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Archive for December, 2005

I'm beat!!

December 22nd, 2005 at 09:31 am

I feel sooo tired lately!...for the past 2 weeks, I have been going to my cousin's every night - and weekends, too!- to prepare all that's needed for the school supplies packages (just to give you an idea, we bought 4 boxes of bond paper, that's 20,000 sheets of paper that have to be separated into packages of 25, 50, 75 and 100 pages - depending on the grades)....we still haven't finished doing THAT, and, then there is the matter of pricing and of actually MAKING the packages according to specifications for each grade (our profit comes from the fact that parents won't have to hunt for the stuff, but can buy it in one neat little package...some things are priced slightly above market prices, some exactly at market prices and some even slightly below...so we WON'T be selling anything individually, as that would "dilute" our profit)....

I have been arriving home at around 11:30 or 12:00 at night - I haven't been going to walk in the mornings, in order to get as close as 8 hours of sleep as possible!- then back to the office at 8am in the morning, leaving here at around 6pm, going home for dinner and then back to my cousin's....I wish I could say it's almost over, but it's not!...we still have way too much to do, and, then there's the sale itself in January (2nd -7th)....but, again, going over the numbers, we could make up to $2,000 EACH, just on the school supplies, without even considering the backpacks!!!...this COULD be the miracle I have been praying for!!

I received a special gift from the Sheraton HOtel....they have sent all admins in my company a certificate for a free weekend for 2 at the hotel - obviously this only covers rooming, nothing else- and I have planned to go there with Alejandra for the weekend of Jan 14th...I should have some $$ from the school supply sale and, it will be soooo relaxing to be just the 2 of us...she can swim in the pool and I know she'll be happy to be able to wake up and sing in the mornings - my niece naturally throws a tissy fit every time Ale starts singing at 7am!!...Also, we'll have cable and a BATHTUB, with HOT water!!!....oh, and she'll have mommy all to herself, she won't have to share me with anybody!! - I'm planning on bringing books as well!....the hotel is 1 block away from the Museum of Modern Art, which Alejandra likes because: "they have pictures just like the ones I make!"...LOL!...entrance to the museum is $1.50, we haven't gone in quite some time, so that could be an additional treat for her! - Me? oh, I get to soak in the tub in HOT water after Alejandra has gone to sleep, and I get to sleep in an air-conditioned room!

speaking "mechanics"- RUSSELL!

December 21st, 2005 at 06:50 am

...LOL! I don't speak "mechanics" in English...I can ask the right questions in Spanish, though!...this time around they DID flush the brake fluid and replaced the brake pads...last time they "cleaned" them - which basically means they just took a look at the pads to see if they needed replacement or not and then put it back together....they charge around $11 to do that...luckily, this sort of maintenance is not nearly as expensive in El Salvador as it would be in the US...

the car -again!!

December 20th, 2005 at 07:22 am

It refused to start yesterday...had to buy a new battery ($70)...to be fair, the old battery had lasted 30 months and it had a 24 month guarantee, so....I asked them to check the brakes- had the last check in May, where they said they were fine and just cleaned them, so... brakes did need some work, so that was $60 extra and I also asked them to do the oil change (which should have been done the 1st week of Jan, anyway!)....In total I spent $148 in the car...back to my Excel spreadsheet to adjust cc payments and the like...((sigh)) I SO need that new job!!

Oh, by the way, there was a GREAT ad - or rather, the ad for what seems like a GREAT job - on the newspaper yesterday...I'm working on my resume (turns out I DON'T have a Spanish version of it- could you believe that??) and cover letter...I expect to email it by end of day today...It's for an international organization, so I'm sure it's a good salary and nice benefits...

Oh, and thanks for your good wishes on my 2006 goals!

debt-reduction plan 2006

December 16th, 2005 at 08:25 am

IF the sale of school supplies goes as my cousin estimates, I could make large enough payments to finish paying the cc debt by Dec 2006!!! AND to pay for DD's school enrollment fee!!....I'm trying not to get too hopeful, though!!

