The Disappointment

You would think that the Gilmore Girls revival would be a bright spot in this darkest of Novembers, but you’d be wrong.

Within five minutes of the first episode, it was obvious that the magic was missing, and it only went downhill from there. Where was the sparkling repartee, the witty cultural references that required their own liner notes in the DVD sets?

Wherever they were, they were not in the show. There was no magic, and no escapism.

  • Why did they make Rory an aimless loser with no home of her own, drifting from couch to couch and with no career after her promising send-off at the end of the show to cover the Obama campaign?

    And would the perfectionist maker of lists really have a boyfriend she couldn’t remember (oh my GOD that shtick got old fast!) for two years and continually forget to break up with? Not to mention having casual sex with Logan, who was a) engaged; 2) dumped Rory when she wouldn’t marry him.

  • OK, Lauren Graham has had a bunch of cosmetic surgery, and not in a good, Jane Fonda way. She is virtually unrecognizable. And why on earth are she and Luke (at least she and Luke are back together) talking about having kids when they are nearly 50? And are we truly to believe that they never talked about it in the decade that they have been together?
  • Twenty, count ’em 20, valuable minutes were hideously and tediously wasted on a musical (I was truly thankful for the inventor of the fast forward button on this Thanksgiving season). A musical, people! Other than Joss Whedon’s genius “Once More with Feeling” on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has there ever been a musical sequence in a TV show that was not gratuitous and painful in equal measure? This was no exception to the rule.
  • Why was Kirk in practically every scene? A little Kirk goes a long, long way. Especially when the writers erroneously consider that accessorizing him with a pig is cute or quaint or funny. It’s not.
  • Yes, it’s a dramedy, but we do not want or need extended scenes of Lorelai and Emily screaming at each other. We have both been there and done that. Nor do we need to be tortured by lengthy flashbacks to Richard’s funeral. While it’s important to acknowledge the huge, Richard-shaped hole in the show, stop rubbing our sobbing faces in it. Couldn’t you have just left it at the oversized portrait?
  • There was a teensy token appearance by Sookie, and somehow, some way, we managed not to learn the sex of the baby she was carrying at the end of the show. I thought I’d at least get to learn that.
  • Showing the oddly stilted and outdated cultural references that pepper the revival, Stars Hollow considers their first gay pride parade. Apparently the lack of gay residents is a hilarious problem, and one used to try and force Taylor to admit he’s gay so they will have more participants – while ignoring the fact that they continually refer to Michel’s invisible husband Frederick. Eventually they give up on the parade and Taylor stays in the closet. Or possibly armoire.
  • Speaking of invisible husbands, we get a glimpse of Mr. Kim! I always thought Mrs. Kim ate him after mating (once). Needless to say, he did not get a speaking role. It was almost a cameo, though.
  • As for those much-vaunted Last Four Words – the show creator has repeatedly said she always had them in mind – they would have been about a zillion times more effective if they had ended the original show, when Rory was 22, rather than when she was 32.

I had been looking forward to it for months, maybe even a year, and it could not have been more disappointing. Maybe you just can’t go home, or to Stars Hollow, again.

A YEAR AGO: A disappointment-free Thanksgiving.

Now & Then

img_3256
Saturday Morning

Alert the media, y’all! I slept in until it was sunny out on Saturday morning!

It is amazing how a good night’s sleep can improve a girl’s outlook. I slept badly during the recent audit ordeals, despite logging long hours under a lot of pressure, and I think it all finally caught up with me. Hopefully I am now back to new, or new-ish. There’s still a lot of clean-up to do in the wake of the audits, but there’s more time, too.

It was a successful morning of drinking coffee, cuddling with Clyde, and doing a little on line Christmas stocking shopping, because it’s never too early for that. Eventually, I faced the inevitable and did some cooking and laundry to prepare for the week that now looms ahead, but it was nice to enjoy cats, caffeine, and the sun in the garden.

Enquiring minds may wonder why I was not doing my modest preparations for the jobette, which do not include putting on make-up or dressy clothes. The answer is that I lost the jobette recently in an overthrow change of leadership.

The CEO who hired me years ago moved on to greener pastures, and a New Guy was recently hired. In his infinite wisdom, the New Guy has decided to close the office on Saturdays, which is when visitors are here and need information, and stop participating in First Friday, when shops are open late, art is displayed, and wine and nibbles are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. He also wants to eliminate selling souvenirs of any kind.

Both of the people hired since I left have also left, including one who quit with no notice on the day a new person was supposed to start. The golden days of the jobette are definitely over, when I used to feel like I was being paid to hang out with my friends and share my love of this beautiful corner of the world with the visitors.

My only regret is the money, which I currently have no way of replacing.

I see that a year ago, I thought that I was truly finished working at the jobette, though it turned out I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. The person who was supposed to work Tuesday to Saturday never did, so I ended up filling in again this year. I wonder why I am the only person who doesn’t find working on Saturdays to be unconscionable?

It will be nice to have a little more time, even if it means less money.

