September 9, 2013

  • Visiting People

    I spent the summer without my daughter...she was with her dad, learning to coexist, and putting her driving skills to the test. A few months back, my sister mentioned that she might visit...something I have wanted for a while. When we were miles apart, we never seemed to have the time. When she moved to another state, it sort of broke my heart...I knew I would miss her. Over the summer, she and I have been writing each other letters...by hand...pen to paper. It's interesting how much closer I feel to her now...and I think I mentioned here that email is not the same. Instant messaging is not the the same---there is an intimacy---a closeness you only get from hand written letters that the electronic mediums can't actually duplicate.

    So, something learned every day. The Net is a wonderful tool...but it's not the only one in the shed...and sometimes we need the whole range.

    I think I stayed away here in part, because I did not want to think about missing my daughter. Yes, we are close...but she has her own life now...and needs to do her own thing without me. We met for breakfast yesterday...and I am so damned proud of her...so Hi again Xanga...I never left you behind...I was just trying some new things...and I hope you are all well!

  • I Think I am going to LOVE this...

    The new stuff is awesome---and I don't have to go nuts to block the spam!

    How the hell is everyone?

    My summer was insane and wonderful...readings all over the place, including a headline in Cambridge...and Ms. Desi is DRIVING now...just a few days til I see my sister, and DAMN...I gotta catch up!

August 2, 2013

July 16, 2013

  • Advice From Idiots.

    So I have two steady gigs to pay my rent---but I am always on the lookout for another client.

    Several months back, I noticed an ad in Craig's List.

    The client was looking for 24/7/365 coverage...which generally involves a premium salary.

    They were offered "re-numeration in lieu of salary" claiming it would be tax free...and "free rent".

    Um.

    I am not a tax expert...but bearing in mind that Wesley Snipes is serving a three year prison term in Federal Prison, for doing what a CPA said would save him on his taxes...(The CPA is still working...and NOT in jail) I tend to be WARY as all hell about taxes. I OVERPAY, rather than face the prospect of owing Uncle Sam. This sounded too weird to me...so I ignored the ad.

    Well, I was called about the client last week, so I started taking apart the offer.

    What I wanted was ANOTHER client...not one that would require me to give up my current clients.

    I'm quite happy where I live...so taking a job that REQUIRED me to live somewhere else was not a selling point. It wasn't "free rent" either. The IRS would expect me to pay taxes on it...something the client didn't seem to understand, or care about. The compensation was called "generous".

    Oh, really? Let's break it down. 2k a month...that's 500 a week. Add the value of the "free rent"...call it 600-800 a month. That's now 2800 dollars. But the expected hours were 13 hours a day, at least five days a week. That's $5.50 an hour, almost three dollars under minimum wage. Worse...about a third of it HAS to go to taxes...When I am currently being paid 17 an hour as a minimum? Worse...my place of employment and my home would be the same place...lose the job, and lose your home.

    I did check out the whole "in lieu of pay" thing at the IRS website. No dice. If you are paid, you MUST pay taxes. It's not ever "tax free", no matter what you're told. If you take the word of someone else, and IRS takes umbrage? You pay the fines, and interest in addition to taxes. IF they don't decide you were evading taxes. (Which of course, You ARE.) So, I will take a pass on this one. I'm sure the lady isn't evil, or bad---but her interest is finding someone else to help her family. If taking the job gets someone in trouble? Not her problem.

    So I will keep looking...Namaste!

     

July 14, 2013

June 4, 2013

  • And in the catagory of "easily amused"

    Well, I guess it's innovative.
    Just saw a van for a service named Doody Calls.
    They clean up and carry away pet waste.
    Talk about a SHITTY job!
    But...I have friends who hate the clean up, so I am guessing it works.

    The part that got me was the "call for franchise opportunities"....so I can not only take shit from people for a living...I can make money convincing other people to take shit as well...there is something zen happening there...

May 28, 2013

  • Remembering Her

    You don't often see a man like that,
    dressed in a suit, shirt and tie
    his shoes as neat as he could manage.
    using two canes to hold himself up,
    under a tree you know he planted
    just for her.

    He is past 85,
    maybe pushing 90,
    and he came without flowers
    to see his lost girl,
    sleeping a long time under the stone,
    the moss hinting at a decade passage.

    But he came to talk,
    and he did not stop nor stammer
    when I ventured near,
    and for him, she wasn't gone---
    just somewhere else,
    so speech was appropriate
    to the rhododendron and vines.

    I did not mean to eavesdrop,
    and didn't hear it all,
    but when it got too hard to stand,
    he touched one hand to the stone,
    said "I have to go now honey."
    and held the canes to make his way.

    Memorial Day,
    spent remembering that love
    isn't the part of us
    that ever dies,
    Just ask the man
    who made his slow way
    back to a car,
    after a time he spent
    not dwelling on who she was,
    but who she still is, in his heart.

May 27, 2013

  • Devotional...

    I saw something today...and it moved me.
    I tend to think of Memorial Day in terms of military, current or past service. But around here, people visit graves of people they lost...which is a sort of lovely tradition. A friend was showing me around Hamilton's church yard, and we came across a man...quite old, and infirm. (I am betting he was 90). He stood by one grave---the stone was mossy, so clearly his loss was not recent. He was talking to his wife. Not whispering...not shouting. Just...talking. He needed two canes to walk...but he was determined to visit...and visit he did. He just sort of nodded as we passed.

