Kiss5Tigers

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


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What I Did Today

Today has been a rather eventful day. Especially considering it was supposed to be a relatively slow day.

The plan was to start the day about 8:30 or 9:00, take a shower, go to Recovery International, and have lunch with a friend. I did actually wake up at 8:45 but it all went to hell after that.

It started with a text message from my daughter: “Dude the last 12 hours have been ridiculous and a waste of $100.”

I knew she was serious because she doesn’t usually call me dude. It took a few messages, and you need some back story to know what was going on.

Daughter is on a road trip with some friends. They went to Rainbow Gathering in Georgia, then spent a few days in Naples, FL and were headed to New Orleans. At 5 in the morning they hit Pensacola and decided to stop. They were going to sleep in the car under a bridge but they found out that someone else had tried the same thing about 10 hours earlier and got shot dead. Now we are talking about 3 girls in a car who don’t know anybody. That means some random person — and in my head it’s a homeless guy bumming a cigarette — told them this story that made them uncomfortable. They decided to rent a hotel room instead. This is the $100. Check out time was 11:00 so they didn’t even get showers.

Then before hitting the road again, they went to a dog park. One of the girls had brought her 2 dogs which seems like a lot but personally I’m glad they had the protection. One of the dogs got off the leash, and someone pulled a gun on the girls. I asked my daughter about this, because I thought the whole point of a dog park was to let the dogs off their leash. She replied, “THAT’S WHAT YOU WOULD THINK, HUH?” And followed it up with, “Fuck Pensacola!”

The problem of course was that they had no money and no food. Uh huh. I’m surprised I didn’t get this call sooner. I’m on unemployment right now and I hadn’t gotten paid for the last two weeks yet, so I said there was nothing I could do. My roommate F gave me $60 to send her. We spent an hour trying to figure it out, and finally I paypal’d it to her. She is in New Orleans now, no further incidents.

The girls lucked out in New Orleans, too. They got an Air BnB a couple blocks off the French Quarter for 3 days for under $150. I might be jealous!

All of this took the hour I had for getting to my meeting. I still had to take shower before I could go and get dressed. I made it to RI but I was an hour late.

What is RI? In this case, Recovery International. It’s a sort of rational recovery program for mental health issues. Dr. Low developed the method back in the 50’s, so that was early days for psychiatry in a lot of ways. He referred to his patients as “nervous” rather than ill. He believed that getting worked up was an expression of either fearful or angry temper. He defined fearful as internal and angry as direction outward. His method is basically to have people talk themselves down using sayings and adages that he calls tools. They might be as simple as “peace is our goal” or as complicated as “people do things that annoy us, not to annoy us,” or even as pithy as “Try not to take your own dear self too seriously”. We meet weekly as a group and talk about how to use these tools in our daily lives.

I was so late, I missed the reading for the day and about half the discussion. At least I got to check in with everyone.

Afterwards I caught up with my friend R. He is the president of the local chapter of DBSA ( Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance )and he was delivering flyers around town. He wanted company while he did it, and basically he bribed me with lunch. It was a good day. I met several people in the mental health field, ranging from EAP workers (employee assistance plan) to the folks at Prism Health (AIDS Arms) .  I really feel like, when I get done with the government, I can find a place in mental health, which is where I want to be.  Eventually.

Lunch was at a place called Henk’s which does German food and has a European bakery and chocolate shop in the restaurant. We got the lentil soup, which was amazing. I also got a salad. R got a side of sauerkraut and a beer with his. Turns out the bakery provides the treats to the Black Forest Cafe, a coffee shop that’s in my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. Later we stopped for coffee. I had an iced cold brew which was very refreshing. R paid both times, which I thought was very kind of him. Basically, it took us all afternoon.

On the way home, I got a message from my roommate. His meds were ready at the pharmacy so would I pick them up? I ended up going to the pharmacy, the grocery store, and a local chicken joint. I stopped at the mailbox because I was hoping either my new headphones or my book had arrived but alas, no such luck. I finally got paid my unemployment, so I ordered some stamps online. I really like the current round of stamps, they are becoming very creative.

