Friday, May 30, 2008


I have decided to crawl out from under my rock and write again, after several weeks which tried my sanity like never before. I knew the process of making major changes in my professional life would be challenging, but I had no idea that so many other obstacles would be thrown my way at the same time. It's a good thing I'm still nursing, because the events of the past few weeks might have driven me to drink!

Crisis #1: The Property Management Company From Hell

Since moving to Phoenix in 2006, we have been renting a comfortable 3 bedroom house in a relatively quiet part of town. We love our neighbors, and are grateful we did not buy a home upon moving here, as property values in this area have plummeted in the past two years. The house's owner moved to Washington, and left the handling of the rental in the hands of a property management company who soon proved incompetent. She transferred her business to another property management company, who eventually tried robbing her blind (eg., they once tried charging her $400 for a repair to the sprinkler system that Kevin was able to fix in lass than 5 minutes and with no new parts or tools necessary!). The owner finally asked if we would be willing to deal directly with her, as by this time we had proven ourselves to be good tenants and she felt comfortable working with us. We were thrilled!

We were notified by the owner in late March that, effective April 30th, we would no longer deal with the property management company and were to begin paying rent directly to the owner on May first and thereafter.

On May 8th (my birthday!!!) we came home to a certified letter from the property management company, notifying us we were delinquent with May's rent, and giving us 5 days to pay or move out. It took two days of frantic phone calls between us, the owner, and the property management company to fix this mistake. The most we got from the property management company was a wimpy two-sentence email that was the equivalent of "Oops, our bad, so sorry." They refused to put anything in writing accepting responsibility for their error and absolving us of any wrongdoing, but they did promise verbally that the matter was resolved and we wouldn't be bothered again...

On May 21st (Kevin's birthday!!!) we came home from dinner to find a COURT SUMMONS on our door. Yes, the property management company was still messing with us. It has now been a week of battling with the property management company to get this matter resolved. The case was dropped, but will forever appear in public record. We have spent the last week trying to get them to just write us a letter, on their company letterhead, for our records...something that will explain their series of errors and absolve us of any wrongdoing. you'd think we were asking them to sacrifice their firstborn sons or something, the way they've refused to oblige us! Well, after threats of serious legal action against them by the owners of our house, and a formal complaint to the BBB filed by us, we FINALLY got a phone call from the owners of the property management company. They apologized, and promised the letter we requested. We'll see if it comes through...

Crisis #2: The Payroll Department From Hell

I have been painfully unhappy teaching in Arizona. Part of this lies in the fact that the district that hired me ranks pretty low on the scale of humanity, sensitivity, and basic decency when it comes to how they treat their teachers. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that, when they messed up my compensation this year, I didn't even get an apology.

As a teacher, I obviously had 2 months during the summer where I was unemployed. I had the option each year of receiving my salary only during the school year (which I did in CA, and had a percentage each month deposited into a summer savings account with my credit union), or distributed throughout the entire year, including a lump-sum payout of the balance to "tide me over" during the unpaid summer months. Since I knew at the beginning of the school year that this would probably be my last year teaching, I did not want to find myself high-and-dry once summer arrived. I also did not want to feel pressure if I did not have a new job lined up and ready to go the day after school ended. I specifically and thoughtfully signed up for the "26 pays" option on my salary for the 2007-2008 year.

My paychecks this year were almost identical to what I received last year (also a 26 pay year). Literally, the difference was about $20 a paycheck. I never even blinked...other than the obvious chagrin at not receiving even a cost of living increase, but that's another story. I assumed my employer was doing their job correctly, and trusted my pay was being disbursed correctly.

On May 23rd we received our final paychecks by direct deposit. I expected to check my bank balance and see a deposit equivalent to 5 paychecks. Imagine my shock when I saw an amount equal to ONE.

