Comma, Bitch.

As all my money has dwindled away, I have been looking for work online. Living where I do, with regular power outages, it’s difficult to commit to anything where I need to be online for certain scheduled times every day. The best solution is writing.

I have been to college a few times, so I understand writing essays, reports, detailed assignments and whatever else that entails. I’ve also taken several writing courses, mostly ‘creative writing’, all of which I enjoyed and a few I actually found helpful.

Writing for sites online is a different thing all together. When I first started I had no idea what I was doing but after a few tried, managed to get the hang of it. I had merely did an online for ‘working online’ and found a few sites that we free to join. These sites are set up for all interested parties to bid on projects and then you just wait and hope for the best.

I made a few mistakes along the way, the biggest was allowing the person wanting to hire me to contact me outside the site. The sites I was using – one I still am using- have their own pay system. This is because they take a percentage for the usage of the site.  I didn’t  understand that this wasn’t allowed, and the first few times I did it, it worked out fine. I got the money in my PayPal account

There was one person who hired me and wanted to contact through Skype. I did, and the first article I wrote, I sent through the freelance site. He actually ‘yelled’ at me, by yelled I mean he was furious that I was late and that ‘he didn’t work this way …’. I explained I sent the article, did he not check the messages?

I should have just cut my losses and went back to the site, but I didn’t know. Plus, they were offering a far higher wage than most, so I didn’t want to just throw it away. We carried on for a solid week, then I started to ask about money. He said he would pay the middle and end of the month.

I said that was fine, but as I had already done quite a bit of work, would he consider just paying for what he had received. He wouldn’t. He also kept sending me work. I said I would do it once I was paid.

Another aspect I found fishy was there was always someone there online on the Skype. Always. Sometimes the messages were very clear, sometimes they were clearly from someone who was not native English. I didn’t get paid and ended up having a big falling out with the freelance company. They also bawled me out and said I still owned them their take. What?

Last week I was accepted on a job from a woman who paid well and seemed to even have a sense of humour. I was wrong. I did an example writing, which she paid me for and then she critiqued it to the bone. She had a real thing about commas. She sent me a message back that frankly was all commas. It made me itch just reading it. She was really upset about double spaces between sentences and a long list of other things.

When she sent me the next assignment I told her to poke it up her ass, which she promptly did. The contract was ended and the payment made and then she had the gall to demand a review.  I gave her a review.

 

Our Dance With Irma

IMG_1659

 

Luckily it was closer to a waltz than the Cha Cha.

Hurricane Irma skirted past the Dominican Republic on Thursday, but left again soon after with minimal damage. Thankfully.

Thursday morning I went out for a brief walk, just to suss the sitch, you know. Check it all out. I knew the stores were closed but I walked that way anyhow, I didn’t need anything, just being a nosy cow.

It was eerily quiet, no cars, no noise, no people walking about. Except the birds. All the stores closed, mind a few of the corner stores or colmados. The delivery guys there with their motorbikes ready to deliver stuff for those who didn’t prepare.

Some of the stores went a step further and taped or covered windows, but not too much of it. Many of them had security out front to deter looting, but honestly, if shit did get real and you really wanted to loot the gas station, good luck getting past that surly teenager staring at his phone while perched on an upside-down plastic bucket.

The other bit that was eerie was the extreme noise coming from the birds and the scurrying about of rats. Rats are a common sight here, but not dashing about in front of me, some with expensive luggage.

The circling vultures were just a bonus.

My cats seems a little restless but not enough to keep Jango from sleeping on the balcony even after the rain started.

We lost power a few times, but that’s a regular occurrence here anyhow. I think when the rain and wind really got serious it was likely just cut.

To be honest, I wasn’t terribly concerned. My biggest fear was the wind, the wind hurling things at my building and windows. I’m very close to the water, the Caribbean ocean is about a block that way, so the wind gets pretty strong on a slow day.

I love it, my apartment is on the top, forth floor but there isn’t much blocking me around, so I can see a long way and get the best, fresher breezes coming through here. My cats love to find the optimal spot for the cross breeze. This time of year is ridiculously hot, as well.

The rain managed to make everything horrendously humid. I woke at around 4 am today and the humidity was 78% making it feel like about 36 Celsius. Yikes.

Hurricanes are a bitch, and Irma is living up to that. We were very lucky here, Irma asked us to dance, we danced but she left with the guy who brought her.

