Monday, August 10, 2009
Bureaucracy, Mail and my giant Clusterfuck
I promised I wouldn't let the mail pile up on my desk and breed any more. Michael brought half a trash bag home one day, some of the unopened envelopes were from 2005 and he went through every piece and did an opening and discarding ceremony for me. What was left were about ten important things, and a tiny bit of current mail that was important. All of my real bills except for my shop rent come to me in E form, so most of the mail I get at the shop is nominally important or simply a waste of paper. Michael gets his mail at the shop, because our mailbox is out by the street and sometimes kids will take it out and scatter it. Andrew gets his mail at the shop because he never wants to miss a piece from the Army. Andrew gets a LOT of mail, but really never opens it, or opens it in my shop then leaves it, in a big opened pile somewhere near my work space, then I put it back in the box. I am very self-righteous about not being anyone's mail carrier, and not really helpful in this. I have actually created a useless resentment around it.
One entity that sends mail to both Michael and I is Health and Human Services. They are the ones that gave and then rescinded our food stamps. They are the ones that approved MediCal which gave me access to medical care for the first time in over ten years. We really needed those food stamps at this time of the world, and it hurts not to have them. If you read me at all, you know how badly I need medical care, and what the bills would be if we were paying out of pocket.
I have kept my mail commitment in principle, but not in spirit, and I have majorly fucked up. Stupid mail goes in the trash, important mail goes in the box. What have I known yet completely overlooked? Mail fro HAHS is always timed and needs a response by a certain date. I have been putting those letters, both for Michael and myself into the box and calling it done. The desk is still fairly orderly, and I have been feeling pretty proud of myself. The problem is we were supposed to respond to some things by a certain date and I just let it sit there and I am currently not covered by MediCal now. Right before a surgery I really want. Right after I visited a neurologist, and have prescriptions filled all the time.
In the office, when we go there, there are always a million kids who are not really being watched by their parents, yelling and banging stuff. There are people who are easy to judge, not people like us who used to have a good income but since the crash are really struggling. That's bullshit, the part where we're different from them, but it's easy to fall into while frustration builds and we watch the same video on "Healthy snacks" replay endlessly at a volume that can be heard over the unruly children. We have no one case-worker, they all have a revolving case-load. Sometimes we get a reasonable person, the last time Michael has gone he's gotten the large and unhappy woman who has 500 tasks to do in only 8 hours of underpaid time, who assumes everyone is lying about their circumstance.
Have you any idea how hard it is to prove a negative? Prove that I'm NOT making a ton of money and squirreling it away and that we just want to live on food stamps and MediCal so we can get over on the government? She straight up accused Michael of lying, reminded him that it's a federal offense to do so and that he can go to prison for it. This is a man with over 8 1/2 years clean who has actually been to prison for his drug behavior, and she has the nerve to threaten him with it now because he's trying to feed his family. She assumes my mattress is stuffed with secret cash that I just skim from the thousands that flow in every day, and how do I prove to her that life is actually the opposite these days? Every time they ask for something we track it down and bring it to them, print-outs and receipts and copies of things. Next they will want documents written in our blood, which we will supply. Proving what I don't make in this economy is difficult though.
The truth is though, and this is where I have to feel so very bad all by myself: Things were rolling along fine. Michael did all the footwork to get us hooked up with these services while I stayed home and kept my illness company between tattoos. I didn't bring the right mail home, I put it in the "important" box, and now we're cut off and have to go reestablish my healthcare benefits. It could have been fine, and I am the one who has created this problem. We are the ones who will try to go unfuck it, because he doesn't own a blame-thrower and wouldn't leave me on my own anyway.
I feel useless in the ways of bureaucracy, I'm an artist. That is a very thin and irrelevant excuse, and I feel like a piece of shit around this fact. I'm hoping that by looking her in the eye, whoever "she" is today, I can say "I am telling you the truth, please see me as I am." and get this fixed. I am not a liar, or a cheat, or a fraud. I'm sick, I need care, and it would be nice to feed my family while I try to sort out this disease that keeps me from the life I know I could be living.
Those kids better not be banging that shit around this morning though, or I will so mom up on them and tell them to knock it off.