"Bambi & Thumper Need A New Home" or "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"
by Amy Austin on June 22, 2010
Well... quite a bit has been happening with me lately, but I haven't been too keen to share for a few different reasons. One, just the mixed nature of it all makes it a little difficult for me to process -- although I am so very grateful for the good things, it also makes things pretty difficult to convey without somehow feeling rather pathetic and *un*grateful in the telling of it. Two... well... with the exception of my best friend, I'm also feeling a bit cut off from loved ones, which is partly my own fault, but hurts anyway (especially where it isn't). She is my lifeline in a way that she has been before now, but that I never thought or wanted that she would be again.
First things first, I guess... and as my title suggests, that would be the good. The good news is twofold, and I'll start with my precious Devil. Yes, she is walking again! No, it's not perfect, and in fact looks quite a bit like that of a newborn (or else like I've been giving her something other than water to drink ;-p) -- but my little Bambi is improving by leaps and bounds. Well, not really, although she does literally try to... if you could have seen her the first weekend after the incident giving chase after her sister spotted a squirrel (much to my simultaneous amusement, dismay and horror), you'd know that she doesn't appear to feel the least bit "handicapped" -- and there's something a bit awesome and inspiring about that, honestly.
That was the weekend that I drove down to Homestead to buy her a used wheelchair on ebay. Although probably not what the chair's makers would call a "perfect fit" for her, I certainly think it was close enough to warrant the two hundred dollar savings from buying new. Although... that savings was a pretty severe effort on my part to pacify Ed into continued cooperation with my choices in equipment (since my initial estimates were slightly lower before I did some deeper delving into product comparisons... and then found this chair "in-state" on ebay with photos and measurements that I was pretty sure would fit Devil). For those of you who don't know... that is nearly 800 miles, round-trip. In fact, that "savings" (to Ed, mind you) did wind up being quite a bit less than what the trip ultimately cost -- not me, but Denise! -- in gas, tolls and... ripping the front bumper cover off her Jetta *yet again* (the fourth time overall and the *second time* while in my driving custody)! Amazingly enough... I did somehow manage to recoup some of that loss by writing a letter to Volkswagen about the awesomeness of my best friend, her brand loyalty (this is her fourth VW... second Jetta), and how I could never repay her for all she has done for me. They are sending her a credit to be used for repairs at their dealership -- major props to VW for their compassion and efforts to reward a loyal customer and friend!!!
Well, Devil took to the chair fairly easily/well... until it didn't do what she wanted anyway (something like going backwards, for instance), and then she kind of freaked out and wiggled free of the harness. This persisted for a bit after getting it home... even resulting in a few overturn/upsets... but I think this also speaks to how she still thought she could run and jump at the fence while moving around in it, lol. When she tried it out in the seller's yard in Homestead (a very nice lady and her husband who had lost a dog to degenerative myelopathy, I believe), I thought she needed a rest (it was a frigging HOT day!), but... that was when she gave chase to Angel and whatever triggered that response in her (I didn't see but assumed a squirrel... evil, tormenting creatures that they are) -- she looked like a paraplegic bum on a skateboard, the way she just ran across the yard on her front legs and dragging her butt behind her sideways on the grass. Like I said... simultaneously hilarious and horrifying. ;-p
One of the big selling points about the chair is that it's designed to encourage some rehabilitative/therapeutic physical movement -- in fact, it was endorsed by pet rehab specialists for this reason -- and I could see that she was moving her leg as intended when she walked/ran in the chair. Even better still, I watched her leg whenever she would run (hard!) in her sleep... poor thing is evidently feeling quite pent up these days!... and there was quite a bit of movement and force then. Best of all, though, I tried to tickle her toes... and she clearly responded, thus indicating that she does still have feeling in her foot -- as well as the "deep pain response" that I thought I saw at the vet's office when he dismissed it (she didn't look at him when he stuck her foot with a needle, but her leg did jerk ever so slightly). The improvement has been pretty incremental -- first she started bearing her weight on the leg, then using it stiffly and ineptly to try to walk (not bending at the knee or picking it up very well and still knuckling over quite a bit on her foot), and now she is bending her knee and picking up her foot and landing on the pad of it a large percentage of the time (even if weakly at times) -- but considering that it's only been three weeks (tomorrow), this improvement has been very encouraging! Quite frankly, it's been the source of the most happiness for me of late.
