Trapped

Life has turned in to a comedy of sorts right now.  Probably more like a horror, but the extent of events heading one in to the other is mind boggling.

It all started Saturday night.  My best friend and I went out looking at Christmas light shows in the area.  Whilst travelling on a crowded motorway at 70mph, my best friend noted that the car was becoming hard to steer.  Safely ensconced in a car park under a light near security cameras, we looked under the bonnet to find the power steering fluid reservoir empty.  That seemed an easy fix, given the shop where we were parked sold power steering fluid.

Upon retrieving said fluid and pouring it in to said reservoir, I cranked the car and reversed out of the parking spot.  With much difficulty, as the car still didn’t want to turn.  And the battery light came on.  And a sound like gravel trailing behind the car could be heard.  I somehow steered us in to another spot and phoned for a tow truck.

Sunday, the day of my major work deadline, I awoke feeling a bit under the weather.  As the day progressed, I got worse and worse.  By late Sunday/very early Monday, I could barely breathe from the congestion.  Mid-morning Monday, I phoned the mechanic to see how things were going with my car.  He told me it would be Tuesday before he could finish it.  As my doctor is located approximately 50 miles from my house, that was right out.  As I was still choking whilst trying to breathe, what’s called here an ‘urgent care clinic’ was in store.  I was diagnosed with flu, given medication and sent on my way.  That part is improving.

Next it was Tuesday and the day my car was to be complete.  Except that, whilst he was tightening the new part, my mechanic noticed another part fall off.  And now it will be Monday before the car is finished.  It will, in theory, be a much nicer car to steer after this.  It’s just costing hundreds and leaving me in debt.  No idea how I’ll make my bills next month, and no idea how I’ll cope with the claustrophobia of having no way to get out of here without my car.

So that’s the plight of December so far.  I wish I could say I knew it would only get better.

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Still Pluggin’ On

That’s one of the best American phrases I’ve ever heard.  It means moving forward, even at a slower rate than one might want and against any odds.  That’s how I feel about work right now.  I’m still pluggin’ on toward that deadline looming not-so-distantly in front of me.  This means blog posts might be short or nonexistent this week.  I’ll do my best.  You have my word, dear readers, that I won’t take another seven-month break this time.

The Machines Are Out to Get Me

I have a work deadline looming.  This is a project that will be several weeks in completing, and the deadline draws ever closer.  What this means is I completely lose the ability to pay attention.  Yes, there are reports to generate, but there are also shiny objects just across the room.  Those are much more important, right?

Today was supposed to be different.  I actually had my notes out and was ready to go.  Then, when I turned on my laptop, it required updates.  This isn’t typically so bad.  However, it took almost two hours this time.  I finally got ready to work on this stuff, and the laptop decided that was not to be.  I know the importance of  updating Windows, and  I always install these updates.  This was just the master of bad timing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have reports to generate.  Or blog posts to write.  Or shiny objects to stare at.  Who knows?  scowl

Decisions

There are always stumbling blocks.  I am edging ever closer to the job I’m really excited about, but now healthcare threatens it.  I’m in America now, the land of horrible coverage.  Because I am well below the poverty line at this time, I qualify for what amounts to free care.  If I get this job, however, I will only qualify for reduced care.

What does that mean?  Copays on meds and doctor  visits, and a monthly insurance premium out of pocket.  Work one job, barely afford necessities.  Work two jobs, lose health coverage.  I have two chronic conditions that require expensive medication.  Neither will spontaneously go away if I get the second job.

This has me in a tizzy.  My best friend reminded me that I haven’t got the job yet, but I’m just trying to be proactive.  Too bad finding out information about copays and premiums is bloody impossible outside of the ‘enrolment period.’  America must consider itself the land of the healthy, because it’s almost impossible to afford healthcare.

Frustrating Therapy

Ever leave therapy more frustrated than when you got there?  That was my session yesterday.  I’ve had a great deal of frustration lately, and the therapy session was more like a rant session for both the therapist and me.  Simply talking about frustration is never helpful to me.  I have to actually *work* in order to feel satisfied with the session.  Nothing got done, and thinking about frustrating events only brought back the anger I was feeling at the time.  Lovely.

So what’s the point of this post?  I’m glad you asked.  The point is to decipher the whole therapy process.  It is, after all, important work.  My concept is going in, stating a problem or maladaptive thought/behaviour, and deciding on a plan.  The next step is activating that plan.  I get very annoyed when life gets in the way of therapy, though.  I couldn’t work on the drawing  because my thoughts were all caught up in the minor annoyances.  My brain was almost manic.  I flitted from topic to topic so quickly that nothing got resolved.

My plan was to go in and keep working on the drawing.  The therapist did ask me about that, but she picked up immediately on the idea that I was completely avoiding the topic.  And that’s the problem– I wasn’t *intentionally* avoiding the topic.  I just couldn’t get my mind centred enough to discuss anything of value.  Rant sessions are fine from time to time, but I expect even those to serve a purpose.  I left therapy frustrated, annoyed, and attempting not to let any of that cross over in my demeanour.