On the other hand, my boss spoke to me yesterday and asked me if I was still doing the English lessons (?) I told him L had said she wouldn't be doing them anymore and had even been surprised that he hadn't told me...he said he wasn't aware of that...I don't think those will resume, though, and, if they do, I'm pretty sure they WILL end once school starts, so...

I have been working on a plan to get out of here, and, before, I thought I would only switch companies if someone offered me $1,200/month, which is what I NEED to really be able to get out of debt/afford Ale's school...BUT, honest, if someone offers me $1,000/month AND a chance to get a raise based on performance....because, see, here, I've already been told that the company will most likely NEVER give me a raise -oh, well, they said they would if ever they gave ALL other admins a raise first! - yeah, hell will freeze, thaw out and freeze again at least twice before THAT happens!!...so, it's a plan, I'll take $1,000/month if there's a real chance for a raise in the future ...

Yesterday we had an update- where we get to hear all sorts of confidential stuff otherwise not disclosed to anyone with a status less than Manager - and my boss explained about the reorganization (the one he had hinted at when I requested my raise!)- well, frankly, I don't think it'll happen before 1 or 2 years...and I don't have that much time....I have 6 months at most...because that's the most that I'll be able to hang on with my current level of income...AT THE MOST...so, I'm going to put all my efforts into 1.paying as much debt as I can between Dec and mid February and 2. finding a new job before Holy Week (April 2006)

It's a plan!...now, as they say: El hombre propone, y Dios dispone (man makes proposals, God gets to make the final decision), so, I'm praying that God approves of my plan!!

English lessons have been cancelled!!

December 15th, 2005 at 08:29 am

Ugh!...it's not a reflection of me as a teacher (I've done this before and I take pride on my teaching skills!)...my boss' daughter's mother said she won't be taking any more lessons...she kept it up for exactly 1 month...I imagine that, since she has been enrolled at the Centro Cultural Salvadoreño to finish high-school, and, since they started out as providers of ENglish lessons, she figures she'll learn what she needs...NO, she's NOT a child...she's already 23, but she never started highschool!...

The implications for me are that now I'm -$100 in my monthly budget....back where I was a month ago...Oh, well, I didn't REALLY believe she would continue once she started studying - I figured she'd focus more on her general studies...but I thought at least I had until mid-Jan when school starts!

The other admin (B) was so mad that SHE (B) was asked to find a school for her and do all the work of enrolling her...1. The "girl" (L) wanted to be enrolled at the GF School - now this is one of the top 5 non-bilingual schools in the country....they do NOT take "overage" students (it's bad for their reputation)...they do NOT take single mothers ("bad example" for the other girls) and....most importantly, L hadn't taken the admission tests...still, she INSISTED that the admin enroll her there - probably thinks that private schools take on anyone that can pay for them??....some of them do, but, the top ones reserve the right to admit only top students!....L has never been to private school before and, unfortunately, public schools in ES are B A D...and I mean REALLY REALLY REALLY B A D...and L got average grades there!...to be honest, there's no way she would have been able to cope with the academic load and the social pressure (since top schools are more expensive, naturally the richest kids go there and, believe me, Salvadoran society is VERY class-oriented, and they would have let her know that she didn't "belong")...Partly, I'm sure, she wanted to be enrolled there because it would have made her look well back in her little town, but...honest, it was a baaad idea!!...If she had had excellent grades, then putting up with the social BS would have been worth it, for the kind of education that she would have been getting, but..... 2. B is sure that L is NOT going to continue studying, so she feels that it is a waste of her time to go around looking for schools....3. B feels (and I agree on this one!) that, if our boss wants to enroll her in a school, either HE or L should be the ones looking....after all, this is a PURELY personal errand, isn't it?? ...I mean, it's as totally unrelated to the company as can possibly be!...so's giving her English lessons, but, at least, I was getting paid for doing that!

