Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trailer Trash

I have a lead on an affordable rental. Granted, it is a dumpy looking trailer, but I am getting a little desperate at this point. The last 10 contacts I made to landlords (mostly via the newspaper) resulted in 2 appointments and 8 blow-offs.

Appointment # 1: The rental is a room in a converted "lodge"- ie: a 10-unit motel built in approximately 1959 that has been abandoned due to its depilatory condition. The man on the other end of the phone tells me to meet him at Quarter till Six because sometimes he doesn't get off work until 5:30 pm.
I pick up LB from daycare, drive the 20 minutes up the valley to where the "lodge" is nestled between a trailer park and a farm (must have been quite the destination location). All the cars parked in the lot are from out of state (hmm maybe it IS still a motel), and I don't see the so-called "landlord" anywhere.
After waiting for about 15 minutes, I finally get the nerve to knock on what seems to be the old "office" building. After a barrage of barking, a Mastiff and Australian Shepard come bounding towards the door, setting my 12 month old into a delighted "doggie dogggie doggie" and me into a startled backwards motion. A few seconds later, a man with incredibly dilated pupils struts to the door wearing nothing but a pair of ripped jeans.

Him: (yells at dogs) Don't worry, they're friendly.
Me: UH, are you Sean?
Him: No.
Me. UH, Ok.
Him: I'm sure he'll be around. We just moved in here too.
Me: Ok, thanks.

I retreat back to my car. Another car pulls in. Its two 20-something guys with a Michigan License plate. I assume they are a gay because they smile kindly at me and say "Awww what a cute baby." Trust me, 20-something guys traveling together, staying at a crappy motel and gushing over a baby are definitely not straight in Colorado. If they had been driving a Dodge Ram, I might have amended my bias, but I have pretty good gaydar. Plus I'm like world's biggest Fag Hag.

I wait. LB plays in the dirt. I wait. 6:20 pm. A hippie goes into one of the rooms, comes out and rides away on his bicycle, almost falling into traffic on the way. I wait. LB eats animal crackers. 6:30. I wait. LB gets fussy. I wait. 6:45. I give up and leave.

Appointment # 2: I walk towards the basement apartment of a nice looking home RIGHT in the heart of Durango. I could jog to work if I wanted. I wave to the landlord while juggling LB on my hip.

Her: Sorry, I just rented it!
Me: Thanks.

So this crappy trailer I looked at today is going for $550/month plus utilities and deposit. It is a 2 bedroom, and the previous tenants left the washer/dryer, so the lady says I can have them for as long as they work. Hmmm.

What's the catch? I have to make a separate appointment to look inside. Stay posted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My own worst enemy

So I know a lot of things are beyond my control that will impead my ability to further myself in the world: high cost of living, minimum wage, babydaddy's failure to pay child support, ignorance, sexism, etc.. But sometimes, it really just ME kicking myself in the face.

Yesterday, I left my purse in the car for a half an hour and when I came back outside, my wallet had mysteriously vanished.

Why this is my own fault:

1. I left my car unlocked
2. I left my windows rolled down

Yes, I am a moron. I have become to lazy in thinking that people are good and trusting in my small, quaint, mountain town.

Why this is bad:

1. My driver's license was in my wallet (really not such a big deal, I just have to drive without a license until I get paid next week)
2. My debt card was in my wallet (eh, I cancelled my account, no biggie)
2. Our Medicaid cards were in my wallet (bad cause someone might try to go to the doctor using my or LB's card)
3. BOTH my and LB's social security cards were in my wallet. BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD.

I have already put a fraud watch out on my ss # and requested another card. But poor LB, she doesn't have a credit report obviously and there's no way to monitor her SS # (according to the Social Security Office) until someone starts using it for their own advantage. My daughter might already have horrible credit by the time she is able to get a credit card of her own because her mom was stupid enough to carry around BOTH ss cards in her wallet.

In my own defense though- In the last 2 months, I have filled out applications for Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Colorado Health Plans (like Medicaid), my own employer's insurance, Colorado Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Request for LB's birth certificate, Request for Social Security card, Child Care Assistance, Head Start, and plenty of other forms that require you to present social security cards for EVERY member of your household.

I don't think that I went ONE week without submitting an application that needed my and LB's ss card, so I usually had it in my purse.

I know this is no excuse. I should have taken the cards out of my wallet every day as soon as I got home.

Sometimes I think I need a crash course on life before actually living it. Especially now that I have a child. There's so many mistakes you make and how are you supposed to recover from them without incurring permanent damage? I wonder if LB will be the youngest person in the world to have her identity stolen? Does this legally count as "Wrongs to Children"?

