Friday, July 22, 2011

My truck 'sploded and I became a statistic




After many questions yesterday resulting from people reading frantic short messages on my twitter/facebook, I decided to explain here.

Many of you know I was laid off in December (the third time in two years) and have had difficulty finding a job. I have a part time position that was barely keeping me afloat until a few months ago, when the available hours all but dried up and I was forced to exhaust my savings.

My parents asked me to move in with them several times over the last year, but I stubbornly resisted. Why? I felt like it would be admitting defeat, admitting I couldn't make it on my own. I pictured myself crawling back home (an entirely abstract concept to me, but that's another post) to lick my wounds - and I loathed the idea.

Not to mention, they live in the Florida Keys. I know what so many of you are thinking right now: "Living in the land of eternal summer, palm trees and beaches? Yeah Sarah, that sounds soo rough." A lot of people see the Keys as paradise but they don't realize how few permanent residents there are. And how little industry. Which means few worthwhile job opportunities.

I know countless people my age are having to do this same thing right now, but I thought I shouldn't have to. I was better than that... Wasn't I? Apparently not, because when our lease was up and I still didn't have steady income, I decided to accept my parents' offer.

But in a little while. After a few last-ditch efforts to find a job. After I wore out my welcome on several generous friends' couches. After a going-away party of epic proportions. Just a few more weeks to spend with friends whom I love like family and a writers group full of trusted people who would tear my writing to shreds.

But the universe had different plans for me. When I was driving to work Friday, my truck started shaking and making clanking noises. The gas pedal didn't respond. Steam bellowed from beneath my hood. Amidst a stream of not-so-lady-like curses, I pulled over on to the shoulder, momentum the only thing moving me forward, the rumble strips finally slowing me to a stop.

I called my daddy, the mechanic, who immediately said that he would be up to take me and my truck back home with him in 6 hours. (For most mechanical problems, even considering gas, it's cheaper for him to come up than to go to a mechanic.)

6 hours. And it took me four hours to get a ride back to where I was staying. No time for goodbyes.

While waiting for the tow truck driver, my battery died with my window rolled down. And this is July in Orlando: thunderstorms are compulsory. After I got towed to my old apartment complex, with a jammed middle finger (a moving-related injury), I began taping up my window. I tore the tape with my teeth. It fluttered in the hot humid wind and grabbed at my lips, ripping enough skin off to make them bleed in two places.

I nearly broke down right there. You know, last straw and all that. But I'm not usually one to let things get me down. Two weeks ago I served as my sister's maid of honor, moved both my roommate and me, and threw two parties that people will be talking about for years - all in 6 days while under the stress of having no job and no actual place to move to. When my roommate told her coworker about my situation she said, "How is she doing it? If I was her I'd be projectile vomiting." If I do say so myself, I pulled it off with grace.

So as I stood there in a baking parking lot with the threat of tears stinging my eyes, I said, "No! Not now. You can cry when you get home." And so I am, as I write this.

My dad tried to start up my truck before he put it on the trailer. After listening for a second he said, "That doesn't sound good." Coming from my dad, the guy who can fix anything?

Now I sit in my parents' house in the Keys with a future more uncertain than mine has ever been, so thankful I have a place to run to when so much is going wrong. I still hold hope of finding a job in Orlando and returning to the life I love there. But that hope is dwindling.

And I can't dawdle for long. With no savings and bills like student loans, storage, and truck insurance, I NEED an income. Fast.

So many of you have asked what's going on and I hope I haven't told you more than you'd like to know. I don't ask for anything but your prayers/well-wishes/mojo/whatever-you-believe-in. And job leads, if you have them. And if any of you happen to know Meg Cabot? (She lives in Key West) How about convincing her she needs an assistant and I would be perfect for the job? ;-)

But I still have hope. I'm a hard-working intelligent young woman with a degree in engineering, natural leadership abilities and a knack for words; someone has to hire me eventually. I have the best family and friends this side of the Andromeda Galaxy. I'm working on a new book that I truly believe in. I reflect on J.K. Rowling's story - writing what would soon become the most beloved children's series while almost homeless (ha! Beat here there; I was homeless for 8 days) and reusing the same tea bag over and over - and I know there must be a light at the end of this darkness.

