Just More of The Unsual Crap: More Roommates, More Moving, More Showing, and More Cats.

Hey there Sunshine, my last ray of sanity. Now that school is back and people are scrambling for last minute accommodations, things at Castle Dumpster Fire are a real treat! We are up to FOUR people in this damn house, and FIVE pets (three of which the landlord wasn’t told about, but we’ll get to that in a bit). There is still one room left, and the X and I are still showing it.

Which brings me to a very important point: not enough people are reading my damn blog! I’ve covered EVERYTHING that’s pissing me off right now in past posts, and this shit STILL keeps happening!

First off, to help alleviate some of the stress showing the rooms has put on the X and I, the landlord asked our newest roommate to show the house a few times. Mind you, the Kid had been living there 3 days the first time he showed it, but he answered all the questions he was asked. Only problem was, he didn’t know all the answers, and he didn’t know what information to throw out there to prospective renters. Why, you ask? Because he didn’t read the damn lease through!

Now, if he had read my previously published post Reading and Understanding Your Lease, then he would have known a few things that he really should have brought up: there is no cable or internet included with the house; there is a pet deposit and all pets have to be approved beforehand by the landlord; you can’t have hot plates or bring fridges into your room, and the like. So what happens? The Camouflage Cowboy shows up and moves in, with his two budgies and his super adorable, sweet, soft, fluffy kitten Max (please don’t tell Bowser and Sketch I said any of that)! Now I’ve got a super playful kitten trying to play with Bowser and Sketch, and Sketch is not having it! Poor little floppy butt has made a nest under my bed and hardly ever comes out, and Bowser has gone into full defense mode to protect his brother. The birds were left out on the porch overnight and attacked by a stray cat, so I now have two birds with three legs between them, their cage hanging from out roof overhang, and they never shut up! And CC still owes me 2/3 of the monthly internet cost, btw.

Of course, we’re still showing rooms, and a good 90% of the people responding to the ad have never read about how NOT to be a Colossal Douche when looking for somewhere to rent. Some very basic things like “if you make an appointment to see a place, actually show up” and “don’t track mud through the house by refusing to take your shoes off in the middle of a damn typhoon” seem so simple, but there’s so damn hard for some people!

But the thing that really ruffles my goats is the people who can’t read the damn ad OR the email they get from the landlord about the place. We have one kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 2 common area/living rooms, a dining room, and 5 bedrooms. Each room holds one renter. Rent includes basic utilities, but not cable or internet. Pets need to be pre-approved and there’s a pet deposit. No smoking indoors, no illegal drugs in the house, and it is listed as a “Quiet, Mature House” for serious students and working young adults. Pretty damn simple, eh?

Well two freaking guys show up on my doorstep today, out of the blue. They had emailed the landlord, got the whole basic spiel, and then decided that they knew what house it was by looking at the pictures of the front of it in the ad so they should just show up. Fine, I’m home anyway, may as well show it. I show them the living room upstairs and they start asking “is this our room?”. No dammit, shut up and listen to me! They took issue with there only being one kitchen, having to share a bathroom, there being pets there, and there being a woman living in the house. Then, when I showed them the room they kept saying that “their” room seemed small, and then were trying to decide where the bunk beds would go. They wants 4 freaking people PLUS a fridge, microwave, hot plates, crockpots, and the downstairs bathroom to themselves.

Ya, they’re not moving in. Pretty sure the landlord has lost all hope for humanity after some of the responses to the ad he’s gotten. People try to negotiate the price, or want to move themselves and 3 kids into a small bedroom, or want 6 people in one room. Read the damn ad! And read the info the landlord gives you!

Then there’s the things that should just be common sense when people move in, which they would know if they read my damn blog. Seriously, I’m a treasure trove of crap advice that fucking works. Somehow, after a week of having new roommates, we as a household have forgotten how garbages and recycling work. After working a 13 hour day on Monday, I had the pleasure of pulling bags of rotting food out of the recycling bin so I could sort out the massive pile junk that hadn’t been sorted one bit when it was haphazardly thrown off the back porch and into whatever receptacle was closest. There have been dishes left in the dish rack for days at a time, or left in the sink for days. Counters are sticky, floors are dirty, and I’m apparently the only one who can master the fine art of wielding a toilet brush.

There’s also the issue of people not knowing when to pipe the fuck down. Sunday I got a text message from the landlord that someone was moving in that day. Buddy hadn’t met the X or I at that point, and neither one of us was at home. The Kid let him in, told him I’d be home after 6pm, and left. So there I am on Sunday night, a bit after 6:30pm, sitting on the toilet when I hear the front door slam open and what sounds like Xena Warrior Princess’s battle cry. I come flying out of the bathroom because I never heard that door close and my kitties are in the house, only to be greeted by at least half a dozen strange men. Some douche nozzle in a camouflage cowboy hat comes walking over to me, yammering on about how his friends are all there to help him, and I have no clue who he is. I try to tell him to close the door so the cats don’t get out, and the douche just talks over me and tells me to calm my ass down!

