Tag Archives: friendship

Oh, the Guilt

I knew that I was entering a toxic living situation, but did not know what to do about it. I was in a similar situation last time I had a roommate. I had two part-time temp jobs and had to get out of my mold-ridden apartment. A woman I used to hang out with was losing the house that she rented because the owner was putting it up for sale, so we both needed a place to live at the same time. I knew better, but I had very little income, a lot of bills, and nowhere to go. I used to hang out with this woman a few times a week, but I’m reluctant to call her a friend. She was very bossy about where we would go and what we would do and she had a very obvious drinking problem. We would make plans to go to a concert or a movie, and she would invariably say “Let’s have a couple of drinks first.” Then once she had “a couple of drinks” she wouldn’t feel like doing what we had originally planned, and she would sit and have at least eight more drinks (no exaggeration) and argue with people or act like an idiot. I have no idea why I put up with that nearly every weekend for almost two years. We had been friends back in college, but then lost touch for several years then started hanging out again. She had a steady (but low-income) job, and with our incomes combined we could afford a 2-bedroom apartment in the small town we lived in at the time. We rented the top floor of a small house that had been divided into three apartments. I knew it was a bad idea, but I really did not know what to do. The roommate I had before that had moved to Seattle and I was stuck in a small town with no steady income.

We made a deal before we looked at the new apartment — we didn’t have to make a decision right away. If we liked it, then we’d take it, and if we didn’t like it, we had other places to look at. Unfortunately, she liked it and I hated it. I can look back on many times in my life where I needed to be more assertive, and this was one of those times. I thought the apartment was too small for the price and just weird. It was painted strangely and the staircase that led up to our unit was obviously thrown together as an afterthought once the house had been turned into apartments. The staircase was tall, steep, visibly lopsided, and it looked dangerous. Once I saw the place, I was fully prepared to just make some noncommittal comments like “Oh, we’ll get back to you, we have some more places to look at” but the ex-roomie liked it and wanted to take it right away. And because that’s what she wanted, that’s what we did. She was always more willing to fight, and I was always more willing to step back to avoid a fight.

I lived there for six months, and in that time we had exactly one day that the hot water worked. It wasn’t even the whole day, but I was able to enjoy a warmish shower for maybe 10 minutes. I complained about the lack of hot water to the landlord a lot, but nothing was done. The basement of the house served as a laundry room, and often it was flooded at least ankle-high. The landlord wouldn’t do anything about that either. The basement was always trashed, but it wasn’t clear who was supposed to maintain it. We had messy neighbors who would just throw trash in there and no one cleaned it up. Garbage would float in the floodwater. I avoided bathing as much as possible because the shower water was ice-cold. We had to use a landromat because of the flooding. Sometimes, when it wasn’t flooded that badly, I would just do my laundry in the basement, anyway.

My drunk roommate lost her job very shortly after we moved in together. That’s when it got really bad. Around the same time, I got a full-time job just outside Seattle. It didn’t pay much, and I had to drive over 50 miles one way to get there. It was the worst job I have ever had (which is saying a lot) and I was under extreme stress every day. Every day I would just get into my car and scream. If I was lucky, my roommate wouldn’t stagger home drunk and coked-up until I was just leaving for work (or after I had gone for the day). When I was less lucky, she would stagger home drunk and coked-up with several other drunk, coked-up people while I was trying to sleep or just relax by myself in the living room after being yelled at and publicly humiliated all day. There were often creepy strangers milling around our place when I got up in the morning. After dealing with an extremely hostile work environment, living like that wore on my sanity. I still hung out with the roommate on occasion, but she got me into a couple of dangerous situations and I moved out and never spoke to her again. I’ve seen her a couple of times randomly. She looks sick and awful and I don’t feel sorry for her. She’s 32 but could pass for almost 50.

While my current situation isn’t nearly that bad, there are some big problems. I was very nervous about staying with this particular friend because she is such a negative person. She has an ability to take everyday situations and turn them info full-on disasters. Even completely neutral situations that have nothing to do with her somehow become huge crises in her world. I’m beyond thankful that she’s offered to let me stay here, but I just knew I’d spend the whole time walking on broken eggshells.

