I Am On the Dole and Can't Get Off

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Giving Thanks. Bad Breath is Better Than NO Breath

Thanksgiving, the holiday demanding we count our blessings. I am not feeling grateful. Some time ago I heard this man speak of his troubled life and how he managed to turn it around. He said everyday he started out making a “grateful list”. He then added there were days when the only item on his list was “I am breathing.” These were the days he wrote of Bad Breath. I will try to be grateful for my own bad breath and not mention I have no food and that I am running low on Hope. Deep Breath.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

News To Me

From the “If things were not strange enough” department. My Congresswoman was on the local news. She was helping out at a homeless shelter. Don’t get me wrong-I do not fault her for this noble appearing deed. She is doing what I expect any politician to be doing two days before Thanksgiving. I just hope someone on her staff is back at the office looking out for me

Zen and Green Bean Casserole

There is a Zen proverb about a tree in the forest. Something like if it falls and no one hears it –is there sound? I was thinking "If I Blog and no one reads it-is there a Blog?". I became intent on finding the phrase that was in my mind. I went to Maximum Bliss and did not find the quote I was seeking. This one will do.

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there
Yasutani Roshi

All this Zen mumbling is a sort of protection. I am hesitating to record the grayness of the day. The paradox is I do not want anyone to read this and I do. No I have not heard from my Congresswoman. No, I have not received my Food Stamps. Yes, I am worried. I sit here in inaction. I cannot even bear to hear the recording on the phone another time. I think when I turned over the situation to my Congresswoman-I gave up. I gave up and yet I care that I have no food for Thanksgiving. Yes, today it’s a pathetic Thanksgiving Story and I cannot believe I am the subject.

There was an ad on TV from a church giving away 3000 turkeys. All you had to do was sign up. I don’t want a damned turkey. I want dignity. I would like to go to the store. I want to make the dreaded Green Bean Casserole to bring to my Daughters’ Thanksgiving. That is not even to mention eating. I am one angry client08889972 today.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Paper Money Backed By Cotton

Photo Therapy helped me through the day. I overloaded my graphic program and brain with images. I copied. I moved. I rearranged. It did not help the anxiety. Tommorow all offices open. I must gather myself together and face the system. At the moment I am favoring letting it all just roll over me. I am out of words. I just have these pictures here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Make the News Stop. I want "ME" Time

I just hate this. I mean reading the news. I want to ruminate on my own little problem here. I want to complain more about RobertaWorkerNumber2366 and the fact that I still have not received my Food Stamps. Is it a sort of cosmic joke that one of the big headlines is House Votes to Cut $700 Million in Food Stamps? Is this the universe being “ironic”? Is this my calling to lend my voice ? It may be. I am not biting. My anxiety over my Food Stamps increases as Thanksgiving keeps coming.

I do not support throwing more money at this problem. However, to cut these programs and not address the systemic problems is foolhardy. This cut and run attitude will solve nothing. We will only be appropriating money next year to repair the collateral damage caused by this reckless, short sited ,ill conceived budget bomb. On the other hand I would support a Ty Pennington kind of Makeover. I would love to line up every single program, get a backhoe and a wrecking ball and start over. That would be delicious.(See why I should stay away from politics) My bottom line is if we have social programs- make them work. They are not working.

There are plenty who share my outrage and are speaking out. I will leave changing the world to them. Greg Taylor is writing of it. His blog stirred me with a great quote, “Budgets Are Moral Documents’ from the article “A Time for Moral Reckoning” by Jim Wallis. Thanks to them and others, I can go back to my self-absorption and battle my anxiety over the system that forgot me.

Jonesing For Justice

The New Residencia: I'm not much of a Pat Buchanon "fan" since I'm a "moderate Democrat", but every once in awhile he hit's upon something. When I read this article - I thought he hit it right on the button. I believe it was a hit AND a miss

In his 1935 State of the Union Address, FDR spoke to a nation mired in the
Depression, but still marinated in conservative values: Continued dependence"
upon welfare, said FDR, "induces a spiritual disintegration fundamentally
destructive to the national fiber. To dole our relief in this way is to
administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

FDR was right. A "spiritual disintegration" has overtaken us. Government-as-first
provider, the big idea of the Great Society, has proven to be "a narcotic, a
subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

Either we get off this narcotic, or it kills us. Patrick J. Buchanan

I am not sure which is stranger me citing Patrick Buchanan or Patrick Buchanan quoting FDR.