I hope I don't sound like a total B*tch and, yes, I AM a bit mad at her, but, I think that B did L a service by enrolling her in a "vocational" high school....(plus, the school L wanted REJECTED her on the grounds that she didn't take the admission tests, so it wasn't like B didn't TRY!)...I warned my boss back in Oct, that they'd better hurry with the school hunt!!, I guess he imagined that since school started in Jan, he still had time!!

In the end, the only way in which this relates to me is that I have to find another source of income!!!

2006 financial goals

December 14th, 2005 at 03:21 pm

1. keep better track of my spending- although there seem to be less "leaks" than before, I'm still not as accurate as I should be! - I'm going to buy a mini-notebook and keep track of every penny!!

2. Send out at least 15 resumes in January(best time of the year to find a new job in ES!) and, at least one more per week for the rest of the year until I find a job that pays better!

3. FINALLY decide on a school for Alejandra, AND save money for her enrollment fee, uniforms and school supplies

4. continue to lower my overall debt - I started Jan 05 with ~$17K (out of which ~$4K were for a loan and the rest -~$13K!-pure cc debt) and, am starting Jan 06 with $~11K (with ~$8K for a loan and ~$3K in cc debt)...now, partly this decrease has been because of the sale of the apt and also the farm money, which I won't have next year, but, still, I expect to be able to end Dec '06 with ~$7K, which I expect to be purely for the loan... in order to make this happen, I need to find a way to make ~$100 more per month than what I'm currently making...so I HAVE to find another job, get a raise (yeah, RIGHT!) and/or take on additional work to bring in some extra money...it's going to be a TOUGH year!...need to post a separate entry to think this through, but I might switch jobs for slightly less money than I originally thought (I had said I wouldn't go unless they paid me at least $1,200/month, but...)...convoluted, and I have to do the math

5. Help Ale find a way to earn those $3 she's missing to open her account with HER OWN money....

Thanks to all for your comments!

December 12th, 2005 at 08:27 am

both on the biopsy thing and the job situation...
I'm soooo glad it was really nothing (well, not NOTHING, but just a minor infection!!)...I guess I can cancel my sister's idea of saving for a hysterectomy! LOL!...
The job situation in ES is really terrible...I've been lucky, I was only unemployed for 2 months after I was fired...some friends that were fired a few weeks before me (July 2003) still haven't found jobs...others have had to settle for temporary jobs or for jobs that don't pay more than 50% of what they were making...as for me, well, if I were debtfree, I could lead a very comfy life with my current salary....I will start a more earnest job search in January (people don't leave -or don't announce they are leving- their jobs before Dec 15th...why? Xmas bonuses are given out on Dec 12th, and, if you leave voluntarily, by law you are NOT entitled to it...) so January always has some good job postings....I've had a new call from the Embassy- not regarding the job I applied for- to ask whether I had a valid driver's license and whether I am proficient in MS Office (anser to both questions is yes)...They asked if they could consider my resume for another position within the organization (YES!!), and, if so, they wanted me to send them IN WRITING confirmation regarding the license and the Office issues...needless to say, the HR lady probably hadn't even hung up when I was already sending her the required fax!!...I don't expect to hear from them before January, though....but, all I can do now is hope!

If I got that job, I'd have to do some serious financial planning...by law, they don't discount for pension fund or for taxes, so I'd have to find a way to set up an account for when I retire (people who work at Embassies in ES do not have to pay taxes, so that money would be "free" to go into debt payment!!)...oh, well, no use stressing about that right now, is there??

Oh, and, I didn't manage to finish all my Xmas shopping yet, and the Xmas shopping season has been formally inaugurated- bummer! ...at least, I'm only missing my cousin's present, and my sister's birthday present!!

biopsy results are in!

December 9th, 2005 at 07:15 am

...and they are NEGATIVE!!!

wooo-hooo!