Weeks ago she asked me where I wanted to sleep when I stay with her. I told her that I just wanted to sleep wherever it was convenient for her and I wouldn’t interfere with her daily routine.

“Oh, it’s your house. I’ll sleep anywhere! Feel free to just boss me around tell me where to put my stuff. I’m not picky.” I laughed, and said it in the tone I use when I’m telling a funny story or making a joke.

Two hours later she called me sobbing because she thought that when I said “boss me around” that I had been calling her bossy.

“Is that what you really think of me?!”

I had said it so casually that I didn’t even remember that I had used those words, and I would have used the same words with anyone else I considered a friend. This is the level of sensitivity I’m dealing with.

I thought that perhaps things might change a bit because a week or two ago, one of her best friends “broke up” with her because of her negative attitude. She asked me to give her honest feedback about her personality and actions. I did, though reluctantly. I named a few occasions where she has shot herself in the foot by being so negative. I also reminded her of another incident –when I lost my keys last June and was stranded and freaked out at 4am, she was angry that I did not call her. She yelled at me over the phone and said “Obviously you don’t think of me as a good enough friend.” I was the one who had had the bad experience, but she was the one who got personally offended. It is textbook emotional manipulation. If I had called her, she would have moaned and groaned all week about how I threw off her sleep schedule. Also, I didn’t call anyone, so it’s not like I called everyone except her. It was a very strange argument, and she actually cried and turned it into her own problem when it didn’t affect her at all. The goal of all of this is to inspire guilt or possibly pity.

I don’t respond well to such theatrics, if I respond at all. The new roomie keeps starting drama, in particular with my cat. She already has a cat, so I don’t understand it. I don’t even want to write about it because it is so incredibly stupid that it hurts to think about. She has said things to me that no sane person would ever say ever. She locks my cat in the freezing basement, then gets mad at me when my cat meows at the door. The obvious solution would be to not lock my cat in the freezing basement, which only became a factor long after she offered me a place here. I don’t even want to get into what she says will happen if she doesn’t lock the cat in the basement, or worse –what she says will happen if the cat doesn’t quit meowing. It’s too stupid to document. I said in my last post that she was worried about the neighbors complaining if the cats fought. That is a true but much less dramatic account of what she actually said. She thinks the letting my cat in will trigger an apocalypse and her life and livelihood will be in danger. I wish I were kidding.

My mother used to do similar things, but only after she had brain damage. That’s probably part of why this makes me so angry at her irrational behavior. My mother’s brain-damaged guilt trips wore me down physically and mentally. I was young and trying to establish my own life, but I got sucked into my mother’s illnesses and divorce on top of her excessive dramatics and manipulative behavior. My new roomie is paranoid about things that will never happen and every day some new drama comes into being. I can’t stand illogical behavior. I found another place to stay, but they don’t take cats. Dogs, yes; cats, no. Every dog I’ve ever known has caused way more damage to their home than my cat, so I don’t get it. Heck, I cause more damage to my home than my cat is likely to. Also, she’s declawed (not my choice, my parents declawed her as soon as I went away to college and wasn’t around to protest). I’ve started the Pet Travel Scheme for my cat and don’t want to leave her anywhere else for a while because I need access to her so I can get her to her vet appointments at the appropriate times.

My cat has actually broken out of the basement a few times, and the results were as uneventful as any sane person would expect. The two cats saw each other, but didn’t fight. Because I’m (generally) respectful, I put my cat back in the freezing basement. She sleeps on top of me every night, and I think it was upsetting to her that I was upstairs sleeping on the sofa. I got a little air mattress from someone on Craigslist so I’ll sleep on that. It’s still very cold down there, even with the space heater.

I’ve given up my car, so I’m going to be stuck here a lot. Also, it’s very likely that I have gout, which would explain my freaky joint pain. The doctor ordered blood tests and X-rays because something was visibly (and painfully) affecting the joint on one of my toes. More news about that on Monday.

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Freeloader

This shirt costs $20 on crookedmonkey.com. Does anyone who would wear it actually have $20? I sure dont.

