That's not what the Death card means

Well, fuck me.
written 2015-10-21 14:56:46

It has not been a great week.

Last week, I went in for a physical. Generally speaking, I don't care for doctors, or the parade of bullshit that going to the doctor entails. My current doctor has an online site that you have to use if you want to schedule an appointment. Each of the last three times I tried to use it, they called me on the phone to schedule it.

At the physical, the doc tells me my blood pressure is high. Of course it is, doc. She bumps up my medication by a fraction, which means I need a fractional prescription, which I can add to my existing prescription. No big deal. Just another kink in what could have been a simple transaction.

Then my mom came to town. I recently asked her for some financial assistance, since I am (four months now?) unemployed, and Sallie Mae keeps asking for their monthly pound of flesh. She said she couldn't help me, which is a pity, but it's not her job to be responsible for my financial failings. (Actually, she cosigned my loans, so she literally is responsible for my financial failings. Which makes me feel super good, I tell ya.)

On her visit to PA, I took her to see our cousin and his new baby, and then our other cousin and her less new babies. It was basically a "you've made me a failure as a grandmother" tour. I cannot apologize enough, ma.

Later that week we had dinner, and then pie and cake for a family birthday. (Not mine. Forgetting my birthday is the new family tradition.) And it turns out a significant percentage of my family smokes weed, and my mom is tired of lying about it. I thought that was a good thing, though she's not willing to let my teenaged relations ask open questions about it or try it. Little does she know...

So this week, I get a job offer. First one in months! I say yes, they ask if that means I'm interested, I remember that this is a business of liars and the lying lies they tell, I say I really really want to work. It starts Thursday. It's in Wilmington. It could be worse, but it's still pretty fucking bad. But work is work. I'll take it.

I also have to have an uncomfortable call with the student loan people. See, I asked them if I could go on income-based repayment, because the rules for that are very sweet and supportive to the failed loan-taker. They said yes, but then they screwed up all the details so that not only can I not get any help for my private loans (I knew that) they treated each of my loans like a single debt, so I didn't get the help I needed, and the minimum payment I was offered by the federal government became 7x the minimum payment - one for each individual loan.

Fuck. Well, some light will dawn with this job. Right?

Except, the stress of all this shit is hovering around me like a vulture. And naturally, it strikes when I need it not to: right before this job. Sudden crippling back spasms, impairing my ability to walk or stand upright. It's impossible for me to imagine getting to Philly and then Wilmington - even on a train - with this pain and weakness.

So, I better go see the doctor again. HA HA HA. Actually, I lucked out, I got in to see a doctor. It went like this:

DOC: So, back spasms?

ME: Yeah, I wouldn't be in here complaining about it, but I really need to go to work tomorrow. I've been unemployed for months.

DOC: Cool. Try yoga, and call us back if you think you want to eventually get a physical therapist.

I could go on, but you get the notion. I ask about medication, and he gives me some bullshit about positivity and core strength. He also drops this pearl on me: "It's all connected. If you hate this job you're going to, find something you really love. Then the stress and the back pain will resolve itself." But for right now, no, you can't have any medication that will help you get a job you need to stay out of default. Sorry. Next.

If one more happily-employed, independently wealthy motherfucker could say this to me, that would be great. My unemployed, can't-stand-up, miserable ass loves hearing all about it.

So here I am, at home at 3 PM on a weekday, back hurts, might not be able to stand up tomorrow morning. And I'll find out at 6 AM when my alarm goes off for the 2.5 hour commute to Wilmington whether I get to do it or not. And I cannot believe that staggering to work in Delaware while my back periodically stops working... this is my preferred outcome.

--Philadelphia, PA, 2:48 PM, EDT, 10/21/15, "was it a millionaire / who said imagine no possessions"

amusing postscript: The loan company made me promise them a $150 payment for "good faith" when I asked for a couple of months of grace. This doctor visit cost me $25 to be told "you should stretch some". Being poor is expensive.

Bad meaning good not bad meaning bad
written 2015-09-17 10:19:13

So no work through September, and none on the horizon. I will probably default on my loans before New Year's -- well, they warn you a few months before actually sending you into default, but I'll owe so much by then that it won't matter.