    I heard him say "Well, that's all for now honey...I'll be back." And the tears sprang to my eyes. I don't know their story. All I know is that someone misses his lady enough to visit her...on a beautiful late Spring afternoon. No hearts...no flowers...just a very special kind of devotion.

    May we all know what it is to be remembered...

May 25, 2013

  • Adventures As a PCA

    A PCA is a personal care assistant.

     

    That's part of what I do right now...but not all.

    I haven't felt comfortable talking about it here, because there is a firm element of privacy to what I do for these families, and I don't want to violate that. I came to the conclusion that as long as I am not specific about names, or personal details, it's ok to talk about how I feel about what I do...and how I go about it. It will make me better at my job...and quite honestly, I can't believe how satisfying I find the work. They don't train you for this. To my knowledge, there is no "certification" to be a PCA. For some, it's regarded as a seriously low rent occupation, a glorified babysitter of sorts. But that is probably someone who is also ignorant. This isn't something you do because you are lacking---not to boost myself, but you need a strong degree of empathy to do it well.

    I work for two different families, one in the AM, one in the PM.

    I am up at 5:30 most mornings now---and asleep by 10 PM. I would say the work was simple...but it's not quite that easy. I found the jobs using two different sites...and one agency. I strongly suggest Care.com. if anyone is looking for this kind of work. Sitter City is another option, but frankly, they seem more interested in taking your money than hooking you up with work. (I consider making you pay 50 bucks if you want a background check run extortion. Care.com makes that option available to families---who can pay for a more comprehensive check on you---but don't charge the seekers. )

    And I should say that along with looking for a job, I was also looking for a good fit with the family. Yes, they have to be comfortable with me...but I need to feel the same. Yes, They are trusting me with their child/children...but I am trusting THEM, with my reputation, and possibly my freedom. If that sounds wary, try reading some of the postings. Some of the parents are NUTS. One  (not one of my employers) posted an ad the other day that made it clear that you would be under CONSTANT scrutiny once employed. That there would be "secret nanny cams", and if they suspected you were looking for them, you would be instantly dismissed. They wanted someone with not only a clear record, but sterling credit. They had a long list of requirements...and I wish them well...but i wouldn't touch that job with a ten foot pole.

    Yes, parents have the right to look out for their kids.

    Yes, they should be diligent about qualifications---no argument. But at some point, you really have to be willing to trust your PCA---and if you are not, you shouldn't hire one. No amount of money would convince me to work for someone who looked at me as if I might be a rapist, a child molester, or simply a thug who might be selling their kid's organs on Ebay. That said, there is always more to the job than an ad can explain.  Parents HAVE to be able to trust you. You're not only working with their children, you are in their home. They have to be able to trust you to be discrete, and honest. A really GOOD PCA is worth their weight in gold...and I really do try to be that. I pay attention to the kids of course---but also the parents. In all frankness, I was interviewing them too. I prefer committed, and caring people, who have an understanding of their child's issues. Since I've been a special needs parent, I speak the language---and know about the process first hand.

    Rule one...if you think it's about babysitting, go the hell home, and don't waste their time, or your own. A PCA has to be able to supply the specific needs of their client. It's not always easy or apparent to know what that means. If you have someone who has a firmly regimented schedule, you need to stick to it...all the while being able to accommodate change on your end. A lot of times, there is good reason for a set way and times to do things...variations can throw off your kid vastly. So pay attention.

    Rule two...if you think it's easy, think again. When I am "on duty" there is NO down time. No time for checking emails, or answering a cell.  And that isn't a problem. The families need to know that while I am on the clock, I am doing my job.  I can't afford to be distracted...and they can't afford me to not pay attention.

    Rule three...no one is doing ANYONE favors here. This is good honest work. I am paid well to give it everything I've got. The parents or families who are looking for 5 dollar an hour labor are in for an awful surprise. This is a  "you get what you pay for" market. I worked with an agency formed by a young woman who did this sort of thing for a decade herself. When we interviewed, We talked ab out clients, and expectations. A PCA is supposed to focus on person who NEEDS their specific help. They are not a generalist, who can handle a feeding or breathing tube for one child, while "watching" two others...and tossing in the wash. There are agencies in Massachusetts that supply funding for my sort of work---but the funding is for a SPECIFIC family member...not general care. In one case, the child is considered my employer...not her parents. They can hire on her behalf---but the work I do must be specific to her care. No dog walking, or housekeeping. And I am mindful that I am there for that purpose. No chit chat, or socializing.

    The part that I find interesting is how attached I've become to my families, and how quickly. Some might question the wisdom of that...but I'm not sure how you can't. I like them. Their needs could not be more different, between AM or PM...yet both require a different skill set of me.  Yes, there is a lot of "I" in this...and personally, how could it be otherwise? You become part of a team---but this isn't one of those situations where you can rest on your laurels, or take it easy while someone else carries the ball for you. It's all hands on deck...and it blows my mind how quickly each shift goes. I love my work. Eventually, one family will not need my services, and that will be a great day. I will move on, knowing I was able to help out. The other will always need someone---even several someones...but I will hold in there as long as I can.

    I never would have thought you could find employment as a pragmatic Mary Poppins...but...never say never...especially not to me!

  • Oh...I almost forgot...

    Desi is rocking the Dean's LIST...AGAIN.

    That's a pretty regular thing of course.

    I should be BORED about it by now...but oh HELL YES!

    DESI, YOU ROCK !stunned