Kiss5Tigers

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


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Deployment, Demobilization

Several days ahead of Hurrican Dorian, I got a deployment request to a processing center. I took it, of course, I haven’t been deployed in a year. But I was not excited about it.

I used to work at the processing center, and I became a reservist so I could keep helping people without having to be on the phone. Choosing to do a job I left seems counter-intuitive, but unemployment will do that to you.

I really don’t care for phone work. There are too many rules and guidelines about how to do it, and too much micromanaging. I know how to get the form filled out and get people assistance (assuming they qualify). I don’t want someone grading me on how many times I say the caller’s name during the conversation. And that has been a common metric in at least 3 places I’ve worked.

But I did a brave thing, and stood up for myself. There is a 50-mile radius that is considered local, ie. close enough to commute. The system showed me at 45 miles distant so I was considered local. Now my odometer said 51.6 miles and GoogleMaps said 52. I decided to see what would happen if I was reclassified.

While I was waiting, I had a day that I left the house about 15 minutes later than usual and I ended up 45 minutes late to work because of the increased traffic.

If you’re in DFW, let me describe my commute: I start on 45, I cross 20, loop 12 twice, and of course everything backs up when I get on 75 heading towards downtown. I cut over to Walton Walker to get to 35 north. I cross the tollway, 114/183 to Irving, 635, George Bush, and the lake. And oh yeah, there’s construction. A friend said, “I am worn out just hearing about that.”

If you’re not in DFW, know that I travel through downtown at peak rush hour and cross all the major highway intersections that slow down.

I did hear back that I was approved for travel, so I took a hotel room in the town where the processing center is. It made all the difference. I was able to get enough sleep and even have some time to unwind in the evenings. With the length of the commute, I was getting up at 4 in the morning and getting home about 7 at night. No time for anything but driving and work, no recovery from the day’s stress. Being in the same town made a huge difference.

It lasted a whole 5 days. Hurricane Dorian did not hit the US as hard as it could have so my particular skill set wasn’t needed. I did get a lot of training though, so that was good. Met up with some friends from other deployments. Made a few new acquaintances. Shout out to Stephanie and Susan, Annie, Haydee, Linda, Jeffrey, Mitchell, Maria, Carmon, Shontoria and Iromara.

I hope they deploy me again soon. I want to get out into the field again. I need to gain some skills to get my crew lead qualification and I need the field to do that.


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Everything and Not Much



Wow, it’s been a week, where have I been?

It seems like not much is happening but every day is full.

I’ve been napping a lot. I seem to sleep 10 hours. I get out of bed after 8 hours and then fall asleep on the sofa in the living room. I am trying to find things to do to keep myself awake. My doctor would like me to go for a walk but even at 8 or 9 in the morning, it’s too hot for me to do that. I would do yoga but F is asleep in his recliner so I don’t really want to turn on the sound.

Unemployment is giving me grief. I was scheduled for orientation on the day before my vacation, at the time I was due at the passport office to pick up my passport. They assign you a time to get it, so that wasn’t actually negotiable. However I had reason to believe the orientation could be flexible.

In the past, I actually blew off the orientation appointment and it did not interfere with my payments. I just rescheduled the orientation. It wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t realize it was a requirement. This time, I tried several times to reschedule. I called in more than once. I left voice messages. I did not get a call back. I thought it was okay because I gave them notice more than once that I couldn’t make it and needed to do it another time.

I was wrong.

Unemployment decided they didn’t need to pay me because I missed the orientation. They decided this after they had already paid me. They want their money back. And they won’t pay me again until I refund it.

Well, I don’t have it. I had to catch up on rent and phone. I put gas in the car. I paid bills. I mean, it was spent.

Now I do want to be clear, it was NOT spent on my trip. The trip was paid for before I was even eligible for unemployment. The trip was already budgeted. Not that I have to justify where unemployment payments go. This is insurance and I pay into it when I’m employed. It’s my money, not welfare. But, that aside . . .

I also told them I was out of town and they decided that meant I was unavailable for work, so they want the money back for that week as well. So that’s over $1000 they want back from me, and frankly I don’t have it. I have been to doctors and picked up medicine. I have bought a book or two. I renewed my Barnes and Noble membership. I’m not outrageous, but money doesn’t go very far.

Now really if there had been work, I would have been doing it. But there is no employment for me. I am working toward it in the mental health field, but it won’t pay as well as the government does. Still, I am looking, to see what I can find.

However my friend P has found an opportunity for me. He knows someone who makes jewelry who needs help marketing it. I know a bit about posting on Etsy and maybe DeviantArt. I can maybe get her started for a stipend. Of course, it’s only any good until I get called for work. P suggested I take a percentage of the profits, but I’m thinking an hourly rate might be better. I don’t need to get paid right away but I can’t for example mail anything that gets sold if I’m in another state. So internet marketing consultant could be a thing.

