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Archive for August, 2009

I’m pleased to report that I won my appeal! 

Here it is:

 

 

August 28, 2009

State of New York

Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

P.O. Box 15126

Albany, NY 12212-5126

Re: A.L.J. Case No. 009-01152

Charles Taylor (DOB 1/9/68)

I wish to appeal the decision issued in regards to case no. 009-00152, based on the following reasons:

The opinion of the administrative law judge Paula S. Yorke, as stated on page 3 of the enclosed Notice of Decision concludes “The claimant’s medical documentation establishing his hospitalization for a mental disorder in 2002, is insufficient to establish that his condition was such to render him unable to perform his job responsibilities.” I object to this conclusion and humbly request that the state insurance appeal board, based on my rights under Title I of the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990, consider overturning this decision.

The American’s with Disabilities Act clearly defines a person with a disability, eligible for protection under the law, as “one with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of life’s major activities; and those having record of such impairment.”

The hospital records dated from 2002 which I submitted for the file in this A.L.J. case demonstrate my history of severe psychosis associated with schizophrenia. During active phases of my illness, I suffer, as per the hospital record, from “auditory and command hallucinations, religious preoccupation, appearing as guarded and withdrawn, and suffering from confused thinking”—all of which constitute a record of an inability to perform nearly all of life’s major activities, and qualifying factors for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

My request for reasonable accommodation from my employer was an attempt to avoid the progression of my known mental illness.

Further medical documentation accepted into the file of this case from my treating psychologist, Diane Schneider, confirms that indeed the excessive audits and human resources investigations being conducted by my employer in 2008 were causing me to suffer extreme anxiety—for which she ordered a week of rest from my employment.

Furthermore, a complaint that I filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights on July 7, 2008, alleging that my employer was retaliating through “excessive desk audits” against a previous filing with their office which was dismissed in 2007 is currently under investigation and pending a final decision from that office. (SDR Case # 10126862).

Addressing the rulings in this case pertaining to disqualifying certification requirements for the periods August 4 – August 10, 2008, and effective for the week of November 8, 2008, I humbly request that the appeals board pardon my misinterpretation of state unemployment law and the requests for benefits that I made during these weeks for which my employer had unlawfully placed me on administrative leave without pay. I ask, upon pending review and change of decision in this case, that the appeals board reinstate my current claim with an effective date of December 4, 2008—the date on which I was formally terminated from my six year position with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Inc.

I thank you for your consideration to this appeal.

Sincerely,

Charles Taylor

 

 

Please check out my collection of short stories detailing my fatastic journey through schizophrenia–

 

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Episcopal Pickles

When women departed their god-forsaken places in the home to work in factories and maneuver up and down corporate ladders, a most essential culinary art was abandoned—that of canning and preserving.

Just after the invention of the aluminum can, sometime in the early 1970’s, women, in droves, put away their pressure cookers, sharp knives and wide-mouth mason jars for what seemed at the time to be a simpler—more practical way of existence—a new life with the microwave oven, frozen food, television dinners and inexpensive produce.

No longer would ladies tend to Eleanor Roosevelt depression era vegetable gardens—not when food came so conveniently packed and preserved already— not after the invention of hybrid crops—not after spending so much time just to keep food on the table for so many years—not with preservatives that rival the longevity of ancient Egyptian mummies in food on store shelves—it just wasn’t worth the time to do one’s own canning anymore.

Michelle Obama conned half of America into planting vegetable gardens this year—now what will the unemployed, lazy ass citizens of the world’s great bread basket do with so much food rotting like Michelle Obama’s husband’s new healthcare plan?

My grandmother, Esther Taylor, if still alive would know what to do. Perhaps she would have been made the cabbage czar. She continued to grow and preserve most of her own food well into the 1980’s. It was a habit not so easy to abandon after all the hungry mouths had grown and departed from under her wings and roof.

Seven little Taylor mouths ate off the land, year round, thanks to Esther’s canning and food preservation techniques—such as shame all that knowledge was almost lost.

As tasty as it may have been initially for those living in the country to convert mason jars to piggy banks, Esther kept hers washed and fully packed with the food she grew, even though all the kids were gone and she ate so little.

This new modern world with so much food that could be kept for long periods of time seemed to erase all that life was to the red haired girl who spent all her life on farms with hands going in and out of Mason jars. It didn’t take a smart tongue to realize that food canned at home taste better than food canned by machines, and even to this day, it is impossible to find deer meat in a jar– like that Esther preserved!

She considered giving up her garden in the last years of her life, but it was Kosher Dill pickles that kept her pressure cooker singing every August and September—

“I don’t know what kind of seasoning Kosher is,” she to me one afternoon, just as we finished canning several bushels of corn, “but I’ll be God damned if I buy any more of those pickles from the supermarket with the stork on the label—so sour—I don’t care how cheap they are!”

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There are green tomatoes growing along the sidewalks of Underhill Avenue in Brooklyn. Why none of the rowdy children who dominate these smooth, glistening sidewalks with ripsticks, skateboards and I-Pods have not stopped to trample the vine or to toss one of at least a dozen baseball- sized fruits at oncoming cars is odd. Of course, the saucy white middle class individuals who live along this expensive patch of brownstone buildings must permit their pure breed dogs with summer fur-cuts to urinate upon the plant that someone took the time to plant under a small tree that has yet to grow beyond a mere five feet; but there they are – forbidden fruit it seems, unpicked by the hundreds who must pass by here every hour or so.

