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Well, I survived Thanksgiving where my oldest daughter, my two brothers, their families and my dad and step-mom all met in a hotel conference room and celebrated Thanksgiving pot-luck style.  My step-sister and her boyfriend showed up for an hour or so as well and it was actually a really nice time.

My younger daughter, Tina, and I went up together and on the hour-long drive up she worried that she was unwanted because of being still married and having gotten a second tattoo recently.  Tina really struggles with feeling unwanted from both sides of her family but especially her father’s side since they care much more about “proper”.   Thankfully, this get-together was with my side of the family.  Anyway, on the drive home I asked her if it was better than she thought it would be and was happy to hear that she had a good time and didn’t feel like the black sheep she thinks everyone considers her.  She had a good time with her cousins, everyone oohed and aahhed over her new tattoo and she felt like she was able to connect with everyone a little more than previously in her life.  My two girls appeared to get along just fine, although I could tell they were both wary of the other and my older girl wasn’t interested in having any real conversations with me.  She also left the party early.

Sadly, Sean wasn’t able to come because his dad had just passed away a week before Thanksgiving.  That would have been a great time to introduce him to everyone.

Of course, everyone commented on my hair, being blue and all, and my step-mom (who had un-invited me to her home the weekend before and I still don’t know why) tried to be funny and say that it was “disgusting” how many compliments I get when were out and about together and I had a light bulb moment and realized that truly is how she feels.  She is jealous of me.  Possibly even jealous that my dad loves me.  I doubt he loves me more than he loves her, mostly because he’s so quiet and reserved that it’s hard to tell how he’s feeling about anyone or anything – except the dogs and cats.  He loves them best, they have his heart.  Possibly because they’re safe to love.  My heart breaks for him but I don’t know how to help him.

So Thanksgiving turned out better than I thought it would be overall but I’m also left feeling very alone, family-wise, and wondering if I did the right thing moving to Montana.  After I was un-invited to my stepmom’s house I wrote my folks a card, explaining that due to the financial aid problem I wouldn’t be able to keep coming up every week to go to church with them and spend time with them because I had to get a third job (again).  They should have received it just before Thanksgiving but only said “I’m sorry things are tight”.  I’m guessing my step-mom interpreted that as a request for a financial hand-out, which it wasn’t at all, but that seems to be the only thing she thinks of me, is that I’m constantly asking for things from her… ugh.

The weekend after Thanksgiving Tina and I went to Washington on Saturday to meet my brothers, their wives and my sister who came up for the weekend.  My sister was the only one not able to come up for Thanksgiving so it was nice to see her for a bit.  Sean’s dad’s funeral service was Sunday, the next day and they asked me to sing Amazing Grace and the song I sang at my own mother’s funeral.

Earlier that week my step-mom did reach out to me and ask me to come up on Sunday and do her nails, even offering to pay me, and asked if I wanted a little Christmas tree she was going to get rid of.  Fortunately I was able to say that Tina had a Christmas tree she brought with her when she moved to Montana with me and so we didn’t need her tree (I’m trying not to take things from her anymore because maybe that’s one of her hang-ups, I don’t ask her for stuff but she gives me a lot of things so maybe it’s in response to a perceived request that I didn’t actually make???) and I also apologized that I wouldn’t be able to come up and do her nails on Sunday (the only day that would work for her) because I was singing at Sean’s dad’s funeral.

Her response left me feeling like she was angry but that could just be me, texts are hard to read emotion into so I’m not totally sure. Oh, and she sent me another message saying they weren’t doing Christmas presents anymore, as in she’s not getting me or my daughter anything so we don’t have to give them anything either.  She tried to phrase it like it was a kindness to me, reducing my stress by not having to buy two more gifts but it felt like a punishment.  I’ve always thought gifts were her love language.  Possibly I was wrong given the way she’s angry with me for “asking for everything” but since she married my dad in ’91 she has always given me and my siblings and then our spouses and children wonderful gifts so yeah, it feels like a punishment.

Later my dad sent me a message saying he was “praying for (stepmom’s) heart to soften towards you and Tina”  What the hell?  Why on earth is she upset with my daughter?  And why won’t she ever say stuff like this to my/our face?  She acts like she loves us and everything is wonderful, I only hear about these things from my dad, who begs me not to tell her he told me, I’m guessing because she would make his life even more miserable than it already is.  Ugh.  At this point I’m over it.  I’m so happy to be living an hour away from her.  I wish I could be there for my dad more but I feel like my trying to be close to him is making his life more difficult with her so I’m just staying away from them both.

Work at the restaurant has been slow because it’s winter time and so on top of not getting all of my financial aid I haven’t been getting very big paychecks either.  I took another position, still in the same building but technically for a separate business, at the liquor store.  Now me, who is basically a non-drinker and completely clueless regarding types of alcohol and what they’re used for, is suddenly responsible for directing people to find all different types of liquor, vodka, whiskey, tequila, wines, olives, bloody mary mixes and the like.  I’m not sure this plan was very well thought out… but it’s a job and it’s not all that difficult so I’m going to do my best there just like I do everywhere else.  So far I’ve worked three shifts and all the customers have been really nice so hopefully that continues.  I think between now and Christmas, between the two jobs, I have two days off.  Go me…  but as long as it pays the bills, eh?

Speaking of bills, I’m trying desperately to stay on top of things.  The phone company is taking their automatic payment out on Wednesday, and I don’t get paid until Friday.  I called them and they won’t move it back two days.  Also, the landlords haven’t cashed their rent check for this month yet so that means there is money enough to cover the phone bill in the bank but then the rent check will bounce – and I’m terrified of what they will do if it does bounce.  I’m not confident that they wouldn’t evict me immediately, given the “trouble” they think I’ve already caused them with the firewood incident.  Talk about stress.  I’m trying to borrow money from my sister for two days but if she can’t do it then I’m going to have to swallow my pride and ask the school owner for a loan, something I think I blogged that I would rather die than do…  but this is life and you do what you have to do to survive I guess.  If neither can/will loan me the money I’ll to go the bank and ask if they can deny the phone charges and hold the money for the rent check and we’ll just go without phones for a few days until I get paid.  Adulting sucks, just sayin’.

But none of that is the worst part.  The worst part is that I am out of firewood.  It’s 8 degrees outside and I only have a few pieces left.  Since I’m hardly ever home between work and school it’s not such a big deal for me but I can’t keep my daughter warm.  It was surprisingly hard to ask her to go live with her boyfriend for a while so that she will be safe and warm until I can get on top of things again.  I cried after they left tonight.  It almost felt like I was putting her up for adoption because I can’t provide for her.

Sean was over the moon, of course, and watching him look at her is like watching a flower worship the sun.  He’s an amazing man and exactly what she needs, I’m so glad they found each other.  His mom really likes Tina too (and he lives with his mom) so it’s no problem for her to stay with them. They have just started to invite me on family outings, which has been super cool.  Tonight we went to hear his nephews sing in the Christmas concert at school and then we went out to eat.  It’s nice to get to know his mom, she’s a neat lady.

I know that I was supposed to come here to Montana but maybe it was just so that Tina and Sean would meet.  Maybe I don’t have to be here anymore.  I love this part of Montana, it’s so beautiful, but life has been nothing but hard since I came here.  I’m beginning to daydream about going back to where I came from, there are multiple people who have said I could stay with them for a bit, and I could always live with my Vietnamese family long term if I needed to.  I would have an instant job with customers who remember me and love me and I could make good money again… be that person again who goes to restaurants and orders food instead of the one serving it and praying for a good tip.  It’s very tempting to go back as I sit here in my living room, huddled underneath a blanket with my heavy winter coat on, typing with frozen fingers…  but to give up now when I’m so close to graduating would be a complete waste of the last year plus I’d have to start paying off my student loans right away without any extra license to do more than just nails.  Nope, not a good idea.  I’ll have to tough it out like I always do.  Dammit.

So just to be clear, I’m not asking anyone for money.  I made my bed and now I’m laying in it.  I’m just documenting all of this for later and getting it out of my head, this is my journal/blog, after all.

And whining a bit too, I’ll admit to that.

But in the end, I chose this life when I left my ex husband.  I decided to go it alone and even though everything pretty much sucks right now I’d still take this over staying married to him.  I can do this.  I’ve lost everything before, even if I lose it all again I will be successful in the long run and look back on these days, realizing they weren’t all that bad.  I’m going to be OK.

