Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Ah, for a uniform

For a few brief seconds in my last year of high school, I thought of joining the military. This was when the Vietnam War was raging. 
I quickly realized I didn't want to join the armed forces.  I just wanted to be spared the decision of what to wear every day. Wearing a uniform would be so very simple. 
And now I have a job like that at Schnucks.  All I have to decide is whether to wear the black or tan khakis.  The rest is set.  Black Schnucks polo shirt. Shoes and socks prescribed. Apron provided. Cap provided.  
This is so much easier than dressing for work used to be. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Employment Update

A few of you have asked me for an update on my job/life situation since being terminated from job at the Missouri State Archives on June 30.  I very much appreciate your concern. Not many people are asking. I understand that folks are being very kind and not pressuring me with questions.
             
Things are pretty much status quo

I got hired at the Schnucks grocery store in early August.  I’ve now been working in the Schnucks Deli Dept. for about 3 weeks. They're working my butt off about 38 hours/week.  I like the work, but it sure is physically exhausting.  I'm getting a bit better and a bit faster.  I wish the managers could see how well I work with our customers.  I'm making about $250/week, compared to the $2800/month I used to make.  Obviously, finances are a big concern. 

Here’s a bit of good news about the Schnucks job: I generally work 7am to about 3pm.  It forces me to get up, shower, and go out into the world 5 days a week.  (Church takes Sunday.)  So I’m too busy and too exhausted to drop back into that Slough of Despond that took over my life in April and again in July.  I think it’s pretty funny that I’m too tired to be depressed.  LOL!

I filed my application with Central MO Community Action last week to be a Community Organizer. (More about that at http://showmeaction.org/services/community-organizing.)  I don’t know how long they'll take to begin the interview process, but they invited me to apply, I think my application is strong, and I'm optimistic. I think this is the job I really want. 

I also applied for the City Clerk position here in Jefferson City a while back.  They told me to report for a written exam last Friday.  When I got into the room, there were 41 people.  I thought surely they must be applying for various city jobs.  But, no.  I learned from the HR woman in charge that these were the 41 people culled from over 100 applicants for the Clerk's job.  I got my test results a couple of days ago.  I scored 94% and am now moving into the next round.  It will probably be a couple of weeks before the “hiring committee” begins to schedule interviews.

I've applied for a lot of other menial full-time jobs, but haven't  heard back from any of them. 

My state retirement income won't kick in until the end of September, since I had no notice that the SOS was going to fire me.  That will give me a little more income each month. I am learning to make each penny scream before I spend it.  :-) 

I filed for unemployment, but the Secretary of State office protested it, so I haven't gotten a penny there.  I have filed an appeal, and will have a hearing at some point, probably within the next month.  The State Unemployment process/bureaucracy is a nightmare. I hope you never have to go through it. 

I think that's all I have to report. 

Many thanks to all of you who are sending me prayers and good wishes, 
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After the Firing: The Unemployment Shag

After I was fired on June 30, I licked my wounds for a few days.  Then I went to State Retirement System.  I had been eligible for full retirement for a couple of years, but I had no desire to retire.  I had a marvelous meeting with the MOSERS retirement counselor which went for a couple of hours.  She was marvelous  She told me that I then needed to go to the state health insurance people (MCHCP).  I went there, and again had a marvelous counselor who walked me through the options.

They told me that I then needed to go to the State Unemployment Office.  I went there.  I presented myself to the person at the reception desk.  I was curtly informed that one cannot meet with a person.  He gave me a brochure and told me I had to file my unemployment claim online.  There is no way to sit down with a human being and figure out how to work one’s way through the system.

I went home and logged onto the online Unemployment system.  It is a user–vicious system.  I have everything short of a PhD.  But I couldn’t get past the fifth screen.  No matter what I entered, it gave me error messages.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t enter the correct data to get past those error messages.  Fortunately, my sister was here, and she didn’t feel the stress I felt.  She was able to help me navigate the Unemployment enrollment.

But what would you do if you didn’t have access to a computer?  Or if you didn’t have a calm sister to help you navigate that system?

