Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where am I and how did I get here?

I am having one of those moments. A lot has been going on since my move to Texas and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. We have run into some road blocks and found new routes and had to change our plans and expectations. A lot of good stuff has happened as well. There have been many adjustments and those are never easy. We have been working through things and our love for one another is what keeps us going and optimistic for the future.

What I'm struggling with right now is his hesitation to officially commit to me, while in all other respects he has committed to me fully. He likes to playfully refer to me as his 'wife' and has even referred to me as such when meeting new people. I have told him how this makes me feel, but he continues to do it. Granted in many respects it is like we are married and in reality marriage is just a piece of paper; however, I still don't see the point in calling someone something they are not. Maybe I'm just being anal; I don't know. As I see it, if he wants to be able to call me his wife than he should man up and actually propose to me. If he isn't sure by now whether I'm someone he wants to spend his life with, then he will never be sure.

What keeps me going everyday and puts a smile on my face everyday is him and the kids. When I get to lay around and cuddle with them and laugh and smile, it makes all the struggles everyday seem not so bad, . He is not only my lover, but my best friend and his love carries me through. That is why I wonder if I'm just expecting too much and being too anal about the whole official commitment thing. I know that my previous relationship issues, may be playing a role in how I'm reacting and I don't want that to be the case. I know that I'm probably reacting out of a scared place that doesn't want to find myself 4 years from now in the same relationship that I was in before; I have to remind myself that he is not the same person and it is a different situation. However, it is hard to not let your past affect your future. It is an uphill battle, but it is worth it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An explanation!

You are probably wondering what happened to me and why I have left you hanging for soooo long. I do apologize and I swear there is a very good reason. Besides getting settled into my new surroundings, I decided it would be a great time to start my own business. Yeah I know, just a bit crazy, right? So that has been keeping me very busy. I signed up for some night classes in starting your own business at the local college to help me get started and they were quite helpful. I'm still trying to get my website launched, just putting on the finishing touches and collaborating with the amazing web design student from the University of Houston who is helping me. Everything else is good to go. My facebook and twitter pages are up, so go and check those out when you get a chance. I will try to update when I can, but I don't see things slowing down a whole lot anytime soon. Which is probably a good thing because then that means I have work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm sorry it has been so long....

It has been a month or more since my last post and that is just sad. So much has been going on and so much has happened since then. I want to tell you all about it but don't know where to start. It would take me many, many posts to fill you in on everything, so I will just have to do a brief overview of events.

We left California in the early morning of Dec. 21st after moving and packing the Uhaul truck all day and meeting up with friends one last time before we headed out. We had dinner and then saw the 3D IMAX version of Avatar, which was amazing by the way. A great way to end our time in California, good food. good friends, and good entertainment. Leaving the LA basin at 2am on a Monday was a good idea, because we avoided having to try and manuveur a 26' truck with a car in tow in rush hour traffic. We drove all morning and thru the next day, trading off driver when one of us got tired. We stopped that evening and spent the night in a motel and got some much needed sleep. We spent the night in El Paso and covered the rest of our journey the following day and evening. Texas is a huge state and we only went through a portion of it. It took us the same amount of time to cover California, Arizona and New Mexico; that it took us to make it from the Texas Border to Houston. Crazy, huh? We pulled into Houston around 3am on Dec. 23rd and we were so glad to finally have arrived and not have to be stuck in that damn truck any longer. I have to say, it definitely was the best Uhaul truck I have ever been in, so it could have been worse.

That was the beginning and end of many things. It has been a whirlwind since that day and doesn't seem to be slowing down, but it has been all good.

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moving Madness!

Oh my goodness! This week has been insane and it is only Wednesday. We have stayed up every night for the last week till 12pm or later trying to get everything done. Yet we still have a ton to get done. N has had a final every night this week, plus work and I was home with a sick kid for the first part of the week, while also trying to get work done from home. On top of all that, we are having to share my car because some jerk decided to run into N on the freeway and take off, rendering his car useless. I just keep thinking, only 5 more days; just let me survive the next 5 days and everything will be okay. I'm looking forward to a nice long vacation from everything once we make it to Texas. I'm also looking forward to working from home and getting my own business off the ground. I'm looking forward to not having to commute to work everyday and being able to walk my kids to school, instead of having to battle traffic everywhere I go. I'm also looking forward to having my own garden again and living in an actual house instead of an apartment. I just have to make it through the next week.

