Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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In Which I Name Names

I thought I was smarter than this, but I guess not. Here is the story:

I do seasonal work in disaster relief but there weren’t any major disasters last year so I only worked 5 weeks. I’ve been looking for another job, either one that pays me as well, or one I won’t feel guilty about leaving if I get called back. I recently updated my resume on Work In Texas, the website associated with the state’s unemployment system. I was contacted by a representative saying she might have a job for me.

The woman gave me the name Florence Carter. She texted me a few times then asked if we could move the conversation to Google Hangouts. She told me the name of the company was Amanta Healthcare Limited. I looked them up. They are a company in India that provides medical products. It was a very professional website. It had several pages. Google also showed me an article on the company by Bloomberg, and there was information about them being bought out. Looked legit. I thought, okay, they’re in India, that’s why they want to handle everything online.

We conducted an online interview. This is not the first time someone has asked me for that. They offered me a data entry job, work from home. I have friends who work from home for companies like Hilton and AAA, so this was not a red flag for me.

Ms Carter told me I would need to purchase some software and the company would send me a check. The next day, Fedex dropped off an envelope. Inside was a check for $4950.00. That seemed like a lot of money. It was drawn on Chase bank. I called Chase and gave them the name on the check, NY Iola Attorney Trust Account Moliterno PC, and the tracking and account number off the bottom of the check. Chase verified that it was an active account.

The package also contained a letter, stating not to bring the check to the bank to cash. Honestly, I would never do that. The last time I tried to cash a check, the bank involved kept something like 6%. When I was a young person, you could take a check to the bank it was drawn on and cash it with an ID. Nowadays the bank won’t cash it unless you also have an account at that bank. So still no red flags since I was like, “Why would I do that?”

The letter also told me to drop an email to Caroline Hampton, the Financial Accounting Officer, at payrollrep@accountant.com to let her know I had received the check. She emailed me back telling me to deposit the check and follow up with my supervisor, who I assumed was Florence Carter.

I bank with Citibank. Citibank does not have an office in Texas, where I live. I deposited the check using the phone app. Florence asked for a copy of the deposit ticket, but I didn’t use one. I took a screen shot showing the pending deposit, but it did not have any of my banking information in it.

Florence asked me how much money was deposited to my account. I told her that I deposited the whole check, but my bank would hold it for several days since it was from a new source. I didn’t have any additional money showing in my account. She asked if I could cover the cost of some software until the check cleared so I could start training. I figured I could live without $200. She asked me to use it to purchase a Google Play card to use for the software. Odd, but I had the check so okay, let’s see where this goes. Worst comes to worst, I own some new software I don’t need.

I went to Walmart. I picked up some coolant for my car, some washcloths and the gift card. My card was declined. I really needed the coolant, so I had everything else put back. $8.73. Declined. So I called the bank.

Calling the bank is always a hassle because it takes so much effort to get a person. The system really wants you to use the automated information but I have never yet called the bank for something that is prerecorded. I finally got a person. He hmmm’d and aha’d and told me he needed to refer me to another department. Something was up. The new person was less circumspect. She told me right up that my account was frozen for a fraudulent check.

Now I am embarrassed about taking a bad check, but I was really frustrated that I couldn’t access my own money that was in the account. The bank explained that we have to wait for the check to bounce out of the account to unfreeze it. It’s a 3 day weekend so that means my funds are frozen until at least Tuesday. The idea is, I shouldn’t be able to access money from the bad check. No benefit for me from fraud. I don’t mind that. The check is bad, I’m clearly not going to get the money. But I don’t carry cash, so I am effectively broke for the weekend. That bothers me. I had plans.

I haven’t contacted Florence Carter since then, although she has tried several times to reach me. I don’t know what I would say. I’d rather have her think I stole the money than know what happened. Because the longer they don’t know they’ve been found out, the more time the authorities have to catch up with them.

I did report the fraud. I have contacted the FBI, who handles internet crime, and filed a report with them. I have filed with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). And I have filed with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. I had to file a complaint against my bank, which I hated to do but I needed to get something on record showing that I took the check in good faith. I’m an intended victim, not a perpetrator.

I also took the check to the police. They looked it over. It even had a watermark. The officer said, he would have checked the same things I did, and he would have taken the check. It might be a scam, but it was a good one. So I feel less stupid but still too naive.