Refreshed some of my job search site information. Got my PA website data up-to-date and available to all employers, which means I should see an uptick in spam statistics any minute.

Applied to be a bodily injury insurance claim reviewer, an AUSA, and a contracts project supervisor. I won't get the first one for inexperience, I won't get the second one because of networking, and I won't get the third one because of overqualification.

It's hard trying to figure a way out of your situation when all the routes say "This probably won't work".

Sorry again about the sadness. But hey, think how I feel.

--10:17 AM EDT, 9/17/2015, Philadelphia, PA, it's the money

written 2015-09-01 00:41:25

No work at the current moment. There's a mention in a journal entry from June that says a project got postponed 2-6 weeks. It still hasn't happened.

My loans are down to $87,000 but my savings are exhausted. Ingrid has about had it with me sitting around the house, but nothing but the shitty work I can get through temping pays well enough to make my loan payments.

It was good to see this weekend, since he had forgotten I still had a journal on his server. I meant to ask him what the FTP protocol was to change the intro and title files was. I don't even think I have Fugu installed on this computer.

Same old, same old. You could probably graph the content of this journal by moaning despair content, and get a flat line.

--12:38 AM, EDT, 9/1/2015, Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, PA, beware folks, dia de los muertos

Parallel Construction
written 2015-06-15 21:43:56

That last post was written God-only-knows-when, and posted tonight. I gotta remember to datestamp these things.

Work is terrible. I've had two projects since the first of the year, total time worked about six weeks. And it's goddamn June. Had a lead on a project, but in Wilmington, and it's been postponed for two to six weeks.

I took enough money out of my savings to cover my student loan payment for July, but there's not enough left in there to cover August. I guess I hope I get work, and a lot of work, between now and then.

Things are bad. Ingrid's going to leave town for a week for her daddy's birthday and Boonestock. I have to stay home with the dog, or work reduced hours to leave for Wilmington and get back before her bladder bursts. Also, the dog has demonstrated in the past that she doesn't like it when we leave her. All of this assumes there's even going to be work, in the first place.

My choices are no work, which will destroy my credit and eventually stick my mom with my debt (co-signed); and work, which will enrage the dog, remind me that the only thing I can do as a career is high-priced data entry, and take three hours a day coming and going.

Things are bad. I don't really have options. I apply for jobs that I am either unqualified for, or too qualified for, and never hear back.

And this crap is why I don't post journal entries for months at a time.

--9:40 PM, EDT, 6/15/2015, Not enough ice cream in the world for this

By popular inference
written 2015-04-03 09:24:26

Yesterday I didn't eat right - I thought I was getting supper, or dinner, or late dinner, or some other culturally significant meal that is associated with a specific time (though not breakfast), and I was wrong. I wound up with a headache, a stomachache, and a belief that the high blood pressure was finally going to get me.

It did not. I'm fine this morning, just walked the dog. But that explains why I haven't posted in six months.


I have spent the majority of the intervening time unemployed. I basically believe at this point that I will not actually ever work in law and that my law school tuition was a waste of money, better spent on the lotto. I have been applying for non-law jobs, but you can imagine what an exercise in futility that is: "It says here you went to law school? Wouldn't you quit this job as an administrative assistant to go be a big-shot lawyer?"

We have a new dog. Her name is Lennie. She is a little dog, reputedly half Chihuahua, half Pomeranian. She is a bundle of nerves and usually expresses herself by threatening to attack everyone but Ingrid and me. But she's pretty sweet to us, and she's been with us about five months, so it's permanent. We have not yet learned that "roll over on my back and look adorable" means "if you touch me, I'm taking off one of your fingers". She is in many ways a cat.

There was a tiny mouse in the house last night. It was the size and shape of a gumball. I tried to catch it and release it into the wild (read: release it outside so it can find the hole in the building and get right back in in six minutes), but it eluded us. Lennie has been trying to find it since.

I've been tormenting everyone about blowing off my birthday. Delicious.

I owe $92,000 in loans. I have made less than $30,000 for the past two tax years. Ingrid is very understanding and supportive. Things are terrible, everything is fine.

