Minutiae: 3/29-4/1

Friday…

Had to return teen’s brand new computer because the motherboard croaked. Fortunately, Best Buy let us just exchange it, and as it turned out the new one was less expensive so they refunded some money.
We went to lunch at a place I remembered being great 20 years ago.
It is no longer great.
Charred food and I cracked a tooth on an olive pit. Who puts olives with pits in their salad? Kinda weird. But what’s more dental work at this point,am I right? we just paid the bill and left. My tooth didn’t hurt and I just…I don’t know. The waitress was great and I felt bad for the sad decline of the place but then felt that weird poor people guilt about spending money on eating in a restaurant the rest of the day. Even though it the food was terrible and I cracked a tooth, and it wasn’t even that expensive. Being chronically low income really fucks with your head.

Boys got home from school and we drove to the library to meet someone who had posted a need in the local gift economy group for boys size 7 pants, which my kiddo just grew out of. I got out of the car to pass off the bag of clothes and noticed the car was overheating. Somehow made it to the mechanic near our house. They were just leaving for the weekend, so we parked it and walked home. Had eggs and bacon for dinner because I was just so done with everything and it was easy.




Saturday…

Cracked tooth started hurting and by afternoon my jaw was swollen. Clove oil, salt water rinses, whiskey,all other home remedies employed.
Husbeast had to take the day off because of no car and no buses on the weekend to get him to work on time. He made it downtown to rent a uhaul pickup (cheapest deal) so he wouldn’t miss Sunday (time and a half pay) and Monday , his early shift that no one else can really do but him.

Sunday…

Just really drained from the tooth pain.

Monday…

The teenager turned 14.All he wanted for his birthday dinner was Arby’s and cheesecake. Fine.Done.

Swelling and pain finally started going away. Made a dental appointment but it won’t be until May. We got a quote on car repairs: $2,030. Like,wtf, Universe? I have some money in savings from Taxmas and you gotta come for it all?

Paid rent: $750
We’re living here without a lease right now. I had asked in February if landlords would be willing to sell us the trailer and they said yes. Back in January, I found out that they moved out of state, and it seems like they really aren’t that into caring about their properties here, so I figured why not? I honestly had figured the amount would be pretty low. Not only due to the repairs needs but also I’ve been looking at mobile homes for sale around the same age and most in the same condition are selling for $5-7K.
They finally got back to me with their asking price: $20K
It’s hilarious. There’s no way that’s happening.



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diabetes is beating us

One month of my dearest husbeast’s diabetes meds is $609.14.
His insurance will pay for it entirely once we’ve met our $4,000 deductible but what about until then? We have a flex spending account which is entirely spent now,mostly on meds, a mere three months into the year.
This was a med his insurance didn’t cover at all until recently (it’s Trulicity). His doctor’s office supplied the injection pens via “samples” until it would. I am confident they will help if we can’t afford them next month (and until that deductible is met). I also still have Taxmas money I stashed in savings just in case.
What about people who don’t have that assurance and resources? Our medical expenses are nothing compared to some people struggling with this backwards bananas healthcare crisis. I’m fucking worried, America. We’re not ok. This isn’t ok. None of it.

Also, this week I needed new glasses and our insurance covers nothing eye related. . Not even the eye exam. Hello, insurance companies? My eyes are a part of my body and they need glasses to pretty much do every damn thing necessary to get through the day. $729 for glasses. Lucky me it was my birthday earlier this month and my mom paid for part of the glasses.
[sidenote: I could write another 600 words on how extraordinary it was that my mom gave me money for anything. This has never happened before to my recollection. Like…nearly homeless, no money for groceries,electricity shut off … those times when I could have used some mom-money? Nope. She must really like the idea of me being able to see clearly. I just don’t know]

Yeah, this was an expensive week.




Posted @ QUOTEZ.CO

Well, let’s fucking hope so. My brain, house,and entire life has been chaos, all with the kinetic purpose of creating order and good things.