The other good news is that I *finally* got a job. Thinking with much more concern over internet footprints than I might once have (after all, I **NEED** this job in a way that I haven't felt in many years now), I don't think I really want to go into too much detail about it, except to say that it's a university position that turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Meaning... I initially applied because it was categorized as a job with benefits, but then saw afterwards that it was only listed as "part time" (???)... which was puzzling (pt not normally categorized this way) but also dismaying, based on the meager rate of pay (it's a "clerk" position, to be general about it). However... "part time" turned out to be 30 hours (better than the 20 that I initially assumed after realizing it), and the pay offered was sweetened a bit due to my specific experience and how they wanted to utilize it (the reason I stood out from among 47 applicants enough to merit an interview and, ultimately, an offer). At thirty hours, it pays quite a bit less than what I was getting from UI benefits, but... if I can manage to increase my utilization to the full-time forty, it will be comparable. I also had the added advantage of not needing to give notice to a current employer, lol (they wanted someone quick, God bless them)... and I think that, deep down, my boss also has a softer heart than she lets on, too. In my interview, I joked that my best friend is fond of saying that "desperation is a stinky cologne"... but that, at this point, I am thoroughly doused in it, lol. I guess I didn't stink too bad -- my task now is to stay that way. ;-p
So... well and good as that all is... it still didn't come in enough time to allay what I must now lump together as "the bad and the ugly". Unemployment insurance dried up eight weeks ago... and I still have another two weeks to go yet until my first payday. Ten weeks is a looooong time to go with no income whatsoever. To sum... Still have a roof over my head courtesy of the "last" part of first/last/security that I put down when I got here -- I'm expected to vacate by the end of the month (that's ten days now, for those of you keeping count), but still looking for a place (and will have to borrow a new first/last/security from my dad, if he can muster it for me). Had found what I truly thought to be my "dream apartment" (1BR/1BA, over 900 ft2 -- that's bigger than the 3BR house I rent! -- for $125 less in rent and *way* lower utilities), but Dr. LeJerky (the obviously wealthy chiropractor landlord) didn't want to rent it to me because of my dogs (even though the upstairs tenant of three years also has a dog and the ad I answered had said pets were allowed "at owner's discretion")... a serious downer that I don't have time to dwell over. Officially behind on electric, internet, cell phone and auto insurance bills... to the point that my electric was cut off on what was probably the hottest day of this month (my second day on the new job, last Monday, which also happened right after coming home to a frozen A/C and seriously hot house on the previous Friday... my first day on the new job!) -- poor girls... I had decided, because of how difficult it is to get Devil in and out of their crate now, to leave them closed up in my tiny bedroom, on my bed... and this is the hottest room in my house! Poor things were both on the floor, panting, next to a bone dry water dish... it was 87 inside when I got home Friday evening, and it had escalated to 92 by dark... it stayed between 88 and 93 for the rest of the weekend while I let the compressor thaw and relax (but not chill ;-p). Thank God I have a window unit that I had bought in a panic after seeing my first winter heating bills here last year (turned out that it was cheaper to cool the place, ironically), and Denise came over late Friday night to help me put it in the bedroom window... thus keeping us from sleeping in Hell (or at least trying to) over the weekend. Too bad for poor Angel and Devil that it also needed electricity to keep them cool on Monday, when I again came home to 88 degrees inside... and it rose to 94 while I waited two hours for the damn minions of Satan to come and turn it back on after my saviour Denise paid the past due amount for us.
And... if I haven't already expounded enough on the goodness of the woman I am lucky enough to have for a friend... let me just say again that ten weeks is a loooooooong time to be with no income whatsoever... because no money equals no food, too. And in addition to letting me borrow her much more fuel-efficient Jetta to drive down to south Florida to get a wheelchair for my lame dog and paying my past due electric, Saint Denise has cooked extra servings of food in order to send leftovers home with me, bought me basic staples like bread, milk & oj, bought two 30-lb bags of dog food, taken me out to eat countless times, PUT GAS IN MY GREEDY TRUCK so that I can continue to get to where I need to go, picked me up and driven me where I need to go in order to conserve said gas in my truck... and... will likely end up soon paying my auto insurance so that I don't wind up driving around illegally and incurring some more ridiculous poverty taxes in the form of fines (if I haven't already)!!! To say that I am grateful for such a friend would be an understatement indeed.