Annual Ordeal

I got up so early on Hell Day – I mean Staff Day – that Clyde just stayed in bed, like a sane person. Audrey of course bustled out to take on the world and show it who’s boss while I drank coffee and tried to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

I was saddened to note that I was already getting up in the dark again. Hello, darkness, my old enemy…

Picking up the bagels for breakfast, I found that instead of getting the 60 bagels I had ordered, I got a paltry 3 dozen. I had ordered them the week before and called the day before to confirm. This kind of set the tone for the whole day, as I would soon discover.

Arriving at the clinic, I saw that the ever-elusive Facilities Guy had failed to open the wall between the two conference rooms and to set it up, as we had discussed numerous times. The set up includes taking all the tables out and putting in as many rows of chairs as possible. Chairs from both reception areas are pressed into service, so after dropping off my inadequate bagel supply in the kitchen, I headed over to Medical to start dragging chairs to the conference room.

I texted Facilities Guy, and he said he’d be there in a few minutes. It took more minutes than there were bagels, giving me time to do most of the chair hauling. I was washing and displaying the breakfast fruit beside the bagel boxes and cream cheese by the time he arrived.

Other duties included meeting the caterer – we had yellow “caution” tape strung across the driveway to stop people from driving/meandering in – and helping her to set up the quite splendid salad bar, which included mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cheese, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, bacon, croutons, and five different kinds of dressing, along with focaccia rolls. There was water infused with watermelon and mint, lemonade, iced tea and iced green tea. All this was topped off with bite-sized cream puffs and lemon bars, including a small tray of gluten free versions.

You’d think they’d be happy with this, but you’d be wrong. There were complaints that the tea was sweetened, and worse than that, we ran out of ranch dressing. You probably already heard about this on CNN. “Horror in a small town!” Even though there were four other kinds of dressing, I was sent to the store to buy more ranch*. When I came back, I had barely gotten out of the car and triumphantly brought the ranch dressing to the masses before I was informed that we had run out of salad greens. Way to kill the buzz, peeps.

I called the caterer and she arrived on her mission of mercy, bearing additional salad greens. Needless to say, I never got to eat any of the lunch, though I did get to clean it up. The festivities concluded at about 3:30. Most people took off, but I left around 5:00 after – you guessed it – cleaning up after more than 100 people.

I went home hating the Whos and applied wine as an attitude adjustor. Now all I have to worry about is the new boss starting on Monday and the Open House on August 13.

Where’s that corkscrew?

*What the hell IS it, anyway?

A YEAR AGO: Ah, future dishes! You are still in my present.

Playing Post Office

I have to admit that I don’t check my post office box very often. People who send me things often ask if I have received them and I am embarrassed to tell them that I haven’t bothered to look. Mostly because no good ever comes of it.

This week, I was suitably punished for checking my mail by dental bill* and a 10 minute wait in line behind guy mailing fishing poles (yes, it can be done) and getting multiple money orders. I was trying to pick up a package, which was more easily said than done.

I knew that Darlene, the regular post office clerk, was on vacation, but I did not expect the guy filling in for her to ask me for ID before he would give me my package. Even though I was holding an armful of mail from my PO box with my name and address on it, and wearing my work ID badge which also, you guessed it, has my name on it.

My handbag, with the ID inside, was of course in my unlocked car outside the Gro. I was less than delighted to have to go and get it.

Maybe I should have locked it, since we are apparently in a high crime area. According to the local message boards, there are roving bands of Bernie Sanders sign thieves in the area. The person whose sign was liberated notified the sheriff’s office, so hopefully this crime wave will be nipped in the bud.

My resistance to checking my own mail is nothing compared to my reluctance to check the work post office box in the Big Town, though I arguably do it more often, about once a week**. In contrast to my Hooterville experience, I felt like the Queen of the Big Town Post Office. Roger, who used to be the mailman at the jobette but now has a desk job, stopped by to say hello while I waited in line. I told him he cleans up pretty nicely and might almost be mistaken for a responsible adult. He winked and said they’d be pretty far off the mark. While we were talking, Denice who used to be the Hooterville postmistress but is now the Big Town postmistress, stopped to give me a hug. I was pleased to hear that her dog Ginger, who was her faithful coworker at the post office and one of Hooterville’s most popular residents, was doing well, though she is now retired from post office duties. I used to go to the post office more often when Ginger was there to pet and play with. A girl needs the proper motivation, you know.

*Of the $99 charged for the filling touch up which was so minor that no anesthesia was required, $22 was covered. I have to say that insurance has been almost as huge a disappointment to me as painkillers were. I did not anticipate the giant deductible ($1,000, anyone?) you have to pay before the insurance people start paying for anything, which is of course in addition to the monthly payments to the very same insurance people. It’s kind of like not having insurance, only with the fun of paying for it every month.

**The main purpose is to get the weekly paper and check the obituaries so I can send condolence cards to the families of deceased patients. Other duties as assigned…

A YEAR AGO: The Evil Genius gave me a whopping vet bill on my birthday eve. Thanks, Audrey!

Cut Off

So, yeah. Still no internet at Suzy Manor as of Saturday morning.

The technician did not show up on my blog’s birthday/anniversary last week. I called them three times that day. The first time, they said that the technician would call me back in 15 minutes. He didn’t. The second time, they said they would call me back with an update. They didn’t. The third time, they told me that the appointment had been double booked somehow and the two appointments, like a double negative, had cancelled each other out.