I just I wish I knew how far away it waits.


23 comments:

  1. It sounds like life is aiming to find out what you're made of, and it's apparent it's all the right stuff. :) Sorry about the 'splosion! I once had a garden tractor 'splode on me. Not fun. Good luck! Great things are coming, I'm sure.

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  2. Hang in there, Sarah - we're all pulling for you. You are that intelligent, funny, wordly (;-) leader, and the right situation is out there looking for YOU. Sometimes we find ourselves in places we didn't expect (or want), but that is life, and this experience will make you all the better writer/friend/person - all our experiences are useful in the end if we let them be. Hugs and PRL

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  3. That really sucks Sarah. Now that you are moving south are you looking for a job anywhere or are you going to want to come back to Orlando?

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  4. Sarah,

    This only proves how strong and amazing you truly are. Life sucks sometimes, but I'm glad to hear that you know something great is coming. It may take awhile for it to arrive, but it's coming. :-)

    Wishing you nothing but luck and love,

    DJ

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  5. So sorry you're going through such a hard time, but you will come out of the other side a bigger and better person and definitely wiser from it! Good luck.

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  6. A garden tractor? I bet that was something. Thanks, Alina!

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  7. Thanks so much, Abby. That means a lot coming from you!

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  8. I'm pretty much looking for any decent job anywhere, though I would prefer to return to Orlando.

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  9. Thanks DJ! I appreciate all the support from my YAtopians!

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  10. Thanks Chanelle! In fact, I hope to come out the other side a smaller person... not working gives you a lot of time to work out! :-)

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  11. I will ask around for jobs in FL. I still think you should scrape some change together and move on out to TX :) You will have to send me your address.

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  12. For what it's worth, if you go on unemployment, then you can get your student loans deferred. That'll take the pressure off a bit until you get things worked out. Other than that, not much I can do except cheer for you. Go Sarah!

    Have some encouraging music, then get back on your feet and pound those CareerBuilder ads until you get somewhere. In the meantime... er... maybe cut back on the parties, some? Just a thought... ^_^;;;;

    -LupLun

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  13. Thanks Jackie! And I still think you should move on back to Florida! :-)

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  14. Thanks for the advice. That's another problem I didn't quite mention. They kept cancelling my unemployment when I got hours at my part time job, even though it was on record that it was an on-call position. However, if I quit that job, then I'm not eligible for unemployment.

    Thanks for the music! Haha! About the parties? I guess that does sound off, me talking about not having any money. However, the parties didn't cost me anything. I'm more of an organizer: I make sure the right people show up and THEY all bring the supplies!

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  15. Everything comforting and there-there-able that I could say is something you already know. But I'm in awe of you, because whenever I tell myself that I can cry later, I'm never able to listen.

    You're a tough cookie. Wishing you all the best, and new opportunities soon.

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  16. Girl, I can so relate. You can obviously write, and have the energy to make things happen, so you will make it. The right path will present itself soon enough and you'll know it when it happens. Write while you have the time!

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  17. Thanks Kim. I was raised by a daddy who convinced me that crying never helps anything... even a sprained ankle (he's military). But it sometimes it just feels better to let it out.

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  18. Thanks Michele! It sounds like your work situation isn't so stable either. I'm trying to write here but it's so hard to think and teenage weredragons when my dad blasts Fox News all day!

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  19. You always have a place in Oklahoma. Free rent, utilities, food, gym membership, your own bedroom (and now new bathroom), and plenty of quiet to write. Vehicles-a-plenty. We're here if you need us. always!

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  20. Sorry for not reading this sooner, I tend to hide in my own little world sometimes with my writing, photography and such. I hope things work out for you soon. I'm still with my 'rents and trying to move back up to Asheville which is the one place that I love and want to be. Things WILL work out, they always do. We may not get what we want exactly when we want them, but I believe that God has a plan for everyone.

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  21. Thanks! I'll let you know if I need to take you up on that :-)

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  22. Thanks Shannon. Sometimes I live under a rock for a while too :-)

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