Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Party-Pooper at the American Potluck: now that don't make no kind of sense.

Ok, it's been a minute but most stories--like the lives of Welfare recipients--are in need of ending. And, I hate to be a spoiler here, but by the several months later that it is now, let's just say that I ain't on no Welfare. Is this a happy or a sad finish? I dunno. Sure the potluck means free grub. But you're gonna get some dirty looks if you signed up to bring lasagna and just show up with a fork.

Anyway, to pick up where I left off, and get this story moving unlike the lines at the Welfare office, let us do this.

The second time around with my gal, Linda Brown, goes much smoother. She is smartly dressed, in a well-accessorized, high-end swap meet sort of way.

I try to make conversation. Things are going better--once I start complimenting her, that is. In this way of throwing out bullshit compliments while groveling before a woman in hopesthat she show me some love, I can empathize with men. I mean, check out Ms. Linda Brown with her attitude switch-hips all the way back to her cubicle: she irritates me. She intimidates me. Maybe I can give compliments and wait for things to get better. It kind of does, but after it's all said and done, I can't wait to get the fuck out of there. Men, I understand you. But shit, I don't see no rings on these fingers, and if I did, I'd have to document their worth to Linda Brown.

We are going through paperwork. Trees have died for this. Forests for foodstamps--now that's a cause.

"Everything must be documented," she says, when I ask her why it's a problem if I'm missing one of my daughter's three paycheck stubs she made inbetween running up my phone bills.

Linda Brown explains that my daughter's income is exempt anyway. That it will not be calculated into any sort of qualification process. And, that I must bring in every single stub, or basically, fuck off. Ah, I see the logic--floating right out the window like a paper airplane.

Speaking of paper airplaine crashes, Linda Brown's list of required paperwork makes for a briefcase of LAX. She "soon" hands me a slip of paper--and the only thing I'm feeling less that having more paperslips to tout about would be the appointment. Instantly, I feel clammy. I would ask questions, but i think I just heard her crack her knuckles.

Fifty bucks later spent on government documents along with fourteen unreturned phonecalls, Linda Brown actually gives ME a call. And I am on it like cavities on uninsured teeth.

Oh no, it seems application has been rejected. Due to a missing exempt Dominoes paycheck stub. She begins an additional explanation of what rejections mean.

Three weeks later I get a food stamp card in the mail.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the sweet 'n low

yes, it's been a while. but don't you fear--nothing has changed. Eh, who is exactly reeeeally interested in my Welfare, anyway?

Chances are, whereever we left off, I was sitting around in seriously uncomfortable reception area, hating on something. And said something, in turn, was sitting around and hating on me right-back. The welfare office and I are just symbiotic that way. Yes, like bedbugs and box springs, we are. Wait--bedbugs are actually parasites sucking off with human beings, but in a bad way. So, that's a bad analogy. But back to the welfare office...

Now that I'm back from my break at the blog, I've got some bitching to do. That is the job of the jobless--bitching. And dammit, I am good. I don't remember where I left off other than my empty pockets, which seems to be where most of my tales, delinquent accounts, and thrifstore pants leave off anyway. Yes with the empty pit of my pocket, it's a journey like side-dishes that touch each other, like bile and other wasteproducts, where it all ends up in the same place. Hmm, I'm doing it again. Back to the story.

Blahblahblah, I finally meet my worker, Linda Brown. I've got a sobstory to tell her, and in turn, she's got a blank look and a generous hand-out of attitude to give right back to me. She's seen my kind before; it is all over her face. I'm one of those human-people-urchins that fill up her day. Human-people-urchins stuffed with woes, guts, and possibly contagions, and maybe snot. Understandably, she's gotta get me out of there quick-like; I feel a sneeze coming on.

Linda Brown has got a tidy, slick ponytail that I'm fairly certain is made from real hair--just not her own. She is pleasant and coldly cordial in an I'm-sick-of-your-shit sort of way. The fact that I have just met her and not had the chance to give her my shit--of which I have plenty--is besides the point. She knows. It's in her eyes. She is polite, even a tepid degree of warm, provided that she is the one talking, and you are the one quiet. I figure out the rules quickly; conversation is for the working class--the lowest rung, which lies on rungs far above me. I don't even know what a 'rung' is; no wonder I'm on Welfare.

After 7 hours of aforementioned waiting room social hour(S), it's almost closing time. There are pages upon pages to be signed and jotted that were never given to me. When she realizes I don't have my "pink packet", which reminds me of something that causes cancer in rats, her eyebrows arch. And people's eyebrows only arch in places like these when you've blown it. They are like rabid cat's backs that way. And you, little applicant with the missing document, you, are the mousey. Now go get your gubment cheese in this maze. But this metaphor is getting weird again. Waiting for Welfare will do that.

