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Archive for June, 2018

Ale is 18 today!

June 26th, 2018 at 04:31 pm

this is what I wrote for her...

I can´t believe it´s been 18 years since I first saw you and held you in my arms. This is what we woke up to today at home. I know you like Wonder Woman, but, I didn´t tell you why I chose this theme for this day. Just like Wonder Woman, you are a warrior princess, “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise like Athenea, stronger than Hercules and swifter than Hermes”. You are not a princess “in distress”, but a strong one, one who not only can fend for herself, but also protects and nurtures. Y chose your name right: Protector and defender of humanity. I am very proud of you, and I thank God for the blessing of being a part of your life.

A work colleague made the banner and props... she charged me $5... I don´t think that covers even materials, and I know that this is her gift for Ale... and I went to bed at around 1am to bake the cake without Ale knowing, but, it was worth it, she loved it! (everything! We saved the banner and props for our family celebration on Saturday... She´s not in the pic because she was in pajamas! LOL!

Counting meals

June 21st, 2018 at 02:42 pm

We have gotten into the habit of making menus and "counting meals". We need 45 meals to last a pay period. Most mornings we have cereal with milk, and vary only the lunches and dinners. We were lazy last week and didn´t make our menu. As a consequence, I didn´t purchase enough food for the whole 2 weeks....But, I always have some staples on hand that may be used. One of our favorite meals now is "false chicken" crepes... (I use texturized soy meal for the filling!) We both love them, and they are cheap to make... just some flour, milk and oil + 1 egg for the crepes (and I have learned to make them without the egg, even, if necessary), the soy + chicken base + onion + green peppers + tomatoes + garlic (and, sometimes, bbq sauce for a change in flavor), and, for a gourmet touch, some white sauce (should be butter, but we use margarine + onion + flour + ground nutmet + white pepper). Oh, and today we are having "meatless" lentils... I forgot to buy sausages! Oh, well...


June 19th, 2018 at 04:34 am

I am sorry if this entry sounds kind of disconnected, but, some things are very hard to relive, and so I will try to give you just an idea of what we were going through. Feel free to ask if you want more details, though, I just don´t want the entry to be too long (it will be long enough as it is)
We have had difficult times, emotionally as well as financially. In 2013 I discovered quite by accident that Ale was cutting and starving herself. She was in a very dark place, emotionally, and, I had to refocus all my energy on her. I thought she understood about us sacrificing certain things to pay off debt, but, it turns out she didn’t. She felt that all I cared about was money. She wanted to die, just so I would suffer. She was also being bullied at school. And, my sister and her children moved out (we kept having problems with my nephew´s stealing our stuff) I am guessing it was all too much for her, and she just couldn´t handle it.
I am very grateful for my work colleagues. In truth, we are a small family, and try to support each other through bad times, and cheer for each other’s successes. During this bleak period with Ale, they all offered me some sort of help. From my boss, who assigned me the simplest purchases, so that I would not make any terrible mistakes, to the colleague who read through the whole health insurance policy to find out whether psychological help was covered (it was!).
We went to therapy for one whole year, with little progress. Financially, this meant $120 per week, with the insurance covering 80%, and my copay was $24 per week. On top of that, the psychologist said that, at that point, with the bullying and the situation at home, her only haven was dance school… so Ale stared going there 5 times a week instead of 3, which, of course, increased the price. I really felt that I had no option, as otherwise she would have been alone in the house for 3 hours while I was still working. And I was terrified of that. I kept dreading that I was going to find her hanging from the stairs. It feels awful typing that, but, I really believed it. I knew she was home from school at around 3:45pm, and, from that time until 5:00pm, when my work day ended, I had no peace, and would often cry at my desk.

And all this time I was fielding calls from collection agencies, and, well, I can tell you, fearing for your child´s life really puts things in perspective. I really was paying as much as I could, but, I just couldn´t care enough to agonize over not being able to pay the full amounts they were asking for. I knew this put my job in jeopardy, but, honestly, as long as I could be with Ale and help her, I didn´t care. I could have used my severance payment to settle most accounts, and would have been able to go on with just a call-center job. That was my Plan B. So far, I am still at my old job.