This was despite the fact that I had called them the evening before to confirm the appointment and was told that it was a priority appointment since the internet had then been out for over a week.
.
They made another appointment for that Friday. The same evening, I received a call from the local (or possibly local-ish) dispatch guy, who informed me that:

  • There was no technician in my area on Friday, so the Friday appointment was not going to happen.
  • The earliest a technician would/could be there was Tuesday the 26th.
  • The folks who answer the 800 number, which I called three times on the day of Appointment One, do not have the capability of contacting the technicians, so the technician was never going to call me that day. Nor was the Friday appointment ever going to happen. And they knew it.

That’s a lot of lying in a relatively short time frame. By the time service is restored – assuming it actually does happen on Appointment Three (three times the charm?) it will have been out for two weeks.

I will have to call them again at some point and ask that they prorate the bill, but I just can’t deal with it now. Also my faith that they will do so is hovering at about the same level as my belief that they will show up on Tuesday, which is to say, Not At All.

UPDATE: I am pleased to report that as of Tuesday afternoon, the internet is reportedly working at my hippie hovel! Apparently the problem was something to do with a connection problem inside the modem and a faulty cable. Or something. Insert Charlie Brown teacher voice here. It only took two weeks and six phone calls!

A YEAR AGO: A perfect day.

Ode to an Engine Light

I just wouldn’t be Me if there wasn’t something wrong with my car.

I was driving to work one morning, listening to Bobbie Gentry* and being blinded by oncoming traffic as usual when I noticed the bright orange engine light blink to life on the console. This did not console me. I still think that they should be little dollar signs instead of engines, maybe Michelin style with $ indicating a routine repair and $$$$ indicating one you have to mortgage your house for, or possibly your soul, assuming you have one.

I texted my brother Jonathan and asked him if I could stop by his place on my way home from work to avail myself of his unpaid mechanic services, and he said yes. He recently put up the car port that used to house my beautiful old Mustang Josephine:

josephine

and when he did, he poured a concrete foundation which included a mechanic’s pit so he can work on the family cars in relative comfort. He used to lie in a ditch to do this, so it’s a big step up. The car port also houses a solar powered washer and dryer along with a body-sized freezer. Just in case.

Jonathan read the code and then looked it up while I petted his mini cat Scout. She is about 2/3 the size of a regulation cat, but her purr is twice as loud as most cats’ and her fur is twice as soft.

The code means that the engine is not getting hot enough. Apparently this is not as bad as having your engine do the opposite, but it will have to be addressed. Jonathan checked the coolant level and the hoses and it seems they are not the cause of the excess coolness. I was once again chastised for not keeping a better eye on the gauges “They aren’t there just to be pretty, Suz”) and got into further trouble when it was revealed that I had failed to procure a Chilton repair manual.

In my defense, I thought I had, but when I went to look for it, it turned out that what I thought was the manual for the current car was the one for its predecessor** and of no use at all. I ordered a new one, which should be here soon, and the considered opinion of my unpaid mechanic is that all it will probably cost to make the engine light go out (for now, anyway – I’m sure it will rear its ugly head agin sometime in the future) is a $30 thermostat for the car and a batch of my world-famous cheese biscuits for the mechanic.

*She was gorgeous and the poignant song I was listening to, “Ode to Billie Joe”, knocked the Beatles out of first place on the charts in 1967. You know your life isn’t going well when you’re listening to a lot of country music. Some of my favorite lines recently are: “Tearstains on my pillow/bottles in the trash/I’m a little bit long on sorrow and a little bit short on cash.”

****Even though I have only ever owned Fords. If they were good enough for Clyde Barrow, they are good enough for me. You can read Clyde’s (alleged) letter to Mr. Ford here. And many other fascinating missives. You’re welcome.

A YEAR AGO: Visiting the ever-fabulous Erica and Jessica.

The Office Party

IMG_2170
It turns out hell is decorated quite nicely

Or “How I Learned More Than I Ever Needed to Know About Lottery Tickets”.

I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived the office holiday party”. Or maybe a medal…

Planning a party for more than 100 people is enough of an undertaking without the Powers that Be suddenly changing the date of said shindig to be a week earlier than planned. I had to unplan and replan everything that had already been planned.

I thought I had everything in place for the big day, but I was Foolish and Deluded, as Winnie the Pooh would say. The caterer emailed me that morning asking if it was OK if they brought the food an hour earlier than planned, since they had to get their van in the shop by 1:00. Did it matter if it wasn’t? And should I worry about the mechanically challenged van?

The holiday party was also the venue selected to distribute bonus checks. Four of the many employees have not worked long enough to get a bonus, and their manager was concerned that they would feel left out when everyone else got an envelope. Although the plan was known for weeks ahead of time, this manager waited until the morning of the party to freak about it and ask that these people get some kind of token gesture in envelope form.

It was decided to get lottery tickets. My boss said, “Get $20 worth” and said to put them on the store credit card. I dutifully went to the store and discovered that you need cash to buy lottery tickets. So I bought $20 worth with my own money.