It is finally bed time. I have group tomorrow afternoon so I can sleep in a little. The cats are sitting on the bed waiting for me. All I need to do is take out my contacts. It’s been a busy day, but a good one.


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Ambivalent Job Search

Why ambivalent, you may ask?  Surely I am either looking for a job or not looking.  And well that’s the thing.

I’ve been a month with no income now and I am totally broke.  I didn’t think I’d have to wait this long to be deployed.  So I need some sort of paying gig for the next little while.  I will be checking out local food pantries for grocery assistance but I need to work for my mental health.  Days are starting to run together.  The other day I seriously asked my roommate if it was Saturday.  It was Tuesday.  Not good.

If I need to take a job, I’d like it to be something I’m interested in.  I think I would like to be a peer support specialist but I am not certified for it.  I believe I could do it, I just don’t meet the qualifications on paper.  I have completed the classwork but I don’t have hours as an intern and I can’t afford to work for free.  I also don’t have a degree yet.  I only owe 3 classes, but I also owe the school money and until that is handled, there will be no classes for me.  Unfortunately, nobody cares how far along the degree process you are.  If you haven’t finished, you might as well be in your first semester, years of work don’t count.

I get lists of jobs every day from Indeed and CareerBuilder.  CareerBuilder has lately been sending me engineering jobs.  I don’t understand that.  Nothing about my resume says engineer.  Indeed sends me everything containing the word “peer” and the word “specialist” so that’s a pretty wide variety of options, very few of them in mental health.

I like my job with the government and would like to be doing it, but this no income stuff is bull.  I need money, doesn’t matter what I like.  On the other hand, I can’t spend 8 hours a day hating what I do.  Either I need something I could be committed to and give up the government position or I need something I don’t hate that I could quit at a moment’s notice when I get deployed.  Since this is civil service, not military, there is no requirement for the employer to keep a job for me.  I hate to take a job knowing I would leave it, but . . .

So why am I ambivalent?  Because I don’t know what I want.  I look half-heartedly in case there is something really good out there.  I apply to jobs I’m probably not qualified for because of the pay or my interest.  I am required to make a certain number of applications per week while I’m collecting unemployment, if someone decides to pay me.  But I really want to just do the job I am already hired to do.

I don’t want bad things to happen to people, but I need a disaster to happen so I can work.  And I am ambivalent about that, too.

It’s hard to hold two separate and opposite ideas in mind, and yet here I am.

Something good will happen soon and this will be a non-issue, I just have to hold on until then.


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The Tightness of Money

I need to pick up my meds.  I also need to pay my phone bill.  I can’t do both.

It’s been a long time since I had to say that.  I’ve had enough money for about a year, even a little extra.  But right now today, I am poor.

I wonder how I’ll make it without the drugs.  I wonder if it’s better to let the phone get shut off.  I wonder if the phone company has a payment plan I can use.  I think they do.  I’ll have to check that out.

Not that it solves the problem of finding the money to make the payment.

Having the car towed the other day didn’t help matters.

Let’s see, what can I look forward to?  A friend is sending me some money she owes me.  I have 2 trainings next week so that’s about $40.  Maybe less after taxes.

I’ve listed some stuff on ebay and etsy.  It’s not moving but maybe in the future.

I should get unemployment.  We are waiting for the state of Virginia to close out the claim so the money can come back to Texas.  Mind, right now, Texas says I don’t have an open claim.  I guess I’ll have to call them on Monday and see what’s going on.

Technically I have a job, I just have no work at the moment.  So here I am squeaking by.  I wonder what I can do to make ends meet?  And of course rent is about to be due.

So this is really testing my faith that there is always more money.  Let’s see if I can keep a good attitude.