I was trying desperately to get Ale into a church group for youths, but she wouldn´t hear about it. Thankfully, her friends from ballet thought the same, and kept inviting her to retreats. Finally, she told me one of them had invited her, and said the retreat cost $50 (she was sure I was going to say No, and was actually disappointed when I said Yes right away)… So she went, eventhough she didn´t want to… And it was the best thing that could have happened to us. They took her, shook her, turned her inside out, cleansed her, and gave her back to me totally new. This was in 2015, and, to this day, she is very active in her church group, meeting twice a week. She has also gone on missions. (oh, the first time she went on missions she was 16, and everyone was like: You´re letting her go? The roads are dangerous, they might have an accident. They will be walking in the mountains, with strange people, the missionaries might get mugged, she might get raped…. Well, she was 16, and she could have been asking for permission to go to this very popular beach town, and, well, the road is dangerous, there have been numerous accidents there, and robbers place big rocks on the way to make people stop to mugg them, AND, there have been a couple of reports of girls being drugged and raped… SO.. going on missionary work was really not that much dangerous than going partying, right?....They also said: she´s too pampered, she´s going to hate it…Guess what? It was rough, and she LOVED it!)
We also decided to take her out of her old school, and she chose to transfer to a Catholic one. (this meant a 6 month sabbatical, as she also went from the “Northern Calendar”- August to June, to the “Traditional Calendar”, which is February to October) The difference is that, this time, I was not afraid of leaving her home alone! (and, she is graduating this year anyway, except, she will graduate in November instead of in June). The change was also beneficial financially, as this school costs 60% less than the old one. It also is more demanding, academically, so she dropped the dance classes (but not the dance class friends!), so that is another cost that was cut.
The translations for the dubbing company dried out. They started dubbing Iranian films and soap operas, and, they were a much better business for them than the ones from the US. For one thing, these new programs were already translated, so the dubbing company saved some money (they charge the companies based on “on-air time”, and, they also pay all their suppliers that way, so, without the translator, that was one less supplier to pay). It was very difficult at the beginning, and, for almost a year I had $0.00 from translations. Business is slowly picking up again, but, not with them, with other customers, who, by the way, pay much better rates.
We are in a much better place now, emotionally and financially. She used to hate me, and avoided being with me. Now she likes spending time with me, and, even says she loves me spontaneously from time to time. Financially, I have gone from needing the $1,200 pre-authorized overdraft in my account every month, to needing first $800 additional to my salary, to $500, and, finally, as of next month, needing only $100 additional to my salary. Part of my debts has been paid off, and part was just transferred to the employee´s association at a much lower rate.
I still have some way to go, but, I expect I can finish paying off or transferring the debt I have by mid-2019, at the latest. After that, there are many things that we need to buy, we have already made a list (our washing machine broke down 6 months ago, we are washing by hand, but, before buying a new machine, we need to fix the space where the old one was, as it was in a small covered patio, and, the little roof over it leaks whenever it rains… my bed was bought in 1998, and needs to be replaced. Ale´s is newer, as it was bought in 2005, but, it also needs replacement.
We have the same car, a 2001 Hyundai Accent, and, the past few years it has been breaking down fairly frequently, so we should start looking into getting a newer one, but this is not a big priority. Ale wants to go to med school, and, there is one university nearby… Near enough that she could walk there, if necessary… it would take her about half an hour to get there from our house, but it is in a relatively safe area… and, NO, she wouldn´t take the bus. Our car broke down last year, and we were riding the bus the last 2 weeks of school last year… Riding the bus here is dangerous: women get “felt up” during rush hour. You may get mugged -never happened to us, but, one work colleague was, at least once every two months, before she got her own car…and, the last day of school the bus was full, and the driver didn´t bother waiting until we were off the bus, I was still at the door, and Ale was halfway down the stairs, when he started driving again. Ale was thrown off the bus. Luckily, there were no cars coming behind the bus on the lane where she landed, and, all she had were some minor scrapes on her legs…”that happens often”, “it´s so normal, really” people said to us when we told them about it… It may be common, but it shouldn´t be viewed as normal, in my opinion… that day I went crazy… The guy stopped so I could get off, I was screaming so… and after seeing that she was ok, I just started beating the bus with my purse and screaming at the guy: Murderer! You POS! and other things, not fit to be printed, as they say…I broke my phone, btw, I forgot it was in my purse… I really wanted to scratch his eyes out, I have never felt such RAGE and such pure unadulterated hatred in my whole life. I am lucky that I couldn´t get back in the bus, it was so full… I don´t know what would have happened).
But, in 2 weeks she´s turning 18, and we need to get her national ID so she can start her enrollment process at the university (Ironically, she has a much better chance of getting the lowest tuition rates coming from the new school than she would have if she had come from a bilingual school, however small), but, enrollment is not open yet for 2019. Right now, they are still processing the kids of the Northern Calendar. We do know what documents we need, though, so we are concentrating on having everything on hand.

Oh, and my nephew got help, sobered up and he got his US residence through his father. He studied and became an Assistant veterinary technician, and is currently looking for work. Things are still difficult for him, but he is doing much better. My niece paid my sister´s trip last year so she could go see him (we love him, but, we don´t want him to come back and fall with the same crowd again!)