Monday, June 11, 2018

Preparations to Leave

I got the car sold easily, got a little more than I expected for it.  Without a car though, that means no roadtrip.  No roadtrip means I need a flight to Atlanta.  Not really a big deal, but certainly a change in plans.

My dad, who travels a lot and so has a gazillion miles, got me the tickets for my flight from Seattle to Atlanta.  Now, usually Dad just gets me regular tickets, which is fine.  They're his miles, and I feel guilty that he's spending some of his gazillion miles on me.  I'm just grateful for the tickets.

For those who haven't tried Southwest, here's how it works.  They give you a flat rate, no fees, two free checked bags, two carry-on.  When you check in, you get what they call a "boarding position".  This can be A, B, or C, followed by a number.  You board in groups A, B, then C, in numerical order, so an A6 will get to board before a B1.  You're able to check in 24 hours before it's time to fly, the earlier you check in, the better your number for your boarding group.  When you board, you get to pick any seat you want that's available on the airplane.  It's best to be in the early groups.

If you purchase Business or add on Early Bird, you get an A or a B group, respectively.  You are also auto-checked in 36 hours in advance, so you get a better number too.

So, when Dad sends me a Southwest reservation, the first thing I do is log in to their site to add Early Bird, since it's only $15 and takes away some of the stress.  This time, however, there was no option for Early Bird.  I looked around the site in confusion before I noticed it - Dad had given me Business class tickets. I immediately called him to let him know about what I assumed was a mistake in the reservation.

Nope!  Dad had sprung for Business, which gives me a free drink on each flight segment, and Group A boarding.  Awesome!  He felt I'd need the drink with all the stress.  He was probably right.

Dad had also placed the hotel reservation for me at Hampton Inn in Seattle.  Now, the reason we do this, is the flight is out early, but getting down there is a 4 hour drive.  This is assuming no big hiccups or snags at the border.  Knowing my luck, if I only planned on the 4 hour drive, there would be a big hiccup at the border, or a crash on the highway, or a blown out tire, or... something.  Those things always seem to happen at the most inopportune times.  This means as a standard practice, just to cover this eventuality, I have always gone down the day before and stayed at the hotel.

It's a rather nice hotel, as hotels go, and the staff is always super friendly.  It's kind of amusing when I check in, because I've usually been in a car travelling, so I'm in standard jeans-and-a-t-shirt.  Every time they pull up the reservation through Dad's account though, they become extremely helpful and eager to assist with anything I may need.  I'm assuming this is because he's a lifetime whatever-whatever millions of points member.  You can almost see the staff snap to attention and visibly brighten behind the desk though.

So.  Hotel taken care of.  Flight taken care of.  Bus scheduling incoming!

I spent quite a bit of time on this, and settled on Greyhound, because on their website, the ticket includes two free checked bags.  I checked the weights on both my checked bags, and the dimensions for both of my checked bags to be super-sure they'd fit in the overhead.  I checked again, and a third time to be absolutely sure.  Everything was good to go.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sometimes things go right

Since the separation, I've been looking at cell phone plans.  I've been disgusted by Canadian plans, and drooling over American plans.  I'm moving back to Atlanta, and have known I'd need a US cell phone.  My plan was to order it a month before leaving, and have it set up on my old iPhone 5.  It's still a workhorse, and there really isn't anything wrong with it other than it was a bit slow for some apps I was using, which prompted my upgrade to the 6S.

My mother's really been advising T-Mobile, as she's very happy with them.  They have an all-you-can-eat plan, including data, long distance, texting, and Canada/Mexico roaming.  While the Canada/Mexico roaming sounds perfect, it's limited to 6GB of LTE every month.  Not really an issue for me, since I only use a ton of data when I'm actually travelling.

After months of investigation, I found a reseller called Teltik.  They are a reseller of T-Mobile accounts, but for businesses only.  Apparently they are the same people who did Harbor Mobile.  For those of you who don't know, Harbor Mobile was much the same thing, a reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile accounts.  Their relationships were dissolved, and while the reasons are a bit murky, ostensibly it was because they weren't doing a very good job of verifying that people had businesses, and they got caught.  The biggest issue in the entire thing was that people had 2 days of warning.  That's right, forty-eight hours to either convert to t-mobile accounts directly, or port their numbers to other carriers.

Thirty bucks for a 6GB plan, which can later be changed to all-you-can-eat at 60, as opposed to 75 for the same plan. The only catch is you cannot port an existing T-Mobile number.  That's right, if you're already with T-Mobile, you cannot port your number to Teltik and take advantage of this plan.

