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I think I have enough emotional distance to talk about this now.

So.

On Monday morning, I received a call from the temp agency saying that my contract with the health garage had been terminated effective immediately. The agency supervisor did not know the reason for the termination... )
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The health garage front office has been a little crazy this week, for various reasons. cut on general principles )

So that will all be very interesting!

On a tangential but related note, I had three hours of paid training for Not the IRS on Wednesday morning, and need to do some more paid training from home via the web this weekend, because I have to get through a couple instructional modules before the instructor-led session next Wednesday. This will also be interesting!

...

I am very out of practice at working full time. I don't think I will really be working proper full time hours, even once Not the IRS gets into full swing, but I'm going to lose a bunch of free time and that will be -- yes, say it with me -- interesting to readjust to.

But for now, I am just going to bed. Mmm, delicious sleep...
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Things done today:

1. Dropped off book donation
2. Dropped off clothes donation
3. Emptied a bunch of stuff into compost
4. Took out trash
5. Watered plants
6. Continued to tidy junk in apartment
7. Scheduled civil service exam for next week (part of a LONG job application process)

(I really, really want the job in question. It sounds like easy work for which I am well-qualified, and it pays a good $10,000 more per year than I have ever earned in my life. Also, health insurance.)

Anyway, my parents should arrive at about 4-4:30pm, by which time I will be at work. Vicky and Aunt Cara will arrive separate at some point after that; Vicky will set up in my front room, and Aunt Cara will set up at her motel. They will all go together to the restaurant where we have a 7:45pm reservation. I will walk there after work and meet them.

Wednesday is for vineyard touring, and then my family does... something... while I'm at work for four hours. Thursday is Thanksgiving, obviously. (The health garage is duly closed and I have the day off.) And Friday Aunt Cara leaves early, while the rest of us may do a family breakfast before Mom, Dad, and Vicky hit the road and I head in to work early because some of the other front office staff took an extra vacation day and I was offered the option of covering for them. (Which neatly compensates for losing Thursday's hours/pay, so of course I said yes.)

Yay holidays?

(During the cleaning/tidying process, I have looked into boxes I'd forgotten I owned, and wow, there are some BIG decluttering opportunities waiting for me once I have my apartment to myself again. *rubs hands in anticipation*)
edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
It occurs to me that I should perhaps talk a little about the health garage, since I've been working there for two months.

cut on general principle, though I think I managed to avoid specifics )

And that is your introduction to the health garage.

-----

In other news, this weekend is Apple Harvest Fest in Ithaca. I went this afternoon despite the miserable weather (low 50s and constant light rain) and had a good time for a couple hours. I listened to some cool music, bought a bottle of hard cider, and bought replacements for the black dangly earrings I lost a couple years ago.

It is really hard to find silver dangly earrings with only one or two black stones and a minimum of additional ornamentation. The ones I bought are not my platonic ideal of such an earring set -- two stones rather than one, and both the same size instead of the lower being larger -- but they're close enough for government work and now I have a second pair of earrings that will go with any outfit so I won't be stuck wearing my little silver turtle dangly earrings nearly every day. I mean, I LIKE my little silver turtle dangly earrings, but they're not the epitome of professionalism and a small amount of variety is nice.

(I don't like to think in the morning, so I don't try to get clever with earrings except on special occasions; for everyday purposes, I reduce two dozen options down to only two or three. I have also used plain silver hoops as one of those go-to pairs in the past, but my actual-silver set broke and the paint on my fake-silver set has gone funny, so they're not currently an option. *sigh*)
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
1. I think I'm doing pretty well in my tax course so far. I got 90% on the first quiz (would've been 100% but I counted dependents instead of exemptions and forgot you can exempt yourself, whoops) and 100% on the first graded review. I have also not had any problems with the software, aside from the known practice environment glitches, and have played around a little to see what making random changes in the case studies' givens will do. In a few cases this has gotten downright weird since I've been messing around with credits and deductions we haven't yet reached in the textbook, but hey, what's the point of a safe play-space if you're afraid to break stuff?

2. I have two prompt!ficlets left to write, and am willing to accept more prompts until October 1 if anyone is still interested. This round has been almost entirely Homestuck, Naruto, and Narnia, but I am more than happy to write in other fandoms if you have an idea you want to see.

3. I may be dogsitting Dottie from late October through the first week and a half of November. Watch this space.

4. My dentist called me today and said it's about the time I usually have an autumn appointment, and would I like to schedule one? I haven't been to the dentist since a year and a half ago, I think, because I've been unemployed and dentists are expensive. I am apparently prone to cavities, though, so I probably should go and even get X-rayed... but X-rays are even more expensive than a basic checkup and cleaning... *weighs options, reaches no conclusion, tables the issue until next week*

5. I will be picking up some extra hours at the health garage next week when another of the front office staff goes on vacation. Yay money!

