The entire major winter holiday season has passed and I haven’t posted a THING! I do have a valid reason… The timing of it all sucks toads, but there it is. The following is kind of a narrative post and because I’m fighting my 3rd day of a migraine I just don’t feel like censoring my language. If you’re easily offended by the f-bomb, stop reading here. And if you’d rather wait for the recipes to start again without the explanation of why they stopped, stop here and go visit LilDevil’s Kitchen where the food is delightful and there is no drama. 🙂
If you’re interested, feel free to keep reading.
The economy is broken. We all know this. Most of us are broke as hell and are struggling to keep our homes and jobs. It’s no different in my home, though until recently, both hubby and I have been struggling through on disability checks, trying to scrape by in a five bedroom house we rented with friends who have since become not friends after stiffing us for 2 months rent then moving out without a word. Never mind that when we moved in, neither of them were working and one of them was in the midst of a major health event that was putting her in a wheelchair that had lost her her job and gotten her kicked out of her old roommate situation. For almost two years hubby and I covered every single bill, bought everything you need in a house with 4 adults and 3 kids, and even bought their personal products and gave them spending money for their anniversary and birthdays so they could go out for an evening. Bah. That’s a long and fucked up story and my head hurts so I’m stopping that one right here.
Aaaaanyway. So in December, we were panicking. We couldn’t make rent. There was no more money coming in time to be on time. A freaked out Skype messaging session with one of my best friends besides my husband ended in $400 being PayPal’d to us to help. That was SO not my intention but LilDevil is just fucking awesome like that. But now it’s December 14th. We have no tree for Yule. We can’t afford one and I can’t find the paper one I made with the kids years ago that we hung on the wall when we couldn’t afford a real tree. I’m depressed and hating being poor so much that I’m getting more bitchy than usual. I’m snarky with an edge of rage that I don’t usually carry and people notice but I can’t seem to stop so I become more of a hermit than usual and hide from all but a couple of dear friends who put up with my (probably more than) occasional shit like the saints they are.
I want to get into the kitchen but the apathy sets in so I end up killing hours online or sleeping.
But back to December 14th. And the email. The one from my very apologetic landlord telling me that as much as she hates to do it, if we can’t pay the rent by the next day, preferably before noon, she has to start the for-reals eviction process. I’m nearly comatose with Panic with a capital P. Valium is great and all but not working at this point. I’m having stress seizures that make my body ache for days. When the email comes, I’m on Skype with my other best friend besides hubby. I’m freaking and I start spilling my guts to a friend that I never talked finances with because I didn’t want him to worry. He’s not working, by choice, and he’s currently living on savings that he’s built up after 17 years of working at the same company that he grew to hate working for. And I have to beg him for a loan. A big one. Bless his generous heart, he handed us $600. I promised him a hug when he came over to give it to us but I think I was getting shocky because I was freezing and getting disoriented. I got in the shower and let the hot water beat on me while I puked coffee into the drain. He was disappointed in missing out on the hug but I’m pretty sure he was glad to avoid the puke.
I emailed the landlord back that we’d begged and managed to scrape together enough money and she’d be paid the next day. I eventually slept and seized and slept some more.
Rent got paid and after some rest I was sane enough to plan. I was NOT going to go through that shit again and I was NOT going to drag my husband with me through my own personal hell. Again. I was going to get a job. And I got one. I applied with a well known company for a work-from-home job and requested the earliest phone interview slot even though it meant I was getting up at 5:30am to make sure that I was caffeinated enough to give a good interview at 6am. Before the call ended, I received a verbal job offer which was followed shortly by an email with the official offer. I was ecstatic! I didn’t care that it was only $9.50 an hour. Because 9.50/hr x 160 hours a month = a couple hundred more than our rent. With the addition of our SSD we’d be fine. More than fine. We might actually be able to save for a car to replace the one that blew up as soon as we repaid Lil and my other best friend.
The bummer here? Training was through the holidays with weekends off which meant that Yule, which was mid-week, was not so much ignored as met with fatigue and depression. This time of year my kitchen is usually overflowing with treats of all kinds, I’ve got flour from eyebrows to toes. Vanilla, hardened melted chocolate, and frostings of various colors stain a half dozen aprons. The house smells like a gingerbread house brought to life and visions of fancily decorated pretzel rods and creepy gingerbread men danced in my head while I slept with a smile on my face. This year? The kitchen was clean and empty. No cooling cookies. No simmering DIY double boilers full of various chocolates. Not even the scent of wassail wafting from a nearby crockpot. As far as anyone could tell from looking at our house, we were atheists or it was mid March instead of mid December.