Later next week, we will see if Jose is as well-mannered.

 

Blind Date

friends

 

Okay, not so much blind as stage four glaucoma.

I belong to a page on Facebook for expats in Santo Domingo. People looking for advice, selling stuff, you get it. A few months back I saw a post from someone who was going to be moving here and she was asking if anyone wanted to meet up. I have managed to go months without talking to anyone, thank you very mucho, wasn’t in any hurry to change that, so I didn’t pay that much attention to it.

But later I decided to bite, why not, right? She mentioned she was moving here in July so I said, well, give me a poke when you’re settled, we can go for a coffee or something. She replied right away, she said she was here now and did I want to meet. Like, now.

No.

We did exchange our digits (I know) and I semi-committed to meeting. I’m not very social and find these kinds of situations far easier to just say no to than actually commit to. After a lot of pushing on her part and a lot of balking on my end, we finally set ‘the date’. I did bail on the first one.

She came to pick me up in her rental car and as I had checked out her Facebook profile, I had a good idea which one she would be. Likely the white woman picking me up.

I got in her car and she immediately launched into a diatribe I honestly felt like I was joining already in progress. Something about her car, her luggage, her hotel or BnB or what actual I have no idea. It was confusing and all consuming. I remember her saying hello and before we actually pulled away from the front of my apartment building, she just started yakking.

“So, I booked my flight…”  Dear gawd, save me. I wanted to leap from the car and get back upstairs to my boxer shorts and my cats and whatever I was binging online.

I had to interrupt her about five times just to give her directions to a restaurant two blocks away. We managed to get parked and sat down in the restaurant without her having to stop her narrative for more than about seven seconds at a time. I wasn’t even certain how she was managing to do it.

At some point I heard something I could relate to, I tried to jump in and play along but she shot that down in a hurry.

Just let me finish, she said, with a slight hint of pity, and once I’m finished you can talk allllll about you. (I added the extra L’s there because that’s how she said it.) (P.S. She never finished)

We somehow managed to order, even with her banging her jaw like a war drum. She stopped long enough to point to the menu for the benefit of our waitress. Our waitress was confused and started talking in Spanish. I asked The Gabber if she spoke Spanish and she said, ‘pequeno’. Annoys me no end. Knowing the Spanish word for ‘little’ doesn’t mean you speak Spanish. Just say ‘No’.

I said to the waitress, who looked as if she were ready to bolt – wait for me!- que? She looked relieved and started off on the item’s biography while Yapps-A-Lot said ‘si’ a lot and nodded her head knowingly.

She didn’t know.

I won’t keep you. I’ll summarize here with a simple list of my pet peeves she managed to step on.

Never shuts her gob. Never.

Hyphenated Name. Please.

Posted a picture of her feet on the beach. Beach, please.

She’s from Texas. Ego much?

She likes the Orange Psycho Monster who shall not be named. Strumpet The Trumpet.

She had a couple of small tattoos and even though I have several, she had to talk about hers. She had two names written on the inside of each wrist. Her kids, it turns out. When I asked about them she put her hand over one of them, like it was a delicate orchid or something and then did this bit where she bites her lower lip, like it was so precious and sacred, as if covering it would stop me from stealing it or it being lost. Idiot.

It was when she pulled out the vape equipment was when I lost it. I wanted to slap this thing right off her stupid Texan face.

We finally got the bill which she took complete control over and just took the money I offered and slipped it in her wallet. It cost me $15 for a soda water and a dish of fries.

I offered to walk home as it was just around the corner but she said she needed to find a grocery store and needed help. I couldn’t say no, could I? Even though I was close to tears at this point.

We got to the store, her still chewing my ear. During the evening she told me about four times she was “So independent” It felt more like a mantra rather than anything she believed. I didn’t believe it.

When we finally pulled up outside my building, I was so happy to have this nightmare over with. My head was spinning from her nonstop blathering about herself and how wonderful she was.

I’d lost track about half an hour in to our ‘date’. It was clear to me that regardless of the situation, she would be the only interesting person in the conversation, I didn’t even try. At one point I did managed to slide in that I had been a stand up comic and she immediately wanted to hear a joke, but she wanted a street joke, not a bit I had written.  I tried to explain it didn’t work that way and she just stared at me until I told her one. She didn’t laugh.

As I was getting out of the car she she asked me my name.

I told her, she repeated it back tome.

Wrong.

Twice.

There was no second date.