Uh, math anyone?

But then there's that concern, what happens if T-Mobile severs the relationship?

I put some thought into it, and since it's already a T-Mobile service, and I was looking to go T-Mobile anyway, for me, it's not a big deal.  The plan is a bargain, and if that relationship gets severed, I can simply call T-Mobile and have the account changed over.

OK, so decision made.  Now, Teltik told me I would need to go into the US to actually activate my account.  I needed to either a T-Mobile chip from them ($10USD + $2USD pickup), get one from T-Mobile online (again, $10USD), order one from Amazon ($10USD + $2 pickup) or get it from Amazon Canada ($12CDN).  Math again.  The Canadian dollar is in the crapper and has been for a while.  Cheaper ordering it from Amazon Canada, and I don't need to worry about a trip down there to pick it up, so I did.

Shockingly enough, the chip arrived next day.  Shipping was supposed to take four days. That was unexpected, but OK, didn't change any of my plans, and Yay! It was early!

Then I got to thinking about other unexpected things.  What could go wrong in getting this set up?  Their ordering only allows US addresses, and while I have US addresses, my credit cards are all attached to Canadian addresses.  Was this going to be the hiccup that would prevent me from getting this set up?  Was my old iPhone unlocked so I could even use the chip in it as planned? What if I sold the car before I could get it activated in the states?

All minor things, but just enough to cause me some stress.  I went ahead to the Teltik site and ordered the account.  Holy crap!  It took my credit card, I was surprised, but very happy.  I took the chip and put it in the iPhone 5 and patiently waited for it to boot.  Crap!  the iPhone 5 was locked to Rogers.  I couldn't get to the IMEI number on it, so I swapped the chips between my 6S and the 5.  I then called them, and they unlocked it for me (unlocking has been free since December 2017 for those who don't know).

While I was on the phone with Rogers (their customer service has always been amazing for me) I looked at my 6S and noticed it was on Telus.

OMG.  I didn't need to go to the US to get it activated?!?!?

Made my test call by calling mom, and it worked!!!  The only issue is it looks like I may be at the range for T-Mobile, because it switched over to the Bell network and the call dropped.  Boo!  I can work around that though, no problem.

From ordering the service, to activation took about 30 minutes.

It was completely unexpected that it went so smoothly.  I was sure there would be some massive hiccup preventing me from getting it done quickly.  I'm still in a bit of shock at how easily this one was accomplished, and that's one stress off my mind now.

For those wondering about the receiver I use in the States, they've been great.  It's 5D Packages, located about 5 minutes from the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine.  You set up an account with them, and when your package arrives, they notify (via SMS, Email or Phone) you as soon as it's been processed, which usually only takes a few hours.  You walk in, give them your customer number, they check your ID, and bring out your package.  They are pretty cheap, 2 bucks for every package.  You can pay as packages are received, or prepay into your account.  I highly recommend pre-paying as you can be in and out of there very quickly.

Prior to 5D I was using Letterlock in Sumas.  Also pretty great, they were 3 bucks to receive, but way out in Abbotsford, which is quite the drive for me.  Letterlock is also able to bring your packages across the border for you so you can pick it up in Abbotsford.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Best Laid Plans

For months, plans were made for my move back to Atlanta.  I was going to take a cross-country road trip, see some sights, and meander my way there.  Looking into the costs of camping (when did camping get so expensive!?) I ended up revising my plans.  Five days from Vancouver to Atlanta, a short road trip with my mother.  Hotels and the flight for my mother booked, travel plans made, route mapped out.  All ready to go!

Then the snag.  I received my letter from my car's manufacturer and it turns out my car can't be imported to the USA.  Why you may ask?  Surely a car that has been driven back and forth across the border any number of times, much like any other car in Canada, would meet the requirements for importation, right?

You'd think that.  I certainly thought that.  Apparently back in 2007, the US passed a law requiring all new vehicles sold to have TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System).  Canada has no such law, so many manufacturers chose not to install it on the cars shipped to Canada.

OK, so what's the big deal?  Just get it installed, right?  Much easier said than done.  I called the different dealerships (both in the US and Canada), spoke to two supervisors at the border, and talked to a registered importer.  The answer?  It can't be done.  Why?  Not only do you need TPMS, it has to be installed with OEM parts.  This means you can't just get a kit off Amazon or go to the dealership and have after-market TMPS installed on your system.  The manufacturer of my car says this can only be done at the factory.  They can't do it at the dealership, and even if they could, they'd have to rip out the computer, all the wiring, and completely redo those systems.