Luckily the little floppy butt Sketch was freaked out and hid under my bed, and the ever protective Bowser Kitten was guarding him, because if those kitties had gotten out I would’ve dropped the Camouflage Cowboy right then and there! The funny thing is, I’m not the only one in this house whose first meeting with CC resulted in nothing but yelling at him to close the door before cats get out. When he came to see the house in the first place, he marched out onto the back porch while the X was out there and just kept talking while X while X was yelling at him to close the goddamn door. What a great first impression, eh? It’s like the guy has never listened to Panic! At The Disco before or something.

I can see all of this going very, very badly. I’ve already had to say some ridiculous things to my grown-ass adult roomates over the years, things that no one should really have to say to a grown-ass adult. I really don’t want to be cleaning food out of the bathtub drain, hunting down my dishes, wipe spilled food off the floor hours after it spilled, and have to teach people that leaving a pot of noodles on the stove for an hour on high usually results in a fire. I’m done, man. I’m tired, I’m stressed, and this is all totally draining. I’m stressed, the cats are stressed, and we’re still going to eventually get one more roommate to add to all this fun.

Maybe it’s time I start looking for my own place.

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Too exhausted to title this one

I am more than a little exhausted today. After that 13 day stretch of work, I took one whole day off to help out at my parents’ Christmas in July (but in August) party that was also somehow a 30th birthday party for my brother. Then I had to drag my tired ass in to work at the booze job yesterday just to hear “I can’t believe they make you work on a holiday” a hundred times. I passed out on the couch after giving my fuzzy babies tuna (and some whitefish from my parents), and was curled up in bed with Bowser watching over me by 9pm.

And here I am again, sitting at a desk at the book job. I was passed over for a permanent position here and am still doing the supply thing, so I got called in last minute for a full day shift. If I wasn’t on-call this week with only one pre-scheduled shift, I totally would’ve turned this shift down.

I am just drained. And as much as I love my family, and as much as I love their obsession with Christmas and feeding people, spending my one day off helping with that party just did not help me relax myself at all.

As you all know, I have a lot going on right now. Living with X is really draining me mentally, and it’s to the point that it’s starting to take a physical toll. Saturday night, he started in on his whole “the reason we broke up is because you never ever bothered to make time for us” spiel that he likes to throw at me every week or two. Basically, I had to start working Sundays when out collective agreement was renegotiated at the booze job. I did take time off when he needed me to, for things like weddings and his birthday. But I chose to be at work on my birthday, because that’s where I wanted to be.

I have a long list of things that I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve made brief mention of them in the past. But according to X, I’ve never ever wanted to do any of these things, and have certainly never mentioned them. I’m a horrible person, a complete bitch, for taking a day to go help my family with their party, or to want to take an hour after work to have coffee with a friend, and the entire reason for our relationship falling apart is because of this.

I’m trying to come to terms with what he’s saying to me is doing to my mind. I actually went into my parents’ party feeling guilty for being there. Never mind all the times I did take off, or all the time I spent trying to spend time with him. I let him get into my head like a cockroach and noodle around in there, rearranging things so I just couldn’t find anything happy inside.

Maybe that is why everything seemed to get to me so much. Of course, everyone asks for updates on life when we only see each other twice a year, but my updates were the only ones that people laughed out loud at. My living situation, my stories from work, the condition of my car even were enough to make people laugh. Normally people telling me I should write a book about my life makes me laugh, and sometimes even makes me want to write more. But with the frame of mind I was in already, it just grated on my nerves. By the time people began to trickle out of the yard, internally I was a mess.

Why do we let people get into our heads so much? I know X’s argument inside and out by this point. We’ve argued about it a hundred times over. “We used to have Sundays together. I know it’s not your fault that you have to work them now, but……..”; “You didn’t even take time off for your birthday like I wanted you to……”; “Well of course I took a few hours to myself after work to myself. That’s my me time. You just need to work around that if you want to spend time together”. And we’ve been over the replies to these a thousand times. “………I can take the odd Sunday off for us, but not every week. If I have to constantly give up hours to make time for us, would you be willing to give up a Tuesday and we could both take the day off?”; “………….it was my birthday, I wanted to be at work with my friends, and I didn’t want to do anything to celebrate. I didn’t even want a gift. I just wanted to treat it like any other day.”; “…….. and you have your ‘me time’ every single day. Sometimes you’ll get home from work at 4pm and still haven’t taken a shower yet when I come home at 10:30pm because that was all your ‘me time’. If I have to constantly give up my time to make time for us, then it’s only fair that you give up some of your time for us, especially when I don’t have to work late and get home around the same time as you.”

You see, each argument had a counter-argument with some reasoning behind it. We’ve had that exact argument so many times that I have all of my responses to his basic arguments memorized. I don’t even have to think anymore. I may as well just have them on cue cards and pull out the appropriate one when he starts talking. But every time I counter, he comes up with something new. How dare I even think about making plans with other people, when I never made enough time for us; why do I suddenly want to do things and stuff, even though I’ve been making a list of things and stuff I’ve wanted to do all year.

How do you not let someone into your head? How do you stay strong? It always seems like no matter what we have ever argued about, somehow it has all come back to being my fault and I’m the cause of things.