This shirt costs $20 on crookedmonkey.com. Does anyone who would wear it actually have $20 to spend on cutesy t-shirts? I sure don't.

A friend took me to a concert last night as a belated birthday present. We went to see the bands Gossip, Men, and Champagne Champagne at The Showbox in downtown Seattle. Working or not, nearly every time I go to an evening event downtown, I end up doing the same stupid thing — I forget about parking. What usually happens is I put parking at the back of my mind, drive to the venue, drive around for 30 minutes trying to find a free spot and then give up and just pay $13. I don’t have $13, nor do I have enough gas to drive around looking for a place to park, so for the first time ever I remembered not to do this and I just used my stolen bus pass. Hooray for thievery.

It was difficult for me to go out as I’ve been severely depressed and I have not been up to face-to-face interaction with other humans. I dreaded going. Truth be told, I’d rather just stay home alone than have someone pay my way. I hadn’t been out for a fun night in a while, and I never even step outside except to go to the food bank, follow up on on my never-ending food stamps application, or to check my mail. I saw two friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was good to catch up. One of them even bought me a drink. With my free ticket and my free drink, you can imagine my amusement when I saw the stamp they were giving concertgoers in the over-21 bar section:

You probably can't read it, but it says "Freeloader." Everyone got the same stamp.

You probably can't read it, but it says "Freeloader." Everyone got the same stamp, but I was probably the only one who felt special.

Then in yet another joke of the cosmos, the first song that Gossip performed was “Dimestore Diamond.” It’s on their latest album and I had never heard it.

Everybody knows the things she does to please
Low cut sweaters with her skirt above her knees
She's a dimestore diamond

Everybody knows just where she gets her clothes
A watercolor painting in a Renoir pose
She's a dimestore diamond

Everybody knows but no one can tell
A homemade haircut but she wears it well
She's a dimestore diamond

You can call her broke, you can call her poor
But everybody knows that she ain't cold no more
She's a dimestore diamond

Shines like the real thing
Real thing
Real thing
Dimestore diamond

Dimestore diamond

Gotta catch you one
Gotta catch you one one
Gotta catch you one

Gonna get you one
Gonna get you one one
Gonna get you one

The first group to perform was a hip-hop/dance group called Champagne Champagne, and the second group was the dance-punk group Men, fronted by JD Samson (who was in another one of my favorite bands Le Tigre). Both opening acts were great, and Gossip was amazing as usual. The positive energy actually made me feel better, when I was expecting it to drain me further. I still feel sick and I still feel tired, but I’m definitely in better spirits. The biggest downer was that I had to leave at the beginning of the encore because of the bus schedule. My friend had offered to drive me home, but I was already feeling guilty about everything else, so I was firm and took the bus.

I was less interested in music and social interaction than I usually am, but I had a good time and I am glad I went –even as a freeloader.

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Jinx

Good Luck by Mark Ryden

Good Luck by Mark Ryden

Those I interact with regularly tend to react to me in two different ways: they ignore me or they ignore my problems. For quite a while now, I’ve been somewhat of a shit magnet. Is there more dignified term to express that concept? I can’t think of one. I’m kind of like the jinx in Li’l Abner. When I’m not writing in my secret blog, I generally keep my problems to myself. Once in a while, however, I’ll get into a conversation with a trusted friend and I’ll let a few details about my life slip. They say things like “Oh, I’m so sorry,” or “I don’t know what to say.” Then the phone calls and e-mails stop and I’m left keeping things to myself again. In other instances I have friends who don’t seem to pay attention to anything I say. I was IMing with a friend the other night, and he expressed surprise that I “seemed a bit down.” This friend is aware of my situation, so why would he express surprise? Gee, I’m about to be homeless and lose everything that’s ever been important to me while I admit absolute defeat, I’m in a perpetual state of emotional breakdown, I don’t know what to do, but other than that life’s peachy. A different friend of mine (who is aware of certain aspects of my situation but none of the more recent developments) gets visibly uncomfortable if I speak of anything negative in my life, such as my horrible family. Once when I mentioned that I was worried about having enough rent money, he said “Why don’t you just move in with your parents?” I had previously told him that my mother had been dead for years and I hadn’t spoken to my father in even longer. When I mentioned it the first time, he changed the subject very quickly. He later forgot that the conversation even took place. He doesn’t want to hear things like that because bad parents don’t exist in his world where all the pretty white houses have picket fences made of lollipops. He is a good guy, but he doesn’t understand my situation at all and has repeatedly made insensitive and ignorant comments to me about money. He has never had a real job, but he owns an iPhone and lives with his rich parents. Then he admonishes me for living the only way I can. He also once told me that I “just need to be more optimistic.” I didn’t tell him I quit my job. He doesn’t know I’m getting evicted. I may very well disappear and he’d never know.

