I get paid less than my coworkers

It feels like there isn’t much to write about that I haven’t already written about.

Today it became apparent that I make a great amount less than my coworkers again. My coworkers were gathered in the hall talking about their stay-at-home spouses (mostly wives) and all the expensive belongings or activities they’ve purchased for their children lately. My home costs half as much as any of their homes and I can still barely make ends meet even with a spouse who works.

I often contemplate changing jobs but fear losing the flexibility my current job offers to deal with child care and my health. Most other jobs in my field involve inflexible schedules, 60+ hour weeks, 24×7 call, and nearly constant travel. Not conducive to raising children. Since Jonathan spends much of his time taking care of his dad these days, I truly am the only one raising the children.

The good news is I’ve paid off one of our outstanding debts so I have a little more money to stretch each month. Mostly I’ll be stretching that money to pay down other debts or to afford Christmas presents since it’s only an extra $100/mo.

On one hand, I need to do something to earn more income. On the other hand, I’m too sick to work a second job and too busy raising children and taking care of everything from cleaning to bills at the house to start a side business.

I’ve written about all this before. It feels like one step closer, two steps back all the time.

The only good thing about today is that it’s over

Today has been difficult. Every single element of the day was riddled with problems.

I feel like I shouldn’t talk about the passing of my friend with Jonathan. Jonathan has a low opinion of social media, the internet, and online friendships in general. It would be hard for Jonathan to understand how important this friendship was to me and how heartbroken I feel over the loss. Jonathan has also been dealing with job instability and helping his father who is slowly dying of stage 4 cancer so he doesn’t need any more upsetting news.

At work, my superior made a poor decision which had a negative outcome so he threw me under the bus to save face. I spent the entire day trying to dig myself out from under the mess he created instead of working on scheduled assignments. Now, in addition to being put on the spot and verbally reprimanded for something that wasn’t my responsibility in the first place, I’m a day behind on all assigned projects.

While I was working, Dee called me asking for advice on how to handle her landlord who is threatening to evict her based on something her ex-boyfriend did even though she’s never been late on rent. Dee was again contemplating suicide and cutting. Then another friend called asking for advice on how to handle her unexpectedly heavy period. I mistook these calls for genuine emergencies since both parties know not to call while I’m at work unless there is a genuine emergency. (Dee threatening suicide is not an emergency.)

When I arrived home after work, Jonathan had left for another small job in a neighboring town so I had all evening alone with the kids. Being alone with the kids doesn’t especially bother me, but I really needed to work most of the evening to catch up on the projects I’m behind on due to my superior’s aforementioned incompetence. Since I was the only adult in the house, I needed to constantly break up arguments between Oliver and Luke, manage Luke’s behavior, ensure homework was finished, and keep the kids on schedule. Needless to say, I accomplished nothing other than household chores and child wrangling.

Luke and Oliver spent so much time arguing, fighting, picking, and generally being jerks to one another that I couldn’t even finish vacuuming and mopping the house until almost 11PM. Vacuuming and mopping needed to be finished tonight since we will have guests Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Then there was the completely unnecessary Twitter drama…that’s a subject for another day.

The only good thing about today is that it’s over. Well, and cats. Cats are good too.

Weight On My Shoulders

Jonathan and I have been struggling financially for quite a while. A huge part of that struggle has been Jonathan’s inconsistent pay schedule. The company that uses Jonathan as a contractor sometimes goes a month or more without paying Jonathan and frequently owes him thousands of dollars more when they do pay him. Last month, the company didn’t pay Jonathan for 3 weeks and, once the company did pay him, he was still owed $3,000 more dollars. You can understand how this leads to financial stress.

Jonathan was offered a job with steady hours and steady pay. The new job’s starting salary is 3 times Jonathan’s currently yearly salary. Yet, Jonathan didn’t take the job. He also didn’t consult with me about not taking the job, he just declined the offer.

Jonathan was offered the job a second time in mid-July. This time, having been shorted over $3,000 on his latest overdue paycheck, Jonathan accepted the offer. He immediately quit the contracting company with no notice and prepared to start the new job the following Monday. Unfortunately, there was no new job.

Between the first job offer and the second job offer, the CEO of the company hired someone else. So the job that Jonathan had been offered technically had been filled. The manager who offered the job to Jonathan offered to employ Jonathan at his personal residence doing handy man work until the CEO makes his final decision.