A few coworkers keep bringing up the term “gaslighting” when I talk about this. I remember hearing the term back in school, but don’t know much about it. Maybe it’s time for a little re-education, see if learning a little more helps me regain a slight bit of sanity. For now, though, I’m sitting at the Kid’s Desk at my book job, trying my hardest not to let my anxiety completely overwhelm me.

Relaxing?

I am exhausted. Like mentally, physically done.

I’ve been trying to get myself to relax, but it’s just not working. I’ve been doing 20+ hours at each job the last few weeks. There’s a lot of running between the two jobs, a lot of bizarre split shifts. One day I’ll be 9-12 and 3-5 at the book job and then 5:15 to 10:15 at the booze job. Another day I’m 9-12, 1-2, and 6-8 at the book job. When I’m home between jobs, I’m cleaning. A just finished moving out, so there is a tonne of things that need to get done at home (like scraping the 37 million pieces of Sticky-Tac off the walls). Some days, I’m lucky to get half an hour to make myself something to eat and sit for a few minutes.

Well yesterday, I was done work by noon. I did a quick drug store run for some hair stuff, and then headed home for the day. The plan was to do a little light cleaning, and then put my feet up and relax with some books.

Well that didn’t happen.

I threw a few things in the sink to soak, made myself a quick lunch, and tried to settle down on the couch to relax. I had books, Netflix, YouTube, some notebooks, and my kitties. I sprawled out on the couch, ready to just block out the world for a little while….. and my brain won’t shut off.

I pulled out a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, threw on some Under Arrest on Netflix, and my brain went into overdrive. “What needs to be cleaned? How long will it take to do A’s room? What if we can’t find people to rent with us? Would it be worth it to just start fresh in a new city? If I decide to just take off and move to a new city, should I try to get into that really hot tattooed guy’s pants first? Why is he always playing with his belt and pants when he’s standing in my line? Should I bring him another burger? Should I get myself some burgers? Should I make burgers? How many burgers are int he freezer right now? How bad is A’s freezer? Will I have to deep scrub it? What else needs some deep scrubbing? I wonder what Bowser is thinking right now.”

The louder my brain got, the more I tried to quiet it. I tried meditation, singing random songs in my head, day dreaming, stream of conscious writing, and even tried to close my eyes and nap on the couch.

Nothing helped.

I think I’ve forgotten how to actually relax. I can’t just put my feet up at the end of the day, pour a glass of wine, and let the day go. Now I pour that wine, talk with the X about our days, help finish making dinner, try to find something to watch on Netflix or YouTube, top up my glass of wine, mentally go over my to-do lists for the next few days, go over my work schedule for the next few days, make sure alarms are set, do a few Buzzfeed quizzes, try to pay attention to whatever X put on the TV, and group chat with some friends. Multitaskin Relaxin, that’s what I call this. I try to do ALL the relaxing things at once, because if each one is relaxing on its own just think of how relaxing they’d all be combined!

I’ve read all the articles, looked up hints and tips, read some books, and still can’t figure out how to just relax. I am completely worn out and need some sort of break, but I just can’t take one. As soon as I sit down to relax, I start thinking of all the things I should be doing instead. Instead of catching up on the sleep I need very very badly, I really should be at axe throwing school, or scrubbing the walls, or baking brownies for my coworkers at the store. I tell myself that I need the sleep, and that little voice in my head starts screaming “forget the sleep! You’re wasting your life! Think of all the things you could be doing right now! You’re going to die alone with 37 cats and they’ll eat your face!!!!!”

Ain’t anxiety grand?

So I guess I’ll just keep this routine going. I only have one shift scheduled next week for the book job so far, and I know I should take any time off I get to just relax and take some naps. But I already have a huge to-do list going in my day planner of things to get done when I don’t have to be at work.

Because what could be more relaxing than taking every article of clothing you own out of your closet and dressers, refolding and organizing everything, clearing off all your shelves and under your bed, vacuuming everything including the mattress, doing all the laundry, washing the walls, and dusting every available surface?

I’m Judging You by How You Treat Your Cashier……

…..and your server, and your barista, and your mechanic, and the kid behind the counter at McDonald’s……….

Basically, I’m just judging you. Hardcore.

Whenever I say something like this, people right away say something like, “Well, I can tell you work in customer service!”. Like the only reason to treat people with basic human decency is because you use a cash register at work or something. That never made much sense to me.

I went out to dinner with a group once around my birthday to celebrate. We went to my favourite bar, had a few drinks and ordered some food. Since it was the weekend, the place was pretty busy, but the waitress still came around to check on us every chance she got. She even came around to update us on when our food would be ready. Like, if there were server Olympics, she would’ve walked out of there with a gold medal around her neck.

Still, all my group did was complain. The food wasn’t fast enough, then it wasn’t hot enough (even though the plates were almost too hot to handle). The drinks weren’t strong enough, as if they expected free doubles for everything. The lines in the bathroom were too long, the toilet paper was too thin, and the toilet flushed too loudly. Seriously, my friend’s girlfriend complained about the toilets. Somehow the waitress checked on us too much and not enough at the same time, and was both too cheery and not cheery enough.

