Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Mr. Woozie, Tear Down This Wall!"

Frankly I'll be surprised if anyone reads this; it's been well over a year. Looks like blogger's interface--one of the reasons I jumped ship--also, finally, joined this century. I find it strange that this blog, a relatively large part of my life thus far, not only began as a mere time-waster in a pointless class, but ended not with a grand finale but a long, long fizzle. Like those old people that get the flu, then pneumonia, then kidney failure, then slip into a coma, then have several strokes, a heart attack or two, and then die. I probably should have put the Tome down years ago. But, as Andrew found out, I often have a hard time putting a finite end on big things so here we are.

After a lengthy hiatus on all things writing I decided a few months ago to get back into blogging but, to be quite honest, I was so tired of this place. Putin glaring over me, white-on-black formatting, all the communist theming, it was all very high school. Over five years ago. The continuity would have been nice but I was honestly feeling a clean break more, not to mention all that reformatting would have taken forever. Those of you among my inner circle (aka facebook friends) already know I've started another blog, and already know where it is. The rest of you please email me and I'll let you know, as that seems easier than tracking you down myself. There are some of you, among the reasons I'm not simply linking to my new site (for now anyway,) I won't miss even in a grave. But I'd rather not waste much energy saying how terrible terrible people are when they won't ever listen or change. Those folks, should they want back in, the PayPal button still works. Everyone else, while I always wrote first and foremost for my own benefit, your commentary/ego stroking helped make the Tome as special as it is to me. I met some real good people through this place, people I'd otherwise never come across. For that too, I love the Tome.

I wish I could summon something nice to say for the official terminus of this place. We have, after all, been through a lot together. From reckless defenses of imperialism and quasi-advocation of political assassinations to a gay new life in a gay little mountain town, reading The Tome of Communism and her 1,182 posts really is like reading a disjointed memoir of six-ish years of my life. College anxieties, #gayboyproblems, a global financial collapse, the first black president, flickers of a revolution, STDs, suicidal thoughts, that hellhole Iraq, that worse hellhole the Bakery, whiskey, weed, white people; it's all here. Despite this attempt to bookend the Tome I don't think I can scrub the internet of it, now or perhaps ever. That being said for all intents and purposes, this blog is officially done. I'm glad I've moved on, and I'm not really looking back. I can't forget, either. Thank you, truly. It's been fun. We'll always have Moscow.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ain't No Valley Low Enough

Just as soon as college started it seemed to be over. In fact, up until move out day (which was also graduation day, excellent fucking planning there) every day seemed like just another day. The end never really felt imminent until my mother showed up complaining about how I hadn't packed anything and thus refusing to help, and Nick's parents trying to change my life by telling me to believe in myself. Good advice of course, but I think 19 year old me could have used the message more. Now, three weeks removed from an uneventful graduation the one word I feel more than anything else is stagnation.

These days I'm essentially a housewife. Andy spends so much time up at the mine (above ground security, he ain't no miner) and rakes in fat paychecks while I...wash dishes and burn candles to keep the house from smelling like smoke. We've taken in his mother's cat which already loves me more than anything, and I made the jump to a PS3 two weeks ago. Other than that, literally nothing has happened lately. A little post-college decompression is always nice, but the valley is quite the low pressure zone.

Orchard Avenue, where I now call home, is populated almost exclusively by 60+ year old Poles with nothing better to do than be up in everyone else's business. Everyone knows everyone, and everything going on with them. Classic Americana. A house one street down even has one of those porcelain yard negroes that's been there since Andy's mom was young. Call me crotchety but I do my best to isolate myself from my neighbors. I'm just not from this world; my business is only yours at my discretion.

Of course to combat Appalachia's pervasive monotony I'm looking for any sort of job. As usual employment searches are ridiculously disheartening; every application I pick up I wonder why I'm even bothering, these people aren't going to hire me. And lo, they don't. I always try to go in with a confident demeanor, and pretty much everyone I've come across is too thickheaded to see through my facade. I'm currently trying to get in at a grocery store within walking distance, oddly enough to work in yet another bakery. I'm sure it will evoke brief flashbacks to my 16 months in hell, but I refuse to believe it can be worse than the bakery. Really though I'll try my hand at most any job. While I'm waiting time I might as well make some money that doesn't come from selling my possessions or mooching off my father.

And there's always the haunting spectre of  a career. After all, just what the fuck did I go to college for? If all I got out of it was a weed habit and distaste for industrial food, I'll feel pretty ripped off. The original plan was to hunker down here for a couple months, and once Andy gets Jonathan Law off his back get the hell up out of the mountains and go to grad school. But recent events have, as always, thrown a grenade into my half-baked plans. Besides, I don't even know how I'm going to pay off the 22.5 I've already accumulated. Part of my grad school rationale was putting off those for another couple of years. I don't know why this country believes that burying its youth in five to six figures of debt right as they're beginning their adult lives is a component of a successful society and economy. Education is a right, just like proper health care, but good luck convincing the loudest of us of that.

