Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 Days of Reflection

33 posts in 31 days. Not bad. Not that I was necessarily trying to set a record, but rather attempting to dedicate a little time to myself within this space. Mission accomplished. I've managed to stop in here, if not once a day, multiple times a day to unload my mind - to reflect on the day's events. Its been a pretty eventful August. I made some decisions, and got some results. I'm keeping with that. I'm still on the grind, still hustlin' - side and otherwise.

More From The Children's Place

Since you ladies liked our Children's Place haul, particularly the shoes, I thought I'd share a couple of matchy matchy ensembles that I would love to add to Emma's wardrobe. Enjoy.



Here's Emma sporting her Handkerchief-Hem Tee (which has the houndstooth pattern on the skates), black leggings and Love Slip-On Sneakers.

We also threw her box braids into a couple of plaits. That front section of braids is just doing its own thing, so I'm gonna try to re-braid them in a different direction to see if they will decide to fall like I had originally intended. If not, ah well.

Happy shopping!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Patiently Waiting


Because a girl can never have too many cute things. I am so in love with The Children's Place. I have been since Emma was a baby. They have the greatest deals, and some really fun pieces in their collections. And what's even better is that they put their new lines out ahead of season, and have steals during the seasons. So, for example, their Fall line was released during summer, and now that school is back in session they are practically giving away their Back to School styles.

15% off everything in stores when you spend $40 or more *no coupon necessary*
Plus 25% off the Fall collection

I ordered the above items and a few others from the Children's Place website. If you're looking for cuteness on a budget, The Children's Place is a fabulous place to stay in style without breaking the bank.

A Week in Review

Courtesy of T. Allen-Mercado

- I returned to the organization that I've been working with toward job readiness and securing housing to claim my gift card for getting a job. They have a list of services that they provide once you are employed, as well as a host of services to prepare you for employment, such as interview clothing. I chose a gift card to Ross so that I could add a couple of pieces to my work wardrobe. In addition to that, I learned that I was entitled to shop for clothing at the local thrift shop, AND get a new pair of shoes from the local Payless Shoesource. Score! Its been a while since I've done any thrift shopping and was surprised at all I found. I even had to put a few items back because they went over budget. I was able to snag a pair of dress pants that fit much better than the ones I bought for my first day of training, a button down shirt, a nice belt, a cute dress, and a super cute and trendy purple blazer. I am awaiting the call of the intake specialist to let me know when I should go down to the organization to pick them up!

- I've been working on repairing and building relationships. Well, really just one relationship in particular. So far, so good.

- I finally got myself an eye exam scheduled, at no cost to me. I could have cried after finding out that my medical insurance is now being accepted for eye exams at the Eye Care Clinic on my college campus. Because of the state's budget, vision and dental coverage have been eliminated for adults. I have been in need of an eye exam for a looooog time. I have the migrains to prove it. Now, those cute pair of readers that I want wont only exist in my fantasies. Furthermore, I got in contact with another organization that can hook me up with the Sears Optical department for a FREE pair of glasses. I'm telling you, I have been on the grind ya'll, for real!

- Remember the $25 gift certificate from Pretty in Peace that I blogged about last week? Well, I WON!! That bit of news made my day. Tameka has such beautiful collections, I will be honored to spot her wares. I already know which pair of earrings I will be getting, and I even let Emma pick a pair of posts for herself. I'll share with you when we receive them. Be sure to head over and check out the greatness that is Pretty in Peace.

What have you been up to?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kicking the Second Week of School off with Box Braids

Since our days will be starting early and ending reasonably late, and I will be starting work next weekend, I figure that now would be a great time for box braids. We can easily dress them up with beads and barrettes, do something different with the front sections, and even gather them into cornrows later. Also, washing and conditioning will be effortless. It took us about 4 hours to complete, although it doesn't really seem like there are that many braids here. As Cassadie of Natural Selection pointed out, the time that it takes to complete a style like this is totally worth it!

As for me, looks like I'm growing my hair. I have a TWA by accident really. I had planned to hold off until the beginning of next year, but as always, the curls grow, I fall in love, and the rest is nappy history. I love to run my fingers through my curls. I love the way they feel. I love twirling them around my fingers. I just love everything about my strands. I like the waves, I love being nearly bald, but I LOVE my curls. So, I haven't gotten a haircut, and I don't think I will. I think I might be ready to catch up to Emma. I have a good 3 months of grown going here, taking into account the fact that the haircut before last involved tapering the back and sides.