My Etsy shop

my Ebay listing


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Finding a Schedule

I seem to be blogging every other day, which is good until I go back to work.

Sleep hygiene is suffering lately.  I was somewhat manic and I’m not working, both of which push my sleep time later in the day.  Yesterday I slept until 1:30 in the afternoon so I just wasn’t tired at bedtime.  I wasn’t tired until after 4:30 am.  In the meantime,  I  heard from a friend that she needs help getting to work early tomorrow.  I am going to sleep at her house tonight so I can be there in the morning.  Well, I need to get up around 5 am, and I didn’t see me getting any kind of sleep if I went to bed late.  So I decided to stay up.  I figure I’ll be ready to crash right about the time I should go to sleep to get up in time.

It’s Fathers’ Day which is a non-event for me.  My grandfather’s and father have long since passed away.  My ex husband has also died.  I suppose I could call my uncle and wish him happy Fathers’ Day but that seems like fishing for inclusion.  I owe my uncle a call anyway, I just think I’ll put it off until Monday.

I filed my payment request for unemployment.  They say I have been awarded nothing at this time, but I will keep filing.  They should have all the documentation by now, but I will call them Monday as well just to be sure.  I should have something in my payment column since I worked until the middle of May.

Hawaii has been declared for individual assistance.  I hope that means deployment.  I’m dying to work!  Several other states have requested assistance, so maybe soon.

My roommate says the cats were glaring at me to go to bed, but I doubt it.  They probably wanted a snack or some attention.  My other roommate made coffee, so I am soon going to be sufficiently caffeinated.  Then I will clean out my car so my friend can be comfortable in it.

Today will be busier than planned.


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Unemployment Application

In order to collect unemployment, I have to provide a form called sf-50 which shows my current status as non-pay.  I have a job but there is no work for me so I’m not getting paid.  That’s part of the problem with these on-call positions.

I have the form.  It was emailed to me earlier today.  PDF is a fine format.  Except.  Except the only option for getting this item to the unemployment office is to fax it.  I cannot email it or upload it to an account.

This gives me a chance for a small adventure tomorrow though.  Apparently I can do these things for free at the local workforce office.  Now notice that there is no local unemployment office, there is only the job placement office.  This is mildly annoying but the big thing is to handle it for the lowest cost possible.

In other news, my roommates’ cat Hamlet is not doing well.  The question is, do we let him keep going with poor quality of life or do we take him down to the vet and send him on his way.  I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.  He is a sweet loving kitty who cannot walk properly any longer and who is not grooming himself.  It’s not good.  And yet, at what point do you decide for an animal that enough is enough?  So sad.

Trying to maintain a good attitude.  Visiting friends and family, keeping busy, going to support groups.  I hope to make some art later today and take a shower.  It feels like a good day for a shower.  Study some Japanese, watch some anime.  It’s going to be a good day.

 


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Unemployment Games

My last day of work was May 19.  I have been trying to apply for unemployment since then and boy has it been a headache.

Unemployment is handled through the Texas Workforce Commission.  TWC has offices around the state and they’re purpose is to put you to work.  They don’t actually handle unemployment even though you are required to register with them in order to collect.  There is apparently only one unemployment office which is in the state capitol of Austin.  Austin is nowhere near me so I have to handle all business with them on the phone.

I called them a couple of weeks ago, and they asked me to apply online.  Okay, I can do that.  I went online and followed the directions and got a message saying they felt they could serve me best by phone.  Really?  Okay, I can call again.  And again.  And again.

I’ve called at least once a day for about a week and a half.  I could only find one number online so that’s the one I used.  The outgoing message is very short.  Short as in rude.  When I finally got through the phone tree, I’d get a pre-recorded message saying something like, “We’re sorry but due to the current call volume, we are unable to take your call at this time.  Please try again later.”  Which feels like, “We can’t plan appropriately to be staffed to take calls, so goodbye.”  I mean, 10 days of “unexpected call volume”?  At what point do you decide you need more people working phones?

