Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Good Company...

The other day I came out of our neighborhood supermarket which is on a busy stretch of Broadway. Standing at the kerb was a tall, somewhat lanky African-American fellow, maybe in his fifties.

He was a bit hunched over and he was smoking a cigarette. I noticed he was having an intense and animated conversation.

This would not garner my attention. The conversation he was having was with a parking meter.
I didn't mean to stare, but it was something different. He looked my way and caught me eavesdropping on his exchange - if you want to call it that. He smiled and stretched out his hand, indicating the universal request for monetary assistance. I walked over, handed him a couple of dollars that had nested in my pocket, and said hello.

He proceeded to introduce me to his friend - the parking meter. I don't remember the name, just that it was male.

"He likes to count," the guy explained.

"Pleased to meet you, sir," I said to the meter.

"Don't be rude, man...say hello to the kind gentleman. He just gave us some bread for some smokes," the guy chastised the meter.

The meter didn't say anything to me, but he must have said something to the guy because he went back to having his conversation.

"Excuse me, I need to go. Enjoy your day..." I offered.

The guy just smiled and waved.

And out of the corner of my eye, I swear, I saw the meter smile too. Then he went on with his counting.

Friday, March 14, 2008

There seems to be a malaise in the air. There seems to be tension, stress, unease, bad fortunes, and a sense that this are just a tad out of harmony. I am not sure what exactly it is I feel, but I do notice that the people around me all seem to be dealing with more troubles than the norm. Deaths, illnesses, uncertainty, confusion, anxiety, and melancholy all seem to be present.

I am facing my own challenges - both from within and beyond.

It seems that whenever there is something to celebrate, something to be proud of, some sense of accomplishment, there is, waiting just around the bend, something to temper it.

My long struggle to find permanent employment has come to an end. But rather than being something to celebrate, it poses new struggles. Moreover, something inside refuses me to be happy about this. Perhaps because it seems unreal, or perhaps because there is some bad wiring in my head.

I am entering the last few days of my break. I thought I would be able to take this time to let my new job security sink in and ponder the prospects for a more stable life. Instead it has been a time to deal with new worries. A few days ago I sat down to do our taxes. As a grad student, tax time was always a time of worry because while students grants, fellowships, and funding are taxed, usually money was not withheld. So around this time, I was always trying to figure out how to put up the money I owed.

I thought this time things would be different. Not so. I work in one state - New Jersey - and live in another - New York. My employer withholds taxes for New Jersey, but not New York. As I completed my taxes, it became clear that I owed a huge amount of money to the state of NY (and the City of New York, which also has income tax) because no money had been withheld. Grad school all over again, except this time I am making a lot more money, so the tax bill is all that much higher.

I do pay taxes in NJ, which I can deduct from NY, but those are much lower because I am not a resident and the NY tax rate is MUCH higher. No one where I worked told me that I would have to pay these taxes and that I should set funds aside. You think they would...but they didn't.

We don't have any cash reserves because we were trying to pay down our debt to hopefully buy a house. And now it is back into the debt pool to pay these taxes.

When I saw that big red number pop up on my little tax program, it really did feel like a punch in the stomach.

The tax fiasco has just fanned the flames of doubt and unhappiness that were already dancing in my mind. The gremlins of depression are fostering mischief despite my attempts to not let them. The inability to reign them in, to not let them rampage through my morale is frustrating. I am not sure what to do.

As I mentioned before, my work insurance is changing April 1, so I will have to switch doctors because the one I am seeing now does not take the new plan. I saw him yesterday and he recommended not making any drastic changes other than increase one of the meds I am on.

Over the past months, I was hoping to decrease my meds. My recent check up revealed that I was deficient in Vitamin D and Potassium and that my blood pressure was a bit high. I also have a tendency to clench my jaw when on the meds. So while they might help my mind, they probably are not doing my body much good. I guess it will all have to wait. The search for a new doctor begins - then maybe a new path to a more mentally harmonious life.

When I take a step back, all these issues seem so petty when I see what others have to deal with. But I can't escape them. The tax man (or woman) will make sure of it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why am I Surprised?

I cannot believe that the governor of my state was implicated in a prostitution ring. You would think that any high ranking politician would know to keep their noses clean; that there are people out there just waiting to pounce on any questionable decision they make.

It is true that the leak about his name came out of the justice department because he is a Democrat and the Republicans hold a double standard by asking for his resignation but not that of David Vitter. But still, how stupid can you be?

It looks like we are headed to become the first state with a legally blind governor. As Sara said, I should really learn his name and stop calling him the "blind, African-American guy".


Ok, I looked it up - his name is David Paterson.


Today I also found a roll of mentos in my coat pocket and I saw an Eagle eat a rat while walking by the Hudson river with the dogs.

Oh, and a Happy Birthday to Frankie. I hope she got to relax.

Busy day.