What would you do if you had to find your way to someplace like our public library but didn’t know how to navigate that system?

What if you had to rely on public transportation and couldn’t get to the public library when it is open?

I have become convinced that the Unemployment System is designed to keep people from getting their Unemployment benefits.

And, by the way, if you manage to sign up for Unemployment, you must sign in again every week to prove you have been searching for a job.  So you have to get yourself to a computer every week, navigate the user–vicious system, and make your claim.  Good luck with that, if you don’t have computer skills and reliable transportation.

I haven’t been able to do it.  Once I started working part –time, the system has rejected my claims. 

If I can’t navigate this system, how in the world will others do it???



#povertyblog

Poverty Blog: Pharmacy Benefits

Upon realizing that I had lost my health insurance and pharmacy benefits after June 30, I called my local pharmacy to see what the drugs would cost me without insurance.  The results were shocking.  I reeled!

In the past, I had paid $8 for 30 day prescriptions, and $24 for 90 day prescriptions. 

Here are the figures they gave me for the cost without insurance:

* Clonazepam is the drug that helps control my “essential tremors” disorder. It keeps my hands from jumping around like the old “Mexican beans.”  I need it to function in the world.  Cost with insurance for 30 days: $8. Cost without insurance: $28.58.
* Lisinopril keeps my carotid artery clear after my surgery in 2015.  With insurance  for 30 days: $3.  Without insurance: $49.40.
* Effexor: The antidepressant I desperately need, having lost my job and facing an uncertain future.  With insurance for 90 days: $24.  Without insurance: $356.17.  Needless to say, I decided I couldn’t afford this prescription that I most needed.
* Prilosec: A digestive drug that helps me.  With insurance for 30 days: $8.  Without insurance: $227.96.
* Prevachol: Helps with cholesterol.  With insurance for 90 days: $24.  Without insurance: $437.55.

As you may imagine, I decided I couldn’t afford any of these prescriptions.  I saw my life and health crashing around me.

But here’s a weird thing.  I’ve used the same locally owned pharmacy almost since I moved to Jefferson City.  The first time I called them to renew a prescription was to ask for the Clonazepam.  I explained that I had lost my job and was without insurance.  The pharmacist said, “Let me check the lowest cash price.”  And the price was $7.64.  Not the $28.58 they had initially quoted.  Not even the $8 that I paid with insurance. 

Next I needed to refill the Prilosec, which was supposedly going to be $227.96.  When they checked the “lowest cash price,” they gave it to me for $11.38.

Fortunately, I got my insurance reinstated before I had to refill any of the other prescriptions, but they are all now back to where they were before.

Where is the justice in this?  As a person with insurance, I had very affordable prescriptions.  Having lost my job and my insurance, I was quoted utterly unaffordable insurance.  But then, perhaps because I’m a longtime customer, a pharmacist happened to check the “lowest cash price,” and some of them were even lower than what I had paid with insurance. 

This was just one of the things that made me realize how very privileged I am.  If I were a person who had never been insured …. and if I didn’t have a longstanding relationship with this pharmacy, would they have told me that there is such a thing as a “lowest cash price”?  I suspect not.  I suspect that if I were an ordinary poor and uninsured person, I would have dropped all my prescriptions.  And my health would have declined dramatically.

I am so lucky.  And the poor and unconnected are so deprived by our medical/pharmaceutical system!

#povertyblog


Fired

Many of you know that I lost my job on June 30. I was late that day.  The administration called me into a conference room shortly after I arrived.  They presented me with two letters.  One was a letter they had already signed, firing me.  The other, which they had already prepared, was my letter of resignation, effective immediately.  Because suicide hurts less than murder, and because of my pride, I signed the letter of resignation.

Life has been a bit crazy in these 2 months since I lost my job.  A job I had held for nearly 18 years, and in which I had excelled.

It strikes me as rather odd that they decided to fire me because I was late to work one too many times. Yes, that was the cause.

I am going to try to blog a bit more as I face serious poverty.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Republican Dogs Chase ACA for Six Years ... Now Wonder What To Do

Here's the email I sent today to Blaine Luetkemeyer, Republican U.S. Representative from Missouri's 3rd District. I'm sure it won't change his right-wing reactionary mind.  But I needed to have my say. 