Start saving for a hysterectomy

December 7th, 2005 at 08:19 am

That's my sister's advice...I'm scheduled to go to the Dr. for the results of my biopsy on Thursday and, although the metaplasia is LIC, my sister says, eventually - maybe 5 or 6 years down the line - if pap smears are not clean, they'll do a hysterectomy....her advice: start saving for one, if you don't need it, you can always use the money for something else!...((sigh))...I must recognize, it's not bad advice...

(she started with metaplasia around her 20's and, after 3 criotherapies and a "cone" procedure, they removed her uterus)

$8K mess-up - Not mine, thank God!!

December 6th, 2005 at 12:07 pm

the international moving company is charging us $11K for moving of some stuff from Sweden to El Salvador...my boss called me in this morning to find out WHO authorized this-and whether we did or whether the company just went ahead....we authorized it, but, I told him I wasn't sure who, as the movers had been speaking both to me and to HR...thankfully, it was HR who authorized it ...wheew!...for a moment there, I hesitated...I didn't want to say outright that HR had done it, as it would only make matters worse if it then turned out that the documents had MY signature on them!!...The original quote was for $9k (still waaaay higher than the alloted amount, which is $3k!!), and the remainder is storage charges...

I can breathe a bit easier now!!...Thank God for the paper trail!!

(VERY) full weekend!!

December 5th, 2005 at 01:48 pm

FRIDAY
They scheduled the unit’s Xmas party for this weekend, THE one weekend when I really couldn’t stay up until dawn, because I had to go for a medical procedure early on Saturday…bummer!...at least, the prohibitions listed did NOT include drinks and/or dancing!!..I had thought of leaving work early (at 5:00pm) and going to my cousin’s to wrap gifts for a couple of hours, then arrive at the party at around 9:00 or 9:30…but, we got a phone call: the boss (VP) wanted us to be there at 8:00 SHARP…so, change of plans… I went home, took a shower – it IS unbearably hot lately! – and set out to find something that actually FITS…found it!!...and arrived at the party at 8:00:01pm….

They wanted us to be there before anyone else to give the traditional Xmas/ Year end speeches: blah,blah, blah, wonderful year, blah, blah, blah, very happy with the group, blah, blah, blah, great work, blah, blah, have fun!...then the directors spoke, and thanked everyone profusely for their great work and dedication – except the admins, of course!- I kept sipping my rum and coke and hoping I wouldn’t blurt out anything too harsh! …one of the directors came later to tell me he DID want to thank me for my work this past year (do you think he could read the lasers coming out of my eyes as a show of anger??) hmmmm…anyway…people finally started coming in at 9:00pm and the music arrived, too…first everyone stood around chatting and eating and then finally someone started to dance…so we did too….At around 11:00, we suddenly heard this wooooo-hooooo coming from the front door: the sales team made it!! (they had been at a dinner and thus arrived later and together as a group!)…they trotted in and immediately joined the dance floor!... I must have danced from 10:15 until 12:20 (I left while they were lighting the first fire works)…these younger generations…noone lasts longer than 1 hour anymore…c’mon!!!..It made me think, really, every woman should have a dance partner…someone that she can REALLY count on at a party…When I arrived home, my hair was soaked, as if I had been swimming instead of dancing!!... I had to towel dry it before going to bed, because it was too yucky to just sleep like that! ….at about 4 am, my sister’s cell phone started ringing and woke me up…I couldn’t hear what had happened, though, because my ears were still ringing from the music at the party!!