They put that poor waitress through hell, making her grab new forks because theirs didn’t look clean enough, and bringing them extra lemons because the one in their water was cut wrong. When the bill came, we went about dividing up what we each owed. As we threw in our money, I noticed no one else left much of a tip. We each spent a little over $40, and no one put in more than $45. Their reasoning?

“Well it’s not like she did anything special. Why should we just throw free money at her for just doing her job?”

Buddy, you ran the poor girl ragged all night, making sure she knew that nothing she did was ever good enough for your high standards. You complained about the food, the drinks, the bartender, and the server herself. You treated her like we were her only table in an extremely packed bar on a Saturday evening, and expected her to jump every time you snapped your fingers.

And yes, he did actually snap his fingers at her once.

Needless to say, that was the last time I went out with those friends.

I swear, it takes more effort to be outwardly mean to people sometimes than to just be a decent human being. My friends could have just sat there and enjoy our meal, enjoyed our drinks, and enjoyed each other’s company. Instead, they had to go out of their way to make some poor server miserable for no reason other than they wanted her to really earn that tip.

And I really don’t have the mental energy to deal with people like that. I don’t think a lot of us do. And it’s not limited to just how you treat your waitress. There are a tonne of people working jobs out there that seem to attract assholes like cats to catnip. I don’t know what it is, but people just seem to love to talk down to people who work any kind of service job.

I’ve seen people demean cashiers for not having better jobs, yell at fast food workers for taking more than 12 seconds to make their order, even lose their minds at mechanics for having dirty hands while working on their cars. This sort of entitled crap seems to be ingrained in some people’s minds, like a personality trait or a compulsion to try and make themselves look better than the common worker because “the customer is always right”.

Here’s just a few things that people do that I am totally, completely, 100% judging them for:

  1. Doing anything that suggests that a server has to “earn” a tip. This includes making outrageous demands, laying out a few dollars on the table and taking one away any time the server “screws up”, loudly complaining to anyone within ear range about the server, or leaving any sort of “tip” that isn’t money. This includes your phone number, business cards, religious pamphlets, written advice, or samples from work-from-home business. Avon samples and dude-bro’s number won’t pay the bills.
  2. Throwing any kind of shade when a cashier asks if you want to donate to whatever cause they’re told to ask for donations for. The cashier did not pick the charity, they have no control over what charity they’re told to ask about, don’t care if you saw a documentary about the charity 7 years ago that said their CEO is a millionaire, and they may not even be particularly fond of that specific charity. They are, however, fond of collecting a paycheck and paying their damn bills, so they’re just doing their job when they ask you.
  3. Making a mess is not “creating jobs”. If you leave your table covered in ketchup and ice cream, McDonald’s isn’t going to hire more janitors to clean it; they’re going to make their employees work even harder to clean up after your nasty ass and earn their minimum wage. Leaving grocery items out in random places around the store only makes the already busy employees have to work harder to run go-backs and do the paperwork needed to throw away the frozen ribs you left behind the toilet paper display an hour ago. None of these companies are seeing your mess and saying, “Well, it looks like the public is demanding we hire more employees to meet their needs. Better throw a job fair!” Instead, they make their already over-worked employees work even harder to put way your groceries, clean up your messes, and undo all your little “make-work projects” around their workplace.
  4. “It didn’t ring up, that means it’s free!”; “Here’s a twenty, I just printed it off this morning!”; “Hey, can I get your discount?”. Dude, you’re really not funny. You’re mostly likely not the first person today to make that exact same joke, that poor worker probably already heard it 25 times before you and will hear it 25 times after you just today.
  5. Unless the worker flat-out says something like, “Would you like to go out to dinner some time”, or “here, take my phone number and call me some time so we can go out”, or “my bed is way too big, why don’t you come over and share it with me”, they’re not flirting with you. They are not smiling because of your charm, they’re not talking to you because you’re so intriguing they can’t tear themselves away. They are literally doing their jobs. The fact that you think that a worker talking to you means they want access to whatever you have in your pants says quite a bit about you, and maybe you should get out a bit more.

That’s just the short list, the bare basics. Seriously, it takes so much energy to be an asshole sometimes. Why bother? I mean, what takes more effort; picking up your tray and throwing away your garbage after you eat, or making a large mural on the booth walls with ketchup and melted ice cream? Is your cashier ringing up your groceries slightly slower than usual really going to ruin your day, or are you just an asshole who wants to blame their bad mood on someone else?

But seriously, how you treat the people employed to serve you in any way, whether it be customer service or food service or vehicle service, is indicative of how you naturally will treat others. If I go out with a guy and he screams at our waitress and refuses to tip because “she’s the one dumb enough to stay in a job that relies on tips”, then there will be no second date. Hell, when that actually did happen there wasn’t even a full first date! I walked out of there as soon as I could (after making sure that server got a tip, of course). If you’re comfortable enough to scream at your mechanic in public because you have to wait an extra 10 minutes for your oil change, then what kind of asshole-style rage are you going to be comfortable with behind closed doors?

You don’t have to work any type of service job to be nice to service workers. You just need to not be an asshole.

This Adulting Thing is NOTHING like I Thought it Would Be!

