Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Life, Politics, and Eduction

There's been a lot of stuff going on and I want to spend a few minutes on each thing I want to talk about: First, in my life there has been a bit of upheaval over some co-parenting issues.

The first issue is that of bed-wetting. Now it's a little embarrassing to admit this over a blog where literally anyone can read it, but I wet the bed until my early teens where I just naturally grew out of it. My dad tried many things to cure me, and none of them worked. Him stressing the fact that I needed to stop only succeeded in making me ashamed of it. When I hadn't quit by 14 I thought there was something wrong with me. I couldn't wake up until after the fact. Many times I would wake up right after and become instantly distressed. Now the reason I'm bringing this topic up is that my daughter is a bed wetter as well. In fact all of them were to a point, although I think the older two have outgrown it. My youngest is still wetting the bed at seven and her father is extremely upset about it. He claims that she quit during the summer (when she spent the majority of nights at his house) but that she has started back up again since we've gone back to our regular schedule. Since I had the problem as a child I've never been too worried about it. Sure it's a bit of a hassle changing the bedding every night, but I have mattress protectors to keep any permanent mattress damage from happening and I know she'll eventually outgrow it. Since we disagree about how big an issue this is, it has caused some tension between my ex and I. I asked some of my work colleagues what I should do about the problem, thinking perhaps there might be a solution I didn't know. One of them suggested that I should take her to a doctor but I'm almost certain that would involve them prescribing her some kind of medication. Now, you might be thinking "what's wrong with that, if it helps the problem?" that's certainly what the work colleague thought. So I've been thinking about why I'm reticent to take her to a doctor and I think I've come up with an answer. Some of you might not understand this because you haven't had the same experiences as I have. Because my oldest went through what she did, had all that medication that she had to take (life or death) and there were medications she was taking that had serious side effects, because of all that I feel like prescription medication should only be used in cases of infection or severe pain or something serious like that. I just don't feel like bed-wetting is a serious problem. It's definitely an embarrassing one, it's definitely an irksome one, but it's not endangering her. I have been reading about bedwetting alarms and will probably try that and see how that works if it's not too expensive.

Next up is healthcare. Because I don't have a job that provides healthcare and don't make enough to afford it, I have the kids on Medicaid. Of course, the state says that if they're on Medicaid or Chips someone has to be paying child support. The way we worked it out in our divorce, we have them equally and no one pays child support. The Medicaid office keeps filing for it though. I have tried to tell them what is going on. If only I could afford private insurance so I wouldn't have to deal with this, that would be ideal. There is a concern there as well. If we were to get private insurance, we could both pay into it, but our oldest has a pre-existing condition and with the uncertainty about how long the ACA will still be around, I'm worried that rates for her would go sky high as soon as it's repealed. So I've been worried about that. I got a call from the Attorney General (office of Child Support) the other day and I haven't returned it yet. I'm not sure what they wanted to talk about and if they are wanting to set up another appointment or not.

Besides all that stress, there's work and school. Work isn't so stressful most of the time. Only really stressful when it get super busy or I have to work super long shifts. School is a little more stressful this semester because I've got more reading than I have in the past. Also, my copy-editing class is a lot of work on grammar and punctuation, which I've never been really good at (I am trying to get better) and which I've never had a proper elementary education on. Mom did try, but her books were very outdated and she was never that good at teaching to begin with. So we're going super quick through stuff I've never properly learned (to brush up). It's frustrating to say the least. Then there's my cognitive psychology class, which is super interesting and I am learning a lot of things, but the tests are super difficult for me. The type of information I retain (what, why and how) and the type of information that is tested on (mainly who, when and where) are different. So I find myself staring at the screen dumbfounded. We can retake each chapter test as many times as we like until the mid-term which is sometime in Oct, but if I don't do well on the tests I know I'm going to fail her class and if not fail I'm certainly not going to be able to do as well as I'd like. I've retaken both of the chapter tests for the first two chapters upwards of 5 times and the best I can get is a B. History is also super interesting, but there is a lot of reading (several pages for every class) but the reading is interesting and I remember most of the stuff that she asks about on the quizzes as well. Spanish is getting more and more difficult. There are still vocab words from last semester that I have to look up and we're having to study vocab for this semester and expected to watch videos of people speaking in Spanish and read Spanish poems and stuff and answer questions about that. I feel like I'm just falling further and further behind. And the vocab tool that helped me learn what I did last semester isn't available for the intermediate Spanish class so I'm having to retype all the vocab words in quizlet just to study them properly (I could also make flashcards, but quizlet is easier and more fun).