SATURDAY
I got up early to go to the clinic…the good news?? My hair did NOT smell like smoke!!...the GREAT news??...it looked really gorgeous, the waves really well formed and everything…I HAD to wash it, though, on account of all the sweat!!...The call in the middle of the night?? My sister’s friend, to cry because her dog had just died!...poor L, poor doggie!!...I went to my cousin’s, she was going to drop me off at the clinic so that I didn’t have to drive afterwards… We arrived at 8:02 am and found there was a loooong queue in front, and they still hadn’t opened. Shortly after, someone opened the door and asked people to make 3 queues depending on the medical care they needed. I got to be #7 to go into the colposcopy consultation…#1 and #2 didn’t take long, but, #3 obviously got some crio-therapy (we could hear the pppffffft! Sounds from whatever instrument they use to apply the chemical –no, I’d rather NOT find out!!)…and finally it was my turn…I was glad I had a “real” doctor (meaning she was older than me and, not one of those baby-faced doctors you usually get at the clinic…some still with braces on that don’t even look old enough to drive, let alone prescribe medications!)…she was very nice, and she kept talking to me and asking me questions while she worked (presumably to keep my mind off the procedure…If you know me, you know THAT doesn’t work! …a book and some music, MAYBE, but talk….) ….she ended up taking some tissue samples to send them for biopsy, so I have to go there again on Thursday for the results…if the cells ARE pre-cancerous, she’ll do a crio-therapy on the spot and, hopefully, that’ll be the end of it for at least 6 months…if they aren’t, we’ll just say good-bye and I have to go in for a new pap smear in 1 year, just as usual!...

After I scheduled my new appointment and paid for the biopsy, I waited for my cousin to come pick me up…we went to Siman (local dept store) for some quotations that we needed (checking the competition’s prices and availability for school supplies!)…it was packed!...Xmas shopping has officially started!!...at one point, I felt a small cramp – I still don’t know if it was muscular, from all that dancing, or internal, from the procedure, but I don’t really care!- I said: ok, let’s go home!...I went home for lunch –since I’m the designated cook on weekends, my sister bought food from McD’s…and then tried to get some sleep before going to Alejandra’s “pastorela” at church…no luck! I got a phone call from someone from the office – couldn’t have a ticket issued due it wasn’t authorized…at one point it looked as if I was going to have to go to the office and authorize it, and then, it just dawned on me: I have DELEGATE access to authorize, so I asked the guy to call either the VP or one of the directors to send a message for the ticket issuance to be authorized (plus, they have laptops, they can do it from home!!)…problem practically solved! (but it took 3 phone calls to make it go away!!)…so, no sleep…

At 4pm, we all got ready and went to the pastorela…it had the usual glitches when you are working with children: some fumbled their lines and started laughing hysterically…the smaller angels, those with no lines were all under 3 years old! - started wandering about and, one of the eldest ones (who did have lines) got pushed off the platform – luckily it wasn’t a very high platform, so he didn’t hurt himself…we being as mean as we are, I told my sister: Look, how allegorical, first an angel gets pushed off, then the fallen angel is quarreling with the others! (he WAS!)…ha, ha, ha, ha!... Ale didn’t forget her lines or miss her queues…but, at one point, she didn’t know who she was supposed to hand the microphone to, so she hissed: WHOOO into it, ha, ha, ha, ha!...after that we had some pupusas that the church ladies were selling – they were expensive, as pupusas go, since they were $0.50 and, generally they sell for $0.35, but, it was for a good cause, so we didn’t mind…the Children’s Ministry never asks you for money, not even for celebrations, and, for the pastorela, they lend you the costumes rather than making you buy one!, but, they “survive” on donations and on the sell of snacks after the pastorela….


From there we went to my cousin’s and wrapped some gifts…she must have wrapped about 50-60 Barbie dolls, and I wrapped 24 Lego buckets (hey, they were difficult, because their shape is so odd!) After that, we called it a night and went home…

