NOVEMBER ALREADY, I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS
AMBER LOVE 10-NOV-2014 When I began this post, I had been on hold with New Jersey State’s Unemployment office for over an hour and twenty minutes. And this is after the initial phone call that was surreptitiously disconnected when I was punching numbers through their phone menu. I lost my job back in August, the day after my birthday (my former employer told me that my birthday was actually a discussion – nice of them, huh?). According to the initial notice I received from NJUI, it said I was only able to claim 13 weeks of benefits and that meant today would be the last day I could file. I reached the one hour and thirty minute mark of the call according to my Skype counter. I heard the on-hold music stop and a single telephone ring; then there was nothing.
I was freaking out thinking I just been on hold for 90 minutes and something messed up the call. I waited a few more minutes and finally a woman answered. She was pleasant, thank all the gods. I know how answering phones can be especially on a line for callers who are likely to be stressed out. The good news is, according to that woman I spoke to, I can claim another 13 weeks even though their recording says there are no extensions. The extensions had used federal money that went to the state and it ran out last December. When you punch through their phone menu and get to “for extensions press 5” you are told by a recording that there are no extensions. It’s blunt and then it hangs up on you.
During the past 13 weeks, I’ve had one Skype interview with a headhunting agency that only seems to place experienced freelance workers specializing in creative jobs – unfortunately 99 percent of their emails were for jobs in Manhattan (no deal); I had one inquiry on my resume for an office job and scheduled an in person interview but then they called me back to cancel because they offered it someone else; and about a week ago I had an interview that I felt went really well but there were concerns like they don’t offer health insurance and all their employees have switched to the US Marketplace ACA “Obamacare” services. At least they had a 401K. However the job would be estimated at 90 percent working with one client which they had for decades. I asked honestly, what happens if you lose them? They said they’ve already cut half their staff from 50 to somewhere around 20-25. If they lose that one client, the would likely shut down or become a skeleton small business. However, I still am interested in that job because even if the wages are lower than my previous one, the commute would be infinitely easier. I had little spending money and luckily not a lot of bills because my paycheck went into operating my car to get to the job and that’s without car payments.
The health insurance situation is unbearable. COBRA is temporary and I didn’t accept it because more than half of my monthly UI would have been spent on COBRA. I’m a single person and was almost $600 for me alone to have insurance that way. I didn’t see the point. I went to the fucking awful website, healthcare.gov to sign up and do whatever I had to. I was laid off. There seemed to be no logical way that wouldn’t qualify, right? It took DAYS to deal with that website. It’s circular like that Twilight Zone episode where the couple is trying to drive out of a town but they keep getting taken back to the “Welcome” sign at the town’s border. That was my experience with healthcare.gov. And in that nightmare of a navigation process, it would log me out. Eventually I got to a point where everyone on Twitter told me to call and speak to a human so I did that. Again, it was a nice pleasant person and I did all I could to refrain from taking my stress out on her. I got to a point where there was an initial determination that I was indeed eligible. Okay, so what’s next? This woman said I had to print out a form, fill out and mail it in. I did that and waited for the snail mail response which then told me I could not use their service but could try during open enrollment which begins November 15th.
How does any of this make sense? What is wrong with me that I’m not understanding this? I lost my job! I wasn’t fired for cause. Regardless, I am a legal citizen of the United States and now there is this allegedly workable system in place for anyone to buy insurance and I still can’t! What is the fucking problem? Why does anyone have to wait for an enrollment period? People are in need. They need to purchase this THING, whatever that THING is, and they can only do so during specified dates. It’s like a fucking lottery. You buy a ticket with numbers on it but your numbers can’t match just any week’s drawing; they have to match a specific week’s drawing. That’s what this feels like. It’s like having lottery numbers that matched last week’s winner.
I have been following a regular schedule to make sure I get up every day when I’m not sick and follow a routine. I may not always get out of pajamas but at least I shower and put on clean ones. I was feeling better after that last interview despite this massive gorilla in the room about health insurance. I thought maybe I could figure it out and come November 15th, everything will be fine. In other words, I have been trying to emotionally manage my stress.
October was filled with that routine plus the stress of charity events and New York Comic Con which then got me sick for weeks. I haven’t recorded a podcast since then. As soon as the plague seemed to go away, my allergic reactions to everything kicked in and my skin has been one medical mystery after another. But no insurance means no doctors for me, so screw it. I stayed home treating myself with tea tree oil and every OTC allergy med I could get my hands on without being arrested as a meth cook.