Ms. Brown is apologetic that I will have to come back the next day with said papers and gives me an appointment. The paper says 10:30 at the top. I have flashbacks to the waiting room I just left, flashbacks to the check-ups back in the golden years when I had insured visits with doctors that ended, a little sadly, with parking tickets--that's what appointments mean to me. Here, in the waiting room of all waiting rooms, it's a scary process. And a really boring one once you finish your book. So, when she tells me I must come back again, I think about more waiting, it hurts. No, I mean, physically--my ass, it hurts, because I've been waiting all day. It's gone as numb as my Will to succeed at this point. I mean, I haven't even left the house yet, hell, I haven't even left the welfare office yet, and I'm already shifting in my seat.

So, I ask her, Excuse me, do you think that I will actually be seeing you at this time? Or will it take quite a while? I just have an appointment later that day and you know how appointments--

--At that, her whole ponytail almost blops off because her face gets that tight. The air is full of "oh hell no". I am breathing its sulphur.

"Why would you ask me that?"

I gulp. She says it so plainly that I indeed wonder. Originally, it seemed a good enough question, a lot better than the last time I tried to buy a single donut hole across the street. I question myself. I come up with "Um," It's soft and squeaky.

"Does that not say 10:30 on that paper? Why would you ask me that? Do you understand that it is an appointment? Why would I see you at some other time and tell you to come at with this one? Here I am trying to help you..."

Although I have cringed myself into a speck of raisin on the chair, I still manage to interject.

"Sorry," I eek. "You know how appointments are. I just waited a long time. Sorry."

She explains more about what appointments are. That what I had today, you see, was not an appointment. But what I have tomorrow, is. I am wondering, by the pacing of her exposition, if she is going to give me a bucket of crayons, which would be great if I do indeed have to wait. The explanation is lengthy, so now I see why the waiting takes so long. She should have just made me look it up for homework, really. But occasionally, she will reflect on my question and repeat, " now that don't make no kind of sense". But it does, to me. But I'm glad for the details. Because on Planet Loser where I come from, surely we don't know what appointments are. Planet Loser is a crazy place, really. There, we just freeforall when we want our teefs pulled, punch each other in the mouths near the abscesses and call it a days work. Her appointment explanation is killing me. It is killing me to where I want to test out her theories immediately and make one of these "appointments"--between Ms. Brown, and her maker. I mumble either 'thank you very much' or 'fuck off and die.' Tomato. Tomahto.

The next day, I am running to get up the elevator. It is 10:28. I am like a frantic white rabbit, but this ain't no wonderland. Ohmigod. Have I learned nothing from our discussion? I know damned well what an appointment is. My being late would make no kind of sense. Oh no. What happens to the chair raisins at 10:31? Is it to the end of the line?

Speaking of line, there is a long one just to walk in the door, or to say things like "excuse me, where is the restroom?" or "I'm an invalid/graduate student." I skip the line--it's long. I am scolded. I wait in the line. I am then scolded because people with appointments don't wait in line. By this time, I've developed a strong conspiracy theory that goes like this: somebody, somewhere, is fucking with me.

Here is proof: the clock is fucking with me too, it's moving forward. 10:29. Man, move it crazy drunk dude behind me in line, I gotta go. I had my lecture yesterday. And I now know what an "appointment" is and those things mean business. Everywhere I go, government employees give me linda-brownian-stare. I ignore them. I run for the elevator, hurtle bound the strollers and "dayuumn hey babies" as I whiz by. I make it to my appointment. Less than a minute late. Catch breath and then...

forty-five minutes later,my name gets called. Well, at least this appointment story won't end sadly when I get outside to the parking meter; I took the bus here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

welfare is giving out unpaid vacations

well, it appears collecting welfare is a tough business. perhaps i'm due for a vacation--unpaid. the nerve.
since my last visit, welfare dropped me and i dropped shakespeare--i almost feel unqualified in reportings. yes, this means i must continue.

i have another 50 pages of fictional piece of depressing teen angst literature due before april fool's day--no fooling. i promise an equally dismal introduction to ms. brown and the eligibility process whence i return.

until then, a rose by any other name
might change its price at conroy's

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

waiting for a single donut hole--the way we do in America, lady

The welfare office has something in common with any other epicenter of redtape, being that the employees want to shoot everyone, including themselves. The difference is that at the welfare office, this is probably a good idea--a Darwinist service to society and I'm ready not to make the cut because the waiting alone is going to kill me anyway. So, I hope they do it, starting at the people ahead of me if this line is ever going to move. But alas, nobody shoots anything in these handout places but dirty glances. Damned leftist-pussies.