That’s where we are now. I still work for TheCompany as an underpaid programmer. Jonathan is working on and off as a handy man with an unsteady paycheck. Jonathan could have made a choice to improve our financial outlook tremendously. Instead, he made a choice which has us teetering on the edge of financial crisis. At any time, the manager could run out of handy man jobs for Jonathan leaving him essentially unemployed.

For a brief moment I was hopeful. For a brief, glittering, shimmery moment I thought I could count on someone else to pull our feet out of the fire just this once. Jonathan could accept the higher paying job. I could work part time for a while, chauffeur the kids and my father in law to appointments, and take care of my health. This is not not the case, however. The responsibility again falls to me and it’s up to me to push through.

Chemo Time

Tomorrow FatherInLaw gets admitted to the hospital for his first round of chemo. The oncologist is hoping to shrink his tumors to prolong FatherInLaw’s life for a few more years. Without chemo, he’s expected to live only four months.

Jonathan’s grief comes in waves. Grief comes in waves. Jonathan often sleeps on the couch because he struggles with insomnia, but lately he’s slept in bed with me. Sometimes it helps to be close to the person you love when someone else you love is dying.

At first work was understanding of the situation with FatherInLaw, but not anymore. I’m not permitted to work off site anymore. Also, I’m required to write a paragraph explaining what I am planning to do with my day off. This bothers me. On one hand, the company wants “all our personal problems dropped at the door” but then they do things like demand a detailed explanation of what I plan to do with my personal time. What a contradiction.


Still Here. Things are Changing.

I’m still around. I’ve been sick, then slightly less sick, then sick again. The only thing that has changed is that I’m tired of talking about feeling awful all the time. Feeling awful is tiring. Sometimes talking about feeling awful is tiring as well.

The rheumatologist is retiring. Soon I’ll be without the pain medicine I need to function on a day to day basis. No other rheumatologists in my area prescribe pain medication. I’ve been diagnosed with Sjogren’s recently which helps explains why my eye lids stick together and my tongue breaks out in blisters.

TheJob is still working on their bizarre social media policies. While they can’t ask for anyone’s account, they’re kinda asking for everyone to follow, friend, or otherwise allow a corporate account to access their information. Ridiculous. Restructuring continues. Covering up information about the restructuring with the artful guise of “complete transparency” continues as well. It’s frustrating.

Luke has hard times; probably bipolar disorder. Oliver has been bursting into tears for no reason since his mother’s boyfriend moved in with her. After a long discussion with Jonathan, I’m taking a less active role in parenting. The children resent me. They resent me for parenting because I’m not their parent. I’m not anyone’s parent.

Less parenting means more time to devote to artistic pursuits. Perhaps I’ll make something of myself as an artist yet. Frida Kahlo managed to paint in a body cast. I’ll somehow manage to create art with a full body disease. I purchased a sketch book for planning photoshoots and have scheduled several friends to model for photographs. I’ve also been considering a series of self portraits – possibly portraits expressing how it feels to live with chronic illness. Strangely, when I tried to order a Prismacolor pencil set, I found out there was a shortage of colored pencils because adult coloring books have surged in popularity.

Ugh…Shenanigans at TheJob

TheJob has big plans to start monitoring and filtering all web activity. Unfortunately, once TheJob installed filtering, the entire network went down. TheJob has “rescheduled” the monitoring and filtering project but hasn’t announced a second deployment date.  For the moment, I don’t have to add TheJob on my social network accounts, but only until they decide to re-deploy the changes.

In other TheJob related news, I am now expected to work weekends. Since I’m a salaried employee, I do not get paid overtime. The more hours I work, the lower my hourly rate becomes. Greeeeeaaaat. Working 6-7 days a week every week leaves no time to work on important things like cleaning the house, spend time with Jonathan and the kids, go grocery shopping, basically anything. Oh, and while I work 7 days a week, TheJob would also like me get bachelor’s and master’s degrees paid for out of my own pocket. <eye roll>

I really don’t get paid enough for this. But, to get a job that pays more, I’d have to start working in another city. Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Ugggghhh. This is frustrating.

Stupidity at TheJob

The situation at TheJob is starting to get out of hand. They’re implementing a type of web filtering this week. Web filtering isn’t entirely bad, but TheJob has filtered sites for products many of us legitimately use to get our jobs done. Sites for with samples of code, note taking apps, the website we use to check our cell phone plans (we use our personal cell phones for work), etc.

I’m frustrated because this is a pain in the butt and a huge technological step backwards. Instead of typing notes on my tablet during a meeting, I am now to handwrite notes on paper then type up the hand written notes after the meeting and email the typed notes to the participants. Double the work. Every meeting. Everyday.