I took the check to Chase. It took the manager about 10 seconds to state that it was a fraudulent check. I asked how she knew and she said the font was wrong. Well. How would I ever know a thing like that? An average person isn’t going to scrutinize a check to that degree, if they even have a good check for comparison. I had to remind the manager to look at the account, since it was an active account, because if they’re writing checks on that account, I’m not the only person getting targeted. She did pull the account up and said it was flagged for fraud on the 16th. Well that was yesterday, and it was probably my check that caused that.

So as things stand, I am broke for the weekend, and maybe for the next week. I am embarrassed and I feel a little stupid. But I am not out any money, just some time. I’m telling you this because I thought I knew better and I still got taken. It could happen to you.


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Selfish or Lazy

I had a run-in with one of my roommates today. She is frustrated by something I don’t do, which is mostly because it just doesn’t occur to me.

“I know you like to blame it on your bipolar, but I can’t tell if you’re being selfish or lazy,” she said.

Now I try very hard not to blame character flaws on being bipolar. Taking on too many projects, shopping too much, yeah those are bipolar. Not watering the pets, well, that’s just not thinking of it. Since my roommate handles it most of the time, it just hasn’t been on my radar.

So that brings us down to selfish or lazy. I don’t think it’s selfish. I’m not thinking of myself ahead of others, I’m just not thinking. It’s not a case of “that task is beneath me” so much as “oh, is that something people do?” Although I will own that there are a few times I feel like, that really isn’t my problem. But if I am asked to handle it, I generally do.

Like vacuuming. I don’t think the carpet looks bad but my roommate sometimes does. He won’t ask the other roommate to do it, but he’ll ask me. He asked me the other day with her in the room, and they were both so gleeful. “You have to learn to vacuum,” he said. “You have opposable thumbs, you should be able to work a lighter and run the vacuum.” (My inability to work a lighter is an on-going source of amusement. To me as well.) I know how to vacuum. The sound of the vacuum cleaner is very difficult for me. I grit my teeth the whole time it’s running. But it has been decided for me that this is my chore, and I don’t want to be responsible for it. Someone must vacuum while I am deployed for work. Let that person continue doing it.

Anyway. I’m not mad, just saying.

So my roommate is irritated that I don’t change out the pet water, more so because my cat dips her paws in it and that tracks in cat litter. I don’t blame it on my bipolar or on being selfish. I can’t even say I’m lazy about it, because it isn’t a decision to not do it. I simply don’t think of it. It doesn’t occur to me to water the pets. Now it has been brought to my attention. So my solution is, I will change out the water while I am making breakfast. The toaster takes 5 minutes and I am standing there with nothing to do, I can change the water.

I said as much to my roommate. It defused her anger. She seemed surprised. I suspect she is ascribing motives to me that just don’t exist. I am oblivious in this matter more than intentionally avoidant. It’s not that big a deal to me and it’s huge to her, so I can just add it to my list of morning tasks. Like scooping out the cat box every time I go to the bathroom. If I lived alone, it would be scooped maybe daily, maybe 3 or 4 times a week. But one of the roommates kept complaining about the smell so I scoop it more often. I don’t understand why cat poop in a cat box smells and cat poop in a trash can doesn’t, but whatever.

So we’re down to lazy and I don’t think I can even own that. Lazy to me is an intentional decision to do nothing. I am very seldom doing nothing. I am often doing things that don’t look important to the people around me — like writing this blog instead of emptying my suitcases — but that’s a matter of personal priorities, not laziness. Yes, I am comfortable in my bed with the suitcase on part of it, I don’t know why that’s a problem for my roommate, but it is.

The biggest thing that looks lazy I think is the state of my bedroom. It’s bad, I know it’s bad, but I don’t even know where to start. I get in there and look at it, and get overwhelmed and walk away. Lazy isn’t the word for that. I know it needs to happen, I just can’t seem to find a plan of attack. Though emptying the suitcases will make a difference, I’m sure. This is an example of me being avoidant. But I am doing other tasks, so it’s not lazy.

In other news, I joined a gym today. I will start tomorrow. I had to buy new sneakers because the inner soles are pulling up in my old pair. I guess I need to throw away the old pair, come to think of it. But yeah, I needed sneakers and a lock for the locker. I’ll pack up a bag in the morning and go before group.