Now for politics. Today I got asked what I thought about all the kneeling at the football games. Here's what I think: Every protest is going to illicit rebuke from someone who disagrees with the protest, how it was done, why it was done, who did it, you name it. At least these people found a way to protest that was effective, non-violent, and didn't inconvenience anyone else. These people who are so angry, why are they angry? Do they feel like some people don't have a right to protest? (They do, it's actually in the constitution.) They say their flag is being disrespected, but what is a flag but a symbol? To people who have been on the receiving end of persecution in this country for the better part of its existence, what does that symbol represent but their oppressors? People say, if you don't like it live somewhere else. (My favorite is when they say to live in a country with less freedom, as if that's the only other choice.) Let's investigate that. Does it cost money to move? Yes. Do they feel some love for the place where they were born (regardless of how they might be treated there)? Probably. Is it wrong to advocate for a better America? No. Then why ask them to move? All they're doing is trying to ask us to help them feel safe and at home where they are. Well that's my 2 cents anyway.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Equality

Some time ago, someone asked me if I wouldn't be upset if I got passed over for a spot in college or a job for a minority candidate. At the time, I just said "no" and left it at that. However, I've been thinking. Perhaps just "no" is not enough. So here's why I wouldn't be upset.

The way I see it, there are struggles that minorities face that I do not. It's kind of like being upset that the handicap line at a ride goes faster than the other line. When you get upset that they get to go before you, it is akin to wishing whatever daily struggle they endure on yourself. There are so many struggles I hear about that will never be an issue for me. I don't have to worry that I'll get pulled over just based on the color of my skin. If I get pulled over and reach into the glove box for my insurance card, the officer doesn't arrive at my window with his weapon drawn. No one is going to see me out walking at night and think I must be up to no good.

After the hell that my daughter went through, she qualified for a wish from the "Make a Wish" foundation. I remember when we got back a friend's daughter heard that we had gone to Disney world and wished aloud that she could have gone. I would have given a hundred trips to Disney world if it meant my daughter didn't have to endure that hell. I'm sure it's the same with minorities. It's not that they want stuff given to them on a silver platter, they just want to be treated with the same respect and have the same privileges their white counterparts enjoy. In an ideal world, we would all be treated equally. Until that time comes, I'll happily give up my place in line as the price for my privilege.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Week's End

A lot has happened recently. There is so much to write about I hardly know where to begin. Although my writing career hasn't progressed much since my last entry, I have managed to make it most of the way through my article writing book by disciplining myself to read at least five pages a day. My house remains an uphill battle. The moment I think I am making progress with cleaning it, the powers that be have other plans.

