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 The attempts at Cross stitch did not go well, but I am not too upset by their failure. I suspected my lack of coordination might be an issue for this particular task.  It’s probably more useful right now to continue my attempts to learn additional Spanish at least. (Duolingo says that I am still at 51%.)  There’s also that project that’s been on the back burner that I should really complete. It won’t take too long if I can just bring myself to do the editing. I am, unsurprisingly, lacking the motivation for the last part.  I’ve also noticed that Udacity has added an Android development course. I may pick that up if my language studies come to a satisfactory point that lets me rest a bit.  Even though things have not improved much, I am still in a good mood.  Things are stable for now.  Now, there’s the issue of the housemate suggesting I should check into my options in Pennsylvania, but that is six months away. For now, I have time to deal with this.  It may be time to look into getting the van back on the road and taking the chance to get the Hell out of Indiana. 

I am still grateful for having had the chance to live here for three years.  I have a wonderful friend and I have met interesting people.   I’ve even settled in a bit and gotten used to the ways of the Hoosier. I will even miss establishments like Steak ‘n Shake if I should leave the Midwest behind.   However, given how much I’ve complained about how this state has treated people in my situation, I doubt I’ll miss it that much.

Nothing is certain yet, and there may even be a way out of the particular situation, although it will not be through me getting disability. I still have yet to hear back from the Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation office, and the housemate has been doing a bit more earnest job searching. I’ve even suggested she return as an adjunct professor to the Indiana Vocational Technical College, or IVY Tech. I hope this works out for her. I hope she can find the CNC job she wants as well.

I cannot prove it, but I have a bit more than a vague feeling that things are starting to get better. Now, if  there would just be some actual change in circumstances that backs up my faith.

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 My anxiety levels have risen after a long period of calm. I am almost certain that the interview at the Hamilton Center and the local OVR representative is the cause.  Deploying various techniques will help me get to sleep over the next few nights, but my mind – I think it’s the monkey mind – is currently swinging from tree to tree thinking about all the things that might happen.  Because my knowledge of Zen currently pretty much ends there, I’m almost certain I got it wrong. I do know, however, that these anxiety states and the scenarios that play out aren’t usually what happens in real life. Repeating this to myself helps sometimes, and other times it does not.

I do not need to worry that I’ll go through a bakery program again and then get frustrated at all the tasks that require coordination that I do not have. (I can bake cakes, breads, and cookies very well, but do not expect me to decorate them.)  I am pretty sure that the most I’ll have to worry about is ending up working at a Good Will as a cashier or some sort of office position. I’d rather not work for Good Will, if I can avoid it, but having some money regularly coming in is a lot better than having to rely on what little SEO content work there is, which right now is providing far less income.  Also, if i don't get some sort of income stream soon, I'm likely stuck in Indiana until I get disability at least.

Right now, I need to stop speculating about what might happen and try not to worry about it too much. In a few more days, I will know what this will happen, and it might be a good thing. As it stands right now, the meeting does nothing to make my situation worse.

Now that I have gotten this out, I might be able to keep it out of my thoughts as I try to drift off to sleep.  Because of some strange bureaucratic procedure that I don’t quite understand, I have to see my PCP tomorrow for ankle pain, even though I assume he receives reports from the rheumatologist. Maybe it’s because she hadn’t received the physical therapy report yet. In any case, I hope I don’t have to see the same podiatrist again.

Side notes:  The Families Against Autistic Shooters Facebook page is disgusting.  It shouldn’t have crossed my attention. 

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 I woke up this morning and went through my usual morning routine. As I stepped out of the shower, I remembered I intended to look for work today.  I got the best looking clothes I still have, got dressed, applied deodorant, brushed my teeth, removed the rat’s nests from my curly hair, and then looked at the tube of foundation on the counter. As I looked at it, I thought, “Why don’t employment programs that help people look for work by providing clothing also help with cosmetics?”

Now, I might not have thought this at all if it weren’t for the zero dollars per week I can pull in reliably right now. I might also have thought how much I resent being forced to look for work because the People’s Republic of Hoosierdom has decided I qualify as an able-bodied adult without dependents. These are separate issues.  Wearing makeup is part of looking professional for women.  Poor women may have just as many problems purchasing cosmetics as they do purchasing suitable clothing.  Yet the system assumes that women only need what men need when they apply for a job or go to an interview.

Professional expectations are inherently sexist, but it seems that the programs designed to help people get employment would take this difference between genders into account. Those programs with which I am familiar do not provide such assistance.

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People frequently say that they are not the people they used to be in online fibro chat groups. Sometimes, it is easy to dismiss this is a product of the complaining that goes on in these environments. Sometimes,  the people there just need to vent about how things are for them at the moment. I'm not any better than anyone else at this.  