I need to get out some of my received mail and take a picture of it for This Zine Has Issues. I wrote a piece for the second issue and the editor asked for the picture. I’m published in the first issue, woot woot! Now I need to reply to the letters.

I should hear by the end of the week about the 911 operator job. I kind of hope I don’t get it, because I want to do other things. But if they offer it, I will take it. I might just make it through the training and decide it’s not for me.

I am still owed a check from the job at Michael’s. I got the first check and the last check, but I am missing the one in the middle. I need to call them about getting a copy of my pay stub anyway, so I’ll just ask about getting another check.

Ah, the 10,000 things that shape daily life. Tomorrow is Monday, a new week with new things. And I will do them. I have a list and I will stay on track. Happy Monday.


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Testing and Unemployment

It’s been a busy day.

I woke up early to go take a test. I applied to be a 9-1-1 operator and there is a test that comes with the application. It was an interesting little test. Online. Sound bites. And of course since the idea is that you might have several things going on at a time, there were interruptions all the way through.

I was the second person to complete the test. I felt like I was lagging the whole time so I was surprised to be done soon. I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, I suppose being speedy in responding to emergencies is a good thing. But it will be a week or more before I know my score, and it’s easy to be sloppy when you’re going for rapid.

I ran into H from FEMA there. She turned down the deployment to South Dakota because she doesn’t like cold weather. But she also got called out earlier in the year. We were both demobilized at the same time — I have the pictures of us travelling together to prove it — and she got called out 3 times, though she turned one down. Of course she’s bilingual so that could make a difference. But she, like me, can’t keep waiting on a disaster to earn money.

The instructions said the test started at 9 and went for 3 hours. Then they sent another email saying to be there half an hour early, so 8:30. Allow time for traffic and parking, since there’s no on-site parking. I expected to be there until 12. Finishing early, I got done about 10:45. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

My next appointment was at 2:30 and I needed to eat, so I headed over to the area and checked out breakfast places. There weren’t any. I ended up at Taco Bell. For some reason, my order at the kiosk didn’t go through and the staff ended up coming to where I was sitting to take my order a second time, then they brought me my food. I essentially got table service in a Taco Bell. Not that I’m complaining, mostly surprised.

By 11:30, I had finished eating and making phone calls, and I still had 3 hours to fill. So I went thrift shopping. The first place was all clothes. Nothing wrong with that just not what I was looking for. The second place was a little better. I bought a white plate with a sort of basket weave edging. It felt like a background for something. Last stop was Goodwill. I found a little collectible that I’ll post on ebay and a fabric manikin and 2 picture frames. Whole thing came to $5. Of course they gave me a senior discount without asking, but I’m down for saving a couple of bucks. It’s all stuff to alter.

I still ended up at Workforce at 1:00. I checked in and got on the computers to print out my resume. I also just generally checked email. And I ran out of things to do. I chatted for a minute with one of the counselors and decided to stay for the class. I might be glad I did. The instructor was a little blunt but I could live with that.

I’m supposed to be signed up with ResCare for some e-learning but I can’t log in using the rubric they gave us. I’m supposed to go back tomorrow so I’ll ask again then. I’m bummed to miss my support group, but I need help with my resume, so I’m determined to go. I want to have a decent job that I, well, that I like.

I found out today that F knows details about my bedroom. That means L has been checking out my room and discussing it with him. That doesn’t feel good. I don’t like feeling spied on. I know I’m not tidy, but I’m hoping to get to organizing stuff this weekend when they are out of town. I’ll be able to move stuff into the living room so I can re-pack my room.

Thinking of bed, since I was up early. It’s almost 11, a good time to sleep. I’ve taken my meds and drunk my water. Cats are checking on me, pacing back and forth between me and my bedroom. Yup, I think it’s time to put my stuff up and go to bed.


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New Year, Same Life



I’m not complaining, my life is okay.

When I was young, I somehow had the feeling of one year ending and another beginning. It felt like crossing a border of some kind.

Nowadays, well, time is more of a spiral, no discernible step between one year and the next, it all just slides together. Today is not appreciably different from yesterday. New Year may be now, but new beginnings are when you make them.

