Pickpockets and Passages

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Well, I’ve ended the woefully expensive year of 2016 with a bank balance (soon to be rectified) of -$3.26

This isn’t bad, considering that I entered the month with a balance of -$2,3xx and managed to scrape together enough money to resolve all my outstanding medical bills by the 11th hour, as of today, 31-DEC-16.

– Cancelled the upcoming appointment with the therapist.

– Cancelled the upcoming appointment for the housecleaner.

– Cancelled my hair coloring appointment.

– Scrapped my pride and agreed to let someone repay a gift of $1,300

Again, I found that my employer paid me by mistake – which they will probably try and claw back – but which I used on the outstanding medical and dental bills that they were supposed to cover, but which they decided were not their responsibility.

Luckily, though, the lawyer told me to use the money against any outstanding needs (thank you – great minds think alike).  He will go back after them for my short-term disability pay that they refused to match, even though I have a letter indicating that they would cover my salary for 100% from October through December 31, 2015, and at 60% from January 1st, 2016, through retirement in September 2027.

My feeling is that it’s not my fault that they aren’t paying me.

My feeling is that they owe me this money.

And, no matter how convenient my feelings and thinking may be, my opinion is that possession is 9/10ths of the law.   I’m not paying any money back until forced to do so.

I am not sure how they can justify claiming a third mistake to pay me, when clearly their systems are set up to provide my benefits payments, but that payment is being round filed between itself and its insurance company, vs. being paid out to me.  So, a little rough justice is in order.

Otherwise, when I look back on this prior year of 2016, I can gladly agree that it’s been a rough year for all, and I’m happy to be shed of it.

Here’s hoping that 2017 will be better for all concerned.

Happy New Year.

Resilient

passages  via Photo Challenge: Resilient

I was thinking about what I wanted to say in terms of “Passages” all week, and dropped into this site to find the photo challenge of the day was “Resilient”, which I think talks more about what this past year has been comprised of in terms of daily ups and downs.

As I’m preparing for 2017, I’m still in the middle of my battle for health benefits, and fighting to keep on living even though my world is getting smaller due to COPD.

I’m like Don Quixote, battling windmills of frustration put in front of me by the lawyers fighting my case, as well as my employer.  But, at the end of life, I have nothing but time on my hands so I might as well continue the good fight to do things the way I think best for me.

While off work, I have done little of what I hoped to be able to do to supplement my income.  Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to work per the lawyer.  And, I can’t fight my lawyer on this issue until my employment status is resolved.  Catch-22 much?

One of the things that being on the www.mycopdteam.com website has brought to me this year, though, is a very strong reminder of how well I have it when compared to others fighting this disease and related end of life / “shrinkage” of life issues.

I am not largely dependent on others for any of my daily care needs.

My body hasn’t completely betrayed me in terms of being able to putter along at my own pace in my own space without supervision or assistance.  (Being hovered over drives me mad, and having to be ready to welcome someone into my home would be really aggravating / anxiety producing).

I’ve been able to downsize my home.

Reduce my expenses.

I was lucky enough to find a way to live on a very tiny budget while still having plans for the future.

I’m only trapped in my life if I look at it that way.  Trapped.  Not trapped.  Not trapped wins.

So, I prefer to look forward.  Anticipating my challenges to remaining independent possibly  fixing themselves.  To being able to travel, no matter how humbly, and to get on with the business of living as my world gets smaller and smaller.

Automated or self-driving cars are coming closer to fruition (please, let’s have that happen before I’m forced to give up my license).

Medical consultations via Skype or other facetime applications are happening.

I’m hopeful that there will be options for me to care for myself in my own space as my world gets smaller and smaller.

Today’s choice of “resilient” for a photo image relies on someone else’s (uncredited) image of Stonehenge at dawn.  I’m planning to get there in 2017 in June, so it’s the embodiment of “resilience” for me.  Looking forward, and planning fun things despite the challenges.

Yes, I’m resilient.  I hope you are, too.

FWB’s without strings

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As I deal with COPD, one of the key challenges involves sex.

– Can I have it?

