Broke? Jobless? Carless? Prioritize Your Panic

I’m seeing a new therapist through a local health center in our new community to help me through this crisis that’s lasted, oh, about seven years now. My therapist is alarmed. Alarmed! She is concerned that my ex-husband is out of prison and what is my plan about that? I need to get a court order for supervised visitation. She is concerned about my apartment being sold and I need to have a Plan B right now! My car lease is up? And what about a job?

She says, “Why are you laughing?”

It’s not that I’m blasé about my situation, I certainly am not. But I’ve learned through the years of adversity to prioritize my panic. I told her, I don’t need to worry yet about the ex-husband because he’s in a halfway house until February, I don’t need to worry about the apartment yet because it hasn’t quite happened yet and the current landlady says the new landlord guy was laid back and was buying it as an investment property so I probably won’t have to move.

And so why waste my effort panicking about that when there are so many other things to panic about right now?

As a single parent, my top priority is always whatever needs to be done for my kids – doctor appointments, travel to and from school, and the occasional emergency. My daughter is looking at boarding schools now – her way of dealing with our tenuous living situation – and so although I’ve left her in charge it still requires a lot of effort on my part – mostly driving at this point to meetings. I have been driving a lot.

Which makes the fact that my car lease is up a priority. I need to figure out my car situation now. Or do I? I recall how the bank dallied with my foreclosure for two years before taking another ten months to get me out of my house. What would happen if I just sort of kept my car? How long before the repo men would show up? It’s in the ex-husband’s name anyway.

So I have been looking at cars and trying to figure out what to do. I wasn’t exactly panicked but trying to control the situation. I learned something astonishing: my credit is good. The collection agency thing is there at the top of the report – this from when my ex-husband, the Prince, ran up debt in my name before going to prison. Then, at the bottom is my bankruptcy – another reminder of the Prince, who used my credit to finance his business. But in the middle are lots of things, like student loans, that have zero late payments (thanks to loans from my family and the reduction of my children’s meager college funds). I’m at the top of the 2nd tier of creditworthiness. So, my credit is good but you need a job to get a car. You can’t say “I just finished writing a book that no one will read.”

So my top priority is getting a job. I’ve started widening my net – applying to Blockbuster, which is going out of business and yet still requires that you take this online test, temp jobs (I type 97 wpm), car sales jobs (I looked for cars and jobs simultaneously), tutoring jobs– at this point I’d pretty much take anything. It is frightening to have no money coming in whatsoever.

Another thing I’ve done is apply for grants. I’ve actually gotten a couple. Because I spent some time writing.

Yes, I wrote a book, or at least a draft of a book. After taking my teacher-training class this summer I had spent a couple of weeks working at a camp, then a couple getting my kids ready for school, and then I concentrated on putting together my book, which a publisher is right now contemplating rejecting. I had to write the book – it was one of those you only live once things — an opportunity where an actual real, live publisher wanted to see a book from me, so I had to write it, on spec. Now, regardless of the outcome, I won’t have to look back when I’m seventy years old and say, damn, I had that opportunity and I didn’t bother to write that book.

And now I’m trying to get a job as a car salesman or perhaps at Radio Shack. And, right, I need to write an article for The Faster Times, so here it is.

The therapist referred me to career assistance open hours at the clinic, which I attended. The career assistance person was very helpful, and now I have a long list of things to do.

And I need to see about the supervised visitation (my cell is on speaker and the civil court office line is ringing and ringing and ringing as I type, but no answer). Aha, they just answered and gave me all the info I needed. I have to get a Motion to Transfer if I want the divorce case moved to Hartford, a Motion to Modify my (oh-so-useful) Divorce Agreement, and a Fee Waiver to waive the fees. To get these forms, I have to drive into Hartford, take my mini Swiss army knife out of my backpack (I am an expert at getting into court buildings), go past the metal detectors and pick them up. While I am in Hartford, I will visit the Dept of Social Services and Connecticut Works and perhaps a college or two to look for a job.

Being broke and unemployed is a lot of work!

Kathryn Higgins’s new book of  humor, Snide Remarks in Sotto Voce, is available at most ebook outlets through Smashwords. ...read more

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