All that considered though I still feel like some further form of higher education will be important to me not being poor--my single greatest motivator through all this shit. Hell even if I get this bakery job I'll take as many hours as they'll give me, cause what the fuck else am I going to do with all this time? Pretty soon I'll have to devise a way to save up some money as the both of us are unfortunately spendthrifts. As soon as his probation is over, Andy and I are getting the fuck out of here. Where is still unknown but I will not have my deliverance from Appalachia delayed any further, especially by something as stupid as my dumbass can't save any money. It's nice to not be writing papers or taking exams anymore, but life apparently finds other ways to be complicated.

Also, if you find my life exhilarating or even just interesting enough to keep tabs on, you should have added me on facebook a while ago. Tumbleweeds up in this bitch, ya heard?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Work Song

While I can understand why management told me I didn't give a good interview, at the same time only asking me why I want to work at Jimmy John's doesn't predispose one to giving a good interview. Especially when its only bill/drug/new Xbox money. Nonetheless, I've been working in uptown Athens for about a month now. All in all I work a little over 20 hours a week (at minimum), including a 5PM-5 AM shift Friday night. Combine work with class on Tuesday and I'm busy 11 hours straight, minus a lunch hour (which is really a lunch 20 minutes). So every Tuesday night I head straight from work at 8 to The Union, where my Crown and Coke is 80% Crown, 20% Coke.

While there for Drunk on Tuesdays with my friends we got into a discussion about various disciplines. Bearing in mind one is a scientist by hobby and the other by degree, they both hold the hard sciences in high esteem. We tucked history close behind, because we historians (hair toss) do provide a valuable service in chronicling and interpreting the past. Plus, unlike similar disciplines, there's no pretending that history is a science.

If I may make the bold, barely-supported, and almost definitely wrong claim that many people who make a living in this field do, the 2012 Republican primaries have destroyed politics as a science. From Pawlenty to Bachmann to Cain to Gingrich to Perry to Santorum, everyone in the GOP field at some point was the inevitable nominee according to the mainstream narrative. Except of course for Ron Paul. And overriding that, the Romney campaign was always a slapped-together wishy-washy sophomoric attempt bound to fail inevitably because Romney is a slimy piece of shit. And what happened, ultimately? All those paper columnists and talking heads were all wrong, all the time. Rockstar candidates like Cain and Bachmann had their moment in the sun, but all had terrible professional or character flaws the electorate couldn't overlook. And sure enough, the rich white man won out--the most predictable outcome.

Only political science allows you to be so wrong all the time and retain a job. Granted the hard sciences involve being wrong a lot as well, but if biologists were as wrong about whatever's trending in biology now as political scientists were about these last few months, many of those biologists would find themselves looking for work. But not with political science. Politics is a lot more infinite and unpredictable than biology, since if there is a governing principle of politics it's "money talks". And that's fine. It also, however, means that politics is not a science at all. Political science as a discipline is a joke.

When I was a poli sci major we talked so much about the importance of statistics and polls as if we were actually trying to do science, even though polling 700 people out of 300 million + is hardly a representative sample and, as anyone who's ever used statistics as justification can tell you, the same stats can be used to justify wildly different arguments. The training for the discipline is just as arbitrary as the discipline itself. Maybe if political science dropped the "science" and realized it belonged in the humanities, maybe I could have more respect for it. Until that day comes though, it's just as intolerable as sociologists who get a B.A. and suddenly know how everyone works everywhere cause they're, like, a scientist now.

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Unrelated, I'm vindicated to announce that someone is finally taking note of how awful the Bakery is. I wasn't kidding, or alone, when I said it was the worst place in the world.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On Money and Evil

You can now consider me among the ranks of the unemployed. After weeks of speculation about Emperor Mary Jane terminating someone to set an example of her power and cuntiness, it turns out I was the example. I don't know how I missed the memo but I did not know I had to work the first day of the year, so I showed up two hours late with a gash on my face from when I had to rush shaving since no beards of any kind are allowed. Still bleeding I came into work when I was put on dish to help the two people back there. An important note about dish; you can only fit two people back there, the only two dish jobs are rinsing and running the machine, and on this particular day my help wasn't even needed. Being in pain, pissed that I had to cancel dinner plans an hour beforehand, I have to admit I lost my temper and slammed a couple of doors out of my way but nonetheless finished my shift. I figured I would get in trouble, but it came as quite a surprise the following Wednesday that my trouble would be termination. When Darth Jeff and Greg (a weird, albeit nice guy coopted as the Empire's instrument) cornered me in the break room I was informed that my endemic (my words, not theirs) bad attitude was a problem. I called Jeff an asshole and went on my way, and I regret nothing.

