(the dogwalking app, not the stock ticker symbol for Walgreens)
(where, weirdly, i've also worked)
I've started dogwalking (as an independent contractor, a “wagwalker,”) every weekday. I signed an ICA (independent contractor agreement). It's the “Uber of dogwalking,” which they told me to say – I need to try Uber so I can actually know what I'm talking about. I can work as little as I choose, selecting to accept or decline each (on-demand, or scheduled) walk, as they come up. I'm still walking Fido and Taco once a week, usually Tuesday mornings (no earlier than 8a), for an hour, once a week. With Wag, there's lots more work, although it's a bit cut-throat, like answering a jeopardy question, to accept local walks (I set my radius for 2 miles) ahead of the dozen or so other walkers in the Berkeley area. I made $224 in March, my first month, with 11 walks, for 9 dogs. I have 2 recurring walks, that I've committed to for 3 months, of 1)Kaleb and Kado, and 2)Hazel. Kaleb is a husky-pit mix, Kado is a pomeranian, and I walk them Monday through Friday, MTRF at 1p, and W at 12 noon, for an hour each day. Wednesday is earlier, because I need travel time (it only takes 20m, though) between K/K (on Oakland Ave.) and Hazel (on Colby, near St. Augustine). Hazel, also a pit, is a shorter (30 minute) walk. I'm enjoying it. It's like getting paid to exercise. I still have a gym membership at the Berkeley YMCA, though, at a disability discount rate, which my mom is paying for. Greg gave me the iphone/smartphone, and the Verizon service, as a gift last Christmas, which I'm grateful for, and couldn't do my job without. Just my scheduled walks, not including the on-demand walks I can choose to accept, will (probably) pay $589 this month (21 weekdays x $25/walk plus $16 x 4 wednesdays).
Anyway, I still have symptoms, though, and I have to make sure I don't lose my Social Security benefits. That would be “devastating,” according to Sara. I don't know how much I would have to earn to pay for all my expenses, including medications (risperdal/risperidone and zyprexa/olanzapine) and Kaiser health insurance. So let's see, I've got rent ($725), gym ($35.20, disability rate), food (?) which is mostly free (2 bags a month from the Berkeley food pantry). There are free meals in Berkeley on the weekends, too. I pay for a restaurant meal with Sara, my treat, every 4 weeks, and usually a taco on Tuesdays from Los Pericos in San Leandro ($3.03), as well as an occasional sushi burrito ($9.84, from sushi secrets) or slice of pizza ($3.30, Papa John's) or cookie ($2, gourmet from the SL library cafe). I just bought a coffee maker, so my Peet's expense of $4.90 like every other day (for a small cup of coffee and an almond croissant) will go down now that I'm buying and brewing my own coffee. Also, there's miscellaneous (such as bart fare (disability discounted), bike repair, lotto tickets, and contributions to the Bernie campaign). In addition to food, I get lots of free stuff: phone service (Greg), gym membership (mom), haircuts (Sara), books and magazines and newspaper (berkeley/sf/oakland libraries), BFC (Berkeley Free Clinic) dental work, and medications (1mg of risperdal and 30mg of olanzapine, nightly; the dissolving “zydis” form -less weight gain side effect- of zyprexa costs more, I believe). Wifi and utilities is included in rent. I get itunes, movie, and trader joe's gift cards from family, and I occasionally win tickets to music shows/venues from kalx radio (90.7fm)
Speaking of “bills” (with ill in it) and invoices (voices?), I've been writing down what my voice has been saying, both on my blog and in my notebook, which I imagine is interesting for psychiatrists/ psychologists/ researchers/ and the generally curious. I still think it's telepathy, despite it being affected by medication. My symptoms include, in addition to the voice (from David A. Eldridge), headshocks, chestpains, and -occasionally- teeth taps. That's 4 things that make me feel monitored, possessed, oppressed, depressed (and angry/mad). I like to think I'm sane, though, anyway, being healthy myself, but afflicted with a sick person who insists on a presence in my mind/head. Sometimes I even suspect that everyone is crazy, and that I'm actually saner than most “normal” people. My birthmother, Annette Riddle, has schizophrenia, which I imagine was a factor in my original diagnosis, like 20 years ago. I think I'll get paid also to participate in the Cal ESI (emotion and social interaction) lab's research, which I just discovered won't be videotaping me, this time, which I feel is a plus (I don't like the idea of being dissected, that is, having my micro-expressions analyzed; I already have issues with lack of privacy).
Sara and Pierre discouraged me from becoming a dogwalker, fearing I could lose my benefits. There's a formula, a bit complex, that I call “taking 2 steps forward, and 1 step back” in terms of income: I have to figure out the size of the steps... I get help from MHA (mental health advocates, specifically Stephen Statler), and Pierre knows a lawyer who specializes in SSI (disability) law/payments, who maybe I should talk to, also. I have to report my previous month's income at the beginning of the new month, to Social Security, but they want me to estimate my yearly earnings, which is loco, because it's not a salaried job, and the payments will vary from month to month, and even week to week, or day by day. And tips (all of which I get to keep) can vary. But my scheduled walks, assuming I get the same tips, will pay me $589, in April (this month).
The way Wag works is the walker gets 60% of the cost, which is $20 for a half-hour, $30 for an hour, and $5 more per extra dog (limit 3 dogs). But if there's low supply or high-demand (or some combination thereof, I guess there's an algorithm), wag occasionally offers “full-fare” as an incentive for walkers to pick up walks that are proving difficult to fill. If you wear the t-shirt, and put the bandannas on the dog(s), you get an extra dollar (as an incentive for advertising). I carry promo cards -I get $25 if someone signs up with Wag, that I've referred. So far, I've given cards to Julie, and the apartment manager at K/K's place in Oakland, both yesterday.
I still value my free time, the main perk/benefit of being disabled. I get to sleep in, go to the gym when I want, attempt to read a book/day as well as the daily new york times, etc. I'm always busy, and I have enough money for the lifestyle I want, although I could always spice up my life and vary my routine with different, exciting things like camping or travel or music concerts and plays or whatever. I don't have a car, and I'm not sure I want one. Driving can be stressful, and I was in a bad car accident once, and I also like not being a part of the (environmental/pollution) problem. I also imagine my time, spent freely, is valued by other(s), which would be a bigger-picture rationale behind my mental “illness.” I like my life, and my mind, and my body is slowly improving, also. I'm proud of my blog, and enjoy writing it, and seeing the comments and daily traffic it gets. Being God ain't such a bad gig. We'll see if I can help Bernie get elected. I think he has a pretty good shot. Hopefully, the world and I will be a happy, improving, fun and enjoyable place. I'm a meliorist, and my condition is ameliorating. My reading list is (listS ARE, I've got 5 of them*) ridiculously long, and I imagine I will never be bored for the rest of my life, because I have quite a large bucket-list of activities on-deck, as they say in baseball; i.e. lined up, awaiting me. In fact, I'm not sure I'll be able to complete it in the next 50 years, but discipline, improvement, and a little help from my friends, may just add up to a healthier, happy life of achievement and satisfaction and reward, a feeling of accomplishment. We're all in this together, and I'd like to set an example, loving self and All. Buddhism, meditation, yoga, swimming, walking/biking, lifting, smart nutrition, reading a book-a-day, and regular writing, are all components of my plan for sanity and wellness. (Maybe I should throw dating into the mix -not sure if I should or not).
Bill Gates' recommendations,
1001 books you must read before you die,
501 must-read books, and
the list of Newbery award winners.