seven years ago,and I felt obligated to reciprocate no matter how awkward it was. I just think that it's interesting that she stopped the day I told her that I didn't want to hear any more of her negativity. I said that I would listen to any helpful advice or ideas she had for me, but no more "I told you so". She then had nothing to say, not even "I love you", although that would've been the most appropriate time for it. All I can do is shake my head sometimes.

Today is the fifth day of my six week leave from school, and I've submitted an average of five applications a day all week. Yesterday I reached the end of the job postings. I have never done that before. some really good opportunities  opened up this week. Some highly sought after employers are looking for seasonal staff. It sounds like the perfect opportunity for me. I've secured every good job I've ever had by coming in as a temporary worker and proving myself a valuable enough asset to hire on full time. I just need to get a foot in the door.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What is Real

I have been called strong and emotionally stable too many times to keep count. Although it's true that  I have managed to keep my wits about me in some rather tense situations, it's not because I am a particularly well-balanced person or that I have some foolproof coping method to turn to during life's challenges.  I am just as weak as anyone who gives the appearance of a person close to losing their hold on what is considered reality by popular belief.

Today I find myself alone in the desert quite literally. Phoenix is an inhospitable location, and I frequently wonder what possessed someone to settle here in the first place. The water is so thick with minerals that every spigot is covered with a white and yellow crust. The summer is five months of 100+ temperature days dotted with violent thunderstorms that cause dangerous flooding, bring winds strong enough to bring down the trees and add intolerable humidity that lingers for days afterwards. There is a large population here who are conservative and closed-minded. Many are racist, homophobic and outspoken about their prejudices. They basically find reasons to hate everyone. I'm pretty sure that the climate plays a major role in the strength of social intolerance. I've even felt some occasional hate for the city and people since moving here in February.

I visited home in July. Well, I called it home then. It was no longer my home. Although I love Northern California dearly, I no longer feel at home in the place where I grew up. Phoenix is my home now... sort of. I still haven't yet succeeded in finding a way to make a living.  I burned through all my liquid assets and I'm gradually selling off everything I own. I have a $453 car note, $800 rent and $220 car insurance payment every month.  I have yet to actually earn that much in a single month. I'm averaging about $1100 a month. There are also tuition payments, health insurance, internet, phone, electricity, water, gas, food and the unexpected expenses that come up for everyone. Right now I need my windshield replaced and a 50K-mile service is overdue on my vehicle, which I use to earn money. I feel like I am just waiting for something to happen. Either it will fall apart or it will fall into place. I'm done pretending that I have any control over it. I have been to dozens of interviews and hiring events and been offered several jobs that make about a third of what I need to survive. I tried to make the one job that earned a little over half of what I need work, but I had a major breakdown after my fourth consecutive week of getting only 3.5 hours of sleep 4-5 days a week with mandatory overtime and no option of changing my shift. I just couldn't do keep it going. I cried about that job. I cried on my way to work.  I cried on my way home.  The tears weren't just for the realization that the one spark of hope for survival I had couldn't last; They were the death of my belief that I was going to be okay. I couldn't qualify for any government help, and I had no one to call to rescue me.  That was it.

Since then I haven't put much effort into finding a new job. I pursued that job for six weeks before they gave me an offer and then waited an additional three weeks before I could start working. I pursued another one immediately after for three weeks with no luck. I really turned on the charm, and it didn't matter. I still go to school full time on weekdays and drive for Lyft 12+ hours a day on weekends. I finally reached the bottom of my account with the payment of my rent two days ago. My car note is due on Wednesday.  I don't know when my insurance payment is due, and I don't feel compelled to check since I have no idea how to make enough money to pay it. Both this weekend and next weekend's earnings will pay my car note (late), and then I will have two weeks before rent is due again, which is approximately three weeks' worth of Lyft driving. On Monday I will go to the school and request a leave of absence of six weeks (of which I am only allowed one). That should give me a chance to drive 12+ hours a day every day and, hopefully, make enough to catch up on bills and take care of the car service and upcoming tuition payment.  If that doesn't work, I'm not sure what I will do. Even if it does work, I will still need to figure out how to sustain myself while attending school full time for another year and three

During my last few months in California in 2014, before my trip to visit my friend in UK and my niece in France, every time I drove across the bridge I envisioned myself driving off the side and into the bay. I felt trapped by my life. I began to feel a similar way recently. I started to miss my old job back home because it enabled me to distract myself with gambling and drugs when things got really bad. I do not miss my family. In fact, the reason why I haven't had the desire to get high or drunk is because I can just be at home in peace without the judgment or destructive criticism. the last few phone conversations with my mother were just her criticizing me for leaving, telling me that I'm a failure and saying that I should just come home. I have stopped answering her calls.