So life has basically been throwing gasoline on this spiraling dumpster fire of my very being lately. Today has been especially bad, with one thing going wrong after another after another. Everything just seems to be falling apart around me.

This is nothing like I imagined adulthood would be like when I was a kid!

When I was a kid, my mother’s big thing was “no cookies for breakfast”. I didn’t matter how special a day it was, you could not even look at the cookies until well after lunch time. It may have had something to do with an unfortunate incident involving a family-sized box of Oreo cookies having all of their filling eaten while my mother was in the shower when we were little kids. She stepped out of the bathroom and into the middle of a pile of licked and soggy creamless cookies.

Naturally, I decided that making rules like this was the biggest part of being a grown-up. I would be the one who decides when to eat cookies, or when to go to bed, or what to watch on tv. Obviously being a grown-up was all about being free to do absolutely anything I wanted to do.

Well then work happened.

That was another thing that was nothing like I expected it to be. I was always told “You can be anything want, and can do anything you put your mind to.” Well right about now, the only thing I want to put my mind to is a damn pillow, because I’m on my 8th straight day of work out of 10 days scheduled, with multiple days being either splits at my book job or a split between both jobs. I thought I would end up a respected writer, or a teacher, or a counselor, not working two jobs just trying to get by.

The thing is, when you’re working two jobs and have a bizarre schedule like mine, you don’t exactly get to choose when to sleep. You can’t stay up all night watching cartoons, because you have to get up for work in the morning. And you can’t take a nap in the middle of the afternoon when you’re running on empty because you’re either at work, getting ready for work, or running from one job to the other one.

And all that running around means not a lot of time for cookies.

As I’ve mentioned before, one days like today when I have to run from one job to another without a real break, I grab a bag of random cheap burgers from McDonald’s. Right now it’s almost 3pm and all I’ve had in my belly is water, coffee, and half a can of Coke Zero. When I finish here, I have to walk across downtown (not as far as I make it sound, and definitely not up-hill both ways), change out of my grown-up disguise and into my uniform, and work a closing shift. I don’t have time to be running around grabbing a salad or a box of cookies or whatever else might backhand my fancy. McD’s is on my walk, and McD’s has McDoubles, so that is my food for the day.

So now I’m running back and forth through downtown, hanging out with my new homeless friends that I talk to on my walks, eating bags of cheap burgers and working 13 hour days between two jobs. I don’t have the time to check my ever-growing list of tv shows and movies I want to watch. Instead of going to the beach this summer and walking around in the sand, I’m walking back and forth between works. Instead of going to concerts, or hanging out with friends in coffee shops, or having an epic and confusing love life , or doing any of the things that TV taught me I’d be doing as an adult.

TV and movies made this whole adulting thing seem so glamorous. It hasn’t been so far though. What most of these things leave out is the fact that not only are there negatives to being an adult, but they don’t just magically go away after a few days. When Monica lost her job at the restaurant, she found an even better one in her field, with full-time hours and everything. Not only that, but she had a close-knit group of friends there to help and support her, a friend willing to start a business with her, and a brother who was willing and financially able to lend her money. She didn’t seem to worry about losing her apartment, going without food, or defaulting on her bills.

Same thing goes for Lilly and Marshal. She was being absolutely crushed by credit card debt and hid it from him. A few episodes later, and it’s like nothing had happened. There was only one brief mention of things like credit scores and financial futures for her family, and then it was gone. They both seemlessly moved through their careers, and somehow money just didn’t seem to be a problem for them.

This isn’t how the real world works though.

I have student loans hanging over my head. I built up a good chunk of credit card debit in the first few years after I graduated, just trying to afford things like food and rent. I rent a room in a house with two ex-boyfriends and a random stranger, instead of having the giant purple apartment with a balcony rent-control. I don’t have a revolving door on my bedroom, a walk-in closet full of stylish clothes, or a million followers for my blog.

But what I do have is the ability to see that, even though things didn’t turn out how I planned, I can just make a new damn plan. Maybe this adulting things sucks right now. Who says it has to suck 5 years from now? I can just keep on working like I am, doing what I do, and build from here. And if things don’t adult right in that plan? Move on to Plan B, or Plan C, or Plan W if I have to.

This adulting thing has a lot fewer cookies for breakfast, a lot less sitting in coffee shops with friends, a lot less having a super close knit group of friends to do absolutely everything with. But it still has me in it, and I can do whatever the hell I want with it.

Oh, Those Well Meaning Folk!

Many years ago, during the period of time I refer to as my Dark Days, I worked in a small indie coffee shop. There were a few other indie coffee shops in the surrounding area, and we were really the opposite of hip at the time, so it was fairly slow there. We had our morning rush of office workers who didn’t want to wait in the long lines at other places, a few daytime regulars, and our nighttime crowd who hung out until close.

Most of the people I saw there, I got to know by name. Because my then-fiance would stop in to check on me a few times a day, they got to know a bit about my situation at the time. For most people, their first reaction was to try and offer me help.

Without getting into much detail, I was in a relationship that was highly abusive in multiple ways. I wasn’t able to eat properly, was constantly tired, my hair had started thinning from malnutrition and stress, and I was working at least 6 days a week and sometimes up to 14 hours a day.