I also got the chance to facilitate a few groups in the past 2 weeks. Three people told me I did well, so I’m feeling pretty confident about my facilitating skills. I don’t feel like I actually did very much. For example, one group we had a new person come in who burst into tears when we asked how he was. I didn’t know what to do, but the group did. They gave him Kleenex and water and support. It was amazing. I got credit for it, but I think it was all on them. I am facilitating again next week and the following week, assuming I’m not called for work.

And I do hope to be called for work.




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Short Time

There is just a short time until I leave. I’m ready to get ready, but until the unemployment money hits, I’m at an impasse. I need the money for things like flip flops and deodorant. I just need a few things before the trip.

I spoke to my travelling buddy yesterday. She is also excited. She’s looking forward to the food, she says, because cruises always have great food. I’m just looking forward to real, fresh seafood. Which there should be plenty of on an Alaska cruise.

I also need to mail 3 purchases on my Etsy site, and pick up some postcard stamps. My friend wants to read, but I want to send postcards. I’ll do some reading too. I bought The Four Agreements to read during my down times. If I have a chance, I’ll get a couple magazines too.

I need a new backpack, my current one is coming apart at the seams. I really like it, but I’m afraid it won’t last. I don’t know what to bring out of it. My little Alaska notebook for sure, but what about my journal? It’s big and heavy, so maybe not, maybe just a little notebook, like a composition book. But what else? Do I bring a tape runner, a glue stick, watercolors, water color pencils? Probably none of those things, just keep my keepsakes and get to relive the trip putting it together afterwards.

I need to get my sweater out of the car to wash it. I need to think about what shoes to pack. I need a pair of dress shoes for dinners, but I don’t have any. Something else I suppose I could buy if I have time. Or I could buy a pair in Vancouver or Alaska. That would be an interesting souvenir.

I am hoping I can fit everything in my suitcase and still use it as a carry on. So much to bring. So much to do. And I sit here watching Lucifer since it’s only 1000 degrees today and I am overheated. Waiting for the sun to go down and the house to cool off a little.

Dinner in a minute. Then get the sweater then do another load of laundry.

Busy busy.


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Travel Excitement

It’s less than a week until I leave for Alaska, and I’m starting to get excited. I have so much to do before I leave.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I am having poke bowls with my daughter in honor of her birthday. It’s Hawaiian comfort food, sort of like deconstructed sushi. I know she’ll like it. I also have to request my next unemployment payment.

Monday is passport day. I need to go through my room and find the remaining passport photo, or I need to find an extra $20 and get them done again. In the afternoon is group if I can make it. I’ll already be in Dallas. I have to get up early early early Monday morning. So early I might not sleep Sunday night. I’m supposed to go as a walk-in so I want to be there when they open. Oh, and I need to print my airline schedule so I can prove I need the passport. Probably better print the cruise schedule too.

Tuesday needs to be laundry and shopping day. Shopping of course assumes I will be paid by then by unemployment. I want a book and I need some things like underwear and bug spray. And a new back pack.

Wednesday. Wednesday! I need to pack, I might need to go shopping if I didn’t do it Tuesday, and of all things, the unemployment office wants me to come in and do orientation! At 9:00 in the morning! So far that is 3 days in a row of getting up early, and I am not made for that.

But Thursday is the big day. Thursday I get on the plane and head to Vancouver to get on that cruise ship. I can’t wait. I mean, obviously I can wait because I have to, but boy is it hard! I’m so excited!

Better get started on the things I can do because there are a lot of things to do between then and now. Wish me luck!


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Passport Drama

You may know that I am going to Alaska on July 4th. It will be a cruise, and it leaves out of Vancouver. I will be flying from Dallas to Vancouver.

If you didn’t know, Vancouver is in Canada and Dallas in in the US, and therein lies the difficulty. Canada is another country.

In the 70’s when I lived in Canada, you could pretty much cross the border with a driver’s license as proof of residence. I had a passport, but that’s because I was technically an American living abroad. Also I was under driving age.

But 9-11 has happened and border security is tighter so I need an actual government document that proves my citizenship, so I need a passport. I do want to be clear: The problem is not leaving the country, the problem is coming back in. It cracks me up. They don’t care that much if I leave, but gosh darn it, we got to be careful who we let back in.

I contacted the passport office. I mean, I was about 6 weeks out, I needed to be sure of the process. They told me go to the post office. I made an appointment at the post office, got my paperwork together, and 5 weeks out I ordered the passport.

