I was shocked to find that the local paper wanted over $100 to publish the obituary I wrote for my father, so I'm publishing a redacted version here instead. He outlived just about everyone who would have cared anyway, and died yesterday morning on the other side of the world:
Dr. XXXXXXX XXXXXX, PhD, 92. MFA City native, United States Navy Veteran, clinical psychologist, and lifelong champion of civil rights. He was preceded in death by parents XXXXXX and XXXXXX and brother XXXXXXX, and is survived by daughter MFA Mama and grandsons Big Child, Middle Child, and Little Child. In lieu of flowers please contribute to Alzheimer's research.
Some of y'all may have noticed that the blog required a password to access for a bit; that is no longer the case but I have unpublished all posts written since getting hired at my current workplace.
I love my job. The company I work for is full of amazing, kind, and caring people. However, when you end up defending your mental health and general harmlessness to someone so high up the Corporate chain their salary probably has more than one comma in it as a result of something you wrote in jest on the innernet, it causes you to question the wisdom of sharing anything deeper about your life than recipes and cat pictures in a forum where it can be selectively copied and shared by someone who might wish you ill. The chat about mental health in question was not a result of anything I wrote on here, but rather on the facespace, and I have aggressively pruned my friends list on there as a result (if I unfriended you and you are not a co-worker of mine, I am sorry and it is nothing to do with you or anything you said on there, I just decided that for that to be a safe space I needed to remove anyone who worked for the same company, and anyone whose doorstep I would feel weird showing up on to borrow a cup of sugar).
It's kind of funny that my blog has survived The World's Most Acrimonious Divorce and a certain online character's eight-year campaign of stalking and harassment, but a family restaurant shut me down in the end. See that right there? That is humor. I'm not bitter or angry about the decision to remove a lot of my archives and, for now, stop writing here, particularly since the end result of the above was that I was deemed harmless enough to keep my job (hooray!).
Is this the end of my blog? Doubtful. Even when something is really hard and scary, endings are a bad idea, particularly if you're feeling angry, sad, or alone, which is the idea behind Project Semicolon, whose eponymous punctuation mark I have borrowed for the title of this post.* I'm just pausing, for right now, to focus on cultivating a general attitude of gratitude, being a better, kinder human being, and attempting to convince everyone around me that my offbeat sense of humor doesn't make me a threat to myself, my employer, or anyone really (except possums, down with possums). If you want to find me for some reason, my e-mail address is on the About page, and I have not closed my Twitter account (although it is protected--you have to request to follow me there). And if you eat out and receive exceptionally great service from a thirty-something with clunky black glasses, it's always possible that's me, so please, tip your server :)
* Please do not take my reference to Project Semicolon to mean that I am considering suicide or engaging in any sort of addictive behavior or self-harm. I just like their general message of "here is where you could have chosen to end a sentence, but continued on."
So. The Situation. No news is no news. I had already predicted that my doctor would be displeased with the combination of "mass" and "significant family history of cancer in area of mass" and send me to a specialist, and that is exactly what happened. I see a surgeon on the 16th, and before you go to tell me that it's great they were comfortable with waiting that long it's not, really. That's just the soonest I am not scheduled to work a double shift, and I can't miss any work before then or we're going to get evicted and/or the power will get shut off. If I'm going to drop dead I'd prefer to do so indoors, with climate control (I'm not planning on dropping dead any time soon, although part of me thinks it's dumb to even pursue further evaluation because I can't miss any work and if this IS the worst case scenario can't afford treatment; I'm pretty bitter and pissed at life at the moment, for the benefit of any readers not in possession of a firm grasp of the obvious) (yes, I'll fucking go anyway).
If we're looking for good news I suppose there's this: apparently the fact that the mass is "mobile" is a hopeful sign. According to my doctor the cancerous ones tend to anchor themselves in place pretty quickly, so while it's no guarantee, most likely this is either benign or in a very early stage (proximal lymphnodes are unremarkable). So hopefully this will JUST be financially ruinous and add another scar to the collection that have cumulatively ruined my chances at stripping my way to financial solvency.