Dear Congressman Luetkemeyer,

I see you are on record as supporting the American Health Care Act, to be voted on tomorrow in the House of Representatives.  I strongly urge you to vote against this legislation.

There are many aspects of this bill which I oppose.  Let me focus on two.

At present, low income people can get a subsidy up front to make their health insurance affordable.  The Republican proposal would eliminate that and instead offer a tax credit.  But, Congressman, very few low income Americans have the first clue about how to itemize their tax returns. They take the standard deduction in what’s the equivalent of the 1040EZ form and off they send it.  These tax credits might technically be available to them, but do you realize how few of them would have the first clue how to access and claim those tax credits?

The Republican spokespeople keep saying this proposed law would make health care “accessible” to all.  I know where there is a Rolls Royce car dealership in Missouri, so a Rolls Royce is technically accessible to me.  But could I afford it?  Not a chance.  There is a great difference between affordable and accessible health care insurance, and the independent, bipartisan reports have made it clear that the proposed law makes health insurance much less affordable for people with low incomes.

Over the past six years, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted hundreds of times to repeal the hated “Obamacare.”  You have had six years to think carefully about a reasonable alternative.  This is not a reasonable alternative.  I expect many of the voters who swept you and Donald Trump to power in November will be decimated by this law.

The U.S. House reminds me of a dog that’s been barking at and chasing a car for six long years.  Now the dog has finally caught the car.  And he wonders what the heck to do with it.  Because he never really had a plan.

Congressman Luetkemeyer, the law being proposed in the House is not a plan that adheres to the words engraved in the Missouri State Capitol: The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.

Please vote for the good of the people of the U.S. and of Missouri.  Please vote against this terrible piece of legislation.

Respectfully yours,
Lisa Fox
Jefferson City, Mo.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Journey to Maria's Ordination