Mr. Buchanan this certainly does not feel like narcotics. I speak with authority on this subject. I am the proverbial “end user” of this “narcotic” of which you speak. I assure you I am far from high. I agree the “Welfare System” today is absolutely a “destroyer of the human spirit”. This is precisely the theme of this Blog. However, The problem is not the intent or existence of social programs, Mr. Buchanan - It’s the Bureaucracy, Stupid. I use the term Bureaucracy loosely. It is much more. It is the inevitability of government with no accountability. It is Class. It is minimum wage. It is the decline of Communities and Families. It is an administration run by “cronies”. It is many things. It is people like you, Mr. Buchanan. In this same article, you state the New Orleans Superdome Tragedy was merely the culmination of 40 years of failed social programs. It is this uncomfortably small minded and provincial thinking that keeps me and others awake at night. Shame on you.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Louise Slaughter is Reading My Mail-Again

Go Louise Go (and you too, John)

I never intended this to even resemble a political blog...Today I cannot help it. I have been listening to Cspan and the debate over the proposal by Rep.John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania. Murtha's resolution would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable date."
Thursday he called the Bush administration's management of the conflict "a
flawed policy wrapped in illusion," and said the continued presence of U.S.
troops in Iraq is "uniting the enemy against us. CNN

Well that certainly got my attention. Then my newest Heroe, Louise Slaughter D, NY said, “Our forces are drawing fire…NOT suppressing it.” Thank you Louise. I feel better someone is finally verbalizing what I have been feeling. Thank God the debate has begun-its long overdue.

( Read complete transcript of John Murthas' Speech)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Must Like the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

I have to find a new routine for my mornings. I got out of bed, grabbed my phone, dialed the Electronic Benefit Transfer number only to hear "Your Food Stamp Balance is Zero". All this without my coffee. What a way to begin a day. I am zero in my wonderful neighborhood. New rule I will wait until the afternoon. I require all the morning hours to think of reasons to continue with this life I am leading.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Higher Power Auto-Replys !

Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing from you.
letters we can answer very quickly. Others take more research time and I
will send you a response by regular mail or e-mail. I try to answer all my
e-mail and mail in two weeks or less.
Please continue to visit our website
for information about Congress and how it affects our state. You can also
sign up for the e-newsletter on our website...

Warm Regards,

Wow, that was fast. Who am I kidding she didnt send it-"auto reply" did.

I knew a man with schizophrenia who like most I have known was unusually intelligent and thoughtful. One day I was babbling about being unable to reach my then husband on his cell phone. This was before instant messages, email and Blackberries. Cell phones were the hot property. He told me in a sort of resigned knowing voice,

"The more communication devices we have-the more difficult communication will

Over the years his statement has proven to be sadly prophetic. The wait continues.

Higher Power Takes on the "Food Stamp Mafia"

More harm was done in the 20th century by faceless bureaucrats than tyrant
dictators. Dennis Prager

Maybe the childish stickers were over the top, maybe Roberta Worker2366 is a cold woman or maybe she is just another mindless Bureaucrat. Whatever the reason I received the all too familiar “denial” letter from what will now be known as the “Food Stamp Mafia”. It was a form letter stating I was denied for one (or all) of the following reasons.

  • I missed an appointment
  • I did not provide the requested documents

Wrong, Robertaworker2366 so very wrong.

I went a little wild yesterday after I received the letter. I wanted every piece of documentation I could locate. Now my floor is covered with paper . I lack organizational skills. No, wait I have the skills I just generally do not chose to use them. My life is a monument to valiant starts at organization. I have stacks of nice new manila (and some colored) folders labeled with such topics as “important papers” or “needs to be filed”. All empty of course. So when I need to find something I get frustrated and the result is a floor covering of governmental papers.