--9:18 AM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, A paradox that is both true and false at the same time and in the same sense is called a dialetheia

written 2014-10-25 19:26:30

So, my mom tells me on Tuesday, "I'll be in town for the next five days."

I think, "cool" and then regret everything.

I'm working at the moment. I'm working in Wilmington, so I have about three hours of commute time each day. I leave home before dawn, and return home after dark. It's inconvenient, but it'll be over soon. Not, however, before my mom comes to town and leaves again. So, for the first three days of her visit, I'll be largely unavailable. I make this clear to her, and let her know that I'll be holding Saturday for her visiting enjoyment. I have to cancel plans on that day, but I don't mind.

My mom lives in Vermont half the year, and Florida the other half. There are years where I do not get to see her AT ALL, except for the brief window when she's moving from one state to the other.

So I'm glad that she's coming to town, I get to see her, and then it'll be months until I see her again. That last part is a bummer, but at least she gets to live in nice places and select her climate and all.

So I don't get to see her Wednesday or Thursday. On Friday, I risk angering my project manager and sneak out a little early, and get to see her briefly at my brother's house on Friday night. It's late, though, and we're all tired. I drive her back to my sister's house and tell her to call me if she needs a ride down to my house on Saturday, or if she'll just show up whenever's good.

On Saturday, I have a four hour CLE class in the morning. It sucks. It's all about how you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars off millionaires trying to screw other millionaires out of money. The lawyers are awful, the accountants are drones, the bankers keep trying to make it seem like they have interests other than charging you interest, but failing to accomplish anything of the sort.

It sucks, but I'm going to have a much better afternoon. I skip out of there and call my mom, who, after a morning of trying to help my sister run a garage sale in her trainwreck of a house, is probably looking forward to getting out of there.

No answer.

That's fine, she's probably busy. She'll see I called and call me when it's time to get lunch, or hang out and watch college football, or whatever.

I wait five hours.

I get a text from her that makes no sense. That's fine, old people aren't good at texting. I wait a little longer, and get a text that makes a little more sense. "We have left Jen's".

I text back, "Are you on your way here?"

The response is in broken English and an old person's attempt to use text slang. It basically says that her husband came back from wherever he was, and told her they were going to go have dinner with some people she's never met. And she hopes she gets to see more of me next time.

It's been about two hours since then. I'm upset, but I'm not certain about what.

My sister monopolized my mom's time since she got to town, so I could be angry about that. I'm not, because that's just what my sister does. I could be angry that my mom lets herself be manipulated like that, but again, that's just what my mom does. I could be angry that her husband didn't take my plans into consideration, but... you get the point.

I basically have no room to bitch. Everyone else wanted something, or wanted to please someone, and they got it. They got it by acting (or failing to act) in accordance with their selfishness. Good for them.

I just let my mom know that I was happy to see her, and it would have been nice to have seen a little more of her. But other people's needs are important, and that's fine.

I turn 40 in a week.

--7:22 PM EDT, Philadelphia, PA, come pick me up / I've landed

I can't sleep
written 2014-09-21 02:13:41

I'm lying awake in my bed listening for the sound of little claws on hardwood floor.

We took Abby to her last vet appointment on Friday, and I am not okay yet. I've had to be "okay" the whole time, because that's Ingrid's best friend for most of the last 14 years, and she is absolutely entitled to be as broke up as she wants, for as long as she wants. I have her back on that. But man, I did not think I was going to be lying up at night thinking about a little dog.

Ingrid asked me today if I thought I projected a tough guy image, if I thought I had everyone fooled. I assured her I had no such delusions. But still.

There's dog food, and dog beds, and a coat hook rack on that wall that says "WOOF". There's the treats we bought for her last week, when we got her new medicine for her other problems, and the special dog food the vet let us have as samples. I checked to make sure her bowl was where she could get it earlier tonight.

This dog is not gone. This dog is going to be in my head for a while, making me ask if I made sure there was water, or if I took her for enough walks, or was a good human? Was I her human?

Ingrid is already talking about our next dog. I understand that. Fill the empty spot with another little friend who needs a home, who needs love. It's an ideal solution. I need a little time though, or the dog in my head is going to torture me for replacing her so soon.