Friend and fellow blogger Maria Evans was to be ordained to the transitional diaconate last night, December 16, at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. This post will mostly be about my experience of the crazy two days. Sorry for the self-absorption. 
I was honored to be asked to serve as crucifer for the festival service in which Maria and two others would be ordained.  The Cathedral’s verger, Shug Goodlow, and I had agreed to meet at 3:30, before the general rehearsal at 4:30, before the ordination service at 6:00 p.m.  If you know me, you know that serving as crucifer is a deep joy to me.  Further, I had walked with Maria through this journey for several years, so I was doubly thrilled to serve in this ordination.
To be sure I got to the Cathedral in plenty of time to meet Shug at 3:30, I left home at 12:30 Friday (yesterday), giving me 3 hours to arrive. That shouldn’t be a problem, for it’s generally a 2-hour drive from home to the Cathedral.  I was in great shape, I thought. Just before I left, a freezing drizzle began to fall.  I had been checking weather sites for two days.  All had said there was at most a 20% chance of precipitation, and all had said the temperature would be above freezing.  But they were all wrong.  When I got to my car, it was covered in a thin sheet of ice.  When I made my first turn, the car slid a bit on the ice.  Uh-oh, I thought; better take it easy.
I got onto highway 54 in town.  You who know the area will know it’s the highway that goes north for 30 miles, where it links up with Interstate 70 at Kingdom City. The speed limit is 70.  But everyone was driving 30 mph, and for good reason.  It should have taken me ½ hour to get to I-70.  Instead, it took an hour. In that 30 miles, I saw 7 vehicles spun out in the median and ditches.  I realized I was already cutting it close for making my 3:30 appointment for crucifer practice.  St. Louis is 2 hours from home, and 1½ hours from the Kingdom City interchange.
I took the exit ramp onto I-70 and was confronted with a horrible sight: a traffic snarl with vehicles moving at a crawl.  I figured it was a temporary delay. I was grateful that a semi truck let me into the right lane between him and another truck ahead of me.  We crawled along for ¼ mile.  Then we all stopped.  For a little while, I figured.  I was wrong.  At 1:50, I put the car in park and took my foot off the brake.  I had the heat all directed to the windshield to keep the ice from forming.  About 2:15, with the car warm, I turned off the ignition to save gas until we started moving.  Long story short: We all sat right there for 2½ hours.  During that time, I operated the windshield wipers often enough to keep the ice from forming, but only turned on the engine when I got too darn cold and needed the heater. Some people got out of their cars and "skated" on their shoes on the iced road.  A couple of women got out with a blanket, went off to the right, and guys held up blankets around them.  I think I know what they were doing.  After all, there was no restroom for miles around. 
At about 2:00, I alerted the Head Verger at the Cathedral about my situation and status, letting her know I wouldn’t make 3:30 practice and had no idea when I would make it to the Cathedral.  Then I texted Maria, letting her know of my situation.  She replied that she was stuck in the same traffic snarl, probably about a mile behind me.  She was with Carrol Davenport, the vicar at Trinity/Kirksville. We texted a lot, always hoping we would begin to move soon. While waiting, I listened to NPR for a while, then took out a book and began reading.  I never imagined I’d be parked there from 1:50 to after 4:00. 
When traffic began moving about 4:10, I was still about 90 miles from the Cathedral.  Way too late for rehearsal.  And the people back at the Cathedral were talking with Maria about what to do about the ordination of the three transitional deacons.  Everyone recognized that the hazardous road conditions wouldn’t get us there in time for the 6:30 service.  The Bishop and people at the Cathedral had agreed they were willing to postpone the ordination service start for an hour, to 7:30.  We all kept calling and texting with updates.
The fact that the traffic had begun to move wasn’t an “all clear” situation.  The first time we started moving, we made it about ½ a mile crawling along, then it was a parking lot again.  Eventually, we began crawling along at 5 to 10 mph.  An hour and a half later, we had moved 17 miles.  It was nearly 6:00 p.m.  My buttocks were aching.  I was hungry, not having eaten since breakfast.  And I seriously needed to pee. Then I came to a MODOT roadside sign, alerting us there was a traffic stoppage ahead, with a 20 to 30 minute wait.   I texted Maria that I was taking the next exit, at mile 175, where there is a gas station and a McDonalds. 
When I walked into the McDonalds, I was shocked.  It was like the U.S. version of a refugee transit station.  The place was full. There was nowhere to sit.  People were eating standing up.  Everyone was talking about the journey and ordeals they had endured in their travel. I wasn’t the only one who had taken the exit from snarled traffic to find food and bladder relief.
As I moved toward the rest room, a hand grasped my shoulder.  I turned to find it was the Rev. Christina Cobb, a priest of our diocese, a friend of Maria who had been in Lui (South Sudan) with her, one of Maria’s presenters. She had driven south from Mexico, Missouri, to rendezvous with Maria and Carrol and drive into St. Louis – a plan that had been hatched before any of us knew what the weather would throw at us. Chris was on the phone with Maria, and had learned the new plan at the Cathedral.  It was clear to all that we could not possibly make it there by 7:30.  The Bishop had made the decision to go ahead with the 6:30 start time for the two other ordinands and to ordain Maria the next morning at 10:00.  We all agreed this was a good decision.
Chris was still going to rendezvous with Maria and Carroll, and they were going to slog into St. Louis and get a hotel room for the night.  I decided to drive back home and make the drive this morning, when the weather was supposed to be clear.  I just couldn’t stand the thought of driving on to St. Louis with no toothbrush, no change of clothes. And I had observed that the westbound traffic (back toward home) seemed to be moving well.  I figured I would get more sleep by driving home and driving back to St. Louis on Saturday.   
Indeed.  I got home by 7:30.  Slow traffic but not a crawl.  Maria and the others didn’t get to St. Louis ‘til well after 10:00.
At home, I made contact again with the Cathedral’s verger and learned that no acolytes would be used in Maria’s ordination – not even a crucifer.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  But still determined to be present with Maria for her ordination.
So this morning, I awoke to the alarm at 5:30 a.m.  I turned on my tablet computer to the St. Louis NPR station.  Partly because they have better programming early on a Saturday, but also in hopes of hearing their weather.  Here at home, it was 34 degrees and no precipitation.  All looked well.  I made coffee, fed the cats, did the morning chores. Then the St. Louis station weather at around 6:30 offere
d a dire report, saying that freezing rain was supposed to start about 10 a.m., exactly when Maria’s ordination was to begin. They also reported that the state Dept. of Transportation was telling everyone to stay off the roads between here and St. Louis.
I texted a friend in St. Louis, asking what he was hearing, but I guess he wasn’t up yet.  I proceeded to shower and dress for Maria’s ordination.  I got in the car and headed out. 
About the time I got to Kingdom City again, my friend replied to my text: “Don’t come. I doubt you’ll be able to get home in the weather that’s coming.”  I pulled off the road at Kingdom City, got a cup of coffee, and sat and thought.  It was a horrible time.  I deeply wanted to be at Maria’s ordination.  But I didn’t want to end up in a ditch.  After much thought, I turned around and headed home as a freezing drizzle resumed. 