– Will I have a coughing fit?  (If I do, will it be gross?  etc., etc., etc.)

– When does my FWB relationship end because I can’t keep up?

Mr. Right stopped by last night, and we were content to watch a movie and play for a bit before he went on his way.

Perfect.

Truly, having a birth defect, I never wanted anyone in my life full time, as I never wanted the fight over kids / no kids / not passing on the genes.

Plus, guys (when I was younger) were hormone-driven jerks, and I was terrified to get pregnant despite my best efforts to be careful.

So, I waited until I was in my mid-40’s (just like I always said I would), and I waited until I was able to use the internet to screen likely friends with benefits, and I lucked out.

Don’t get me wrong – I did burn a few pancakes along the way, as well as bury an FWB who also had COPD, and for whom I swore  wouldn’t fall.  Until his intelligence sucked me in, and we fell into bed together.  But, COPD took it’s toll on the both of us, and he eventually passed away.  There’s not a day that I don’t think of Dale, but they are good memories, even if I couldn’t be more than an FWB to him.

Everything thing I see, though, indicates that I’m being used (clarification:  “Society’s viewpoint, not my reality).

Seriously?  How about the fact that I’m using him?  I’m the one setting the boundaries, and I’m the one dictating that we can go x-distance and no further.  That sounds pretty mutual to me for having a working friendship that gives us both what we desire.

For your reference, the key word in “Friends with Benefits” is the “Friends” part.  If you don’t treat me well, if you aren’t honest, if you aren’t an upright, respectable person, then no sex is possible because you first failed the “friends” test.

– I don’t have plans to share a house with you.

– I don’t want you worrying over me, or holding my head while I’m sick.

– I just want you for the good times and happy memories.  I can do hard all on my own.

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Last night was a good reminder that we can make it work when we both want to and have time.

We talked a bit about my hormones and the waning of desire.  Not desire for him, but desire for sex at all.  We talked about the last time we were together when it was too painful for me, but we still had fun (because yes, I am that kind of girl).  He apologized again for hurting me, and I had to correct his thinking.  He didn’t hurt me – my body just doesn’t react the way it used to, and as the COPD goes on, it’s a combination of changing hormones and lack of energy that’s causing the betrayal.  Not any kind of inconsideration on his part or disinterest on my part.

I’m truly a believer that to give or withhold sex is a conscious choice, and that you can always find a way to share comfort and sexual release with each other regardless of the state of your hormones or your health.  So long as the mental desire is there, and the wish to make the other person feel wanted and loved is there.

Yes, being sexually active with COPD is hard.  I was again coughing in nothing flat when we were kissing (and I have yet to figure out what that nonsense may be).  But, I controlled the pace and what was done, and I think we both left the moment feeling good despite the challenges.

At the end of the day, that’s all that one can ask.  A wonderful FWB in a relationship where we both respect each other and get what we need.

Abuse of Authority – Hate It

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So, I had a strange man knocking on my door this morning.  He was seeking to collect a past-due debt from the prior owner (a seemingly VERY religious older man, about 93 or 94 at the time of his death).

Apparently, the former owner used his position as a Christian to mislead others, and wiped out the savings of a number of older folks.

(Hot Gossip time):  While he was reported to have lost over half a million himself (including his home, causing the move to our mobile home park), he took the guy that was talking to me for $30,000 and this man showed up today to collect another $2,500 on the debt.

While I was sorry to have to inform him that Mr. C had passed away, I was very happy to give him the contact information for the nightmare of a daughter who sold me the place.  (Yes, I’m just that petty when given an opportunity).

I got an earful about all the people, young and old, that Mr. C defrauded under the guise of being a good Christian, as well as a knowledgeable man of means.

Can’t say it made me forgive the daughter any of her reported abuses of her father for leaving him to die in filth, because she’s responsible for her own actions and being hell on wheels to others, but it was entertaining to be able to sic this guy on her.

He’s not likely to get any money repaid from her (I have the impression that money is her God, and that she spends it as fast as she makes it), but I would love for him to try and make her life uncomfortable.  Even just in passing.

And, no.  I still don’t believe in karma.

