Friday, April 22, 2011

Cancer has its benefits

Scene: Big Boy Gyros

Annette is sponsoring my lunch today, so she picks me up and we head over to Big Boy Gyros, the little place run by a really nice Greek man, who always seems to recognize us even though we’re in there just once every few months, if that. We’re perusing the menu, when Nice Greek Guy sees my Fuck Cancer hat.

NGG: By the way, great hat.

Me: Oh thanks – it does kind of sum it all up.

NGG: My dad, he died of cancer.

Me: Oh, I’m so sorry, that’s horrible.

NGG: Yeah, cancer is so bad because of how it changes people and affects everyone.

Annette: My dad died of brain cancer, and exactly, he got so bad near the end.

NGG: My dad, he was a big burly guy, like Sylvester Stallone, you know, but then with the cancer, at the end he was like a husk, a withered old man, so weak and in pain.

Me, sympathetically: That’s just terrible….

NGG, continuing unabated: And you know, we get customers in here, they have cancer, they okay for two, three years, then bam…(here he makes a slashing notion across his throat)…..they no more.

Annette: Umm, okay, so….(she throws an arm around my shoulder, as I’m staring at NGG, giggling yet horrified at the same time)….maybe we need only happy cancer stories, eh?

NGG, continuing as if Annette hadn’t even spoken: Then you know I have the godmother for my youngest daughter, she only 38, such a nice girl….

I can’t help it, I start smiling, that incredulous smile that you have when you know where something is going and it isn’t going to be pretty…

NGG:…..she get the bad cancer, really bad, next thing you know she too gone. It was really bad at the end too, she have no idea what going on around her…

Annette: Okaaaaay so mayb…….

NGG: And her parents, they never the same afterward. You know, lose someone so young. Her mom still wear black – her dad, he just sit there in front of the fireplace, clicking it on and off. So sad.

I swear I am not making any of this up.

NGG, to me: But I’m sure you be fine! You be okay, okay? Yes!

We turn and head to a table, and as I look over at Annette, she has the same amused horrified look on her face as I do, and we both burst out laughing at the same time.

Annette: Don’t worry, you won’t be like one of those customers who suddenly – poof! – are gone.

Me: Not yet anyway – it apparently takes them 2-3 years, so I guess I have another good 6 months left in me. That’s a comfort.

So you may be thinking – well, okay Miss Tasha, but where do those benefits come in? Patience, young grasshopper, patience.

We’re sitting there waiting for them to call that our food is done, when we see one of the fry cooks

carrying first Annette’s food out to her, then mine. Mind you , this is NOT that kind of place – you walk up to the counter and get your food, period.

Fry cook: Can I get you anything else? Mustard, ketchup?

Me: Oh, yeah, ketchup, but I’ll get it…

Fry cook: No! You sit, I’ll get it.

We chat and eat our food – then the guy comes back to bus our table and take the leftovers in back to wrap them up carefully – and then, THEN, he comes out with little tiny ice cream sundaes for us! Ha, all you non-cancerous people, go ahead and be jealous! We’re so being treated like the rock$tars we are.

As we leave, NGG is at the counter again, and I get the hearty good bye, and a “Be strong! You be okay!” – though undoubtedly he’s thinking, there goes another one I’ll never see again. At least we got free ice cream out of it….

Monday, April 18, 2011

I think I'm done

So early last week I get an email from MLSFBF Kat (that’s My Lazy Selfish Feeble Boring Friend Kat, for those who are wondering), asking if I’d be interested in a position at her company. The company I’ve been doing freelance work for, for years now. The job description – Global Analyst, for a personal care vertical (umm, which is what I’ve been focusing on for her company), involving market research (hello), analysis and synthesis of data (okay), and then presenting that data to clients (former life much?). So basically this was a job description written for me. Oh yeah, and international work experience would be helpful. Hello! AND they had been trying to fill this position for some time, with no luck. Then I come along. When I spoke to the recruiter, she was so excited that I’m surprised she didn’t offer me the job on the spot.

So I figured I was in. I even told my mom about this, which I generally don’t do because then I get the calls every day.

