UD Gets a Talking-To From Social Security.

Maybe I read too much Kafka growing up. Whatever – I hate and fear bureaucracy; I always assume having anything to do with it will be hell. So I ignore and neglect it as much as humanly possible.

Naturally therefore I filled out my retirement benefits application wrong – and wrong in a very — I hate this word — impactful way. I paid reasonable attention to what I was doing when I filled it out, but that wasn’t enough, and I made one significant mistake.

I ignored the first few letters from SSA alerting me to the rather expensive implications of my fuckupery; when I finally held my nose and began reading further letters, I realized I had to try to fix what I’d done. But how? Would the SSA even allow me to change the form?

***************

So … the rest of this narrative is going to be as UDesque as what I’ve already written. What you are about to read is in fact echtUD.

I decided my best bet lay in action directe. Forget phones and internet: This would have to be face to face in a local SSA office. No doubt the office itself would be appalling and the wait (in order to be told to fuck myself) would be all day. Fine. I deserved the punishment.

Washington Avenue, Rockville, was all I had by way of location, but I figured I’d get to the vicinity and check my phone for the exact address. Except that my phone for some reason wasn’t connecting, so I had to keep walking and reading the fronts of office buildings… And there it was.

I entered exactly the crammed immiseration chamber I anticipated – six packed rows of seating from which you stared at numbered windows and a computer screen above them which told you what waiting list digits had just been called. I drew a deep sad breath, took my number (C395), and sat down with an article about the war in Yemen.

To my left, in a little alcove, hovered two genial but hawkish policemen: If your cell phone rang, they rushed over and told you to put it away or leave the room. When a large Chinese family loitered for a bit at the exit, they hurried them out. These two kept the room quiet and orderly.

I also noticed that the SSA clerks dealt calmly and efficiently with people — even disheveled, confused people.

**************

My number was called way, way before I figured it would be. I gathered my pathetic paperwork, mentally rehearsed the terse sob story I’d prepared, and drove forward to window 3. I expected one of the following outcomes.

1. You’re in the wrong office. You need to go to Silver Spring, Baltimore, New York…
2. What? I don’t understand.
3. Once you do what you did on the form, there’s no going back.
4. You have to file an appeal. Here’s a list of fees, forms, and attorneys…
5. Come back tomorrow with more documentation.

I had just watched the woman who asked my name and age handle a befuddled shuffling young man who said to her by way of introduction I’m very sensitive…

Rather broke my heart, if you really want to know, but she was kind and patient and solved his problem. Maybe she could even make some sense of ol’ UD.

**************

“No problem.”

Did I just hear that? Did she just say in answer to my convoluted hopeless entrapment in the deathcogs of the machine that she was about to reattach my positive negalator to my negative posilator licketysplit and all was well?

Yes.

“But tell me,” she said, trying to smooth out the incredibly creased pages of my passport so she could read them for i.d., “why did you make that mistake?”

“Because I’m dumb,” I grinned.

She didn’t grin.

“You know,” she said, “I have a bit of an issue with uninformed clients.”

What followed, as the immiserated masses waited their turns behind me, was the talking-to I mentioned in this post’s title. This was the sort of thing I was expected to know; it’s not all that difficult to understand what to do. One shouldn’t be afraid of bureaucracies. One has to deal with them sometimes. Etc. Etc.

Etc.

Etc.

I didn’t begrudge her. Au contraire, I deserved it; there were actual needy people all over the room, people not floating along on high FICO scores, lots of SSA money, and several other sources of funds. Why the hell was I clogging up the works?

I mean, she didn’t say that last stuff; that’s me talking. She simply – and kindly – told me to face the music.

The Soltans are Taking Over the New York Times Lately.

Look at this picture.

Mr UD stands just behind and to the right of the RESPECT EXISTENCE sign.

UD was featured in her friend Barney Carroll’s obituary. And in her friend Wojciech Fangor’s obituary.

La Kid? She was featured, with her chorus, in a NYT image from one of Obama’s inaugural concerts. We ordered that one; it hangs in her bedroom.

‘New York Times Tops 4 Million Mark in Total Subscribers’

Is it a coincidence that this happened days after they featured University Diaries in their pages?

Just saying.

UD’s Poetry Lecture is TODAY.

Join her at the Georgetown Public Library this afternoon.

Details.

Come to UD’s Lectures on Poetry…

… at the Georgetown Public Library. Details here.

Here’s the flyer…

… for UD‘s April poetry lecture series at the Georgetown Public Library.

Register! Via email: georgetownlibrary@dc.gov

Poetry Lectures April 2016apdf(1)

Three Saturdays in April at 2:00:

April 2, 9, and 16.

Address:

Georgetown Library
3260 R Street NW
Washington DC

Your Blogeuse Now Also Featured in…

Newsweek.

To save you time:

Margaret Soltan, a George Washington University professor who gave Hunter $75 through Crowdrise on Friday, said schools should stand up to people who behave badly by returning their money. She is not connected to Hunter but blogs on education topics.

Keeping the money “just makes you look cynical. It makes you look mercenary and immoral,” Soltan said.

Your Blogeuse Featured in Reuters.

I was interviewed this morning about the Shkreli donation to Hunter College High School.

Here’s the article in which I’m quoted.

UD in the New York Times obit for Wojciech…

Fangor.

Les UDs are off to Middleburg Virginia to meet friends and have lunch…

… So blogging will be later today.

The New York Times has contacted UD for more information about Wojciech Fangor, the Polish painter who died last week at 92.

So who knows. Maybe some of her memories will appear not only on Radio Poland, but in the NYT. UD would like that.

You can listen to UD’s Radio Poland interview…

here.

Click on the soundicon icon.

The Poetry Foundation lists UD’s MOOC…

… on its Learning Lab page.

Whee! Ten Thousand.

UD‘s poetry MOOC has now enrolled 10,000 students.

Apparently UD’s Poetry MOOC…

… gets a positive mention in this current PMLA piece.

UD comments about her MOOC in a new book…

… called Teaching Online: A Guide to Theory, Research, and Practice.

It’s by Claire Howell Major, and published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

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