The 1st

I have to pay rent today but I can’t make myself look at my bank account before I write a check.
I feel like we’re hemorrhaging money and I’m constantly trying to shove all of my being into the gaping wound to stop it from flowing out.
Glancing at the bank account always feels like throwing salt on the wound.

I do this one little word thing every year and this year I can’t decide between gold and rage. I want life to be golden but I feel like the only thing keeping me going is the rage.

—————————————————————————————————————

Was reading this kind of a bummer? I have a sanity saving art intensive Facebook page that helps: Witchcrafts
There’s a blog,too! The Lucky Fish

Other places to find me:
Twitter
Instagram

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please considering being a supporter through Patreon. Your support will help keep the lights on and the content flowing, as well as help me develop printed publications such as cookbooks and zines designed to help low income folks. Even if you can only pledge $1 or $3 per month, that is SO appreciated! If even half the readers of this blog pledged that small amount, it would be significant enough to bring change and growth in my own life.
POOR AS FOLK ON PATREON OR ONE TIME DONATION VIA PAYPAL TO LUCKYFISHHOMESTEAD@GMAIL.COM

I also sell things online and you can support me in that way,too.
Ebay
Etsy

Life | Electricity

Last week an electrician finally showed up to fix the things we’ve been asking the landlady to deal with since Spring. Withholding rent got her attention. His comment about one of the issues: “Thank god we fixed this now. That was a fire waiting to happen”.
This is what I had been saying, my huge concern. I felt vindicated by his ominous remark. Do all landlords poo-poo tenant’s complaints as over reaction? I felt that way.

One of the fixed issues was dead outlets in the kitchen. The fridge was plugged into one of the dead outlets, obviously a major pain in the ass. We had it plugged into a power strip stretching from an outlet that would work. Not ideal so it was nice to have that fixed. For a whole week or so,anyway. This morning I woke up and the fridge was warm, kitchen outlets dead once again.
My porch is a makeshift fridge today until husbeast comes home from work and helps me move the fridge to plug it in to that power strip again. Lucky it’s a cold day. We’ve had  unseasonal temp all month.

I wonder how many more months it will be before the landlady decides to send the electrician back to figure out what the hell is up with the wiring? Can’t wait to find out.
We put that apartment search on hold since it seemed things were getting resolved but maybe the hunt is back on.

Of course we just finally sorted out HEAP and had 175 gallons of fuel delivered. It would suck to lose that. We almost didn’t get it. I don’t know how more people don’t freeze. $660 for minimum delivery and that won’t last the entire winter at all. HEAP has a one time per season allowance and limited funds. We had problems getting it because our SNAP worker sent all our info to the HEAP unit but they didn’t have it and we had to start a whole new applications, submit documents,etc. One worker told us it was too late to apply and we didn’t meet the deadline. Another worker approved it. Let’s sprinkle blessings on that approving worker.

[this post brought to you by the happy chaos of having all my adult offspring home for the hollerdaze and The Cornell Elves program]


Was reading this kind of a bummer? I have a sanity saving art intensive Facebook page that helps: Witchcrafts
There’s a blog,too! The Lucky Fish

Other places to find me:
Twitter
Instagram

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please considering being a supporter through Patreon. Your support will help keep the lights on and the content flowing, as well as help me develop printed publications such as cookbooks and zines designed to help low income folks. Even if you can only pledge $1 or $3 per month, that is SO appreciated! If even half the readers of this blog pledged that small amount, it would be significant enough to bring change and growth in my own life.
POOR AS FOLK ON PATREON OR ONE TIME DONATION VIA PAYPAL TO LUCKYFISHHOMESTEAD@GMAIL.COM

I also sell things online and you can support me in that way,too.
Ebay
Etsy

Life |No Money November

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I was thinking the other day about how November is the worst but I realized I say that about most months. Not usually summer months. The bad months tend to end in “brrr” or have the weather that is brrr.

