The Miss Jobless Chronicles is written by Caitlin O’Toole.
It’s been kind of a sad time. I lost my 16-year-old cat, Lucy, very suddenly to what I think was kidney failure. I don’t think she suffered, but I am still plagued by guilt that I could have done something to keep her alive or minimize her suffering (though I believe it was rather minimal).
I buried her ashes under a tree outside my building and planted some Pansy seeds so her sister Ethel could look out the window and see Lucy blossom into flowers in the spring.
I was walking past the tree the next day in the Indian Summer rain, kind of at peace at my decision to place my cat there, and this fucker flicked a cigarette butt that landed on Lucy’s fresh grave.
I held my tongue, but picked up the butt and threw it into the street. Lucy always hated smoke.
Then, a woman let her two Chihuahuas underneath the railing and into the flower bed to pee.
“Would you mind not letting your dogs in there?” I said.
She said nothing, but coaxed her dogs back onto the sidewalk.
The following day, she was back with her fucking dogs — again, they were peeing in the flower bed.
“If you don’t stop letting them relieve themselves in there I’m reporting you,” I go.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “We’re from California and they’re just not used to cement.”
Only in New York.
As I told you, I’ve been working some, which is such a relief. A total self esteem booster. However, because I am now in a different income bracket, I won’t be eligible for my Healthy New York insurance policy come the end of the year. Ah, the joys of freelance!
Healthy New York kind of sucks, by the way. It’s relatively cheap (about $350 a month) but that only covers very specific medical care and doesn’t cover certain prescriptions (like Xanax, which is so key!) Most important thing, of course, is that if anything — god forbid — happens to me, like I get hit in the head by a falling satellite, I have catastrophic coverage. It’s not really the everyday things that insurance is most important for, like sore throats. It’s really for the things you don’t see coming. (Like falling satellites.)
The company I work for isn’t taking taxes out of my check, which means I will be royally screwed in April. I’m saving up to buy a laptop before the end of the year so I can write it off. I make donations (however small) to good causes for the tax-deductible receipts. If I go out for a drink for a work-related chat, I save the “evidence.” I’m getting pretty anal retentive about bookkeeping.
I fantasize about going back to school sometimes. I recently met two people in grad school. One of them is a “performance artist” and a pretty good painter. I thought she might be going to the School of Visual Arts or Parsons. Turns out she’s going to some school I’ve never heard of.
“What are you majoring in?” I asked her, genuinely curious.
I left it at that, wondering if there are are different levels of lactation classes. Like, in 101 you learn to maximize your milk production and in the next level you learn to pump. Wonder what happens in the advanced level.
I also just met someone who’s not majoring in lactation. She’s in the School of Social Work at Columbia and it sounds so damned good when she talks about it that I kind of want to go, too, and get my graduate degree in creative writing. As if I could ever afford it. I’m beginning to think journalism school on an undergraduate level is bullshit (I majored in it at NYU, so I can say that.) I think if you get your graduate degree it matters because you are really paying to network and meet insane deadlines.
I just don’t think I should have paid so much money to learn about the “inverted pyramid” (the journalism “rule” that the most important things go at the top of the story and details follow underneath.) I mean, that works for most newspaper news writing (which is a dying art), but doesn’t apply much to the kind of work that I do. I kind of with I had majored in something broader and more useful, like History. (I did minor in English, but decided not to double major because I couldn’t deal with reading Chaucer. “Jane Eyre” was bad enough.)
In tabloid journalism, the “inverted pyramid” is pretty useless. You should grab your reader in the headline and the first sentence (a recent post of mine started with “Justin Bieber just can’t keep his pants on,” and continued to explain that he keeps flashing his underwear everywhere he goes). It got tons of clicks — even though he’s 17 and the idea of The Biebs in his skivvies makes me nauseous and the suggestive pictures are icky since he’s so young. But that’s what the demographic I write for wants to see. And the checks keep coming, so I can’t really complain.
I’m still looking for additional work (I work from 9:30 until about 3, so something to fill in the rest of the day would be great.) I’m loving what I do, though.
Back to my cat one second: I did complain to the doorman of the building next door to mine about the insensitive woman with the Chihuahuas who kept shitting on Lucy’s grave. The doorman is autistic so he grunts and looks down at the pavement when you talk to him. I didn’t know if he understood what I was saying. Something about a grunting, autistic doorman in New York City that just doesn’t make sense.
I made another friend in my building — a senior, like June. Her name is Elsie, I estimate she’s about 86, and she just lost her husband. She chewed my ear off the other day, going on about how the neighborhood has changed for the worse and how no one is polite anymore, especially the young people with children and dogs. She has a foul mouth, which I love. I saw her the other day walking out of “Joe,” the rather pretentious coffee shop.
“Hi, Elsie, how are you this morning?” I asked, taking a long gulp of my hazelnut coffee.
“Horrible,” she goes, “fucking horrible. The people at the post office are tyrants. They can shove it up their asses.”
I guess I must be somewhat ageist to have been shocked by her loose language, but instead of being taken aback, I chimed in.”
“I know — they are douchebags.”
She laughed and said she would see me later.
I love my neighbors. You can build four walls anywhere, but you can’t put a price tag on good people living around you.
Caitlin O’Toole is a New York City-based writer and editor and the creator of “The Miss Jobless Chronicles”. A native of Washington, D.C., she began her illustrious journalism career as a Washington Post paper girl and won the 1982 carrier of the year award — a plaque she still proudly displays in her teensy weensy Chelsea apartment. Caitlin’s career has been punctuated by bouts of unemployment, under-employment, and run-ins with neighborhood misfits, local bodega owners and an 85-year-old technophile neighbor named June. She’s written for Star, Parade, Sesame Workshop, People.com, VH1, and Fox News, and has been a guest blogger for the Huffington Post. She’s also a Kardashians know-it-all, thanks to a recent freelance stint. Please send all six-figure job offers and fanmail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also fan Miss Jobless on Facebook.