For now it is back to work!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Every Day is a New Experience

I have found this to be true, especially when you have kids. My new experience for the day? Talking to my daughter about her biological father and answering her questions. Yes, she is 5 yrs. old and up until recently didn't know a thing about his existence. I didn't try to hide it, it just never came up and she was being raised by another man who she was perfectly happy to call dad and that is what he was to her. I knew that at some point it would have to be addressed, but I was perfectly happy to leave well enough alone until such time. That is until her biological father contacted me via Facebook.

Her father and I were married for all of a year and a half. We got married a little over 3 months after meeting and split 6 months after getting married. Our daughter was conceived on our honeymoon in Florida. Within 3 months of getting married, I realized what a mistake I had made. I found out important information that I should have known about him, before we got married. Things about his past that had I known, I would have never married him or gotten pregnant with his child. I will admit that finding these things out was so devastating that I contemplated ending the pregnancy. I was scared and didn't know what to do. I had been a single parent before with my son for several years and I was in my senior year of college and couldn't imagine going it alone with two kids. I couldn't bring myself to end the pregnancy, especially since we had planned her. She was no accident, she was meant to be and apparently I was meant to raise her on my own. I tried to make things work, but it was a losing battle. Things got progressively worse between us until one day he followed me to the grocery store after I had dropped him off at a friends house. He followed me around the grocery store making threats to me under his breath; I had never seen him like this before. It scared me and I didn't trust him not to do what he was threatening to do. I didn't want to leave the store because I had a feeling that once we were alone he might do something to me. I tried to resist leaving and he got more angry and shoved the cart into my pregnant belly and grabbed my keys and left as concerned patrons asked me if I was okay. There was a police cruiser outside handling another issue at the store and seeing as he had taken my car and I had no way to leave on my own, I went outside and talked to the police officer about what happened. The officer got my car back for me and tried to encourage me to file a report against my husband. I was hesitant and just drove to my mom's instead. My husband showed up at my mom's house not more than a few minutes after I arrived, this is after the officers had told him to leave me alone and go cool off. This was enough to convince me that I had to do something, because he was not someone that I could trust. I went down to the police station to file a report and get a restraining order against him. As I was giving my statement of what happened and answering questions about how the altercation started, the police officer said that he had dealt with my husband before much to my dismay. That is when I found out my husband had a long history of addiction. Somehow he had been able to hide it from me all along; I don't know if he had been clean when we met and had started using again recently or had been using the whole time and had just been really good at hiding it from me. Needless to say, I was done. This new information on top of the other things I had found out before that, just made it obvious that there was no way that it could work between us. He soon went away to a boot camp style drug treatment program and I didn't have to deal with him anymore. I finished the rest of that school year and gave birth to our daughter 2 days after I turned in my final project for the semester. My ex was released from his drug treatment program when our daughter was 4 months old. I told him I wanted a divorce and he refused to give me one. He saw his daughter several times after his release and would just show up at the house at times that we hadn't agreed upon. He showed up one night at my house all messed up, begging me to take him back; he was on something and I had never seen him like that before. Not long after that he flunked a drug test and was sent to jail. I served him divorce papers in jail and we have not had contact since. I started dating a cop that I met through other circumstances and then a year later moved out of state for a job. That cop and I got engaged and he helped raise my daughter from the time she was 8 months old. He is the only father she's known, until now.

When N and I started dating I told him that D was not my daughter's dad, even though she called him dad. I told him a little about her bio dad and that she didn't know anything about him because we split when she was an infant. His reaction to this information was, "you know she is going to want to know her real dad someday and will probably seek him out". A part of me kind of knew this, but was hoping she would be like me when I was a teenager and my sister looked up our dad and got back into contact with him. I didn't have any desire to really get to know him, although he wanted to get to know me and for awhile I accommodated his desire to play dad now that I was grown. But the reality was that I didn't consider him a father at all and I had no respect for the fact that he had abandoned us when he and my mom divorced and had never supported us or tried to be involved the whole time we were growing up. I had no respect for the man and eventually cut off communication. I was hoping that this would be the way it would go with my daughter's dad. But then he found me on Facebook and now it doesn't seem like it will be that easy.