 

Big Worries In Little Town

We all worry and stress over things in our lives that, quite frankly, mostly turn out fine and then are soon forgotten.

Mine have been financial of late, as are many people’s. Most people, whether they have money or not, worry about it. Even when I had it I worried about it, so I guess it’s just something I do.

In fact I was stressing so hard about all this crap I made myself sick. So sick I just had to come out the other side of it all. The problem hasn’t gone away, but I refuse to let it consume me any longer.  I’ve reached out, and some are reaching back.

Some have offered advice, which just kills me. How arrogant that they know my situation better than I. I know they mean well, but come on!

Anyhow, yesterday as I was doing a lap through my Facebook feed, this popped up.

Sign

I can’t even tell you how much pleasure this gave me. A family member posted it, it’s a new three-way (make your own joke) sign in my home town. The population might be around 1000. Or 67, I don’t know. The picture caused quite the discussion, around 40 comments last time I checked.

Puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? As you see from the surrounding area it was likely put up just in time, all that traffic confusion and near mayhem.

I’m not being disparaging, if they think it’s important, it is. Just like my shit storm of the day. I have to say this cheered me greatly and it’s always nice to get a glimpse of home.

Too Heavy

 

Cloud

 

I was walking home with groceries this morning, heavy ones and in my mind I said, ‘My life is too heavy’.  Then I tried really hard not to cry.

Truth is life has been very heavy lately. I’ll try not to make this all ‘sitting in the garden eating worms’ but sometimes a little self-mewling is in order. It’s financial, isn’t it. I’m out of money in a country I can’t legally work in and don’t speak the language and likely won’t learn much Spanish because statistically, being over forty greatly reduces that as a reality and as I’m over fifty I’d be happy to remember the grocery list I wrote ten minutes for I left for the store without it.

But it gets you down. Last month I had to borrow two hundred pesos from my only friend here, (Nobody likes me, everybody hates me… sing along if you know it) just to have water for the week. I actually went several weeks without cash, in the bank and on hand. I had spent the very last of it, the bits I’d been hoarding on cat food and litter. I also had to carry it home, which was brutal.

I’m looking online for work, really my only option, but it’s bits and pieces. I use several websites but recently had a falling out with one of them. I got offered a job, and the pay was good, very good, in fact. Not just for this website, but in general. The guy wanted to chat through Skype, but only instant messages, never laid eyes on him.

He came across as a bit of a prick but I persevered. I got the first assignment, finished and set it to him thought the website where he hired me. It was a job writing articles and for those of you who have done or are doing it now, it’s horrendous. Mostly, I want to punch my own spleen out. The job was up to five articles a day, finish it, do the next one.

I never heard from after  the first one and then the next day saw him on Skype and asked what was going on. He immediately started in on me about how I was way too late and he didn’t work like that and blah blah shut the fuck blah.

I pointed out I had sent the article within an hour of getting it the day before and if he would kindly stop swing his cock about and maybe put it back in his purse he would see said article in his account inbox.

He said we both had a bit of a misunderstanding (he) but we soldiered on. I did a few of more articles, some were fine, a few of them just a nightmare, but I got through them. I was sending them to him through Skype but also through his account on the actual site, and using their system of tracking my hours. The last one I sent wouldn’t go in to his account and when I checked it, it said it had been closed.

Super.

I contacted their ‘chat’ customer service do-ma-jiggy, to find out what’s going on. It’s at this point I’ll mention that;

a) I’ve had wretched service on this particular site before

b) I’m fucking mad

c) there is no alcohol in my house

I live in a third world, or developing country and customer service here is ghastly but still makes theirs seem like silver service.

This twat I’m talking to immediately started blaming me and telling me I was at fault and then things just got all white and hot and it spiraled in to several ‘fuck yous’ (mine) and then I got an OFFICIAL FIRST AND FINAL WARNING and I asked her to poke that up one of her smelly hairy holes as well and then they took the whole five dollars out of my account. I mean, really.

To top it off, because that’s not enough, they sent me an electronic invoice, just to show me the money I could presumably poke up one of my smelly holes.

I started to walk/run in the early mornings. I started a few months ago. It’s mostly really nice, somewhat quiet, not too much traffic, I see the ocean and other walkers/runners and beautiful scenery but also rats and dead animals and garbage and that is really hard to take.  Mostly the dead animals.

My body is getting lighter.  My life is getting heavier.