This afternoon I got through.   The girl on the other end didn’t seem to know much about what was going on.  After leaving me on hold for an extended period of time, she told me that since my last duty station was in Virginia, that’s where I need to file for unemployment.  I wish I’d known that 2 weeks ago, but okay.

I called the Virginia Employment Commission.  I will say this for the VEC, they were a lot more pleasant to deal with than TWC.  I answered the questions with the automated system and got a fairly helpful customer service person.  She took my information and let me know that in fact TWC was incorrect.  Since most of my work in the last 18 months has been in Texas, I could have filed with them.  They were so difficult and hard to work with, that I chose to continue with Virginia.

I still have some requirements to meet:  I need to send a copy of my demobilization paperwork.  I need to register with my local workforce commission.  I need to make at least 2 applications per week.  And I need to call in every week on Sunday.  I don’t know why Sunday, but there it is.  They’ll direct deposit the money into my account.

I hope this gets handled rapidly.  I don’t have just a lot of money saved up, so I need this income to start pretty quickly.

I can’t believe how difficult this all is!

Addition, 06/07/2018

I got a call this morning from TWC.  The lady told me they were reviewing my case and realized they’d given me the exact wrong information.  So I filed with Texas because the maximum amount is about $100 a week higher.  Not that I think I’ll max out the benefits but you never know.  I called Virginia and cancelled my claim with them.  I also updated my resume on the WorkInTexas website.  I still need to fax them some information, but I can do that for free through the workforce office.


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Demobilization

One of the things about working for the government is that suddenly all this military language is used to describe me.  It makes it even more true that working for the government is like being in the army only without the guns.  Until I am deployed, I am demobilized.  And I am in non-pay status.

It’s been about 10 days since I got back from orientation.  Orientation was good.  There isn’t really much to say about it, since to much was just listening to people talk about FEMA.  I did find out a few things though.

First of all, FEMA actually provides rather little in the way of direct help.  Most of what it does is coordinate agencies to resolve issues.  So, for example, you may get public assistance which involves hooking up the Red Cross with local agencies like churches to get water to people who need it.

The other thing FEMA does is provide money.  This is the thing most people are familiar with.  FEMA provides grants, but if your income is sufficient, they refer you to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest disaster loan.  SBA reviews the paperwork like a regular loan application, so lots of people don’t qualify and get sent back to FEMA.  Which is fine, but it IS a time delay because of the extra processing.

The grant has a total cap on it of about $33,000.  No matter how much damage you have to your house or what it costs you to stay in a hotel, the most you will get for everything is that limit.  It’s not designed to bring you back to your pre-disaster standard of living, it’s designed to make sure your home is safe, sanitary and habitable.  So you lost, for example, a 72″ TV in the living room, another TV in the master bedroom, and one in each of the kids’ rooms.  Sorry, but you’re not going to be compensated for all that.  That’s what insurance is for.  You now have no TVs, FEMA will provide one TV because it is considered necessary, and it will probably be 24″ or so.

If you get the grant, FEMA will tell you how you can spend it, and they will look for receipts later.  So if you get money to fix your roof, don’t use it for debris removal.  You won’t be given more money to fix the roof until you show appropriate receipts, and debris removal receipts will not work.  You may even be asked to repay the award!

I have also learned some things about disasters in general.  Pets, for example.  Since pets are so important to people, they are often evacuated with their families.  However shelters are not prepared to take on pets, so special animal facilities are set up.  There is only one thing:  You need proof of rabies vaccination to drop off your pet.  So that is a good reason to keep up with your pet’s shots.

Otherwise, it was a good training.  I ate well.  I slept well.  I had time in the evenings to take a couple online art courses.  I saw my friends Bryan and Andy who have moved to Maryland a while ago.  I like travelling so it was fun.

Now I am back, waiting to be deployed.  Not that I wish bad things for people, but I am eager to get going with it.  Hope I get called soon!  I want the adventure.