Mom: So…….what’s new?

Me: Nothing. SSDD.

Mom: What does tha…

Me: Same Shit Different Day.

Mom: So……anything……say……on the job front?

Me: NO!

And so on. So I refrain, but with this, I was so sure I’d be getting an offer I threw caution to the wind. Hell, I was even planning how I’d negotiate the salary, how I’d ask for the last week of July off, how this would cut into my seedling time, etc. Thank god I didn’t get so crayzee as to spend money I didn’t have in hopes of having some that I didn’t wind up having.

Because then I followed up with the recruiter this morning, as I hadn’t talked to the head guy yet like I was supposed to, to get the “we’ve hired someone else” response. What??? I’m stunned. I really must suck if I can’t even get a job that’s basically tailor-made for me.

So that’s it. I am following the path of Dirty Sock and Zen, i.e. at that point of truly giving up all hope. For Dirty Sock at least, things then took a turn for the better. I have no such hope.

Hey Universe - you can just BITE ME.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thanks, but.....?

So yesterday, as is my custom, I’m watching the national news, and they have one of those teasers as to what the next segment is going to be.

“Up next! We meet a woman who fought back against the IRS….”

Next thing you know, the phone rings insistently. In my usual intuitive fashion, I know who it’ll be.

Ring ring

Me: I know mom, I’m watching the news.

Mom, all excited: You’re watching channel 7? You saw they’ll have something about the IRS?

Me: Yep, I’m on it.

Clearly this was going to be a David vs. Goliath story, where this lone woman took on The Man, pushed back against their absurdity, and emerged victorious. Proletariats, unite!

Then the story comes on.

And they show this woman who, yes, has engaged in battle with the IRS. She owed them the astronomical sum of about $3K – and paid them in full. And had forms and receipts showing this. And yet the IRS didn’t believe her, so they took out more money from her bank account – this time $5K+, for the original supposed amount plus interest and penalties. And then they were still harassing her- showing up at her door, calling at all hours, etc. Now saying that she owed them $7K. This woman then tried using the Taxpayer Advocate service – and those folks determined that yes indeed, she had paid the IRS in full and should get that second $5K back. But the IRS wouldn’t budge.

Then ABC news got involved. Wrote to the various congressmen responsible for overseeing the IRS – no response. Contacted the IRS, got a standard form letter in return: “If we have erred in any way, we apologize for this theoretical error that may or may not actually be an error and may or may not have actually occurred.”

The story ends with this poor woman still out her money, with not even the ABC people being able to help her. I try to call my mom back, to chuckle about this rather depressing story. No answer. Undoubtedly, she’s gone out drinking.

I am sooooo screwed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My adoring public

I realize that to a certain extent, people come here to my little blog for the train wreck aspect of it. Ooh, what kind of craptastic day will Miss Tasha have now? Will THIS be the day the swarms of locusts show up? The barn fire? What next?

Be that as it may, there comes a point when even the most despairing of bloggers needs to throw in something a bit more chipper. For me, that day tends to come when I get an alarmed phone call early in the morning.

I read your blog!
Huh….wha? Mom, what time is it….?
You sound terrible! How much money do you need?
Mom, that’s not the point, I’m just tired of dealing with the same old…
How much money?? I have money like a drunken sailor!

Sigh. I finally convince my mom that I’ll have enough money to pay my bills if and when my Ukrainian-American Bank Samopomich (aka “Bank HelpYourself”) ever decides to put the money from the cashed-in savings bond into my account. Which hasn’t happened yet. Hmm.

But in any case, this kind of alarm made me realize that I’ve been a bit all about the gloom and doom here lately. And not even funny gloom and doom, dammit! If my life’s going to suck, it should at least do so in amusing and entertaining fashion. But until that happens, I decided I should go with happy sunshiney stuff. Like….puppies! Bunnies? Ah, I know, baby goats.

There I was, despairing over my inability to find humor or even cuteness in despair, when I suddenly realized that I could write about the bounty of gifts that have been showered on me by you all, the little people. Well, or a stalker. But I guess that’s kind of the same thing.