In other health garage news, we were supposed to switch over to a new computer program today, but implementation was delayed because of various issues. This is not the first time implementation has been delayed; apparently the program in question was originally meant to go live this past spring. O_o

The switch will make part of my job simpler by rendering it irrelevant, but it will make other parts a lot more complicated, because among other issues, the new program does not have any way for the front office to access clients' financial information. Do they have a copay? Do they use a sliding fee scale? Do they owe us a back balance? Who knows! We sure won't! (We do have a kludgy workaround involving manually updated tables in Word documents, but that is a gigantic pain in the neck and I am not looking forward to it. I really hope that issue gets addressed and fixed before implementation actually happens.)

6. Yesterday was Porchfest. As always, Downstairs Neighbor S volunteered our house as one of the stages, so I got to listen to some nice jazz while I took a nap after church. Later in the afternoon I went to hear Boss Lady and her band play a few blocks down my street, and caught up with Sweetheart who was also there to listen.

Porchfest has been getting bigger every year, and this year my church got in on it! We moved Sundae Sunday (which celebrates the invention of the ice cream sundae -- in Ithaca, in 1892, by Unitarians! -- and is an annual church event) from the first day of fall services to the 27th and served ice cream sundaes to anyone who walked past. We also had three musical acts on the porch of the parish house. So that was fun. :D
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I just spent two and a half hours pickling my brain in tax information -- or, in other words, doing my homework for the Not the IRS training course. I actually already knew about, oh, 80 percent of it, simply because I have always done my own taxes and that involves a lot of careful reading through instruction booklets to make sure I'm not missing any obligations or credits. Since my employment situation has been variable over the past two decades, and since I do own some stocks/annuities/whatever, I have also had at least passing experience with some less common schedules and forms (*shakes fist at Schedule C*) and have never been able to use the 1040EZ. So there is some benefit in not being scared of weird and abstrusely-written stuff, because hey, if I can figure it out for my own use, surely I can figure it out for somebody else.

But the government isn't bothering to print out instruction booklets these days, so I have a feeling I'm going to need to download some .pdf files for my own use, and possibly print the whole shebang, punch holes in the pages, and make up two little cheat-sheet three-ring binders: one for federal and one for state. *sigh*

I have also been correcting my textbook glossary every time it defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and making notes of some confusing things (contradictory cutoff number values, for example) to ask the instructor about tomorrow. So hopefully even though I haven't printed out hard copies of IT-201 to do state copies of the federal case studies -- because we don't get blank copies in a workbook, and how cheap is that??? -- I will come across as prepared.

(I need to buy new ink for my printer. It is not happy with me right now. *deeper sigh*)

-----

Also, I wasn't able to do [thing x] at the health garage this evening because of computer programs that didn't want to cough up the reports I needed to print and distribute, so that part of my duties completely failed to happen. This is both annoying and slightly worrying, given that I need to keep making a good impression. I really want to get hired directly instead of as a temp; that would feel significantly more secure. (Also possibly I could get hired full time? I'd really like that...)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Ha, a third NFE story edited! *collapses*

I do enjoy editing -- it's an interesting change of pace from writing and just reading for fun -- but it takes a lot of concentration to do properly. Judging the line between "I think this reads awkwardly and should be rephrased" and "you must write passage X this way instead" is particularly tricky. I tend to rewrite shorter passages while noting that these are only suggested rephrasings (and often explaining the reason I made the change), whereas with long and complicated things I'm more likely to leave a note to the effect of, "Hey, I had problem Y while reading passage X and I think making a change of type Z would help resolve the issue." (And then of course sometimes I do rewrite long and complicate things -- maybe even several paragraphs in a row -- though in those cases I always leave an accompanying explanatory note. These are not hard and fast rules.)

It's always easier to edit in person, where you can just verbally explain to the writer what the problem with passage X is and offer several suggestions for how to solve it. In writing, I find that I tend to offer only one suggested solution, because writing out three variations is way too time-consuming. (I learned that lesson in high school, when I edited a research paper for my ex-boyfriend and my edits ran six pages long for a three-page paper. He was still laughing about that years later. *headdesk*)

Tuesday evening I will edit my own fic, which is both easier and harder than editing someone else's. Easier because I don't have to worry about explaining myself (nor worry about hurting anyone's feelings), and harder because one main point of editing is to shine a light into the writer's blind spots, and you can't exactly see your own blind spots. You have to work them out by inference and extrapolation from other people's past feedback. Anyway, once I've done a preliminary pass-through, I'm going to send the story to Vicky, who can see my blind spots and who knows she doesn't need to be nice when pointing them out. Sisters are useful that way. :D

---------------

In other news, I was offered four extra hours at the health garage on Thursday. I have accepted them. Yay work! Yay money!
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Friday morning I caught a bus down to NJ to see my parents and my friend Susan. I took a suitcase full of laundry, which was feasible because I had done laundry the previous Sunday and therefore didn't have all that many clothes and linens to bring, and I figured I might as well be lazy.