The patch consisting of just one tomato plant with an abundance of near-perfect crop is so tempting—A little bath in scrambled eggs, a powdering of flour and the splatter of hot grease followed by a sprinkling of salt and pepper. There they are for the taking—growing right along the sidewalks of Brooklyn—just steps away from the Brooklyn Public Library, to which I came today to borrow the internet and check out a few more books to read.

I shall bend over near the tree and pretend to be securing a shoe lace—even though today I wear flip flops.

I nearly tossed the butt of an American Spirit menthol cigarette on the square patch of soil surrounding a tree planted right on the sidewalk where the tomato grows. Angry for not yet kicking the habit, I had the butt between my thumb and middle finger, ready to flick with disgust in myself, but it was then, out of the corner of my hazel eyes peering from behind the last great puff of smoke from my American Spirit that I spotted the little farm.

I’m only taking the tomatoes because I’m hungry and still without a source of income. I shall leave a hard copy of this note at the base of the plants as mulch and hope the kind soul that placed it here understands the nature of nature.

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Black Underground Sea

A muddy creek carrying the stubble of erosion cuts through the tiny town of Petersburg, PA. Lumber rich woodlands were shaved of deep rooted trees—generations ago, clearing space for cattle, sprawling pastures, all-ears cornfields, irrigated acres of cash crop and backyards covered in green grasses and horseshoe pits.

The creek, named ‘Shaver’s Creek’, slowly scrapes at the fertile Appalachian valleys and reddish topsoil, carrying with it the runoff of chemical fertilizers from nearby farms.

Before the modern age of sanitation and community waste recycling facilities, it was Shaver’s Creek that flushed away the runoff of backyard septic tanks that replaced outhouses in Petersburg, long after the second great war, just before battles in the rice patties of Asia erupted.

Into the much larger Juniata River, Shaver’s Creek ran—down the Susquehanna River it’s waters converged with a new name until eventually reaching the Chesapeake Bay.

The native people of these wooded lands—those here as a result of ancient trespasses across frozen seas settled here as well—near Shaver’s Creek—arrow heads are found all along the bed of this sleepy stream, next to a lost horseshoe or two.

They were a people not of buffalo, but of deer. They carved totem and lived in wood houses and fed from streams so pure that none ever suffered thirst.

So much has changed along the Susquehanna and further upstream in a tributary called the Juniata, and the modest muddy feeder of a stream, Shaver’s Creek and beyond. Further and further back each drop goes, tracing roots to clouds. Some of the water winds through underground limestone caverns and flows as currents in a below sea level gulfstream, spinning in the form of black, underground water funnels, never to see the light of day or evaporation again—at least until the great mountains are moved from above.

Modern man, as tourist, visit such traps—on site- seeing boats—at places like Penn’s Caverns where for under $20 one can float atop the escaping, purified waters of the center of the earth and witness firsthand the existence of the blind, prehistoric fish, first written of by H.G. Wells. The fish are white with pink eyes—born blind with a thin layer of scales over what was to evolution, their eyes. Seeing in the pitch black waters nearly a mile below solid rock, is not possible.

In the days of when native Indians lived along Saver’s Creek, wind blew through Petersburg refreshed like the water from the caverns below. Infused with morning fog and creek bank honeysuckle, the skies were heavy laden with the shadow of wild turkey and the water was not only clear, it was drinkable.

When railroad workers settled this area, nearly all lost their teeth at the age of twelve due to cavities caused by the sweet morning breeze—they were not wise like the Indian who brushed with urine in a time before there was fluoride in the water. The air was intoxicating and due to the wild mushrooms that grow among the rotting logs of the forest, the breeze at times was hallucinogenic.

The caverns—the winds—the underground lakes—these temples of the totem carving people.

Metal horseshoes—pegs driven into the very heart of the land—A game to those who tossed iron horseshoes in Olympic fashion across the sands of yesterday, over a few beers—To the blind trout far below—an echo vibrates. To the fish—a vision in what is now cloudy, black water—a pulse that must seem like the light—so they search, again, trying to find the sky inside of Penn’s Caverns.

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Pin Oak

A muddy river carrying the bloody sediments of erosion pumps through Petersburg. Oxygen infused pollen from creek bank honeysuckle gives not allergies but cavities to those who have breathed here. Winds in Petersburg on musty summer mornings, stings nostrils with a salty aroma—a slight seasoning fills the air—the exhaust from passing coal locomotives combines with the scent of fields bathed with warm sunshine creating a giant smokehouse of sorts, over the tiny little town. Burnt coal spewed into the morning fog—the volcanoes of man covering everything in and out of sight—and the wind, already bathed with the scent of water carved clay and all that it holds.

The trains roll alongside the banks of the sticky Juniata River—for this is where the tracks were laid long ago—along nature’s already beaten paths. The trains spill by like pepper shakers shaken over mashed potatoes drenched in pan gravy.

The stagnant waters of the Juniata are dotted with millions of tiny, floating islands—clusters of milky bubbles form conglomerates and float as silver dollars in the river along which the humble, working poor reside.

Piss from a thousand spotted black and white cattle—and the brown ones too—all rolling towards the sea—grazing all along where the railroad runs—the map—the river that guides the trains crawls through the woodlands like a caterpillar and the diamond back rattlesnake.

Creekbanks are black—no longer the soft muddy wooded areas found alongside the muddy waterway like it once was in these parts. Tons of coal has fallen from uncovered locomotives that passed through here during the second great Iron Age that took place, a while ago.

Now, after so much time has passed, a large tree remains, roots set directly between the little patch of coal covered land between the river and the railroad tracks—an ancestor of the trees that grew before the railroads and the Great Depression. The teeth of the tree dip directly into the river. It appears from the distance to be a weeping willow, but upon closer examination, the true identity of a native pin oak is revealed.

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