Most of the people I talked to throughout the day offered me some sort of help. For the most part, it was little things. One woman would offer to buy me sandwiches on my break. A gentleman was always offering me cigarettes so that I wouldn’t have to go through mine on my very limited budget. Others just let me sit and talk to them when the shop was slow.

One well-meaning woman went too far. This woman knew my mother, and my mother did not know where I was working at the time. I was not living at home, and was not exactly on speaking terms with my family. This woman, from talking to both myself and my mother, knew this. She knew that I was not mentally in a place where having long talks with my mother would help my situation, and that my mother seeing me in the state I was in would be of no help to her.

Still, she felt the need to go to my mother. She told the state I was in, where I was working, what my schedule was there, and anything else she could think to tell her. She told her bits of things, out of context, that she had overheard me talking about with other customers and friends. She told her things she thought about my situation, without know much about my situation.

Basically, this woman got my mother all worked up into a tizzy, told her exactly where she could find me, and didn’t tell me any of this. I only found out when my mother showed up at the coffee shop one day. In her mind, this is how that day would’ve gone:

My mother would walk into the coffee shop during a slow period, and see me standing behind the counter. All of our fights would be completely forgotten the second we saw each other, and I would run to her arms. We’d hug, we’d cry, I would beg her to take me away from my awful situation and we’d leave right that very second.

Magical, isn’t it?

That’s not what happened, though. Instead, my mother showed up one day while I was working. We had an awkward hello, she ordered a coffee, and sat down while I served other people. We made some forced small-talk about my siblings and dad, and then the hushed fighting started. How could I disappoint them like this? Why did I have to be so stubborn? Why couldn’t I just leave my fiance because my parents don’t like him?

That was in April. My mother and I didn’t talk again until well into the summer. Any progress we had made in our relationship, no matter how little it was at the point, was gone.

That’s the problem with being well-meaning: you have a certain idea of how things will work once you fix them for someone. You don’t take into account how the other parties will be affected, what harms you may be doing, how those you’re “helping” will perceive your “help”, or if your help is even wanted. People who are well-meaning usually come off as meaning well for themselves, not for the greater good.

Now, that’s not to say you should stop helping people all-together. Remember, I had a lot of people help me out in that time. There were times when I probably would’ve have eaten for days at a time if it weren’t for the kindness of others. There are some big differences between help and well-meaning help, though.

1) Does the person want any help right now?

Sometimes, people just want to work things out for themselves. They may not think their situation is as dire as you seem to. Or maybe they’re stubborn and determined to pull themselves out of whatever situation they’re in.

Jumping in to help a person who doesn’t want help can scream “you’re a failure and can’t do this on your own” to them, no matter your intentions. If someone is really trying to pull their life together on their own, and are proud of the progress they’ve been making (no matter how small that progress seems to you), you can’t just jump in and try to take control. If they don’t want any help right now, you can’t force any on them.

2) What kind of help do they want right now?

In my Dark Days, I would never turn down free food. At one point, I had to make a box of macaroni and cheese last me 3 days because I had no other food in the house for myself. There were times when I actually ate out of a donut shop’s dumpster to survive. If someone had come up to me and offered to buy me a burger from McDonald’s, I’d have to resist the urge to tackle them in a giant bear hug. Food was the one thing I always seemed to need.

Do you know what did me no good at all? Money. Part of my problem at the time was financial abuse in my relationship, and I had to turn over all money to my fiance so he could “track” my finances. He came with me to cash my paycheques, he gave me a small allowance, and he needed to know where every penny I spent went. If I came home with any extra money, or bought things that couldn’t be accounted for with the meager amount of money I was allotted, I was in deep horse turds.

I know that one of my friends is always in need of socks and shoes. I can’t afford to be buying him shoes every time he loses his, but I can get a 20-pack of socks for $10 at Giant Tiger and buy a dozen pairs of good thick socks at Dollarama to keep in my car for him. Giving him money to buy socks is not going to get him socks. There’s very few places to shop for clothes in the area he stays in, and most places don’t like to let homeless people in, especially when they’re a bit stinky. If he tells me he needs socks, I give him socks. If he says he needs a toque, or gloves, or a clean t-shirt, then that’s what I’ll find him. Giving him money for these things isn’t going to get them for him.

3) What kind of help are you willing to give?

I will tell you right now, if it were financially possible I would put a roof over Strength’s head in a heartbeat. I would fill his closet with clean clothes, fill his kitchen with food, and make sure he got any help or opportunity his gigantic heart desires. I would make sure he was safe, and warm, and didn’t have to ever worry about find a spot in an alleyway to sleep in in the middle of winter.

I know that’s not something I can afford to do.

Here’s the thing, though: there are things that I may be able to afford to do, but just aren’t practical or helpful to either of us. As much as I want to bring that boy home with him, let him shower and do laundry, and them wrap him in a blanket like a giant burrito to watch movies all night with AAB and the kitten crew while I cook mass amounts of food for them, that’s not going to help any in the long run. I cannot risk losing my home because he brings drugs with him, or his drug-related mood swings cause problems with the neighbours. I can’t move him in with me, because I know I cannot leave a meth addict that no one else in the house knows or trusts alone there while I am at work.

