Home » Progress » When the First Domino Won’t Stand …

When the First Domino Won’t Stand …

There was no Monday Rant yesterday because I was tired. I was that deep tired in the bones that doesn’t come from the right kind of exertion, but from an inner weariness that sinks you wherever you are, into chair or bed, or floor as you wash dishes and feel like the chore has the power to zap you into nothingness if it isn’t over soon.

The problem, the mess from January is still going on, and I’ll have to go back to the out-of-the-way government office again this week. When they’ve taken care of the problem, as they always say they will, I’ll receive a letter with the correct information on it within a few days. They’ve been sending ones that don’t make sense and contradict what they tell me every time I come in. I’ve been there, waiting hours until my turn, at least eight times since the middle of January. I bring important papers that they make copies of every time. This week I’ll bring them again — on Tuesday, I thought all day. But I’m so tired now, and it’s late and I haven’t been to bed, so I’ll go in Wednesday morning. They say the middle of the week is best anyway. Fewer people come in then. I hoped I’d get the right letter Saturday or today, but it didn’t come.

Last Tuesday I got a phone call late in the afternoon from a woman whose voice I recognized. I could see her face in my mind, one of four I’ve memorized from time spent in that office waiting, listening, and watching. She needed to ask some questions, and my heart started to pound. I silently thanked her because I hoped now I would have one less thing to worry about for a while and I could get back to my work, the only work I know how to do on my own that might elevate me out of this mess and into a “normal” life. It’s hard for me to think and get it done when I’m worried and afraid.

She asked me about the job I listed on my form. I didn’t know what she was talking about. The last time I was hired was during the holiday season in 2010 and they only kept me until January 2011. I heard the woman shuffling papers through the phone. She said all right, and asked about the people I lived with. I told her I lived alone. She asked who Randall was and if he was working. I told her I didn’t know anyone named Randall. She asked if I lived in a suburb I’ve never heard of… My heart sank for a moment as I realized that this was the problem, that we were fixing the problem right then. This was an important conversation. Things could finally be set right. She realized that this other woman had the same name as mine, and that my phone number was on the wrong file. She put me on hold, and when she came back she asked if I had brought in the papers that were photocopied every time I went in. I explained that they’d been copied again just the week before, when I’d been in and they discovered that I hadn’t been given the correct forms to fill out all the other times and gave me the right ones and said my case would be taken care of now. I told her they had lots of copies of my personal papers. She said, “Yes, yes. But you brought them in last week, right?” I said yes.

Well, now I have to go in this week because I know how things work. If I wait too long, they’ll request everything all over again as if we’re starting from scratch and I’ve done something wrong. And I can’t call them to check. They never answer the phone. My stomach is tied in knots. Because this isn’t the only thing that’s wrong in my life. This is just the first domino that knocks the others down one after the other, sinking me wherever I am, no matter how much I try to pretend I’m above ground, or try to distract myself.

Yesterday I distracted myself with an unimportant story on my micro story site, blowing it up into a verrry necessary learning experience because I’m afraid the real work of my project is  pointless and won’t go anywhere anyway, because that’s the way my thoughts go when I can’t get the first domino to stand up.

And someone keeps stealing my garbage can. I keep calling the city number for new ones, and after I use a new can once, it’s just gone and I can’t find it. I have a sticker to put on it now so next time I’ll know it’s mine if it’s on the block. I know I’ll have to drag it into my yard and use the lock and key that my ex left for the gate. I get that now, even though I’ll have to put the can outside the fence on the afternoon before garbage day. But I can’t even try that plan if I can’t get to a new can before it’s stolen again. Who would steal worthless city-owned garbage cans week after week after week? Why don’t they care that things are hard all over, and just leave me alone. I’m crying now, but I know I’m not crying about the garbage cans. That business makes me angry. I’m crying about the dominoes.


14 thoughts on “When the First Domino Won’t Stand …

  1. Even though you are writing about terrible frustration etc. you write it in a way that is funny – sorry – I just mean funny in a blackly humorous awful dreadful way. I hope you understand what I mean?

  2. Oh my! I’m going to have to go look back through your archives to find out what happened in January. It sounds like identity theft or some other horrible mix-up with the same results!

  3. Lord have mercy. You are in the washing machine of doom with that office, spinning round and round, getting nowhere. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it except what you’re already doing.

    My suggestion? Get away from your immediate surroundings and take a long walk. The rhythm of walking has always soothed me and the change of scene would surely do you good.


    • Thanks for understanding, Averil. I’d been walking for a while earlier that day to the nicest block with a mailbox so I could mail a letter. This is a dull neighborhood that scares me sometimes. (I’m surprised I survived working the last census.) I have to pay for a bus or a train to enjoy a walk someplace else. But you’re right. When I can, long walks somewhere at least vaguely interesting do soothe me and do me good.

  4. “Washing machine of doom”–couldn’t have begun to say it that well. All government entities should be called “Department of Incomprehensible Regulations” or some such thing. It sounds like they are not charging you for new trash cans–thank heavens for that small favor. There (knock on wood) isn’t much thievery here, so I can’t imagine a place where they steal your garbage can. I hope these 2 things straighten out for you. I understand about the dominoes, and I hope you can get them to leaning the other way.

      • I have to say that I had at the same thought when I read this. The whole horrible surreal bit about the doppelgänger screwing your life up, the nasty bureaucratic stupidity, the universe conspiring. Shit, Re, Shit. WTF.

  5. Ugh, it is so unfair that the irrepsonsible people of this world drag the rest of us to exhaustion. I sympathize about the red tape, some of the offices I deal with are so disorganized I wish they were a fast food chain so I could watch them go out of business. It’s just outrageous. And stealing trash cans. Well, living in a similar neighborhood, I know some people just enjoy being little criminals for no good reason. We’re thinking about putting up security cameras, even though we’d really rather spend the money on nice things.

    • I wish I could put up cameras. I have this irrational desire to just know who it is. I feel like they could be watching me every time I look for my can or laughing at my ridiculousness when I pass them on the street without knowing it’s them. And then there’s the part of me that just doesn’t care anymore.

  6. Oh LadySparks, I can almost hear your exasperated sighs on this one. What pisses me off each time I have to deal with government bureaucracy is the fact that these idiots have decent-paying jobs, while other better-intentioned and certainly more skilled folk are still trying to find work. They jack up the easiest of assignments and wreak havoc in folks’ lives doing it. It just doesn’t seem right. Any how, I’m not trying to get you more incensed about this; just empathizing. The stuff in January will blow over soon. It’s got to…in the same manner of a spring cleanup! Blowing positive energy your way. 🙂

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