Sunday, October 30, 2022

Sunday Stealing


1. What did you do today? It's still early, so not a lot. I did compose the blog post below.

2. 5 things about where you live. My neighborhood is (1) highly walkable, (2) with lots of trees, which is pretty this time of year. (3) We're a pretty literate community, with three libraries within 2 miles. (4) We also really like pizza. I have three options within walking distance. My choices are vast if I'm choose delivery. (5) Has inadequate parking. I don't drive so I don't really care, except I get tired of hearing my fellow citizens bitch about it all the time.

3. What are the must-sees sights around you? Now that I will soon have more time on my hands, I'm thinking of revisiting The Art Institute of Chicago someday soon. It's been years and years since I've wandered the galleries. We're so lucky to have many of museums around here. You can find a list here.

Read about The Art Institute

4. What’s your favorite restaurant meal? I haven't had it in a while, but I'd like a ribeye steak, a baked potato, and lots of Coke.

5. What was the last thing you cooked or ate? I had chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes for dinner. (I'm on a potato binge.)

6. What is something you learned from your grandparents. From my dad's mom, I learned involvement. She was a member of her church council, involved with Girl Scouts and an election judge for decades. (Which is why Donald Trump's unwarranted and ugly attacks on Georgia's Ruby Freeman upset me so much. I imagined him doing that to my own grandma.) She got tremendous satisfaction from her volunteer work and was, for the most part, a very happy woman. My mom's mom was the polar opposite. From her I learned to just chill. She was a brittle, high-strung woman who gave me an example of how not to be. As I get older, I feel greater compassion for her, but she is still no one I'd emulate.

7. What’s the weather like as you are writing your postcard? Sunny, clear and a little warmer than usual for the time of year.

8. Share an interesting fact that you’ve learned, and which most people are not aware of. John F. Kennedy was a voracious reader, enjoyed an early career as a journalist and author (publishing two books and winning a Pulitzer), yet simply could not learn foreign languages. His comprehension and pronunciation were ... well ... awful For someone who loved words, this was very frustrating. One thing he found fascinating about his wife was Jackie's fluency in French and Spanish (she also recorded radio ads for him in Italian and German).

Jackie delivers a speech in Spanish to Cuban immigrants, Orange Bowl, 1962

9. Are there any local events or festivals in your area? Tons. Literally too many to list.

10. What was the last concert you attended? I truly don't recall.

11. What is your favorite charitable organization? So many! Right now, I'll plug The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. Started by my favorite ball player, this organization provides support to families battling pediatric cancer -- providing meal vouchers, gas cards and parking to parents visiting their children in the hospital. Rent and mortgage relief is available to those who have to take off work. Toys are sent to children who have to spend their birthday or Christmas in the hospital. Therapy dogs are trained to comfort the kids. Anthony Rizzo has taught me a great deal about the unreimbursed financial challenges these families face, and I'm grateful to him for that.

Learn more here

And so it begins

Friday was my first day of officially doing nothing. Not working, not looking for work. So how did I spend it? On the phone, online, following up and making appointments.  

I have confused the State of Illinois. Since I was laid off, I qualify for unemployment. I've been working full time -- and paying into the system! -- since I was 17 and I am soooo collecting every cent I have coming to me. 

The only time I collected unemployment before was in 2002. Literally more than 20 years ago. In those days, you had to apply in person (not fun) and you left with a little piece of cardboard. Folded in half. The cover was a picture of Abraham Lincoln superimposed over an outline of the State of Illinois. Inside, a man had written my name and number with a ballpoint pen. There were blanks where I wrote who I contacted for work. On the back were phone numbers I was to call to check in and get my check (in those days we received paper checks in the mail).

I remember the card well because I carried it in my wallet while I was job hunting. Years later, I threw it away. It seemed so low tech and ephemeral. 


I tried to register for unemployment online and kept getting dead ended. So I called the phone number on the screen and got a lovely civil servant (I mean it; she was very pleasant) named Belinda. She explained to me that "the system" shows a person with my same name, address and email has already registered with the Illinois Department of Employment Services. Yes! That's me! Let's get me my paychecks!

Not so fast. I need my "claimant number." That number handwritten in ballpoint on the flimsy piece of cardboard that I no longer have. Belinda explained that, to help prevent fraud, she cannot access that number. Nor can she issue me a new one.

Now what?

I have to show up, in person, and present evidence that I am, indeed me an that I live in Illinois. That's my Social Security card, my State ID and a utility or cellphone bill. Because of first covid and then the low unemployment rate, there aren't many locations or times available. I'm scheduled for Wednesday, November 9 at 1:30.

I am lucky. I have severance. I have savings. I qualify for Social Security. But I worry about those who do not have these resources. I get it: scammers collecting someone else's benefits is a problem. I'm not complaining. I'm just sad about the situation. (And I wish I'd understood long ago that my "claimant number" is part of my permanent record!)

I did kinda sorta look for work. My oldest friend made a little extra money working from home for an online transcription service. I registered with the service she worked for and investigated another. Hopefully by the first of year I'll be up-and-running, making a few bucks an hour, a couple hours a day. I'd like to forestall collecting Social Security as long as possible. I don't feel like working full-time anymore, but I don't believe I can afford to do nothing, and this is something I can do, at least until I'm strong and healthy. Which leads me to ...

I made doctor's appointments! Dentist and oral surgeon. Follow up with the urologist and two sessions with the chiropractor. MRI of my pancreas and my annual mammogram. My November is going to be busy!