I'm working with a line that I don't like (square instead of round), but its cool. I'll just have to school the barber I'm working with, because if you don't voice what you want, and demonstrate it either by walking them through or showing pictures, there is a very good chance you could come up out of the barber chair ready to swing. I like this guy, so I don't wanna have to administer any punches to the throat. I am so very particular about how my hair is lined because of my damaged sides. So far, this guy hasn't gotten it exactly the way I like it, with this time being way off course. But, a little more coaxing should do the trick.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It Takes a Village

I have never visited a gas station as many times in one week as I did this week. It was unprecedented. I think I must have pulled in there once a day, and even twice on one day! By the stroke of pure luck and goodwill, I was able to get Emma to school on Friday. She was tardy, which I hated, especially because she is well known in the office. Not because she's one of the troublemakers, but because she was a frequent late bird last year, and because her and the school's principal are cool like that. They play football during recess. Even as we are beginning a new school year, the office administrator, whom I didn't recognize, knew who Emma was before she even told her. We are aiming for minimal office visits this school year!

Thanks to my approaching first paycheck, and the generosity of one of my mama friends, I am in the process of ensuring that Emma gets to school, each day, on time. Turns out that said mama friend and I hit the road around the same time, which makes carpooling a viable option and offer that we are grateful to accept. We will meet her in a neighboring city and she will transport Emma to school for me, along with her daughter. This will be a tremendous help on days when my money is short. It can be very expensive traveling back and forth on the daily. Thank goodness for the hearts and availability of my Cal parent community!

Friday, August 27, 2010

At a Crossroads

I couldn't be happier to see this weekend approaching. Its been a long week, and last week was even longer. I haven't done this much traveling in a long time. Getting up extra early, hitting the highway, and not returning until the end of the day. It feels good to be productive again, however, my limited resources present a challenge. Unfortunately, cars don't run on air, and I don't drive a Hybrid! Our morning voyage to school involves crossing 3 highways, and breezing through 7 different cities. I think its worth it. Emma's happiness, comfort, and quality education are worth it.

It was only the second day of school and I was already rummaging through my purse collecting every single coin I could find. I emptied $9 worth of coins on the counter of my local gas station yesterday, repeatedly apologizing for being that person, too damn early in the morning. And after school, my gas tank was even more empty than before I emptied my purse. I raided my car's loose change, but the booty is nowhere near enough to get us back to school today. I can't let Emma miss a day of school on the error that we can't afford to get there.

Positive Affirmation #1: Everything will work out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of Second Grade

Well. Its official. My baby girl is now a second grader. Where is the time going? I mean, seriously. Each new year brings a new and exciting experience for the both of us. I get to see her settle into a new routine, get to know a new educator, make new friends and reconnect with old ones. She gets to broaden her world view, formulate new stories to share with me, and create new memories.

Considering the fact that Emma's new teacher put all of us parents out of the classroom, promptly at the start of class time, I'm guessing that the days of standing in the background, as a silent observer, snapping candid photos is over. None of that going down in second grade. The excitement (for me) was over as soon as it began. I had to wait until the end of business to find out what the first day of second grade was like. I am seeing great things ahead though. I am liking the direction that her new teacher wants to take things already.

Any firsts for you or your children this week?


Although I have never been an Idol fan, I became an immediate fan of Fantasia Barrino's after her first album dropped, and I fell in love with her as a human being after learning her life story. I saw so many similarities between her story and my own: young poor single mother, low self esteem, had been sexually assaulted, mistreated by her daughter's father, had a beautiful little girl, and was doing what she could to make life better for herself and her family. The only difference was that, unlike Fantasia, my ticket out of the hood wasn't Idol, but the University of California, Berkeley.

I bought her first two albums, I bought and read her book, and I watched her Lifetime movie repeatedly. I don't think there is anything about this woman that I don't like. I have an appreciation for the underdog, because I am she. I applaud the fact that Fantasia went back and got her diploma, the fact that she has sacrificed for her daughter and her family. I also applaud her for every single accomplishment that she has under her belt, and I was saddened by the news that she attempted suicide. I was saddened mostly because I understood. I was saddened by the reactions of others to the news.

Its always amazing how much people who have never walked a mile in someone's shoes have to say about choices that are made. I have read every reaction from "oh it was a publicity stunt" to "she needs to put "him" behind her and realize that her child needs her". I have to just stop and say that, when it gets down to the point when someone has chosen to take their own life (or attempt to do so), nothing else matters. A person is not thinking about working things out or who will be left behind or what might be different tomorrow. They usually arrive at that point because they have already concluded that things will not work themselves out, the people left behind will be better off without them, and that tomorrow will make no difference because tomorrow will be just like today. I've been there. I could even say that I vacation there. The thoughts, the breakdowns - I think Fantasia herself described it best when she said, "... that one moment of just breaking or feeling like I can't, I can't go on, it's too heavy." That's exactly the point of no return.

