May 25, 2012

It’s still a long hard slog. While I didn’t jinx myself about the jobs (not entirely anyway), I may have jinxed myself in terms of money. The DOR put a lien on my bank account because I was $1800 in arrears for child support–which is what happens when you are underemployed and support is still based on a salary you no longer make. However the DOR got my Federal tax return (and thank god for the people in TRI-CAP Malden, because if it were not for them I would OWE money doing my own taxes). The tax intercept was $1,100 and I filled out all the forms to make sure Sophia’s mom got it before the 45 day hold period started, and this dropped my arrears to $700. But because of bureaucratic things and computer automation, they still put the lien on AFTER they paid the intercept money to Sophia’s mom. Meanwhile I wrote a rent check based on the money I had (or at least thought I had) available to me, but because of the lien I can’t access the funds. So the rent check would bounce–as would my ass out of the apartment–if I did not fix this and get the lien off, pay the fee for the bank lien and deposit more money to cover what the fee took away all before the check got cashed. It took three days, eight phone calls, a visit to the DOR headquarters and a trip to one of my local bank branches (which isn’t easily accessible even if it is local) to fix things just in time to pay the check. This was skin of my ass close! I mean I think I beat the check by maybe about an hour or two.

It’s tough to live like this. I can’t keep doing this for too long even though there are times I feel like I set myself up to live like this. I know this is the way the economy is and with the way things have been going I’m getting caught up in the barbed wire a lot.But there has to be a point where I can put the brakes on and figure things out.

The jobs help stem the bleeding, but have other issues. I started at the new PT job the week people already working there get paid so I have to wait two weeks for my first check. It’s slow with catering so there are no set hours. It’s goign to be a tough time. Still pushing for a break but I also need sleep. One of these days I’ll be able to thrive instead of just survive.


Knock on Wood

May 18, 2012

Don’t want to jinx anything but there is good news for me. Even though I missed work on Monday because of the T-pass snafu, I still have a part-time job to go to each day. I’m now a delivery driver for the Lexington, MA café & catering services of Via Lago.  I drive and deliver their food around Cambridge, Boston, Somerville—whoever and whenever they order catered affairs or lunch. I like it and it stops the massive hemorrhaging of money that’s been happening.

The jinx part is this: a place I worked for last year has an opening for me. Not going to say what it is until things are sure, but it’s also part-time, fits in the with Via Lago schedule and I like them. The wages are good and I’m willing to do what is needed.  

So my day would be getting up at 7am to be in Lexington by 10am (remember I’m commuting by T), drive for 3-4 hours, get back on the T and head to the next job which would last until about 9pm. Get back on the T to head home so I can sleep and do it all again the next day.  Tough? Yes. Impossible? No. Second thoughts? None because I need to do what I have to to survive. Thriving will happen, but only if I’m standing on my own two feet to do it.

The past Sunday was hellish for me. It was mother’s day and I had no money to buy a card for Sophia’s mom, which she had been bugging me because I never bought her one. “I remember your birthday and father’s day and make sure Sophia does too, but you never get me anything. That’s not fair!” I had $1.65 in the bank so it would be another unfair year. On top of that I needed to get out to the Corvid College Hoedown later that day. I’m slated to teach a course on utopian and dystopian societies on film. It’s not much money at all but even less if I don’t promote it. But I had Sophia with me this Sunday—like every Sunday, of course. I was hoping her aunt could take her to the movies while I did the PR thing, but forgetting it was mother’s day, she made plans with her other sister. Sophia hates going with me to my workplaces. Unlike a few years ago when I had office space, she doesn’t have much to do but sit around and be bored. But I didn’t have a choice so we both had to go.

After church I thought we’d go to a park near the location of the hoedown but the heat and humidity was up and enough for me to say we couldn’t, much to Sophia’s thanks. WE went back to my apartment to wait until it was time then travel out there for what I had to do. This of course means taking a bus to the Orange line to the Green line to another bus to get to the hoedown. It was okay as it could be until we got to Lechmere. I got on the bus, put my weekly pass into the card reader and never saw it again. The monthly pass you can tap on a reader and just go through but the weekly passes had to be read separately. I had the weekly pass because it was what I could afford at the time and still get to places. Now it was gone. I told the bus driver and he said he can’t help me, then rattled off a number faster than I could catch it. I asked can’t you get the card out? He said “I’m just the bus driver. I don’t deal with that thing,” then rattled off the number to call again, too fast again. I told him I needed the card for the next few days, including getting my daughter home tonight, and I have no more money. He said “I can’t help that I just drive the bus. Call this number they can help,” rattling the same number again. Finally after yelling at him to slow down, I got the number, called and could not get through. Several times. I had no idea what to do. The bus driver later handed me a note on a bus accident card and said to show it to the next bus driver. The note had his Driver ID# and Bus ID and said “lost his weekly pass. Please give him a ride.”

I was a wreck the rest of the day. The pass might work to get Sophia home and maybe me back to my place after that, but not sure if I can get to work in rush hour with a note from a conductor. I did the hoedown, gave my speech about film and philosophy talking about the course, gave Sophia too many pineapple chunks and chips to eat, then we left after Sophia complained about the increasing bugs. All I could think walking to the bus was how I totally fucked things up. If I paid for the new pass with my debit card, my rent check would bounce making a delicate landlord situation even worse. If I didn’t get a pass, there would be no way for me to get home much less work the next few days. This would be the first part-time job in about a month and I might lose it, all because I had no money because of no job. I couldn’t even borrow money from Sophia’s mom as I know she didn’t have enough to cover my travels. This was one of the few times I was glad Sophia walked slower and further behind me than she could. If I could cry without her seeing me cry it might be all right. I felt like a complete failure. I couldn’t even pay for our ride home and my daughter would have to watch me beg a T officer to please let us on the train. They did and told me to keep calling the number I couldn’t get through on (and by now they were closed for the day) because they could help me. That did nothing for my mood. I Sophia sat in a seat and I stood up trying not to look so hopeless.

All this while, Sophia was more worried about me. She brought along a bunch of her joke books, which she bought with her $25 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble from me and grandpa. She spent our travels reading them aloud instead of having us play “would you rather…” Usually Sophia asks what I want to do but here she started reading from her joke books:

What fish is most valuable?
A goldfish.

What did the boy octopus say to the girl octopus?
I want to hold your hand hand hand hand hand hand hand hand.

What do you get from a bad-tempered shark?
As far away as possible!

If fish lived on land, which country would they live in?

Considering I hadn’t taken my medication all day (no money to pay for refills), even corny jokes from a nine-year-old helped take some of the edge off. I still felt guilty enough to apologize to her about the way things were going with the T-pass and money and stuff. I hate feeling this way. I know it’s not all my fault. But when the bottom drops out—as it had done already—I’m ready to believe those that have it out for me and willing to assign full blame. It sucks, but it’s a part of who I am. It can be tamed but not exorcized. Bust Sophia helps keep some things in check for me when she can.

After Sophia was tucked in, gave her mom the can of white tuna fish I got from the pantry earlier, and I left there for home, I sent out a few desperate texts to friends for help. I got a few responses to help out. Later the next day I also called the MBTA number I was given. After telling them the situation, I was told to come down to their main office and they’d reimburse me. All I could think was if I could come down to the main office, I wouldn’t be in such a mess to begin with. No help for the wicked I guess.