 

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So I really did intend to write more often than this… ugh.  It’s been another month since my last post and here’s what’s new:

I wonder if school will be the death of me…  At the end of October I reached the milestone of 1,000 hours at school, officially halfway done for the students who have to attend for the full 2,000 hours.  Being already licensed as a nail tech I have been given 400 hours worth of credit towards those 2,000 hours, allowing me to graduate after attending just 1,600 hours of school.  The first 1,000 hours were fine, I received the full amount of the Pell Grant and Student Loans.  But apparently, because I’m not attending school for another 1,000 hours I don’t qualify for the full Pell Grant or Student Loans.  I only qualify for 1/4 of the money I would have received if I didn’t have 400 hours credit.

One-fourth of the money for missing less than half the hours, how is that right?

Oh, and did I mention that I have to pay for the full 2,000 hours?  That I don’t get any discount whatsoever for not needing 400 hours of a teacher’s time?  So I’m being charged for 2,000 hours but only receiving financial aid for 1,600 AND I’m getting charged overages at the rate of $6 a hour for every hour it takes me to complete my time after 1680 teacher hours.  I will be close to $1,000 in overages by the time I graduate even though I’m paying for a 2,000 hour contract and won’t come even close to reaching 2,000 hours in the end…

Knowing this ahead of time would have been helpful but oh no, the school owner and newly hired school accountant/financial aid adviser (also a former school owner herself) kept telling me things without knowing what they’re talking about.  When I first questioned the lesser amount to the accountant on Tuesday she said “My mistake, I’ll fix it”.  The next day from the owner it was “Nope, the numbers are right because of your 400 hour credit but if you change your contract and attend for the full 2,000 hours you can get all the money”.  This was Wednesday and I asked to have until Friday to make my choice.  I was so upset that I vented to other students in the break room.  There are cameras throughout the school, I’ve always known that.  What I didn’t know was that the one in the break room and possibly all of them record audio as well.  Everything I said was truthful but I did say it while I was quite unhappy and trying to process everything I had just learned.  We’ll come back to this…

I took the next day off of school to crunch the numbers and see if I can survive off of the smaller amount of financial aid or if I will need to go to school for the extra 400 hours to receive the full amount.  After some mathing I realized that my income will still be short almost $500 a month and I won’t receive enough financial aid to cover that deficit for the next 4 months so therefore I must do the full 2,000 hours to receive the full financial aid benefits.

School is so stressful for me, my depression and anxiety have jumped into overdrive since I started attending there.  After two years of being off of my antidepressant pills I had to go back on them 3 months after starting school and they just don’t seem to be keeping up with my emotional stability needs so deciding to attend an extra 400 hours of school is A Big Deal.  I feel like I’m being forced to chose between having financial peace and my sanity.  But the numbers don’t lie and I just don’t see how I can do it on the fraction of financial aid I was expecting so I accepted that the decision to stay was the best thing for me, I made peace with my choice and made some plans to try and survive the longer time at school.

Today, Friday, I went back to school and asked to change my contract to the full 2,000 hours so that I could have the full financial aid.  The owner and her husband, who had previously handled the financial aid adviser position, sat me down and he explained to me that it wouldn’t make a difference if I went for the full time or not because the government wasn’t going to pay a second time for hours I’ve already done.  “It’s fraud”, he said…  The owner then told me she listened to the recording of me venting to the other students, told me I was “unprofessional” and because I did that she isn’t going to forgive my overage charges that she had agreed to not charge me for when I spoke with her on Wednesday…  I have a feeling that it wouldn’t have matter if I had vented or not, I would still be paying for my overages, it’s just too much money to forgive.

A classmate brought it to my attention that recording anyone without their knowledge and consent is illegal.  Well then.

Recognizing that I am fully and completely screwed and there’s no way they will show me any kind of grace I apologized for being unprofessional and turtled.  The owner then went on to say she could expel me for my outburst in the break room but she “wouldn’t do that to me” and went on for another 10 minutes about how much she wanted to help me graduate and how I deserve it more than anyone else in the school – and then she went on another 10 minutes after that about all the nice things she’s done for other people (both in the school and in the community) and repeated over and over again that if I need financial help to please come to her and ask her for money.

I think I would rather freeze, live out of my car and starve to death first…

I finally escaped her office and felt numb for the rest of the day.  I couldn’t even cry.  I just feel empty.  I’m grateful I can still graduate in early March instead of June but I don’t know how I’ll make all my bills – although God has taken good care of me so far, I know He will continue to provide, I was just hoping to be done with 14-hour school-then-work days but I guess not.

I’ve been advised to take all of this up with the State Cosmetology Board and I probably could do something petty and trivial about the illegal recording but I’m afraid that she will expel me for real and then I would have to move across the state to find the next nearest beauty school to finish my hours.  I’m afraid that it’s best if I just keep my head down and push through until I am done and then approach the Board about her school policies…  we’ll see just how many enemies I want to make after I’ve graduated.

To further complicate things, the beautiful, long-haired, Jesus-looking man at my waitressing job has become an important part of my life (that will be the next post) and his father was admitted to the hospital yesterday and died today.  There’s just so much going on right now.  I really think I’d just like to quit everything and live off of welfare for a few years, no more adulting please, I’m over it…

There’s so many things I think “I need to put this in the blog” and then the minute I have time to write I can’t think of anything to talk about.  I know, right?

It’s my first entire day off from everything – no school, no nails, no waitressing – and I’m sick with a head cold.  I tried to sleep in but I couldn’t breathe so I got up and started watching the Firefly series.  Took a Mucinex, ate chicken noodle soup, had a nap, made some eggs and toast and am back to watching Firefly with only a slight fever…  Oh the exciting life of me.  I have tomorrow off from school but I have to go to a doctor appointment in the morning and waitressing in the evening and then back to school on Wednesday.

I’m finding I dread going to school and have for a while now but the more days I take off the longer it takes me to get out of there so hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to school I go.  I knew it would be hard, to go back to school for a year but I didn’t expect it to be this hard…

Dammit.

I feel like I live in three different worlds – one world is at school, another world is the restaurant and the third world is with my folks.  School I endure, I have mostly acquaintance friends there, with a couple of closer friends.  The new girls, called “Back Class” because they have to stay back in the classroom until they’ve hit 300 hours, all seem to look up to me.  They all know my name and seem to treat me with great deference, which is both sweet and intriguing because I wonder who said what to them about me to make them act that way.  But I am bone-weary at school, all day every day now.  My favorite teacher left in mid August and the teacher that was left is trying her best to be king of the hill – she seems to have a personal grudge against me, scrutinizes my work more than most of the other students and nit-picks even the tiniest details of what I do on the mannequin head to fulfill my requirement sheet items.  The teacher that replaced my favorite teacher is the owner’s daughter and she’s a nice lady, seems to like me just fine but she’s only there a few days a week.  The owner has her favorites and while I’m not one of them I’m also not on her black list so I just kind of float along as much under her radar as I can.  I just try to keep my head down, get my work done and put my hours in but it’s become a miserable existence for 38 hours a week.  My dream of being cosmetology teacher is waning away into nothingness…

At the restaurant it’s a completely different world.  I show up 15 – 20 minutes early, work hard, am appreciated by my co-workers, we laugh and joke together, I help them, they help me and I get energy from working with all my customers, walk so much I’m losing weight, make money and go home happy, smiling and excited.  One of the servers is a fascinating man with the most beautiful long hair – when he lets it down he seriously looks just like all those paintings of Jesus and I’ve always been a sucker for long haired men, lol.  I think he might like me and I think it would be easy to like him, really easy.  But my daughter just started working at the restaurant with me as a busser and she says he treats everyone the way he treats me – as in, I’m not special to him, lol.  But he’s a joy to work with, kind, funny, a hard worker, helps everyone and has overcome a crazy past.  I like him very much but I’m not sure we would be right for each other, maybe that’s why I’m looking for signs he might like me too.  Although I’m pretty sure one of the cooks actually does like me and he while he seems like a nice guy I’m pretty positive that he isn’t for me.

At my folks I am quiet.  I mostly listen.  I do a lot of turtling.  Sometimes we go to lunch after church with their friends and I try to mainly smile and nodd.  I feel like my step-mom gets jealous of any attention I get from her friends – and from the strangers who approach me frequently to complement me on my hair – so I try to be quiet.  Every other week I give my step-mom an acrylic fill for which she thanks me but neither pays nor tips me.  At first it didn’t bother me because she let me live with them rent-free for 5 months but I must admit it is becoming annoying because she doesn’t seem to recognize that not only am I saving her a bunch of money by doing her fills for free but it actually costs me product and gas.