I cry a lot. When I say a lot, I don't mean that in the terms of how I once was.  It used to be so rare for me to shed a single tear for anything.  When I did, I punished myself for showing weakness.  This is the new, liberated me. The new me comes home and cries several times a week because it is a safe place where I can be weak and vulnerable, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I realize that showing vulnerability can be an act of courage, and most of the time I am not a strong enough person to do it. The new, liberated me prays. I started praying because I have a gun, and I was afraid that I might turn it on myself if I got desperate. I felt better the very next day, so I started praying for people that I miss and friends who are going through tough times in their lives.

Since taking up prayer, I've had a bunch of ah-ha moments. The most recent was this morning. I wasn't praying at the time, but for some reason the regular practice has given me the ability to look at myself from an emotional distance that I sought for years to obtain with meditation alone. I'd even go as far as saying that prayer and meditation are the therapeutic dynamic duo.

I haven't forgiven my mother. I thought I forgave her years ago. The old me would've been disappointed by this realization, but I am relieved. It's okay that I haven't forgiven her.  It's even okay that I may not be ready to do it yet. It's okay that I still feel sad when I think of myself as a little girl and I still want a mother to nurture me instead of punishing me for being born the favorite child of a terrible husband. Whenever I feel this way, I say, "I miss my dad." But is that really the truth? I'm not certain anymore. I forgave my brother when he broke down. I watched his back twitch as he sobbed, and I saw him as a little boy in our house, just as powerless as I was, and I realized that he never intended to hurt anyone. My mother, on the other hand, was an adult. I was her child. She made the rules. Whether I followed them or not, I was punished. If I cowered, I was bullied.  If I cried, the punishment lasted longer. The only way to to survive was to act like nothing really affected me. I suppressed them and tried to keep them locked away in my journals. Forty years later, the act continues. I will get through and past this too somehow. Maybe I had to come here, to this place and situation, to be able to heal. This isn't the education I moved here to get, but I'll take it as a bonus.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The next episode

I haven't blogged in a really long time. I made a decision to go back to school.  I cannot go to community college anymore because the curriculum doesn't move quickly enough. The biggest challenge is ignoring the students who haven't done the reading or homework and not getting irritated by the time wasted in class going over information they should already know. I felt like either I should be paying less tuition than they were or there should be slower classes for them.

I'm intimidated by writing classes. UC Berkeley has a ton of intensive workshops. The first one I've got my eye on is Screenplay Writing. That will be useful for my projects with Twin Peaks. It will be nice to work in someone else's project for a while.  

Following the first of the novel creation workshop in the series, I've taken another break from the memoir. It's mostly to protect my sanity. It's especially difficult to keep it together while surrounded by the main players in my story. Mom has returned from the Philippines. My brother and his wife haven't moved out yet (it has been over two years since they moved in and said they'd only stay for a short time). Everyone else it's stagnant, so now I've got to do something. I need pace and quiet. I need privacy. I've gotta get out of here!

Now that I have a dog, I can't live at my former residence. I'm considering giving him away to a co-worker who already loves him. School and moving are big changes. The only way I can keep him is to have a yard or a safe walking/running path or trail where he and I can get a good run in every morning before my other responsibilities take over. There's no rush, so I have time to really look carefully. Either way he'll be just fine. We'll be just fine.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June's Project

I’ve enrolled in a beginning novel writing course.  It’s every Sunday in June.  Now I'm wondering if a person can write a novel in one month.  I have so much that may not be used at all.  This is an idea that doesn’t sit comfortably, but I’ve accepted that it is a very real possibility.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bite me, self conscious thoughts!

Last night I spent several fun hours hanging out with a small group of friends from junior high. Twenty eight years we've known each other, and I actually considered skipping out because I felt self conscious about being overweight.

A few nights ago, after meditating, I decided to just get over it and accept myself the way I am right now. I may not feel attractive at this weight or at this fitness level, but I'm still me. Anyone who loves me won't stop simply because I'm overweight and any "friends" I lost during my fitness hiatus weren't real friends anyway. These people in particular have known me so many years that they won't care about anything so shallow. They just want me to show up.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprising after all, I've been steadily picking my healthy habits back up since that night without any feelings of obligation or dread. I dare say it has even been fun! I tell you, what they say is completely true; the kindest and most satisfying embrace is the one you give yourself.