Thursday, February 23, 2012

Upside: Homeless Shelters are a Great Way to Make New Friends!

In today's chapter of Madge's Adult Survival Guide, we shall discuss...shelter.

I would say about... oh 75% of us have had trying times with our living situation at one point.  No, not about needing a 3 car garage instead of a 2, or adding a home theater. (bastards)  I'm talking about things like...

- Divorce.  Someone's gotta' move... where do you go?
- Job loss or other various money issues.  Can't afford the house or rent anymore.  Where do you go?
-  Dangerous living conditions.  Abuse, bad neighborhood, crazy landlord, whatever.  You know the question...

Sometimes it may just be a case of geography, "This place ain't workin', I need to go".  That was my case living in Denver.  I had moved there in 2000 when I was married for his job, then we got divorced and he eventually moved back East.  I was there by myself, no family, some friends, but it just didn't really feel like home, and not to mention it was too damn expensive by myself!  So in 2006, back East I went...

Was that a step backward?  A step foreward?  Sideways?  What?  People often asked me why I moved to Rochester from Denver like I was some sort of intellectually challenged cretin.  After a while I thought, "Hey bite me, I happen to like New York State!"  Ya' got a problem with that?

I heard a friend mention taking a step backward in moving her kids and  that prompted me to write this.  Most all of us have had a time in our life where we need to regroup.  For those of you that haven't and are still living in the same big house for 20 years... I hate you.  Nah, you're incredibly lucky.  Good for you.  *grumble grumble*  For the rest of us, we've had to make tough decisions.

As I said, for the reasons above, some of us had to decide, (or had it thrust upon us) whether to move into an apartment or move home to our parents or friends or shelters or change locales.  It happened to me, I got evicted from a house I was renting a few years ago here in Rochester.  My ex-husband suddenly disappeared and stopped paying support, and my income was cut in half.  I coudn't afford the house, I met with landlords and told them the circumstances, asked to maybe find a new renter, etc.  No, they decided they wanted to evict me and get all the money out of it they could.  Really really unkind folks, especially since I was trying to negotiate from the hospital as I thought I was having a heart attack.  They would rather put a single mom and 3 kids out on the street, because you know nothing personal, it's just business.  (I highly suggest caution about doing business with folks under the company name Bamberger in the Monroe/Wayne/Ontario Counties around here.)  Anyway, decisions had to be made, and I believe in karma...

Various family members wanted me to move in with them.  I love love love them for the offer.  But that meant yet another move to another state.  With kids in jr and sr high, I just wasn't going to uproot them again.  I just knew in my heart it would not be good in the long run.  So I borrowed money for a security deposit (since the eviction cost me several thousand dollars that I didn't have)  and moved into a townhouse style apartment.  Living in an apartment complex blows after I've lived in some nice houses with yards.  But what am I gonna' do?  I did what I had to do.  Biggest casualty... my pride.  I used to love to entertain in my house, now I don't want people to know where I live.  We used to be the hangout house for kids, now I'm embarrased to have kids over.  Oh well.

So, that's the dilemma... is it a step down?  Yea, going from a house to an apartment is probably looked upon as a downgrade more than an upgrade.  It sucks.  I sure didn't feel like singing The Jeffersons theme "Well, we're movin' on up!"  I live around some less desirables than I'd like.  There are two bedrooms for four people, my son doesn't even have his own room.  The place is small, the kitchen is 5x5, and so is the one bathroom for Me and 3 kids.  I don't have a garage.  I can't paint or redecorate or plant things.  The kids don't like the trashy people that roam the parking lot or hearing the neighbors through the walls.  But... I can afford it.  And we stayed in the school district, and because of it my son will be going to one of the best colleges in the country next year.  I'd like to think I won't be their forever either.  I have plans, hopes, dreams.  That's all I can do.

You just have to do what you can do.  What's best for you and your children, spouse, parents, whatever the case may be.  The most important thing is to really think it through and put your pride aside.  Sometimes you may have to think of the short term, other times think it through to the long term.  Make a list of options, pros and cons.  And for the love of God, DO NOT move into someone your dating's place if you have kids, just because it's convenient!  Eh, maybe if it's for a week, while you're in transition from one place to another or something, but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, don't make relationship decisions based on saving on your cable bill!  Seriously, please, just say no.  Think it through.  You may not have the best home, but you can take pride in knowing you are doing the best thing possible for you and your family (if that applies).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is Your Relationship MIA, POW, or DOA?

When do you call it quits in a relationship?

Call it... time of death on this relationship,3:42pm.

I've been thinking about this because during the past year, I've been going through the process of an annulment.  I've been divorced for 11 years, but I've been thinking about the future and what if I want to get married in the church again.  Or who knows maybe it's my way of getting in the last word with my ex since he disappeared with a final F-U from the church?