Unemployment carries with it some very conflicting emotions. I got my overage check the day before my termination and had yet to spend any of it so I do have enough to survive for a while. However, that means that until I find a job to pay for living expenses the plan is for my mother to pay my rent with her tax rebate. She could damn well use the money and I'd really like to not do that to her, but I'm not seeing many other options. Nobody is hiring in this town; the ones that don't outright say no tell me to come back in March when they do spring quarter hiring. So I'm wracked with stress over putting my already overburdened mother through more as well as not having a steady stream of income, since there's a lot of that overage check but it won't last forever. At the same time, I never have to go to Central Foods again, ever, for any reason. The Empire was right about one thing, I hated that place. These two weeks of unemployment have been so happy and relaxing. I have another 22 hours a week to devote to schoolwork (yes, schoolwork), Skyrim, art, and other pursuits that previously got shouldered out of my life to varying degrees because of the Bakery. My official grounds for termination were a bit shaky (one strike for coming in late, and "the severity of my door slamming" warranted another two) and I probably could appeal it, but do I really want to jump back on a sinking Executor-class Star Dreadnaught?

Not entirely unrelated, the principles of gross mismanagement combined with what can best be described as financially-driven evil find themselves manifested prominently today in the Stop Online Piracy Act, arguably the more hated half of the twin SOPA/PIPA legislative assaults on the internet we know and love. If I were to dissect the two and point out everything wrong with them I would be typing well into next week, but in short the regulatory measures SOPA would create combined with dangerously vague definitions of key terms and responsibility for pirated content would essentially give the federal government power to shutter any website that has any illegal content on it. In such a vast expanse as the internet, illegal content is everywhere. Short of destroying the internet, it cannot be stopped. Trying to stop internet piracy is like trying to stop an ant infestation by squishing every individual one between your fingers. Of course Congress says the implementation of SOPA won't be as liberty-trodding as the legislation suggests, but would you trust anything News Corporation has their fingers in? Much like effective drug policies evolve over time and respond to the realities of life, so too should internet law. Hamfisted attempts to enforce outdated understandings of intellectual property will fail. In the end it doesn't really matter anyway, since the President can indefinitely detain without charge or indictment anyone he wants.

And thus we arrive at our final point, Paula Deen. You see, the Calorie Queen recently revealed she has type-II diabetes. I wonder why. The important point isn't that Paula Deen has diabetes; that's what happens when you spend decades eating deep fried stuffing on a stick and butter fried butter sticks on a stick. The important point also isn't that Paula aims to keep eating the way that she has been all these years since "there's no reason you can't eat what you want as a diabetic". Apparently death isn't a reason for her, which is fine with me--stupid people culling their own numbers as a direct result of their stupidity shouldn't bother anyone. The problem is that newly diabetic Paula Deen decided to whore out her fatty arteries and lethal foods to Novo Nordis, the Big Pharma manufacturer of the non-insulin injectable medication Victoza. After achieving fortune and fame by slowly killing herself and others, she's going to make even more selling the wasted, greasy bodies of herself and others to exactly the kind of monied interests that poison this country by the second. I want to say good on her for making even more money off the dumb, but there's something so principally wrong about what she's doing. One can only hope Victoza has some fatal defect Novo Nordis didn't notice and it brings Paula to an early demise. That is, if her defiant consumption of ultimate fantasy deep-fried cheesecake (probably on a stick somewhere) doesn't get her first. What a world we live in...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Canada or Bust

For the last three years I've been living in Athens, Ohio attending Ohio University as all of you probably know. Even though they have a well-known record for misdiagnosis and borderline malpractice, Hudson Health Center is close, convenient, usually quickish, and bills your student account so you don't have to worry about it later. From routine STD tests to viral identification, virtually all of my blood work has been processed through Athens Medical Laboratories, Hudson's primary medical lab. Not until a few weeks ago did I know that my healthcare company, United Healthcare, did not pay for any of my lab work as AML is "out of network". Not once did anybody at Hudson, AML, or UHC inform me that I was sending information to a lab my insurance would not pay for. Now I owe them $350.00.

Last year I went to a wonderful dentist recommended by a friend because I hadn't been to a dentist in at least a decade and I was concerned about the welfare of my teeth. The dentist asked me, "you smoke out of the right side of your mouth don't you?" which, after my confirmation, she followed up with "I can tell by the staining on your teeth. But who didn't smoke in college?" After receiving a surprising and soothing bill of clean dental health, they sent me on my way with the added comfort that I would not be receiving a bill, as United Concordia, my dental insurance company, should cover everything. In October I got a $200.00 bill from Riestenberg and Lavelle, DDS. That's what United Concordia decided not to pay.

