Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good Run of Bad Luck

Clint Black had a song several years ago called A Good Run of Bad Luck. I think I understand now what that means…

Let me start by saying I am really glad I moved to Austin and took a leap of faith. I have not regretted my decision at all. Several things have fallen neatly into place and worked out very nicely making me feel that this was definitely the thing to do. However, I have definitely had some unfortunate things happen in the past few months, but, amazingly, I am finding a lot of good in these bad things. I feel this is a sign of growth and maturity on my part. I have realized you just have to keep things in perspective and laugh because the alternative is to live in a state of fear and distrust, and that certainly does not sound like a good way to live to me.

The first misfortune is that after ten months I still don’t have a full time job. I am a bit in shock that I can’t even get an interview to be an assistant anywhere. I knew a job would not fall into my lap, but I never would have guessed it would take this long to find something. I have remained far more positive than I would have thought possible during this. I’ve had a few moments of panic, but my parents and friends have been so supportive the panic has never lasted long. On the bright side, the schedule for substitute teaching is very flexible. It has also been quite reaffirming to see how God has provided for me every step of the way. After living on substitute teacher pay and buying health insurance out of pocket, I will also never complain about a teaching salary again!

In December I got in a car accident on my way to visit a friend. Most importantly no one was hurt, although I did break a nail. My car was a 2001 and had driven all over the great state Texas resulting in a lot of miles. This being the case the insurance company declared the car a total loss and cut me a check for the value. Initially I freaked because there is no way I can make a car payment on sub pay. The silver lining is that my wonderful parents said I could use their third car as long as I need to. Plus, I think the insurance company was pretty generous and I don’t know that I could have paid the deductible to make repairs to the car without putting myself in a jam financially. Now I have a nice cushion in my savings account and will have a good down payment when I do get a job and am ready for a new car. I should also mention my awesome friends Marisol and Grace who drove almost an hour to where the accident happened and picked me up. Then they brought me Taco Bueno for lunch. Apparently, I’ll do just about anything for some Taco Bueno.

In February the most unsettling event of my life to date occurred. Someone broke into my apartment and robbed me on a Wednesday while I was subbing. They took my laptop and all of my jewelry. I cannot begin to describe how disturbing it is to know a stranger was in my home going through my stuff. Since there were no signs of forced entry I have been really concerned about how they got in, and very disturbed to think it might have been someone who works here and has a key. Even if the robber hadn’t taken anything, just the violation of privacy is so traumatic I would never wish it on my worst enemy. Even though I have had the locks changed and added some further security measures to my home, I still feel a compulsion to do a walkthrough of my place every time I come in to make sure no one is here and that nothing is missing. It was hard to put a positive spin on this experience, but there were some good things:
  • Sadie was home and she was not harmed, let out, or taken. Anyone who has met my dog knows she is a one of a kind and was the only thing in the apartment that could not be replaced.
  • By some miracle I had backed up all of my documents, music, and pictures the Sunday before the robbery. If it hadn’t been for that this whole thing would have been 100 times more devastating. Since I haven’t actually developed a picture since I got my digital camera all of my photos for the last several years would have been gone forever along with lots of dollars worth of iTunes downloads, all of the files from six years of teaching, and all of the documents pertaining to my current job search. I will never know why I did that back up when I did because it had been on my to do list for a long time, but it was a total blessing that I didn’t lose all that stuff!
  • They could have taken a lot more stuff. I think they were in a hurry and maybe on foot since they apparently dumped my jewelry into two of my overnight bags that were also missing from the closet. They also didn’t tear things up. I would have been really pissed if they’d left a mess. I hate cleaning up other peoples’ messes.
  • So far no one has used any of the information on my laptop to wreak further havoc on my life in the form of identity theft. As creepy as it is that someone was in my house, it is almost creepier that they could look at all my pictures and documents on my laptop. I now know to keep everything password protected. Why-oh-why did I not do that before?
  • I had on my Aggie ring, my favorite cross, the bracelet my sister gave me at her wedding, and the watch my parents gave me when I graduated college so all of that was safe. I am still very sad about a lot of the jewelry that was taken though. I didn’t wear much of it very often, but almost all of it was given to me for special occasions and had great sentimental value. I was saving some of it to pass on if I ever have a daughter. Guess I’ll have to marry rich and get some new stuff to hand down!
  • Once again the insurance company was very helpful, quick, and efficient.
  • It made me remember stuff is just stuff and it is not what life is about, even though I’d still like to have my stuff back.
  • My mom and sister were already scheduled to come that weekend and Jill even came early and drove through snow so I wouldn’t have to spend the night alone in my apartment.
  • Again, good friends came to the rescue. They came as soon as I called and waited for the police with me. Then they let me and Sadie stay at their apartment that first night since I was creeped out. They also supplied me with enough alcohol to distract me, at least until the next day.