I am looking for computer books to help hone my skills in Excel and PowerPoint. I decided to start with Excel. Do you have any idea how many books there are about Excel? Not to mention, several of them ask what version I have. I googled how to find out, and it looks like I have the 2019 version. Only thing is, I don’t remember buying the 2019 version. Does it update automatically? I found a book on Excel 2016 at Half Price Books. It was inexpensive, seemed like a good place to start.

I am also trying out some products from an online buying club. I went to their annual launch presentation today, and I am actually pretty impressed with the company. I’ll talk more about that as time goes on. I don’t want to turn into a Scamway bot.

I wrote another piece for the next issue of This Zine Has Issues. I’ll provide a link as soon as there is one. I know it will be published by Microcosm Publishing. I happen to love Microcosm. I just ordered a pack of zines from them.

Speaking of ordering, I ordered a hoodie that I think is hella cute, graphic with a big cat on it. I also ordered some art supplies.

Ah, art supplies. I keep ordering more like craft supplies but I really need art supplies. That might not make much sense. I ordered, for example, Prima flowers. I love the flowers. They are a scrapbooking product. But I long to make printed papers. I don’t have the supplies (or the space) to do that. I may have to take a class just to have studio space. I really need to start using the stuff I have. I’m thinking of ordering some mirrors from IKEA that would work as substrate.

Work continues. I have a qualifying test on Tuesday for being a 911 operator. I’m not sure I’m really the person for that job but it seems like a place to start. I also have an online interview for an eating disorder counselor. Which would probably be ironic for me, as a fat person. I am going down to the unemployment office to see what they can do for me. They might be able to help with the computer learning. I have applied to MetroCare to be a peer specialist. I need to come up with about $2000 to handle that school debt, then I can finish the degree. I figure if I get the degree and I already work at MetroCare, there’s a good chance of advancing. I am also waiting to hear from the PA cadre at FEMA. They said 2 months, that should be sometime in January.

So, no big changes. It feels like crossing the threshold of the new year should bring a new life, kind of like birthdays always seem auspicious. But truly it’s just life moving on. It is what you make of it. I think I’m doing pretty okay, and hopefully things keep looking up.




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Sometimes It Just Takes a Minute

Having decided that I can’t keep waiting on the FEMA job, I am now starting to look for other things. I just had to come to acceptance that I can’t really live on this job, even though it gives me many perks like travel and adventure. It simply isn’t enough hours.

So here are some things I have done today to move myself forward:

Reviewed my resume. The one I wrote in January 2019 is still good to use.

Applied to a handful of jobs. The unemployment office says I should be looking at jobs in the $15 / hour range, which is significantly less than the government pays me. I figure, if I have to take the pay cut, I’m going to look into the mental health field which is where I want to be if I’m not a reservist. So I have applied to the local mental health facilities.

I applied for some scholarships. I am really only 3 classes from my degree and I have run out of funding. I owe the school about $2000 and until that gets paid, I can’t register for classes. Additionally, because my most recent grades were so bad, I don’t qualify for any further student loans. So I need to pay back that money and pay out of pocket to take the online classes one at a time. Scholarships would help with that.

I went to the Texas Workforce Commission page and contacted my local office. I know they have a program for us over 55 people. I know they have classes on office skills, and I could use some help with Excel and PowerPoint. I know they have information about training and education.

I am waiting for a FEMA training in February that might help. I also applied to change my department. They said a decision would take 2 months, and that was back in October / November, so I expect to hear from them sometime in January.

So I’m trying lots of things, to see what I can come up with. In the meantime, I am busy with DBSA and catching up with friends. I have brunch with my local hire ladies tomorrow. I might go to another friend’s for New Year’s Eve, if I can find the keys that I’ve lost. Saturday is a gathering for Melaluca people, so I’m planning to check that out. I think Thursday is a DBSA meeting but I can’t get confirmation on that. Part of the weekend I’ll spend helping a friend unpack after a move. Monday starts the usual round of self help groups. My artist friends want to get together.

I’m busy, I just need to find a job that gives me the resources to participate in life. One that doesn’t suck the life out of me to do that. And I think, that might be possible.


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I Have Been Demobilized

I got a notice that I was requested for a 60 day deployment. It lasted 19 days.

I’m a little disappointed. Friends of mine are working at the central office but I was released. I even asked to stay. I told the leadership team that I didn’t need to be home for Christmas, maybe someone else was wanting to go home? But no.