I'm not going to go into detail about what happened because I'm sure my daughter would be extremely displeased with me and rightly so. However, I can let you know a bit of what happened while omitting the more personal details. Basically, last week after I got off work on Sunday I looked at my phone to see two messages from my daughter asking if I was going to pick them up and when. I replied telling her I was on my way. When I got there, she was laid up in bed. She told me what had been bothering her and I noticed that she looked rather pale as well. When we got up to leave, she proceeded to vomit into the trashcan. For the rest of that day she kept little down except medicine and water. I took her temperature when we arrived at the house and found that she had a high fever. So I gave her medicine. I contemplated taking her to the ER but decided to just call the clinic first thing in the morning and get her in as soon as possible. That night, she continued to vomit practically everything she ate and her fever only went down after taking medicine only to rise again. Then there was the scary bit, when she awoke in the night (at least I thought she was awake) and began speaking of things that weren't there. I assumed it was delirium brought on by the fever but her fever wasn't even as high as it had been before. I took her in at the first available appointment time the next morning, which was 8:00 a.m. The doctor appraised her, gave her a shot and scheduled a follow up for the very next day. The day played out just like the night before had, with fever and vomiting all day. Knowing that her illness was because of an infection which couldn't be transmitted. I wasn't worried about catching it, but I had gotten little sleep. As I prepared to leave for work, I thought about the fever medicine which my oldest would have to administer if I left her in charge. I decided against it and took them all to work with me. They stayed there for the hour until their father showed up. While they were waiting she fell back asleep. When they'd been there for half an hour, she woke up with the same frightening delirium she'd suffered from the night before. I hoped it was just a dream she'd had that she hadn't quite awoken from yet. Their father showed up for them and text me later that night that she had managed to eat some dinner and keep it down. She did, however vomit first thing the next morning. I took her to her appointment, which was the first one that morning, as soon as I got them. We waited for what seemed like forever for the doctor to show up and then it wasn't long before we found out that my daughter was going to have to be hospitalized.

She ended up spending the next three days in the hospital. The first day, (I was scheduled to work all week) I ended up, getting let off for my whole shift because I was too worried and there were plenty of people there anyway. The next two days, I traded with her father who got off work early to stay with her while I went to work. We had a plan that he would show up at 3:45 so I could make it to work on time, but he didn't end up showing up until 3:53 the first day and 3:55 the next. I was infuriated with him, but I later tried to see it from his point of view. He was, after all, taking off work early so I could go in. So that the other girls didn't have to stay up at the hospital the whole time, their father had his friend take them for the duration of the hospital stay. I didn't see either of them for the whole day Wednesday but his friend brought them by to see us on Thursday in the morning. During her hospital stay, they pumped her full of antibiotics and I saw a gradual improvement in her condition.

All the plans I had for this week were gone. I had wanted to clean house and mow the lawn. I still haven't managed either. I was planning to finish  conducting interviews for an article I'm writing. I didn't manage even one. Monday I was too exhausted from little sleep the night before, and Tuesday through Friday morning at almost noon I was at the hospital. Then, after I'd made lunch and picked up her medicine from the pharmacy (it was supposed to be called in before we left the hospital, but wasn't there when we got to the pharmacy so we had to call the hospital and find out what had happened to it). Then a co-worker texted me wanting me to come in early for her. I decided to go ahead and come in an hour early because I was hurting for hours after taking Tuesday off.

So I didn't end up getting much done this week except my fair share of worrying. Did get quite a bit of reading in, though. I was also planning on paying my bills this week, I'm afraid now they're all going to be late and I'll get hit with that penalty. I hate it when that happens, but this time it was an unavoidable delay.

Along the writing front, I am interviewing for an article on working mothers so if any of you (my adoring readers) know of a working mother who might be willing to interview with me I am concentrating on mothers of children 14 and under and I'm interviewing in every field I can think of. So far, most of the interviews have been with people I already know. However, I can interview with any mother. It doesn't matter what income level is, and I am hoping the women I interview with will represent most of the general career paths available to women. I have compiled a list of professions (which is  by no means complete or exhaustive) and thought of several women to interview. Still, more women are needed. So feel free to share this blog with a mother you think would be willing to sit down for five to ten minutes.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Trials and Tribulations

It all started at the beginning of Summer, when I decided to log into my Tarleton account and find out if my fin aide application had been accepted. Before that point, I just assumed that I would be able to continue to get financial aide until I graduated. When I went to the status page, I saw a message that said I was near or at my limit for financial aide. This message got me started worrying about if I could afford to pay out of pocket for this next semester.