Winter is informally here. Weather doesn’t care about calendar dates. I cringe when I hear the furnace kick on, hoping there’s enough in the fuel tank to keep us warm until HEAP helps out. I might have to have fuel delivered before we get HEAP. It’s a minimum delivery of 150 gallons=to around $575 so I’m trying toIMG_0328 (2) hold off. The heat is turned to minimum comfort & I’ve turned the trailer into a winterized cocoon. I could have paid for fuel if I had a dollar for everytime I said to someone, “Put a sweater on! Where are your slippers?”.

I really hate being cold so trust me,kiddos, this isn’t because I like it. And remember that last place we lived that was probably a Truman Show like social experiment to see if a modern day family could live in 1820? This is loads better.

Hand-me-downs have made it so that the only winter clothing I’ll have to get is boots for the smallest one. He has little Timberlands ($3 at a yard sale!) but he really should have regular winter boots.I tried to take advantage of a BOGO sale at Payless Shoes this past weekend and they had no boots. The salesperson said, “Well, we might get some in the next few weeks.” Might? You’re a shoe store in the frozen tundra of upstate NY. You should start putting boots in stock in September,silly.

Fortunately-unfortunately, my husbeast has been getting a lot of overtime hours so we should at least have funds to go buy non-BOGO deal boots this week.

I say unfortunately because he’s stressed, sore, and tired. Also, we did reapply for SNAP and got approved but it’s only $59 for the month because they were looking at the OT. I made zero dollars the last few months while recovering from my health nonsense, otherwise I’m sure we’d have been denied. In January, husbeast gets a 50¢/hour raise. I’m guessing for sure we won’t qualify anymore. Although maybe without the overtime,we might? I guess we’ll see. I hate the uncertainty of the safety net.

This area – the space where teetering income that keeps us from qualifying for assistance and from actually being enough to make all the ends meet – this is the scariest place to be. We’ve been here before. We’ve risen just above it at times only to fall below it again and again. This is where the most instability always is. It’s scary as fuck.

 

[this post brought to you by my new-to-us free refrigerator and a five day visit from my NYC-living daughter]

September happened?

Happy October,ya’ll.

I don’t even know what happened to September but I’ll try here to figure it out.

September started out poor as usual. We had to borrow $500 from our teenage daughter to pay rent, for crying out loud.

Our electric bill was $1.32,though. Manageable.

I could not tell you a single food budget related thing except that because my husband worked overtime , we made $62 too much to recertify for SNAP.

My health issues continued but finally, I had a magic procedure done, which involved an overnight stay in the hospital and soooooo much pain for days.

My husband took a week vacation PLUS family leave time to basically be me for recovery time. He’s back to work as of yesterday but I’m still  recovering honestly. I’m still weak and have zero appetite. No more pain and I can feel that the procedure is working to kill off that life and soul sucking fibroid I had named Tammy but I’m still not 100% fully functional.

The day after I had the UFE,aforementioned teen daughter who graduated from high school in June a year early, moved to Brooklyn with her boyfriend who is now working at a certain late night comedy show that’s on TV Saturday nights . Live.

I’ve been very emotional about this. She’s my youngest daughter, my baby girl, except that she’s not really. She’s an incredibly smart,capable,brave young woman who is just fine without her Mama in the big city. *sniffles* But also, all my daughters(and one son)are grown and scattered to different cities and all I have at home now are these two stinky boys who spend way too much time playing video games and I swear they’re speaking an entirely different language from me sometimes.
(But according to their teachers, they are also fine young men who are kind and smart and all of that so yay )

So that was September.
I have just one basic goal for October and that’s to continue to mend and get back to work. EASY PEASY.

Meeting that deductible feels like unlocking an achievement.