There are many people who see this point as an extreme weakness, and it is, its a moment when all control has been lost and the end is crystal clear. There are those who follow through, and those who are afraid to follow through. I think the one comment that always infuriates me, or maybe the couple of areas that people like to focus that most get under my skin have to do with talk of selfishness and talk of children.

Hell yes, to commit or attempt suicide is a selfish act, often the only time that a person feels that they are doing something good for themselves! Why wouldn't someone who is suffering want to end the suffering? Especially when the person feels that they have reached out and have not been heard or that instead of adding to the world they are either taking from it or that everything within them is being taken. So then to provide one's self with "peace" is highly sought after. Its not entirely that a person who attempts or commits suicide is being selfish per se, but rather that s/he is putting self first in an effort to be cured. Nobody wants to admit to experiencing and/or hear about extraordinary pain. The focus is always on being past said pain, never on the work it takes to get through the pain. Always "survivor" driven, but never centered on the recovery process. If recovery isn't allowed, pain can be so excruciating that death seems to be the only way to be freed from it.

I hate when someone says that a person must live because their children need them. Do you really think they don't know that already? The experience isn't about who will be left behind, but about the extreme pain that the person is obviously in. Adding more feelings of failure does NOT help at all! Its much more productive, as a friend, or as someone who is giving advice or words of encouragement to focus solely on the individual, NOT on what their decisions and actions would do to someone else!

Thankfully Fantasia had someone immediately at her side to do that when she woke up. Although I know that pain, I am very glad that she woke up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pretty in Peace Giveaway!

Photo credit: Tea and Honey Bread

My friend Tameka, of Tea and Honey Bread, has been a very busy lady. Since closing the doors of her ETSY shop, she has been carefully crafting new and exciting pieces for her new location over at Big Cartel. Get ready to fall in love with the fun, earthy, classic elegance that is Pretty in Peace.

Between now and Friday, August 27th, you can live, love, laugh, and be Pretty in Peace by entering to win a $25 gift certificate. Check out Tea and Honey Bread for all of the details!

Here are a few of my Pretty in Peace favorites.

Simplistic-T Hoops
Adele Necklace
Funky Boho Dangles
Vintage Skeleton Key Pins (Set of 5)

Monday, August 23, 2010

It Must Be the Full Moon

I am very grateful that I can now say that I have a job. I don't care that its through a temp agency. If I play my cards right the only thing temp about this job will be its origin. With any luck, I will set up a shop that wont have to be dismantled any time soon. That is the game plan because the goal is to be able to lay my head under my own damn roof. Being stuck up in a space that belongs to someone else is NOT the business, in fact, it can be pure torture! Today has been rather torturous, but I survived. A bit of good news this evening reiterated the fact that all of these challenges are just the building blocks of a better situation. I've been worried about before and after school care ever since the end of the school year. Our care has been subsidized for the last 2 years, and due to the state's budget (everything is due to the damn state's budget!) subsidized spots are scheduled to be cut. The district has been rallying and fighting and planning, and as a result, are able to offer only 50 families subsidized spots this year. I had to reapply, and wait. The wait is now over. We're in! We're gonna be subsidized. I can go to work without worrying about who will pick my child up from school or who will take her.

So, so far I have a job that will allow me to get some income coming in, be available to take my baby to school, pick her up, and allow time for me to volunteer in her classroom, plus, before and after school care is paid for! This is awesome!! I hope that things only keep getting better and better.

First Day on the Job

I sat out early, and arrived about 30 minutes before I was scheduled to start getting to know the office, and my new role. I was welcomed by the woman I will be replacing, and she was delighted to meet another person who loves to be fashionably early. Upon pulling into the parking lot I had no idea what to expect. I was about to enter a high end firm, in a well off city, where I was told that I'd be interacting with those who live in million dollar homes. Exciting and a little unsettling all at the same time. Once behind the doors, I saw that I had nothing to fear. I listened attentively as the current receptionist broke down the front desk duties, I took notes, and asked questions, and little by little I became more comfortable. By the end of the day, she was in my seat, and I was in her's, answering phones, working on the end of day business, and chatting up a storm like we'd been working together for years.

I presented myself like I was comfortable in my own skin, and I think I was received well for it. Keeping in mind that this position has come about via a temp agency, I am choosing to treat it as an opportunity instead of just a gig. Its suppose to be long term, and I want to ensure that it will be. Although today's training was kind of an "everything in one day" kind of deal, I think I have a good understanding of the basics, and I am confident that I will fall right on into the groove of things with a couple of weeks of being on demand. After labor day, I'm on. Until then, I will be reflecting and preparing. A few more pieces to the work wardrobe, follow up with my temp agency and the organization that I have been working with for the last week, and I should be headed in a brand new direction!

