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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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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So Much Has Happened

I am writing this from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I had been working that job at Michael’s. I like Michael’s. I liked my coworkers. But I’ve got to be honest: retail is a physical job. I had been told 15 to 20 hours a week and I was working more like 30 and my back was killing me. There is a spot on my right shoulder that just burns. I expected sore feet, but sore back was surprising.

I spent Thanksgiving with the family. I put my foot in it, of co urse. My cousin K came on his own. He said the kids would be joining him shortly, which they did. When he was leaving, I told him to say hi to D, his wife, for me. “Oh, I guess you haven’t heard,” he said, “We’re not together any more.” Boy did I feel like an idiot. My cousin J also did not show up with his partner, so now I wonder if they’re still together any more.

Still it was a good day. I got to see my daughter, and we had a real good heart to heart about why we have so much stress over the holidays. I feel like we both understand each other better, even if we don’t agree.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, at 10:45 at night, my work phone went off. Usually it’s just a notification that some news service has a new story so I don’t look, but this time I did. It was an email, telling me I had an online message from the government. I pulled it up. It was a deployment request. Well halleloo! I had just said that I was good with the Michael’s job but I would prefer something else, and there it was! From my mouth to God’s ear, as they say.

So of course I accepted the deployment, even though South Dakota in the window is no cakewalk. I don’t even own a real winter coat since I’ve been in Dallas for 25 years now. Right now I’m good in layers but soon I’ll have to invest in something more solid.

I had to call Michael’s and tell them I quit. I felt bad. They were good to me. The store manager said she was just glad I called and told her. I hate that. It means they have a high turnover of people who just don’t show up, which is bad business manners. But it also felt like I let them down. I didn’t like that feeling. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I knew I was going to be deployed. I figured I wouldn’t be deployed until at least spring, and that a seasonal job would be done by then.

And yet, true to form, the government called me late at night on a Sunday and told me to report to work in another state on Tuesday. That meant I had Monday to pack and Tuesday to travel. I thought about working Monday, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make that work. I had to quit with no notice to have time to pack. At least I had already done laundry, at a friend’s house, where I was house sitting. And at least she was coming home the next day so her house wouldn’t be empty more than 30 hours.

Monday night I got a call from daughter. She asked how I was getting to the airport. I said, my roommates were taking me. Daughter said she was already on the way to the airport, so why didn’t she take me and then she could borrow my car? No exaggeration, my car Phyllis is more than 20 years old. I drive a 1998 Chevy Lumina. She has just about 150K miles on her, so she’s low mileage for the years. But she is starting to be a little grumpy. She has a coolant leak and she needs a tune up, and there are probably some other things too. I don’t feel good loaning her to anybody. Plus, if she broke down, daughter doesn’t have the money to get her towed. I would repay daughter, but she’d need the money up front to get the initial tow done. Car would end up left on the side of the road and impounded, which I can’t afford.

Or what if she got into an accident? The car’s only worth $400 or so. All it would take is a good rear end collision, and even though it would be the other guy’s fault, Phyllis would be totaled. I can’t afford to replace her.

So with all that, I had to tell my daughter no and the call ended badly. She’s over it now, but I felt horrid for a couple of days, thinking the last thing she said before getting off the phone was “that’s fucked up”. I try to end the call by saying I love her so if anything happens, that’s the last thing I said to her; but she was having none of it that day. I am not hypocrite. I can say no and still love you. But it didn’t feel like that to her.

I have so much more to tell, but I am getting sleepy and I have some errands to run tomorrow so I think I’ll go to bed. Good night.


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OK, Boomer

Apparently there is a new insult for people of a certain age. When an adult over 55 says something you don’t want to bother refuting, the response is, “OK, Boomer”.

How do I know it’s over 55? Because I was born in the last acknowledged year of the Baby Boom and I know how old I am. My year isn’t even always listed as part of the Boom, sometimes I’m as much as 5 years into Generation X. I describe myself as raised to be a Boomer but functionally Genex. Because that’s the world I lived in.

Anyway, “OK, Boomer” is getting a lot of press because, surprise, surprise, Boomers don’t like it.

Don’t they remember “dirty thirty”? “Don’t trust anyone over thirty”? Well, that’s them now. “OK, Boomer” is just the latest incarnation of that.

Foamy the Squirrel did a pretty good riff on this, pointing out that Boomers were 60’s flower children who protested the Viet Nam war and tried to change the government. Find it here.

Young people have always struggled against the older generation, the establishment. We need them to bring new ideas and innovation to the otherwise stagnant culture. And they need us older folks to bring wisdom and knowledge to the table.

I think it’s like my struggle in my relationship with my daughter. She is 23 now, and she has her own life. We’re pretty close, especially compared to her friends and their parents. I still want to mother her, but she doesn’t need that any more, she needs more of a mentor. So I am learning a new role and it’s hard and sometimes I don’t do it well.

Boomers — and a significant part of Genex — need to learn a new role. We need to start stepping back and letting the young people have their day. And it’s okay to do that! They are the future, they need to create the world they want. We’ve had our turn, it’s their time now.

But we need to guide them. We need to teach them history, full history, so they know where they come from. It’s like the irony of Sesame Street, a public television show designed to help inner city and underprivileged kids learn basics so they wouldn’t be behind when they got to school, which is now available on HBO, a pay service that many underprivileged kids can’t access. Without knowing the history of Sesame Street, this is a move that doesn’t seem to matter.