Maria Evans after ordination. A happy Bishop Wayne Smith at right background. 

Thanks be to God, Maria was ordained.  St. Louis friends were there, as well as those from Kirksville who had spent the night in St. Louis.  I am grieving that I wasn’t there. But Maria reminds me that the ordination that matters – her ordination to the priesthood – will be in June.  Surely I will not be thwarted then by freezing weather and hellish travel conditions.

I’ll post more photos of Maria’s ordination on Facebook from a friend who was in St. Louis for the weekend. 

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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Angry White Men

What they say … and what I hear.
Over the past eight years, I have heard a lot of Republicans decrying the fact that President Obama hasn’t improved race relations in this country.  Those voices are even louder this year.  I certainly was one who hoped, when he was elected, that we were moving into a new and improved era of racial justice.  But the opposite happened.  With the election of President Obama, it seems that a new tide of racism was unleashed.  People who had been “in the closet” in their racism became emboldened.  Alas, the racial divide in our country became wider. 
I don’t believe that’s because of anything President Obama did.  I think it’s because the white boys were irate that a black man was in the White House.  I believe that’s why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell almost immediately said that he and his Senate colleagues would obstruct anything and everything that the President would propose.  The sons of slave masters hated the fact that “one of them” had become the chief executive.
And you don’t need to look very far into this election cycle to see what will happen if Hillary Clinton becomes President.  Just read the comments on major news stories.  You will see terms like bitch and the “c” word bandied about regularly.  Just as the election of President Obama opened a floodgate of racism, we are already seeing a floodgate of misogyny unleashed against Hillary Clinton. 
If Hillary Clinton is elected President (and I hope she will be), I expect we will see an increase in misogynistic comments.  And it won’t be her fault, any more than the rise of racist comments has been President Obama’s fault.  It will be because people of privilege are incensed that “the other” has a perceived position of authority over them.  They hated having a black man in a position of preeminent power. They will have having a woman in power just as fiercely.   
A couple of weeks ago, NPR interviewed a Trump supporter who threatened armed rebellion if Hillary Clinton is elected.  What I heard?  Some white men are getting furious that their position of privilege is being threatened.

Monday, September 05, 2016

English Schismatics Pick Up the Tune

Now they're getting in line with the Global South and the crazy American schismatics.  A group of English Anglicans now have their panties in a wad over gay clergy and homosexuality. Imagine that. LOL.

A site called CrossMap reports that a gaggle of Anglicans in England are threatening a coup over the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality.  They are aligned with the silly fringe sects in Africa and the U.S.  Oooo ...!  My bones are just shaking at their power.  Not.

A gigantic tidal wave of twelve (yes, just 12) parishes in England are  incensed and threaten they will bring  the Anglican Communion to its knees.  Hmmm ...  Where have we heard that before in the past 13 years?

And what's the great travesty?  They are livid that "senior leaders are watering down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality."  

Give me a minute.  I need to read the Gospels, Epistles, and Hebrew Scriptures again. 