But I do love a good, juicy story about bad guys having difficulties.  I hate seeing the sheep taken advantage of, even though I know I can’t save anyone but myself.

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Not into “company”

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  1. My sloppiness and clutter isn’t dirty, but your crap must be picked up / gone.
  2. Incessant talking gets on my nerves.  Even when I’m the incessant talker.
  3. I am not lonely.  I can entertain myself for days if not weeks and months.
  4. Being with people is exhausting.  Especially on some randomly designated holiday.
  5. I prefer to putter at my own pace.  Don’t worry; I’ll catch up when necessary.

So, the holidays are here.  I’ve been dealing with various offers of dinner, etc., for the last 6+ weeks, and we’re almost through the time when I am forced to socialize more than I would wish to, and can thus go back to doing my own thing.

I don’t know what it is about couples or families (not my own) that feel you MUST be lonely if you don’t share a meal with others on Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.

Seriously?

I feed myself 365 days a year, and I enjoy company from time to time.  But, to pick a random day and designate it a holiday that “must” be shared?  Nu-unh.  Just not into it.

When my Mom was alive, I’d go home at Thanksgiving so that I could avoid the drama of Christmas (and to drop off the presents for everyone while I was in town, so that the little chore of “celebrating” was accomplished before the crowds stacked up in the panic to get everyone “something” to show that you remembered them).  Since then, it has become clear that presents aren’t a 2-way street, so I’ve been very happy to drop that routine as the kids became adults (yes, I’m a bah humbg type of gal, unless I’m out and about and find something I think you’d like and stock it for an appropriate gifting occasion).

Christmas hasn’t been my thing since I was about 14-15, and my father caused yet another scene that  had my Mother calling the cops, and which subsequent reaction had Mom trashing the creche and the tree and the house because he “ruined” the holiday by demanding that he stop by with gifts for us, even though he refused to pay child support or cover any of the bills that he stuck her with when she kicked him out for infidelity and disrespect.

It wasn’t my fight.

I didn’t / don’t have a dog in the race for knowing who was right or who was wrong.

I can just tell you that Christmas and such has always been about the kids.  Sharing the day with the cousins as the extended family got together, and taking the kids to the movies to get out of the way of the adults as the after-meal discussions began.

As my siblings got married and had kids of their own, and after I moved away, Christmas became less and less important as I just wasn’t into the drama and the tension that surrounds unreal expectations.

Don’t believe we’ll ever get our Hallmark moment as a family and am frankly not looking for one.

I’m ok with my life.

I chose to be single.

I like peace and quiet.

Would I like to go back and spend time with the family if everyone were still alive and we were all looking for an excuse to hang out and share the day?  Absolutely.

But, that’s not my life anymore.

That hasn’t been my life for the last 30+ years, and certainly not for the last 11+ following my Mom’s passing.

When you look at the homilies about what others are suffering and who to “remember” on social media, it just turns me off.  Can we please have one day without remembering to thank our Vets, our Police force, our Nurses, our Enlisted, those suffering Cancer, anyone alone and without resources?

(Updated this blog to show the most prevalent / recycled / irritating examples added in the last 24 hours):

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I get it, we need to include others who might be feeling alone.  I even loved the advertisement aimed at a single Grandpa:

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While the advertisement is a riot, it also speaks to the presumptions of the image that we present to the world and what others presume we do with our spare time.  Sitting around, lonely, waiting to be contacted by “forgotten” loved ones.  Too uninspired to go out and build a fulfilling life on our own.  Just because we are (dramatic pause)…

da, duh, dah, dauuuhhhh….. SINGLE !

I agree that there’s nothing more aggravating that someone sitting around, bemoaning their lives, waiting to be entertained.

Frankly, that’s not me.  It’s never been me.  And I get tired of being gracious and thanking folks for their pushy invitations when I am perfectly content with my life, and may have plans of my own.

So, I’ll continue to keep my own counsel as anything more I write here will sound like sour grapes vs. the reality (that I’m freezing, and dislike a lot of fuss).

When is Summer coming back to Northern CA again?  I’d like to go fishing, but it’s way too cold.

