Archive for November, 2008



Disclaimer: Some of this is probably illegal so understand that I am NOT advocating  trying it, just looking into and thinking about the whole situation…


O.K., so food stamps are definitely a wonderful thing for those who truly need them and I am not by any means suggesting that the recipients look a government gift horse in the mouth. HOWEVER … it’s come to my attention that there are a couple of little kinks in the system, and rather than spend years trying to persuade government to straighten them out, savvy food stamp recipients are coming up with ingenious ways to cope.


First and foremost let’s note that while bread is certainly better than nothing (especially when you’re TRULY hungry), man does not live by bread alone. There are certain limitations on food stamps that seem to make sense (like you can’t buy alcohol or tobacco products with them), some that appear a little ill-advised (no deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper, or laundry goodies), and some that I’m not sure how to regard (no pet supplies or cleaning products). Non-food items must be purchased with cash, and if you bring them to the check out with your grocery purchases, the cashier will tell you your “food stamp total” followed by your “non-eligible items total” that you must pay in cash.


The few people I know who are on food stamps really appreciate receiving them, but they DO NEED some non-eligible items as well and truly don’t have the cash to cover them.


So… what to do, what to do…


“I’m not planning to be on food stamps for long,” says one acquaintance, “but if I show up for job interviews in dirty clothes, with B.O. and bad breath and dirty hair, it could be a lot longer than I’d like…”


Well YEAH, that makes sense…


A neighbor who is a fellow animal lover is trying to figure out how to supply her dog with nourishment, and before you suggest “Get rid of it” allow me to interject that for many people (including myself) getting rid of a pet is akin to getting rid of a child and simply not an option no matter what the circumstances.


“I get inexpensive cuts of meat that are on sale and feed her people food and vegetables,” she admits. “I know that’s not really a good answer, but it’s the only one I can come up with right now.”


And apparently she’s not alone: The local Meals on Wheels program has started working in cooperation with our county Humane Society and other area animal welfare groups to supply pet food as well as people food. Why? Because the delivery people have discovered that the humans they serve are sharing with their pets, thus defeating the goal of keeping needy people nourished. As one elderly woman who lives in a questionable neighborhood explained to the courier, “How am I supposed to enjoy a meal in front of a hungry dog that’s protected me and been my only family for the past eight years?”




Some recipients are learning how and where to use their food stamps as currency. (This is the part I think is illegal, but, sorry; I’ve always asserted that what’s “legal” isn’t always necessarily what’s “right.”) Anyway, a coworker I know was concerned that her car insurance was about to be cancelled… which would mean she could not (legally) drive to her part time jobs. She approached a relative who, though not in a position to lend her the money, did agree to give her the cash (which was her grocery money for the week) in exchange for groceries paid for with food stamps.


Necessity really is a mother, and the savvy working (or unemployed) poor are figuring out ways to make Food Stamps serve up more than meals. Now if they could just get the utility companies and gas stations on board with some kind of barter agreement …


A nice batch of cookies maybe…


And that’s the anything that’s happening today, Thanksgiving, in the land of plenty, my friends.


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I’ve been thinking about my 2009 New Years Resolutions since long before Halloween (spooky, isn’t it?)  probably just because this has been a less-than-great year and I’m kind of anxious to put it behind me and move on. 

Next year’s goals and promises are going to be a lot more about business and finance than in years past, just out of necessity. As they say “If you keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’ you’re gonna keep gettin’ what you’ve been gettin’,” to which I reply with a resounding “NO THANKS!”

So after having worked for The Company From Hell under Darth Manager for more than half of ’08, I am REALLY ready to move on from those Dullard’s (hee hee) and get back to doing something that requires a brain. And doesn’t make me grind my teeth in my sleep. Or double up on my blood pressure and ulcer and headache medications. (Did you know that some employees hate this company so much they actually have a whole web site where they compare which branch is worse and post stuff about the big shots? NEITHER DID I… but it’s really fun to read!) So the whole career scene is in for a major revamp.

As is the house. This is my 12th year here, and having come within a hair’s breadth of foreclosure in this past wonderful year, I now look at my little cottage with a whole new respect and appreciation. When I thought I was going to lose it I remembered how much I love it … something I’d lost sight of in a year when a stupid drunk came CRASHING INTO IT and left me with non-working windows and doors not to mention a gap between two exterior walls and somehow messing up the roof AND the wiring. (Dumb ass.) The restitution hearing looms ahead so maybe that would be a good time to make some of the changes I’ve been contemplating in the house.

Did I mention that this soused moron damaged my house by shoving my car into it and totaling it? Yes, my gorgeous Mustang convertible, gone. I could kill him for that alone! Anyway, “Decent Car” is also high on the 2009 priority list, especially since my car is pretty much my office.   

 As for the personal stuff… WOW. The personal rituals will remain the same but in a largely expanded version. See, every year for more years than I care to admit, I’ve stayed home on New Year’s Eve and conducted my own little ceremonies to sweep away the previous year’s bad personal Mojo and prepare to do better in the coming year. This is dealt with in several categories ranging from clothes to friendships. The clothes letting is hard but the ridding of toxic relationships is actually fairly easy: Because I have NO memory, all I have to do is go through my computer contact list and delete everyone I don’t want in my life in the coming year and just that easily, POOF! They’re gone. They no longer exist. I’m serious. For this reason, the elimination process is a very serious and solemn ceremony because once I delete them they are REALLY gone. And this year may be a record setter.

There’s nothing like bad times to show you who your real friends are… and I got an astoundingly good (if somewhat shocking) look at this over 2008, possibly the worst year I’ve ever lived through. It was really amazing. People I would have sworn would always have my back just completely TURNED THEIR BACKS on me, while other people whom I barely knew stepped up to such a degree I couldn’t help but wonder WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS? Two neighbors I’d only chatted with on a surface-y level treated me as if we were cherished, long lost relatives and came through for me in ways I couldn’t believe. Relatives I had thought cherished me as much as I did them just blew me off no matter how desperately I pleaded for their help… and then wanted to maintain the facade that everything was fine? People I thought of as acquaintances came through for me in ways I wouldn’t have asked of my dearest friends, and dear friends helped in any way they could (just as I would for them). It was a year of revelations.

So no wonder I’m eager to get to 2009 and my fresh start. I’ve learned more in the past year than any other decade, and I’m anxious to try living with this new insight and seeing where my life and career roll on these new knowledge wheels. I’m going to look at every day of this new year as being full of possibilities, and embrace each day as Anything Can Happen Day… because as I learned last year, it really can.

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