All a Part of Growing Up

Apparently, Emma's collection of early signs of puberty has sparked some interest within the pediatric endocrinologist. The office has been trying to reach me ever since she had her bone age x-ray done. Except, I didn't bother answering their phone calls because I didn't recognize the number, AND they never left any messages stating any immediate business. It wasn't until I opened a letter over the weekend, did I realize that the hospital wanted to see her back, and like yesterday.

I can't imagine what they will have to say, what they might find - this could all just be precautionary, for which I would then be thankful that Emma's experiences, and my concern are being taken seriously. I will be calling today to set up an appointment so that we can find out if there is anything other than genetics behind this rapid/not-so-rapid development.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Week In Review

Courtesy of T. Allen-Mercado

- I finished my Job Prep Workshop. Days 4 and 5 rendered some useful information, like, what comes next after this initial step in regaining my footing. I'm proud of myself for not losing momentum. I got a certificate out of the deal, a better understanding of how to sell the skills I have, some tools to help me get the skills I don't have, and the comfort of seeing my support team expand.

- As the workshop was nearing a close on Friday I got the call I was looking for. One from the recruiter with the temp agency I'm registered at. I was supposed to be heading down to their office to sell myself in hopes of being chosen for a receptionist position. Long story short, I was told that I was not chosen, and then called back that evening and told that I in fact had been chosen. Confusion on the part of the recruiter. I spent my Saturday trying to get all of my ducks in a row to be as prepared as possible for today's training. That's right, today is my very first day of work!

- I'm nervous and anxious about what I will be walking into. Its been over 2 years since I've been a part of an office. But that's why training exists, right? At the end of the day, the folks that I will be sharing an office with are just people, who hopefully will not bite as they teach - I will learn.

- I'm just about finished with Emma's school shopping. I started making her neck warmer to go with her beret. I'm considering making a flower attachment to add to her hat. I think that will be extra cute! I got my second haircut since my second big chop. Not exactly a haircut, but just a fresh line to help define my style. Does this mean that I am growing my TWA again? I don't know. I'm rolling as the hair spirits move me. I will be regrowing, I just don't know if that will be right now or come Dec/Jan.

What have you been up to?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Job Prep Workshop: Days 1-3

So far so good. I'm usually not one for a group setting, but I have enjoyed the last 3 days of sitting around a table, collecting packets of paperwork, meeting with the organization's heads, and allowing myself to accept this process. The toughest part is accepting the process, accepting that my ability to lend resources is limited, that instead I am one of the seekers. I'm becoming ok with that. I'm ok with it because, this week, the fact that I am not just a taker has been presented to me. I can see that I give just as much as I take, and when I am in the place that I wish to be, I will be able to give more than I take.

This workshop has really set a good impression of this organization. I feel that I will find what I need there. I've already found a lot already and its only day 3. I'm looking forward to completing the remaining 2 days and moving along in the process.

Lasting impressions:

  • Never judge a book by its cover - we have all come to the workshop with different issues, from different backgrounds, looking for different things, yet needing the same things. I have been privileged to share space with a former firefighter, a franchiser, a mathmetician, someone who helped keep our airplanes in flight, an engineer, and a holistic teacher. There are no high horses.
  • Hide your button - I'm almost always irritable, I have very little patience and I need my own space for various reasons. On the flip side of that, I'm a loyal and trustworthy friend, I like to smile and be in good company, and I'm a great listener. The latter is the "me" that should be the most visible, and that can be made possible by not allowing every little thing to push my button.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Late at Night When All the World is Sleeping

I stay up and think of... it all. Its a time when I am not in high demand, and not being subjected to the lives of others. A time when I can be with just me, myself and I, collect my thoughts or get lost within them. I do most of my writing during this time. I also think I may feel the most during this time - and just around the time the world starts to stir again.

As my grandmother kisses my daughter good-night, I suddenly long to be kissed too, to be shown the same kind of affection. To have a genuine kind of love expressed to me without requesting it first. I long to be held in general. I slept with my great-grandmother until I was 13 years old. I had my own room, with my own comfy bed, but her bed was so much more comfy, because she was in it. I grew into her bed, in the same way that Emma grew into mine. I could not rest without the warmth of her body, in the same way that Emma finds the most relaxation when cuddling with her very specific stuffed animal.

At this very specific time in my life, I am needy in very specific ways. Some child-like, some not.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting Ready for Fall

Thanks to Art of Crochet by Teresa, I was finally able to track down a slouch/beret/tam hat pattern that uses the granny stitch. I think these are the cutest hats no matter what stitch is being used, and they tend to look great on everyone, especially when worn pushed back on the head, revealing the front sections of the hair. I have wanted to own one of these hats ever since they became popular, but never had the money whenever I was face to face with one, or never thought about them when my pockets weren't so empty. Now I don't have to want, I can just make!

