And People *Still* Want to Work for the State!

Twice in the last week, I have heard from (or about) people interested in working for the State of Ohio.  Even after the news that we’re supposed to eat two weeks’ pay during the life of the next contract, there are folks out there so desperate for seemingly stable employment that they want to work for the State of Ohio.

One is a guy who works the night shift at the little market/convenience store a couple blocks north from our house.  I’m there frequently, buying Ben and Jerry’s and Diet Coke.  Unlike most people who shed their work IDs and name badges the instant they get home, I’m often in the habit of forgetting I have it on, and find myself unclipping my badge from my shirt as I’m getting undressed to go to bed.  The cashier noticed my badge, and started asking about getting a state job.  So, I sent him the URL for beginning the Bataan Death March of Ohio civil service.  (Just in case someone who reads this blog wants to know, here is where it all starts:  It’s pretty straightforward from there.

The other person who asked is a piano student of Steph’s.  I haven’t met her–I’m usually in self-imposed exile in my basement office or at the library when Steph has her lessons, so Steph gave me the student’s email address, and I sent her the above link from work.

I was able to obtain Federal employment in the 1990s, before the Internet, when applying for Federal service involved lots of mailing, lots of waiting, and sheer luck to learn of openings.  That was when typing and crafting a perfect SF-171 was considered as much an art form as Shakespeare’s sonnets or painting "Starry Night."  Now, makes it much more easy in terms of one-stop shopping.

Applying for and working for the government is one reason why I am so amused by the paranoids among us who think the government is an omnipresent Big Brother privy to every secret and every misdeed, done or undone.  The whole time I was applying for work with the Federal government, I passed many sleepless nights worrying that they would find a letter I sent Selective Service when I was 18, right after I registered for the draft.  In this letter, I said if I was ever drafted, I’d give classified information to the USSR.  I was sure that letter would come back to haunt me, and I’m sure it’s on file somewhere, but I never heard word one about it.

I’m at Panera, after seeing Susie off for the 9 a.m. service and her Our Whole Lives class at church.  I’m going to go to the 11 a.m. service, so I’m blogging and Twittering in the meantime.  Steph’s birthday is today, but we celebrated last week.  She and the Columbus Women’s Chorus are singing at the Governor’s Mansion later this afternoon–she should carry a tin cup and wear a sign that says, "ALMS FOR STATE WORKER’S FAMILY."  I’m typing while listening to Everything Must Go, a 2003 Steely Dan album which is really not grabbing me.  Messrs. Fagen and Becker usually turn anything they touch to gold.

Lasted Four Hours at Work Today

I don’t mean for this to be the second consecutive entry to sound like Fred Sanford and "I’m comin’, ‘Lizabeth," but I managed to stay at work for four hours today.  When I got home last night, I bummed a Darvocet from Steph (her heart doctor prescribed them in April, but they’ve sat untouched in her vanity drawer) and fell asleep.  I woke up in the morning, and I won’t say that I felt fine, but I definitely felt better, so I saddled up and went to work.

It may have been a good thing that the workload was light to non-existent today.  It turned out the Darvocet was only masking the symptoms, not curing them.  At 11, I took sick leave, went home, took another Darvocet, and slept until late afternoon.  Steph and Susie are at their respective choir practices at the Unitarian Church, so I’m at the Panera on the Ohio State campus (across from Barnes and Noble), complete with my bottomless cup of Diet Pepsi and the laptop.

Should this back pain persist much longer, I think I am going to see a doctor about it.  I’m reluctant to take any strong medications for it, because my experiences with alcohol and caffeine show that I’m hard-wired for substance misuse, but I don’t like walking around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame either.  When I lived in Cincinnati, in the days when I was single, un- or underemployed, and without health insurance, I took a pretty nasty spill on an icy sidewalk one night.  At first, I thought I had injured nothing more than my pride, but when I got up, I realized differently.  I walked with a rather noticeable limp for quite awhile after that, and I realize that I should have gone to a chiropractor or a masseur the next day.

Right now, I’m kicking myself for not bringing any of my breast-pocket notebooks with me.  I was asleep until about 4:30 or 5, while Steph and Susie were at the doctor’s office, and I had to hurry to get them their food "to go" (chicken pot pies) before they had to leave for choir practice.  As soon as they were gone, I caught the bus to downtown and from there to campus.  It wasn’t until I was on the bus that I realized that I hadn’t brought my notebooks.  I had a few lines of a poem already on paper, and was hoping that I could continue, if not finish, it tonight, but the furthering of early 21st-century American poetry will have to wait until tomorrow.  I’m sure I have some other notebooks or scrap paper in my knapsack right now, but I don’t feel sufficiently motivated to dig through all the flotsam and jetsam I carry around.  (I do have the staples–my journal, a few ballpoint pens, address book, etc.  Otherwise my knapsack is a portable junkyard.)

Unwinding Pre-Church

Steph is too tired, and the bug that made Susie feel crummy came back for an encore this morning, so I’m at Panera across from Our Lady of Peace Church, eating a bagel, drinking a small river of Diet Pepsi, and blogging before I head over to First UU for church.  I’m here alone today.