Now in the US, you have a choice: You can get the regular booklet passport or you can get a government ID passport that looks like a driver’s license. Well I”m not attached to getting the stamps, so I opted for the card. I opted wrong.

Today my passport card arrived. I opened the package and took the card off the paper and I happened to notice something in bold print across the bottom of the paper. I looked more closely. “Not valid for air travel“.

Well.

That couldn’t be right. I mean, I am only going to Canada, surely this is a mistake?

So I called in to the helpline. Yup, to fly into Canada, I need the booklet. I sure didn’t see anything about this on the website. And of all the questions I was asked, nobody asked where I was going or how I was getting there, so no person told me there were restrictions.

“What is the card good for, then?” I rather exasperatedly asked the customer service rep.

It’s good for cruises around the Bahamas and ground crossings into Canada and Mexico. That means I could drive to Vancouver, but I can’t fly in. And if you’re just going to the Caribbean on a cruise, you’re fine. But Dallas to Vancouver on a plane? I”m SOL.

The first option is to get off the plane when it stops in Seattle and spend $30 to take a bus. I could do that. I’d only be out a couple of bucks. But since the ticket is booked to Vancouver, there is the possibility they wouldn’t even let me on the plane without the correct documentation. So that’s probably not a good solution.

The other choice is to get the regular passport. In order to do that, I need to file a missing passport form and pay $110 for the booklet plus a $65 fee for expedited service. At least unemployment finally started paying me, I have the money, but it seems exorbitant. Still, I’m in a bind, I’ll just suck it up.

Now I’m less than 2 weeks from leaving, so I qualify to go to the passport office directly. I went to the website and put in Dallas. No appointments available in the next 2 weeks. Okay, let’s try Houston, that’s only a day of hard driving, and I could bring my daughter to see her half-brother. But no, no appointments in Houston either.

I called the help line again. They told me I could go to the passport office as a walk-in. Well cool, I can do that. Only I didn’t think they took walk-ins.

Turns out they do, but you must be within 3 business days of leaving. And I’m glad I said something because they are a little stingy with the information. She didn’t volunteer that there was a time restriction, I had to ask.

So on Monday, I will go down to the passport office. It will be July 1. I am leaving on July 4, which is a holiday, so I am within my 3 days. But man, this feels like cutting it real close.

And yet, this is all first world problems. A day ago I was counting pennies for gas money and couldn’t pay car insurance. This? This is cake. I am worried about a vacation when I have nothing to do between now and then except get ready. I am already on vacation, really, just not on the trip. And it will all work out, it always does.


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Worn Out Sneakers

I finally wore out my sneakers over the weekend. I went walking with a friend both days. We logged over 5 miles. But I have now worn out the insole of my sneakers and I can’t afford a new pair at the moment. So I will keep wearing them for walking but I am shifting to boots for daily wear.

I told my friend I couldn’t afford the Alaska trip, and she paid my airfare. Wow. Now I didn’t expect her to do that, and I will pay her back. But very interesting response. I have to find the money for a passport now. The trip includes a stop in Canada and you can no longer use a driver’s license as proof of residence.

I get food stamps now. I am trading them for rent at the moment. I know this isn’t quite legal but I have no cash for rent this month. Or for gas or for meds. I should have some cash next month.

Next month, I can apply for unemployment again. I applied last June and was awarded a settlement. I then went back to work so I stopped collecting. That’s the job that ended in December. I tried to file against the new job, and was told that I still had the previous settlement to use up before filing for the new one. I used up the old settlement and tried to file the next one, and I was told I can only file one time in a 12 month period. So I can’t file again until the beginning of June. Hopefully I’ll qualify. I mean, I did the work, the job ended, I haven’t been able to find anything new.

I signed up for Care.com but there is a small problem. I applied for some jobs, but I don’t have the $20 to pay for the subscription part so I can’t hear from people through the website. I guess I’m going to have to start including my phone number or my email address. I could be pet sitting by now.

Next weekend I am pet sitting for a friend. I’ll enjoy spending the weekend at her house. I like her cat. It should be good. And on Sunday I’ll see my daughter for Mothers Day. We don’t have any money, so we decided to hang out and make art. I told her to invite some of her friends to join us. I figure they’ll be ready for a break from their own families by the middle of the afternoon.

I need to pack up all my art supplies on Thursday for the weekend. I have a whole plastic grocery sack of mail to reply so I need to bring my letter writing accoutrements. I need to bring paints and such over to my daughter’s place on Sunday too. Plus I need to have my vision board supplies with me. I shall have a car full of art, which makes me happy.

Ah, life. Money stress is what it is, but it could be worse. The rest of the world is working out okay. I just need things to fall into place for me.