Wow.  OK.  So I guess I'm selling my car.  If I had known about this a year ago, I could have traded it in, had the year of ownership, and everything would have been fine.  Except I didn't.  I waited until closer to moving.  Thank goodness I didn't wait until the last minute though.

I'm pretty upset that I have to sell my amazing car, the car I planned to drive until the engine fell out.  My perfectly good-has-never-had-an-issue car, but at least I have time to do it.

Luckily, carsharing is widely available here in Vancouver. should I actually end up needing a car.  I can rent a car for a day if need be, for about thirty bucks.  I don't anticipate needing a car as the transit here isn't that bad, and it's pretty easy to get around as long as I'm staying within Vancouver or near the Skytrain.

What a PITA though.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Moving and the Disruption of Social Connections

The first week of July I will be moving from where I live now, to my parent's house.

Why?  I can't afford to live where I am now.  The cost of living in Vancouver is just too high.  Two thousand dollars for a 1 bedroom apartment.  I don't know how the average person is making it.  I suspect they aren't.  With a less than 1% vacancy rate here, I don't see these numbers changing any time soon.  Add to that the "war" between BC and Alberta over the pipeline, Alberta threatening to stop shipping fossil fuels to BC, and the accompanying rising costs of everything else related to it....

My ex-husband often accused me of only marrying him to "escape my parents".  This couldn't be farther from the truth.  Am I concerned about moving back there?  Yes.  Is it because of my parents?  A little, but I'm more concerned about losing my support systems that I have here in BC.

One of the first things that was suggested to me after the separation was trying Meetup.  I honestly don't recall if it was my therapist who suggested it, or my neighbor, but my therapist was very encouraging about it.

Here's the thing.  While I wanted to get out of the apartment and not live my life there,  I hate social media.  I'm not good at meeting people.  When I realized I was making excuses, I came to the conclusion that I would give it a try.

I immediately found a few groups that piqued my interest.  One was for "Shy" people.  Another one for "Girl Nerds".  A third one for Ladies 35-45.  I joined them.

Over the summer I went to many community events with the "Shy" group and the "Girl Nerds" group.  I went to a few for the Ladies group, but came to the conclusion that the activities they did were simply too expensive.  Through the "Shy" group I met some one  from another group that had been formed for victims of trauma and abuse, people with social anxiety, people with depression, even people who are bi-polar.  I joined that group.

And in that group, I discovered people with similar stories.  People who knew what a "safe house" was and didn't question why I couldn't have people over.  People I could relate to.  Some might think "support group, ugh!".  This group isn't like that at all.  While most support groups I've been to or seen are focused about talking about your problems, or bringing some one in to speak about your problems, this one was focused on actually doing things.

This group wasn't about focusing on our problems, or having some one come in to tell us how to cope, it was about making friends, being social, and living life.  We've done escape rooms.  We color every week.  We go bowling.  We take walks in the park.  Some of them go swimming every week.  Sometimes we go out for ice cream, or we see movies.  We do a monthly birthday dinner.

This group has been a life saver for me.

When I move, I will no longer have this group of friends.  I am terrible at long-distance friendships.  You can't just have an activity when you're long-distance like that.  I fear being at home 7 days a week, with nowhere to go, and no one to do anything with.  Knowing the positive impact this has had on me, I fear how this disconnect will end up affecting me once I've moved.  I've checked the groups around where I'm moving.  They are few and far between.

I don't want to be the person holed up in her office again.  I recognize that as having been a defense and coping mechanism for what I was going through.  I don't want to be in that place again.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Money and Friendship

There's a friend I've had for two and a half years.  We talked every night.  We played video games together.  We watched shows and movies that my husband didn't want to watch (husband never wanted to watch anything with me).  We were even selling the gold off our game accounts and splitting it using a shared Paypal account.  We talked about everything.

When my husband hit me for the final time in April of 2017, this friend was livid.  I moved out in July of 2017.  My friend and I were still talking most nights.  I started trying to do things out in the community, so instead of 7 nights a week, it was maybe 4 or 5 nights a week that we were talking.  But we were still sharing everything.

Now, I've been betrayed by people I've trusted,  friends who have lied to me about things too often.  So when he asked for a loan of some of the money in September of 2017 I figured it was a good "test" of his friendship.  I figured, it came from in-game gold which I never would have sold without him selling it.  It's money that never really existed for me, and it wouldn't really affect me if I never saw the money again.  I never dreamed that I wouldn't see the money again.  I was confident he'd pass this "test" with flying colors.