I was too upset to write my frustration yesterday much less call Robertaworker2366. I just walked around the papers and felt sorry for myself. I awoke today and thought I am "turning this over" (no not like they say in AA). I am turning it over to an even higher power, my congresswoman. I think she owes me. I am on her phone list and for a year I have gotten recordings about this issue and that. An unimaginable bore and nuisance. Its her turn damn it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Would Channel Scooter Libbey if I Thought That Would Help Get My Food Stamps

The bureaucracy is a circle from which one cannot escape. Its hierarchy is a
hierarchy of knowledge. The top entrusts the understanding of detail to the
lower levels, whilst the lower levels credit the top with understanding of
general, and so all are mutually deceived.

Karl Marx

Let us get back to cheering me on to call Roberta Worker 2366 tommorow to see why in Gods name I have not received my food stamps. I applied for them on October 11 2005. I will assume you know what the date is today. At the Food Stamp Office there is a very large sign stating “if we determine you need immediate assistance you will receive your food stamps within 24 hours”. I guess I did not qualify for that huh? I did go and politely let the security guard scan me for weapons, signed my name to a list and then took a number. I was then handed an application. I waited and waited. I went outside and smoked. I promised my friend that was so good to take me it shouldn’t be much longer. It is now close to 5 pm. I wondered if I would get any credit for my waiting because no way do these people work after 5. Then it comes and the same security guard who scanned me locked the front door. Hmmm I thought not a place I want to be locked in. So I inquired of him what would happen. He explains everyone will still be seen. I say you are kidding. He smiles and lets a happy waiter out the door. I admit I had a moment of appreciation. They are actually going to do the right thing for us poor waiters-we will be seen. That optimism did not last long. At 5:30 my number was called. Turns out Doris (I made that name up) is not going to see anyone else today. Does that mean Doris just got tired, did not give a damn or what? Of course I did not say that. The girl behind the glass explained that my application would be reviewed just as if I was there. And here’s the clincher-“they would be in touch”. Oh yeah in touch.

Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear to be busy when they are
writing and because the memos, once written, immediately become proof that they
were busy.

Charles Peters

The first “touch” was a letter stating I was denied for Medicaid-which arrived in only 2 days. Its funny they are so prompt with denials. But what is even funnier I was not applying for Medicaid. I was applying for the QMB program for the Medicare I already have. I was furious. I called and surprisingly spoke with a helpful woman who looked at my case and said,”ohhhhhh they did it all wrong. I will send you the proper forms so when you have your appointment you can be all ready.” I thanked her and said “what about this appt. I have not heard anything.” She said to watch my mail.

Two weeks go by. I receive a letter assigning me an appointment with Robertaworker 2366. The appointment is November 9. Now we are getting very close to the promised Food Stamp 30 day guarantee. Somewhere I read I should receive my food stamps no later than 30 days from the date I applied. Did I tell you earlier I have no transportation? I will tell you details later but for now just know that getting there is a problem. So, I arranged for a friend to pick me up on that all-important day. We were about to walk out the door and I was gathering all my papers and I said “Oh Shit”. The appointment was at 1:30 not 2:30. I knew the seriousness of my mistake. I grabbed the phone and called the extension for RobertaWorker2366 and to my amazement she answered. I said this is Clientnumber 08930731 and explained my mistake. She was very nice (maybe I should have been worried by that). She said “oh yours is easy and straightforward because you have SSD.” She asked a few more questions and told me to send a few more items and all should be fine. Knowing that nothing is ever fine with that place I immediately prepared my packet for Robertaworker2366. Now here is the part that I am not sure if I am proud of or a bit ashamed. I had all my miscellaneous papers very nicely assembled with a blue paperclip. Then as an afterthought I decided a nice humble note to RobertaWorker2366 would not hurt. Perhaps the personal touch would speed things up. All of a sudden it was like I was channeling a slow person with a touch of the gospel thrown in. I wrote things like “I hope I didn’t do anything wrong and make more trouble for you” And then I would throw in a few “God Bless Yous”. It was a masterpiece. I begin to address the legal envelope and remembered some childish stickers I had received in the mail. This would cinch it. I sealed the letter with bunnies, butterflies and a tortoise and put one on front for the hell of it. I was acting a part that I had decided might get through. I wanted RobertWorker2366 to have pity on an obviously incompetent pathetic simpleton whose only friend maybe Jesus and RobertaWorker2366. Was that wrong?