Here’s to next session.  😐

Broken Things

It seems like everything in my life is broken these days.  The latest bit?  My bloody car.  She isn’t dead yet, but I think she’s slipping that way.  A bit ago, the radio stopped working.  Actually, it stopped and started spectacularly for most of a week before drifting in to a more soundless existence.  Radios are peripheral to the actual car.  Inconvenient, yes, but still perfectly drive-able.

Next came the windscreen.  This is the third my car has had in the past year and a half.  The first was, to use the term the glass people taught me, sandblasted.  Tiny little specks had penetrated the glass, making it very difficult to see in light.  Once the new windscreen was in place, I could see perfectly.  For a month or so.  I used wipers by the brand of Rain-X, and they left a film on the windscreen, making it almost impossible to see in rain.  The product is supposed to make glass repel rain.  I had no idea it was even *in* the bloody wipers and no idea that, once you stop using the product, it almost ruins the windscreen.

Enter windscreen three.

This one has been beautiful.  It’s been so clear that it appeared relatively invisible.  Then, *it* developed a film on the inside.  I’m told that this is due to a slight problem with a heater core.  Nothing to worry about yet, and a microfibre towel wipes down the film just fine.  Once the windscreen developed a film on the outside, though, I was ready to make my car accidentally go up in a glorious blaze.

A clay bar took the film off of the outside of the windscreen, and, again, it was crystal clear.  Except in the rain.  As long as you don’t actually *use* the wipers, it’s actually relatively clear.  However, rain does require wipers, and wipers leave a very cloudy shadow.  With car lights shining in, I quite literally have to pull over and wait for the rain to slow.  As it turns out, the wipers don’t need replacing– the wiper *arms* need replacing.  And they cost twice as much as the actual wiper blades.  And three out of four local shops cannot order them.  And I can barely afford to buy one, labour not included.  This leaves me relatively unable to drive in the rain at night.  Not that I’d ever need to.

Bloody cars.

The Visit that Suddenly Wasn’t

On the American television comedy Scrubs, a surly character points out that sometimes the word ‘hate’ isn’t strong enough.  In response, he creates the word ‘mega-loathe.’

I mega-loathe Greyhound bus lines.

A bit over three months ago, I bought my bus tickets for the 1000 mile journey to see my FOC.  This is an annual visit and has been for roughly a decade.  Being unable to find a ride to the nearest large Greyhound station (2.5 hours away), I had to leave from a tiny local station.  The fun ensued from there.

Greyhound is not known for punctuality.  In fact, one can almost count on buses being late.  I try to choose routes with that in mind and schedule transfers with at least a half hour’s lee-way.  The bus leaving the small station was roughly a half hour late, and the driver spent another fifteen minutes talking pointlessly with the ticket person.  By the time we reached the larger station, my bus had already left.  Mind you, if I *had* been able to find a ride to the larger station, I’d be spending time with the FOC at this moment.

Somewhat undeterred, I went to the ticket counter in the large station and asked what I should do now.  The nice lady behind the counter re-routed me, and I thought things were solved.  Upon reaching a seat in the station and reviewing the tickets, however, I noticed that the ticket up left me stranded half way on my journey.  How on Earth does one confuse ’round trip’ with ‘stop in the middle’?  Yes, the ticket lady reprinted tickets again.  After I signed a form saying I’d given her incorrect information.

Returning to my seat in the station even more tentatively hopeful and reviewing the tickets again, I noticed that my checked luggage was, in fact, scheduled for a different route than mine.  It was even making a stop in a city without me!  Being angry that the luggage was having more fun than me, I continued checking through the tickets and found an 11 hour layover scheduled in a city two hours from the next destination.  At that point, it was 2:00 AM, I’d been awake for 20+ hours, and I had had enough of the bloody bus line.  I marched back up to the ticket counter and demanded that the route be rescheduled.  Preferably so that my bag and I would travel together.

As it turns out, Greyhound wanted another $75 to place me on a schedule to my destination, but only $20 to send me back home.  This left me somewhat stranded, as I only had $30.  My trip to see the FOC ended very abruptly just then, and I found myself emailing my brother-of-choice from a bus travelling back to the small station so near my home.  We are all heartbroken about not having had the chance to see each other, and I am still furious with Greyhound.  The mistake was theirs, not mine, and three people ended up being hurt by it.  Unless Greyhound honours these tickets and actually works out the schedules, I will not be riding again.  And I don’t see them caring enough to even try.

On Robots, Knees and Empathy

I love my family-of-choice.  They have quite literally saved my life on more than one occasion.  Apparently, my body has developed a sort of empathy in that, hours after learning that one of my FOC suffered a leg injury, I promptly injured my knee.  The Universe has a sense of humour.  We’ll be together soon.  Hopefully, that will be enough to stop this chain. 🙂

Monday, I was helping a friend tidy up and slipped in some mop water.  My foot stayed stuck to the floor; my knee turned sideways and made a somewhat grisly pop.  For a minute there, I sat still on the floor and waited to see what might happen.  Soon enough, though, the pain made a decision for me.  My friend and her husband promptly pulled me up and got me to the hospital.

