13 January 2024

My birthday three days ago was a fucking joke. They are every year — the one good thing in all that time was the way Matt kept buying me art supplies*, and now I’ve lost most of those — but this was my half-century and I had half-hoped to mark it with something memorable. In a fun sense, I mean. Nope. Shit out of luck. Again. But Carrie bought me an iced latte at a Jennings coffee shop the next day, and has promised to take me to a Chinese buffet soon. Not my favorite place to eat but they usually have some good dishes there which I enjoy, and I don’t dare ask about the Japanese habachi and sushi buffet. It might be good. But it might be a nightmare! And Japanese food’s always more expensive than Chinese and I don’t want to be a moocher. Oh well.

Also, I fucking love Carrie and I wish she and Dad had worked out. But maybe this is better, because they got to keep being friends and he’s needed that support from time to time. He used to rescue her all the time when they were younger so it’s really you have scratched my back and now it’s my turn to scratch yours. That’s so awesome, though.

I have gotten my driver’s license changed over from Ohio to Louisiana. Ohio’s DLs are good for a four-year period and mine was nearly up. Also, vehicle registration is due for renewal once a year unless you specifically ask for two-year renewal periods, which of course cost more, and are due on the vehicle owner’s birthday. Unfortunately, my arriving in Louisiana on the 21st was really bad timing because I’ve had too many customer-facing jobs and that specific part of December would have coincided with everyone panicking about getting their vehicular shit done before holiday hours and closures kicked in. I knew that, so I put it off. I shouldn’t have. I knew I had time to get it done before my birthday, which is on the 10th, but I didn’t know we were going to get an awful rainstorm on both the Friday and the Monday prior. I wanted to get it done BEFORE my birthday, not ON it. Just felt like that was wiser.

No harm done. Probably by sheer dumb luck. I should have put in my change of address as soon as I got here, but when I first tried to get it done I was stymied by a shitty cellular connection, which is my only internet access anymore. I hadn’t been wanting to drive much due to the car’s starting issues or I could have gone over to Carrie’s or else sat in Walmart’s parking lot in Jennings or something. Anyway, I’m not randomly changing the subject: the change of address notice they send you is adequate proof of address at the OMV. (Ohio calls theirs a BMV. Louisiana’s is the OMV. It’s what the rest of you call a DMV.) But I finally got it sorted and the notice arrived in the mail that Monday before my birthday. I just didn’t retrive it til the fucking rain stopped. Holy cow it was bad. We had schools closed. Usually we just shrug off rain. Not this time.

I could rant about shitty website design and shitty phone app design that don’t account for one-bar cellular signal, but you’re bored already. Just know that if you go into web design or app design, that’s a definite issue and y’all all know the government’s not going to bother sorting it out the way they did electrification of rural areas a century ago. Uncle Sam does not have remotely the same priorities now. So we’ll just have to adjust. Knock it off with the bells and whistles and just go for functionality. Thanks in advance.

Anyway. I’ve applied for a few jobs (Carrie told Dad I’ve “applied for all kinds of jobs” — not anything I told her, but apparently a conclusion she has drawn — which has mollified him, and I haven’t had the heart to clarify the situation for either of them) and heard absolutely nothing back, which didn’t really surprise me. It was the same in Ohio for two years straight, or else I’d get some temp thing and the client would drop the hours. Or I’d blow an interview. Or something stupid like that. Quantum was sheer dumb luck and turned out to be bullshit in disguise. I mean, clearly not bullshit enough as they are still in business and gaining more clients all the time, but give it another couple of years. As it is they keep having to hold more new-hire training classes, and that’s not all owing to the new clients. Some of it is the poor management. Well rid. So they didn’t hire me because I was somehow compelling. They hired me out of desperation. The pay rate and benefits reflect that too. Particularly when you consider THEY provide some of those benefits. In-house bells and whistles. Lots cheaper. So I’m not counting on anything like that happening again. It will be a matter of grabbing something that will pay my bills without driving me straight loony, and I don’t have a lot of bills at this point. And then it will be a matter of taking my time to train into something. I half want to go whole hog into proofreading (please do not look at my grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills here as evidence of anything; this is an informal blog, and I don’t fucking give a shit) as self-employment, and half want to train into something that translates into in-person employment from which I can then segue into self-employment somewhere down the line, but just have the latter as a side gig for now. I’m thinking option two may be better. I can’t tell for sure yet. Even if it isn’t the better option, probably best to go with it at first and then if the in-person work turns sour, I’m already more than halfway to the other goal.

