Monday, December 17, 2012

All We Have is Each Other

I've written so many draft posts about my reactions to the shooting on Friday, and just keep deleting them. Like everyone else, I'm going through all the emotions: shock, anger, grief, to name a few.

I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers. No one does. And I'm going to refrain from chastising people who are lashing out on FB, their blogs or wherever. They're writing from a very raw place right now. I can't blame them for being where they are.

And I guess that's the message I have. Be where you are, and let others do the same.

This event is just as unthinkable as 9/11 was. And we're all trying to process something none of us should have to process.

There's going to be misplaced anger. There's going to be depression. There have been and will continue to be hurtful words, but as long as no one gets violent, they're just words.

I see all this hurt, all this sadness, and I remember how connected we all are. How our lives affect one another.

Of course, I'm me, so I can see the Sondheim song in this: "No one is alone. Careful. No one is alone."

I hope that we can get through this without forgetting it.  I hope that we can wake up every day, seeking not just to embrace the day, but being mindful of how our actions can affect others in our day.

Be someone's friend today. Not just in words, but in actions. Be there for someone today. And let someone be there for you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Not Quite Balancing My Budget

It used to be when I was going through a rough patch, I immediately would turn to blogging. Lately, however, I usually want to wait until I'm through whatever it may be. So I've been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Maybe, even if it doesn't feel as natural as it once did, maybe what I really should do is blog through it.

Things are finally getting less crazy busy, but it's allowing me more moments to see what is still missing. And what's missing is financial security.

I had another scare last week when my "check engine" came on. Thankfully, the $1400 I'd put into my car the week before meant that it was nothing. This time. But this whole thing has awakened me to the reality of how little things have changed on that front. And the likelihood that it won't for a very long time.

I've focused a lot on how much has changed for me and the girls in the last 9 years, but some things have hardly changed at all.

We still live paycheck to paycheck. I still have no emergency savings. I still have credit card debt. As much as I try to plan for the future, something in the present always takes that away.

I may have a working car today, but in 6 months, a year or maybe even two, I will drive this car into the ground. And, in the meantime, Sylvia will reach the age where she can start driving. But before I can even think about helping her get wheels, it's going to cost a couple of hundred dollars just to get her through the required classes. And let's not even get into the insurance.

My sister had warned me, it doesn't get any less expensive when they get older. It may not be child care anymore, but everything from new ballet shoes to uniform pants costs money that is not in my budget.

And the crazy part is, for the last 6 months, I've actually been getting child support! But when I ask myself, why don't I see it, I realize that we've always needed it. However we were getting by before, it was never enough. Which I know is one of the reasons that 9 years later, we are still barely making it paycheck to paycheck.

I look at everything we're doing, and anything I'm not and I know that I'm doing everything I can. 

I just wish it were more than just barely enough.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Budgeting Update: Car Troubles & Xmas

I couldn't post last week because my emotions and thoughts were too jumbled. I found out that my car had an oil leak, and after 4 days without my car and nearly $1400, I finally have my car back!

I'm grateful to have a mechanic that I actually trust and had warned me that something like this may be coming, but of course, the more they tore my car apart, the more they found wrong with it. And my usual guy ended up being out most of the week with the flu, so the owner was calling me to ask what's wrong with it.

I ended up telling him that, basically, my guy had told me that if I gave them lots of money, I would get my car back. My brain just cannot handle that sort of information. It ended up that they had to replace the valve cover gasket, timing belt and water pump, along with other incidentals.

So I wiped out my savings, and put the rest on the credit card I just paid off. Yuck.

At least I could do that, I know, but I really, really didn't want to. And then there's the reality that my car is 12 years old and has nearly 150,000 miles on it and knowing that the older it gets, the more expensive it will get to maintain until finally (hopefully, at least a hundred thousand miles later), I will need a new car.

It's frustrating to try and figure out how to save for the long term when these short term problems keep coming up. And then, of course, there's the holidays and the expected gifts. It would make so much more sense if Xmas took place around the same time as tax refunds!

At one point last week, I was kinda hoping for the world to end later this month, but then I found out that's supposed to be the 21st; a little too close to the big day to wait and see if I won't need to buy presents after all. Especially for an online shopper like me.

I looked over my budget again, but I was only able to find about $14 a month to cut. I will put any unbudgeted funds into paying off the credit card (again), but at this point, the budget is as tight as it's going to get. And while there are still a few luxury items in there, like the satellite TV, I know myself well enough to know that if I try to cut them, I'll just either end up putting them back or spending more somewhere else and ending up with the same amount of money going out, at least.

I'm still not sure how I'm going to pay for Xmas, but I never am, and somehow, I always manage to get a few presents under that tree, so I'm not going to stress over that too much right now.

Such is the life of a single parent: one step forward, two steps back. But we still manage to get through it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bonnie Remembered

Riley wrote this poem for Bonnie. Today, the one-month anniversary since we lost her, seemed like the day to post it here:

My best friend
When it comes to an end
Smiling though in pain
She doesn't die in vain
She makes everyone smile
But only for a while

We used to play
Every single day
It happened so fast
It's now in the past

She was a fighter
you won't find anyone like her
I love her so
If she could only know
She is in my heart
Though we are so far apart