Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Money Matters

For the first time in my life, I find myself in a bit of a financial mess.

1) I took a hit in the recent stock market crash.

2) Two people - both quite close - who owed me substantial amounts of money now appear unlikely to ever repay them.

The third person who owes me a substantial amount of money is of course my ex. It wasn't money that I let him borrow. It was money he offered to invest for me in some venture. Only I was stupid enough to hand it over without any guarantees. So now I have only his integrity to guarantee I'll ever see either my capital or whatever it may have earned ever again.

Following the breakup, he told quite a few sordid stories about our financial dealings, going on and on about how me & my family used, swindled & defrauded him & apparently also offered him money not to tell everyone he slept with me & found me not a virgin etc.... At the time, I just wanted it to stop before this sort of talk reached my family. So I never told my parents I'd given him money.

Unlike the other 2 people mentioned here, my ex can quite easily afford to give me my money if he chooses to. For me, it's quite a lot of money. For him, it's peanuts. I'm not sure why he's made no attempt to do that so far. Knowing him, he probably wants to make me contact him & beg for my money back. It's the sort of ego-trip he would enjoy.

Needless to say, I consider these funds well & truly lost because no amount of money is worth having to initiate any sort of contact with my ex.

3) Because I'd been counting on my savings, my investments & the fact that people owed me money, I haven't been as careful in my spending as I would have been otherwise. Especially since my husband left. Shopping & spending have become a major source of comfort. And I've been too distracted to keep count.

Specifically, I've been using credit cards like crazy. In the last month alone, I've managed to max out a credit card with a limit that would have been enough to buy a brand new car. Imagine my shock when I tried to use it to pay for some jewellery yesterday and it wouldn't go through. Insufficient funds. The sensible thing would have been to opt out of that purchase while I took a long hard look at my finances. But I was too embarrassed. So I just handed over another card instead.

Over the last 4 years or so, I've acquired no less than 6 credit cards. Mainly because the salespeople were so persistent I would sign the applications just to get rid of them.

But in all this time, I only ever used one card. It was maxed out only once and that was because I was in the middle of getting married & had a lot to buy. I have since repaid it in full. And other than that one time, I never spent anything on it that I knew my next paycheck wouldn't cover in full. Of course, back then, it didn't have the crazy limit it has now.

The bank must consider me a good customer , because I kept receiving notices that they've increased my credit card limit until it reached the ridiculous number it now stands at.

Now, not only have I totally maxed it out, I've put a substantial amount on an another card.

Of course yesterday, I went home from the mall & destroyed the remaining 4 cards in an effort to stop the downward spiral. Then I called one of the 2 people who owe me money to see when they could pay me back. No good news there. I knew better than to call the other person.

Of course, I have assets I could liquidate. Thank God for the unshakeable belief my parents have always had that real estate is the only and the best investment. I'd feel terrible selling real estate to get spending money, i.e. no return, though. My parents worked so hard to provide these assets for us. I feel I should make better use of them. And of course, my family would have to know and I'd have to explain.

All of this wouldn't be so bad, if my husband wasn't currently unemployed & I wasn't expecting to be similarly unemployed in a matter of months. If I had another year to work at my current salary I would be fine. But no way am staying here another year on my own.

I've been counting on my savings & my gratuity to keep me independent for the time it will take me to find a new job in Sweden. I've also felt confident pushing him about the baby issue because I knew I could finance that too if I needed to so it wasn't like I was asking him for money.

Now that picture has changed. Maybe not drastically, but it has changed.

None of the options are looking particularly good. Mostly I can't help feeling a little bitter about the kind of trouble that trusting your fiance or trying to help a friend or a family member can get you into. I mean, my personal expenditure on its own would have been manageable without these additional blows.

8 years of hard work & am still nowhere near where I want to be financially.:(


Friday, October 19, 2007


Everytime I look in the mirror, I am unconsciously looking for him.

Every single time, I have to catch myself & tell my subconscious self to stop looking because he's not there.

My husband has a thing about mirrors. The result is that after a year or so of marriage, the simple act of looking in the mirror has developed mental associations that no estranged wife should be asked to deal with on a daily basis. I've grown unaccustomed to standing infront of the mirror & not getting hit on right where am standing.