I showed my daughter the only picture I still have of her dad holding her when she was a few months old and the card that he made for her before she was born that is part of her baby book. I answered her questions about where he was and why he never lived with us, in very simple terms that a kid could understand. She said she wanted to meet him and her older sister who now lives with him and his girlfriend. He has been asking to talk to her and so I asked her if she wanted to talk to him and she said she did. So I helped her dial the phone and she spoke with him briefly because he was at work. It was a very hard thing for me to do and I'm still not sure if I did the right thing. If he is a changed man, which I really have no way of knowing for sure since we live 3000 miles apart; I don't want to keep him from knowing his daughter. Part of me feels like if I try to keep her from knowing him, she will just seek him out anyways as an adult and feel resentment towards me for keeping her from knowing her dad. Maybe if she knows him now and see's him for who he is, there won't be that novelty factor of the long lost father syndrome. I don't know? This is one of those situations where your damned if you do and your damned if you don't.

This is unknown territory that I'm entering and I'm feeling very much alone; even though I know I'm not the first nor the last single mom to have to deal with this. I just hope everything turns out for the best!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A stressful time...

No, I'm not talking about the holidays. I'm stressed out by the impending move that we will be making in just 19 days. There is so much to do that has yet to be done and it just feels like there isn't enough time to get everything done. It has really hit home for both of us that we are leaving California in less than a month. We are each dealing with it in our own ways. I'm starting to get cold feet about leaving my job, moving to a state where I really don't know anyone, giving up my freedom and independence to be with the man that I love.

When I tell people that we are moving and they ask the normal questions that everyone asks and I respond that no I have no friends or family there, no job, no ring, no nothin'. I realize how crazy it sounds and that is why they give me that look like I am crazy. I would probably do the same thing if I were them. Having been a single, independent mom for a good part of the last decade it is really hard to give up my independence and put my trust in a man. It is scary as hell, let me tell you! I know we are doing this together and it is a decision that we made together and he has been very supportive, even when I'm freaking out. It doesn't make it any easier, though. We both joked about whether it was too late to change our minds the other day, but in reality neither of us want to change our plans. This is what we both want, even though we thought that I would be able to find a job before we move, it isn't the end of the world that I haven't yet. I have other plans and possibilities to keep me busy.

Once we get there I know I will be okay, it is just the weeks leading up to our departure that are hard. I think the best way to handle it is to not think too much about it and analyze every detail, because that just makes me feel like I might lose my mind. I would rather not lose my mind over this move!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From no restraint to frugality!

I grew up poor and always wanting for something. My mom did the best she could as a single mom of 4, but often it wasn't enough. I wanted to have nice new cloths like my friends, instead of the hand me downs from my cousin and thrift store bargains. Anyways, so when I got to be old enough to get a job and make my own money, I did. I knew that was the only way I would be able to buy some of the things I wanted to have, but my mom couldn't afford. I babysat from the time I was 12 years old; I got my first real job at 16 yrs. old working as a bank teller after school. I only made $5.15/hr. but it gave me a little money to play with and I was able to buy cloths that I wanted, etc. I remember the first credit card offer I got. I was 18 yrs. old and still in high school, but I had had the same job for 2 yrs. and a bank account and line of credit, so they must have decided I would be a good candidate for a credit card. I was so excited; my mom on the other hand didn't think it was a good idea. But I was 18 yrs. old so what could she do, but warn me. Soon after, I got pregnant with my first child and that minor $500 credit limit card got maxed out. Then when I got into Cornell University, oh my goodness; the credit card offers came pouring in. Trying to go to school and support my child and pay for everything on my own was a nightmare. I quickly ran up loads of debt through student loans, credit cards, etc. It was how I was able to make it through school. I probably could have lived at home with my mom the whole time instead of living in student housing for 2 of my 4 yrs. there, but I wanted to be independent of my mom. So now I'm living with my mistakes, as we all do. At the time I thought that when I graduated I would be making enough money to afford to pay all my student loans and credit card debt. How naive I was! Then I got married and we ran up even more debt and we had a baby together and then when we divorced I got left with all the debt we ran up together because it was all in my name.