I moved to Montana to be closer to my dad specifically but I wanted to get to know both of them.  She and I have had very few conflicts over the last 26 years that she’s been married to my dad but since I moved here I’ve seen much more of her true character.  She is probably the most insecure person I’ve ever met and takes pretty much everything personally.  Case in point, I was at church with them one day and asked one of their friends (who knew me when I was a little girl so he’s been friends with my dad a long time) to pray for something that was going on.  I was thinking that he would just pray throughout the week but he said “Let’s pray right now” and put his arm around me and started praying.  That was cool, I wasn’t asking for or expecting prayer right that instant but it was really nice of him to do that.  I get a phone call from my dad the next week saying his wife was offended that she (and my dad) weren’t invited to pray with us that Sunday.  He stressed that he didn’t think I did anything wrong but that it made her feel left out and to please be aware of it for the future…  Dad has also told me that she gets upset when I post something on Facebook before telling them first – to the point that I suspect she made my dad give up his Facebook page completely as she didn’t even have her own page but kept checking his…  Since I see them once a week I preferred to just tell them my news in person so we could chat face to face instead of me texting them things throughout the week, in all my spare time, ugh.  She is kind and gracious to my face but I can only imagine how she must carry on to my dad before he finally calls me and tells me what I did that upset her and he always begs me not to tell her that he talked to me.  And once when I was still living with her my dad tried to fix something and made it worse instead – it really wasn’t a big deal – but she berated him and called him pathetic and made fun of him for even attempting to fix it.  She did this to him in front of me and in front of his friend that came to help him fix it.  Then she continued to rant and rave about him to me when he left to go to the hardware store for the part.  I was so shocked that I could only try to redirect the conversation.  She did stop and we talked about something else and then apologized for what she said but when my dad got back with the part she started up on him again.  They left to go see my brothers the next day for a long weekend and I wept for most of Saturday and Sunday to the point that I couldn’t even sing on the worship team and could barely continue playing the piano.  That was Mother’s Day weekend and I decided to move out from their house because of how she talked to my dad.

I am so glad I moved an hour away from them, it’s much easier to be less involved with her now and I won’t ever hear her say things like that to or about my dad again.  Now that I don’t live there I can try to stand up to her and then just leave.  Since I quit my movie theater job I don’t have to go in to see them every Sunday for the last month so I’ve missed a few Sundays lately and will probably not go every week anymore.  Honestly, I wish I was rich and could afford a big house with enough space to let him live with me and away from her…  I’m not sure he would actually take me up on such an offer but I wish I could at least offer him a space away from her.

I miss my movie theater job, or at least the people there.  That was a fourth world… I went back and saw a movie yesterday, got to say hi to some of my favorites and one nice young man, Jared, invited me and my daughter to dinner this Thursday here in the town where we live.  Does that qualify as a date?  And with which one of us?  I feel like he and I have connected on a deeper level than just friends and you don’t drive an hour to have dinner with someone and then turn around and drive an hour home just for fun normally…  He is an amazing man, tall and handsome (he’s Native American, of course. I have thought Natives were the most beautiful people in the world since I was a child), a hard worker and going to school for psychology.  I really, really enjoy working with him.  The problem is that he’s only 26.  He’s met my daughter a couple of times and I did mention that she was single now so I’m hoping that he’s wanting to date her and then maybe they’ll get married and have super cute babies and I’ll have him as a son forever…  <dreaming>

So, I live in three different worlds and I’m only really happy in one of them, when I’m working hard and interacting with the public.  School will be over in early March as long as I don’t take any extra days off and that, hopefully, will change the largest part of my day.  In the meantime, I’m in survival mode.  Again.  But this time it won’t last 21 years, lol.

So if I’m looking at this correctly my last post was about six weeks ago, just before my birthday… time sure flies but not necessarily because I was having fun, lol.  Oh Lordy, I am so tired of adulting!

I got a third job in September, waitressing at a local sports bar and grill here in my little Montana town.  That made my schedule pretty tight.  School 8:30 – 4:30 pm M – F, work on nail customers Thursday nights and Saturday mornings, waitressing from 5 pm to close (anywhere from 10:30 to 11:30 pm) most nights except Thursdays and Sundays and then working at the movie theater Sunday nights from 5 pm to midnight then an hour drive home, go to sleep and get up at 7:30 Monday morning to start it all over again.

No more adulting please…

I finally gave my notice to the movie theater after three weeks of that, waitressing pays much better and I just wasn’t functioning well at school on Mondays.  That was sad and my last day there was bittersweet.  I was so happy not to be driving an hour home at midnight anymore but it is one of my favorite jobs ever – I think if I ever burn out on the beauty business I’ll go back to working at the movie theater and work my way up to being a GM because it’s a fun job and the perfect hours for me.

We had a misunderstanding with the landlords, another tenant had moved out right after we moved in and left a bit a firewood behind.  After the smoke and fires in our area went out the weather suddenly turned cold quickly so my daughter went and gathered the firewood that had been left behind and we started to use it.  The landlords went looking for it one day and it wasn’t there so they searched their video camera footage and saw her moving it into the back of her pickup truck (it was closer to the house and kept it out of the rain, there really wasn’t that much of it in the first place) and so they peeked through the windows of her canopy and saw the firewood and a coffee table that had been left behind in our trailer from the previous tenant.  My folks had given us a smaller coffee table that fit the space better so we had put the other one in the back of her truck to keep it out of the rain until we could give it back and since the landlords are hardly ever at the park where we live we forgot about it.  Next thing I know, I get an angry phone call from one of the landlords because we “stole” the wood and their furniture and he seemed especially upset that I had left some mattresses outside, leaning against my trailer (they were seriously garbage, they were so gross) “to get rained on and ruined”.  He said wanted to give me three days eviction notice.  Whaaa?

These are seriously some of the weirdest people I have ever met.  If I could find another place to live for the same price I would totally move but I like my home and the cute little park it’s in and they’re really not here very often.  I think as long as we pay on time and don’t touch anything else that’s not on our little bit of land we’ll be fine.

But back to the phone call – I apologized profusely, tried to explain about the wood and the furniture and asked repeatedly what I could do to make it right.  All of a sudden he stopped talking, said he was on a job site and didn’t have time to talk to me (although he talked plenty when it was his turn and he was angry) but he would come to the park the next day, Sunday, and talk to me then or that we would at least talk on the phone.  I had plans to go see my folks that day but I decided this was more important so I said I would be available until 3:30 when I had to leave for work.  He said he would contact me the next day.

I set my alarm for 9 am, woke up and texted him, asking if he knew when he would be at the park and reminded him that I had to leave at 3:30.  No response.  I texted my folks and apologized that I wouldn’t be able to be there that day like I was supposed to be and I sat and waited all day, stuck in the one area of the house that gets any kind of wifi and cell service, until I had to leave for work with no response.  I wrote a note – apologizing again and enclosed the next month’s rent plus $50 cash to cover the wood and the mattresses, and asked if there was anything else I could do to make it right and put it in the drop box.  I texted him again that I had to leave for work and that I had left a note in the drop box for him.

Again, no response.

The wife landlord called me and left a message a few days later saying that my daughter had been angry at her son and if we had any issues we needed to take it up with them and not “put that on their kids”.  I asked my daughter what had happened and she said that when she went to check our mail at the park office there was a box that had my last name on it that had been crossed out and she freaked out a bit, thinking it meant they were going to kick us out because of the wood issue.  She asked the 14 year old son “Why is my mom’s name crossed out?”, probably in a harsh/angry tone of voice because she was panicking and then she saw that a large piece of mail was actually covering up my name in the box right next to the one that was crossed out.  She said she apologized, took the mail and walked out again.  Boy calls mom, mom calls me and leaves a message…  before I was even able to talk to my daughter I send the wife landlord a text, apologizing for my daughter causing her son distress, explain what I suspected happened (exactly what did happen) and ask if she had received my note, check and cash and were we good now?

Still no response.

I have also not received a receipt for this months rent payment or anything to indicate that they did receive it except for the absence of the monthly rent reminder that we received the month prior.  This couple owns multiple businesses, has 6 kids and I feel like they just have too much on their plate and have very poor communication skills.  They don’t talk to me at all unless they’re angry about something, don’t acknowledge even the most basic texts and they won’t even answer a request for a response.  I’ll stay here as long as I can because I like the place itself and it’s very affordable but these people are crazy!

