Unsteady Uproot – “Elasta-Girl” (Tuesday, September 24th)

Call me Elasta-Girl because I am just THAT flexible. Nothing can bend me outta shape! SIKE. I think if there is one piece of advice that I would offer to any person trying to make massive changes in their life it would be this: make plans, but expect them to change. As you go through hourly, daily, weekly decisions things will happen that will cause you to have to make changes to your plans.

Today has truly felt like an off day. For one thing I am having another bad pain spell with my knees. They hurt when I don’t move. They hurt when I do move. They even hurt when I kneel down onto them. I woke up this morning feeling completely heavy and drained and my knees were bothering me so much that I knew I wouldn’t be able to go on my daily walk. So, I fell back to sleep and woke up to my host family puttering around, which was unusual because they aren’t usually up that early. They didn’t even stop for breakfast before they left the house which was even more unusual. I found out several hours later that they went straight to the ER because the husband’s eye was bulging and he had lost most of the vision in his eye.

I did laundry and did my quota of writing for the blog and then dove headlong into more of the paperwork for school. I was emailing back and forth with my advisor at the school close to my temporary house when she dropped a bombshell on me. “It is not physically possible for you to be competitive for 2020-2021 PTA school acceptance”. Something to do with prerequisite classes and the medical admissions exam that I am required to take. They accept 100 applications, interview 50, and accept 22 to the program. With odds like that you WANT to be competitive. She advised me to shoot for entrance into the program starting Fall 2021 and to focus on saving for school and getting quality observation hours for my application. Punch to the gut. That’s two years away.

I shut down my phone, ate lunch, and went to get ready for a meeting that I had planned today at 2pm for another opportunity to observe PT’s in a geriatric rehab setting. I pulled out my phone to punch in directions and got an error. I refreshed it. Nothing. Restarted my phone. Still nothing. Went outside and wandered around with my phone in the air. Nothing. What the what???

Without my phone I have no way to call, text, or use internet on my laptop. I have nothing without my phone. I’ve only been in this state for 2 weeks. I absolutely cannot find my way around. Not only that, I can’t even call someone to tell them I can’t make. I took a deep breath and reviewed my options. My host family was busy with the medical emergency so I wasn’t going to bother them with my petty issues. So I managed to get enough internet (this couple pays for their internet by the GIG) to take screenshots of instructions and then took the plunge that I could find my way with that. But the place was 30mins away and had super complicated instructions and I was on roads I have never been on. I made one wrong turn and tried to backtrack to review my instructions. But the roads weren’t labeled well and in the end all I could do was get back to the interstate and go home so that I could borrow a phone to call the person I was supposed to meet with to let her know I was a helpless human being who couldn’t function without a cell phone…

I couldn’t get a hold of the person I was supposed to meet with, but I did get a hold of my brother who owns my phone plan. Apparently, he was at the Verizon store trying to get them to remove his Apple watch from his plan. By mistake they removed MY phone instead, which was why I suddenly lost all functions of my phone. They then indicated that they couldn’t reconnect my phone without my physical phone. SO. My brother decided to upgrade. He couldn’t call me so he bought me a new phone and started the hour drive to me. He was about 30 mins away by the time I got a hold of him.

I, on the other hand, was lying on the floor in my dress clothes because I couldn’t get a hold of the person I was to meet with and had to leave a message. I couldn’t email because I didn’t have a phone and I don’t have internet without my phone. I felt like such a flake. Such an idiot for not being able to find my way without a GPS. So. Frustrating.

My brother showed up a few minutes later, but not before the wife of my host family offered her two bits, “Maybe you’re in the wrong career. What are you gonna do if you put two years of work in and still don’t get accepted?” These are the exact wrong things to say to me (or anyone, let’s be honest). But I couldn’t deal with that problem at the moment. It was more important to have a working phone than to fuss over school any more for the day. I grabbed my laptop and a granola bar and my brother and I hit the road.

My brother was telling me about this swanky hotel out in the middle of nowhere. He said that the bottom half housed an incredible café and he wanted to take me there to chill while he worked on switching my phones so that he could sell my old one. I was holding the new iPhone 11 and feeling like the ultimate turd because my brother is the only reason why I have a phone, phone service, or internet to use my computer. And he refuses to let me pay for it. When I say, “Why do you always take such good care of me?” all he says is “Someone’s gotta do it.” I 100% don’t deserve any of this. I feel like a dirt clod.

He never mentioned the name of the hotel. But as we pulled up to the parking lot I burst out laughing. THIS. THIS was the hotel. The landmark I was supposed to use to find the medical building where my meeting was today. The landmark and building I failed to find like an hour ago… What are the odds… UGH.