Long story short:
Husbeast’s employer has employees every single November go through a form online to choose their insurance plan.  There’s no easy box to check that says, “JUST KEEP EVERYTHING THE WAY IT IS”.  Of course the form can’t be straightforward and simple. Even people who are literate on how to read insurance lingo might have to re-read certain bits. Last November when they pinned down husbeast to do his thing, it was at work, in the middle of a busy day and there was a lot going on.

As a result, our deductible this year is $4,000. Once the plan is chosen in November,it has to stay that way until next enrollment period. No takesie backsies.

 

I can’t be mad at him. Shit happens. If anything, I think HR should make sure employees understand everything.

The deductible was very low before. I could schedule two well child visits and meet that deductible.

I’m currently having a ton of health issues going on and my 1st thought? “Oh. Maybe we’ll finally meet that deductible.”
How backwards is that?
I don’t have $4,000 to pay out of pocket but I’m totally willing to go have lots of lab work, an ultrasound,consultations,etc basically just so I can meet the damn deductible and have insurance cover our health care costs.
Backwards, I tell ya.
We have a flex spending account that we’ve already used up trying to keep on top of basic bills and prescriptions. My son’s very necessary meds are $240 each refill and daughter’s extremely necessary therapy put us on a sliding scale fee as soon as they noticed the change in insurance. It’s still $50/week out of pocket but it would normally be $120/week . Our co-pay before was $20. There have been times I wasn’t able to pay even that so the flex spending has saved our ass this year so far.

So,anyway…hooray. We’ve almost met the deductible because I’ve had to go to the doctor more in the last month than I have in the past ten years! Thrilling.
(But really, I am thrilled because it looks like I’ll have to have a wee surgery and overnight hospital stay. That sounds expensive. )

By the way,we’re amazingly fortunate to have access to quality mental health care in a practice that’s compassionate and does what it can to make sure patients get the help they need even when they can’t pay. This needs to be widely occurring. I was so afraid of losing my daughter to her debilitating depression. Mental health care saves lives and heals families. Why isn’t this a priority?

And speaking of medical doctors? I have gone to my regular doctor twice for some of the issues I was having . Both times she told me it was  because I was getting fat and old. She told me that my body would adjust to the …changes? And this would all work itself out and normalize. Sure.
My symptoms have gotten worse. Guess what? It wasn’t just because I was fat and older (and I never thought it was).  I have a largish uterine fibroid. Not only is it responsible for the atrocious periods and cramps (tmi,probbaly but I actually don’t have a period anymore…I’m just constantly bleeding), allll of the other symptoms I’ve had from my frequent urination to leg & back pain can be related to this one fibroid. Neat,huh? Also, the constant bleeding means my iron is incredibly low causing me a slew of symptoms, like shortness of breath and being constantly tired. Not old & fat related,ok?
Moral of the story here: Don’t let doctors brush off your symptoms and chalk them up to just age or weight.
Also: Planned Parenthood knows more than my general practitioner does and is amazing.

[this post was made possible by iron supplements and Planned Parenthood]

Sick,bullying, and weekend links

I’m in the middle of that fun cycle where one kid brings home a vile sickness and then another kid brings home another thing two days later. One kid gets over a vile thing only to get the other vile thing and the second kid gets the other vile thing he didn’t have already and then everyone else in the house get both vile things simultaneously and everyone recovers in time to get new vile things.

I think we’re finally seeing our way out of all of this. Let’s hope.

We also had a scary and traumatic event in our family a few weeks ago that has taken a lot out of us. My 13 year old was attacked by another boy in the locker room after gym class. He had a huge contusion on his head, a concussion, a badly bruised but not broken nose with accompanying black eyes, and numerous bruises and sore body parts. He’s healed physically now but he’s still feeling vulnerable, understandably so. At least he isn’t feeling that it’s unsafe to go to school. The days afterward were hard but that anxiety has faded.
The school has dealt with this remarkably and satisfactorily, although this bully has been an issue for my son and others for years. There were also blindspots in supervision. It was noted that this bully in particular looks for opportunities that are unsupervised. Plans were put in place to account for that.
The school really does have excellent anti-bullying strategies in place.  It’s a despairing and sickening feeling to know that sometimes all the right things aren’t going to reach every kid, especially if that bully’s home life countermands everything positive given to them elsewhere.