By gifts, of course, I mean random towers of treats:

….which arrived courtesy of Amazon, with no gift card or other note signifying who this was from. I of course posted something on Facebook, because this same thing happened when dear friend Melindy sent the boys a toy – also no note attached as there should have been.

This time, however, no one fessed up. Of course, there’s a good possibility that I got all dizzy with teledrinking success and ordered it for myself, after a night of one too many amaretto stone sours. But barring that, if anyone would like to confess so that I can properly thank you, please do. Otherwise I’ll just continue to be proud of having my own stalker, kind of like Diane who has the guy who’s been giving her stalker salt for years now. Stalker salt as in these 5-gallon buckets of winter salt, left on her porch at regular intervals. Having been one of the recipients of said 5-gallon buckets thanks to Diane – I don’t see how this is a bad thing.

Then there was the Christmas package I got from dear friend Stacey the other day, chock full o’ goodies from the Old Country, aka the UK, like Christmas pudding and Curly Wurlys and Bath biscuits and – best of all – my very own Kate and William teaspoons. Jealousy, thy name is everyone who’s not me.

But wait, there’s more! In my Ronco-esque life, where nothing ever comes slumping along by itself, my dear friend Stan, aka an anonymized Keith, stops by today with a lovely bouquet of flowers. Just to cheer me up. I know, the mind reels!

What was perhaps the final coup de grace in this litany of adoration being sent my way was the friend request I received on Facebook. From a dapper gentleman called Love Knockingdoor. Swoon! Right there, I was already smitten. But then when he told me - in an obvious attempt to win me over - that “I love to go out dancing, to nice romatic dinners and shopping at large malls like the Mall of America..... I like women who find value in self help books"…….well, if he doesn’t have “keeper” written all over him, then quite frankly, I don’t know who would. Please note how he cleverly honed in on my love of all things platitudinal and hokey, what with his reference to self-help books. Why, it’s like he knows me better than I know myself!

For you menfolk out there in BlogLand enamored of Miss Tasha but too shy to make a move, well, clearly you’re too late. As we say in the Old Country - поезд ушёл.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

At what point do you give up?

Seriously. At what point do you just recognize that your life is totally fucked up, that it's not going to get any better, that there's no point in even hoping that it will? Because I think I'm reaching that point. I think you get to that point when not one thing - ever - goes your way.

Let's take the job hunt thing. Okay, I guess it's typical that most of the companies that I've applied to for full-time jobs, I just don't even hear back from them. Nada. Zilch. Even at Accenture, where I supposedly have an in.


Fine. But then how about all the project-type work I've been pursuing fervently for many months now? Where there's been one thing after another that looks really promising, but then just goes FUBAR, for one reason or another. This work, they hire a full-time person, that work, I get underbid by people who aren't even going to do what the client needs. Note to self: overpromise, don't worry about underdelivering. This falls through, that falls through. Every single fucking thing. This potential hiring guy winds up in the hospital, for god's sake, as if I'm cursing everyone I come in contact with. I had to cash in a bond, my last one, so that I could pay my property tax bill. I'm not even scratching out an existence anymore - I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

The IRS garbage is of course just the proverbial icing on the cake. I simply cannot deal with them too. I just can't. Hopefully my friend Hymie's lawyer friends (thanks dear!) will help me out with that - I've told them that I'd be happy to cash in my IRA and pay the penalties rather than have to deal with the IRS myself. I probably won't live long enough to see that IRA anyway, so who gives a shit?

My dear CancerChick friend Pam, who I got to spend time with at the conference in FL, discussed with me this concept of bad luck and curses, because she too has had shit luck in spades. For many years, like me. And she thinks there's some higher meaning to it all, some purpose to our shit luck. And while I love Pam dearly, I have to wholly disagree. I'd say, the only point to my shitty luck is that fate is trying to see how miserable a person's life has to get before they snap, once and for all. To see how much misery one person can take. And that's pretty much it.

Really, how much?

Can't make this shit up....

So the other day I’m chatting with my uber-cool tenant Kathleen, who’s a teacher in Evanston and thus on spring break this past week. Which means that she gets to sleep in later than the usual 5:30 AM that she normally gets up at. But Friday she’s awoken by the loud sound of a text message.