Returning to work, I asked to be reimbursed, and while the accounting person was dealing with that, went to give the lottery tickets to my boss. She then told me that she meant $20 per person, not $20 total. I guess I should have known that “Get $20 worth” meant “Get $80 worth”. So silly of me.

I asked the accounting person to front me the money, and she gave me a $100 bill from the safe. Armed with this, I returned to the store, only to learn that not only do you need cash to buy lottery tickets, said cash cannot exceed $20 denominations.

Back to work to get the $100 bill changed into lottery-appropriate $20 bills, and then yet another trip to the store to buy said lottery tickets. “They’d better effin’ win something,” I said to the accounting person*.

The caterer’s van limped into the parking lot about then, and I helped them unload the giant insulated boxes of food. It soon became apparent that there were no chafing dishes to keep the food hot during the hour before the festivities began, although there were supposed to be. I called the party rental folks down the street, who happened to have some, and I went to the car for the fourth time in less than hour and headed to the rental place.

As I loaded the last minute chafing dishes into the car, I couldn’t help wondering how I had gone from managing millions of dollars of other people’s money to wrangling chafing dishes and buying other people lottery tickets. Clearly adulting is not one of my talents. Good job in the life department there, Suz.

Needless to say, I was too busy running around, cleaning up, and keeping dishes full to eat any of the food, though it got enthusiastic reviews. And no, I didn’t leave early, even though the halls were pretty much vacant by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I definitely didn’t win this lottery, even though I now know how to buy the tickets.

*They did; one person won $20 and another won $15.

A YEAR AGO: At home in a wine cask.

Darkness

It seems strange that I had more to write about when spending more time at home in Hooterville than I do now I’m out in the world five or six days a week. It’s probably because I’m spending that time immured in work in my office, and who wants to read about that? Work has severely decreased my reading time as well, and I am at an all-time low for books read this year. Even someone as math-challenged as I am can figure out that + work = – fun.

It was a preview of coming attractions this morning. I left early to fit in some grocery shopping before work, and it was both dark and foggy, rendering high beams useless. The fog throws the light back at the car instead of lighting the dark road, so you have to drive along in an anemic puddle of light, hoping that a deer doesn’t suddenly loom up in the road. When it comes to hitting deer (and falling in the water when he, Megan, and Rob lived on boats at Pier 39 in San Francisco), my brother says there’s only two kinds of people: them that has, and them that will. I’m hoping to stay in the latter category as long as possible.

The familiar Ridge, which I have driven so many times, becomes a scary and unknown place in the dark, a likely setting for a horror novel, and speeds which seem moderate or even slow in daylight hours seem extremely speedy when deprived of daylight. There are no streetlights at all on the Ridge or on storied Highway One, so it’s like driving blind. Indeed, I am often blinded by traffic heading the other way. I squint more when driving in the dark than I ever do in the bright California sun, blasted by the headlights of oncoming traffic. The anemic puddle of light is pretty much my only option, since most traffic is heading south in the morning (also mysterious, since they are heading away from the Big Town, where the jobs are), and I’d just be turning the high beams on and off every five seconds.

Pretty soon, I will be driving in the dark both ways, especially after the twice-yearly madness of the time change. It has taken me a while to realize that the entire purpose of the time change is to make sure that you have to get up in the dark for 9 or 10 months of the year. As soon as there is a glimmer of hope in the pre-dawn hours, it is cruelly snatched away by the Powers That Be. I find it mysterious that we have not risen up and rebelled, especially since most of us have to rise when it’s still dark out, which just adds insult to injury. It’s still going to get dark sooner than most people would prefer, but that’s the time when you curl up with your cats and a book or a hockey game, maybe a glass of wine, and enjoy the comforts of home. It’s cozy. And it’s Nature! Deal with it!

/Rant

A YEAR AGO: My bathroom remodel is almost finished. Brought to me by Rob, using all found and reclaimed materials.

I Should Have Known Better*

Meanwhile, back in Absurd World™…
I foolishly checked the mail on Friday, even though I know no good ever comes of it**, and was greeted with a dental bill for more than $100. You may remember that I lost part of a filling recently, and had to visit the dentist to get a temporary fix (and pay for that) and then the real fix (and pay again). For some reason, I believed that having insurance after about 15 years of not having any would actually make it less expensive to visit the tooth doctor, but I should have known better than that.

I called the dental insurance folks, who informed me that my luxurious dental plan only covers up to amalgam (the old school style silver) fillings, and I had a resin one put in. I asked if the dental staff should not have told me that resin wasn’t covered and offered me the amalgam option instead, and the insurance person said that amalgam fillings are no longer done.

Me: “So it only covers up to a service that is no longer provided?”
Them: “Correct.” [Pause] “It’s your responsibility to know what’s covered.”

It seems I was better off, or at least no worse off, when I had no insurance. Now I’m paying into it every month, and when I have the temerity to use it, I still have to pay. I ended up paying $200 of the $238 bill for the filling. All in all, it doesn’t seem like a great system.

*Title inspired by little Miss Marina, the Beatlemaniac. 🙂

**To be fair, sometimes there are postcards and The New Yorker.

A YEAR AGO: Random updates.

