I auditioned for several local theater companies at the Theatre Alliance of Louisville Unified Auditions on Saturday. (That’s what all the tweets were about.) Good news: I faced my fear of singing a solo in public. Wish list: I wish that during all this time off, I had had money to fill the time with acting and voice lessons. That doesn’t mean things went badly, just that everything gets better with practice.
It was good to be around theater people again, to escape for a moment into a character who has problems that I don’t, and to be in the company of people who haven’t given up on making a career out of the talents that bring them the most joy. I’m hoping that the inspiration sticks and that the brief exposure to a different form of creativity translates well into productive writing sessions for me.
On Sunday, before heading out to my mother’s house to celebrate Mothers Day, I logged on to the state unemployment website to request my weekly benefit check. I got an error message stating I couldn’t make a request because my account has a zero balance, which is odd, considering that 1) I had just visited the unemployment office in person on Wednesday and an agent there who knew about the snafu that I will address later had instructed me to request my check as usual on Sunday and then file for an extension of benefits on Monday; and 2) the agent had given me those instructions because my account balance was in the low hundreds, an amount less than the usual benefit amount but far greater than zero.
Of course, my purpose in going to the unemployment office in person was to take them a letter from the unemployment commission appeals branch stating that they had indeed made a snafu when I first applied for benefits in October 2008. That’s the good news. They were finally agreeing that I really did receive severance pay that does not count against my unemployment benefits (as my former employer and I told them), and that I did not receive wages in lieu of notice, which do count against my unemployment benefits. That meant the state owed me more money than the amount remaining in my regular benefit account, so I can only guess that they processed the new information and cut a check faster than anticipated, and that this caused another snafu: a zero balance in the regular benefit account before I got the chance to file for an extension.
While I’m grateful to the agents who have been kind and understanding, who have given good leads or advice, or who have fixed my own snafus over the phone without forcing me to come into the office and wait for several hours, and while I understand the stress that a state with an unemployment rate of 9.8% can put on even a fully-staffed office, I’m frustrated that the system is not set up for first-time filers who might make snafus—or even for professionals’ errors—and that it takes massive professional intervention by people with some sort of top-secret, classified access to correct the snafus. It can also take an entire day of sitting in the crowded office, waiting for your number to be called, or over six months for a letter acknowledging the snafu to arrive. (Also note that the letter had no instructions or information on how the money owed to me was to be dispersed. I had to call the appeals branch myself. They then instructed me to take the letter to a local office and ask them to release the payment. I don’t know how I was supposed to know that without asking the appeals branch.)
With the latest snafu, I’m also pulling out a calculator, trying to figure out exactly what the balance in the extended benefit account would have been as of Sunday if the decision on severance had been made in October. I think the easiest thing to do would be to cut one check that covers the entire amount that the state agrees that I am owed, take that amount from both the regular and extended benefit balances, and have me just file for extended benefits at the same time, as if the owed check were never even cut. It’s already been explained to me that the owed checks will come in bi-monthly parts, just as the regular checks would. So I should believe that a state that is running low on funds and that took over six months to make a decision in my favor is really going to pay me all that they agree that I’m owed without some other sort of interference?
Lord, I thought Sunday, I am so tired of the snafus. I’m tired of the inefficiency, but more than that, I’m tired of it being a concern at all, of worrying about checks, of counting down the days until they run out, of job seeking (now with a new crop of college grads alongside me), of leads not panning out, of new ideas fizzling, of not knowing what to do, of wondering where to take my skills and who might need them and how I might actually be of some use in this society, and of even more burdens that I rambled about in prayer but don’t remember at the moment. I shouldn’t be so perturbed. God has blessed me financially this whole time, and I have no reason to believe that I suddenly won’t be taken care of. I’m just tired.
You know, the amount in question would have mattered even when I was employed, but I’m longing for the day when said amount feels like pennies that won’t even be missed instead of like something I have to fight for.
And on another snafu note, if you subscribe to Living Life Laid Off via email and received a random feed from January, I have no explanation for what happened, and neither does Feedburner.
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