Another thing that happened in these last six weeks is that Kyle graduated from beauty school last week, it was both hard and a relief.  Hard because he really is/was my closest friend there.  A relief because I made it weird and it hasn’t been the same since.  Well, actually, he made it weird first…

He started out by saying there was a rumor going around school that we were sleeping together.  I kind of doubt that there was actually such a rumor, I think he was just saying it to see my reaction but I played along because it was fun.  They he started mopeing around and saying things like “you’ve changed a homo” and other things that made me think that he actually did want to sleep with me.

Now I still don’t really want to sleep with anyone, I’m just not there yet, but I trust him and I do love him every other way and so I thought about it and decided that if I did sleep with him it would be a safe experience and probably even something beautiful.  I’ve never had beautiful sex in my whole life so I answered the question he did everything but ask.  I sent Kyle a message that said “If you want the rumors to be true all you have to do is ask”.  His response?  “Lol”.

Apparently all men are asses to one degree or another.  Ugh.

And that changed everything – and made it my fault, even though he started it.  He stopped hugging me every day, stopped touching my shoulder as we passed in the hallway.  He still let me touch him, give him back-rubs, scalp treatments, facials, all the usual stuff I did for him at school.  But for the most part he stopped reaching out to touch me.  Even now, just typing this out has me crying.  Kyle was my only source of affection and now he’s gone both physically and emotionally.  And he never seems to have much time for me outside of school, I’ve tried to hang out away from school and he’s always busy.  So even though we usually have a great messaging relationship when we don’t see each other face to face I’ve pretty much lost him forever now…

Speaking of men leaving, my daughter’s boyfriend who was living with us, that I wrote the blog “The Man Who Makes Me Want To Date Again” about, moved back to the town we came from and got another girlfriend there, only telling my daughter the day before she was going to go back and visit him for the weekend.  So we are both alone at the moment.  The only good thing to come out of that is now my daughter has no reason whatsoever to move back to our old town and will stay here with me.  She’s doing well, has a good job, has made a few friends, all of my friends love her.  It’s a good fresh start for her.

I stayed home from school today.  I’ve been so exhausted all of the time that it’s started to affect my balance, my memory, my speech, my dexterity, pretty much everything.  And I can’t afford to miss work so I’m missing school.  If I can just hold on and to go school the rest of the month I will hit 1,000 hours on October 26th and then I will get my next batch of financial aid, which means I won’t have to work as much, I can take more time off and rest.  Please God, I need rest…

 

So I feel like I need to backtrack a bit and explain some things…

And now I realized that since I started this post at the end of July the website is putting it there as far as the timeline is concerned but I’m really writing it at the end of August, lol.

I spent the month of June back where I came from.  The goal was to make lots of money so that when I came back I wouldn’t have to work for a few months…  well I made the money, sure enough, but apparently I spent it too because after everything was paid for, including the moving trailer, gas, food and a hotel on the way back I had less than one month’s worth of bills left in the bank.  <sigh>  Looking back though I can’t think of anything I would have done differently because in the end my younger daughter came back to Montana with me and at the end of July we moved into a place of our own!  (My daughter’s boyfriend also moved in with us – and he’s a marvelous young man – but he’s going to get his own post eventually.) But finances are so tight that every penny shrieks in terror of all the ways I need to spend it and I’ve even applied for three waitressing jobs but nobody seems to be hiring right now, ugh.

Our place is a 2 bed, 1 bath trailer.  It’s a short double-wide parked in an odd little location kind of in the middle of nowhere.  The interior paint is a fascinating collage of purple, orange, pink, mint green, silver, brown and grey.  The floors are wood in some places, tile in others, linoleum here and there and my bedroom has carpet.  The fridge is newer and nice but the stove only has 2 working burners, the small ones, of course.  There’s a little pond, green grass, trees, a fenced back yard for the dog and an 8 foot privacy fence.  It’s the perfect amount of space for the three of us and, oddly enough, has become a quiet oasis that I really enjoy being at.  At night I can see lots of stars and bits of the Milky Way, it’s quiet and there are frogs to catch (and release) in the pond.  The neighbors are nice and it’s turning out to be perfect for us.

Another great thing that happened since I came back is I found a shop space to do nails in here in the same town the school is in so my new home is close to that too!  It’s a tiny salon with two other women, one a little older than me(?), Kim, and one probably in her 70’s(?), Sharon, and they only do hair so they were looking for someone to do nails.  (They also have a third hair station open and would like me to use it after I graduate from school in January.)  My teacher told me about the opening so I called, met with the ladies and we clicked right away.  The booth rent is the lowest I’ve ever found, which is amazing!  In the last month I’ve had about 5 customers and four of them have come back for fills so I’m really happy my nail career is finally beginning here in Montana.  🙂  I know it will take a bit to be self-supporting, it always does when you start a business like this, but it’s taking off, slowly but surely…

On the movie theater work front I have cut back to two days a week (because I moved an hour away) and 4 out of my 5 managers encouraged me to apply for a shift leader position… so I did!  I wound up not getting it simply because I’m only working 2 days a week but they said that if I ever wanted to be a manager or supervisor to let them know and they would work with me to make it happen.  I really do like the management at this theater, they’re just the nicest people 🙂  I should probably quit this job and concentrate on working closer to home but it pays for my gas to go to see my folks every weekend and it’s such a fun job that it’s totally worth it… not to mention the free movies!

Oh, I did have an accident at work, I tripped over a rolled-up rug and got a bone-bruise on my right knee cap so that’s been fun.  Again, this company is great to work for, they contacted me right away and have taken care of everything and all the management treats me just the same as before.

Coming back to school after a month of being a business professional again has been difficult.  I’m very aware of how other people view me, it’s a curious mixture of a gift and a curse, lol.  The more I let it bother me how other people see me the more of a curse it is but the less I let it bother me the more insight I have into that person and the more of a gift it is…  And I’m realizing that the shift in people’s perception of me – and even in my own view of myself – from someone who knows what they are doing and who is appreciated and loved for my talent to “just a student” who doesn’t know what they are doing and has to have instructors supervise everything…  I’ll just say it’s been a more difficult transition than I expected but now that I’ve been back for a month it’s getting a little better.

School itself is OK, the owner has a lot going on in her life right now and I’m hoping that’s the reason she’s so inconsistent in her teaching and her rules.  First thing every morning we have an hour of “Theory” which equals approximately 10 minutes of real learning and 50 minutes of either tangent stories or her ranting and raving about something that upset her yesterday.  It’s emotionally exhausting and I struggle to look like I’m paying attention while I tune her out because everything about her just drains me.  Once theory is over there’s 6 1/2 more hours of doing the same work over and over again on a mannequin head and I’m bored.  There’s no alternative to putting in the hours though, you have to be there to get licensed so aside from the few customers that come in I’m trying to grit my teeth and do the work without burning out or taking time off.

I’m definitely back on the happy pills again, I think they’re working???

Friendships with several people at school have gotten stronger and better, which really helps, so that’s a bright spot…

My parents decided to switch churches so we’ve gone someplace new for the month of August so far.  I have to laugh because my step-mom seems to really like this new church but complains that it’s “so far away” and is thinking about trying something closer to home.  It’s maybe 5 miles from their house, lol.  Small town mentality 😀

I am reminded of what Bilbo Baggins says in The Lord of the Rings “I feel thin, like butter spread over too much bread”, because that’s very much how I feel, which brings me back to painful memories of being married because that’s how I felt at the end of that too, ugh. However, beauty school has an end date!  I should be done in either January or February, depending on how many more days I take off of school and then who knows what will happen…

I took a quick look back over my posts so far this year and realized that I haven’t said much, if anything about Beauty School and it’s become such an important part of my life!  So here’s an overview from the beginning:

I walked into school for the very first time right after I moved to Montana.  A man was at the front desk, (later I learn his name is Rayalf), and he called one of the teachers up (who turned out to be Kammi).  While I’m waiting for Kammi I notice a tall man with blue hair – that was Kyle, who turns out to be my Cwtch…

Kammi takes me back to her office and tells me a little bit about the school, introduces me to the owner, Misty, as “the girl with the nail hours”, assures me I am all set to start with the next class.