Bad Birthday

I was not too impressed with my birthday week this year. It kicked off with a pricy vet visit (is there any other kind?) and ended with a pricy tire change (is there any other kind?). I also worked on my birthday for the first time in decades, thus violating one of my few principles: Never Work on Your Birthday.

On Thursday, I wasted a perfectly good birthday by working for 11 hours and getting the front two tires replaced on Wednesday (Jessica named my car for her favorite Addams Family character). Between the tires and the alignment, it was close to another $500, which begs the question of why I can come up with $1,000 for vet bills and tires, but not for, say, a trip to Hawaii.

There was a fire south of the scenic cemetery in Little River on my birthday afternoon, and even close to 7 pm, it was a one lane road with a line of cars inching along. When I finally got home, I found a check from the jobette and a bill for my car registration, which exactly canceled each other out.

I woke up on Saturday morning with spasming lower back pain that continues to torture me even as I write, while giving me a preview of the old age I am rapidly hurtling toward. Talk about adding injury to insult!

There’s always next year.

A YEAR AGO: The birthday disaster last year was an out of season power outage.

Darkness & Light

Well, we’re hovering on the brink of yet another time change. I have finally realized that the entire point of the exercise every single time – whether it’s forward or back – is to plunge us back into the hateful darkness in the morning.

As soon as there is even a glimmer of early morning light, the Powers that Be change the clock, ensuring that getting up at 5 am is much worse than it already is. Clearly the Powers do not routinely get up in the cold and dark day after day.

So I can look forward to already being late when I get up tomorrow; getting up in abject darkness; driving to work in darkness; and my body knowing full well that it’s 4 am when I drag it out of bed.

Awesome.

Time to stop the madness, peeps! Who’s with me?

*****

Speaking of madness, my brother once again made his annual leap into the chilly river where it meets the cold Pacific. You might think that Jonathan does this just for the hell of it – and it does sound like the kind of thing he’d do – but it’s to benefit Special Olympics.

This year, he and his team were dressed as rubber duckies, including fuzzy duck hats and yellow rain slickers:

duck1

The boxes they are wearing represent bathtubs, and each one was personalized. Jonathan is on the far right, and his reads “USS SemiconDUCKtor”, a nod to his electrical experiments. Everyone had little containers of bubble mixture and wands to make bath bubbles. They sang a stirring rendition of the Rubber Ducky song from “Sesame Street”, and I wish WordPress would allow me to post the film of it, because it was hilarious. Not only does my brother make a great Christmas ham, he is a great big ham. 🙂

I was surprised and delighted that Erin (who would rescue me from the closed road adventure just two days later) and Rob turned up unexpectedly to join Megan and me in cheering them on. I was so happy and touched to see them both. We watched together as the team tossed off their costumes and ran into the frigid water.

Jonathan, of course, was jumping and diving and even swimming around before running back out:

river

He said the water was so cold that it made the air feel warm when he got out. He was glad to get into his commemorative sweatshirt, though:

IMG_1494

and we were all glad to be there to support him. Jonathan and Megan raised about $300, and it’s great to know that the money will stay local and benefit local residents. Just being there was exhilarating!

A YEAR AGO: At the Polar Plunge, of course.

Surreal World

Nothing like ending a week off with a shot of clinic followed by a work chaser.

My annual check up was on Monday morning, and when I reported to the clinic with my extremely expensive health insurance card in hand, the receptionist ran the card, and told me there was a problem with my coverage.

I called Anthem, and spent the next 20 minutes on hold. I was still on hold when they took my blood pressure, which probably didn’t make it lower. I finally talked to someone when I was in the exam room waiting for Dr. Sue. The Anthem representative told me that my account was a) inactive; and 2) in a “grace period” since the January bill hadn’t been paid. I pointed out that grace periods were usually more than 5 days long, and I was just getting a check up, for which I had already paid $45 (it was $50 when I didn’t have insurance). She said to have the receptionist call them and they would give the clinic the approval, but that I needed to call Covered California to renew my insurance for 2015.

Dr. Sue gave me the thumbs up on my own health, and I was on my way to the jobette.

I called Covered CA when I got home from work last night, and the rep who looked up my account said that I had been dramatically overcharged for the past 9 months, to the tune of more than $200 a month. She told me to call Anthem, the insurance provider, and alert them to this before making any changes to the account.

I did, and Anthem told me that they can only bill what Covered CA tells them to – CC is a sort of marketplace giving users the option of various healthcare providers (in theory; in practice, it’s Anthem Blue Cross or nothing), so, yes, they told me to call Covered CA. Again.

So it was another call to my friends at Covered CA, who told me that my account was never inactive, and yes, it did appear that I had been overcharged, but I should get the money back in tax credits (which I find hard to believe, but we’ll see). They enrolled me in a plan which is now about $125 a month, versus the $350 a month I had been paying. Guess what? My check up co pay would have been $3 instead of $45 if I was being billed correctly all along. At least it’s fixed now – assuming that the last person I spoke to there gave me correct information, and that seems like a big “if” after all these calls and the overcharges.

