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Saturday, January 24, 2015


My couch has an Angie-shaped dent in it. Aside from three weeks where I went to work in June, I have been unemployed and nearly never left my home for the last eleven months. In the summer I stopped going to bed at night because it seemed futile. I'm laying on the couch with a pillow and blanket already, why move? I struggle between understanding if I'm suffering from resolve of depression and its effects or frustration coupled with laziness. I've always been the victor when life hands me shit. I've always been able to pull myself out of the hard times, especially if someone said I couldn't do it. Whatever "it" was.

When Audrey was a baby I was desperate to make our lives better. My family made me so ashamed for being a single mother on welfare. Society shamed me every time I had to get out my book of food stamps at the register. I never aspired to be on welfare but I quickly found that my lack of a college education and limited work history would only merit me a minimum wage job. I couldn't pay rent and day care in the same month with that if I worked full time, let alone feed and clothe the two of us. I heard that on welfare you can get free day care so when Audrey was six months old I decided I would go to college. I told my case worker that I wanted to go to school. She said I wasn't allowed in the program until I had been on welfare for three years. At that time they would force me to either go to school or get a job. I asked her, "What am I supposed to do for 3 years?" She seemed pissed and told me, "You're supposed to be raising your baby." Fuck you, bitch. I am raising my baby. And I'm doing her no good by delaying our stable future. I went to Columbus State and talked to their financial aid people. They said I qualified for full grants and scholarships to pay for classes and books. I enrolled in courses and applied to the school. Once accepted for aid and as a student, I went to the welfare office and demanded to speak with my case worker's manager. I told him I'm already enrolled and have a full ride. I need child care. He was so nice. He apologized for my case worker trying to deter me from going to school. He said he wished more recipients would have the attitude that I did. He told me they aren't supposed to send people who are new to the system because they need to focus those funds on people who had been in longer. He said he would gladly make an exception because he could see how sincere I was. I pulled myself up.

When Audrey was almost two I had a terrible bout of depression. I had been nervously trying to avoid her abusive father. I had just found and then lost my natural mother, again. I was struggling financially. My family and I were on the outs. Someone in my neighborhood thought it was funny to slit tires in the parking lot and in one quarter of college I had to replace 9 tires. Those used tires combined were worth more than the damned car. Audrey and I twice slept on the floor in the hallway as it was the only area with no windows and on both occasions our windows were actually shot out by some punk in our gang-infested welfare housing project. I was trying to stay on the deans list. It was so important to me that my family, who were so embarrassed of me, would know I was doing well in school. All of these pressures were going on while I was living with the effects of being medicated for a misdiagnosed bipolar disorder. The meds made me like a zombie. I gained 70 pounds in 6 months and had absolutely insane thoughts rush through my mind. I called my dad and begged him to take Audrey so I could be committed. I was in a very dangerous emotional state. He told me this was my problem and I needed to deal with it myself. My dad didn't believe in depression. Not kidding. In his world, which really was a lovely rose hue, depression was just an excuse. I struggled through a terrible dark time coming off of the meds and getting away from the quack counselor I had been seeing. It took about half a year to get my head back together but I did it. It took me a while, but I managed to graduate college. I had fallen off of the deans list through my struggle, but I did graduate with a 3.06 because I'm not a quitter, God-Dammit.

When Audrey was in eighth grade she was in the accelerated classes. They pulled all of the parents of those  kids into a meeting and told us that since the district couldn't raise money, they were not going to be able to offer the children all of the opportunities they had promised. There would be no AP classes, no guidance for college, etc. I was pissed and frustrated. I wasn't convinced her accelerated classes were even challenging her and now she wouldn't even have those? A week later Audrey called me from her classroom to tell me they were on lockdown because a kid had a gun in the hallway outside of her classroom. There were already too many fights reported in the school, but a gun? That night at dinner Audrey asked, "If I'm afraid to walk down the hall in the junior high, what will it be like in the high school?" Without pause I replied, "You'll never know ."

I didn't care what it took, she wasn't going back. We couldn't just move to another school district because I owned my home and it was almost paid off by then. I couldn't send her to a religious school because I am Agnostic and she is Athiest. That would be ridiculous. I would never send her to charter schools, they're an absolute joke in Ohio, probably everywhere else, too. So we had to look at the three non-sectarian schools in town. They're all very elite and very expensive. Audrey ended up applying to and being accepted to both Columbus Academy and Columbus School for Girls. She chose CSG where upper school tuition is around $20k per year. When she was accepted and I heard how much it would cost I emailed my mom in Cincinnati to ask her to contribute. I hadn't talked to her in years because she made me feel small and I didn't need that in my life. But this was an opportunity for her only grandchild to get an amazing education. Her husband was very well off and they lived in a lovely secluded community in a 4 bedroom home with no one to fill that space. She emailed back and explained to me that Audrey and I are not the "type" of people who belong in that kind of school and she would have no part of it. Fortunately, we ended up being awarded partial scholarships every year and the most I ever paid was $6k for her freshman year. Now having never received child support and being woefully underpaid for my magnificence (wink) at work, that was an impossible sum. I did some absolutely ridiculous things to come up with it. I closed out my 401k. I wore size 24 pants with a binder clip to keep them up when I was in a size 12 because I refused to pay for clothes while I was losing my weight. I sold my plasma. I'd have sold a limb if there were a market. My kid was getting this education. Period.

When life gives me a challenge I always take my "Fuck You" attitude and work it out. I've struggled through severe depression, debilitating anxiety attacks and agoraphobia in the last year. I lost my job and am receiving unemployment. I wake up every morning and search for jobs while eating my Cream of Wheat. I have had one telephone interview. That's it. One. I was as charming and adorable as I could be on the phone but have not heard back so I don't think I got it. My unemployment runs out in six weeks. I have no savings. My depression has left me numb and feeling hopeless. I can not even find my bootstraps. Maybe they snapped. This is the time to jump up and prove to the world that I won't lose. I have the smarts. I have the fabulous wardrobe. I just need an opportunity to sit in an interview and let them see how eager and sincere I am. It's coming. I'm a good person and I didn't deserve the catastrophe that was 2014. I am going to use my heart instead of my head while it's slightly out of commission. I absolutely will get the next job I get to interview for in person. Dammit.