Last I left off about the welfare office, I was waiting around. Just like now. But hey, who's complaining? Well, actually I am, aren't I. In fact, that's what this blog is I guess--county check bitching. That's right, it's not a commentary on society or the process of the welfare system, nor is it about the tiers of our urban society and all the cracks at the bottom of the melting pot from where it all plummets, somewhere off west Pico Boulevard where this is actually the Beverly Hills of welfare offices, oxymoron or not.

Nope, I think this blog is really about what a shitty thumb-twiddler I am. No wonder I am such an unskilled worker that I end up here throwing away jobcorps pamphlets like everyone else in the place. I can't take it. I do not have the attention span for any sort of office; I am like everyone else.

All around me, people are bumping 50 cent booty-wack jams from their cellphones, while some bald guy in a starched tshirt is eying his worker's butt and singing along. I need a break. Time for some risks: I put it all on the red number nine of the waiting game, chancing missing my shot, and then I head across the street to the donut shop.

I feel guilty, but not like any other time I'm in a donut shop and checking my sides for newly grown tires. I feel guilty as if my worker is going to catch me eating, paying for things at the counter--with money, that I clearly have--buying some sugar high right off the corner like an irresponsible wretch. But don't judge me! I promise that I can't afford a donut, because i can't. But coffee, man, that I can splurge for. Forgive me, I am only what my mammy and my uncle-sammy made me.

There's something funny about the establishments located in the periphery of the welfare office. And that is, well, that they are located in the periphery of the welfare office. I'd never noticed this before when I passed these corners. I'd never had the wisdom that comes with carrying a huge cardboard number around with me so that I won't forget that they will 'soon' be calling me. It's a number too big for pockets, so that all the shopowners know right away that I'm one of them. Yeah, what happens in this vicinity is a huge version of us vs. them across the counters of any and all local business establishments.

In the donut shop, I watch across the rainbow sprinkles and hearty twists and I have fantasies. Ones where I buy by the dozens and never change a pants size. But that is in another place. In this place, I see an altercation immediately and I can't even tell which person in front of me is the asshole here. Is it the lady with the yellow-white ponytail and a face that looks like dried apricots? OR is it the woman behind the counter with a double-stacked chipwich on her shoulder? In all fairness, they both seem so equally awful. The customer won't shut-up about the simplest transaction. The counterwoman is yelling at her.

By the time the change-counting is over, I have somehow convinced myself that I deserve a single donut hole, even if it means I have to walk the extra mile that will come if I can't afford the bus transfer. In terms of bodyfat, it sounds like a good trade. I feel justified, like I don't care if my worker sees me now anyway. Besides, the coffee is only 75 cents, which until I find out that a cup of it is more like a tablespoon of diluted urine, sounds like a great deal--kinda like bumming around for a shot at free medical insurance at the welfare office.

But I am pissing off counterpeople everywhere. "ONE donut hole? who wants ONE donut hole? there is no ONE donuthole. I think you mean SIX donutholes"

I'm confused and ashamed: I'm pretty sure that I only wanted one, but I have a welfare ticket so maybe I don't know what I'm doing. I start to retreat. LIke, maybe I was kidding. But this one ain't done with me. "ONE? Who wants ONE?"

Look, forget the donutholes. I don't want any. Please, forget it ever happened. Oh, but if I could only go back to where we started. Man, I'm so jarred by my mistake--by my underestimation of the holes that I am capable of--that I get my coffee, try not to gag on it, and then sit down with my book so that I may enjoy the worst cup of coffee I have had since I nuked the last of my nescafe for the third time which was actually pretty recent, but I think you get the point.

Within moments, she is yelling at the next customer. He doesn't smell like liquor, yet for some reason, I am certain that he is drunk. Eventually, he tires of her rude blurts and says "Dang, woman!"

At this point, I am looking for togetherness anywhere I can get it. I am familar with the us vs. them ; I know on which side of the counter I sit. I say, meekly, softly, seriously, "I know. She's kinda mean, huh."

