Yesterday at this time I was putting on a hairnet and an oversized white shirt with the name Melissa stitched onto a patch. I sat in the breakroom for half an hour after being assured by several employees that someone would come for me until a woman told me I needed to be going to an office down the hall. As far as factory work goes, I was unbelievably fortunate as we had longer breaks than we normally would have and had several periods of down time. My job was to place scoops inside of <Popular Weight Loss Meal Replacement Smoothie> containers as they whizzed by on a conveyer belt. Not necessarily difficult work in a certain sense, but grinding and fatiguing as the muscles in your arms, neck, back, shoulders, and legs start aching from the droning monotony that manages to be stressful.

I learned a lot about myself and others yesterday. There's a variety of things that can go wrong while you're attempting to stick a plastic scoop handle down into vanilla cream flavored powder. The scoops can stick together so you end up putting two in a container. The line goes by too quickly and you miss one or several containers. Underweight containers get kicked out by a mechanical arm. Sometimes these spill, sometimes they gum up the line. The woman working across from me was responsible for every other container. She was one of the regular employees working on the can line, she was good, but getting into a rhythm with another person can be difficult.

Periodically she would throw scoops at other containers. That was frustrating because it takes time to throw scoops and sometimes she missed a couple of containers that I had to fill. Other times the scoops came hurling back at us which was also very frustrating. If you're not fast enough you can knock over a container with your scoop. If you're ahead of the line your scoop can fall onto the conveyer belt, completely missing the container for which it was intended. You run out of scoops as you work, people fill your box for you, but sometimes they're busy and don't notice you're getting low. Everywhere you go the stench of artificial vanilla permeates the air.

There is no place on earth that the tan vanilla powder cannot go. It's in your eyes, your ears, your mouth, it coats your hands and gloves and gums into a nasty paste when combined with the moisture in the air and the sweat from your hands. Less than an hour in I thought I would never be able to use my right shoulder again. The plastic scoops cut into your hands, metal parts of the machine interfere with your ability to place the scoops effectively. My body was screaming and crying for relief from the single position you're forced to maintain to do your job with any degree of success. I honestly do not know how I made it through the day, but it reminded me that I am woefully out of shape and easily stressed.

My goal when I arrived at home was to shower, but for a while the only thing I had energy for was laying on the couch while the girls ran around. Something got jazzed up when I had Time Warner Cable out to switch the internet over to my name. My ex got a bill for almost three hundred dollars. I was sent a series of texts telling me that I needed to drive into Milwaukee, take the modem that I had at home in and get a different one from them. I did a little research and decided I'm going to buy my own instead of renting one. Another expense I didn't expect, but hey, I have to have internet, right? One of the very good things that happened yesterday was getting an email from someone who reviews resumes at Monster. 

His suggestions helped me reformat my resume and change the bullet points so I can sell myself better. He said I had a lot to offer, but I was coming across as a doer instead of an achiever on paper. I had sent my resume to an oral surgery office and either forgot to attach it, I distinctly remember clicking on the attachment since I redid my resume for that job, but whatever, they didn't get it. I said a prayer that they would consider my new and updated resume and fired it off without waiting to hear back from the guy at Monster figuring that time was of the essence which was probably foolish since this is a long weekend. I tend to be impulsive, and there was a time when I could have slowed down, had someone review my resume and then gotten back to them at my convenience.

I've found myself shouldering responsibilities that belong to my ex. I'm going to stop doing that. Living here is a tightrope act where one misstep is ruinous. I can call to have the furnace checked out, but it will be my name at the bottom of the bill, and he hasn't been good about paying for things that he has said he would. That puts my credit in jeopardy not to mention severely stresses me out as I wonder how I'm going to keep parceling out pennies to pay these rapidly accumulating debts. The solution is to get a job that pays well enough for me to move out. I'm not listening to the people who are telling me to take the first thing that I find. That's another dead end job on my resume. I'm worth more. It may take longer, but I need to be patient.

Another exciting email was from a company that has formed a new inside sales department. That was nice since they reached out to me. Supposedly the pay is very competitive for this position which means absolutely nothing, but there's a 10% profit sharing program that is very intriguing. The downside is it would probably be at least a 45 minute commute on a fair weather day. The oral surgery patient care coordinator position probably pays better. I'm praying hard that I get a call back from that office, but if I don't, there are other jobs out there. The trick is to find them, or word my resume in a manner that makes it extremely easy for them to find me. 