And that is all that we will say about The Situation until the 16th.
* Yesterday was an absolutely grueling day at work, but I ended up making really good money, thank goodness.
* FUCKING HEALTH INSURANCE. I am now insured (whoo tits!) via an individual plan, but they are declining to cover Pristiq until I have met my deductible, so I am pretty much paying a $340 flat-rate fee for the all-the-doctoring-you-can-stomach-each-month plan PLUS paying out of pocket for meds. This is not going to be sustainable longterm, particularly since January marks the start of a new fiscal year during which I get to meet a NEW deductible. God damn fucking health insurance!
* Also, The C(o)unty decided that since my chickens are now legal and they can't ruin my happiness THAT way, they would issue me a citation for 2013 property taxes on the MFA Beater AND the original MFA Minivan, demanding that I pay within five days or come to court. And naturally they delivered this four days into said five-day period, so I had to scramble and come up with some money I didn't have for THAT, too.
* The Situation has ramped up in its urgency, and I have an appointment to do with that in a little over an hour. Good thoughts, mojo, vibes, wishes, etc. are much appreciated there. I will tell y'all what The Situation is as soon as I have some answers and the time to relay them (those of you who are friends with me on The Facespace already know what this is about, which I say not to tease the rest of you but just so that my close friends who read here know there aren't TWO situations).
* Hotter thought the one day this week that I am not working a double or trying to work a double due to The Situation and a job interview would be a fine time to go back to sleep after his alarm went off, so I had to get up early and drive Big Child to school. THANKS FOR THAT, HOTTER.
* No matter how I juggle it, there is just no fucking way we're going to make rent this month, which scares the hell out of me. I thought we'd be okay, but then $200+ bills started popping up out of the woodwork like goddamn financial whack-a-mole, and I can't let the power get cut off because obviously, and I can't let the phones get cut off because same, and I can't not fill the Pristiq because that's what's keeping the wheels from coming off entirely, and I can't not have health insurance right now because The Situation (yeah, it's medical and very much a potentially worst-case-scenario type of thing, although currently I at least FEEL fine), even if said health insurance is crappy enough that I still (SURPRISE!) have to pay out of pocket for prescription meds for right now. The possible silver lining to today's Situation-related appointment is that the testing involved may well eat up my deductible and render Pristiq a $40 co-payment instead of a huge fucking expense, and hospitals at least bill you instead of demanding it all in advance. I am currently out as of yesterday, and waiting to fill it until after today's hospital-stravaganza just in case, because that is what passes for optimism in my life right now.
* Oh and it's a minor thing in the grand scheme, but I have identified my nemesis at Eclecstasy. Two months without a professional nemesis was nice, but all good things, etc. I'm not sure the other party feels the same way about me, but I find it convenient to have someone toward which to channel all of the frantic hate in my head and heart and figure better someone at work than someone at home and so GAME ON, BITCH!**
* How are all of YOU?
** Eh, not really. I would never behave unprofessionally at work, because I like my job, but liken this to how, when I was a kid and would go to ballgames with my dad, we would pick a random player on the other team to boo at. I may only boo at my "nemesis" inside my own head, but it beats the other things rattling around it there currently.
Yes, you have probably gone out as part of a large group and seen a gratuity automatically applied (usually 18%, sometimes as much as 22%) to your check. But thanks to some tax law changes that went into effect in January, that's less and less common. According to the IRS, tips are strictly voluntary, and automatically-applied service charges are therefore a WAGE, not a TIP. This causes there to be additional fees and administrative dealings on a server's employer's end when there is an "autograt." Some employers still allow the autograt and absorb that cost in the name of employee goodwill and retention, because it's a fact of life in the restaurant industry that large parties don't tip (they either assume there's a gratuity included because that used to be standard practice across the board, all assume someone else took care of it, think $20 is sufficient even if their bill was into three or four digits, or just don't give a crap). Eclecstasy, being a corporate-owned, multinational chain, apparently crunched the numbers on what it would do to The Bottom Line to eat the cost of allowing the autograt across all locations and said "y'all are on your own, suck it up," doing away with the "autograt" as of January 2014. Employees have raised a fuss on the company's website and been told, essentially, "nothing personal, just business."