The school is much smaller than I expected it to be, in the bigger city I left I used to go to beauty schools all the time to get my hair done and this school is barely a quarter of the size of any of those and yet there’s between 30 and 40 students and three instructors, hmm, this could be interesting…

Fast forward about 3 weeks, I show up to the school and meet my 8 other classmates.  All nice girls and we range in age from 18 to me at 43.  The girl who was in her 30’s dropped out after a couple of months so now it’s just me and the younger ones, lol.  We spent roughly 8 weeks in the back room doing book work and practicing on mannequin heads before we were allowed to move to the front and work on the public.

Just writing this out I realize that none of this is the important part.  The people there, the other students and the instructors are what has made this experience so life-changing for me.

There’s lots of swearing, even from the instructors.  Anything that can be turned into a sexual innuendo is done so with a vengeance and everybody laughs like it’s the funniest thing in the world.  Rayalf, in particular, loves practical jokes and almost everyone affectionately calls each other Bitch or Dude, depending on the mood they’re in.  It’s a circus of chaos and craziness.  But here’s the thing – these people are a family.  They’re real.  In spite of the bickering and the arguing they get along most of the time.  They share their supplies and food with each other.  They listen to each other’s stories,  empathize and hug.  And aside from their moral standards being vastly different than my own they have a much healthier outlook on sex and sexuality than I do.  Granted, probably 99% of all people out there have a healthier view of sex than I do but these people are open and honest about it while at the same time being accepting of me and my beliefs, encouraging me to heal but not pushing me to go outside my moral boundaries.

Some days are hard because I can get overwhelmed with all of the emotions that go on in a building of 30 women and 2 men ranging from 17 – 60.  Even though everyone is always nice to me I can still be affected by the people around me being negative and petty to each other.  I have gone outside and cried many times.  I’ve even gone back on the happy pills because school can be so stressful.  I don’t like being on the happy pills again, I was very proud of myself for having gotten off them but I’m realizing that my body doesn’t handle stress yet the way it should.  It handles stress better than it did when I was married, way better, but it’s still not back to completely healthy… so happy pills it is.  I even stayed home one day as a “mental health” day and it was totally worth it.  I plan to take three days off a month to help preserve my sanity even though it will lengthen my time at school and cost me about $1400 in overages at the end.  Ugh.

In the end though, it is a crazy, insane kind of world and ultimately I love it.  My hair is blue with purple roots and for the first time in my life I have shaped eyebrows and fake eyelashes.  At school I have friends who love me and hug me and care about me and tell me I’m beautiful and that they’re glad I’m there.  I’ve been able to share my past with some of them and they empathize with me and are very supportive.  My favorite teacher, Kammi, just offered to rent me her spare room and be a part of her family, which I think will be lots of fun.

This group of people – this group of unchurched, largely immoral, profanity professionals loves, respects and accepts me more than any other group I’ve ever been a part of and none of them require me to become like them before being willing to give me their love and affection.

Being around these people both destroys me and builds me back up, but they build me up far more often than they make me cry.

I know I am who and where I am supposed to be.  I know I am doing what I am supposed to do.  Sometimes the being and the doing is hard but the knowing, the knowing makes it all worth it.

 

 

Well then, I have been in beauty school for three months now and will have accumulated 500 hours in about 2 weeks, yay!  I was able to start working on real people (instead of just mannequin heads) at 300 hours, which was the beginning of April, and so far have done 2 perms and about 4 haircuts.  It’s been fun and a little overwhelming at the same time, mostly because they don’t really teach the way I learn, so I’m trying to figure out a lot of things on my own that they may or may not have told me already, lol.  But the customers have been nice and so far they’ve all been happy with the way they look when I leave so that’s a big plus.

I’ve made new friends!  Well, I’m friendly with everyone, that’s just who I am, but some people you connect with easier than others and I’ve found someone I’ve “clicked” with.  Kyle is one of the two guys at school, about 10 years younger than me, tall, good looking and while you wouldn’t know by just looking at him he is happily engaged to his boyfriend and they are getting married in July. I would have never expected that out of everyone at school he would be my closest friend at school and yet he is!

Kyle was the one to put the first “fun” color in my hair back in February – magenta pink with black tips which I absolutely loved – and he accidentally got a lot of the pink dye on my forehead and it wouldn’t come off.  He felt really bad and kept apologizing until I finally just grabbed him and gave him a quick hug and told him not to worry about it and that I loved my hair.

I was a little nervous about hugging him but in the last couple of years since I became single I realized that if I’m going to experience any kind of human touch at all I will have to have to initiate most of it so I became a hugger.  I hugged my Asian family and my friends back in the town I came from as much as I could but I don’t have anybody to hug here in Montana – except my folks and for some reason family doesn’t really count for things like this.  So I made a quick decision to give him a hug and was really relieved that he didn’t look upset afterwards.

Fast forward a few weeks to a Really Bad Day.  I was super stressed out, Beauty School, having mostly late teen and early twenty-something girls is FULL of drama, people talking loudly and lots of high emotions flying around all over the place.  Add to that the fact that I’ve been couch-surfing since October and was struggling with a bit of depression again along with trying to adjust to my new life here in Montana and it was just a really bad day.  I made it through school feeling fragile and ready to cry at the drop of a hat.  After school I posted something on Facebook to my friends about please hug everyone you know, often and randomly because you don’t know when someone is having a hard day and most people really don’t get enough physical affection.

The next morning I walked in the back door to school, which opens into the break room.  Everyone goes there first thing in the morning to put their things in their locker, their lunch in the fridge and hang their coats on the hooks so it was full of girls.  Kyle sees me and in front of  God and everybody he wraps me in a giant bear hug.  He held me for much longer than an “normal” hug, let me go and we separated enough for him to see that I was trying not to cry so he pulled me close and hugged me again, long but not quite as long as the first one.

All of the girls at school were staring at us, apparently this is not how he hugs everyone else and he does a fair amount of hugging because he’s a very friendly guy and just about everybody loves him – or is in love with him, ha, ha.  He is also quite handsome, most of the girls would like to sleep with him and tell him so to his face regularly – but besides not being interested in girls he is committed to his partner of 6 years and just laughs.

I wrote him a little note telling him how much I appreciated – and needed – the hug and that I noticed how he helps other students and the teachers, just a little encouraging note that said I was proud of him for being such a nice guy.  I’ve done similar things before and the recipients usually (not always) say thank you and it’s never mentioned again.  Kyle seemed to go around and show just about everyone important to him.  I know for sure that he showed the owner of the school – who told me later what a nice thing I did in writing the note –  and then Kyle told me that he showed it to his boyfriend and it made him cry.

I’ve never had anyone share my notes with other people before, that was pretty cool.  Because of his reaction to my note I’ve written three more to other students and while they each said thank you and really appreciated the notes it didn’t enable a connection between me and that student like it did with me and Kyle.  I don’t know if it was because they were girls or because Kyle and I have just clicked and I don’t connect as well with them… regardless I’m going to keep writing those encouraging notes and try to write one for everyone by the time I’m done with school

Ever since then he hugs me regularly, pretty much daily and sometimes often more than once a day.  I have become the envy of all the girls who swoon over him, which is entirely a new feeling for me that I’m torn between enjoying and feeling bad about, I’ve never been the girl that other girls are jealous of because of a boy!  And Kyle gives the best hugs, ever.  Even when I was married I never got a hug like Kyle’s from my husband.  Kyle hugs me long and tight, he holds on until I start to pull away.  There is absolutely nothing sexual about his hugs and I feel completely safe in his arms.  He talks to me sometimes and shares stories about his past, his childhood, what was going on in his life when he became homosexual, how some of his family reacted and a few other things that I doubt he tells very many other people.  Sometimes when we hug he tells me he loves me and I say I love him back but again, it’s not at all romantic.

I think that maybe he has never had anyone offer him friendship and affection without strings or sexual joking attached so he probably needs the hugs as much as I do.

We’ve even started messaging each other outside of school occasionally and Kyle said he would go to a movie with me.  I asked if his boyfriend would be okay with that and he laughed and said it was cute that I asked.  He says he’s looking for a boyfriend for me but that it will have to be someone super-special.  The feelings I have for Kyle are pretty much the same kind of love that I have for my best friend from high school.  Deeper than family or marital love; a total, unconditional love between friends.  Kyle’s hugs and friendship have changed my life and made every day at school a little brighter and the hard days easier and I hope that I make his hard days easier too.