There is strength in numbers. My statement incites full on mutiny and the man starts to fume--no, not of booze, but of anger. Once he starts mentioning that he is going to come back there with his belt if she doesn't back off and learn how to wait--the way we do in America, lady, well, that's enough for me. I am appalled by what I just incited, and within seconds, I am outside at the stoplight, guilt-rattled by what I'd instigated. But the consequences always come. I look to the right and see the dude is now beside me, donut in hand, swaying it brazenly toward the welfare building where we walk--together?

"Why, hello there," he says, smoother than southern comfort. "Look, I am looking for me a strong, real, good woman...are you ready?"

The stoplight turns green. I get set and go. And then I answer him resolutely "Absolutely not. I am not ready for you."

I beat him back to the building. Within the hour, they call me and I meet my worker. I did the right thing, there are no crumbs from any holes on my face. I only worry about the bad taste from the coffee.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Sham: where the ebonics guide to shakespeare begins

Ok, cruel world, listen up.
Put on your bifocals and let's give out a warm welcome to the ebonics guide to shakespeare.

Is a blog,

Cheers. Applause.
And holluh's are due.

But, the ebonics guide to whaaaaaa???

I thought my life or its documentation would best be described with a title as such.
Mostly, because the title amuses me and not because I'm just some baby-mama out there bullshitting on the boulevard looking for a higher degree.

Before I get to story-telling, I should start this thing with a bang. I should quote some shakespeare here. But I am a fraud. I don't know shit about the Shakes. And come to think of it, my grammar is a little on the sharp side to really be all that ebonics. So, this whole thing has started a sham which is great because it can totally mirror real-life at least in that respect alone. The sham goes on. The sham dilly dee-deez nuts. But, I digress.

Come, high or low
Thyself and office deftly show!

Luckily, I found some random Shakespeare to quote. It makes no sense here does it. But a quote is a quote. Boo-yah my nizzlies.

Anyhow, I've been putting off starting a blog for half an eon now. But now is as good a time to as any. And since I have recently spent some time reading literature in translation while waiting in line at the welfare office--true story--then now is the time, my friends.

Gather round bro's and ho's, phatties and shorties, the ebonics guide to shakespeare....

act one
scene one
begins next time

at the westside welfare office
where young men walk with canes and swaggar

and in accordance with the title, this should be a reccount wich may or may not contain references to either classical Greek gods or tall cans of Olde English. Probably it will be neither if i I have anything to do with it--I hate those things. But here goes.

hard times: things are touch all over

It's been a while--years. But at least this time at the welfare office, I don't have a wailing baby. Clearly, I've made some progress in society. Now, I am in college. Again.

I'm moving up these days. I haven't been here since my angry teen was an angry infant. The last time I was chewing gum during receptionist interviews, wondering why I didn't quite land the job--even though my Spanish was great and I could type like the dickens despite my tappity acrylic nails.

But now, as I round the end of graduate level education, I can see where it has brought me: I'm applying for my county check. And within moments of my arrival through the the metal detectors, I have already been here for hours. How IS that?

But it's not through the waiting and the paperwork and the job placement programs that the learning is done. No, not for me. Once I get cattled across a few separate waiting areas, I learn one incredibly valuable bit about the welfare office building. No, I'm not talking about service in a healthy society or doing your part. Or am I?

People always tell you that a bar, a nightclub--these are the worst places you can meet a guy.

I say, bullsheeyit.

The worst place to meet a guy, has gots to be the Welfare Office.

At least at the bar, they let you drink. Some douchestrap might even pay for it--in regular ole currency that has nothing to do with a sidestreet cash-in of this month's foodstamps. He may even be employed somewhere and have a telephone in his name. Therein lie possibities. Possiblities in backseats and rooms paid for with cash--maybe credit. Maybe good credit. Reach for the moon.

Hanging at the bar, if you put on your 3-D(rink) goggles, you get things put into a palatable, though spinning, perspective where in the morning, at least your toilet is there for a hug.

At the Welfare office, I can barely bring myself to pee in those toilets, let alone hug them. At the Welfare office, you ain't got shit. Well, except for maybe some motel vouchers. I guess those really are handy if dates end well.

In one of many waiting areas, I sit. After I am done sitting, I sit some more. All sorts of people come here. It's disheartening, annoying, sad, loud and occasionally smelly. Things are touch all over. There's a woman across the way, the nicest lady in the place--all smiles and clearly living out of a shopping bag. I don't want to stare, but is that a bedpan in there? If you're homeless, is that really a necessity? I don't know. I have never been a practical packer. I pull out one of two paperbacks from my bag.

A gentleman approaches me. Heh, "gentleman", I crack me up. He looks normal enough.He is not packing a bedpan. Only one of his eyes has a cataract. He is not afraid of introductions. I am.