This is a huuuuuuge hot-button issue among employees, some of whom have seen their income diminish by half or, in the case of "destination stores" in tourist towns who see lots of large parties of guests from other countries where gratuities aren't even A Thing, stopped breaking the federal minimum wage by working at Eclecstasy, meaning that by law the company bumps them up to that and that is all they make. This means that since Eclecstasy servers tip out to the bar, runners, and bussers based on SALES not TIPS, some servers lose money by working at all, and are quitting in droves. In the case of locations where that is the norm, I don't blame them. In the case of the MFAville Eclecstasy, we aren't really a "destination" store, it's only maybe one night in maybe twenty that I walk out of the place with less money than I had when I walked in, and the rest of the time working there is lucrative enough that it still averages out to Very Good Money, so while I think it's shitty of Corporate to take the stance on the autograt issue that they have, and bitterly resent that one night in twenty because it's really disheartening, on the whole I'm not as fussed as servers who have been with the company long enough to remember what the money was like BEFORE this went into effect and don't think it's worth quitting over, to ME, in THIS location.
Which isn't to say that I haven't scheduled an interview with Eclecstasy's biggest competitor for Friday. The lack of "autograt" IS the difference between my making enough at Eclecstasy to not need a second job and my needing to find something else now that I've settled in there in order to build up a cushion for when the MFA Minivan goes to The Big Junkyard In The Sky/I need surgery/Hotter's donor organs fail or whatever the next big giant crisis over here is. If the competitor hires me and I like it there AND they still apply the "autograt" that may become my new main gig. Nothing personal, Eclecstasy, just business.
I am still pretty lowly worm, as k would say, but was cheered today by a bit of schadenfreude on a Monday afternoon: a former co-worker of mine from The Ritz, which I left because I brought some major sanitation and food-safety fails to management's attention and they then said if I didn't shut up about it I'd be fired, came into Eclecstasy today for a job interview. Apparenly a couple of weeks after I left the Health Department shut the restaurant down, and between how old it was and how corrupt the staff was, Management decided to call it a loss and close it down for good.
Said former co-worker was always kind of a bitch to me, but is a solid server with an above-average work ethic, so I put in a good word.
It is taking every bit of maturity I can muster not to stalk down my former boss on the facespace and message him like BOOM! WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT? SOMEONE WHO CURRENTLY HAS A JOB, THAT'S WHO.
Tonight was a shitty night at work; I had another large party that didn't understand the concept of tipping (and I know they were happy with the service because several of them thanked me and told me what a great job I'd done on their way out), driving my sales up to the point that I had to go into my own pocket to tip out my bartender, runner, and busser. On top of that, there was the kind of table-snatching, gossipping server drama that made me hate The Ritz; generally I really like working at Eclecstasy in large part because the way they do things makes that almost impossible, but someone proved tonight that that is still a thing if someone is determined enough.
I got home tonight and sat in the MFA Minivan in the driveway for a moment blinking back tears before going inside, because I knew Big Child would still be up (despite it being past bedtime) and want to perseverate about his Civics presentation tomorrow, and didn't want to lose it in front of him. I didn't want to come home and face Hotter, because I think he's still annoyed with me for being annoyed with Lefty, I didn't want to have to hold it together through reassuring Big Child, and for a second I considered backing out again and leaving, but I didn't want to go anywhere else either.
I think the real problem right now is that I would just rather not be me, and that's not going to change until 10/3 at the very earliest (potentially, anyway--there's also the chance that whatever comes of that day's pivotal appointment will be what finally breaks me for good).