In order to take care of him like that, I would practically have to restructure my life around him. I would have to keep tabs on him, bring him to work with me when I’m at the library, find somewhere for him to go while I’m working at the store. I would have to be financially responsible for his rent, his food, and even help out gathering up basic belongings and clothing for him. That goes well beyond what I am willing and able to do right now.

What I can do, which he says he appreciates, is what I do for him now. I bring him warm clothes and old blankets in the winter. I take him out for coffee, try to feed him. I keep bags of snacks in my car for him. I’ve taken him out in my car to go out for coffee, just so he can rest his feet and get out of the cold (but there are some massive rules when he’s in the car, like he has to turn out all his pockets and bags to show me he has nothing illegal with him).

Now, if I won the lottery tomorrow, it would be a whole different story. I have a well thought-out plan to help quite a few people, with him being the first. But until that happens, I have to set my limits and only do what I am willing and able to do.

4) Why are you helping them?

There is nothing wrong with enjoying that warm, fuzzy feeling you get in your heart when you help someone. Good deeds give people good feelings. If you’re helping someone out of the goodness of your heart, then revel in that warm, fuzzy feeling. That warm, fuzzy feeling is pure goodness.

I do know some people who can’t lend someone a quarter for the phone without taking pictures of the good deed and cross-posting it on every piece of social media they have accounts on. They spend weeks hyping up a charity event, only to have that event do more for them in the public eye than it does for those it was supposed to help.

People like this are in it purely so others will look at them and start heaping on praise. Yes, they may do some good for others, but it can come at a price. They could monopolize fundraising for a certain charity, only to do a poor job of it. Their lack of commitment to a cause can drive others away from it. Or, others could associate them directly with that cause, and not volunteer because they don’t want to deal with them.

I’m stuck with this dilemma right now. There are a few events I’ve signed up for that benefit a certain cause, all for different local charities. For some of these, I will be volunteering with two gentlemen who are very vocal on social media about their activism and charity work. One, I am thrilled to be working with, and others have asked me about him. Yes, he posts a lot online, but he’s doing so just to draw attention to causes. He’s spoken on TV and in the media about things, and declined interviews for others for fear that it draws more attention to him than the message at hand.

The other gentleman…….. well, he’s very active online. More than once (or a dozen times) when I’ve mentioned to people that he will be at an event, they’ve responded with eye rolls. He grabs the spotlight, even when he’s trying to shove others into it. In the beginning people were impressed with the work he was doing. Right now, a lot of the people I’ve talked to are just sick of him. Sadly, these same people don’t want to be associated with events he is a part of, which is hurting my personal fundraising goals.

Do it for the feels, not the fame.

At the end of the day, Sunshine, you can mean well without being well-meaning. You can do a world of good, and make life around you shine as bright as you. You can bring happiness and joy to people’s lives, make a difference in the lives around you, put smiles on faces. You can be the good in the world that you want to see. Just please, make sure that good is good for all the right reasons, and in all the right ways.

Need a Better Work/Life Balance

Well Sunshine, I can already tell that today is going to be one damn rough day! I woke up this morning and couldn’t exactly use my right arm. At first, I thought I just slept on it funny had a kink in my neck and shoulder. As the morning wore on, the pain got worse though. My mother told me to just take a really hot shower, and that would help loosen me up. Oh, she could not have been more wrong!

I was trapped in the shower for almost 40 minutes because of the pain. It didn’t matter which hand I used when I tried to turn the faucet handle pain shot through my arm and neck to the point where I was immobilized. I was standing there, head up against the wall, bawling my eyes out and howling in pain, while hot water was pouring down on me. With my head propped against the wall, I somehow managed to turn off the shower with my foot after more than half a dozen attempts. I dried myself off, attempted to put my pj’s back on, and bawled my eyes out as I made my way back to the bedroom.

Thankfully, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend came home from work in the middle of this. He knows that I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and he looked pretty damn scared to see me crying in pain like that. I managed to put on my deodorant and coconut oil, but it took both of us to try and get some clothes on me. He tried to rub my back and shoulder for me a bit, but the pain was so intense I almost threw up on him. So after checking the hours of local clinics, he convinced me to call in sick to work so he could take me to the urgent care clinic.

I’m stubborn, so I never go to clinics. Usually, I just check WebMD, laugh at their diagnosis, and then just power through whatever is wrong with me. Today WebMD said I have two types of meningitis, West Nile (again), Lyme disease, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken neck. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was a little disappointed with my visit to the clinic today. WebMD was definitely more fun! The doctor didn’t exam my shoulder and neck and didn’t even touch me.  She just asked me a few questions and sent me out of there with a few prescriptions. I have some pretty nice pain pills and a muscle relaxant I can take to help me sleep.

So today has been pretty strange. It hurts to move much, and I’ve cried a lot so far. I called in sick for the 3rd time in 4 years at this job, and am determined to make it for my evening inventory shift tomorrow. The pain pills are working pretty well, but I still hurt. I went out to the clinic, in public, in my pj’s and soaking wet hair without even drawing on some eyebrows. And the not-so-helpful Bowser Kitten can’t understand why I won’t pick him up or play fetch with him today.