I have been planning a trip to see my sister this Christmas and I have saved a considerable sum towards that end. I deduced that the only way I could possibly pay out of pocket for this semester's tuition would be if I canceled the trip. Then I started thinking if I canceled, when would be another time I could take the girls to see her. She lives in North Carolina, so the trip is a pricy and time consuming one. It's not like I could hop over and see her in a day and then hop back. Going all the way there means at least a week off work, and it has to be a week I have the girls. So I finally came to the conclusion that if I didn't go this year I probably wasn't going. That is why I wanted to avoid using that money at all costs. The other option was to put off my classes from this semester until next semester and use my tax refund to pay for it. That way, I would not have to use the money I had set aside for my trip. I even briefly considered setting up a go-fund me account to pay for what I could not pay out of pocket.

This is something that has been plaguing me all summer, until now. So I happened to log into my university e-mail account for the first time in forever last night. I don't remember why I decided to do it, but I did. When I saw the e-mail saying my financial aid application was approved, I was scratching my head. The little warning that had said I was near or at my limit was gone when I logged into the site. It had been replaced with the amount of financial aide I would be receiving. I know that this probably put me at my limit, but I am so glad that I don't have to worry about choosing between school and my long awaited Christmas with my sister.

In other news, my parents have found a place. I was really worried about them too, but I couldn't afford to help. They figured out a way to get by without my assistance, which probably would have happened sooner if I had been more firm instead of helping out when they asked. Although they will probably still ask for my help in the future, I'm not really worried about them starving to death or dying from exposure to the elements like I was before.

My writing has kind of stagnated. the magazines I ordered for this month will not be here until next month and I should go to a newsstand to find them, but the closest one would probably be at least an hour's drive away. Of course they have some magazines at the grocery store, not really anything that's on my list though. I have been reading a lot in my article writing book though. I'm learning some valuable tricks of the trade which will help me when I finally do start writing.

I did end up sending one poem off to a magazine last month and entered one contest. Still haven't gotten anywhere with my non-fiction writing and that's what I'm hoping will be my bread and butter when I step into it as a serious career. At least I don't have to worry about how I'll pay for college this semester.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

co-parenting

Co-parenting is difficult in the best of times. It is difficult to deal with the other parent and field questions from the kids on why you cannot get back together. It is difficult to adjust to a schedule where the kids are with one parent some of the time and with the other parent the rest of the time. It's hard to plan holidays and vacations. For me, it is especially difficult because of the terms of my divorce agreement. I agreed to nights and weekends during the summer because my schedule is more flexible than his. While he has to be at work during the day from 8 to 5 every week day and gets the weekends off, I can work nights and weekends. So we came up with something that saved us the cost of daycare (expensive for three kids) and I work nights while he watches them and I watch them while he is working during the day. This compromise sort of works out, except for the fact that if I do not work weekends (because of the time we close) I would not have very many hours. Here's how it works:

We close between 9:30 and 10:00 every night but sometimes as early as 9:15. He gets off work at 5, so after dropping off the kids, I can be to work to start my shift by 5:15 at the earliest. Now supposing it's a really slow night and we close at 9:15, that gives me 4 hours. That's half of a regular 8 hour day. So even though we're open a little later on Fri, (think between 10:15 and 11:00) the most I could get out of working those five nights is 23 and a quarter hours. That isn't much. So I make up the lost hours by working 8 hour shifts on both of the days of the weekend. I go in at 2 on Saturday, then open Sunday morning and work until 2. This gives me between 15.5 and 16.5 hours depending on what time we close Saturday. So add that to the 23 and I've got about 36-38 hours from working all seven days. Thing about it is, having the girls during the day and working at night is exhausting, especially when I don't get a single day off. Also my food bills are higher during the summer when I have to feed the girls all day while they're here seven days a week.

Still, this is better than working that many hours to pay half of it to daycare.

This year, I suggested that our oldest girl (13) might be old enough to watch her sisters for one hour until he got off work, so I could go in at 4 instead and get at least one day off a week. Then he comes back with expecting me to take every other weekend off work (32 hours a month, minimum) like it's no big deal. I can't go in at 5:15 during the week and take every other weekend a month off. Not unless I got a second job working the graveyard at some 24 hour place to make up for the loss of income. The reason he wants me to take every other weekend a month off? So he can do stuff on the weekend that he can't do when he has the girls. Like, every weekend I have without the girls is spent at work. I had one free day (no work, no school, no girls) in the last six months.