In the meantime... in this time of greatest need, I have also experienced just what "the ugly" is for people in poverty -- calling a zillion different numbers to speak to a zillion different jaded bureaucrats and/or tapped charities, only to find that I can never seem to successfully rendez-vous with the money that supposedly exists to help people in need, like myself. It's incredibly frustrating and bizarre. Imagine my perceived irony at sitting on hold to speak to the utility company to get my service back on (at a cost of $40 extra, of course) and hearing all about how I should ask how to sign up to donate $1 or $5 every month to "Project Share" -- the program designed to help "those in need" keep their services on! Imagine how it must appear to the folks in the Salvation Army chow line (where I've gone a handful of times now to supplement and ease the burden on Denise to feed me!), when I show up in a vehicle, keys in hand, cell phone in pocket, uniform work shirt clearly labeled with where I now work, glasses that are probably a luxury to many others that don't have them, and so on, and so on. I feel dirty and ashamed and embarrassed... like I need to explain to everyone there why I need a free meal... that I have NO money... that I *just* started work again... that I, too, am on the verge of homelessness. It's an all-new experience for me. Looking around me at these meals, I am sharply aware of how good I still do have it. At least I have friends who care about/for me... at least I have finally found decent work again... at least I am not mentally deficient. (Let me just tell you about the character I sat across from the other day... some other time, maybe. ;-p) And today, I got the "you from around here?" line from another guy who, thankfully, did not press for more after my succinct answers. I do appreciate the friendliness, but to worry that I'm being hit on in the indigent chow line is just another dimension that I'm just not ready for. :-\
And finally, there is the element of the personal that isn't really "mine" to share. I have (mostly) refrained from discussing Ed here, except where it has a direct bearing on my own circumstances, such as I have with Devil. There is... or was, at least... both a sense of obligation to privacy, as well as manners and good taste, in my not publicly mentioning details about his life that, honestly, still have quite a bit more emotional impact on me than I would wish for them to. Yes, I have privately shared some things that I did not feel appropriate to mention in a public forum... sometimes even regrettably so, as an apparent lack of empathy highlighted to me my own seeming lack of emotional objectivity a time or two. When something hurts so profoundly that you decide to share it with a friend, and they either fail to perceive the level of hurt it carries for you or else (worse) dismiss it as something you shouldn't be feeling, it's a pretty unpleasant experience.
I guess the point of my rather awkward-feeling (at this point) segue is that I am once again hurt, angry and offended by something Ed has done in pursuit of his new life. I recently made mention of his new wife and baby "in passing"... information that has been known to me for quite some time now... though, if I'm honest with myself and anyone else here, it was more likely done in scorn. I can't really help that this is the effect such information has had on me, even though it really has very little to do with me. But this time, it's different. This time, I am directly insulted and with, I truly believe, very good reason to feel that way.
Requesting his assistance with Devil was a most loathesome and pride-swallowing thing -- to say that I hated it would be an understatement. But, just as if I were a mother, it was that important to me to get the help I needed... even if it had to come from him. He didn't make it easy for me, either, but I was as grateful as I could bring myself to be... and in fact, he made me feel like it was quite the imposition, telling me that he didn't have the money and that his credit is maxed out, etc, etc. This only added to my obliged feeling of gratitude -- like he had done something that he really didn't have to do for us and at an inconvenience and expense that seemed, well... not selfish. If not for me, then because he loved Devil, too.
However... when an item I asked him to order arrived, I became privy to something that infuriated me -- and infuriates me still, though I simply cannot afford to allow myself to dwell on it (and yet, I do not foresee a time when it will not disgust me). When he forwarded me the order confirmation, I saw that he had deleted the address from it... something that I found puzzling, as I already knew that he lived with his "fiancee" (now wife) and he knew that I knew this. I shrugged it off... until the item arrived, and I saw the "new" address. He went and bought a new house, while I am eating Salvation Army meals and on the brink of eviction -- and when I called him on it, he even had the nerve to sound indignant/offended, asking me how I knew that!!!
I realize that this may sound as unrelated to me as his having a new wife and baby, but... it's not. We still have one last legal tie between us, and that is the technicality of "joint ownership" of "our" house in Maysville -- a tie that he once seemed to be unable to wait to dissolve and that I have since become the more anxious party to do so. In fact, several offers have been made (and reneged upon... by him) to buy me off the deed with a quitclaim -- I had accepted the last (and not most generous) offer to do this at the beginning of this year, when he e-mailed me out of the blue in the middle of February (a week after terminating the remaining items he had agreed to pay on until that time) telling me that he "had" to sell the house and was I going to cooperate? I asked why wouldn't I, and when I reiterated the previous higher agreement he had made to buy me out, he balked and strong-armed me into taking the lower offer or face court-forced sale. I'm not exactly in any position to argue now, am I -- I truly needed that money for more places than there was money to put it... and that was even before I ran out of UI. My truck has been in disrepair -- that I anticipate costing a couple grand -- for the entire time that I've been back in Florida now. I have credit issues that I had wanted to fix to enable me to buy a house sometime before my old age!
And then this happened to Devil. Never mind my truck... never mind my credit... never mind that this money would have prevented the onslaught of financial troubles I'm in right now -- I only wanted to use it to help her at that point. Before I asked for his help, it was last mentioned (in the middle of March) that getting this drawn up was going to cost him "more than anticipated"... that he would "let me know" when he had the money... and that was that. I rather figured, when I asked him for his help, that he would have at least had a portion of that money together for me... and that I would at least be able to borrow against that sum for whatever help she needed. That was not the picture presented to me at all, though -- he was "maxed out", he said. I began to wonder if he *ever* intended to give me any money and said so to him. He did not answer. Now I know why. And all I can think is, "what a fucking liar." Am I wrong???
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