Because Fall is right around the corner, and so is back to school, I decided to get a jump start on Emma's cold weather gear. Like I said before, I could get lucky enough to draw some interests from her classmates and its just so much more special to wear something made with love! I had some Bubble Gum pink baby yarn left over, so that's what I used for her hat. I want to make a matching granny square scarf, or perhaps a neck warmer if I can find a granny stitch pattern.

I don't know if these hats will become a part of the shop. I'm still playing around with them, and selfishly liking the fact that I am trying new things that may or may not become official items. I've already seen so much that can be done with these hats. Multiple colors, flower attachments, you name it. As the cold air arrives I'll become more ambitious. I can't deny that I really enjoy making these hats, just as much as I like making the Newborn Slumber Hats. Although these hats are not officially a part of the Baby Squares collection, if you're interested in one for yourself or a child, just leave a comment and let me know, or send me an email.


Putting It in Writing

A while back, I considered doing a little healing exercise. I wanted to write letters to all the people who have caused me pain. A kind of cleansing for my mind. At any given time I can find myself reliving a traumatic experience. I think its partly because, either I have internalized the magnitude of emotion that is the result of my pain, or I have voiced said pain to the person who has caused it and they have refused to take ownership of their part and/or fully comprehend the affects of their actions.

Last week, I was having one of those days, and I just had to write. I didn't blog it, or take pen to paper, but rather crafted what I was feeling into an informal typed letter. To Emma's dad. I started at the very beginning. From when we first met, and carried the letter throughout the progression of our "relationship", up until the time of my [last] rape. I just put it all in words, and asked questions that I've wanted to ask. Mainly the whys. I printed the letter, folded it, and tucked it away in my purse, awaiting his next sexual advance. I wanted to turn to him, letter in hand, and tell him that the answer to his advance was in the letter. When I dropped Emma off for her overnight stay, there was a missed opportunity. He did make a sexual advance, to which I brushed off instead of handing over the letter. I clammed up. I was too nervous to hand it over. I wanted to re-read it first.

It can be a scary process, especially when you decide that you want to actually deliver the letter to the person who has hurt you. After all, there is a reason that you were not able to come right out and say everything that you had to write down in the first place. It must be done though. If I continue to carry this letter around with me, its no different than what I am carrying around with me mentally. So, the next time I see him, I'll be handing over the letter. I don't know what his reaction will be. I do not expect to get the answers to the whys. However, at least he will be forced to hear me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parents of Convenience

If you have never taken a look at your child's father and proceeded to ask yourself what the hell you were thinking, consider yourself blessed.

Emma's dad is one of those men who should be castrated, just for the sake of population control. I guess its extremely easy to bring children into the world when you can be assured that someone else will be taking care of them. And by someone else, I mean the women from which they are bore. Looking back, I understand all of the circumstances that led us to be together. Had I been older, and wiser, I would have had the aptitude to make better decisions. Had I been an experienced dater, I would have told him to kick rocks, and then probably called the police and filed a report for harassment. His pursuit of me has always been a bit stalkerish, but then again, in what other capacity could it be when you are 24, and the person you are pursuing is 14?

I'm still a little irritated with the fact that, upon returning from an overnight visit (the first in a long while), all of Emma's possessions reek of cigarette smoke. I absolutely HATE the smell of cigarette smoke, especially when its all over everything. I've considered asking him to reconsider smoking in his house. If Emma's things are filled with heavy smoke, I don't even wanna think about what might be getting into her lungs. I just have a big ass problem with how irresponsible he is. Like, really? I try to extend a little privilege to him by allowing her to stay the night, and she returns smokey. Lets just say, she wont be staying anymore nights soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dedication: My Quest to Stay in the Fight

Next Saturday, I will hit the road by 7:30am.

I will drive 241 miles to take a state exam, in hopes of getting back in the State Personnel Board game. I did the same thing earlier this year. Set out on a journey, in the pouring rain, driving 80 miles with poor visibility, all in hopes of gaining eligibility for one state list. As you can see, this time around is a bit more ambitious. Will the outcome really be worth spending 4+ hours in the car, and 3+ hours in front of a computer being tested? Well, at least the test results will be worth all the trouble since I'll be allowed to use a calculator this time. This little wealth of information hidden in the fine print is what gave me the extra push.

Now, all I have to do is find a vehicle or a really good friend who can help me make the trip!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Being Expendable

I wonder what all of this means. What does it all really mean?

Another rejection. It would be nice if the rejection could at least come after the interview. I've never even made it to the interview stage. They don't have to see me in person to know that they don't want me working with their establishment. No matter how much I try to prove myself on paper, its just not enough. How can I be what these people want when I'm not even sure what they are looking for? I illustrate all the ways that I can meet their needs, all the ways that my skills can be beneficial to them, the ways in which I can do the job, and their response is that they went with someone whose skills better fit their needs. Why can't someone just give me a chance? With each rejection I fade more into the background. With each week/month/year that passes, my resume becomes less desirable, less relevant.