That reads:

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Which would be bad enough on its own, this kind of horrendously sappy platitude.

It becomes truly something horrible to be woken up by when you consider that it came from Kathleen’s unemployed transgendered female brother who hasn’t worked in the last three years and isn’t out on the street only because Kathleen sends him money.

And apparently his goal for that morning was to bake biscuits. No, really, biscuits.

I…..speechless. Just…..speechless.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More fruitless ramblings

I had an epiphany the other day, about why people hate the IRS so much. Oh sure, you’re thinking – that’s kind of low-hanging fruit there Miss Tasha, now isn’t it? But hear me out. I truly think that most people would NOT hate the IRS quite as much as we all do if there were one important component to the system, which is clearly sadly lacking: equitability. Fairness. I think we’d pay our taxes and still grumble at all the waste and fraud, but there would also be an element of “okay this sucks, but we’re all in this together and it sucks equally for all of us.”

Except that’s not the case.

I see it this way – it’s like being in line at the amusement park. It’s hot, you’re waiting a long time, but there’s a feeling of general camaraderie. Until those bastards go whizzing past you in the fast-track line, that they’ve paid extra money to use. Suddenly, there’s a sense of, Proletariats of the World, Unite!

Because that’s bullshit. If

there should be equality anywhere, it should be at the amusement park, where you all suffer together, dammit, no matter your station in life. You want fast-track, go build your own Disney, okay, Mr. Moneybags? And that’s how it’s always been, until recently. Which is just not right.

So here we are, the poor schlubs paying our taxes, because we can’t afford expensive lawyers or accountants to figure out all the tax loopholes for us – and then we read about those asshole GE people, making their $16 BILLION in profits, yet not paying a penny in taxes. Or our politicians here in Illinois – who at the last election also revealed that they paid nothing. And the list goes on.

But of course, no one cares about us, which is why – as usual – I took my grievances to the local paper. Where they’ll be summarily ignored – also as usual. But hey, at least it made ME feel better. This is also for all of you, my little proletariat friends. One day, we too will rise up. I hope. Or move to Canada. That’s looking like a better and better option these days.

To the editor:

It was with no small amount of disgust that I read about GE – in spite of making $16 billion in profits – not paying a penny in federal income taxes. This, against the backdrop of my own audit by the IRS. Oh, but you’re probably thinking, as most people do, surely you must have done something to deserve an audit? Some tricky accounting that flagged your returns?

Come to think of it, yes. First, I’ve made the deadly mistake of being self-employed. Clearly, based on how many of us are chosen for audits, the IRS frowns on this kind of aberrant activity.

Then, I made the true mother of all mistakes: I got cancer. And a month later, while still training for Ironman while working on coming up with a treatment plan for my out-of-the-blue Stage 2 breast cancer, I was in a bad bike crash, and had bleeding on the brain and a broken collarbone as a result.

This of course meant that not only did any income come to an abrupt halt, as not only could I not type or work on a computer, but I was also in LaLa land as far as the brain injury was concerned. One would think that the IRS could subsequently put two and two together, and think hmm, little income, huge medical bills, this must somehow correlate.

One would think wrong.

So yes, now I’m being audited for 2008, 2009, and oh yes, they’ve decided to throw 2006 in there as well. Because they managed to lose my return for that year, so I had to recreate it – again, while dealing with these medical issues and being not quite all there mentally.

And what are the supposed red flags that the IRS wants to take a closer look at? My medical bills, of course – they’ve expressed shock and amazement that one’s medical expenses could actually be so high. My utilities. Yes, utilities. Do people really lie about their gas bills on their taxes?? Then of course my property taxes. Apparently no one from the IRS actually lives in the real world, or at least the real world as it exists in Chicago, where all of these things are ridiculously high.

The end result is that now, as I’m trying to cobble together some semblance of a post-cancer life, and am looking for work (anyone want to hire a self-employed marketing and communications expert?), trying to figure out how to pay my bills, etc., I’m also being forced to dig through literally hundreds of pieces of paper – all my medical bills, a legacy of not just treatment but epic battles with my recalcitrant insurance company – to find every last receipt and bill.