"Girl, I just came up,"

He says it kinda on the sly, taking a seat.


I say. I begin reading my book for dearlife. Everyone in this book* is a hustling criminal with no money. Shit, I can't escape this life. It is a flimsy forcefield because he keeps talking.

"Girl, they just gave me all these motel vouchers," he explains.

As incredible a conversation starter as that is, I am reluctant. I am wondering if working laps at strip bars might carry more dignity than continuing to wait here. Hmm, I bet this guy would be a shoddy tipper.

"Um, good for you?" I say. It's the most congratulatory thing I can say. I just can't make myself highfive him, even if that would be funny.

He sees that I clearly don't get it. He is going to have to up his game.

"Girl, they're supposed to make you sign these things. But they weren't even looking. I didn't sign shit! I'm about to sell these bitches!"

I can't figure out if I'm supposed to be impressed or making a purchase. Or notifying the authorities. I decide my best bet is to blink stupidly, and find my happy place, far, far from here.
Somewhere with palm trees or where people have jobs. We only have the former in Los Angeles.

"You got a place to stay?" he asks. "You having a hard time?"

Well, I am having a hard time, it's true. But, I think that he is the one giving it to me. This conversation is already doomed to be ridiculous. I should help it along.

"I'm fine. I wish you luck with your welfare fraud." It seems that I can only say the wrong thing. I just suck at boy meets girl, don't I. I watch the clock with fear and hatred. I think of the movie, Beetlejuice. I think of the dude in the waiting room with the shrunken head. I make wishes.

"Girl, it ain't like that. Don't worry."
He senses my concern and makes a quick save.
"I drive an Escalade!"

An Escalade? There is nowhere to run. I read the shit out of the same sentence, over and over, like a mantra or a spell that clearly isn't working because he is still sitting here. Hell, I am still sitting here too.

"Well, I don't wanna bother you. You look busy," he says. Oh, is he leaving? maybe it did work. I will work on the shrunken head part next. Or at least his other eye, but then he'd crash the Escalade on the way home. But it's a false sense of hope here at the welfare office--he keeps sitting there. I am in for more disappointment in myself. No, not in the paths I walked to get here, but in the fact that I react with such ugly honesty to him. I fold the corner of my book and explain that it is not that he is bothering me exactly, which, yes, I suppose that he is. But it is in that I do not drive an Escalade. I do not have a motel voucher racket. All I have is a headache and that I do not want to be here. Realization sweeps over him, there is a glimmer in his good eye.

"No, it ain't even like that," he says. "Girl, I used to work at the airport. That's how I got this eye. They gave me a settlement and THAT'S how i got my Escalade. We all have hard times. All of us do," he explains. I resist the urge to ask about a jet getting his eye somehow. Hard times, indeed. It's a very long book I got out of reading at school. I do feel bad for hard times, and whoever may be having them, despite how completely ridiculous each moment gets here at the welfare office--the West Los Angeles branch of Hard Times.

I just nod. I go back to my book. In it, a lady with two babies sells her plasma because she's strapped for cash. Dammit, why didn't I think of that.

"You alright girl. You real cool."

Shit, you're still here?

"I'm from the Bay area--I ain't racist. I would ask you for your phone number."

Yes, I know what you're thinking. I don't know what the Bay area has to do with his racism, or lack thereof, either. But, I am very glad to have dropped my phone into my cat's water bowl, just days prior. I get excited to speak more truths.

"My phone is broken. Sorry."

He offers to sell me one. Hell, he'd GIVE me one. His head doesn't need shrinking does it. He needs all the space up there he can get. But the good part hasn't come. The good part is when he offers me career advice. He explains that I should go back to school. That is what he is doing. Girl, if you go to school. They will pay you! You can take easy ass classes! P.E. 1+1 shit! I bet you could do it for the rest of your life! That's what I'm 'bout to do!

I think of the booklist in my bag, the one I can't afford to purchase despite the coming semester. I feel something like fury again. Before I can ask him how to get in on the cellphone selling racket, they call my name, tell me to wait in an additonal area. I don't even mind more waiting. I'm getting used to it. Hell, it's all about books and waiting at the welfare office. And bad dudes, with bad eyes, and bad luck too. I'm just glad that I can still see out of both eyes. Even if I can't afford the glasses it will take to do it right. I sit down again, turn the page, and keep reading about a young, stupid mom taking pills that make her feel funny. Don't do it! I want to say. Although, I sympathize. In a few pages, she'll get raped.

*Angels by Denis Johnson--shout out!