Was I really supposed to be working in an office - gaining experience, while going to school full time, raising my daughter on my own, dealing with death consecutively, never making a full recovery from being raped, in and out of depression, already not getting the most out of the education that I was getting? Did others around me do it because they were "only" raising children while doing school and work? Or because they had a boyfriend or husband living at home, bringing in the money, leaving them to focus more on family and academics? Did I not try hard enough? I did try! I did more than just try. I went to work. Sometimes forfeiting my classes and school work to be in the office longer, so I could see more money on my paycheck, to feel like it all was worth it. I felt like I had finally found my "place" when I was in that office. I felt like a contributor. Like I made a difference and was needed. I had made friends, was a part of the pack, or so I thought.

A year passed, and still, I was thinking ahead, about how I could be of service to the company. I was nearing graduation, so then I would be available full time. I was looking at housing closer to work for when it was time to relocate, I was even thinking about how my first love of journalism and my interest in photography could benefit the company. Since "I" was already the Marketing Department, I wanted to apply myself more during showroom travel. Photographing the showroom for the company website, making a suggestion to the CEO and COO that we should become a completely electronic based office where documents were concerned. I never got the chance to make it known that I saw myself as a permanent part of the company. I had started sensing that there was something not quite right with my scheduling. I had tried making myself more available, and would be told that I wasn't needed for the number of hours that I was available, when months earlier, my availability was welcomed. Then the day came. I was asked into the CEO's office, he gave me a speech about no longer being able to afford to keep me (due to the economy), told me I had two weeks, and if I needed a letter for my next job he'd be happy to write me one. There was no farewell party for me, like there had been for a coworker who had left the office. No one said anything. No one emailed me when I didn't return. It was as if I had never even been a part of the company. As if I had never shared anything with the people in that office. It was such a hurtful ending. I'm obviously still affected by it.

And now, as I search for a comfortable, fulfilling office assistant job, I find that companies are looking for people who have all of this experience. Asking a minimum of 2 years, which isn't much to someone who actually has worked for 2 years. My last experience was the longest that I have ever been at any one job. One year and 5 months. I feel like, in every aspect of life, I always come up short. Like, no matter what I do, how hard I may work or fight, I come up short. After everything that I sacrificed to be available for my company, my ass got kicked to the curb, and my time there isn't paying off for me in the way of experience, I still come up short. I'm reminded of that every time I open a new job ad or apply to one.

For anyone who reads this, I already know what you're probably gonna say. "Its the economy." Yeah, I know all about the economy. I'm sick to death of the fucking economy, and being told repeatedly that its the economy. Its worst than being told, its not you, its me. Which brings me to a random thought: What the fuck is Arnold doing making an appearance in a movie? With the state of California, his ass should NOT be on any big screen unless he is gonna be putting the money from the film into the pockets of Californians! AND, its not essentially just the economy. People are getting jobs. I know this because I am friends with some of the people who are getting jobs. So, what the fuck am "I" doing wrong? Perhaps you will suggest that I do more, such as take another class, take a different kind of job - anything that's available, go to a temp agency. Simply put, I'm really doing all that I have the capacity to do. I just really need for things to change. I deserve for things to change. Nobody deserves to invest so much of their time and money into a University, believing that in doing so they have insured a future free of poverty, only to end up homeless, with no possible leads to employment. So many that I know chose to go to grad school because of this very reality. They didn't want to face it. I chose to face it head on, because I desired to work. I needed to work - a change in my routine, a new direction in my life. I've been in a classroom for 21 years straight, I'm fucking tired of that lifestyle! I believed that I would find something.

So what now?

Continue applying for jobs, hoping to be chosen.

Try to think of ways to be more creative in my approach to employers.

Navigate the trap of being over qualified and/or under qualified.

Sharpen my computer skills through online program training.

All while functioning at half capacity, and being extremely depressed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Week In Review

Courtesy of T. Allen-Mercado

- I attended an employment and housing orientation to learn more about services offered by a local organization. I had such anxiety sitting there, taking everything in. The majority of my assistance search has resulted in me finding out that, in order to be assured the help I was seeking, I either had to be a battered woman trying to escape her abuser or have a drug addiction. Just being a regular old plain jane, down on her luck isn't always enough to qualify for certain programs. Luckily, I didn't meet those challenges with this particular program. I have a 5 day Job Prep Workshop to look forward to next week. And then on to vocational counseling, employment services, and housing, with hopefully some mental health assistance thrown in there too. The road to wellness is how I'm viewing it.

- My granddad finally made it back home. He hadn't even taken a nap yet before he and my grandma were in the car and gone. Things to do and people to see. To ignore your limitations is to be both admired and cautioned.