Speaking of disappearing, I am at a strange crossroads. I am friends with a guy I used to volunteer with about five years ago. He is a barely functional alcoholic. He is caring and funny and genuinely kind, but he’s trouble. His financial situation is not much different from mine. He is incapable of holding a job due to his alcoholism and (as a former employer of his put it) his “inability to keep his mouth shut.” He did not finish college, he never pays his bills. He can’t even get a bank account because he wrote several bad checks and never paid overdraft fees. He can’t get a driver’s license because he owes $5000 in tickets for moving violations and associated fees. He sent me a text message today asking me if I’d be interested in living in a house with him and a few other people. In Philadelphia. Rooms are $425 a month and I can bring my cat. Tempting. I’ll never find anything like that here. He has asked me to move out there before, and I’ve always said no (for the record, we are not dating). Until now, I had not seriously considered his offers because I had hope for something good to happen in Seattle. I don’t have that hope anymore. Quite frankly, I’m at the end of my rope and I have no idea where I’m going. Moving there is a bad idea, but is it a worse idea than staying here? I get so overwhelmed with choices. I get frozen because there is always something in the way and I don’t know which obstacles to conquer first. I can’t declare bankruptcy yet because I don’t know what I’m doing with my car. I can’t figure out what I’m doing with my car until I figure out if I can move to the United Kingdom or not. I can’t move to the United Kingdom until I get my passport and see if I can get a job and secure things with my relatives. I can’t do all of that until I save money and get a job here. This line of thinking gets me nowhere, literally. My thoughts just whirl around and around and I just stand there, dizzy.

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Can’t I wait until next year to have a birthday?

I'm HOW OLD?!

I'm HOW OLD?!

I am 31 years old today. It’s hard to believe how long my life has been like this. I’ve been in survival mode since 2003. Possibly even longer. It’s not that I’m old; I really don’t care about aging at this point in my life. I didn’t care much about turning 30, so I’m not going to start freaking out about it now. It’s just a bit depressing that my life was so much more “together” when I was 24. Every birthday marks another year’s distance away from my stability and my dreams. I actually thought that since I had never lived this way by 23, I’d never live this way at all. It’s been an amazing decline. I have had my palm read three times – once by a “professional” I went to on a lark, and twice by amateurs. All three have said the same thing: “You will always be financially secure.” I wonder what it is they think they see. My palms are rotten liars.

Even with my aches,  pains, and swollen joints, I don’t really feel very old. I’m not like most women my age. While I do care about my career, I am mostly juvenile in my activities. I prefer video games to cocktail parties, Thai take-out to home-cooking, mis-matched furniture to Better Homes & Gardens, kittens to children, thrift stores to department stores, B-movies to art films, and electronic music to adult contemporary. I’m a perpetual kid.

I woke up early this morning to call community resources because my research has led me to believe that I should find a caseworker. My best option may be to move into transitional housing. Now, I’m not in an abusive relationship, but I am at risk for being homeless because no one can help me long-term and I don’t want to burden my friend, especially since she doesn’t really have room. I’m exploring my options. I don’t want to lose my cat, but it appears inevitable. I’m going to assume that I cannot have my cat at the YWCA. I’m also going to assume that there’s a long waiting list, but once again I’m grasping at straws and I’ll try just about anything that doesn’t terrify me.