This past June I came down with a very strange viral infection; I was nauseous, running a very high fever, sweating bullets, and chronically dehydrated. After Hudson failed me it took four different people to convince me to go to the emergency room since I was terrified of receiving a $4000 bill later in the year. Nonetheless I went, and O'Bleness Memorial Hospital basically did to me everything Hudson did, with the addition of a crying baby and fat cunty white trash woman to keep me company in a large room divided by curtains into smaller examination rooms. I left, eventually got better, and never received the dreaded thousand dollar bill. I did, however, get billed for a $162.50 "physician's fee" that United Healthcare again refused to pay. O'Bleness sent the bill to a collection's agency a scant month after the due date.

Riestenberg and Lavelle, DDS and AML offered me a 'convenient' payment plan of $10/month until all outstanding debts are taken care of. HRRG, the collection agency on behalf of O'Bleness, demanded half of the $162.50 by January 1 and the other half by January 31. 

Today my mom and I went to get me glasses. My vision isn't bad yet, but it has noticeably deteriorated over the last couple years. I've tried before in Athens only to be told I don't have vision insurance. This afternoon though she called and was told United Healthcare would cover part of the expenses. Upon going to the eyeglass store, they told us that United Healthcare wouldn't cover a single cent because our vision insurance had been cancelled at some point in the past. Bear in mind that my mother has worn glasses for decades and is still paying for vision insurance. Infuriated and confused, we went home and she called them again, whereupon one representative told her UHC doesn't offer vision insurance anymore and another told her that all vision expenses must first be paid out of pocket and then we can mail in in a seven page rebate form signed by the ophthalmologist (who must be in network) and one to three months after that we will receive a check for some of the expenses.

To provide context, if I worked exactly the hours I'm scheduled at the bakery and didn't give any up in taxes, I would pull in a little over $730 a month. However, the actual number is almost half of that. Rent is $430 a month, electric is around $45, internet is $35, and water/trash pickup is $35. In addition to that I need to buy groceries, school supplies and textbooks (once every three months), anti-depressants (Wellbutrin costs me $50 a bottle once a month to my student account, which has to be paid in full in order to register for classes) and treat myself to something once in a while to avoid the full crushing oppression of poverty. If you think all that doesn't add up with my salary, you're damn fucking right. $20 a month to settle the dental and lab debts might not seem like much, but that is a substantial amount of money for the underemployed living paycheck to paycheck. And considering neither of my parents make enough money to support themselves, I am effectively financially independent and quickly amassing a relative mountain of medical debt. I just turned 21. I haven't even finished fucking college yet and I'm already being fucked because I had the nerve to get sick a couple of times.

Dare I say it though, I'm one of the lucky ones. An old friend of the Tome commented on my facebook:

I heard some sad assed stories from people that had gotten ill or had been in accidents who had never properly healed because of no access to health care. This one woman in her late 30s who ran a laundromat got hit by a car when she was in university. She had no healthcare. It placed her in a lifetime of debt and she basically became disabled as physiotherapy was unavailable to her. When I told her that where I came from all her surgeries and the physio afterward would have been looked after regardless of whether she was employed, unemployed, a student, not student, whatever, she cried. A week or so later when I was in there doing laundry a man who had been listening to our conversation the week before brought in an invoice from when he had heart surgery. He had health care coverage, but the bill detailed all the costs and expenses that had been incurred during for his surgery and his stay in the hospital. It had a total on it like $65K or something.
I've always known that insurance in America was a bit like choosing whether you'd like to lose a couple toes or your whole leg, but only recently has it really hit home. It's disgusting, revolting, and inhumane. How insurance companies, no matter health, car, dental, vision, home, life, flood, fire, tornado, whatever, can suck tens of thousands of dollars out of people because the patient had the shit-kicking luck of needing a little help and the insurance company, with annual profits in the billions of dollars, just can't bring themselves to absorb another $500 in losses.

Five hundred dollars is paltry to them but a fortune to me, and to millions of other people in the same situation. Nonetheless, they won't pay it. So it's up to us proles to live in even more destitution while the Ameristocracy--insurance companies, banks, and anyone else too wealthy for their own fucking good off the backs of poor people--rake in more and more through stock dividends, fine print, special fees, interest rates, and other asinine mechanisms designed by the rich to make them richer. It's realities like this that cast tons of horseshit on the idea popularized by Ronald Reagan, another opulent fascist cow, that the United States is "the last, best hope" and "a shining city on a hill." Reagan knew better. The upper class knows better. But the message isn't for them, its for us, and a great deal of my fellow Americans are inconceivably stupid enough to believe it. As long as this is the case, nothing will ever--ever--change.

Me? I hope to move to a country that actually had a socialist movement and watch Rome burn.