So, I’m taking it easy today. Spent most of the day at my desk, working on some reports I have to bring to work tomorrow. Read some funny stories, looked at memes and cat videos, watched a little Drag Race. I’ve got a few magazines here I can browse through, some books that need reading, and games on my phone to keep me entertained. It’s weird, not being at work on a Saturday night. It also made me realize a whole lot of things I wish I could do, but can’t with this current job.

1) Brunch on weekends

I have a few friends I’ve been meaning to catch up with for ages, and most of them are looking for something to do on Saturday mornings. What could be a better way to keep in touch than around a table, surrounded by poached eggs and avocados? I used to get together with my sister, brother, and a few cousins once a month for brunch. When my cousins were too busy, me and my siblings went a few times. Then, I started having to work every single weekend and we just stopped getting together.

2) Farmers Markets

Again, these are Saturdays around here. I missed every single market downtown last year because of work and only made it to the west end market once the entire season. I used to love hitting up the market, buying things from local merchants, and trying new things.

3)Hitting up the markets across town

We have a really big market called Market Square, and another market just down the street from it. Again, it’s all local merchants and there is a huge variety of stuff there to explore. I used to go to the market with my dad, pick out some fancy meats or new veggies, grab some authentic polish sausage (or hit up one of the stands selling vegetarian substitutes just for me when dad wasn’t looking), and then just relax and snack on our new finds while we watched tv. I haven’t done that in years though.

4) Grocery shopping in general

AAB just came back from a run to the grocery store, and I couldn’t go with him because of this damn pain. I’m going through what he bought, looking at the receipt, and all I can focus on is the tiny cans of pop he bought me. They’re a pack of six 222mL cans, and two six packs are $5. My inner bargain shopper is screaming right now because I buy two six packs of the 710mL bottles for that price.  I just never have time to do a full, good grocery shop because of when I work. AAB has the van during the day, so I would have to walk to the store (which is right next to my work), load up on everything we need, take a cab back, unload everything and put it away, and then walk back up to the store to go to work. If anything, I usually run to the store on my break and grab a few small things. I miss being able to spend a good hour or so comparing prices, looking at flyers, planning meals, and working with a shopping list and a real budget.

5) Yoga

This pain in my shoulder and neck probably could have been avoided with proper stretching, or with just not sharing a tiny bed with AAB and the super long Bowser Kitten. Truth is, I used to be pretty bendy and flexible. I could never do the splits for some reason, but I never got stiff or sore because when I would read or write I was always in super weird positions. But lately everything is done at my desk, and my only exercise (especially since my fall) has been walking to and from work. I miss being bendy and not sore and wish I had time for the kitten yoga classes they have on weekends across town.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I absolutely love these things. For me a perfect weekend would involve a brunch with my sister and brother or a few friends, a yoga lesson or two (and maybe one or two during the week, if I had a schedule I could actually work around), a trip to the Multifoods and to the grocery store near work, and hitting up the market and/or farmers market. I could do a little food prep, make my snack bags, sip on some tea (and wine), and curl up with a good book at night.

But instead, I have this strange schedule that is impossible for me to work around. AAB gets up for work by 6:20am, which usually wakes me up. I either wake up with him or try to nap for an hour or two if I was up later the night before. I drink coffee, check social media, do a bit of writing or read some of my research (which I’m super behind in), and then start on the cleaning. There is somehow always so much cleaning to do. Between the cleaning, trying to write, the oh-so-distracting Bowser Kitten, and attempting to cook something healthy for lunch instead of mac’n’cheese yet again, I don’t hop in the shower until a little after noon usually. After a brief hair and makeup break, I try to clean up a bit more or get started on some sort of project here. But by the time 2pm rolls around, it’s too late to start any big projects or go anywhere before work. Depending on my start time, I’m out the door sometime between 3pm and 4:30pm and am at work until just before 9:30pm. AAB likes to eat right before bed, so he waits for me to come home before he eats dinner. Unless I get stuck in a YouTube loop (thanks, WatchMojo) or actually pick up one of the dozens of books I need to read around here, we’re both in bed by 10:30pm. Even if I get a giant to-do list done in a day, it feels like a whole wasted day of nothing.

I miss being able to feel like I accomplished something in my day. I miss being able to buy my mushroom meat anytime I want it. I miss the smell of the European market and the sight of the giant fish swimming in their tanks just waiting to be killed at the Asian market. I miss green tea and yoga on a Saturday afternoon and hurting myself laughing over granola and poached eggs. I guess this schedule just makes me feel trapped. Having a day off, regardless of the immense pain I’m in, was a bit of a blessing. It’s helping me to see the things that are really important to me when considering a work-life balance, other than the usual “I need time with AAB and to cook dinner sometimes”.

Before I have to take my muscle relaxer (which supposedly will make me goofy), I think I’ll work on a few job applications. The one I’m working on the hardest inspired a post I have in my drafts to work, about the pains of the job hunt. I think I’ll work on it more once I’m done with the pains of having nerves and muscles.