There is also a low-income housing project near where I live. It’s actually a rather attractive complex. It was built less than two years ago, and it is across the street from a brand-new library. It is within walking distance of a few drug stores and cafes, and it is also very close to my regional food bank. It is actually more desirable than my current location, but I fear it might be more expensive despite its “low-income housing” label. Section 8 housing is often more expensive (or roughly the same price) as the condo I rent. How do people live around here?

For the past two evenings I have been startled by loud knocking at my door. Due to my circumstances, I have not yet had the courage to answer. I haven’t even had the courage to speak through the intercom. Last night the sound of the knocking made my heart race and I began to hyperventilate. I’m terrified of confrontation, and I know I have to face this situation eventually. I want to be calm and assertive, but I physically and mentally freeze. I don’t even know what I’m so deathly afraid of. I know my rights, and for the moment, no one can kick me out. Strangely, no one left a note or even a proper eviction notice on my door, so my evening visitors could be completely unrelated to that drama. Unexpected knocks are not a good thing, in my experience. My car repossession/assault began with an unexpected knock that shook my walls and woke my neighbors. I hide in the dark a lot. I’m even afraid to play music.

My friend (whose basement I may stay in) wants to take me out for a birthday dinner, but it’s so difficult to choose a place to go to when I feel disgusting and don’t even want to leave the house. I need new clothes and new shoes. I look awful. I’m tired, so tired.

As a single, somewhat antisocial woman, I have to throw my own birthday parties. That should explain why I did not have any birthday parties between ages 19 and 30. I don’t have any money to do anything for myself, and I feel tremendous guilt if someone even buys me a drink. It’s silly, I know. It’s ingrained from childhood. My mother would never let me accept anything from anyone, and would make me feel awful even if someone bought me a birthday present. Christmas presents were usually okay because then gifts could be exchanged instead of given. My birthday still makes me feel uncomfortable.

I also received a job rejection from the job I interviewed for on Friday. I received no feedback as to why, but the interview did not go 100% smoothly, so it’s not a complete shock. I have received so much “feedback” over the years and even when it’s generally good it makes me wince. I neglected to send a thank-you note after my interview on Friday because one of the interviewers told me they would decide that day. I’ve given up, I suppose. I can’t even imagine getting a job at this point.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon watching illegal uploads of Weeds and trying to think of an inexpensive place I can suggest my friend take me for dinner. Happy birthday to me, Scott Baio, Joan Jett, and that kid who plays Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.

tombstone

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Adventures in House-sitting

Me and the doggie.

Me and the doggie.

I have been rather busy lately, hence my lack of writing. A friend of mine went out of town for a few days, and I was house-sitting for her because she has a dog, two cats, and several fish. It was like a mini-vacation, actually, and she paid my phone bill for me, to boot!

I’m officially a cat-person, but I like dogs, too. I love almost all animals. I grew up with a lovely fat golden retriever, and there are things about dog-ownership I miss. I live alone and my life is unstable. I can’t afford vet bills, so no dog for me. If I hadn’t had my cat since I was in high school, I wouldn’t have a kitty either.

My friend lives near an off-leash dog park, and I went there every day with the dog. The park borders Lake Washington, which is a fun place to take a dog, even though it smells bad. I had a great time playing fetch by throwing the ball as far as I could into the lake, and seeing how excited she was to go out and get the ball for me. She is a very smart dog and understands many commands. She will even shake herself off after leaving the lake when you tell her to. She will also balance treats on her nose. For a cat/rat person, this is an amazing novelty. She slept next to me every night, and became very protective of me when she heard noises outside.