The coffee shop was magical and it’s wares magically lifted my mood. I’ve felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack all day, but I was too embarrassed about being “extra” to order a decaf. Regardless of the shakes, I got a spiced, Christmas-inspired drink and it was delicious. By the way, I have given up on finding a decent matcha latte in this state. They use culinary grade matcha everywhere that I have been. I don’t get it. Use ceremonial grade! Culinary grade tastes like dirt!

We got the phones switched out and all set up and all that jazz and he took me home. In case you didn’t know, anxiety is highly contagious. And the whole house was thick with it by the time I got home. The husband of my host family was diagnosed by CT scan with a leak in his carotid artery behind his eye. The blood was pooling and making his eye bulge. So the whole house was a buzz of phone calls and worried whispers.

I’m not sure if it was the worry and fear for his health or what, but the moment we all sat down to eat after a seriously long day was the moment the husband decided to bring up the fact that he didn’t realize it was going to take me so long to get a job and into school (it’s been two weeks). He was concerned that I would interfere with their family plans for Thanksgiving. In fact he has repeatedly asked me if I have made plans to be gone for Thanksgiving and I, in turn, have repeatedly assured him that I will be gone and even offered to empty the room. Also, when I signed the lease I indicated I only wanted the room for 60 days from my move in date of September 9th. Two months. That’s all I asked for. And they repeatedly were like “No worries. No hurry”. They wouldn’t even let me pay them. They were all like “We don’t even use the space – no big deal.”

Why bring this up now, I ask? Is it because you’re in a medical emergency and concerned that a stranger is living in your house? His words instantly stung. It brought me all the way back to when I rented a room from a family I have known since birth for $400 a month.

Back during that time things were strained from the moment I moved in. I never quite knew how I fit in at the house. I was terribly depressed by work and my living situation. Tension grew until it finally reached a breaking point when they asked me to leave for a week so that they could use my room for their house guests. It might be important to mention that they had NO plans for asking one of their children to share/move out of their rooms AND that I paid $400 a month in order to stay in the room where I was. I flatly declared that I paid for the room and that I would be staying. They declared that I was homeless.

I never told the actual truth about that time on the blog because I always wanted to keep a brave face and take the high road in the situation. I did write a rather positive post years ago during that time called “Happily Homeless”. But that experience was by far one of the most painful experiences of my life. It changed me and my life forever. {Honestly for the better, though. I’m now grateful that things are different now.}

It was during that experience that my “top boss” at my current corporate job managed to catch me multitasking at my desk. I was working away at my job, but I was also crying steadily and the entire front of my shirt was saturated as I just kinda let the tears dribble off my face. I have gained this talent over the years of silently crying. I can sob without even making a peep.

My boss pulled me into her office and was like “what the heck happened?” I told her that I was essentially homeless, but that a girl at work had agreed to store my stuff and let me sleep at her house until I could find a place. I told her that I was looking for a place to lease, but I couldn’t find anything that I could afford that was also available. Every day I was leaving work and visiting places to rent all over the city – even 45 minutes outside of the city – trying to find a way to make my life work out. Even the places I could afford were not safe at all. I would cry as I walked to my car after the tour because I was scared and knew I was too poor to live somewhere safe without a roommate and I needed options right that moment.

That afternoon my boss left me with her two cents and it’s stuck with me all these years. Kinda haunted me in fact. She said “You need to stop moving in with people. You need to live on your own and deal with your own issues around loneliness and fear.” I wouldn’t have taken this from just anyone but as a former navy sailor and someone who had escaped an abusive husband with a 1 year old and a junk car I knew she had been through some crap.

Whether he meant to or not the husband’s words last night absolutely tore into a deep scar of my past. I would like to give him grace considering he’s experiencing a medical emergency, but in the end he opened pandora’s box. I kept it together like I always do when I feel like someone is being harsh. I assured them that I would be employed and moving out as soon as possible and I spent the rest of the meal in complete silence. There is nothing worse than the “curtesy chew and swallow.” It’s the awful feeling you get when you are in emotional pain and your stomach doesn’t want to accept anything but you are forced to chew and swallow and entire plate of food so that no one knows anything is wrong. I blinked back the tears, scrubbed the kitchen, and set back to work on all the applications and cover letters I was working on earlier.

It feels like pressure on all sides. We have had multiple conversations about me staying with them TWO months. 60 days. That is what I asked for. And that is what they agreed to. If people don’t want people in their house why don’t they just not offer? If people have expectations why don’t they outright admit them when I ask? When I ask for a written agreement, why don’t they take me seriously?

Anyway, this day forced me to rethink whether applying to five schools is actually a viable option. It might not be worth the time driving and visiting all these schools and having all these meetings. Also, I might have to ditch all these opportunities to observe PT’s until I can get my crap together. I might just need to buckle down and find and job and get an apartment. Whatever I can afford.

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