I get that kids are tired of explaining things to adults. I also get that adults are upset about being dismissed the way they want to dismiss young people. And really, Millennials aren’t that young any more! They are 22 to 37 years old. They are out of college and have careers and families, and they feel like they aren’t making it. Boomer lifestyle doesn’t work for them. The world has changed.

If there’s one thing Boomers should understand, it’s idealism and the desire for change. Sure, they have “sold out” and settled into a comfortable middle age. They continue to defy stereotypes while creating a new one.

It’s time for generations to communicate with each other. Voting is one way to do that. Polite discourse is another. Being open to each other’s truth and sharing stories would work. Boomers will need to learn a new way to tell stories, but Milliennials need to practice old ways of listening. The old ways are not better, but they are full of knowledge and wisdom that need to be accessed.

So, OK Boomer, but also OK Millennial.

Take your respective heads out of your asses and learn from each other.

Stop being so sensitive and try on the other side’s perspective.


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Feeling Productive

I called Michael’s today because I had no idea what my hours are. This week I am working Thursday and Saturday. The 2 days I was hoping not to work are Thursday and Saturday. Oh well. Thursday I asked M to facilitate the group. I need to remember to tell him what page we are on so he can prepare. I’m a pantser, I fly by the seat of my pants. Saturday I had plans with my daughter, so we moved them to Sunday.

I finished the fingerless gloves and matching hat. I’ll post a picture later. I’m working on another bucket hat. I love the yarn colors so much, I am wondering about doing a blanket. But the yarn is a little stiff, craft yarn more than garment yarn, so maybe not. Or maybe a car blanket.

I watched a documentary on microdosing with psychedelics. I’m thinking, if I could find a drug trial for LSD, I’d apply in a hot minute. I could use getting some gunk kicked loose in my brain.

I viewed the video of Marney Makridakis‘ class “The Muse vs. Monster Mash”. Enjoyed it. I admit, I did not do the art activities in the real world, but I did imagine them and think about them. The Monster of course is the thing that holds you back and the Muse is the impetus to be creative. My Monster told me he wants me to be traditional. My Muse said to follow my dreams. She says the purpose of life is not to be safe, but to be fully myself.

I went to group today. We talked about creativity. I have so much to learn about being creative. The biggest thing for me is, don’t quit on projects. Keep going to the end.

It’s already November 5 and I haven’t started my NaNoWriMo yet, so I think I’ll just let it go for this year. November is a hard month for me to do this, August would be better. I might just try it in August, actually, the only real difference would be that there is no community doing it with me. I can live with that.

I took out 5 bags of trash today. I got the bathroom, kitchen and F’s trash. Then L asked me if I was taking the trash out of the other bathroom. I hadn’t planned to but that sounded more like instructions than an actual question so I got that one. And F asked me to get the confetti bits out of the shredder bin. So 5 bags. Hopefully back to 3 next Monday.

Tomorrow I am hoping to go to morning group then come home and make art. There is a possibility of being in an art show and I need some art to show. I don’t think I’ve ever been in an exhibition before.

Oh, it’s my birthday on Wednesday. If you’re just dying to give me a present, I have a wish list on Amazon and one on Yozocraft. Not that I expect you want to buy me stuff. I’ll settle for a donation to Heifer International.

Looks like a good week, all things told.


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Feeling Unattractive

First I want to post the most recent photo I have of myself:

Me, October 2019, photo by Mike Fiddleman of Fidd Worldwide

It’s a candid shot, which is the best way to photograph me. I don’t pose well. I don’t come from a family that took photos very regularly so I am vaguely uncomfortable with the whole process.

I like that it’s a natural expression for me. This is what I look like. I wonder what I was laughing at.

But I look at it, and I see 2 things: how plain I am and how fat I am.

I mean, fat. Yep, I weigh 275, so I’m not skinny. But I forget that my body is as big as it is, especially when I am so hungry so often. I mean, look at those arms! I got Hulk Hogan‘s 22 inch guns without the firepower. I get tired of people telling me “you’re not fat”. That’s not what my doctor says. And it’s not what my experience of my body says. Oh, yeah, and it’s not what my dating life says.

I am also plain. I don’t mean ugly, but not pretty. I know this from my dating life too. I am the girl who hears, “I’m a great guy, introduce me to your friend, because pretty girls don’t see what a great guy I am because I’m not handsome.” Well you know what buddy? You’re treating me the way you say you get treated. I don’t think you’re so great.

I am so tired of being single that a guy friend of mine bought me a soda, and I spent an hour wondering if it “meant something”. Well of course it doesn’t, it was just a friend picking up the tab. I’ll get it the next time. No big.

I do get an offer from time to time, but they are mostly from people I know in open relationships. It’s flattering in a way, I mean it’s flattering when someone is interested even if it’s not reciprocal. But most of them, well, I don’t want to be your bit on the side, I want to be someone’s person. I’m holding out for being special to someone.

It’s been 10 years since someone asked me out on a date. That’s a long time. It wears me down in a way, to know I’m not special to anyone. I’m a great gal, says my married friend C. Yeah, I am, but who knows it? Or maybe, who appreciates it? I’m not pretty enough for my wonderfulness to be noticed.

So maybe when I have money again I’ll join a gym. I miss working with weights and that’s much easier for me at a health club than it is at home. But it makes me sad that I am somehow not good enough as I am.

Why not me? But apparently, not me.