By this point my bad luck was just becoming a bad joke. When Jill arrived the day after the robbery we went to buy my new laptop. When we came out of the store it was dark and raining…and the car I’m borrowing from my parents wouldn’t start. We just laughed. It was too much. The universe was obviously conspiring against me. I had to call friends to help one more time. They brought jumper cables and we tried that to no avail. Then someone saw a lose cord and hooked it to the battery and the car was fine. (We took it the next day and had to get a new cylinder on the battery to make that cord stay in place and there have not been problems with it since.)

The last month has been catastrophe free; except for a bad haircut. So, I’m optimistic my hair will grow out and things will only get better from this point forward. I believe now more than ever that I can get through anything in life because I have been blessed with an AMAZING support system. Having good insurance doesn’t hurt either (thanks to the good people at Allstate for being incredibly sympathetic and easy to work with BOTH times I’ve had to call you since I moved)! Since we often have no reasonable explanation for why things happen and therefore cannot always avoid bad things, it is good to know we are capable of getting through them when they occur. The best thing about bad luck is that it makes you appreciate all the days that go by without incident, and it makes the days when your luck is good that much sweeter.

The Real Victims of Under Employment

This is meant to be funny, not offend anyone out of work, because I know how much it sucks to be out of work. But, I’m choosing to laugh at the situation instead of crying over it, so please don’t think I’m being insensitive!

There have been many casualties of the recent economic recession. Many have suffered, but the real victims of the recession are the thousands and thousands of hairs upon my head. These hairs are spoiled, I will admit. They are used to good shampoo, regular conditioning, and visits to the salon for cut and color on a regular basis.

For the past three years my hair has been involved in a very serious relationship with a woman named Bonnie. Bonnie took my hair from long and dark to short and blonde, then guided it expertly back to mid-length with a balance of high and low lights that people would stop me at the Wal-Mart to compliment. My hair had such a great relationship with Bonnie that we followed her to three different locations and paid increasing rates as she adjusted prices to the salons where she happened to be working.

Inevitably, you get to know the person involved with your hair, and hopefully you like that person as much as your hair does. While Bonnie and I would probably not have met under other circumstances and we never hung out socially, it was always fun to see her and catch up. I don’t know how many clients she sees, but she always remembered what we’d talked about on my last visit even though it was about three months between appointments. At the beginning of December every year she would call and give me dibs on an appointment to get my “hair did” for the holidays. After I moved to Austin I even made the trip back to Belton for one final appointment with Bonnie…that was the last time my hair looked good.

Since that last visit I have not been back to a salon because I’m still hunting a full time job and substitute teacher pay barely covers rent; it most certainly does not justify extravagant expenditures on one’s hair. Since my hair had previously been colored, the root situation demanded attention a few months after my last trip to Bonnie’s, so I had to improvise. Did you know you can get a box of color for $8.99 at the store? Neither did I. Pair the box color with a trim at a walk-in place and I saved over $100 on just one cut and color treatment!

Be advised, doing your own color and getting a cheap trim has some drawbacks. The first is your hair looks cheap. The second is you miss out on the salon experience. There is no complimentary beverage, no reclining as your hair is washed and your scalp gently massaged under a warm fountain of water, no salon gossip, no intoxicating scent from the high end styling products used by the professionals. Hell, everyone knows having someone else wash your hair for once is the best part of the whole hair modification experience and is almost worth the $120. If I’m ever super rich I’m getting one of those salon sinks and reclining chairs put in my house and hiring someone to wash and style my hair every morning.

Alas, I was making do with the cheap hair lifestyle because, really, I have no other choice. But after the cheap haircut I got recently, I realize how desperate my hair is to start a relationship with a stylist here in Austin.

Over Spring Break I went to the same walk-in haircut place where I’d gotten a perfectly decent trim in the fall, but the girl who cut my hair before wasn’t working. Instead, I got a woman in her forties who, upon learning I work in the education field, told me how upset she was that she learned about “tea parties” in history class but not “coffee parties.” She was also under the false impression that the State of Texas is trying to remove Martin Luther King from history books. According to her that is wrong because, “He had a dream.” I don’t think she knew what the dream was, but at least she knew he had one. Apparently her TV only delivers every third word of the news. Now imagine the haircut that comes from this individual and picture that on my head. Ok, now wipe the look of horror from your face.

I’m in full on hair grow out mode because every time I see Sandra Bullock I have mad hair envy, and she has been in the news a lot lately. (Can you believe that asshole husband of hers?) So, I told this alleged hair professional to, “Cut as little as possible, just clean up the ends.” She heard, “Take off three inches and jack up the front real good.” I assure you I did not have three inches of split ends. I had to do some intervening with the kitchen scissors after I got home, straightened my hair (no styling included at the walk-in place), and saw how bad it was. Thank goodness my hair grows fast.

I am currently in great need of a new car and figured after landing a job my first stop would be the car dealership. I know now that on the way to the dealership I will be stopping at a salon for a proper haircut and highlights. Until employment becomes a reality, I may have to get Jason to pick me up some of the extensions he saw at the gas station in Houston a while back. They’re made of “real hair” and they’re real cheap. I think I have that in my budget.