I had anticipated having enough cash on hand to enjoy a little breathing room, perhaps a few weeks of less stress, and the ability to find a job that works for me and for my whole family. I thought if I could find a good job I could start in late June or July, I'd be ahead of the game with extra cash we could put toward some debt or into savings. Instead, I am losing more hair (seriously, it's falling out even worse now!) and more sleep because of their error.

When I called the payroll department to find out what happened, I was informed "the computer" had mistakenly put me in for 22 pays instead of 26 and nobody caught it. I suppose the blame is partly mine, since I did not sit down and analyze my paycheck line by line every two weeks. I figured the payroll people were doing their job, just like I am expected to do mine.

Well, they have paid me what they owed me, but not according to the timeline I had counted on. There's nothing for me to do except scramble furiously to find something, anything, to bring in money NOW. I am actually considering hitting the local convenience stores at this point. As I illustrated in my last post, I am not having much luck...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Dear Michelle,

Thank you for your interest in the Switchboard Operator Evenings position 51419 that you recently applied for with (deleted) . At this time, we are considering other candidates for this position. We wish to inform you of this as soon as possible so that you may pursue other opportunities.

If you have already been contacted about a position with (deleted) or offered a position with (deleted) please disregard this letter. Please note that this does not prevent you from still being considered for any other position within (deleted), that you have applied to.

If you would like to be considered for other positions within (deleted), we encourage you to visit our website, to log our Career Center and review your current application status, update your personal information profile and check our current job opportunities.

We wish you success with your career.

Apparently, ten years as a classroom teacher and a Master's degree has made me now unqualified for a job I could have snatched up when I was 20 years old and working my way through my undergrad years in college.

I received an identical letter regarding another position, one involving pushing patients from Point A to Point B in a wheelchair or gurney for X-rays, MRIs, or other procedures. That job required a GED and current CPR card. I am also not qualified for that job.

I have 7 days left as a classroom teacher, and two more paychecks before my income disappears.

I am frustrated and discouraged.

I'm also very, very scared.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Snip Snip!

Following the birth of my third child last fall, I started losing hair.

A LOT of hair!

I think we've gone through 2 1/2 bottles of drain cleaner, and I've pulled dozens of small animal-sized hairballs out of the shower and my hairbrush. I finally realized it's time to quit fighting it and just get a haircut.

I went in today and let the stylist go wild. My previously mid-back length hair is now above my shoulders in a kicky layered 'do that seems to be channeling Katie Holmes.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like my new haircut. I just don't want anyone thinking I look for style tips from someone who'd marry Tom Cruise.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Shameless Plug

Ok, I'm whoring myself out here, but I can't pass up a chance to make a little cash. Revolution Money Exchange is a new alternative to Pay.pal. Click on the link to the right and sign up before May 15 to get your FREE $25. Plus, you'll be helping me earn a little extra change when you sign up. If you do any online buying or selling, this is a growing exchange venue.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Three Random Things

I had to jump on this one, thanks to Joannah's blog.
Three random things about me...

Random fact #1

I hate these guys:

Seriously, I have a crippling fear of clowns. In 1995, a friend booked a room for us on a trip to Vegas. I didn't know until we got there, but we had reservations at Circus Circus. When I got to the room, I had a panic attack upon discovering the pictures of clowns above each bed. I called to the front desk and asked if they could please do something. A maintenance worker arrived shortly, removed the offending pictures, and replaced them with neutral landscapes. He said they get the same request several times a day. So, I'm not a total freak...or at least I'm not an uncommon freak.

Random fact #2:
I am related, by marriage, to this man. I recall, with horror, the day my grandma called to tell us we all had to vote for him (or rather, his running mate) because he was part of the family. The big problem for me was the fact that I was a volunteer for the campaign of Michael Dukakis (I know, don't go there...).

Random fact #3:

I auditioned for one of the principle roles in this movie when I was much, much younger. This was my parents' idea. They thought it would be a "good experience", but I was mostly mad at having to spend a whole Saturday at a cattle call in L.A. instead of going to the local church carnival. My second chance to go for Oscar gold came about six years later when I was an extra in this movie. Fun stuff.