Coffee heat rising

To REALLY retire or not to REALLY retire?

That is the question.

It’s not so much that I’m all that sick of this self-employment stuff. It’s that the older I get, the lazier I get. And the less I feel like working at ALL. Barf.

Just now The Copyeditor’s Desk, a registered Arizona freaking S-corp, has about $2,000 in outstanding receivables. Among these receivables is one due from a university in Texas that paid through the monumentally faceless Oracle Corporation, which a few days ago sent me a notice saying the check was in the SNAILMAIL. And — get this! — reminding me to be sure it clears their banking institution (or whatever a monumentally faceless corporation engages these days) before trying to use it.

Uh huh. Days have gone by, as you might expect. No sign of this highly unstable and perhaps rubbery check in the mailbox.

Then we have the Chinese clients.

Not that I don’t love the Chinese clients. I do. They’re wonderful and interesting and great to work for. It’s getting paid by universities in China…therein lies the problem. Other countries, you understand — more advanced than the U.S. — no longer transact business with paper checks. They want to transmit payments electronically.

That would be fine if I were using a major international bank to hold my vast empire’s wealth. But I dislike major international banks, because, still living in the mid-twentieth century as I do, I persist unreasonably in expecting (of all things!) some customer service. And I deeply resent being dinged for fees to keep my money in their bank, where it is not in their bank but in investments turning a profit for said bank. Consequently, I use a credit union.

Most credit unions are too small to have a SWIFT number. This means that a Chinese client (usually a major university) has to send an international money transfer, but it has to be done indirectly. That is, they can’t just send the money direct to the credit union. They have to use an international bank, such as Bank of China or hateful Wells Fargo, as an intermediary: they send the money to the giant faceless international bank, and the GFIB sends it to my credit union, extracting a substantial gouge in the process.

This is time consuming, to say nothing of noxious.

No, they will not use PayPal. They are rightfully suspicious of PayPal. As am I. It can be done, but they don’t want to do it and so will tell you that their university will not allow them to do it. Could they pay by Visa? Probably. I haven’t looked into it, because I’m not sure who to ask. Plus I would have to pay to get into a system to make credit-card transactions. Blech.

Truth to tell, because I don’t want to work much, I don’t get paid much. By the hour, my clients pay many times more than colleges and universities pay for adjunct teaching. However, because the minimum-wage teaching gigs are more or less steady work, after all is said and done a couple of classes a semester put as much as or more into my checking account than the editorial work.

This leaves us with the obvious question: Why am I bothering with this?

Plus…frankly, I suspect I get less and less competent the older I get. My agèd secretary, who was a complete dunderhead, used to drive me freaking nuts because she could not figure out the digitized office procedures we had to accomplish tasks that we once did, much faster and much easier, by analog processes. Those analog processes had gone away at the Great Desert University (as in the larger world), and so she had no choice but to try to use the digital upgrades. And what a mess that woman could make when she did try.

Welp. This pot can no longer call that kettle black. I’ve found that I do not want to keep climbing an endless Mt. Everest of a fucking learning curve. I’m sick of trying to figure all this shit out, I’m sick of having it not work no matter how hard you try to make it work, I’m sick of the FUCKING TIME SUCK involved — spending hours to do something that should take ten minutes, every time you turn around.

Today — ah ha! Here it is: the immediate cause of this rant — I went online to pay the corporate and the personal AMEX bills.

The credit union’s bill-pay function, as we’ve found in the past, is problematic: It makes it appear that you’re paying electronically, but behind the scenes sometimes the CU is actually sending a paper check, meaning it takes up to ten days from the pay date for the creditor to receive its money. There’s no rhyme nor reason to this check-paying quirk, and the underlings cannot tell you why they do this and which creditors are likely to be paid by check.

As part of its ongoing learning curve, the CU recently instituted a shortcut to its bill-paying service. Instead of having to proactively click on “Bill Pay,” next to your list of accounts you now see a pane  labeled “Make a Payment.” We are told you can tell — after you’ve jumped through the hoops to schedule and make a payment (which in this new protocol requires more clicks than before) — how payment will be made: look for an icon next to the amount scheduled to pay. Lightning bolt means e-payment; envelope means snail-mail. But…those icons are not visible on the customer’s end. The CSR is unaware of that.