One good thing about all the stress and pressure of impending joblessness and penury is that things like this just don’t seem like that big of a deal anymore. I actually laughed when I hung up the phone. Maybe it was like Lincoln’s “I laugh that I may not weep”, but it was a laugh all the same.

A YEAR AGO: In which malls and flu do not mix.

On Hold


It’s heavenly now

There’s not much news on the job front, and what there is, is not particularly encouraging.

The legal wranglings continue at the jobette, with seemingly countless meetings and no decisions. I’ve said it before, and I hope I don’t say it again, but when there are lawyers in your life, things are not going well.

I have not heard back from either of the local jobs I applied for 6 weeks ago. My friend Jim stopped in at one of them and reported back that they have not filled it yet, and also took the opportunity to put in a good word for me, which I really appreciate. Hopefully they are just a little more relaxed in their hiring process than the imminently unemployed (and unpaid) would really prefer.

I received a 90 on the test for the county job, which Megan so valiantly chauffeured me to last month. Included with this news was the surprising fact that so few people – of the ten who took it, including me – passed the test that the county was waiving the “oral examination” portion of the testing. So I won’t have to make the long drive and/or take more time off work for testing.

On the other hand, the missive said that this put everyone in a pool without ranking them, and that those of us in the pool can’t contact the county to find out more until three weeks have elapsed, which is Thanksgiving. That’s another unfortunate thing about the timing of these simultaneous job losses: the holidays. People rarely hire other people during the holidays.

I have to hope that things work out before my pay runs out in February, a truly horrifying prospect. Much as I did when the Grand Jury summons was hanging over my head, I keep thinking about how perfect everything was before it all fell apart. All I want is to stay in my little hippie hovel and be with my cats and pay off my car. Is that too much to ask?

A YEAR AGO:

A beautiful day in San Francisco. Is there any other kind?

Limbo

It’s kind of hard to tell you guys what’s going on when I have no idea what’s going on, but here goes:

  • The Cold: Definitely better, but my allergies seem to be picking up the cold’s slack, and I really regret not taking Sudafed before going to work. It’s going to be a long day.
  • Work: In keeping with the eerily similar theme, it appears that summarily terminating the contracts at both the job and the jobette may well have been illegal. I am cautiously optimistic about the jobette following a positive legal opinion, but there’s still a long way to go.

    As for the job, we have been told to keep working until further notice, and have not received a termination letter, both of which are good things. Our lawyer, the same gentleman who supported me through the Grand Jury ordeal a couple of years back, believes that we do have legal grounds to overturn the termination, but again, there’s a long way to go and it’s more complicated than the jobette situation.

    Although these are good things, it’s hard to know what to do. I have applied for a couple of local jobs, but have not heard back yet. If I am offered a new job, do I take it? Because, although it’s sometimes difficult to balance the job and the jobette, I love the work and my co-workers at both places and appreciate them all the more now. If I don’t, and it all ultimately falls apart, then what? These are the things that haunt me in the middle of the night (and the middle of the day).

  • Taxes: I filed for an extension, and when the tax preparer submitted it, she got a message saying that there had already been a return submitted with my social security number. I checked with John, and it turned out that he had filed married filing single – six months after our divorce became final. When I asked him why he did this, he said it was because he was expecting some kind of paperwork from the court. I pointed out that the paperwork I sent him last July states expressly that the judgment was entered and would become final on October 2, 2013, adding that we were free to marry on that date.

    I went to the courthouse in the Big Town and showed that paperwork to the clerk, who confirmed that there was no other paperwork forthcoming, and added that John’s tax preparer should have known that from looking at the existing paperwork. I made a copy, mailed it to John with the clerk’s comments, and he will amend his return, but what the hell? I cannot understand why he didn’t check with me before filing. At least it will never happen again. Right?

    A YEAR AGO:

    Soiree

Feverish

By the time I got home from the jobette on Tuesday, it was pretty obvious that I had a cold. Because, you know, why not? Maybe my immune system was weakened by stress, along with my ever tenuous mental health.

Megan had left some Sudafed* on the table for me, and I thought I had some Afrin, but alas, it turned out that I did not. There is no substitute for either of these things, and unfortunately for me, Sudafed alone was not mighty enough to decongest my nose.

As often happens, just when I needed sleep the most, I felt too lousy to sleep. I was awake at 1:30 am, while yet being too tired to read, so I actually watched an episode of The Love Boat, thinking about how the guy who played Gopher became a Congressman later and how Julie the cruise director got fired from the show for her coke habit, which must have been pretty spectacular considering it was the early 80s. I followed up this Velveeta-esque cheesefest with a Scooby Doo cartoon chaser. The Mystery Machine started to look pretty cool to me, and I was actually trying to solve the mysteries, which would have been painfully obvious to Nancy Drew, when I realized that I was probably pretty sick.

Roscoe was unimpressed with my choice of television fare in the dark hours, and Audrey and Clyde left the room completely. I’m blaming it on my weakened and feverish condition.

The next day, Megan came by to check on me and bring me watermelon popsicles for my sore throat, which also happen to be magically delicious. Between those and the meds, I’m on the mend.