It might be hard to see in the photos but just one of the skin reactions swelled my entire face including my eyes, caused migraines for over a week, and had a festering boil inside my nose. And then when it went away, it happened again! More migraines, vertigo, pain, breathing problems, and everything wrong with my face possible. And I had modeling jobs! So I tried my best with cosmetics to hide it. Not being skilled at all in makeup artistry, I hoped the professional Ben Nye palettes would work.
Halloween rolled around. I had told someone close to me about how that holiday which used to be my favorite feels quite ruined now. It used to be the biggest season for me and my ex. He insisted on it being that way even when I would explain that I was not emotionally able to handle it. I felt shellshocked about goddamn pumpkin carving. Since that divorce, I had managed to carve a few pumpkins with other people that came and went from my life. Then I noticed it had been three years since I carved a pumpkin. I had two foam pumpkins sitting on the top shelf in my sewing studio/storage room. I made a new pumpkin with a very easy design in order to get me to try doing something I used to love doing. I’m sure you’ve all read or heard about those signs of depression: lethargy, pain, not wanting to be alive, no longer enjoying things you once loved. Yeah, all that. So I made myself carve a new pumpkin and felt a small amount of self satisfaction that I had done something different from my routine.
But… then I kept thinking about the second pumpkin on the top shelf and it stressed me out. Something in my brain kept telling me that if I didn’t make that second pumpkin, I had somehow failed. I began to stress about what would that design be because obviously I had to get to it even if I was carving on Halloween day. I never did and I felt like I failed because I was afraid to try again as if ruining a $15 pumpkin was the end of the world.
I also managed to pull out some things from my closet to put on what could work as a costume if I ever needed it. I dressed as Black Canary for about an hour on Halloween to take photos with no intention of going anywhere. In person, my mother was the only one to see me. All the photos though, were posted and well-received, so thank you for that, everyone that commented.
I looked into other things to break my routine of job searches, reading and watching TV. I saw the #NaNoWriMo tweets begin in October and knew that November would be filled with those unbearable tweets about writing projects everyone but me was doing. So I decided that would be the new thing, I went to the website for National Novel Writing Month and registered. I had an account and a new profile declaring that I was a writer. If you aren’t familiar the point of NaNoWriMo (or NaNo for short) is to draft 50,000 words as a very rough novel manuscript. People modify it as they want into short story goals, comic book scripts, poetry,or whatever else involves writing. It’s hard if you want to follow their strict plan. It’s over 1,600 words per day! That’s a lot of words if you have other life obligations like a job, travel time, conventions, and family. I’m unemployed and I fear that amount of words. There have only been a few times I’ve ever crank out that many and it’s almost exclusively non-fiction like this blog post. My recap of Exxxotica from last Friday is over 3,000 words but they flowed easily. It also took me half of a day to do that. Half! While unemployed, that’s fine. I don’t know how people manage when they are fitting in 30 minutes here and there.
Most people who actually plan for NaNo do all their pre-writing before November that way they can begin their manuscripts full throttle from day one. I was outlining for days. I actually have started writing while my outline is far from done but I have some big plot milestones marked down in Scrivener anyway so the visual is there. It includes placeholders though like “Challenge One” where my protagonist will run into an obstacle. I don’t know what that is yet. I also have days I didn’t write on NaNo at all because I was writing other things like that Exxxotica recap or working on paying comic scripts which take top priority. I’m several thousand words behind schedule because of this. My undeclared personal goal knowing how much I would fail at daily targets is 10,000 words by the end of November. As of last night, my project is over 7,400 words so I don’t think I’ll have any problems reaching my own personal target even if I fail miserably at NaNoWriMo’s guideline. I do my best to tackle NaNo with humor too. I find those endless streams of FitBit stats annoying as hell so I started posting #NaNoFitBit updates like “walked zero miles, wrote 1,000 words!” and yesterday I had a drink and spent at least an hour posting hilarious GIFs related to how people when writing.
Taking a week to focus on only writing was wonderful. However, today I had to drag my ass back to reality and deal with the nightmares of UI and job hunting. Now that I have spent a significant amount of time crying this morning, I need to return to some job hunting stuff like replying to a headhunter for a contract position (because almost no business has actual employees anymore in the US except retail) and then maybe get some NaNo writing done.