Farting around with this today took SO FUCKING LONG it would have been easier, faster, and infinitely less aggravating simply to have written checks, stuffed them in envelopes, choked up a half-buck apiece (!!!!!!!) in postage, and driven them over to the post office. (No. You can’t put them in your mailbox and flag them for the mailindividual to pick up. That would be insensate. They would be stolen long before the mailperson arrives, which these days is usually sometime after 5:00 p.m.). Half my morning was wasted with the simple chore of trying to pay the goddamn credit-card bills.

Well. Admittedly: I did have to transfer $2,800 from savings to checking to cover the homeowner’s and car insurance. But that took all of about 30 seconds.

So the point here is that this kind of electronic futzing to get simple clerical chores done is

a) endlessly annoying;
b) endlessly time-consuming;
c) endlessly unproductive; and
d) not something on which I wish to spend the limited amount of time left to me on this earth.

I don’t want to learn it. And once learned, I don’t want to do it.

And it is entirely possible that because of my age, I can’t learn it. The issue may very well be more than don’t want to.

Lately it has become painfully evident that I’m no longer competent to do even the chores that I’m (supposedly) good at. Long after editing and proofreading a document, long after sending it off to the client, I will happen to revisit something and discover…holy shit! Glaring errors interposed by me in the form of typos and passages that the computer has dorked up without my noticing it. Obvious inconsistencies or errors on the part of the client that I have inexplicably missed — despite proofreading, despite proofing again behind the computer’s “dictation” function that reads it aloud.

It should be impossible for me to miss these things. But…it is not.

Many of these errors have gotten past me and gone back to the client. That is a freaking menace.

Even in my own creative work, I come across weird stuff: chunks of copy moved…but moved to the wrong place and left there unnoticed. Inconsistencies. Typos. Wackshit stuff that would never have escaped attention even five years ago, to say nothing of ten or fifteen.

Week or two ago, I volunteered to do receptionist work for the church. They have a whole crew who staff the front desk during the weekdays. I should be competent at that: my first full-time real-world job was working as receptionist at a law firm. And I loved it. Best job I’ve ever had, except for the editorial job at Arizona Highways.

After sitting at an experienced person’s elbow for two shifts — six hours, all told — it occurred to me that I cannot remember how to operate the very simple phone. It is like a real switchboard and it is not like a real switchboard. It’s enough not — and staff’s wishes and nonwishes are complex enough — that it’s going to be difficult or maybe even impossible for me to learn how to do it.

Then we have the fact that I’m no longer a cute young girl. Back in the day when I had an acceptable face, no gray hair, and 34-23-36 measurements, my cuteness over-rode the strangeness of my personality. The god’s truth is, one reason I’m not good at marketing books (besides the fundamental laziness) is that I do not do well with people. I annoy them and offend them and do not know how or why.

This has been true since I was a little girl. In grade school, I had no friends. The kids simply hated me. By second grade (no kindergarten in those days), I’d alienated them all — well, except for one little girl who was as weird as I was. She was taken back to the States in the third or fourth grade. Some years later — after we also had come back to the States — I walked into an empty classroom where two girls were fooling with something in a closet. With their backs turned to me, they didn’t see me come in. And they were both going on about how much they hated me. I didn’t even know who they were! Couldn’t have told you their names to save my own life.

My guess is that today I would be “diagnosed” with a mild case of Asperger’s. I don’t get along with people because I don’t read their expressions well, I don’t pick up on their tone of voice well, and little verbal hints they drop often fly right past me.

Which, I suppose, explains why the more I get to know people, the better I like my dog…

These things were overlooked when I was a sexy young woman married (or about to be married) to a prominent lawyer. Today: not so much.

At any rate, I suspect that it’s best if I’m not around other human beings, for their happiness and for mine.

So that leaves, as a money-making gig, adjunct teaching. Online.

I loathe adjunct teaching. I’m not all that fond of teaching when I’m paid a respectable salary. But the sub-minimum wage that adjuncts earn is just plain insulting. After a semester of that stuff, you’re left with the same question: Why am I doing this?

Yeah. Why AM I doing this???