A YEAR AGO:

The Impatient Patient

*When Megan bought it, she got her driver’s license out to show the pharmacist, and he told her that the non-drowsy Sudafed, which she was buying, was not the kind used for meth manufacture – the drowsy kind is. Which is kind of counterintuitive.

So…

There was a little earthquake this morning as I left for the jobette. Nothing major, just a little reminder that you never know what’s going to happen. The perfect capper for the week I had.

I have basically lost my job. You know, the one that pays the bills, keeps my hippie hovel over my head, and buys crunchies for the cats. It’s a long, sad story, but basically it’s an unlovely cocktail of racism, politics and intrigue which led to the demise of the contract with our biggest client.

We still have a couple of small ones, but that’s not enough to keep the doors open and the lights on.

People have said to me, “But you own part of the company!” and my response is “Twelve percent of nothing is still nothing.”

I learned this on Thursday, and on Friday, I discovered that due to eerily similar factors at the jobette, that job is in peril as well. You can’t make this up. Even if things were fine and dandy at the jobette, though, the pittance I make there would not be enough to keep me in my fabulous lifestyle.

When I got the news on Thursday, I went straight to my brother’s place, where I proceeded to cry all over him. He was wonderfully reassuring and reminded me that I have family and friends on my side. I got some hugs from Rob, too, and my sister when she woke up from her night shift later that day. If this had to happen to me, it’s the best place for it to happen.

So it’s time to look for a job, network as much as possible, and hope for the best.

A YEAR AGO:

Unexpected

Inevitable

Did you ever see that movie Final Destination? The flick that spawned a million sequels? In the first (and only one I’ve seen), a bunch of kids are boarding a plane for a school trip when one of them has a premonition that the plane is going to crash. He and some friends leave the plane, and kaboom!

Our friend the Reaper is not to be shaken off so lightly, so the rest of the movie entails the ever more ridiculous demises of the escapees, the point being that you can’t escape Fate, or the Reaper, depending on how you look it.

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at the jobette to discover that the internet was out, meaning that we also had no phone, so the boss closed up for the day (Snow day! California style!). I was going to San Francisco the next day, so I just took that day off, too, since the entire Big Town was cut off from the world*. I won’t exactly say that I was thinking, “Haha! I’m on my way to unlimited internet!” all the way to the City, but it did occur to me that for once having crappy and expensive satellite internet paid off, since it was unaffected by the destruction of the fiber optic cable that cut off the Big Town from civilization.

However, while staying at the modest motel in San Francisco which is my home away from home, the internet was out for a day and a night as the motel managers upgraded the system. Anyone who has ever had anything upgraded knows that “upgrade” is code for “chaos”. Eventually, it was back up and running, though not notably improved, being slower than it was before it was improved. At least it worked.

A couple of days after I got back from the city, the crappy and expensive satellite internet experienced technical difficulties requiring the personal attention of a technician. The first appointment was four days later. While waiting for the appointment, I used my phone to check email, but other than that, I was web-free. Other than cobwebs, that is.

The day before the technician was due to appear, they called to tell me that the technician’s truck had broken down and he would come the next day. I later learned from the technician that his truck hadn’t broken down, and this was a frequent lie/excuse when the satellite company overbooked his services. Once they even told a customer that he had broken his leg, which made it a little embarrassing when he turned up without a cast on. This guy covers most of northern California and drives about 400 miles a day. I don’t know how he does it.

He made sure that everything was in working order before he left, since it would be three to four weeks until he could return if something turned out to be wrong. So far, so good.

*I later learned that many cell phones didn’t work, as well as ATMs and food stamp cards, for two or three days.

Birthday Eve

I was once again rewarded with a midnight power outage for staying up late on my birthday. Again, it was a Wednesday night, but fortunately, this one only lasted a few hours, rather than the fourteen hours the other one did. Exchanging texts with Megan in the dark and silent depths of the night, I learned that no accidents had been reported, so maybe it was a wayward tree versus a power line.

These out of season, mid-week, midnight power outages are getting a little strange.

I spent my birthday eve proving that I may be older, but I’m not wiser. I left home early, planning to drop Wednesday off at what is rapidly becoming her daycare, or possibly private school, in time to get to the jobette. I went to the gas station ($50!) and then Safeway, where I chose a mid-price bottle of sparkling wine and a Vogue magazine about the Met Gala.

At the check out, I discovered that I had left my wallet in the car. I left my embarrassing at 8 am purchases with the clerk and went back to the car, where I noticed that I had left the gas cap off. Fortunately, it’s attached by a plastic thingie, like mittens with strings for cars (or Suzies, as the case may be). I closed the gas cap and went back to the store, where I told the clerk what happened. She laughed and said that at least I’d gotten all the mistakes out of the way early in the day, so I was good to go!

I laughed my way to the car and drove the short distance to the car place, which is a used car lot, garage, and the only rental car place in town all rolled into one. As I rolled down the window, opened the door from the outside, propping it open with my knee while I rolled the window up again (this has become my signature move over the past couple of months), I was approached by one of the car salesmen.