However, the topic of mourning the people we used to be came up several nights ago. I must admit that I had difficulty with this at first. After all, I was still the same person, even if I had a new challenge to deal with. I still did many of the same things I did before, including go to work. Sure, I switched my exercise routines and I avoided standing for long periods of time when possible, but at first these were solutions to a problem I hoped to be temporary.

But if it were not for the magical effects provided by denial and sheer stubbornness, I doubt I would have been able to continue as long in my job as I have. Most people would have quit when I experienced severe leg pain on a daily basis. I, on the other hand, persisted. I knew how hard it was to get disability benefits, and I doubted I'd qualify. (There's also the problem of me not knowing what was causing the problem at first.)

I'm still trying to cling on to how things used to be, rather than finding the proper balance for what my life has become. I want to believe I'm still the person who can go into noisy environment without the quick energy drain.  I felt surprise when someone described three people in the LARP group as handicapped. (I named two right away. I had a hard time thinking about the third one. When she uttered the phrase, "Lara is handicapped." I finally realized who the third person was.)

I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to think of myself in this way. I'm not sure that I want to. I know I've encountered something similar as a transgender person before. For the longest time I didn't want to identify as queer.  All of the social stigmas that went with it frightened me. A good dose of internalized transphobia and homophobia went with it. It was easy to blame this on my religious background. A similar excuse cannot be used for my own fear of having a disability.

Even when I went through the disability process the first time, I had the attitude that the term really didn't apply to me. After all,  I thought I functioned normally, although most people who knew me would question this. (They suspected that I suffered from some form of mental illness long before I told them in most cases.) When the administration denied benefits, I did not fight it too long. I just returned to the work force as best as I could.  The environment for people working for the content mills was much better at the time. My writing didn't make me rich, but it did provide money for basic necessities.  The new problems have physiological causes, and I still feel like I'm somehow cheating the taxpayers, even though the system was set up for people who could no longer work.   

I know I should not feel guilty, and I know that I am lucky that it wasn't something much worse.  Some part of me keeps thinking that others will see me differently during the times I use a walking stick or a cane.  

I should probably stop rambling. Anxiety, as usual, makes the problem worse. I need to get over my own fear of what admitting that things aren't what they used to be might mean. I also need to be less concerned about what other people think. After all, I'm probably the only one who sees myself all that differently. (Well, except for my employer who seems to be sending signals that I'm a less valuable employee than I used to be.)
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Even with both of my feet in casts and in surgical shoes, I still have to submit a reasonable accommodation form to Human resources to get a stool to sit on.  I realize the HR people aren't at the work site, but the managers need to have some discretion in these cases. 
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Last week, I was having a day at work I could have done without. Crab cakes do not normally bother me, but they smelled particularly fishy and I was having a hard time dealing with them. Although the smell was an overwhelming, it was a minor issue.  The pain, as it almost always does, got worse as the day wore on.  Normally, I can push through this, but I went into a flare by the end of the day.

Towards the end of the day, a nurse, who happened to have Lyme disease. She saw my expression, and she did not buy my usual statement that I’ll be all right eventually. I eventually told her why I was feeling pain.  It might have ended there, but if it had ended there, the story would have been unremarkable.

About twenty seconds later after the first customer came to my stand at Sam’s Club, another customer came. She had worked at the store before. The new customer started to give me unwanted advice about how to do my job, including when to put things in the oven.  I had said, in her presence, more than ones, that I needed to go sit down for a while. The new concerned-for-my-job customer would not shut up however, even as I clearly packed things away, in an attempt to single that I was going off the retail floor..  

Because I was trying to be polite, I said nothing. Eventually, it was the nurse who spoke up and said, “Ma’am, she’s not feeling well, why don’t you giver her a break?”

The helpful customer replied, “If she’s not feeling sick, why doesn't she stay home?”

To which the nurse replied, “It’s not an illness, it’s a condition.”

I think the debate continued for a few seconds more, but I was able to get off the floor and sit down for a few minutes.

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I e-mailed my manager asking her what I could do about my current situation. This is the response I received:

It is up to you about what you can do. I can keep you at just 1 day a week if that is enough for you. You can voluntarily resign so that way you are eligible for rehire. It is entirely up to you. But at 1 day a week we need for you to be here for the whole shift.

Let me know what ever you want to do.

Thank you,

This does not make me feel any better.

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 I got paid yesterday. Most of the money is spent. $20 went to a health insurance premium, $45 went for my cell phone bill, and $6 went to feeding my latest addiction, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. I have around $20 to get through the next week after this. There are not extensive bills, but $100 to get through two weeks is not quite enough.  At least one freelancing client should send their payment Monday, but that extra $25 will not go far either.  I can only draw one conclusion from the current circumstances. I need a better job.

Now, I just need to figure out how to pull this off. Factory work, which is what is mostly available here, is out.


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