I found a word, Cwtch.  It’s Welsh and it means:  A hug that feels like a safe haven.  It’s pronounced like “crutch” except without the “r” so say “cutch”.  Kyle is my Cwtch.  I wish everybody had one and he has inspired me to hug even more people because I know I’m not the only one suffering from lack of physical affection, even in my small sphere of influence.

So I’m going to encourage you too – Go Hug People!  Go be somebody’s Cwtch.  You may never know the difference your hug can make, the life you may actually save by reaching out and touching someone, by hugging them with affection regardless of how “good” of friends you are.  People need to be touched so become a hugger!  Hug hello and hug goodbye.  Tell people you love them, it means you care about them and it doesn’t have to mean anything else.  Be a safe haven for people.  The world needs more Cwtch’s.

Things are going well!  A bit of an overview:

I’m just over halfway done with “Back Class” at school, where it’s all book work and hand-on practice with a mannequin head and no working on paying customers.  So far we’ve learned everything except the actual cutting of hair, which the teacher said she will show us just before we get on the floor.

I made the decision to give up my nail booth at the salon I’ve been at because I just can’t afford it.  I’ve paid $800 for ten weeks of booth rent and have made less than half of it back.  The day I gave the salon owner my notice, planning to vacate the premises this week but she reminded me that I signed a contract requiring me to give two weeks notice so now I owe for two more weeks and I’m out of money…  I cried all morning – not only am I giving up something that is really important to me but now I owe for two more weeks and my only source of income currently is donating plasma.  Ugh.  Turns out that one of my instructors is opening her own salon in May and is willing to rent to me so that’s one option.  I’ve checked with another salon about only working on Saturdays and am waiting to hear back from them so that’s another option…  I’ve also applied at the local movie theater for a part-time, evening job because I love going to movies and I think the hours would be a good fit.  I have an interview Wednesday evening, yay!  And then on Monday I am planning to go to the home health agency my dad works at and apply there as well – I could easily be a personal care aid and do light housekeeping, meal prep, laundry and companionship.  I had a CNA license 15 years ago but I let it expire so I would only be able to do non-licensed care right now but that’s OK, I like helping people.

I did the online dating thing for a month but was over it and cancelled after the first two weeks – since I paid for a month it stayed on for the full month though and those last few days were filled with prayers that nobody would try and contact me, lol!  However, I feel like I made progress, I chatted online with 4 guys AND had one date, a vast improvement over last year when I tried online dating three separate times and only talked to one guy each time with no dates.  Baby steps.  What I find hilarious is the worship leader at church, and possibly the pastor as well, seem to think I’m being “impatient”, lol.  I don’t think they realize that my actual goal in online dating is not so much to get married tomorrow  (and it’s definitely not to get laid) as it is to get comfortable communicating with someone of the male species who just might possibly have an interest in taking me to dinner.  I know I’m damaged in this area and I also know that if I don’t actively work on getting better, the part of my life that deals with romance and intimacy will never ever improve.  At All.  And since I am the ONLY single person in my church and the two guys at school are both married – and one is gay – I don’t have any chance of meeting a single man at either place I spend most of my time, regardless of whether or not he would be interested in buying me food and staring deeply into my eyes… hence the online dating.  And the random, possibly desperate sounding jokes about needing a boyfriend that may be the reason my pastor and worship leader think I’m being impatient.  I’m just trying to get over being petrified but they don’t know me well enough to see beyond what those words would mean coming from an undamaged women’s mouth.

Men are so weird!  😉  Oh and the more Keanu Reeves movies I watch the more I fall in love with him… somehow it’s just easier for me to love men that I know will never love me back, lol, which probably means I’ll be single the rest of my life but now that I’ve survived a loveless marriage I know I’ll be fine, just occasionally whiny about it, ha, ha.

I bought my father a birthday present today, his birthday is in a couple of weeks and I always have the hardest time knowing what to get him because he’s so quiet about what he wants but I think I did pretty good this time!  He plays the guitar and has said a couple of times that he wishes he had a lighter case for his 12-string acoustical guitar – the one he has weighs more than the guitar does all by itself!  So I found the local music store, they had one in stock and I bought it!  Now I just have to find a place to keep it until Dad’s birthday…

Speaking of places to keep things – I am still living with my folks, sleeping on a couch in my Dad’s downstairs office, with just enough floor space next to the couch to keep my two suitcases, two totes and a small storage box.  On top of the totes is my CPAP machine and all the assorted bits of paraphernalia that goes along with everyday life – contact lens solution and cases, the small travel jewelry case that contains a few pieces I brought here with me, gum, cough drops, books, notebooks, pens, a bag I put all of my receipts into, charging cables and the like.  It’s virtually an open “junk drawer” and irritates me to look at it because, somewhat miraculously, I have become a neat and tidy person in my middle aged singleness.  Let me stress that I am soooooo very grateful that my folks let me stay here and haven’t asked for a dime.  I would have been living in my car without their graciousness in housing me and I try my hardest to leave a tiny footprint in their life.  I cart around a laundry basket of food in the trunk of my car to make my school lunches out of and try not leave a mess in the house at any time.  I can tell that it means a lot to my dad to have me here and I love finding bits of time to talk with him and just be around him, I feel like we’re really, finally, starting to connect with each other in a deeper way.  So I feel bad for missing my stuff and my own space… but I do.  I’m ready to find my own place to rent – except that I can’t afford it until I get a job.  <sigh>  My financial aid covers all of my bills like my car payment, insurance, phone, Netflix, etc, but there’s not enough extra to pay for housing so without the kindness of my folks letting me stay with them I would be a dirty, homeless bum right begging showers off the YMCA right now.  This is just another set of dominoes that need to fall in order and everything will be fine in God’s timing…

On a fun note, I’m working my way through Grey’s Anatomy I think that if someone would make a spoof on the show using cosmetologists instead of surgeons it would be super-funny!  But seriously, I think the show is so popular because Patrick Dempsey can do the Man In Romantic Agony face really well and I think deep down every girl wishes a guy would be in Romantic Agony at the thought of not being able to spend his life with her.  I’m only at the beginning of Season 3 and most of Season 2 was spent with Derick and Meredith struggling with their feelings for each other in spite of his decision to “do the right thing” and make it work with his wife.  So far the show has nearly as much sleeping around as Friends did but it addresses some more serious life choice issues as well as some fascinating medical cases.  I’m really enjoying it.

This part of Montana is finally warming up and the falling precipitation has all been rain instead of snow, something I am very thankful for.  The tires on my car were wearing down and I had a noticeable bald spot on the center column of tread on my front tires, something my brother said was an indicator of over-inflation even though they were inflated to what the tire said it should be.  Hmmm…  I had taken a trip to see my best friend from high school and buy nail supplies in her (bigger) city, that was where I had my date that I posted about, and on the trip I was able to see both of my brothers who lived within an hour of my friend and my next older brother and his wife actually bought me a set of four tires from Costco!  I was shocked, amazed and overwhelmed.  I didn’t ask them to do that, I didn’t even hint.  They just offered and I am so grateful!

God is always good and takes excellent care of me through many different people.

What else?  I think that’s about it.  Being on the worship team is going well, school is going well, dating is still non-existent but I’m thinking kinder thoughts about it. My car is running fine, my health is okay, my hair color is no longer the fun magenta that bled all over every piece of fabric it came in contact with and is now a responsible, adult reddish color albeit with some nice black fading on the tips that nobody notices.  The gay guy at school seems to try and find ways for me to touch him by getting pedicures and manicures from me and occasionally touching my shoulder in the hallway and he gives me broad smiles with mischievous winks here and there – and then he ignores me all together.  Did I say men are weird?  They are.  Oh, and I put acrylic on my toenails so I can finally start wearing sandals and not be embarrassed about my toes.  There, now you’re all caught up!

Life is flying by, dang!  Day 11 was January 13th, a Friday.  I will try to summarize…

I sat at my new nail shop allllllll day Friday the 13th with not a single customer.  I finally talked my (step) sister into coming in and letting me give her a full set and then she took me out to dinner and introduced me to a bunch of her friends.

Something I’m learning about (at least this area of) Montana is that going out to eat is more often than not in a bar and drinking is The Thing To Do around here.  We spent probably 5 hours at the bar that night and a few of my sister’s friends were already sauced when we got there… by the end of the night everyone but me was too drunk to drive – I had only consumed one rum and coke, most of one shot of something apple flavored, a sip of two other drinks and 3 Dr. Peppers, with a full meal towards the beginning of all that, lol.  I actually had a great time hanging out with my sister and her friends, even drunk they were great people, happy, friendly, lots of hugs and laughter.  I really enjoyed myself that night and left with a great fondness for each of them.