I didn't mind Abby when she came to live with me and Ingrid, but I firmly established that she was Ingrid's dog. I'd help out, but I wasn't going to form some kind of bond with some little froofy, punting-sized stuffed animal.

I had no goddamn idea.

--2:11 AM, EST, Mt. Airy, PA, isn't it rich?

I learned
written 2014-07-03 19:57:15

You should not try to post a really long, really passionate journal entry from your phone.

You will accidentally hit the "back" button with your clumsy fat thumb enough times to delete three journal entries' worth of text.

--7:56 PM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, damn the man

It's starting to seem like a game show
written 2014-06-15 19:03:01

So. No work since October. Ingrid goes away for three weeks to visit her nephew. I am home alone with the dog. If you look back an entry or two in this journal, you'll notice that I got an interview -- but only at such a time as would inconvenience me.

The universe wants me to know that I can try and get a job, but I won't get any bites until it is problematic for me to pursue them. In this case, I am the only one watching Abby, therefore, I will be needed for ninety minutes of interviews in the city.


I did not get that job. That job was for one person, not the usual group hire, and among any group of candidates I'm sure there's enough that looks iffy on my resume' for a hiring partner to turn her nose up at. That's fine. However...

A few days later, I get offered another gig. Mind you, I haven't heard fuck all from recruiters and placement agents in eight months. Now that it's inconvenient for me, twice in one week. [french] Remarkable' [/french]

This job is in Wilmington. I do not live in Wilmington. I do not even live in Delaware. And yet, here is this offer.

I inquire about the possibility of differential pay to reflect the pain in the ass location of the position. My agent does not so much laugh as withhold his full contempt, repeating the pay rate. Which is not impressive. I state my diffidence, but reaffirm that I will take any work whatsoever. At this point, I cannot be a chooser.

A day or two later, I am selected. My agent wants to know for certain if I am on-board. I repeat my misgivings and my desperation, which translates in the affirmative. The first week of work is only two days, so I decide to drive one day, and take the train the next.

Driving to Wilmington from where I live is the Platonic ideal of an inconvenient car ride. You can't get there from here. You have to go a couple towns over, pick up the highway, take that to the bigger highway which happens to be the main conduit for all traffic between Philadelphia and Wilmington (and all points north and all points south). Add to this a recent bridge collapse in Delaware closing the bypass around Wilmington, causing all, ALL, traffic to flow on the main route.

It is not a nice time. It's too long, when you're done you're in fucking Delaware, you have to pay to park, and then you have to go to work. Not that I'm not grateful for the job, but I've been quite content with my job as dog-walker and tea-brewer to Miss Goree. This is a far sight from my last eight months. A far sight.

Then you have to do it all again to get home. At rush hour both times, worse south when going south, and worse north when going north.

I naturally prefer the next day, when I take SEPTA regional rail to and from work. There's more walking involved, but that's good for you and it's nice to spend a little time in the fresh air (or whatever they have in Wilmington) when your job is clicking the mouse for eight hours. Now, sure, the ride home was delayed, and Amtrak screwed up things for SEPTA, and the train I was riding got cancelled while I was riding it, but so what? You just wait for the next train, read your book, work on your afghan (still working on that) and relax. Enjoy.

Now, if you've been following the theme of this post - a cruel universe working to personally inconvenience me - you'll know what happened with SEPTA at 12:01, Saturday, June 14th.


--6:33 PM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley / I make the dough, but you get the glory

I think you mean vicious, not viscous
written 2014-06-04 14:16:57

The government did something.

The media - part of it - got up in arms about it.

The media - the other part of it - got up in arms about what the first part said.

People hear these rumblings and have opinions about the rumblings.

Those people post things on the internet to express their opinions about it.

Some of those things are objectionable to me.

I was briefly upset about them until I thought about how goddamn meaningless it all is. Literally, I was going to get worked up about a meme posted by someone who felt that news coverage of someone reacting to government action was judgmental and overweening.


Christ, I need a job.

2:15 PM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, I could feel something's not right / I could feel someone blasting me with hate

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