Next year, when oldest is 14, I can have her babysit for long stretches of time since she'll be legally old enough to work. Also middle child will turn 12 that year so hopefully they'll all be a little more responsible. I guess I just have to put up with one more year of this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rejection

Well I got my first rejection letter. That manuscript I submitted to The Paris Review in January I think. They used the self-addressed stamped envelope I sent but did not send back my manuscript. I wish they would have sent the manuscript back as well because I'm unsure which one I submitted to them. A lady I work with said they probably intend to publish it without giving me credit, but that would be a pretty stupid thing to do. Even if I do not remember which one I submitted, I know my own work when I see it. Maybe they lost the manuscript.

Anyway, at least I know they're not going to publish it. Next time I submit something, I'm going to keep a copy of it in a file with the name of the magazine I submitted it to, and the date. This will help me keep track of where I have sent everything, especially if they're not going to be sending back my manuscripts.

I broke my resolution last month and did not submit anything (not even a query) for the month of April. I did have a lot of school work to do that month, though. I think, now that school is over for the semester, I will try to write two articles a month instead of one. I will spend the first week researching, including reading the magazine I plan on submitting to. Then I will spend the second week writing and submit it by the end of the week.

If I can keep this resolution, I can have six manuscripts submitted before the summer is over. Now that I am published, I intend to start a portfolio. Maybe I will start submitting works to lesser known and low-pay magazines to get the ball rolling. I have already ordered three magazines to begin my research for this month.

I wish contests sent you rejection letters as well. I should know about that Austin Chronical contest before the end of this next week, they're supposed to notify finalists by the 15th, so if I'm even in the running I'll be getting something soon. If I don't, I can just assume it wasn't as good as the other stories and mark that manuscript rejected.

Someone asked me at work if being rejected for publication hurt worse than being rejected by a romantic interest. I'd have to say, it does and it doesn't. I think there's almost the expectation of rejection when you send your work to be published. It's kind of like if you were trying to pick up someone at a bar and they rejected you. It hurts less in that aspect because it's not as much of a surprise. Since writing is my passion and I want to be the very best I can be at it, it is very discouraging to get a rejection letter which basically says I am not good enough (in the eyes of the editor). I know every author has his or her share of rejection, even the ones who made a successful career out of it. Knowing this numbs the pain a little, so that makes it hurt less. Just like telling oneself that the person who rejected one is just not the right person and that someone better will come along. All I can do is keep trying and try harder to do better, so that's what I'll do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

First Time

I just wanted to update all of you on my writing career, and how it is or isn't progressing. I submitted one of my poems to my school's annual publication which chooses various creative student works and publishes them together in a small periodical titled Anthology. I recently heard back that they will be publishing my poem. Although this is not as much of a step as if I got an acceptance letter from an off campus source, publication can only be good news. I finally have something to add to my portfolio. So far, I haven't heard back from any of the other magazines to which I have submitted queries or stories.

Another good thing that happened recently in my writing career is that I sold another content based article on the website constant-content where I have submitted a few (not many) articles which have already sold making me a little bit of money. I have no idea who might be buying them, if I sell full rights I do not even know if they keep my name on it. Hopefully they do, but since I do not know where to find them, I cannot possibly use them for my portfolio as proof of publication. I could only really show the receipt I received for the sale of the article.

Constant-content does charge a fee which is a percentage of the total sale amount. I also have to sell them relatively cheap to ensure purchase. I could probably write a dozen or so content related articles a month and just submit them there, but I'm hoping to get published in a much more recognizable way. My career has to start somewhere and if it starts with publication of a small poem in a college run periodical, so be it. Hopefully there will be people who read it and decide they like my work and actively seek me out. If not, I can still use it to prove I have been published.