Last night was supposed to be an amazing evening.
I'd had a really good day at work. Business was steady, money was decent, banter with co-workers and guests alike was pleasant, and I didn't have any comps, voids, or problem tables. I didn't feel overwhelmed or unprepared once, and was able to support some co-workers when they were in that position and contribute to our success as a team instead of being the one leaning on others, which was a good feeling. I really love working at "Eclecstasy!" After work I stopped at Trader Joe's and got some Ahi steaks and lovely fresh asparagus, and I came home ready to cook a celebratory dinner with Hotter, because The Situation aside, the past week had been full of win (progress on addressing The Situation! A speedy and FREE resolution to the problems my left front crown had been giving me for months! Street-legal vehicle! WHOO!).
Unfortunately, yesterday was also Lefty's birthday, and I did my duty in reminding Hotter to call him, and after Lefty not answering his phone or responding to Hotter's text Hotter received a text from The Wrath ALSO reminding him about Lefty's birthday and finally did get in touch. Apparently Lefty had been "working" with his stepfather, who last we'd heard about it Lefty hated. Lefty explained to Hotter that really their problems had stemmed from the fact that while Lefty was using, his stepfather had tended to catch the brunt of Lefty's mother's feelings over at all, but they talked and worked things out and now the stepfather was the only step-parent Lefty liked. I guess Hotter then asked what was up with that, and apparently Lefty is mad at me for preventing Hotter from drinking after him when Lefty had active Hepatitis during the worst of his heroin-fueled shenanigans five or six years ago.
I. Went. OFF.
Apparently I have no right to feel the way I do, but I kind of feel like Lefty doesn't get to be mad at me for protecting Hotter (who is immune-suppressed due to his transplants) from diseases Lefty picked up via needle. The first years of Hotter's and my relationship were majorly overshadowed by Lefty's drug usage. Weekends were put off or rescheduled if he was expected to be arrested or had a court date, the timing of our wedding was planned around first his eighteenth birthday and then his incarceration schedule, his needs have contributed to some of Hotter's and my worst fights as a married couple...I realize that it's Hotter and not Lefty I am actually mad at, here. It's Hotter's handling of Lefty's bullshit that has been hard on me more than it's been Lefty's actual bullshit. I get all of that. But the unfairness of Lefty's remark about how he and his OTHER step-parent were cool now that Lefty understood his bullshit had made the other step-parent's life hard set me off. It brought every feeling of being unfairly picked on by the universe I have (and there are a LOT of those feelings in my head) screaming to the forefront, and instead of having a nice evening with Hotter I ended up drinking a LOT of wine, rage-cooking a lovely meal that we ate in silence, rage-cleaning the rabbit pens, and being told that I was ruining our child-free weekend.
And then I woke up at four a.m. scratching myself raw because I was covered from head to toe in huge, angry hives. It actually looked less like hives and more like I had a total-body sunburn with occasional white speckling. I was THISCLOSE to going to the emergency room and begging for steroids, and health insurance and money be damned, but finally after I took WAY more Benadryl than is generally recommended and spent half an hour shivering in a cool shower things settled down. I hadn't eaten anything new or unusual, the pattern of the hives didn't point toward a contact reaction of any kind (they were everywhere, not just on exposed skin), there are no new soaps, lotions, or detergents in my life...I kind of think it was stress. My body has this way of taking me out at the knees when I'm trying to get through some shit; my long-time therapist of many years ago suggested that since I shrink from strong displays of negative emotions they find a way to manifest in the physical, and I certainly have a lot of negative emotions right now. The Situation has the potential to wreck every single aspect of my existence, and renders problems with teeth and cars and money and even in-laws laughable by comparison, but that doesn't mean that those other things don't suck, too, and I'm tired of coping.
The problem with that, of course, is that I don't really have any other option right now.