Training started. I was nervous because I hadn’t worked since February of 2004 when I was laid off for being too highly paid and for using my FMLA rights then attempts at other jobs failed because of the flaring of my back problems.
Training went well. It was a bit nerve wracking but nothing I couldn’t handle. Then came a period they called, “nesting”. This was ten days of taking calls with the “support” of the trainers, QA reps and various other “helpers”. The quotes are not an accident. They’re there to emphasize the sarcasm that you can’t hear in my voice. They were no help at all. The gave absolutely wrong answers to questions that we had so we, in turn, passed bad information on to our customers. One of my coworkers failed a QA because he did exactly what he was told to do by a trainer and it was so wrong that that thing alone caused him to fail a multi-point quality check. He bitched. He’s still waiting for them to correct the QA so it’s not on his permanent record.
The breaking point for me was when I was trying to help a customer and I needed information on how to ship the guy a cord that he needed that hadn’t come in the box with his new equipment. The database we used hadn’t been updated in a while with correct data paths to solutions so I asked for help in a literal virtual room full of people. And I waited. And waited. And I “REPOST”ed in all caps like they told us to. And waited some more. Finally, I told the customer that I was having trouble getting assistance and told him I’d call him back when I knew what needed to be done. He was very cool with the whole thing.
I hung up then sent a message to my trainer on Yahoo which is not an avenue that we were allowed to use while on live calls because it would overload the trainers. I explained the situation and the first words out of her mouth were, “We don’t call customers back.” frustrated, I responded with, “That might have been nice to have been told in, oh, like, training?” She didn’t even answer the question that I had so that I’d be forearmed when I got a similar call. She actually refused to answer the question by the simple measure of avoiding it. When I asked her what I should do about the customer who I promised to call back she said, “He’ll call back eventually.” What. The. FUCK?!? Really? This is “Great customer service with one call resolution cuz you guys are such EPIC reps!”?? Fuck. That. Noise.
I went on my break (60 minutes late) and I used the appropriate star code to block my name and number on caller ID and I called that customer back. I apologized for not being able to take care of his problem. I broke down and did a no-no; I told him it was my first day, because it was. I explained what my supervisor had said and told him that I was very sorry that I’d been unable to help him and that he’d have to call back because it wasn’t possible for me to ask for help on the issue now without my boss knowing I’d called him back. Coolest. Customer. EVER! He was very understanding and didn’t freak out over things even though he’d spent the better part of the Christmas weekend on the phone with tech support just to get a fucking cable ordered. I wished him a happy holiday and a more experienced rep on his next call and he told me not to sweat it and to enjoy my holiday.
The next thing I knew, I woke up on the couch with hubby shaking me. He’d been out shopping while all of this had been going on and it appeared that I’d been coherent enough to get myself to the couch before having a seizure. The third in two days. I asked for the number of the train that had hit me, I told him that I was going to quit the job that was supposed to save us, and then I broke down in tears because I’d failed to be the “epic rep” that I had been for all of my adult life. Fear is crippling and I couldn’t overcome it. He held me while I sobbed and the snot and tears puddled on his shirt front and told me that it was ok, that we’d manage while he mourned the fact that he was physically unable to take on a work from home job because of his own disabilities. He wants to take care of me, not have me take care of him. He won’t often talk about how much it makes him ache that at this point in time, he is unable to do so.
After the tears trickled to an eventual stop, I made a decision. We had talked about getting roommates but we enjoyed our privacy. Now, it wasn’t about privacy, but survival. Four cats, a house rabbit, and two people in wheelchairs on the streets? Sure, we could join the Occupy Portland folks, but between that and a house? No contest. Roommates it is.
The search has been done and we’ve got two folks waiting on applications to be finished processing. They’re nice people. We think they’ll fit well in the house. And we won’t be homeless. None of us. In the end, it all worked out.
Since all of this, I’ve been back in the kitchen. Sometimes I even remember to take pictures. I’ve promised my future roommates no drama and by the gods, that’s a promise that will be kept. As long as we have a roof over our head, anything is possible.
Thank you for reading, if you’ve gotten this far. I know this isn’t witty and there is no recipe involved but this is real life that we’re all living and so soon after starting this blog with great intentions, I didn’t want to see it die so young. I had to explain. I want you all to understand that I’m still here and I’m still doing what I do to one degree or another and soon, there will be more recipes. Until then, keep your faith and try not to let life stomp all over you. 🙂