I barely left the house yesterday because Steph and I gave the living and dining rooms a long overdue cleaning and rehab.  One of the benefits was that we found Clara, the smallest of the nested wooden Russian dolls a friend of mine sent Susie from Moscow several years ago.  (Susie named the outermost one Mrs. Doll, and, in descending order, the smaller ones are Sarah, Mara, Cara, and Clara).  Clara had rolled under the couch while Susie and her friends were playing with the dolls, and she had been MIA ever since.  (I had been afraid she’d rolled down the furnace register, so I was relieved that she was safe and sound, albeit a little dusty.)

I left the house yesterday to go to the post office (I bought stamps and post cards) and to Family Dollar, and in the evening to take Susie to her friend Rosemary’s for a birthday party.  (It was at Skate America, and all the kids were meeting at Rosemary’s house beforehand.)  Steph and I ate some leftover spaghetti and watched Fay Grim, which I liked much better this second time around.  Steph had started to watch it under protest, mainly because she couldn’t stand its predecessor, Henry Fool, but she ended up thinking it was fantastic.  Susie came back, far overstimulated, from Skate America shortly before 10:30.  As soon as Fay Grim ended, I walked over to Rosemary’s house and got there just as the kids were returning.  (Seeing James Urbaniak, who played Simon in both films, on the season premiere of Without a Trace whetted my interest.)

My office is the next big cleaning project I want to tackle.  I’m sorry to report it no longer looks like the pictures I posted here last June.  I won’t post pictures of how it looks now, but I want to have it cleared before NaNoWriMo begins in November, so it won’t become a dawdling tactic.  ("I’ll get to work on the novel, but first I want to clean this shithole up!" has become a familiar stalling tactic.  "As soon as I get organized" is another one I use quite often–and waiting for me to get organized is as realistic as leaving the porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa.)

I was quite disappointed that McCain decided to debate Obama after all.  It would have been such a wonderful visual showing Obama, Jim Lehrer, and an empty podium.  As for the bailout, these bankers should be left to stew in their own juices–you made your bed, now sleep in it.  I feel like batching up all our bills and outstanding debts (and they are legion!) and mailing them to Congress and the White House to apply for a no-strings-attached bailout.

P.S.–I accidentally erased Without a Trace before I had watched half of it.  Any of you beloved readers still have a tape of it?

Boredom + Idleness = Madness

I only lasted until 12:30 at the Industrial Commission.  There were no doctor’s reports in the pipeline to transcribe, and I published a stack of ex parte orders that I would normally procrastinate doing, but we were so starved for work that I actually relished this task, and it lasted less than 10 minutes.  I typed two Statements of Fact, surfed through Wikipedia many times, and finally asked to take some vacation time once 12:30 rolled around.

A captive person suffering from boredom is an irritating sight to behold.  When I was in sixth grade, I walked to one school to catch a bus to another.  For some reason, the bus I boarded couldn’t leave at its normal time.  So there were about 20 kids, fourth through sixth grades, who had nothing to do but sit there and wait for the bus driver to get the okay from the dispatcher to be able to leave.  (I can’t remember why we were grounded–it’s times like this I wish my middle school diaries hadn’t vanished.)

One guy took advantage of the idleness to compose some poetry.  He began to sing, with each syllable in its own key, “You ain’t very funny, but your nose is so runny.”  One or two people made the mistake of chuckling at this, so whenever there was a lull in the conversation or it got too quiet, he sang this immortal verse to fill in the gap.

The bus driver was as irritated as we were at the standstill.  I remember he was sitting in the driver’s seat drinking coffee from his Thermos and smoking a cigarette.  After about the 10th rendition of “You ain’t very funny…”, he said, more wearily than forcefully, “All right, I think we’ve heard enough of that.”  I wanted to effusively thank him, on behalf of all the stranded passengers.

I met Steph at Panera in Beechwold.  She met me on her scooter at the bus stop at High and Schreyer, and we stayed at Panera for quite awhile.  Her scooter battery was riding on fumes, so we plugged it in and gave it a chance to recharge.

Steph finally reached the end of her rope with her cardiac surgeon’s lack of action.  While I was picking up our order at Panera, she got the Cleveland Clinic on her cell phone, and, without having to go through the labyrinthine hell of voice mail, spoke to flesh and blood on the first try.  There were no hoops to jump through… she got straight through the head of the cardiology department’s secretary.

That was when we learned the interesting fact that Steph’s file didn’t cross his desk until Thursday, when the doctor here in Columbus had led us to believe he was going to mail it that day.  He hadn’t had a chance to read it thoroughly, because he’s had surgeries back to back most of last and this week.

But I can report some small progress.  Steph is supposed to have a CT scan on Friday, but she’s been waiting for Riverside Hospital to call and set a time.  This means I will probably take some leave time on Friday, but I have to put in for it beforehand, so it doesn’t jeopardize my being paid for Memorial Day, which is next Monday.  Steph and Susie are at a “female bonding” party at Tanya’s house, their way of honoring the full moon, so I have no idea whether the hospital’s called to tell her just when on Friday this is supposed to happen.  I’m not willing to bet the rent money that it will even happen on Friday.