TheJob is also beginning a huge social media monitoring endeavor. I find this aggravating for a host of reasons, but mostly because we are expected to add TheJob’s social media profiles to our social media to show we’re “committed and engaged”. I don’t mention work on my social media profiles nor do I find what I talk about on social media to be any of TheJob’s business. The problem is, there will be consequences. Negative consequences always follow crappy policies.

Do I close my accounts or wait for the consequences?

Stupid FSA!

As if finances weren’t already stretched to the max, the flexible spending account has decided several of our medical expenses are ineligible. Now I have to replay over $500 to the FSA. That’s $500 I just don’t have. $500 spent on glasses for Jonathan and Luke; getting Oliver’s damaged tooth surgically extracted…

2015 is the first year in about 10yrs I’ve used an FSA, and this is why. The FSA always lists eligible expenses, I verify the expense is on the eligible list, then the FSA refuses to cover the expense. Only *certain* vision services are covered (meaning: only lasik is covered). Only *certain* dental procedures are covered (meaning: only adult dental surgery is covered). I’m good with paper work. I’m good with rules. I’m good with lists. Even I can *barely* use an FSA account.

FSA’s are designed to save money by allowing pre-tax dollars to be contributed to medical expenses. Theoretically, this can save up to 30% of the cost since the contributions are pre-tax. The problem is, once the contributions are made, those contributions are forfeit if not used toward an eligible expense. Of course the FSA company comes up with every possible reason not to reimburse claims! That’s how they make money.

You know what I’m not having next year? Another FSA account. This year has been a complete waste of money and a huge hassle. Sure, the theoretical 30% discount sounds great, but in practice, it’s a total sham.

I don’t even know how I’m going to afford this. Do I chose not to buy groceries for a month? Do I chose not to pay the mortgage for a month? It’s not like I’m sitting here wasting my money on cable TV, Netflix, or even clothes for myself and the kids. Hell, I can’t even afford flea medicine for the pets. Where the am I going to get $500???

Rain For Days (And Health Update)


Rain overflows the gutters
Rain overflows the gutters

It has been raining for days on end. Today, I had to leave work early to pick Oliver up from school because so many roads had flooded. As soon as we got home, the rain poured so hard and fast that the gutters overflowed.

I wish leaving early had ended my work day, but I have a project due in 2 days so I worked from home until nearly 10PM. Working late wouldn’t be so frustrating if I were paid overtime, however, I earn just enough that I don’t qualify for overtime in my state. I could explain exactly how that works, but it would be a terribly boring read. The important part is that the company I work for is legally exempt from paying overtime to employees earning a certain amount.

Many of the roads I use to get to work are flooded and barricaded tonight so I may end up working from home all day tomorrow as well. I’d rather work from home, honestly. I accomplish more at home than at the office and there are fewer interruptions at home.

Health Update: Asthma and Fibro

My asthma symptoms are lessening. My bedroom was so stuffy tonight, I turned on the air conditioner to relieve the overwhelming humidity and staleness. Humidity is supposed to be helpful for asthma sufferers however, I find too much humidity worsens my asthma symptoms. Leave it to me to be the weird medical outlier.

My fibro symptoms are a bit better as well. I’m taking 200mg guaifenesin in the morning and 400mg guaifenesin in the evening. The constant ache, stiffness, and sore spots in my lower back have improved tremendously. I can bend to pick items up from the floor without wincing in pain which is a huge improvement. I’ve also been able to sit in the floor, and rise to standing position without needing to pull myself up because the pain and weakness in my knees, ankles, and hips has decreased.

My Coworkers Earn More

An inch worm measures my seat
An inch worm measures the car seat

My coworkers aren’t struggling like I am. Their houses are more expensive. Most have one stay at home spouse. Most have kids. I’m the only person at who can never afford to go out to eat with the group; the only person who worries about small purchases – like a $14 book.

I estimate I’m making between 30-50% less than my coworkers based on the items they discuss purchasing, home size/neighborhood/price, and the number and quality of vehicles they own. I struggle to keep my car running. They’re buying a brand new motorcycle in addition to their newly purchased car. Also, none of them appear to have much debt or struggle with money. There are always signs when someone struggles with money – calls to banks overheard, inbound calls from collections agencies, bills left out, checking bank accounts before going to lunch…

Since salaries are non-negotiable, and what coworkers are paid is a carefully guarded secret, the only alternative I have is to look for another job. The problem is, I’m not sure that I want another job. This isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.