Haha. Ok. I will get through this. It is a minor set-back on my way to independence and harmony with the world. All I need is a paycheck, and that will set off the chain reaction to my self-sufficiency.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Low Income Housing my Ass

So my friend )who works for Habitat for Humanity) went to the La Plata Co. Housing Authority's meeting on Low Income Housing availability in the county and told me that there were only 3 other families there who looked interested in low income housing. They of course were silent the whole time while investors, builders, Realtors and developers debated on why we really NEED low income housing projects in our county.

One guy actually was whining about how his newly built houses were not selling and he HAD to lower his prices to $225,000! He apparently considered that low income and couldn't understand why people we're jumping on the scorching hot deal. He didn't think we needed to set aside any more land for low income housing projects because the county was just overflowing with opportunity for families like me.

Whatever Dude. Why don't you move into a Kitchenette at the local Meth Motel, pay $225 a week for cigarette-burned sheets, cops banging on your door, and really understand what Low Income means. If someone can't even afford to pay monthly installments for a shitty little room, and has to succumb to weekly payments, what makes you think they can afford a $2000/month mortgage? What makes you think that people like us can get approved for a loan that big?

It makes me so GOD DAMMNED ANGRY.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Dose of Reality

This is a terrible thing to say about another human being, but honestly, from the viewpoint of someone who has seen her friends go to jail for far less than what Paris Hilton did, I cannot describe the inexplicable joy I felt when the Judge sent her back to the detention center. My thoughts on the situation? Economic Justice. Momentary Class Equality. Hope for Social Empathy. Triumph over the rich who are undeserving of their wealth. This may sound over dramatic and one-sided, but there is not a person more "undeserving of their wealth" than Paris Hilton.

Someone who made no attempt in their life to join the workforce (and I do not count her 15 minutes of fame as a "Pop Star"), felt that the only worthy peers were celebrities, and the only worthy pastimes were to find a way to be on camera, has a seriously narrow view of what the real world encapsulates.

The most insulting thing I find about Paris Hilton is the way she insulted and ridiculed the working class in her idiotic reality show: "The Simple Life". The premise for this show was to stick the uppity spoiled brat into situations where she would theoretically be forced to complete actual labor. This was intriguing to me, but the product was so infuriating and disgusting to me that I think it hardened my heart against this person forever. I don't think Paris completed ONE job on "The Simple Life". Most of the episodes showed her side-stepping responsibility and humiliating the workers and families she was involved with. I don't understand how anyone who has a 9-5 job could find this show entertaining.

My close friend, who violated his probation (which is exactly what Paris Hilton did) was sentenced to 9 months in DOC Boot Camp, where he was forced through physical, mental and emotional hardship the entire time and came out like a champ. Paris could not make it through 3 WHOLE DAYS in a COUNTY JAIL without crying for help.

Another dear friend of mine was sent to Prison at the age of SEVENTEEN for being in the car which was involved in a robbery. He stayed there for 2 years and his life has been pointedly marred since then, due to serious trauma while in Federal DOC.

These people do not deserve to suffer through such hardships when others are given special treatment. They continue to work daily towards making an honest living, struggling to blend into a community that is small enough to remember their past faults. Paris Hilton will leave jail after her 23 days or so and resume her plush Beverly Hills existence. She will not struggle to find a job that does background checks. She will not be viewed as a criminal, only an heiress who made a mistake once. She will not have the emotional and mental scars that come from long periods of incarceration. I predict that hours after her release, she will be back to the Red Carpet once again.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Squeaky Wheel

I got a call from the Early Headstart today! Apparently they will let you qualify through your last year's tax returns. I submitted my forms and they said I can have a spot for only $53.00 A MONTH! $53 a month is ridiculously amazing. That's less than I spend in a week! I am so excited. This might open up a window of opportunity to find housing if I don't qualify for Section 8. This will provide me with about $500 extra dollars a month now! That is definitely enough for.....half of an apartment...hahaha.

I know my boss must have put in a good word for me after I told her I had been rejected by the State. Hard work and good luck pays off I guess. YAY! I cannot thank you enough!

My baby turns ONE!

Happy Birthday LB!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Daycare Dilema

I got a call from a lady today, who is looking to move to Durango in the next two years and is already trying to find daycare and pre-schools in the area. She doesn't even live here, and she is already searching. This may sound crazy, but actually makes a lot of sense when you understand the facts about daycare in Durango:

There are an estimated 1500 children under the age of five in La Plata County and only 271 daycare slots for kids under 3 years old. It makes u wonder..... how the hell are parents are working full time jobs in this situation?

