Thursday, December 14, 2006

wah, wah, whine, whine!

If you're wondering where I've been, you can blame it on my mother.

Just Kidding.

See, when I was a kid, I was taught very consistently, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". The lesson stuck - and seeing as I talk quite a bit, I obviously found a lot of nice things to say (and safe places to say the not-so-nice things).

Lately, life has been hard - very hard - so I haven't been writing much. Like I said, if you don't have anything nice to say.... But so many of you have stopped by to hope that I am well and say Hi that I figured it might be time to be a bit transparent and see if unloading will help at all. So, if you don't want to hear me vent, then stop reading now.

Before we moved to Illinois, we tried to find good jobs, but were unsuccessful. So, we started looking when we moved here. Champs has been working in a warehouse for about three and a half months now. He is doing well; in fact, he was promoted to auditor within 3 weeks. There are only three problems with this:
1. He never got any compensation for the promotion. He earns about $8.00 less per hour than he did in Minneapolis.
2. He isn't exactly fond of the work, but will continue to do it for as long as needed.
3. The worst is that he works second shift (3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.) everyday. This means that we never get to see him. Especially Sweet Girl, who gets home from school 20 minutes before he leaves for work. Monday through Friday, all she gets is 30 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes after school. Last week I held her for half an hour while she cried over missing her Daddy. I would like to explore some options for starting a beading business, or maybe sell Longaberger or just be able to go out at night, but since he's working evenings, I can't go anywhere very often.

As for my employment, I have a different problem. I am a Communication Specialist by trade. I write for corporate service issues and I am darned good at it. Before we moved here, I worked for a major financial services corporation. When I am working, I partner with Marketing departments by making sure they offer realistic promises in the sales materials. They make the client purchase the product or service. Then I take over and, with my service writing, make the client glad they purchased the product or service. In short, Marketing gets the client; I keep the client. I love what I do. The problem is, I haven't been able to find work in my field here in Champaign. There aren't enough corporate departments and I haven't found the magic key to unlock the few doors that do exist - though I am looking.

For two months after we moved here, I worked for a financial advisor as a Planning Assistant. My boss loved the 7 years experience I had with the home office and my two NASD registrations, so he offered me a part-time job. I took the job and with it a 60% cut in pay and no benefits. But, I was home with Sweet Girl every day after school and it was nice to be an "almost-at-home" mom for the first time since she was born.

A month after we moved here, I developed another incisional hernia from my gastric bypass three years ago. I need an operation to repair the hole in my abdomin. Problem: No medical insurance or benefits. I approached my employer to let him know that I would need an operation. Eventually, Champs and I decided that I need to work full time with benefits to allow him to find another job and so that I could have my surgery. I explained this to my boss, who understood completely. His problem: one of his Paraplanners is going on maternity leave in January. I was brought on to be there while she was out of the office. I couldn't see making him pay for my short-sightedness and I understood that he needed a trained Planning Assistant before January, so I told him to find a replacement. I decided that, when he found a new employee, if I didn't have a job yet then I would leave and work temp. He did find a replacement rather quickly and as of November 23, I was out of a job. This is the first time IN MY LIFE that I have left a job without having another one ready to go. Well, OK, the second - but the first time I left my job to get married. That's another story all together.

I registered with two temp agencies right after Thanksgiving. As of today, I have worked exactly once for $8.50 an hour - in spite of calling in every day asking for an assignment. I have been on one job interview as a Planning Assistant and submitted countless applications. So far, no one else has called (though has generated a number of offers from companies who want me to pay for the honor of selling their merchandise. Whatever). I had to take money from my IRA just to make expenses for our family this month. By comparison, my best friend in Minneapolis is also working temp. She's earning over $14.00 an hour and doesn't have the same professional skill set that I do.

In Minneapolis, I was worth $43,500K a year (before benefits); $23.50 or so an hour. Here I am worth $8.50, if I am lucky. Champs and I talked about me getting a retail job over the holidays but decided against it since I would have to work weekends (which is the only time we are together anymore) and evening hours. This would mean paying for childcare, which would eat up whatever I was able to earn anyway.

Add to that the fact that I still don't have insurance, I still have a hernia and I still need an operation. When I left my last job, I left my FMLA protection. You have to be in a job for a year before you have that, so my operation schedule will be at the mercy of my new employer unless I somehow figure out how to get good medical insurance prior to starting a new job, in which case the FMLA issue won't apply.

Now add this: I am diabetic. I need pump supplies and insulin. I bought as much as I could under my previous insurance, hoping they would last until my new insurance was in place. They are running out now and extremely expensive. Also add that Champs should have had a blood test and a an eye checkup two months ago and you can understand my frustration.

I know what you're thinking: "well, aren't there low-income insurance options available to you?" Yes, there are. However, there are a few problems:
1. The plans available either cover hospitalization only or offer a medical card. The doctors in town won't accept the medical card offered, so it is basically good only for pharmacy and hospitalzation. No doctor's appointments or surgeon payments.
2. The price will be considered not on your current income but on your last tax statement. Remember, I took a 60% pay cut. Champs took around a 10-15% pay cut. Won't matter; they look at what we used to earn. Therefore, it will hardly qualify as a low-income option.