The next day, Saturday the 14th, I sat at  the nail shop all day again and again, no customers.  And I was out of family to call in and work on for free just for something to do.  Panic starts to set in.  I had just committed to paying for space at the nail salon and had paid the first two weeks up front in cash, leaving me with $100 for the next six weeks… but there wasn’t any walk-in traffic on what is normally the two busiest days of the week.  Granted, it was January (the slowest month) and the weather was below zero so nobody was out and about who didn’t absolutely have to be but I had no other source of income than that spot in the nail salon, my only other skills are secretarial and those jobs don’t happen quickly and require working during school hours. So unless I could find a spot as a Walmart greeter on short notice I had little to no hope of getting any other job at all.  My bills are covered through the end of January but February  is coming quick… what do I do?  Anxiety began to ride the heels of panic.

Sunday the 15th I went to church and hung out at the house, reading a book the rest of the day.  It was a nice, relaxing day and I was happy not to have to do anything…   One of Dad’s friends is the worship leader and he was interested in getting me on the team so he asked me to come to the next worship practice and meet the pastor.  I am so excited!  I have missed being a part of a worship team so much.

Monday the 16th – I have one income option left, Uber.  I had signed up to be an Uber driver for Montana way back in July and I was approved, ready to go, all I had to do was open up the app on my phone and accept rides… so I did.  It happened to be Martin Luther King day and the buses here don’t run on Sundays or holidays so I actually did 17 rides that day in a 12 hour period and made over $100!

Wow, wow, wow!  Monday through Saturday I went out every day, driving for Uber, between 12 – 14 hours a day and for the week I made $616. It was long and boring, I spent most of that time waiting for my next ride and several times there was 3 hours in between rides  – but most of the riders themselves were very nice people and the ones that didn’t make it to the “very nice” category were certainly not difficult at all, more along the lines of “indifferent” to my attempts at small talk.  There was an Irishman from Ireland who said he liked MY accent (I didn’t think I had one, lol) and lots of really nice people who welcomed me to town and answered my questions about the city.  My drunk riders were almost all happy drunks – except for the one attorney who was a sad drunk and told me that he didn’t know anything about being an attorney except what the television and movies showed before he made the choice to go into law and then got stuck in a very sad job where he specializes in divorce and child support.  I felt really bad for him, he was so sad…  But I was never in danger from any of my riders and really enjoyed (most of) their company.

I made enough money to go a long ways towards February’s bills.  Uber isn’t something I want to rely on for my full income but in this time period of waiting for the financial aid to kick in it is a perfect job and my stress level went waaaaay down.

Saturday morning the 21st I did go to worship practice, I slept in a wee bit and then went to  the second half of praise and worship practice – just to listen.  I met the pastor and we talked as a group a bit and then the pastor offered me access to the piano in the basement to practice whenever I wanted to, more or less.  I just have to contact him first so he can let me into the church.  After our talk I played the piano for an hour and a half and it felt so wonderful!  I’d been without a piano to play since probably July.  More stress gone…

Sunday the 22nd I went to church with my folks again and the pastor blew me away with his sermon.  The previous week I had thought the message typical and rather unremarkable but this week he talked about placing relationships first when reaching out to others.  His statement “We need to stop trying to clean the fish before we catch them.”  really resonated with me and put into Montana-style words something I have believed for a long, long time.  I can commit to this church wholeheartedly.  More stress gone…

Monday the 23rd school started and let me tell you, this first week has been crazy!  Trying to adjust to waking up at 6:30 in the morning as opposed to 8:30 is rough.  It didn’t help that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I went out and drove for Uber again for several hours trying to add to my pay-the-bills fund but because of it I have spent this first week of school being so tired that sometimes I’m afraid I will fall asleep while reading the textbook in class, ugh!  Fortunately it sounds like the financial aid might kick in sooner than I was told, I hope so…

The school has lots of students (maybe 30 girls and one married man, lol) and not very much space. Like, I can’t even bring my purse because there’s no place to store it while I’m in class… On top of the 30 or so existing students there are 9 girls in my class of newbies.  Everyone in the entire school is very nice, although some are a little crazy – but I suspect that goes with the territory, ha, ha!  The dress code is black shirts and black tops so all of my nice, professional wardrobe is of no use to me now, except on Fridays (like today) when we can wear jeans and other clothing.  There are two textbooks we learn out of and each student got a duffel bag/kit of supplies, including our very own mannequin head!  On Tuesday five of us newbies decided to carpool from the bigger town we live in to the smaller town the school is in an hour away.  Each of us will drive one week at a time and that brings my monthly gas bill down from almost $400 a month to about $75.  More stress gone…

On Tuesday a total stranger found my ad for nail services on Craigslist and scheduled an appointment online for a pedicure with gel polish tonight, Friday night, and she loved it and plans on telling her friends!  The four girls I carpool with are interested to coming to me to get their nails done and they will show their co-workers and refer me to them as well.  AND some of my Montana sister’s friends are interested in coming to me… my nail business could get started and take off big time this way!

God has been soooooo good to me in this move.  I feel like it was a true leap of faith, not having much of a plan, no immediate source of income, no housing arranged, no job arranged…  I have often looked back and thought, “What on earth did you do girl?  Why did you think this was a good idea?”  but God has met me every step of the way and proven to me every day that this was His idea and He is providing for me, just like He always has, just like He always will.

I am so grateful.

Well, well, well…  I actually did it, I moved to Montana!

Day 1:  Driving.  Lots of driving.  However this time I downloaded Spotify and signed up for the free month trial of their premium service that lets you download unlimited songs to play when you’re offline and it made a HUGE difference in the trip.  I somehow managed to get there a half hour before the map said I should.  Oops…  I got to my folks house, we visited for a bit and  then I go to sleep on the (very narrow) couch in the living room upstairs.

Day 2:  I drove the hour or so to the town with the school, talked to a teacher and confirmed that I am indeed signed up and ready to start on the 23rd.  The financial aid guy was out so they said he would call me.  They also told me about a ride-share program in the bigger city my folks live in which would make it feasible for me to live there instead of in the little town where the school is.  Thoughts start to bubble in my head…

I then stopped at 5 nail salons looking for a job.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  This little tiny town was nearly dead as far as nails were concerned.  Huh.  So then I go to two employment agencies and make an appointment for an interview with one, take the application of the other and turn in a separate application at a restaurant.  I leave a message at the homeless shelter I had pegged as my last – and only – hope for housing close to the school and then hit up the local Salvation Army office to see if they have any resources available to me.  No job, no housing either.  Huh.  I look up homeless shelters in the bigger city and put one on my list of places to check out the next day.  I head back to my folks place knowing that it was unreasonable to expect to find housing and a job in one day but I am still a bit disappointed.  A sense of urgency sets in because it was 13 below that day and no matter how determined I am to make this work that’s just way too cold to live in my car…

I get to the house and my dad’s like “Sis, let  me show you my downstairs computer room”.  Ummm… OK, I’ve been there before, maybe he’s changed it or something?  We go downstairs, it’s him, my step-mom (who I call mom) and me.  He says “Would this work?” and points to the (wider) couch in his computer room.  I shoot a quick look at Mom because she has made it clear she really doesn’t want me to live there and she’s in agreement that I can stay “for temporary”  or until my student aid kicks in and I can get my own place.

Wow!  That was totally and completely unexpected and I am so blown away!  I say thank you over and over again and sleep on the downstairs couch that night.  (It was so much more comfortable than the upstairs one!)

Day 3:  Housing worries are gone for the immediate future, now I just need to find a job.  Craigslist only has two nail salon postings so I call the first one and set up an appointment with Mary to see her space.  It’s a booth rental, something I overlooked in the posting but was what I wanted to do originally when I thought about moving to Montana before I decided to go to school full-time.  (Booth rental means I pay a set amount every week and provide all of my own supplies but keep 100% of my earnings.  Commission means I get a percentage of my earnings but they provide all the supplies.)  Mary is very nice, I like her a lot.  She sounds like a good business woman and has excellent communication skills.  Her space is reasonable according to my research, it’s $80 a week for the first four weeks, $100 a week for the two weeks after that and then $125 every week thereafter.