One thing that left me feeling shook was that other students watched this attack happen and did nothing. I’m not saying one of them should have physically jumped in and helped my son but at least go get a teacher. If you have kiddos, please talk to them about  being active bystanders. This is also something to touch base with your school about. Kids and teens may be inactive bystanders because they’re afraid of retaliation from the bully. Find out what the school does to protect those who intervene after the incident. They should never be afraid of doing the right thing.

And with that, I will leave you with some links. Sorry these aren’t more uplifting than talk of bullying and illnesses.


 

◊ Paul Ryan fired the House Chaplain for no real good reason except that maybe he was standing up for the poor too much for Paul’s liking

◊ Poor people didn’t vote for Trump. Racist xenophobic nationalists did. (Ok, the article refers to them as people having “status anxiety” but it’s pretty clear that the anxiety they felt was induced by their own prejudices)

◊ Sen Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation that would provide a public option for banking and low cost loans available through the post office.

Under Gillibrand’s proposal, Americans could cash paychecks and deposit money in accounts free of charge at each post office location. Deposits would be capped at the larger of two amounts ― $20,000, or the median balance in all American bank accounts.

The postal banks would be able to distribute loans to borrowers of up to $1,000 at an interest rate slightly higher than the yield on one-month Treasury bonds, currently about 2 percent.

A postal banking system would be an alternative to the for-profit payday lending system, in which people routinely pay triple-digit fees to borrow money for bills that come due before their next paycheck. The average payday loan of $375 typically costs a borrower an additional $520 in interest and fees, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.

These costs are disproportionately shouldered by the most vulnerable people in the economy: Lower-earning workers who can’t afford fees that commercial banks levy if an account balance falls too low, or simply live in an area that lacks a traditional banking option. The lack of resources typically precludes these Americans from qualifying for a credit card with a reasonable interest rate.

◊ The east side of Washington, DC now has a “maternity care desert” that will hurt low income women the most

◊ I’m so angry that  pregnant women are still uninsured .

◊ Also: Abortion is part of women’s health care and restricting access to abortion is class warfare

◊I think I was a bit out of it and not online for the few days everyone on Twitter yelled at Moby for giving opinions about what people on SNAP should eat. I miss all the fun stuff. I’m glad Twitter filled in for me. It was a predictably myopic and privileged take.

◊ The latest episodes on Earth Eats podcast are about SNAP & the Farm Bill.  I haven’t listened to the latest one but the previous one discussed the beginnings of SNAP. Not surprisingly (to me) , the stigmas surrounding the recipients were there right from the very beginning.

Baltimore is thinking about selling homes for $1 to help revive neighborhoods. The issue is how to help lower income people who would benefit most to do the renovations on the homes. There’s an estimated 16,000 and 46,000 empty homes in Baltimore. That’s a lot of work to be done.

◊ Rochester’s one prestigious Hotel Cadillac has been used in recent years as an emergency homeless shelter but now a development company has bought it, displacing it’s residents.

The eviction rate in Richmond is 11 per 100 renters.
Poor people who can’t pay rent are charged money they don’t have in court fees and the eviction goes on their credit report. It’s expensive to be poor.

Annnnnd of course….

Ben Carson wants to raise the minimum public housing rent from $50 to $150.  That’s tripling the rent for the poorest people in public housing. Carson’s favorite myth is that if you make poor people struggle, it builds character and helps them succeed. Worst person to be the head of HUD ever.
Yes, I will of course mention the $31,000 dining room table.
If the department and the Carson family sees that as a justifiable expense, I’d like to show them how to shop on a budget. I just got a decent table and seating on Overstock.com for a reasonable price. They have coupons and free shopping all the time,too.