That leaves private insurance, which I have considered. However, any private insurance I've considered is highly expensive and has pre-existing condition blockouts. The very things we need covered are ALL pre-existing.

So, to recap: We are living on a current income of $20,800 and don't have insurance. I am home. Not working. Worthless. And we have hardly any money. Not enough to cover everything, that's for sure.

Oh yeah, there's more: My mom went in for angioplasty of a blocked carotid artery at the end of November. When the surgeon got in there, he found that the blockage is nearly complete and cannot be cleared by angioplasty or a stint. He is performing a brachial arterial bypass on her on December 21. Mom, who I haven't seen since I moved in August and whom I miss horribly, was supposed to have come to visit for Christmas. Now she can't. But, since I'm not working anyway, Champs said that Sweet Girl and I should head home for her surgery. Weather permitting, we will leave on Wed the 20th, be home for her surgery on the 21st and head home on Saturday the 23rd so that we will be back here for the family Christmas.

It all boils down to this: I feel worthless and I miss my husband. He is trying hard to find a full time first shift job that is worthy of his talents and skill set (he is horribly over-qualified for his warehouse auditor job) and I am trying to find work as a Communication Specialist, Project Manager, Compliance Officer or something else that makes the most of my skill set. I don't know when things will change.

I've avoided saying much of anything. I've hardly talked to my friends in Minnesota because every time they hear what I am going through, they say the same thing: "move home!" Well, I can't. We made the decision to move for reasons other than money, and those reasons have not changed. Sweet Girl is thriving here and Champs is happy to finally be with his family. Princsiss and I are forming a great friendship. Not to mention, we used all - every.single.cent - of our extra money to move here. We don't have enough money to move back, even if we wanted to. Champs and I have talked it over almost countless times now. I ask him the question, "Did we make the right choice?" The answer, everytime, is yes. We made the right choice. Champs and I have faced some really hard times in our marriage and we will face this. Head on.

I can't tell you how much I miss my mom and my job. I miss my security, I guess. I mean, isn't that what your mom is? Security? And your job? Yeup, security. I've been like an ostrich with my head in the sand. This has been so hard on me that I've drawn away from everyone and everything. I've allowed myself to become emotionally paralyzed by this. When I really think about it, I can't breathe. It actually physically aches. The only way I know to combat this is to pull my head out and face it... No matter how hard it hurts. I don't know the answers here. I'm not really looking for answers. I am looking for endurance, patience, faith and trust.

In the end, this is a season. Somehow, it needs to improve. It must improve. I am used to jobs freezing in my profession every year-end when budgets are over-stretched. The job market should open up early next year and I will find more creative ways to let the business world know that I am here and I am a great employee. I'll find more doors and hopefully the keys to open them. Champs will find a first-shift job that he enjoys. Somehow this season has to end.

But until it does, here's what I have to say: wah, wah, whine, whine!

Here are some comments from this post:
Anonymous said...
Wow, it sounds really, really tough. I completely understand about the security issue.
I will be praying for you.

Star said...
Hang in there Blond Girl

kenju said...
BG, you are definitely entitled to whine. I hope that all of your troubles will be settled soon, and that your surgery will be possible and successful, and that your mom does well with her surgery too. Keep your eyes on the end result of all this and don't let credit cards get the best of you.
Check with some of the service agencies in your area for the diabetic supplies; you may be able to get help with that.
I wish you luck and don't lose hope!!

heather said...
Some of the drug companies have programs to supply drugs at a very low cost. Check with some of the pharmacists in your area to see if they know of a company that offers assistance.
Hang in there, Blond Girl.

Paul said...
Sign up with every headhunter and temp agency in your area. You have to sign up with several because only one out of 20 will tell you the truth. SIGN UP!! I was/am registered with about 20 here in The Big City. I kept copious notes for every phone call, note, e-mail, interview and so forth. Consider adding other job capabilities to your resume and applications: Tech Writer, Copy writer, graphics, "Documentation Specialist." That sort of stuff.
I hope you and your family have a happy Christmas. Blessings.

gift4gab said...
Hang in there - ultimately, this too shall pass and you will only be stronger for it. Chin up!

Corina Bowen said...
Hello! Also check with local ministries. I know that our ministry has resources in our city for medical, food, rent, bills, etc.. We have a "master list" with contacts on just about every need. If you want to email me I can do some digging on my end to see what we can come up with!
God Bless!
& Merry Christmas!!
~In Christ

kenju said...
Merry Christmas BG. We are holding you in our thoughts and prayers.

Linda said...
I have a friend in Champaign...I am going to email her your bloglink - maybe you and she can get together and you can brainstorm for jobs...she's been in that area for a long time.
She's on vacation right now, tho, but she should be back after the 1st.
I pray that everything works out for you and your mom and your family.

Paul said...
And now I stopped by to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year.

MissMeliss said...
You said the words yourself, it's a season, and it will pass, and things will improve.
Much respect,

Carmi said...
You have an immense amount of strength from simply sharing your life as you have here.
You have opportunities because of your skills. Corporate freelance work will ultimately give you the flexibility you need to move forward. You have to believe in yourself now, as this will help you get through the turbulence until you can regain traction on the work front.
We'll talk...

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