Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tomorrow I Be 32

Having reached the age of 32 (well, one day away, anyway), I can't help but think, "Wait. This is 32? Shouldn't I feel older, wiser, and at least partially like a grown up?" The only difference between the way I feel in my 30's to the way I felt in my late teens and at 20 is that now, in addition to worrying about bills, food, my job, the economy, etc., I now have the worry of "how the heck am I going to support my kid?" Shouldn't someone in her 30's feel a bit more, I don't know, settled, by now?

I feel like everyone else my age has gotten their crap together by now. They know who they are, what they want to be, most have found a partner in life and have at least some sort of plan for their lives. Me? Well, if I make it successfully through one day without breaking down crying and get half the things done on that particular day that need to be done, well - that's success for me. I kind of feel like Dorothy in the tornado. There's nothing sturdy to hold on to, I don't know where I'm being blown to, and I certainly don't know what's going to happen next. I feel like everything is out of my control.

Part of this is because I've had a totally craptastic couple of weeks down here. Let me give you a recap:
  • Last week, instead of getting the raise I was really hoping for and desperately needing, I was instead told that I'm on probation and I'll find out in January if I still have a job.
  • I found out my request for an appeal with Jamie's insurance has been denied; which means that starting next month, I have a 923% increase in the copay amounts I have to pay for Jamie's doctor visits and medicines. What was once costing me less than $20 a month will now cost me a little over $200. That's money I don't have, folks.
  • I came to the realization that - between soon-to-be-higher medical costs for Jamie and my own bills, there probably won't be any presents at Christmas this year. I know that Christmas isn't about presents, it's about Jesus, and family, and love. But - oh - how it hurts to know I can't give Jamie what he wants this year!
  • My roommate informed me she's going back on her agreement with me to share bills and split rent until we're out of school and will be moving out when the lease is up at the end of January. She's going back on her word because she's more broke than I am, which a part of me can understand. However, this puts me in a major bind because -
  • I've discovered it may be next to impossible for me to find a place for me and Jamie to live on my income alone. Due to the credit crisis and economic woes, all the rental agencies around here have restructured their income requirements for being able to rent a house. They now require you to have an income at least 4x that of the monthly rent. Even though I'll have school money at the beginning of January to use for a deposit, first month's rent, etc., the rental agencies don't count that as income, so I'm hard pressed to find a place that will even let me rent, much less finding one in a good neighborhood, in good repair, etc.
  • Due to the above, and wondering if we'll have enough $$ just to rent a house, I had to break Jamie's heart and tell him we couldn't go back to NYC on spring break to see Uncle Joel like we had been planning on since last November. Jamie really loves Uncle Joel, and was eagerly anticipating seeing him again. But with our finances up in the air so much right now, I just don't see how that trip is going to be possible.
  • Dad's being a butt, calling me and harassing me about not coming to see him often enough, then hanging up on me when I answer his questions in ways he doesn't like, and
  • I'm failing my Spanish class. I'm so tired, and stressed, and freaking out over everything that I can't concentrate on all my classes. The Spanish is the hardest one for me to absorb, so it's the one that falls out of my head first. I think I'm doing fine, then I go to take the test and bomb. I got a 62 on the first test, and a 55 on the second. It will be a miracle if I can raise the grade up to a C at this point, much less straight A's like I usually have.

However, I keep reminding myself that things are not as bad as they could be. We have a roof over our heads for now. There's still food in the pantry. Although it's uncertain if I'll still have a job in the future, I do still have one for now. Those who have read my last few entries know that God is good, and Tiffany rocks, so Jamie still gets to go on his field trip. In fact, this weekend he's excited about getting to go pick out "yummy never-touched-a-peanut-in-it's-life food" and packing his bags for the trip. Things could be much worse. It's just that, I don't know, I thought that I would have gotten to a point where life was easier by now - I'd know where I was going and how to get there, I wouldn't still be trying to juggle so many balls in the air. Heck, I never expected I'd still be single at this point in my life, either. I guess I took it for granted that I'd have a partner in life by now. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm learning that there really isn't any difference between how you feel in your 30's from how you felt in your teens. And there's no "magic age" when you finally grow up. And just because you have a kid(s), it doesn't mean all of a sudden you have the answers. I think mostly it means you just have more questions.

So, sorry for being such a downer today, folks. I just needed to unload some of this stress, anxiety and what-have-you while ruminating on the status of my "adulthood." I'm not meaning to whine or have a pity party, I just felt like if I didn't get some of it out of my head and down on paper - wait, um... on the computer screen, my head would explode, or at the very least I'd start consuming copious amounts of alcohol. If I ever get it figured out, I'll let you all know. Peace, love, hugs and kisses to you all!


Strangeite said...

Sorry to hear that life is being rough on you Jennifer.

Since your cost for private health insurance has risen so dramtically, have you looked into the Texas CHIP program. I have no idea how much you make, but both you and Jamie might qualify if your annual salary is less than $28,000.00 a year. In addition, many states will allow you to to deduct from that income requirement such things as housing costs, etc. A paralegal I work with currently can not afford private health insurance for her two children and is able to insure them through either KY's CHIP program or Medicaid (I don't remember which).

There is also a good chance that you might qualify for Section 8 housing. If you go, you could try and talk your current landlord into accepting a Section 8 voucher, that would pay the differnce in rent from what you can afford and what he wants to charge. He knows you are a good tenant and you might get to stay in the same house. I was a landlord for several years and accepting Section 8 vouchers is not a big deal for the landlord knows the tenants are good.