And as I’ve said to my friends, even if the IRS does find some issues with my return, you can’t get blood

from a turnip. But I suppose it’s easier for them to go after me and those of my ilk, rather than the GEs of the world, and the investment bankers. Those who can afford to lawyer up, who make the real money, they manage to avoid getting on the IRS’s radar. I am apparently a much easier target.

It was bad enough that my life was completely derailed by cancer; now the IRS has taken over that role. But hey, as long as GE and companies like it are in good stead, who cares about the little people? Let them eat cake, I say. It’s worked so well for all of us thus far.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why retailers love me, part 64

Oh, I know that all of my eighteens of fans out there in the blogosphere have assumed that my lack of writing lately is due to the fact that my life is a total trainwreck. That I’m lost in the sea of despair, mired in a quagmire of hopelessness, floundering in a briar patch of calamity. That I’m spending my days – and nights – Ativaning and teledrinking myself into oblivion, cursing and bemoaning my fate in life while burning mini-replicas of GE executives and IRS agents in effigy. There is no happy shiny swirly twirly gumdrop land in TashaWorld.

And you know – that’s not too far from the truth. Life does indeed suck, and I find myself so bogged down by the suckiness of it all that I’m paralyzed into a state of inertia. I don’t know where to start with anything – should I be gathering the scraps of paper from 2008 that the IRS wants? Or working on the 2010 taxes? Or wondering how I’ll come up with the $4700 to pay my property taxes for HALF the year? Or pointlessly sending out more resumes, since no one ever gets back to me? Oh, where to begin!

Drugs and teledrinking are my friends. Not my only friends by far – but good friends nevertheless. You know how I was waiting for that ONE good thing to happen in my life, to let me know that it’s not all totally hopeless? Yeah, still waiting. Well, there is the potential stalker - but that can wait until another blog post.

So where was I…oh yeah, despair, bitterness, suckiness. But you know, even in the darkest of moments there can be great hilarity, so why the hell have I not been all over that? And here’s where we get to the crux of the matter: computer suckage.

As we all know, technology hates me. It’s true. A fact. So my PC that’s only a couple of years old, it’s been slowly giving up the ghost in a particularly cranky and annoying manner. Slowing down, not wanting to get online – but the worse thing has been the keyboard, aka the Instrument of Satan. The keys on the IoS kept sticking, and so – carefully following instructions I found on the internets – I’d pry off individual keys carefully to try to fix them, and of course what happened? Yeah, the keys wouldn’t go back on. So I lost the q, which wasn’t too bad. Then the m. Then, the horror of losing the comma. Not just the comma, but the little plastic doohickey that I could still press so as to be able to use the q and m? Yeah, it fell off. So I superglued it back on. Which then made it stiff as a rock, so to use a comma I have to press REALLY HARD on it.

Which is why I’ve been using a heck of a lot of dashes instead lately.

And you can imagine that typing has been a bit of a PITA.

Until today.

Today, the glorious day that I’m typing away on a Macbook Pro. WITH all the keys. Imagine that! Let’s go back to that beautiful day Friday when I made my way to the Apple Store….

(que Wayne’s World music)

I stride in briskly, as usual, and the 12-year old workers at the front of the store barely glance up. Okay, they give me a chipper hello, but I’m on a mission so I keep moving. I know what I need, and don’t need pesky youths hovering over my shoulder. Ah, there they are – the MacBooks. I get to work.

(15 minutes later)

Me: Oh hi mom!

I’m meeting my mom here for lunch, since I’ve gone to the Apple Store in Deer Park IL rather than the one in Skokie.

Mom: Wha….

Me: Hold on just a sec….finishing up here….okay then!

Mom: What are you typing?

Me: Oh, I’m just pulling up my blog on all the laptops here. A service for the little people, as I call it. Why should they be forced to read boring websites when they can bask in the brilliance of my blog?

Young Apple Guy: Can I help you folks?

Me: Oh, I’m interested in the laptops – I was just pulling up my blog.