The hospital visit– which reminded me oddly of medieval torture descriptions– was quick and to the point.  I have a minor tear on the meniscus of my right knee.  It could have been quite bad, in that this is an injury that sometimes requires surgery to correct.  Mine tore in what the doctor referred to as the ‘good spot’ (I was not in agreement at that time) so it can be corrected non-surgically.  I left with a prescription for pain meds, a brace, and some lovely crutches.  On Monday, I have a follow up appointment and will get the further plan.

The brace is the aforementioned robot.  It provides nerve stimulation to help with circulation and pain.  It fits fine under trousers, but it seems a bit like something out of a science fiction novel.  Little electric pulses are given through four electrodes attached first to the brace and then to my knee.  The intensity is controlled by a button on the side of a re-chargeable ‘power pack.’  The buttons are accessible from outside the trouser leg, so I can discretely turn it off and on so the pulses are only delivered fifteen minutes out of every hour.  It actually does help with pain, if only because the pulses are bloody annoying.

All in all, I do feel quite fortunate.  Being blessed with all the grace of an elephant on roller skates, I could have done quite a bit more damage.  As it is, I’ll keep my bionic knee elevated and rested as it mends, truly happy that the injury is minor.

Adventures with FedEx

Today, I feel quite sorry for the folks at FedEx.  They deliver packages all over America, some of which require direct signatures.  Because my phone has decided to work sometimes and completely ignore any sense of productivity at other times, I ordered a new one, which is set to be delivered today.  This is the almost-end of a long and winding road for my poor phone.

It started with the actual order.  I ordered it on the 24th, a Sunday.  The Monday morning, the company set 25th February as the shipping date.  On the 26th, that date had been removed, and no shipping date took its place.  The order was marked ‘in progress.’  A quick email to customer service got me absolutely nowhere, as I’m still waiting on a reply.

Later that day, I checked the status of the order.  It was marked as shipped!  Checking the tracking number, I saw the package had been signed for.  One week before it was ordered.  Over 1000 miles from where I live.  Being me and realising a package can’t be shipped before the item is ordered, I sent another email to the customer service department.  And I have yet to hear back.

This morning, the poor FedEx delivery man phoned to make sure someone would be available to sign for the package.  He estimated it would be delivered between 1:00pm-2:00pm.  I phoned the person who was set to sign for it and verified the time with her.  No issue.  *Then* the FedEx man phoned again to tell me he was early.  The package would be there about noon.

I hung up and phoned the person who would sign for it.  No answer.  On a second try, I got an answer.  The person who answered was decidedly not who I expected.  Instead of an older female, the person who answered was a younger male– it sounded like my best friend.  Since he was supposed to be at work and I panic when I think he’s sick, the conversation went like this:

Me: Emm…are you OK?

Him: Yeah, I’m fine.

Me: What happened?  I wasn’t expecting you to be home.

Him: Uhh…this is the FedEx guy.

That’s right, folks, I accidentally phoned the delivery man and asked, with much concern, whether he was alright.  Mind you, when I phoned the right person, it took ten tries before she woke up and answered the phone.

Now…finally…the website shows the phone has been delivered and signed for.  By the very person I was concerned with in the first place.  I’m now waiting to make sure he’s OK, but I won’t phone the FedEx guy.  I’ve already expressed my concern for him.

Happy Birthday to…Me?

I sent myself a birthday gift last week, completely by accident.  The US Postal Service was a great help in that regard.  Now that I (might)  have your attention, let me tell the rest of this little experience.

The founding member of my FOC has a birthday round this time of year.  I can’t afford a great deal, but I do try to send along something to celebrate an amazing day.  Last week, I brought the box to our local post office, all patched up and addressed.  The clerk behind the counter scanned the package, gave me a ticket, and sent me on my way.  It wasn’t until I was halfway home that I realised something was wrong.

The conversation between the clerk and me played back through my mind.  “It will get there tomorrow,” the clerk had said.  I didn’t question it at the time, as I carried along with my busy day.  However, the package was set to travel roughly 1000 miles.  That’s a very quick overnight trip for standard postal charges.

Here’s the problem: the clerk entered in to the computer that the package was being sent FROM my PO box address TO my PO Box address.  I know those blokes are busy.  Still, if someone came to me with a package addressed for a box three steps away, I would pause long enough to check that the information was correct.  This is a bit irritating.

So on our actual letterbox attached to our house is a package labelled ‘priority mail’ via a label I printed from the USPS click-n-ship option.  I figure if I print the actual label and stop the postman to make sure the label is read, the package might actually start its trek to the right destination.

If not, this gift will be three months late, as I’ll have to bring it when I visit my FOC.  Crossed fingers the little box finds its way to its knew home.