Failing that I suppose I could do portraits for pay. That’s not guaranteed. If I were a shoo-in with that, though, I wouldn’t bother with an in-person job. My car is on its last legs (wheels?) unless I come up with the money to do what needs to be done at this stage to keep it in good shape, so being able to work without commuting is basically my Holy Grail. Dad may be a possible source for repair funds, though. He indicated as such yesterday. He benefits from my car running too, so we’ll see how that works out in practice.

But it isn’t just the balky starting — and I’m thinking now that it never needed jumping, but that it starting after a jump was coincidental, considering that most of the time it wasn’t even immediate but put me through a few more half-assed non-starts before finally, grudgingly getting going, at which point it functioned fine. I think the initial assessment of battery, starter, and alternator was correct and something else is going on. My thought is “old battery cable,” or something else along that circuit which has suddenly worn out and only half works. I cannot prove it, of course. I dread finding out how much finding the problem and fixing it will cost.

ASIDE FROM THAT, though: I had been looking for the power steering fluid tank the other day. I had gotten mixed information online about Hyundai Sonatas and where the power steering fluid is, and it turns out that some years and possibly trims have fluid-based power steering and some don’t. Apparently mine is one of the years/trims that does not. So whatever’s going on with my power steering is likely wholly mechanical. That won’t be good. If I don’t need it to continue steering safely, I won’t bother with it yet. We’ll see.

Also, while I was discovering that little quirk, I noticed the coolant tank. On this make and model, and possibly on a lot of the more modern cars, you don’t dump coolant straight into the radiator. You fill a reservoir tank instead. I actually really like this feature, because if you’re dangerously close to running out of coolant then you’re panicking and you don’t want to have to wait for the radiator to cool down. It’s just a little plastic tank with a pop-off non-locking hinged lid (helpfully marked Coolant) to one side of the engine block, right next to where the power steering fluid tank would have been if I’d had one. And the coolant level was down to the needs-a-refill line.


So I resolved to get more the next time I was at Walmart with Dad. Well, the next time we went I started the car before he came outside to go to town so I wouldn’t feel like a gigantic fanny trying to start the stupid thing while he sat there wondering what in the ever fucking fuck now. Got it started without too much trouble and sat there letting it run for a bit, and I noticed white smoke coming out the exhaust. It was not cold enough for my exhaust to be visible. I remembered the coolant tank being low and remembered a smell I’d started noticing in the past couple weeks sometimes when I’d just started the engine and had thought, Oh, shit. The coolant is leaking and somehow I am burning it. Quick Google. Vast majority of the time when this happens, including the white exhaust, it is a blown head gasket. However, when that happens the coolant gets in somewhere where it mucks up some sensors, and then your Check Engine light comes on. Mine hasn’t yet. So I’m thinking we’re still early days if it is the head gasket. But one more thing to panic about.

Did refill the coolant though. And so far, maybe a week later, I’ve had a little loss but nothing to write home about. It’s barely below the top-limit fill line. I’ll keep an eye on it.

I still have to fix that stupid tail light, too, because I am not out of the woods with legal shit for my car until I get the vehicle inspection done, which they give you a month to do. I am out of money thanks to paying for the taxes on the car title transfer AND having to make that last payment for my phone, which I had absolutely had to replace because the battery was swollen on the old one. I need to look up, next time I’m at Carrie’s, how to replace my car’s entire tail light fixture because love ya to bits Haynes, but YouTube videos are more helpful. Whatever fucked up that brake light’s socket (I can no longer install a bulb in it — it’s fried) also melted the opening the bulb’s supposed to go through on the install, and it’s warped and it breaks bulbs. No good. Everything else on that wiring harness still works, but it’s all going to have to come out. My one sticking point aside from price is whether I will need any special extras to get the job done. Adhesive, for instance. I need to find out.

And. AND! I’m not a hundred percent sure the brakes will pass muster. They work. But they’re getting mushy, which indicates something with the fluid level and/or cylinder (the one time I’ve had an outright brake failure, the cylinder had ruptured, and they got good and mushy before that happened — that was more than twenty years ago and I have never forgotten Poplar Avenue in Memphis in the rain), which is going to be more money out my pocket that I don’t fucking have. But I’m going to let that slide just a little bit longer. If they are the reason I fail inspection, they should be the only reason I fail, and I’ll get a sticker saying I failed inspection which should keep the cops off my ass for a little while longer. They don’t exactly give an A for effort, but they won’t ticket you for not even making the attempt, either. I think it also buys me additional time.

Are you bored again? Let me tell you what being poor is. Being poor is boredom and wasted time. So much wasted time. Oh my GOD the wasted time. Am I bitter? I’ve earned it. Fucking deal.