A Readers Guide

This is a story. It is being published backwards. I am aware that is the how Blogs operate. They also need succinct smart, bright funny sentences that translate well into snippets of RSS and can stand-alone. Not that anyone is reading this. I am not “networking” for links. I will not tell friends or family about this. Therefore any readership will be small or non-existent. That’s okay. I just had to write this. Each time someone lands here by chance or choice and reads a few paragrahs I feel less alone. Please do share your thoughts and experiences or just send psychic encouragement. Hey, you can even say , "Get a Job".

Anyhoo if you do find yourself here start at the beginning it may make more sense-or not. Okay, enough of the moving parts.

Doling out my life

The envied are like bureaucrats; the more impersonal they are, the greater
the illusion (for themselves and for others) of their power. John Berger

So my instincts were correct. This is no picnic. I should have listened to those voices (no I don’t hear voices). In fact it is the lack of food (much less a picnic), which prompted me to write. This situation is not something friends or anyone care to hear about. In fact since I started receiving disability I have isolated even more. At least when I was struggling I could say I was looking for a job or just lost a job or that times were hard. Now I feel the weight of a label that I cannot seem to translate to me or anyone. I have fallen into the abyss of nothingness. Nothingness that still requires food. I am Client number 08930731. Frankly it’s not even about the food today I am used to getting by on peanut butter. It’s my overwhelming contempt for the bureaucracy I depend on for my needs. The bureaucracy has become like an unavailable Mother one I resent depending on for my very survival. I cannot deal with it anymore. So, tonight I will eat peanut butter. I cannot bear to call Roberta Worker number 2366 to find out what form I possibly forgot. Besides I probably could not get her on the phone if I tried. (Insert primal scream) Like a child I must keep going back to the Bureaucratic Mother only to be put on hold, dismissed, reprimanded or ignored. I feel better just knowing I have put off dealing with Roberta worker number 2366 for one more day. Maybe I will get lucky and I will call that dreaded number and that lovely operator will say, “Your food stamp balance is 136.00. That is a dream. Besides I have other agencies on my “put off list”. Did I mention Medicare QMB program or Medicare Prescription Drug Program? I will be the first to admit I sometimes wait to the last minute and sometimes I blow off a lot of the details. In my defense that is a part of the very reason I am on disability remember- instability. When you are dealing with these people there are no gray areas except the ones they use to excuse their incompetence. They don’t know me. Hell, I don’t want them to know me -I just would like to be recognized as a human being that is depending on how they do their jobs for my very existence.

I was wondering what was for dinner shall it be peanut butter on my left finger or maybe tonight I will make it interesting and put it on my right.

That’s right I am on the dole. Its not much mind you-$684.00 a month. My rent is $525.00. Oh and my prescriptions are well over $400. Do the math. Would anyone choose this? Well, fact is I did and I didn’t. I did work for many years on and off and came to realize I was not exactly successful at holding a job. The general consensus is I have a mental illness that makes me a bit unstable-not stupid-just unstable. Unstable in the sense there are some mornings or weeks that I am so anxiety filled (manic) or non moveable (depressed) there is not a chance in hell I could go anywhere much less perform on a job. I suffered years of chaos, unemployment and poverty. I was continually encouraged to file for Social Security Disability. I resisted thinking ultimately I would pull through and I certainly did not view myself as “disabled” (and still don’t). I have met people that I call “generationally' disabled. They expect to receive disability because their parents did and on and on. It was like an important rite of passage much like a bar mitzvah or a holy communion the day they received their “Award Letter” from the Social Security Administration. I am surprised there are not themed items at Hallmark for the family celebration. In my family “being on the dole” is a disparaging remark. While they look down on this segment of society-they simultaneously offered me little alternative to meeting my basic needs. I am helped sporadically and grudgingly. Which I feel obligated to add I am grateful for. I am viewed as a problem. So, I went ahead and took the plunge and applied.. To my surprise I received it in record time and on the first try. Historically claims are rejected at least once. My first reaction was great and then I thought wow I am sicker than I thought. Then I became sad. It was official I have been labeled “disabled”. For all practical purposes I am no longer expected to contribute to society. Could this be? And how the hell was I going to live on 684 dollars for the rest of my life. I have been sentenced to a life of poverty. I am healthy. I am reasonably intelligent. What now?