And even when we wouldn't actually be doing anything my parents didn't raise me to do infront of the mirror, well, we lived together, no? We shared a bedroom. He was bound to be in the mirror somewhere behind me. Sleeping, dressing, undressing, eating, reading, watching TV, talking on the phone etc....One way or the other, he's in the picture.

So now it's like something is permanently missing from the picture. Like someone took a pair of scissors & cut out this big ugly hole. It's really frustrating because it keeps you from seeing the whole thing .

Only the picture in the mirror is supposed to be me, no?


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Typical Ramadan Day at Uncle's

1) Get up for work - after a struggle.

2) Develop a massive headache the second am on my feet. (Sexual frustration?Lack of sleep?Caffeine withdrawal?)

3) Stare in dumb misery at hair in the bathroom mirror. Hair in spikes sticking out of my head in all directions - frozen from the previous day & night's over-application of gel the manufacturers claim is re-moldable.

4) Shower & wash hair clean of gel.

5) Aunt calls on my cell from the kitchen to tell me to get my little cousin up for school. She never comes into the bedroom I share with my 10-year-old cousin since I came to stay with them. It's some sort of exaggerated respect for my non-existent privacy because it's not like I have the room to myself anyway.

6) Pile on more gel. Don't bother blow-drying anymore.

7) Wake up cousin. Frog-march her to the bathroom to make sure she doesn't just go back to sleep.

8) Throw on an I-don't-want-to-go-to-work-today outfit - which usually consists of one of bland clothes worn with the wrong shoes.

9) Sit around for a while with a scarf tied so tight around my head it makes my headache worse. This is to reduce the volume of my hair into something borderline acceptable for the office.

10) Watch cousin eating breakfast.

11)Remove scarf from hair. Add more gel thinking if K was here, he'd kill me. He'd never let me put anything sticky on my hair. This is why I've been ODing on hair products since he left.

12) Aunt asks if we - cousin & me - have prayed.

13) Pray with Cousin. Sometimes with Aunt & Uncle too.

14)Take Cousin downstairs to wait for the schoolbus.

15) Cousin safely on the bus, go & search for my car in the parking lot. Find it. Feel depressed because it's so beautiful & I have to get rid of it soon and it's not FAIR. That's the second car I've had to get rid of in less than a year. I can't take this anymore etc....

16) Silent whine over, I drive to the office.

17) Tip-toe in hoping I don't run into manager on the way to my office.

18) Flop on the chair behind office desk, lean back & close eyes, praying no one will try to talk to me for at least an hour.

19) Phone rings. I ignore it.

20) Manager comes into my office to ask why am not picking up my calls. Clients tend to call him when they can't reach me.

21) I tell him because I had other calls. Lying in Ramadan. Great.

22) Reality-check. Am in the office. I have to work. Switch on laptop. Return some calls.

23) Headache recedes or is forgotten in the rat race.

24) Time to go home. Headache is back full blast.

25) Sleep not an option. Pray. Then must help getting Iftar ready.

26) Finish Iftar. Pray Asr - just in time.

27) Eat. Have coffee. Pray Magreb.

28) Collapse infront of TV, watching Arabic soaps (Sultan ElGharam & AlMalik Faroo2 this year)

29) Time for Isha & Tarawee7. Go to the mosque with lots & lots of other people - mostly women - one of whom enjoys telling me things like not to wear perfume while my husband is away because it is haram to wear perfume for anyone other than him. Sigh.

30) Home again. Pray we're not entertaining. If we are, it means spending the rest of the night in the kitchen with Aunt to keep guests supplied with snacks, tea, coffee & sweets. The part I hate most is that, being the hostess since it's my uncle's house, am not allowed to sit down & enjoy the gossip. No. I have to wait on everyone.

31) If not entertaining after Tarawee7, more options available. If Aunt & Uncle are going out to be entertained, I can join them. If not, I can offer to take Cousin out for a movie & ice cream. Or I can go out shopping or for tea & sheesha in one of the Ramadan tents with friends. Good thing they're all new. Don't want to have to go to places I used to hang out with K in. Too depressing.

32) Get back home. Pray Tahajod. Either in mosque or at home.

33) Get into bed so I can talk to K now that Cousin is asleep.

34) Sleep for like 2 hrs, then get up for work.

It was good of them to have me but I think I've been here too long.

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