I’m nervous.  That seems like a lot of money right now when my funds are so limited but I can totally set my own hours, work late into the night after school and take time off whenever I need to.  It’s the start of my own salon working out of someone else’s building.  There are so many positives here and the only negative is that I have no existing clientele here and with it so cold and snowy it will be hard to get walk-ins for a while.

I commit to renting her space.  God has provided for me so far, He will continue to do so.

Day 4:  I drive the 7 hours back to where I came from for my younger daughter’s 20th birthday.  I tried not to speed this trip and arrived right about when I should have.  I took my daughter to her favorite seafood restaurant for her birthday since her father had claimed dinner on her actual birthday. We had a good time and I realized that we have celebrated her birthday at that same restaurant for the last three years so that was pretty cool.  I went back to my friend’s house that I had stayed with since October to spend the night.

Day 5 and 6:  One of the biggest reasons I came back as early as I did was to go donate plasma and get my second donation in a week (which earns the most money).  The donation center was closed!  Well there goes $50 I was counting on…  Crap.  And then it snowed and snowed and snowed.  My car did just fine in the snow and I know how to drive in it so I thought I could drive for Uber (since I’m all signed up) and it should be busy with the bad weather but nooooo… I’m signed up for Uber in Montana and to switch between locations takes 2 – 3 weeks.  Another opportunity to make money lost.  In the end I took my friend to get her first tattoo and then we stayed home and watched a lot of movies.

Day 7:  My younger daughter’s actual birthday.  I went to the mini storage where they had a sign at the entry saying something about due to inclement weather they have plowed access to the units but if I cross the berm and get stuck they weren’t going to get me out.  Allrighty then, seems a little unfriendly but in I go.  And their version of “plowing access” to each unit shows they must have worked for the government at some point in time.  One of my two units was in an area that hadn’t been plowed at all and I followed the ruts left by someone else.  A worker was there and he said “Don’t get stuck”.  Gee thanks.  I get what I need from that unit and then go to the other.  For this one a plow had come one time and plowed a path down the center of a very large lane between two buildings.  It had snowed after the plow came so on top of where it had been cleared was another 2 inches or so of fresh snow.  I obediently stay on the path and wade through 3 – 4 inches of snow and water slush.  I had about an hour to sort through what I could and move things into my car.

I thought I made good time but with the weather I was still 10 minutes late to having lunch with my older daughter who said “That’s OK, I’ve come to expect it.  Seriously?  We’ve been having meals together for over a year now and frequently I’m there way before her, saving a seat and waiting for her to show up and she’s usually on time.  Maybe a quarter of the time I was late but apparently that’s all she remembers.

I thought we had a pretty good lunch, we talked about all the usual things we talk about.  I asked her if she had conveyed my offer of friendship to her future step-mother and she said yes but didn’t have an answer for me and the conversation moved on.  I ask questions about her life and she gives me short answers that don’t encourage follow-up questions.  She doesn’t ask me anything about my life so I tried to volunteer that I found a place to work and she says “I saw that.  I stalk your other Facebook page sometimes”.

Why won’t she just ask me what she wants to know?

I ask her if she’d like to be friends on my new page.  Some background here – I created the second page after I left her father so that I would have a safe place to express my feelings (hopefully) without hurting hers and her father’s.  Her father unfriended me from my original page right away when I did that (even though we were still officially trying to work things out and stay together at that time) but she didn’t unfriend me and while I stopped posting things on that page I use it to catch glimpses of what she’s doing, even though she doesn’t hardly post anything.  She didn’t say yes.  In fact she said she was thinking of quitting Facebook altogether because she never posts anything.

That doesn’t really answer my question…

While I puzzle over her non-answer we have more conversation and then I realize something.  I know she tells her father everything – or nearly everything – that we talk about.  If I give her access to my  new page will she show it to him?  Now to be fair, I try not to post things that are really detailed about my life.  I mostly do a bunch of memes that speak to me, Snapchat pictures and a few, general updates about my life.  But it’s my personal space that I feel comfortable in, knowing he can’t see the things I mark for “friends only” and I don’t see any reason to change that right now.  I tell her “If your father wants to be my friend on Facebook he can ask me, I just don’t want to be stalked”.  She looked at me quizzically and shrugged and the conversation moved on.  We said goodbye, she left to go shopping with her soon-to-be stepmother and I left to have birthday coffee with my younger daughter.

Birthday coffee was fun, she brought a few friends and we hung out for a bit and then they left and I went to buy nail supplies from my Vietnamese sister’s supply shop.  It was great to see her again and she said the next time I’m in town to let her know early and she and her other sister will take me out to eat.  Way cool!

Then it’s off to dinner with my sister, we went to a pizza place we had never been at and in the middle of it my ex called me.  Which was the subject of my last post.  ‘Nuff said.

Day 8:  I intend to go donate plasma one more time to get $20 because every little bit helps, right?  But it took me longer to load up my car than I expected, I’m not sure it ever did stop snowing so the roads were terrible and I just ran out of time.  So not a single one of the opportunities to make money panned out for me on this trip.  Not cool.  I stopped by my old salon and gave them a thumb drive with all the brochures and documents I had created for them on it, got lots of hugs and then said goodbye to the people in the neighboring businesses that I had become friends with.

I have a quick lunch with another friend and then leave town.  The snow had become so bad that two passes are closed, forcing me to take a road I’ve never gone on before.  I probably shouldn’t have left town at all but I couldn’t handle staying, especially after the conversation with my ex the night before.

Most of the way there was so much snow on the road that I could barely tell where the road was at all.  At one point I came across an older couple who had awkwardly “parked” their minivan in a snowbank on the side of the road.  The snow was so deep it came up to the hood of their car and they went so far into it that they were buried all the way to the driver’s door.

The good news is that they were fine.  The bad news is that when I stopped to check on them I drove my car to the side of the road.  The sloped side of the road.  Where my car slid into the giant snowbank and promptly got stuck.  No good deed goes unpunished, eh?

They said they had already called a tow truck and that a sheriff’s officer was on his way back.  I try to get my car out myself.  The (very nice) officer tries to help me, then he gets in my car and tries to drive it out.  Ultimately we just got it stuck deeper.  I overhear the officer say the tow truck is two hours out.  I’m really starting to panic because I can’t afford a tow truck and I really have to pee.  Yes, I have finally come to realize that I don’t actually have enough money to pull off this crazy plan to move to Montana as it is and now I have to pay for a tow truck?  Aye, yi, yi…

I sit and read until the tow truck arrives, trying to take my mind off the fact that I’m screwed and I still have to pee.

The tow truck shows up, the nice officer worked me a special deal of $50 because they’re already there for the other couple and it will be easy to pop me out of the snow bank.  I had a tangent memory that resulted in me realizing that my insurance should pay for the tow! I’ve never had to be towed before so I didn’t even think of it, thank you Jesus!  They got me out of the snow, took my info and I didn’t have to pay a dime so I go on my merry way, still having to pee.

I thought I could make it to the next town but in the end I found a nice pull-out that had been plowed for some historical signs and fortunately nobody drove by while I was parked…

When I finally made it to my folk’s house I had been on the road for 13 hours and 45 minutes.  The roads were beyond horrible and I should never have gone but it was such a good feeling to know I had overcome the road placed before me.  I got this.

Day 9:  I run some errands, pick up some more stuff for my new work place, go have a little meeting with Mary and come home and work on the computer until midnight creating business cards and setting up a free online scheduling app with all my services and prices, etc.

Day 10:  I take everything to my new salon and set it up.  Mom comes in and I give her a fill and suddenly it is 6:30 pm and I am tired!  I realize I am also sick, catching a head cold.  Too many late nights, lots of stress and skipped meals.  The stress increases as I realize I have $100 left to live on AND drive back and forth to school for the next 6 weeks.  Dear God, please bring me customers at my new salon!

I have a plan.  My work hours at the salon will be by appointment only 6 – 9 pm on weekdays and 10 am – 7 pm on Saturdays.  I have contacted the plasma center here to transfer my file so I can donate in Montana.  That will take 7 – 10 days but when it’s approved that’s another $70 a week.  If nothing else that’s gas money.  I also have just over one week until school starts and I’m good to drive for Uber here so I will be available as much as possible to drive and if someone calls for nails I will stop taking riders.  Once school starts I will drive for Uber after school and possibly on Sundays and hopefully that will be enough to get me through the next 6 weeks.

Sometimes life needs to change so drastically that it requires great courage and a leap of faith.  That’s exactly where I am.