SUNDAY
Got up early (sort of, for a Sunday) and left home to see the Christmas Time Parade (Ale had asked to be taken to a parade to see it live, rather than on TV…and, to me, if you are going to a parade you HAVE to be on the first row…being my size, if I’m not on first row, I don’t see anything!!)…we arrived in front of the stadium (halfway through the parade route) at 9:30.am…Now, the parade was scheduled to start at 10:00! So we were early…I had some water with me and we had brought our caps and an umbrella…we sat on the curbside to wait…I didn’t let Ale drink much water, though, just tiny sips every half hour, because there are NO bathrooms there!!...she wanted me to buy her a spinwheel (?) – one of those toys that spin with the wind??...I did get her one of those…we didn’t buy any food, because we had had a good breakfast at home…She really enjoyed the parade (and, YES, we were on FIRST ROW!!!)…the parade came by our spot at about 11:15….it ended at about 12:30, so I took Ale to Little Caesar’s, and bought a large pizza, two 500ml sodas and 1 lt of ice cream for $7.49…we took it home and had lunch there…afterwards, I lay down for a while…didn’t get to sleep, but at least rested a bit…Ale did, too!...then at around 3 we went to my cousin’s again…this time, to separate the toys into packages for each employee according to the lists provided…with each bag properly labeled….this took until 7:30 or so…we had dinner and then put all those packages into boxes for transportation – my cousin will deliver them on Monday – and we double checked the packages, making sure they had the proper toy and the proper names and everything…we were finally done at 9:00pm, and Ale and I went home…

She must have been very tired, because she started crying when I told her not to put some small toys in her mouth…she said she didn’t want to die…I told her I didn’t want her to die, either, and that’s the reason I don’t want her to put those toys in her mouth…and gave her the Pizza Pooch to sleep with instead…then I put her to bed…in the middle of the night, she crawled into my bed: I just want to be with you for a little while…about 10 minutes later she just said: ok, I’m going to my own bed now…and left!

THIS MORNING:
I should have gone for my morning walk, but I couldn’t get myself out of bed!!...I’ll go tomorrow!

Wow!

December 2nd, 2005 at 07:18 am

I was at my cousin's last night- preparing envelopes with tickets for the children's party on the 10th, and she said: well, what are you going to do with your school supply money?...and I said: put it towards debt...and she said: just that, no little goodie that you want? It WILL be over $1,000, you know...I was like: WHA...? I thought it would be about $1,000 for both of us, meaning that once split it would be about $500 each, but, she says she made more than $2,000 last year on backpacks alone (which she split with her former friend/partner...we are still trying to figure out why she decided not to be friends/partners anymore...she just took her stuff, returned my cousin's and stopped talking to her altogether!)...but, back on topic, we ARE doing backpacks besides the school supplies, so it should be even more than $2,000 to split this year (well, in January, so, next year!) ...I would like to put it all towards debt anyway, but, if it REALLY is over $1,000 I think I'd put $500 towards debt and save the other $500 for Ale's school - this would most likely cover the enrollment fee and uniforms...
Now, to this, we have to add whatever I get from the toy venture...although, here we DON'T go 50/50 because my cousin does about 70-75% of the work!

selling school supplies

December 1st, 2005 at 03:06 pm

Well, our Xmas season- as far as selling toys goes - is almost over (most companies have their children's party before Dec 10th)...and we have already started working on the school supplies...right now, parents are enrolling their kids in school for the new year (classes go from Feb-Oct), and, they are given the corresponding school supplies list...we obtained permission from one (large) school to hand out flyers advertising that we can sell "packages" including ALL the items on the list (so the parent doesn't have to run around the city finding everything!)...we got the lists for all grades, too, and have already started running around to see where we can get the best prices....we will sell this to the parent at a cost slightly over what they would pay at the libraries, the catch being that WE get wholesale prices...notebooks, for example, who sell at the store/supermarket for $0.32, we can get for $0.15....on other items the difference is minimal, but, still, we hope to be able to make a nice profit from it...I will request 3 days vacation (26, 27 and 28) to go with my cousin to buy backpacks and other items, and, will request another 3 days from Jan 3rd trhough 6th to actually sell the stuff (the school gave us permission to sell the stuff on school grounds, too!)...

Whatever we get from this will go straight to the cc's!, the more I can pay before April, the better (as I would have to start school hunting in May, so that Ale can join in the fall - bilingual schools follow a different schedule!)