Our contact started to become less frequent.  Not as much as it was before.  He said he had stuff going on in RL, studies were picking up, more work at work came in, his father died, he lost his phone, he'd had a hard workout at the gym and was too tired to stay up... there was always something.  By December we were talking once a month.

At the end of March 2018 he sold my accounts (with consent).  The thing he didn't do was have the money paid to our joint paypal account, he had it paid to him directly.

You already know where this is going, don't you?

He disappeared right after the sale.  It's been a month now.  I've not heard a word from him.  Mutual friends haven't heard from him either.  I see him log into Skype every day.  I see him opening the messaging app we use every day.  I know he isn't dead.  Yet not a word from him.  Looking at it objectively, it's hard not to draw the obvious conclusion.

The thing is, I don't really care about the money.  The friendship was far more valuable to me than any money.  The emotional support I had come to rely on was gone.  I was betrayed and I never saw it coming.  A month later, and I'm still wondering how much of our friendship was real, and how much of it was him setting me up?  No one we mutually knows believes he'd do something like this.  He had us all fooled.  Our friendship was only worth a few hundred dollars.

With my divorce coming up, another move, and this betrayal, it's hard getting up in the morning.  My marriage failing isn't my fault, but I feel like a failure.  Having been scammed by my best friend just adds to that sense of failure.

I keep hoping I am wrong and that there is some reason for the ghosting.

I should know better by now.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

How the journey started

1 in 6 relationships are abusive. Not all abuse is physical. In being determined not become a divorce statistic. I became another statistic.

Almost a year ago my husband hit me.  It wasn't the first time, but it was the last time.  I know what you're thinking: "OMG, why didn't you leave him before if he was hitting you?"  Easier said than done.

Here's the thing.  I didn't want to be another divorce statistic.  I believe in marriage, for better or for worse.  I'm not a big divorce supporter, except in cases of abuse and marital infidelity.  For almost 20 years, I remained married to him.  He only hit me 4 times in seven years.  Does that make it abuse?

The abuse that came in was emotional, psychological, being told that my "needs" were "wants".  He wanted his luxuries, because "He wouldn't be able to enjoy it later in life, so why save it?".  He encouraged me to spend.  Spending was a tit-for-tat relationship.  Any time I purchased something I needed, he would have to purchase something "equivalent".  For example, I bought a new laptop for my new job.  That meant he needed a new laptop.  Our budget needed him to cut back on eating out with his co-workers, going for coffee, his "avocado on toast" (no, not literally) as it were.  Any time I tried to talk about the subject, it was met with less than welcoming reaction, after all, who wants to cut back on things they enjoy?  The response was always "What are you going to give up?"  What would I give up indeed?  My 16 dollar haircut every 4 months?  My 35 dollar pair of sneakers every year?  The 10 dollar t-shirts I wear because I the idea of ruining something "expensive" horrified me?  Arguments would ensue, and we'd spiral more into debts.

Going into the marriage, he knew I wanted children.  This became a weapon for him, a carrot to dangle. "We could have kids if you just       "  "You don't take care of       , how are you going to take care of kids?"  We had dogs, he spoiled them rotten... I loved my dogs, but ultimately, they were dogs, not people. That was further justification for putting off children because I "didn't treat the dogs right".  Right was of course whatever he decided it was.  Anything else was wrong.  Nevermind that I'd grown up with dogs throughout my entire life, and he'd never had dogs before. There was always some excuse.

His needs came first.  Mine often were dismissed.  I've come to understand that he's a narcissist.  Anyone who knows him thinks otherwise.  He's very big on the grand gestures.  I wanted the single rose, the meaning, the intent behind a gift.  I never wanted the grand gestures, and I resented the money spent.  All anyone ever saw was the generosity.  I did my part in maintaining that illusion, because it's wrong to tear people down in front of others.  Our marriage problems were private.  Not something you discuss with other people.

Often during the course of the marriage, I would think "I wish he would just hit me, it would hurt less."  I would curl up in a corner and muffle my screaming as I cried from anxiety attacks, wondering what the future would hold for me because he wouldn't discuss it.  He refuse to partake in planning for the future.  His answer was always "You can take care of yourself".  I was incredulous, retirement never existed in his mind for me.

Over and over again I asked, even demanded marriage counseling.  Over and over he refused, telling me "The only reason you want to see a counselor is so they'll tell you that you are right".  "Any person can put a certificate on the wall claiming to be a counselor, it doesn't mean anything".  "I can fix any of my own problems, you need to work on yours".