Despite the fun of playing with the dog, I’m once again concerned about my health. I am now out of my other thyroid medication. You can blame it on depression or on my being hypothyroid, but I am utterly exhausted. I went to sleep just before midnight the other night, and struggled to get out of bed at noon. I then fell asleep again at 7:00 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 7:00 a.m. I woke up briefly, and then slept again until 4 p.m. This isn’t normal. I am not lazy! I know that if I had more to do, then I would do more, but I am concerned by how little I do when I have little to do! When I first worked at the technical college where I was an instructor, I slept a lot. I slept, I ate, I worked, I commuted, but I didn’t do much else. Fortunately, I got everything done. It’s been six years, but I keep my reviews to remind myself that I am good at things and that people appreciate what I do. My students really liked me, even though I felt like crap. I was able to give my all for a set amount of hours per day and just sleep the rest of the time. Brain fog wasn’t as big of a problem for me then. I really need proper healthcare so I can function and contribute like I used to. Like I want to. I wish I could take a break from all of this and just breathe and not worry. I don’t want to get yet another job and get fired or freak out.

I am looking into renting a studio where they do not care about your credit rating. Unfortunately, they don’t care about your criminal record either, so I’m a bit nervous about who my neighbors might be. I have not yet turned to a life of crime, though it’s sad when it occurs to you that prison would guarantee food and a roof over your head. But then there’s the prison rape, even for women. Hopefully things will work out for me over the next few weeks.

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Safe as houses

Eye of Horus

Eye of Horus

I am glad to say that I have overreacted. Despite my antisocial tendencies as of late, I really do have some good friends who have my back if I need it and talk some sense into me when I’m confused or irrational. My problems are by no means solved, but my head is clearer, at least for the time being.

Yesterday a friend took me out for coffee and we looked up information about eviction law online. My friend is rational and assertive, and has far better people skills than I do. I am being evicted, but I have more time than I thought. I am supposed to come up with $1400 by tonight (or tomorrow night, maybe even Monday night –I’m not exactly sure). If I don’t come up with that money in time (and let’s face it –I won’t), my landlord will then begin processing the eviction. From what I understand, that entails a fair amount of legwork on behalf of the owners of my condominium and the rental agency they employ. The eviction will take a minimum 20 days, and cannot begin until sometime next week, or possibly closer to the end of the month. I am still researching, processing, and reading. Once again poverty is a learning experience. I know more about Washington state repossession law than many lawyers and most police officers, and even the repossession professionals I was forced to deal with. By the time this ordeal is over, I’m sure I will be well-versed in the ways of eviction, too. Perhaps I should have gone to law school.

Even if I do come up with the money, my landlord can legally evict me for not coming up with the money on time. I will attempt to negotiate, but if they won’t allow me to work out a payment agreement, then I really don’t see the point in paying at all. If I pay the $1400 (or whatever quantity I come up with) and still get evicted, then I’m out the money and have no way to pay deposits or rent on the next place. If I continue to not pay (or rather, continue to not have any money) and get evicted, at least I can still hold on to whatever scraps I get. This isn’t me. This really isn’t me at all. I’m a responsible person, and I hate being a leech on society and a waste of resources.

I have barely been able to do anything but sleep. I slept until 4:00pm today, and I was in bed at a reasonable hour last night. I attempted to wake up early Friday morning to go to an eviction advisory clinic, but I just couldn’t get up. Like the financial assistance department at the electric company, they will only see people for two hours during each work day, and  I was unable to make it in time. I haven’t been taking all of my thyroid medications, so that’s probably part of the problem. Not to mention the debilitating depression.

I would really like to make the rounds on Monday –ask the churches, anyone, see if there are any local organizations that can help me, even just a little. Earlier today I found many resources listed under my local community resources page. This is much more difficult than it should be because I do not have easy access to a telephone. I don’t even have enough change for multiple pay-phone calls. I’m almost afraid to call, anyway, because of the frustration I have dealt with in the past. I e-mailed unemployment and they said that I haven’t worked enough to get unemployment. They are using 2008 as my base year –the year I was in graduate school the whole time. Well, fine…but when I called for the first time almost two months ago, I established that fact with the woman I spoke to and she put in a request for me to have 2009 as my alternative base year. I received a letter in the mail that confirmed this. Over six weeks later, and it’s not even in their records. They are understaffed and overwhelmed. They really should just offer jobs to the people who file claims.

For now, though, I’m safe, though not exactly sane. I have known since February that I could not afford to live here, but I also couldn’t afford to move so I have been stuck. My friend yesterday said “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my parents or family for backup.” I never thought I’d have to know.

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