 

 

Kathy’s Desk

Going back about 500 years when I lived in Calgary, I was at my friend Brad’s place, (you’ve met her, she comes for hols) we were just hanging out and having tea and a chat. He was talking about a social gathering he had been at recently and he mentioned that someone we both knew had been there with his new boyfriend. I asked what the new boyfriend was like and Brad replied, “Maybe  a bit of S and P to taste, she’s a bit bland.”  We had a good chuckle over this and carried on chatting but what happened was, that phrase got planted in my brain.

It comes to me , mostly without realizing it. When I myself use the S n P, to taste, I hear him saying it. When someone is boring the tits right off me, same.

So, going back another 500 years past that day, back to when I was in Grade One, yes, I remember, my friend Kathy, (her real name) sat across the aisle and one up from me, she was a front row kid. The worst. Brats. Ever. I could see in to her desk, and although neat, it was full of paper. I clearly remember one day her sliding her books in to the desk, old fashion type, and even though the books slid in easily, they were on top of a ton of paper.

So the bottom layer of her desk was all these papers she had never gotten rid of; Very Important Papers, like coloured ducks and some nonsense about Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. It had been in this state for some time, and for some reason it was really cool to me. This layer of trash with plenty of room for the other stuff on top, stuff like books about Dick and Jane and their dog Spot and sandwiches in paper bags.

Mrs. Rogers, our teacher, called her on it one day. Mrs. Rogers, if you will, picture Godzilla with a tartan dress and maybe some glass pearls. Horrid Hound From Hell! She made me go to the from of the class once to throw away my gum and then SPANKED ME in front of everyone, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. So she made Kathy take down her mountain of papers, important or not and toss them.

Kathy’s Desk is also a yardstick in my life. Like if I can’t get through the crowd in the grocery store, or the cards in my game of solitaire are all built up and I can’t get the ones I need out, sometimes just a cluttered mind, it has been Kathy’s Desk.

I moved here to the Dominican Republic with the gentle guidance of my friend, Will. He died Sunday.

I don’t know how to process it yet.

It’s all Kathy’s Desk.

 

will

 

William, easing in to his day.

Life Map

 

wall

My power went out today. Not an unusual thing here at all. It goes out all the time, some sort of conservation thing, I think. As a rule it’s only about a half an hour, hour, then back. Today was five hours. Seriously. It’s like having no arms.

After the first hour I finally got the broom out, pushed a few things around, tried to wash my dishes, but by then the water was gone. We have reserve tanks for the building, but after everyone using it, it’s gone. Saturday morning, everyone is home.

I eventually ended up head first in my bedroom closet. It’s mostly storage, piled up, crap I don’t know what to do with as yet. Excess. Thankfully, I’ve been watching ‘Hoarders’, so I’m in the mood to shift stuff.

Every apartment I’ve had here is solid concrete. Was, floors, the lot. I assume it’s due to the extreme humidity and the regular earthquakes. But I’ve never been able to hang my pictures. My last place had a few nails and I did hang two of my mother’s paintings up, it’s amazing what familiar things can do to you. It’s so comforting.

This apartment has a bit of wood. The kitchen cupboards are wood and the back wall of it is the wall for the main room. Termites are a massive problem here as well, so concrete it is! I have termites here,  but a bit of Windex seems to slow them down.

In my closet hoard was a suitcase full of artwork from a dear friend of mine. I have a lot of it and have always hung it up. I haven’t been able to here, until today.

How marvelous to see it all! The memories, the history, the beauty of it all. I hammered in a few nails, the rest I had to tape up. We’ll see how that goes, the humidity may knock them down. What’s really cool about a lot of the pieces is they are Mail Art. He makes postcards and sends them to friends, other artists, and other mail artists. It was always very exciting to receive a very colourful piece of art amongst the phone bills and pizza flyers.

But also very cool was as I applied the tape to the back of the post cards, I would see the address it was sent to. It was quite interesting to be reminded of all these places I lived, mostly Toronto, and all the memories it brought back. My first one, the Elvis Building, is dated ‘Christmas, 1988’.

elvis

What a wonderful treat, to revisit the past. To see these lovely pieces, hanging them up, it’s well over due. There are a few I don’t even know which end is up but it really doesn’t matter. My friend Theo’s work, my old address’, touching them, seeing them, arranging them, all of it. Like visiting an old friend.

Which,really, I was. He can’t send them here so I am hoping for a delivery in person.