- Emma is officially headed toward puberty. I've been keeping an eye on her little buds for a while now, but last night, we went from colorful boob humor to full on conversations of breast development. Complaints of breast pain, and the sight of swelling landed us in the doctor's office today. Nothing abnormal was found or immediately expected, but considering all the facts, including her age, she got a Bone Age X-ray. The doctor wants to be sure that there isn't anything serious contributing to her early development.

- Got another email response back to a position that I applied for a couple of months ago. It was an office position in a very familiar setting. One I think I would have been happy with, BUT, they too decided to go with someone else. They said they had 300 resumes to review, and there were candidates who better fit the position than I did. Again, this was a position that I was confident I'd be great in. The bigger picture here is that I probably need to be looking in other fields, but I'm made for an office position, so that's where I will continue to try to get my foot in the door.

What have you been up to?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I gave myself permission to get off to a late start today. I think I am still subconsciously retracing the steps of my wallet and AWOL currency. I'm still a little hurt, and a lot flustered by the fact that I've been stopped in my tracks, that a little bit of my control has been stripped away. However, there isn't anything left to do but move on. She said she didn't take it, it will not be replaced, end of story.

I'm lounging today. No need to rush to get out into the gloomy Bay Area overcast.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Money Doesn't Only Talk, It Walks!

Since when does 200 minus 32 equal 3?

That's what I was asking myself today, as I handed over 7 bucks to the girl working the drive-thru window. Yesterday, there was $176 in my wallet, left over from my two weekend purchases. After lunch, I was left with $3. I was absolutely livid! I pulled over, dumped my purse, went through my wallet, and nothing. No hidden 20s, just 3 lonely ass 1 dollar bills. I had plans for that little bit of change. Important plans. Plans that will not be carried out because of someone else's plans. I didn't want to think in terms of living amongst a theif, but it would be stupid of me not to, given the fact that the monies of others have a tendency to come up missing on a regular basis. I always try to keep careful watch over my possessions, especially my purse, but alas, I got a little too comfortable. Seems, at grandma's house, you have to store your shit behind lock and key if you plan on enjoying it yourself. The slightest slip up will have you parked at an intersection, nose turned up at fast food getting cold, crying into an empty wallet.

Because I have a suspect, I headed back to grandma's, packed a couple days worth of things for myself and Emma, and decided to come down to a friend's house. I can't close my eyes in the same house with her daughter tonight, and shit, she shouldn't close her eyes in the same house with me! All the thoughts that entered my mind were evil. All I could see was my fist connecting with her damn throat. As hard as the cash that I have is to come by, to have someone go into my purse and take it, and not take some - but all, is the ultimate disrespect. It would have been easy for me to forget that she's 16 years old. I wanted to be on that ass like white on rice, and still might!

After calling my grandma to inform her, she said she'd ask her about it. I'd feel a little better if she said she'd make her empty her pockets when she came home. I will surely never see that money again. When my grandma does ask her about it, she will deny it, as always. She's been denying shit from an early age - like when my digital recorder came up missing, and she swore that she was not guilty of taking it. Surprisingly, it was her guilty little voice all over it when I found it months later, hidden under my grandma's bathroom sink. Oddly enough, that is where I found my white clutch last month!

I wonder what else of mine does her ass try on when no one else is looking.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Organic Beauty

Photo by Karen of Naturally Beautiful Hair

I love this picture for so many different reasons. Our smiles radiate off the flash of Karen's camera. My breast always makes a lovely pillow for my baby girl. And on and on and on and on :).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

All in the Family


My name is Barbara.

And I am the mother of a child who has an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder called Dermatophagia, better known as compulsive skin biting. It pretty much operates in the same way as Dermatillomania, except that there is biting instead of picking. I think I first noticed this condition in Emma when she entered grade school. During a bath time inspection, I noticed that her fingers were not only wrinkled from her time in the water, but they were... well... they had a lot of white skin. Her fingertips were so bitten up that I feared she didn't even have finger prints anymore! I was concerned. Not even considering my own picking habits, I thought maybe she'd started biting because she had recently lost a friend to a car accident. I took her in to see her doctor, who didn't make a huge deal out of it. Upon examination, she found Emma to be very well adjusted and happy. Not even needing to talk with a counselor. She suggested that I give Emma her own personal hand lotion or Vaseline to keep her hands well moisturized to discourage the urge to remove any dry skin.