Last but not least, the food stamp program will allow you to deduct child care, housing costs and medical costs from your income in determining eligibility. After discounting these three costs from your income, you might qualify for assistance in buying food.

Times are hard, but the last thing you want to do is stick your head in the sand while the water is overflowing the banks. If there is a possibility that you might loose your job in January, it would be better to start looking into these programs now, so you don't find yourself in a much more desperate situation in two months.

I will be thinking about you.

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

Thanks for the above advice, but Jamie's insurance is Texas CHIP. They're the ones who are raising my co-pays based on my income, and refuse to take into account my rent, childcare costs, the vast number of prescription meds he is taking, etc.

As for Section 8, ever since Katrina, the San Antonio Housing Authority has suspended the Section 8 program. At least, that is what I was told each time I have called.

Regarding food stamps, I do not qualify. I checked.

I am in the "enviable" position of making too much money to get much help, but not enough money to really be self-sufficient. However, if I wanted to quit my job, then I could get Medicaid for both myself and my son, $256 of food stamps a month and unemployment benefits. The only problem with that is that then I would have no way to pay for the car I need to get my son back and forth to all his appointments and extracurricular activities, nor would I be able to pay for the electric bill, Internet access I have to have to attend my classes online, water, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate you taking the time to try to help me. I'm just grouchy, depressed and stressed. I really do appreciate all my online "family"!

Strangeite said...

I thought that seemed crazy that San Antonio would suspend the Section 8 program so I did a little digging. It is true that that they have suspended applications for the general waitlist; however, there are exemptions that allow a person to submit an application. One of the exemptions is if you or a member of your family is diagnosed with a disability. All that is required is a "Letter from a medical professional stating (name of applicant) is disabled and became disabled on (date disability began). PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE APPLICANT’S MEDICAL CONDITION OR DIAGNOSIS."

According to their Administrative Plan, a disability is "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual" and a major life activity "includes, but is not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, and/or working".

Sooooooo, if you can get one of Jamie's doctors to write a letter to the SAHA using the language from paragraph 1 above, then you would be able to submit an application along with said letter.

Ok. I will shut up now, but just wanted to let you know that is one possible path around the beuracratic hurdle.

Strangeite said...

I should clarify that I am sure Jamie is not disabled; but, I think it could be argued that his allergy or asthma does "limits major life activities"

Steph said...

Jenn, just a note to say I'm thinking of and praying for you and Jaime. I felt some of the same things on my 32nd b-day a few months ago--I thought I'd feel more settled, have more things figured out, be "further along" or whatever. You're right, there is no magical point where we feel like we're adults.

I am so sorry to hear about your financial struggles. I am also hoping and praying that our political and economic situation improves across the country so that good people like you don't have to face this kind of difficulty for no decent earthly reason whatsoever.

Tara said...

Hey, I'm sorry things stink right now. Hopefully they'll look up soon and you'll have more Tiffany's in your life.

Regarding the email I sent you responding to an email you sent me last spring, give me some addresses and I'll send you what you were inquiring about. We'll work something out later. Christmas needs to happen for those you love!

Suze said...

Oh Jenn. I'm in tears after reading this. Thinking about you and Jamie always.

Jeff Fisher said...

Sorry to hear that things aren't going so well for you. I felt much the same way on my 30th B-day and have been trying to decide on kick starting my life with something NEW or just settling in. If it makes you feel any better many of the people I know still aren't sure of their stable in life in their late 20's, early 30's and aren't close to figuring it out. I just make do with the cards that I'm dealt and sometimes those cards suck.
Keeping my fingers crossed that things will look up for you!

Andre said...

Hi Jennifer,

I don't know you, but I read your post yesterday and I can't get it out of my head. It sounds like you're managing a very very challenging time in your family's life right now. I wish you strength and hope and calm and courage and strength again. You are smart. You are tough. You write well. Most importantly though, you are AFFIRMED by your son, friends, your faith, and your church. I don't know you, but I know there are people who care about you and want to see you and your family well.

Perhaps sixty seconds thinking of them before bedtime will go a little ways toward sustaining the strength and toughness that you need. . . 1 or 2 minutes thinking of nothing but the people who want every happiness for you and Jamie. It's okay if other stuff comes in your head. The trying is what helps.

It can be really difficult in the midst of a crisis to see beyond the hours, or minutes, right in front of you. You may feel like nothing is working out and that things around you are caving in. My hope for you and your family is that you keep doing what you've been doing: looking for (and finding) ways of expressing your feelings constructively. . in ways that affirm your struggle and help sustain and nourish you. The people and things most important to you will benefit from this, too.

Lastly it can be really hard, when juggling a bunch of things, to feel like there is anyone on your side. You are not struggling alone, however, and there are other people out there who would benefit from hearing how you've come this far. So I'm wondering if there is a single parent support group in your area, where you could benefit from the wisdom of folks who are managing challenges similar to yours. Maybe some of them can help you with Spanish? Who knows.

If you have a practical vision for your family--a set of goals that you would like to meet by the time your next birthday comes around, I encourage you to write them down. What about five years from now?

Sorry this is so long, and I hope this doesn't seem all holier than thou. But I can relate some to what it is to struggle, so I wish you and your family well in this deeply challenging time.

Happy Birthday.