LB is going to turn a year old tomorrow. Most people have a waiting list that are about a year to 2 years. Some people even have 3 YEAR WAITING LISTS. The kids will be in school before they can even get accepted! My current childcare provider has children on her waiting list who aren't even born yet.

I just began my job at the school district a month ago. How did I find childcare, do you ask? LUCK. DUMB LUCK- and honestly, besides the whole "get them on the list while en-utero philosophy" there really isn't any other choice.

My first lucky break was that the job I applied for happened to be well connected to the Head Start/Early Head Start offices. So I was emailed a list of EVERY childcare provider in La Plata County. I started crossing out the ones that didn't take babies under 12 months and was left with about 18 home care and 21 centers. I started with the ones my friends recommended. Got on their 2 year waiting lists.

Since I am a single mother, and at that point, only working part time, I went to department of Human Services and filled out the Colorado Childcare Assistance Program application. If you qualify, you get a substantial discount on your daycare cost.

The average day care here costs about $30/day which is ok, I guess. I haven't done the national research on that one. That expense turns out to be $150/week or $600/month, give or take a few days. That is something that I DEFINITELY cannot afford right now. So I filled out the application, which took about a month to complete in full. This also opens up the daycare centers that ONLY accept low-income families.

I really had no choice to wait and see if I qualified for this before getting childcare, since my first day was only two weeks after my interview. I had to find childcare fast. My babydaddy's mom(who watched LB while I was working PT) was available, but only one day a week (She has a house cleaning business). My mother and father also work full time and so do all of my friends without children. My grandmother is cursed with a incessantly neurotic toy poodle who runs in circles and barks at leaves falling from trees, so she was a very disagreeable match, though available. I was starting to sweat with one week left.

So I did the last thing left to do: Go down the list, one by one and CALL EVERYONE. I got to # 10 on the home providers, and I found a spot. The catch? It was only available during the summer. I took it. $28/day- I WAS PSYCHED!

In the meantime, I was still looking for a place in the fall. IMPOSSIBLE. Teachers have blocked those spots off YEARS in advance. The only way I was going to find child care was to get approved for Child Care Assistance, and make my way into the Early Head Start program.

About 3 days ago. I got my denial letter. I make too much money to qualify. $1200 a month is apparently middle class in Durango, PLENTY of money to support a child, pay for rent and daycare, gas, utilities, phone...etc Ok, sorry, you've already heard my rant on cost of living here.

So I am still looking. Waiting, hoping, praying...whatever humans do to invoke good luck on themselves. Will it pay off? Who knows.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Bear Eats Cat

Living in Colorado, you get your fair share of bear sightings (ha ha did NOT mean for that to ryhme so eloquently). I would have to say that bears are one of my top 3 fears in the world (followed by scorpions and sharks). I watched too many "when animals attack" shows as a kid and now it has developed into a full-on phobia, especially if I'm alone, away from civilization.

Today, as I was dropping off my soon-to-be ONE year old child at daycare, I was informed by her caregiver that there must have been a bear on her porch last night because.. she saw FRESH BLOOD on her front steps this morning! She thinks it must have gotten a neighborhood cat or something.

Ha.Ha.Ha. Good one. I just hope my kid is still there when I pick her up.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Cost of Living

Hello. Hola. Ya 'at 'teeh.

Living in Southwest Colorado, right on the border of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, you hear a lot of different greetings. The Navajo reservation is the largest conglomerate of Indians in the United States, and Durango is right smack dab.... err.... to the side of it.

Here's a little slice of economics for ya'll:

So I live here in a town with about 14,000 other people who are mostly white, with about 25% Latino and Native American. Our largest county employer is The Southern Ute Indian Tribe, which owns considerable amounts of land, oil & gas rights, as well as a very popular casino.

I work for the county's 3rd biggest employer : The Durango School District, as an Administrative Assistant. I make about $21,000 a year. Note* This is the most I've made in my 25 years.

The average person in Durango makes about $29,807.

The major source of our income is from Tourism and other forms of the Service Industry. Our 6th biggest employer is Wal-Mart. There are 6305 Employees in the Retail and Food Service Industries. That's about 45% of the population of Durango.

The cost of living in Durango is 104% of the national average. The average price for a single family home in February 2007 was $423,000, up 18.5 percent from 2006. A 2 bedroom rental is usually between $750 and $1200/mo. Check it out: Our Local Paper

Exhausting, I know. Especially if you are me: a single mama, working below the average median income and in no spot to BUY a house. People wonder why I am applying for Section 8 housing if I have a college degree. Sometimes I wonder too.

So this will be a documentation of my attempt to climb the economic hierarchy of one of the most beautiful, yet difficult places to make a living in America.

Are you sure you wanna keep reading?