 

Budget.

Just the word, “Budget”, makes me anxious.

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With the gift from a friend, I’ve been able to fill in the holes and even make a donation to the Salvation Army in thanks for the gift that I received.  I can’t say “all’s right with the world” because I still have COPD and I’m still fighting for my benefits, but I have an improved outlook.

Today, though, I’m trying to do a better job about balancing the budget for December-into-January as I’ve realized that I’ve squeaked through this month, but only through some fancy footwork and not through any actual discipline.

So, I started thinking about what my “musts” should be for shopping as soon as I get paid on December 28th to make sure that I make it through to my next paycheck on Janaury 25th.

Stupid things, like buying milk and bread and putting extra in the freezer so that I don’t have an excuse to go to the store.  Knowing how many razors I use each month (somewhere between 15 and 30, as those hairs on my legs HURT if they aren’t cut back daily or every other day).  Three (3) 24-bottle cases of water (and where the heck am I going to store the extra until I need it ? ? ?).

I have everything on a schedule, and I’m slowly working through my packed boxes to determine what to keep or what to jettison, as well as sorting gas money into its own envelope so that I can’t use my transportation funds for anything other than its intended purpose.

I’m squeaking by, but I’m amazed at how much blowing the tire a week or so ago left me feeling like I did when I was working as a contractor, sharing the rent with a roomie, and still finding that there were things I couldn’t do each month because I spent it elsewhere (usually on out of pocket medical expenses that pre-Obama-care wouldn’t cover).

No idea how this will all work out, but I’m having daymares where the subconscious wants to whisper to me, “What if they don’t terminate your employment?”

or, “What if you don’t get profit sharing and your RSU’s?”  (since I’m still an employee)

or, my favorite, “What if you didn’t put aside enough in taxes, and can’t get that extra money back?”

It’s frustrating to have enough money on the horizon to meet my needs short-term, and yet be psyching myself out because of employer / insurance company games in the present moment.

It’s frustrating to know that I should apply for the “CARE” program from the local utility company for a 20% discount as my disability income is only $2,400 per month (well below their annual threshold of $32k for a 1-2 person household), but know that I cannot apply until my employment status is resolved as, if they pay my missing profit sharing and RSU’s, I’ll then be over the threshold for the year.

It’s maddening to want to apply for the “Ticket to Work” program to see what’s possible for me to do to earn some income while helping out in my community… but I can’t do that, either, until my employment status is resolved.

Truly, I’m doing ok.  I just need to find a way to quiet the voices in the back of my head that want to obsess over the lack of extra funds, and which want to remind me of how far I’ve come since childhood, and how quickly I’m sinking back into that lack of funds circumstances despite my best efforts to follow the program, care for my health, and do it all right.

Did I ever tell you how much I hate to have to refine an already tight budget ?

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I’m doing well enough.  I just wish my subconscious believed that, too.

Fishing

via Daily Prompt: Fishing

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While I prefer fishing at the Grandparent’s lake in NH, I don’t live there anymore and often have to settle for the salt marshes along San Francisco bay.  (Pictured above, by Menlo Park).

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The white patch in the distance in the second picture is also of the San Francisco Bay as  I drive along Route 35 in Woodside, by Stanford University in Palo Alto / Stanford, CA.

I’m up in the hills, making my way toward Santa Cruz / Felton so that I can go fishing on Loch Lomond, where I hear there are fish (I have no actual success in capturing any, so it’s more a rumor than fact at this point).

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I will go fishing with a hiking friend, and we’ll take a paddle boat out on the loch, and I’ll spend all my time trying to catch something while she gets off to hike for a bit before coming back to join me.

Dealing with COPD, the effort to paddle there (even sharing the work) can be quite taxing, so I stay in the boat when she goes off to hike, as I just can’t get to my feet as I’ve used up all my energy and need to recoup.

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Fishing is the best of all things for me.  I get outdoors.  I get to look like I’m being active.  Mostly, I get to pass for normal for a little bit by doing something easy.  Fishing is one of the highlights of my life.  Fishing keeps me well.