Mom and I had a minor adventure getting from Ridgewood to Madison -- moral of the story, do not drive on the Parkway in August when everyone and their dog is headed to the shore for the weekend; also, if you want to take an alternate route home so you can stop at church en route to drop some things off, look up some directions beforehand -- but we managed in the end, despite the inherent limitations of trying to read Google Maps off my tiny phone screen.

Friday night Susan and I ate out at Poor Herbies, which is a Madison institution; a fair number of people I knew in high school had their first jobs as Poor Herbies waitstaff. I got a calamari appetizer and a steamed broccoli side, which made a perfectly filling meal; Susan got a cheeseburger and fries. We considered ordering some hard root beer to see what on earth it tasted like, but decided against experimentation and just went back to her place. We then spent a few hours talking, walking her family dog, and watching the pilot episode of Warehouse 13 which is a show she really likes. I found it enjoyable, but it didn't particularly grab me. I might try episode two at some point and see if it clicks better, but I suspect inertia will nix that vaguely formulated intention. (It is not nearly solid enough to count as a plan.)

On Saturday I did nothing in particular, aside from walk Dottie in the early afternoon, write a tiny ficlet, and talk off and on with my parents. On Sunday Mom, Dad, and I went to a local Friendly's for breakfast, after which I finished packing and hit the road heading west and north. I brought back a LOT more stuff than I left with, even discounting the actual car. I have two bags of church recycling sale donations, five bags of books to donate to the Friends of the Library book sale, and a large cooler full of food because Mom was both trying to clear out her own refrigerator (since she and Dad won't be back until October) and indulging in some generalized "I can't find you a job but I can at least make sure you are FED!" stress relief.

Well, I'm not going to turn down free food. *wry*

Monday was my fourth day at my new job, henceforth dubbed the health garage -- this is a terrible pun-based joke which you will not understand because I'm not telling you the actual name of the organization -- and I think I am really starting to get the hang of things. I'm not expected to be on my own until next week, which is nice though I think I could probably manage as early as this Thursday if necessary. What I need to work on mostly is recognizing clients so I won't have to ask their names and look up all their information every time they come in, and just generally speeding up my progress through various tasks. Both will come with time and familiarity.

And that's what I've been doing, more or less.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
In my experience, first days of new jobs are exhausting, even if one doesn't outwardly seem to do much. Paying attention and trying to learn a thousand things at once takes a lot of energy!

I think I have a good handle on, let's say, thirty percent of what I will be doing; a rough handle on another fifty percent; and as for the remaining twenty percent, I at least know enough to be aware of what I don't know and still need to learn. I wouldn't want to be left alone for another couple shifts, but the tasks themselves are straightforward (aside from, you know, the inherent messiness of dealing with humans) so they shouldn't take too long to get down. And there are a bunch of cheat sheets around the front office... actually, possibly more cheat sheets than is strictly helpful, because I'm not sure I remember where all of them are. *wry*

I also need to get a set of keys to the building. I must remember to ask about that tomorrow.
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
I can has JOB!!!

It's a part-time thing, just twenty hours a week, but it pays more per hour than I was making at the smoke shop (to say nothing of what I made at Not the IRS) and it turns out to be more receptionist than data entry. Basically I will be staffing the front desk of a sort of... medical-ish community outreach agency, about which I can't say much because of privacy regulations. The job involves answering phones (and probably placing calls), scheduling appointments, checking in appointments, managing payments and receipts, and maintaining records.

I start tomorrow afternoon.

...

I think I am a little in shock at how sudden this is. I mean, I am still catching a bus down to NJ on Friday to see Susan (sort of a "neither of us will be in Madison for your actual birthday so let's party early" visit) and pick up my parents' spare car so I can do my flash house-sitting routine over the next couple months, but I will work three days this week and then next week I'll be working four hours a day, five days a week. Each day is a little different, but I think it's a regular irregular schedule, if that makes sense? So I will be able to schedule other stuff around it.

And that reminds me that I need to apply for the Not the IRS training course so I can do actual tax work instead of just receptionist work in 2016.

I also still need another part-time job, because rent and grocery bills don't pay themselves, but hey. Progress!

(And on a semi-related note, part of my internet bill is now covered by renting out the back half of my driveway to Upstairs Neighbors E and T as long-term pickup truck storage. I cashed their August check today. *grin*)

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Elizabeth Culmer

August 2017

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