It turned out that he was a Ford salesman in Santa Rosa for many years, and, like me, has only ever owned Fords. He told me that Wednesday was in fact the Car of the Year in the year she was born (2008), so he was kind of surprised by the issues I was already having after such a short time in our relationship. Maybe I really am cursed. He further suggested that I might want to consider trading Wednesday in for a less temperamental model and gave me his card.

At the end of the day, I picked Wednesday up* after they had repaired the door so I could now open it from the inside as well as the outside. I went home without any nagging on Wednesday’s part, though a couple of days later, I noticed that the windshield fluid refused to squirt, so – stop me if you’ve heard this before – I’m going to drop her off and get what I hope is the final detail taken care of on my way to the jobette tomorrow. I have to wonder why there wasn’t an error message to alert me to this problem – Wednesday never fails to tell me that the door is ajar when doing my signature move, or that the trunk is open when I just popped it and am safely parked, but cars are designed by men, after all.

Here’s hoping that Wednesday and I both stay out of the shop for the rest of the year.

*On the bright side, they washed and vacuumed her and she looks fabulous.

Wednesday’s Woes

You know those people who can’t wear watches because their magnetic fields or something mess them up? I think I’m that way with cars.

The five year old car that I bought a mere five months ago is already having problems and costing me a fortune.

It all started when I drove home one day from the jobette and could not open the car door. At first, I reasonably assumed it was user error, as it often (always?) is in my case, but nope. Wednesday refused to open, so I rolled down the window and opened it from the outside. Jonathan thought he could eventually fix it, but it would mean taking the entire door apart (disassembly to repair almost anything appears to be a Ford specialty). Also he was in the middle of digging a well which was due to be inspected*, and wouldn’t have free time to fix it any time soon.

I got used to rolling down the window (at least it’s summer) and holding the door open with my knee while I rolled it back up again. But then more problems struck.

The engine light came on and the wrench light also. My opinion is that these lights should be replaced by dollar signs, since that’s what they really mean. My brother read the codes and it said it was the solenoid or similar. Unfortunately, he can’t fix transmission-related things, not having the specialized and expensive equipment for it, so it was time to go to the car doctor.

The car doctor said that he could diagnose and fix the solenoid thing à la carte, but that Wednesday was overdue for a 90,000 mile maintenance, and most likely the solenoid thing or whatever it is would be fixed by the zillion and one things included in the 90,000 mile maintenance procedure. Unfortunately, the maintenance procedure was $700.

It’s at times like this that I wish I were a real adult instead of the extremely faux one I am. Surely by the time a girl is more than half a century old, and with yet another birthday sparkling on the horizon, she ought to be able to make good decisions about things like this. Somehow I didn’t get the manual, or else I never read it, since we all know reading the manual is a last resort.

I decided to just do the maintenance and walked sadly to work, trying not to cry. It took two days to fix the car, and when I got it back, I learned that it would take a further $150 to get the part for the door and get it fixed, which I get to look forward to this week. Ever since I got the car back from the shop, I haven’t been able to make my iPod work with the car stereo, so it’s been long and silent drives to the jobette and back, alone with my deep thoughts.

When I put on my turn signal today to turn into the parking lot at the jobette, I got an error message saying “check turning lamp”. At least the other lights are off, right?

Maybe it’s just as well that I learned to drive so late in life. I may have saved a bundle!

*My siblings’ land partners have rented out their house in Grass Valley and are moving to the property to start building their house there. Since the house will have to be inspected, the well will, too, unlike the original one the boys dug a few yeas ago.

Affordable?

Go pour yourself a glass of something and sit down. This will take a while.

Ready?

So…last month, my buddies at Covered California called me on April 8 to tell me that the deadline to make my initial payment was April 10. I never did get the letter with the PIN I was supposed to use to pay them. I gave them my credit card number, flinching at the $351.01 (don’t forget the penny). Oddly, my insurance was effective April 1, or a week before I made the payment. April Fool’s?

A couple of weeks later, I received my membership card and instructions on how to register on line. Needless to say, the website did not recognize the membership number on my card, so I was reduced to calling the behemoth bureaucracy.

When I finally got through to an actual person (who was quite nice), I got the bad news, and then the bad news:

  1. Dr. Sue and the entire clinic are not covered by the très expensive insurance. So I can either go to a whole new, unknown doctor or keep paying for the annual visit myself. So I’ll be paying $351 a month for insurance I can’t use (unless something really bad happens – always a possibility).
  2. Because they were so late in billing me this month – apparently, the bill that went out yesterday should have gone out on the 22nd, they are billing me for May and June at once, or $702.02. Yay!

I have to say, I’m not vey impressed with this whole thing. I do not find the Affordable Care Act affordable at all. Even though my job is supposed to defray $400 of the $702, that still leaves me with a $300 payment for insurance I can’t use, and that’s not even considering all the bureaucratic idiocy that accompanied the entire process. It’s been a complete débâcle from start to finish, and the end result seems to be that I’m paying a lot for nothing.

Later: Just got a letter dated March 27, sent to my house’s address rather than the mailbox where I actually get my mail, telling me that I owe my first premium. Which I paid last month. Did I mention that one of the first things they asked me on the phone today was my mailing address, which they said matched their records? You can’t make this up!