It's a very intense, invasive process.  You have to tell your story over and over and over again.  Relive all the pain.  All to see if your relationship was non-existent, no connection, too volatile or one sided.  Then they make you have witnesses who have to write up their stories on your relationship and hand them in.  Now they're trying to extort more money from me by saying they need a professional psychological evaluation of the situation.   Really, how much more proof do you need than 5 people's testimony that the husband was a raging alcoholic and bi-polar?  Oy.

Now don't get all "organized religion is bad" on me.  That's not the point here.  My point is, in replaying everything I think there's times I should have left early on before anymore kids were born, but then I wouldn't have had these fabulous babies I have.  So no sense in rehashing that.  But then I think should I have stayed longer?  No, I think I got out just in time, I think things were going to escalate into serious domestic violence on his part.  I was a prisoner not a wife.  Is there ever a right time to end a relationship?  I think more often then not, people over stay their welcome, just to make sure it's really not going to work.

It's like going to a shoe store, you fall in love with a pair of shoes, you try them on but they don't fit.  So you try them on again.  Still don't fit.  Go look around in the dress section, come back, shoes still don't fit.  Go look at purses, come back, try to ease your foot in ever so gently, tenderly, lovingly... shoes still don't fit.

Get my drift?  Should you have bagged it after first try?  Maybe, but you do love those shoes.  After the second try?  Probably.  Are you wasting valuable time in persistently going back to those shoes, when you could be moving on to other purchases?  Maybe.  Only you know...  and the Catholic church, apparently.  Obviously  they are the only other people to know when and how a marriage should be declared ripe for never having existed.  I really hope they don't read this, my annulment will be screwed.  Oh well, I think I know that I made the right decision at the right time for me.  What good does it do to second guess?  Maybe something?  I don't know...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Can a Gynecologist Wear a Clown Suit? (Is Individuality Bad for Business?)

I just saw a Twitter conversation that prompted me to write on a topic.  But I've been thinking about this topic for a long time anyway, pretty much anytime I see a makeover show on TV.  Oh girl, you just got me started...

At this point in time, in my 40s, I look like this:

And this is what I looked like in college, circa 1984:

Yea, I was kind of a freak back then, by 1984 standards anyway.  I was into punk and new wave music.  Into that whole euro look.  I wanted to be Siouxsie Sue of Siouxsie and the Banshees.  I was a broadcasting major, into the whole music scene where Black Flag ruled and hair bands were lame and embarrassing and tres uncool.  I suppose I was a hipster before hipsters became a "thing".

I took pride in being an individual.  I relished in it.  Hell, it was a complete cry for attention!  Look at me, I'm cool!  Oy.  I even went so far as to... when I was working at a summer camp, my second year new owners took over and made lots of new rules including "no crazy haircuts".  What did Madge do?  First thing, got a crew cut and left a long braided tail in the back.  What happened?  Third year I wasn't asked back.

I started to go for interviews after college in 1987.  I was realizing my appearance wasn't getting me any jobs.  Yea, I got pissed about "the man" trying to keep me down.  Then I quickly realized, I just had to compromise a little because "the man" does run the world, and I'm just a squirrel, tryin' to get a nut... to move your butt.  Oh sorry, I was channeling C+C Music Factory for a minute.  I digress...

I'm all for being an individual and non-conformity.  I was the queen of it.  But as I got older I realized, depending on your line of work or path in life, you have to conform a little sometimes.  There are a ton of times in business meetings where I want to blurt out "That's what she said!", but I know it wouldn't be professional and I'd probably get canned.  Hell times, you have to downright kiss ass.  Oh that one kills me, but hey, if I want to feed my kids, sometimes I have to be just nice and... to me, bland. 

It's been my pet peeve in watching "What Not to Wear".  They get a bunch of kooky out there chicks, who have their own style, albeit bad, but it's their "personae".  A hippie, a geek, a goth, a turtle lady, a disco queen, whatever.  And by the end of the show, every single one of them looks like a Banana Republic clone.  I HATE THAT!  I'm all for dressing someone up, giving them some better fashion tips, especially when it's just to buy stuff that fits!  But let them still have their individuality, as weird as it may be.

It's the same with dating shows.  They find some weirdo who can't get a date.  The first thing the mentor says is don't be such a weirdo.  That way you appeal to a broader audience.  But what if your dream match is another weirdo?  I mean, I found the same thing when I was dating, I had to be more... middle of the road, more mass appeal, as I said.  Is that false advertising?  Or does it just give you an entre' to lots of different worlds where you can then open up and be more yourself.  Or is your true self just too weird for anyone to take?

It's such a fine line.  To look and act presentable and professional, someone people want to do business with or date or be friends with, but let them be individuals.  Are you not being true to yourself or are you giving yourself more opportunities?  I think that's why I don't want to get married again, so that I can be a classic, sophisticatedly coifed professional by day and come home at night and wear Kleenex boxes for shoes and dance to Joy Division wearing just men's boxers and a bra made of rubber duckies.  I wish I didn't have to care what people think.  Hey, I gotta' be me... I just have to pick and choose the times I do it.