I have been very careful with my money this month which means I have a surplus. I resent having to buy groceries, I've been so upset by current events that it's affected my appetite. I let myself get very dehydrated, today I'm going to be better about keeping up with the fluids. Tuesday will probably be a better day at the factory since I know what to expect. It won't be a picnic, but now I know where to go and won't have to learn a new skill. Yesterday it poured out here. The girls went outside to play ball in the sheets of rain. I dropped Jill off at a school for her counselor training program and went to work on my resume at my mom's despite feeling like hot garbage. 

Night was troublesome. I laid in bed thinking about all the things that could go wrong at home that I can't count on my ex to take care of or pay for in the event of a catastrophe. Whenever the water drains more slowly I throw myself into a near panic imagining having to pay a plumber. The lawn tractor is leaking fluids. I'm uncomfortable driving it while it's doing that and don't want others using it either. I mentioned it to him, he said he would have to check it out, but I have no confidence that he will. There's nothing I can do to protect myself from his irresponsibility besides becoming financially independent and more self sufficient. 

I feel terrorized, threatened, vulnerable, weak, helpless, powerless, infuriated, enraged, insignificant, and undermined. I have no idea how long it will take me to find a job and whether or not that pay will be enough to move out. Any misstep feels like it could be the last, the one that finally breaks me into billions of cells that pour out onto the flooring or driveway. I've been fortunate to be able to drive whatever vehicle my mom and step dad aren't usiing. He fills up the tank for me whenever I'm there and won't take any money for it. I conserve my trips and combine errands. I've forgone a lot of things I considered essential in the past and experienced new humilities. Those aren't so bad, but the feelings of betrayal and being duped while accumulating more and more debt feel soul crushing.

Working in a factory reminded me of how good I have it. For me this is a temporary assignment, for hundreds of others this is their daily life. Containers moving by at more than a hundred per minute, all identical until one of them is smashed, the label is crooked, or the code sprayed onto the bottom is put on backwards. Thankfully the people I worked with were fairly industrious. We cooperated and made good use of our down time. Our supervisor told us we did a good job, my mom said she was proud of me, and that was probably the highlight of my day. Her work ethic is second to none, she works full time, grows fruits and vegetables in her gardens, walks to work every day, knits when she isn't gardening or working, and still has time to help her kids out with projects they need done. Her life hasn't been easy, but she doesn't complain.

What she went through with my dad was worse than what I'm going through now and she stuck around for a lot longer than I did. She's experienced horrors and atrocities I can't even imagine like having five small children, no dryer, and no car for six weeks while my dad was at summer school. I feel terrible that I've been so critical of her in the past. I need my family to support me, they've been a lot better, and I've made strides as well. I remind myself that everyone has problems and stresses in life, and that attitude and action are much more effective than tears, hand wringing, and uncomplimentary commentary directed at others. I'll get through, many have gone through worse and come out on top. A lot of things are going very well, I need to reflect on that and be grateful. Much easier said than done, but I'm working on it. Yay for me. 

Did you know Mexico was playing Paraguay today in a soccer match?

I do. Because I went down to the pueblo/supermercado for a luchador mask and a couple of churros and every borracho y cabrón was lurching around in a drunken cheering stupor, with sombreros and cheap knockoffs of the national uniform, as well as tons and tons of pinche trompetas. Imagine instead of South Africa a suburban strip mall, and instead of vuvuzelas some plastic trumpets.

I conducted by business as quickly as possible, complete with many "conpermisos" and "lo sientos" packed in with hundreds of rowdy people. Normally I'd love such a thing, but I was in a hurry.

My drive took me out to Marietta again, and again I passed by the road leading to the psychiatric/detox hospital from two months ago. Some calming breaths and some focussing, and I was soon back to normal. She accepted an invite to go out with friends to Florida for a week, then realized she'd never asked me if I'll be okay. I assured her I will be.

I picked up a copy of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, after someone here suggested it to me. I see a lot of that influence in Ch'an/Zen Buddhism. I think I can dig Buddhism from a secular point of view - and it certainly gives you a lot of tools to achieve the mindfulness Jesus spoke many times about.

My cashew cheese starter is gently pungent, which means as soon as the dishwasher is finished I'm going to try the mozzarella version, before leaving it two more days to try a pub cheddar.

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