I supplied her with a small container of Vasaline, asked her teacher to keep a lookout, and I would try to redirect her when I noticed her biting. These days her thumbs have the most visible damage. Her hands no longer have to be wet to tell that she bites them. I am still redirecting her when I catch her with her fingers to her mouth. I ask her why she does it and she doesn't know, nor does she feel that she can stop doing it. After researching both skin picking and skin biting, I can't really figure out why her doctor wouldn't use the term Dermatophagia, or give me the heads up that this biting behavior actually isn't as out of the ordinary as I first thought. What she did say is that I shouldn't pursue any kind of therapy for her biting, that moisturization would stop it. I call bullshit. She is still biting.

I do not see any harm in finding a therapist for Emma to talk to. It does not have to be viewed as "therapy" and it does not have to be consistant, but could be introduced as just another set of ears to hear her stories and experiences and an extra set of hands for her to play with. This school year I will try to get her on the list to meet with the school counselor, I was unsuccessful when I first attempted. If that is not an option I will further research and find someone myself. I hate feeling like I was not given all the facts. This is my baby we are talking about. She clearly has an impulse control issue, and I clearly need help helping her regain control. I wont overlook the fact that her doctor may not have experience with skin biters, but I don't think she should have overlooked the possibility that there could have been an underlying cause for her biting.

Although I don't find comfort in being labeled, labeling and researching treatments, I do find comfort in knowing that we are not alone.

Have any of you had to deal with any family illnesses? Do you and your children share them? You and your parents?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Somewhere Between Indio and Los Angeles

Is my granddad. Broke down on the side of the road. After repairing two blown out tires, his truck has now overheated. The radiator is completely dry. There isn't a service station in sight, and I am assuming that no other travelers have stopped to assist. His only link to rescue has been grandma and I, over the phone and through the net. We've relayed information for a tow service that will cost him $350. Much more than a single plane ticket for a little old man don't you think? Oh, and did I mention that the $350 doesn't include fixing his busted radiator, that's just the cost of traveling an hour out of their way to bring him an hour closer to home. He wont be joining us tonight for dinner like we thought. Instead, we'll be waiting, wondering and worrying. You know, the usual.

See, you can NOT teach an old dog new tricks!

A Week in Review

Courtesy of T. Allen-Mercado

- With the approaching return home of my granddad, and the impending relocation of my grandparents to their new home in Vegas, my laptop has been in constant use this week. There is a lot to figure out. Generating income, locating a new place to live, carving out a nook to work on and grow my Baby Squares business; and more immediate responsibilities, such as getting Emma prepared for 2nd grade (revisiting math, reading and writing), and putting a wellness plan in place for myself.

- I've applied for a few more jobs since learning that I had not gotten one I was hoping to get. And learned of a few that are available with my county. The application process for county jobs is about 3+ months long, but the salary and benefits are decent, and once you have your foot in the door, you're in.

- I contacted an agency that provides housing assistance, and will be meeting with them on Wednesday. I am hoping that I walk away a little more confident that we will be going to bed under a roof that we can call all our own soon. I'm hoping that I walk away from next week on a new path and out of this damn circle.

- It would be great if, when I check back with my daughter's before and after-school program, they tell me that we've been selected to continue being subsidized. If not, no child care, which means that I will have an even harder time finding work. I am trying to collect all of my positive vibes and send a little in every direction. We need things to work out.

What have you been up to this week?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recognizing Triggers


My name is Barbara.

And I have an Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorder called Dermatillomania, better known as Compulsive Skin Picking.

Skin picking as a disorder is new to me. This year was the first that I had ever known there was an actual clinical term for what has always been a part of my life. But then again, when it comes to the DSM, most behaviors fit the etiology of a disorder. This year was also the first that I had decided to do an internet search for information about skin picking. When I'm stressed I go through some really rough patches of skin picking in all of its unconscious glory. I suspect that this disorder has been with me since early childhood. The numerous black spots covering my face in nearly all of my childhood pictures provides the proof. I've always viewed my skin as acne-prone, but the truth is, the black discoloration left over from breakouts probably wouldn't be so promanent if I didn't irritate my skin with picking.

Currently, my ears hurt from the irritations of picking the skin around my piercings. My face hurts from picking breakouts on my forehead. My navel hurts from scratching and picking a spider bite. All sites of irritation have turned black, and will have to undergo a few weeks of treatment with black soap and shea butter in order to fade. And the next time I am extremely stressed out the cycle will repeat itself. I will subconsciously pick my skin, gaining a momentary sense of serenity, and then the pain and shame of the scares created by the cravings of my nervous system. According to BrainPhysics.com, the act of compulsive skin picking is an act of self mutilation, so I guess you can think of dermatillomania in the same terms as cutting.

I am not exactly sure how I am going to pursue treatment for this disorder. It is but a fraction of what ails me, but a contributor to my social anxiety, and is also born of my anxiety. As you can see, when it comes to mental illness/disorders things get complicated. Thus treatment itself is often complicated. So begins the search for an understanding and knowledgable psychiatrist who can provide some great cognitive-behavioral therapy.