We look down the row of laptops and see the distinctive blue green screen of my blog on every screen. I smile brightly.

YAG: Sure, that makes sense, have to see what the important stuff looks like.

Me: Exactly! Oh, and look, here I have pictures of my dogs. Aren’t they adorable?

Mom: But don’t you want to….

Me: Look! Here’s Timmy! Precious, no?

YAG: He’s great….

Me, cooing: And look, here’s The Kone! Ooh, and here’s a pic of the two of them.

Me, adding: I’m going to wind up on some website about customersfromhell, aren’t I…..

YAG, chuckling weakly: Oh NO, of course not….

Me: Aren’t you fortunate I came to this store specifically because it’s in Lake County, so I pay 6% sales tax rather than the 10% in Cook County? Yes, I’m stubborn that way. It’s the principle of the thing!

YAG: Oh, I’d do the same thing.

Hmm. He’s doing a good job of humoring me. We then further vex him by trying to prove that my mom is indeed a retired teacher and so we should get the 10% discount. Because I’m beyond po’, so my mom is buying me the computer as an early birthday gift.

Mom: Okay, here’s my insurance card… AAA card… senior discount at De…

Me, interrupting: Mom! None of that works. Don’t you have anything that says “former teacher” on it?

Mom: Here’s my AARP card……my punch card for the eyebrow lady at the mall……

Me: Mom! How about your bank account? Would it show where your pension check comes from?

Mom: Oh wait! I know! I just got an email about a Retired Teacher’s Luncheon next week.

I log into my mom’s email account and voila, there it is! At this point poor YAG is looking a bit like a deer caught in headlights.

Me: So what do you think, will that work? We could also try….

YAG: NO! I mean, no, that’s fine, perfectly fine, that’s enough proof right there, yes sirree, absolutely, not a problem at ALL……

He dashes off to get the computer. Oddly, someone else comes back over to finish checking us out. I’m sure it’s a mere coincidence that we didn’t see YAG again, right? Right??

Anyway, you don’t appreciate the beauty of typing with all the keys intact until that’s no longer an option. So tonight, I’m grateful for computer keys. Especially that damn comma.

For today...that’s all I got.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Life as we know it

This morning at Starbucks:

I go sauntering in as usual after the dog park, with HRH The Kone waiting patiently in the car for his Kone Scone. As usual as soon as I walk in my eyes anxiously dart to the pastry case - just a couple of days ago there were NO scones, the order didn't come in that day, and there was hell to pay, let me tell you.

"I'll write a letter!" I threatened menacingly.

I could sense the fear, so I trust that kind of tragic situation won't happen again.

Sure enough, there are scones a'plenty this morning. But then....

Me: Ah, you have scones today!
Dave: Oh definitely - I don't know what happened the other day but I heard about it. I'm surprised they didn't call me at home at 5AM to apprise me of the situation.
Me: Well, I'm sure next time they will.
Dave: I hope so! But did you hear what happened this morning? The Kone is developing a following!
Me: What? Even more of one you mean?
Dave: Yeah, a lady came in this morning for a petite scone for her dog! "No bag, just the scone, it's for my dog," she said.
Me: Aha! That's thanks to my Little Blog That's Sweeping the Nation, no doubt! The Kone and his scone are becoming a legend in his own time.
Dave: Apparently so.
Hunter: But have you trademarked the phrase Kone Scone? Because you know how people will steal any good ide.....
Me, interrupting: Oops, look at the time, gotta run - see you all tomorrow!

Note: if any of my readers know anything about trademarking key important phrases, contact me, m'kay? Thanks!

Have we all lost our ever-loving minds??

Seriously, people? Seriously??

Denny's Introduces the New Baconalia Sundae

Denny's introduced its maple bacon sundae in honor of the diner's Baconalia festival, a celebration of all things baconmongers crave.

Denny's describes the sundae:

Bacon makes a classic ice cream sundae even more awesome. We start with maple flavored syrup, and a scoop of rich, creamy vanilla ice cream and then a generous sprinkle of our diced hickory-smoked bacon. Add another sweet layer of syrup and vanilla ice cream topped with even more bacon and a drizzle of syrup.