I am frustrated with this job right now. I enjoy it so much, but I so seldom get to do it. I feel like I’m getting somewhere with the organization, but I don’t get to go out in the field very often. Friends of mine have, but not me.

I am told that the list is managed by an algorithm. I have asked what I can do to make myself more appealing to the computer, but nobody seems to know. I think somebody knows but I don’t know how to find them.

Boy there are a lot of “buts” in this.

So I am thinking I need a regular job. Something that meets more regularly. I’m sad about this because 40 hour weeks kill me. I like the irregular schedule. Only I can’t keep going without getting paid.

So I was home for Christmas. I saw my daughter, who wasn’t feeling well, so we watched movies and ordered Chinese food. It was actually a good day.

I don’t want to go back to job hunting, but I guess it’s time.


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Sioux Falls

I am staying in a Holiday Inn Express, which is a pretty good hotel. I usually stay at a Hilton, but this one is about a mile from my work location so that’s pretty cool. I could almost walk to work, if the weather were just a bit warmer.

I find it’s not the temperature that gets me, it’s the wind. It’s hovered around 35 degrees F (for you C people, that’s just above freezing) and I would be good in just my hoodie and scarf if the wind would stop. Plus, it’s like summer in Texas, you just don’t spend that much time outside. You go from a heated hotel to a heated car to a heated office.

I have made some friends. There is D who was very chatty and I missed her Friday because she was sick. There is K who is the wild one. She’s the one who can probably get me into trouble. And there is A, who I know from another deployment. Assuming we are here at Christmas, we have plans to spend the holiday together.

Having friends means having a social life, so I have used the company card A LOT. I can’t begin to imagine how much I owe for food and drinks. I have also consumed more alcohol in the last 3 days than in the year before that. I need to slow down. Once I get paid, I can stop using the company card and go back to using my own money.

Yesterday we puttered around downtown Sioux Falls. It was very cute. We stopped in at Woodgrain Brewing Co for a quick drink and to make our game plan. I had a milk stout that was very good. A had a much paler beer than I like and K had wine. All local. I like to try local food when I get to an area.

We headed up Phillips St and the first thing we noticed was all the sculpture on the sidewalk. Apparently they were having a sculpture walk. There was everything from byper-realistic to surreal to assemblage. I would have liked to be able to look more at the pieces but the temperature made that difficult.

Now Phillips St is the part of town that is all little shops and restaurants. We went into several shops. One was called Urban Archeology and it had some cool antique and vintage stuff. The thing I wanted — that I will buy if I am stationed back in Sioux Falls — was a vintage 1800’s crazy quilt that was $50. It was amazing. But as much as I love it, I have pee-pee kitty who marks all my laundry. I would probably resell it.

We went into a store called Spice and Tea Exchange which smelled incredible. It reminds me of Penzey’s back home only somehow more quaint. I found several things I would get for friends. There were the tiniest measuring spoons, local salt rubs and seasoning, and merlot salt which was an amazing magenta color. A checked out the teas and said there was a great selection, but I don’t know, it looked small compared to the spice section.

We went into a little florist shop that I forget the name. It was a tiny crowded shop that had everything from hand embroidered tea towels to fudge. Oh yeah, and flowers. I had a sample of the penuche, it was amazing.

I made us stop at Zandbroz. It was a most intriguing store to me. It had jewelry, bath goods, books and stationery. I found a ton of stuff I’d like to own. It’s also the only place I went that had postcards. There were pretty costly at $1.50 each, but if I get stationed back here, I will for sure buy a bunch. Some of them would make great collage backgrounds.

We ended the night at Turks & Caicos Cabana Grille. The food was amazing. I had the huli huli chicken which was 3 big pieces of chicken thigh and spam fried rice. Very Hawaiian to me. I had enough to bring home, though I have no idea when I’ll get to eat it. A had the steak tacos; K had salmon. But I was quite pleased with my choice.

Reminder: the photos go on my Facebook page, and you can look me up. Allison Leonard. I’m the one with the colorful A, though that may change.

Today is laundry and a short trip to check out the local area. A’s granddaughter is a rock hound so we are on a quest for some local specimens. When we get back, time to pack and Monday is a travel day.

Now it’s time for breakfast so I’m off.