OK.  I've done that.  Nowhere do I read that homosexuality is a key teaching in the Bible.  I read about justice, hospitality, generosity, compassion, and love of Jesus as "key issues" in the Christian Bible.  I missed the part where God or Jesus made homosexuality a "key issue."  Which Bible are they reading? 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

About Those Bathrooms

First, let me acknowledge that North Carolina’s HB2 is about much more than who uses which bathroom.  This legislation is hateful and invidious.  It arose because the city of Charlotte enacted a non-discrimination clause on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons. Among other things, it gave LGBTs legal protection and gave them the right to sue for discrimination.  Like Missouri, North Carolina law does not protect LGBT persons or give them legal standing.
I regret that the publicity surrounding the North Carolina legislation has focused on the “bathroom issue.”  But let me talk about that.  On its face, the law bars transgendered persons from using the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable. Let me share my take on this.
But first, a long digression.  (You knew that was coming, didn’t you? if you have followed my writings.)
I’m female.  Always have been and never wanted anything different.  I also have a rather androgynous appearance, probably due to my Dad’s genes.  Thank God, I didn’t seem to inherit many of my mother’s genes, which were characterized by short, overweight women prone to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Instead, I seem to have inherited the genes from my father, which gave me his height, body type, the health and longevity that are a gift to the Fox family, and even my Dad’s gait.  Most of my paternal forebears seem to die healthy and old.  They are a blessing to me.  
Not a blessing are the fact that I inherited my father’s features, body type, and big ears. 
I remember a day when I was about 12 years old walking along Main Street in my little town of 5,000.  I became aware that some old guy was following me.  I slowed down.  He slowed down.   I sped up.  He sped up.  I ducked into one of the shops, where I was known and would be safe.  The dude followed me.  As soon as I got inside, he said, “You’re Ralph’s daughter, aren’t you?”  I stammered assent.  He had not been stalking me.  He had just spotted me as Ralph’s daughter and wanted some sort of conversation … the gist of which I can’t remember after all these years.  But I remember asking him, “How did you know I was Ralph’s daughter?”  He said something like, “Nobody else walks like that.”
So there you have it.  I’m Ralph’s daughter.  I have his carriage and – God help me! – his physiognomy, too.  And I wear jeans or tailored slacks all the time. It’s been several years since I wore a skirt or dress.
As an adult female, bathrooms have often posed a problem for me.  I can’t tell you how often this has happened to me.   I go into the women’s bathroom, of course.  As I walk in, I see women look around in terror, who then leave as quickly as they can. Or I’m washing my hands in the sink. Another woman comes out of a stall, heading toward the sink, and she flees the bathroom. 
I know what they’re thinking.  They think a male has entered their precious public restroom.
And here’s the crazy thing: I feel shamed!  I feel totally embarrassed! My very female presence has caused them fright. I hate that!
It happened again at our last diocesan convention.  I was washing my hands. A woman who knows me slightly popped in, saw me, and reacted in horror, then went out. I'm sure she went to check the sign on the door.  She came in again, saw me again, and reacted in horror.  Both times, I said, "Kxx, it's me. You're in the right restroom." Both times she fled.  On the third time, I turned to face her fully, she recognized me, and it was ok.
But you know what?  It was NOT ok!  I was withering with shame. Shame that she had mistaken me for a male.  Shame that she saw me as "out of place." 
At work, we have a couple of bathrooms that aren’t gender specific. Those are the only ones I use.  Not because I’m transgender. Just because I don’t want to frighten the women.
At the Episcopal Church General Convention, during a break, I needed to find a bathroom, and the line was long at the women’s bathroom.  I went wandering around and came upon a bathroom marked “Transgender.”  Our Church had pasted that label over the Convention Center’s label.  I went in there, knowing it would be okay. As it happened, I was there alone.  But I felt great relief knowing no one would hassle me, no one would look askance, no one would flee, no one would make me feel ashamed because I didn’t conform to their views of “male” and “female.”
Dear transgender friends, I want you to have a restroom in which you can feel safe.  But know there are others of us, who don’t conform to the stereotypes, who will also welcome those bathrooms as safe spaces.