When I finally did graduate, my job options were not so great. I ended up having to take a job at a design/build landscaping company that wasn't able to pay me very well and so I was struggling just to even pay my rent and daycare, let alone put food on the table, so I had to stop paying my credit cards and student loans. What was happening was I was paying the minimum balance on my credit cards every month and then I didn't have any money for food or gas, etc. So then I would end up charging those necessities on my credit cards and it just got so out of hand and my cards were maxed out. I felt like it was this delicate balancing act of just keeping my head above water. As fall came, I was informed that in the winter time they often temporarily laid off most of the staff, because there really wasn't much work in the wintertime. With this possibility of unemployment for several months looming over me I decided I needed to find a better job, one I could actually live on and had benefits, etc. My mom had moved out to California a few months earlier, so I no longer had any family support nearby. My mom had been trying to get me to move out to California once she was there and my brother had been trying to get me to come out as well while I was in college, so I decided, what the heck! I went onto the ASLA website and found a ton of firms in California who were advertising job openings and I started sending my resume out. I was amazed at how many responses I got back. I set up interviews and made plans to come out for a week and interview with 7 firms in 7 days from Northern to Southern California. It was quite a trip and I ended up canceling one in San Diego because I was just exhausted from all the traveling and interviews. Before I even arrived back in NY, I already had a job offer, not the one I wanted, but a pretty good job offer. So I waited a few days and got several more job offers and picked the best one that fit what I was looking for and paid decent. They wanted me to start in a month, so I had 1 month to pack up all out belongings, find an apartment, and move all our belongings across the country and get settled. 1 month is not enough time, but somehow I made it happen, with some help from my then boyfriend and my aunt and uncle who I had to borrow $5000 from to pay for moving cost and first and last month's rent on my apartment. Without their help, none of this would have been possible. At the time, I was optimistic that I would be able to pay them back within my first year out here, but yet again I underestimated how much it would cost to raise two kids in California. My salary at my new job was more than I could have ever hoped for back in NY, but this isn't NY and that great salary here is not enough to support 3 people and a boat load of debt. I quickly learned this. I still have yet to pay off all my debt, but I'm working on it, slowly but surely. It is daunting and overwhelming at times. Having grown up the way I did, I never wanted my kids to have to go through that. They have it alot better than I did, that is for sure, but I'm not able to give them everything I wanted to be able to provide them.

I find now that I never want to buy anything except the absolute necessities, like food and gas and paying the rent and bills. I never buy myself anything, anymore. I just can't justify it. I didn't even want to spent the money to get a crown on one of my teeth that was in need of it, because it just seemed like there had to be a cheaper option. I even waited a year to get it done, because I didn't have the money at the time. I find it interesting how when you say you can't afford something, they always say well we have a credit option you can apply for. Like buying something on credit makes it more affordable. No, it just means you will end up paying more for that thing that you really couldn't afford, but bought anyways and you are going to have to deal with that mistake for months and years to come. It isn't easy living within your means nowadays, because everyone has gotten so used to not having to. But it is possible, just a little harder. I will probably not be able to buy a new car anytime soon or cosign on a mortgage, but at least I won't be living in a fantasy world that will come crashing down around me in years to come. My goal is to be debt free in the next 20 years. I think it is feasible. It just means that I will be wearing the same old cloths that I bought ten years ago and I will be driving my car that I bought in college till I'm a middle-aged women.

N and I have very different perspectives on money issues. He came from very little, as I did, but his family was able to help each other out and open businesses and do quite well for themselves as he got older. He also came from a two parent household with an extended family support system, so it really isn't comparable. It is interesting to see how we each deal with money issues. For example, his TV broke soon after we moved in together and rather than buy an affordable one to replace it, he wanted an even better one than what he had had before, which would be about a $1000 investment. He thought that if we split the cost it wouldn't be so bad, but I informed him that I definitely couldn't afford that and had never even paid more than $100 for a used TV before. I had no need for the large fancy TV that he wanted and would be just fine with a smaller cheaper one. That would not do for him, so we have been without a TV for about 3 months now. When I told him I didn't have the money he suggested that we put it on his credit card and then pay it off over several months. Yet again I had to explain that that wasn't an option for me as I couldn't afford anymore monthly payments than what I'm already paying. It is such a foreign concept for people, it seems. I think I'm helping him to be more responsible with money; he didn't go ahead and buy the TV. He paid off his car and is waiting to get a new TV when we can save up enough for it.

Managing money is such a joy! Can you see the sarcasm dripping from that statement?