I do have one possible out, though I’m not sure yet how realistic it is or whether it will even happen. My aunt Matilda’s ex-husband, the father of all my cousins by her, passed away last November. They divorced at least a couple decades ago, and neither of them ever remarried. Far as Social Security is concerned, that makes her his widow. So she’s now gone from well less than a thousand a month in benefits to $3000-plus. She is now talking about replacing her Honda. Cool bit is it’s two years older than my car but about four thousand miles less in mileage, and I wouldn’t be doing much more with it than commuting and errands here.

State of Louisiana tells me my car’s worth six grand. Not sure how, and I surely would not be able to sell it for that much, but okay. If I could get at least three grand off it I bet she would take that as a down payment, and we could work out payment terms on top of that. We’ll see. My first impulse is to just keep up with my present car as there’s no expiration date for repairs — whereas there would be for a car payment — and no potential for misunderstandings between relatives. But if I like the terms I may take that risk. She swears it gives her absolutely no problems. I mean… it’s a Honda. Poor woman’s Toyota, basically. They’re decent cars.

(I can’t help thinking she’d be willing to sell it for its Blue Book value. If she is, I’d be home free because it wouldn’t even be $10k. Probably not worth much more than mine, in fact. We’ll see.)

I at least have an idea for employment for some amount of time, and the place is a mile away from my house. I will make plans to visit Carrie on Monday and will stop by there on the way. (Cold or not — we’re catching the edge of the vortex here early this next week — my car’s got a fucking heater and it, thank fuck, still fucking works.) They seem to have had poor luck finding someone. I’ve never operated gas-station pumps, but these are the old-fashioned kind and likely will be simple to learn. (There are two pumps: 87 octane and diesel. That’s it. You need rocket fuel, you outta luck, boo.) And, hey. If I can figure it out there, that’s experience in a gas station later if need be. I think the owner kind of knows my dad, which will also help. So we’ll try that, and we’ll see. Even if the fucking car breaks down, it’s a mile one way. My fat ass needs exercise anyhow.

Speaking of. I have had problems with random heart palpitations for a long time now. I thought for a while it was stevia setting them off. Then I thought maybe it was one of the “natural ingredients” in a particular root beer I had been drinking when that shit all started. But they never completely went away. And these days I find they pop up when I’m stressed, and they like to pop up when I’m using one of Dad’s recliners, especially when I am leaning back. I’m starting to wonder if this might be atrial fibrillation. I just have a feeling.

I did get notification a few days ago that I have been accepted on Louisiana Medicaid, which I already knew from the Healthcare.gov website but now I have paper documentation, so it’s wait again (SEE WHAT I SAID ABOVE ABOUT FUCKING WAITING) to get my card. Then it’s start investigating all this shit. Afib is a major risk factor for stroke, and too many people have already had those in my family, especially on Mom’s side. I have other risk factors for stroke too. I am not going to go in for any pharmaceutical cocktail but if they tell me I need to do a blood thinner, I could get on baby aspirin and/or garlic tablets. Not a big deal. I already knew I need to lose weight. Maybe if a doctor is fussing at me, Dad might start taking that seriously. The big battle there is that he thinks I only have to cut fat and calories. No, Dad. That never works for anybody, Dad. Even if they lose the weight, they lose too much lean mass and the problems remain and their stupid doctors go Well, I Guess This Must Be Hereditary, Here Are Some Prescriptions and next thing you know you’re taking pills to offset the effects of the pills you are already on and you feel sick all the fucking time. Nope. Not doing that. Next fucking question. But it’s going to make things interesting in terms of eating healthier. I’m so fucking tired of people always judging and sabotaging me about that. It’s hard enough pushing myself. I shouldn’t have to push other people away at the same fucking time.

(Is ANYONE who is close to me ever going to be genuinely supportive of my self-improvement efforts? Ever? Am I doomed to be alone? It’s really starting to look like it. Fuck all y’all.)

[looks back at blog entry]

…Holy shit, I don’t think I meant to be this verbose.

I have more shit I want to talk about, but I’ve written enough, I guess. I will try to remember to do this more often or else there’s no point. Also, if I’m consistent in my updates, I will have more time and space in which to write about all that other stuff too. Sounds like a wiener to me.

*Ah ha, you’re saying. Matt bought you art supplies every year. Surely this means he wanted to be supportive of your artistic inclinations. Well, sure. If he hadn’t dicked up the entire house and left me no room to work. I had been sorting that out the last couple years I was there, in fact — and then he decided to go off the rails. OH NOES HOW DARE I TRY TO IMPROVE MY LIFE WITHOUT RUNNING OUT THE DOOR. CLEARLY I AM NASTY AND UNREASONABLE. Asshole.