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1. Having $600 taken out of your first paycheck for your brand new job, so you go and adjust your withholdings (because $600 is outrageous). Your next paycheck comes back with even less—$80 less, to be exact. Your benefits kicked in.

  1. Hoping that giant sum taken out of your check also includes your 401K contribution. It has to, right? But wait, haven’t you been unable to set that up yet?
  2. Start drinking at 11 A.M.

2. Filing your taxes a month early to give yourself some cushion, since you owe more than $1,300. The IRS rejects it within 30 minutes.

  1. You pay $30 to access your previous year’s returns, even though you always save them and always use TurboTax. Call customer service because the AGI you’d submitted was auto-entered by TurboTax itself, and all you have is the modified AGI (which isn’t being asked for). You’re advised to “try the modified AGI” because they have no idea what’s wrong. The IRS rejects your returns again.
  2. Bitch about it on Facebook; your father reminds you a CPA did your returns last year because you, once again, owed an outrageous amount. The CPA sends your returns in a password-protected PDF. The AGI is different than either AGI included in the TurboTax returns. You submit it and hope it works because no one seems to understand what else could be wrong.
    1. Start drinking at 1 P.M.

3. Buying a new car to end the cycle of short-term solutions you’ve been driving for the past decade. You fight for the APR and monthly payments you want, reject all extra offers, and walk out like a total BAMF. But you submit your application for a new parking permit (because you’ve lived in East Boston for more than 2 years), and, despite the mobile form being very simple, your request is denied.

  1. No explanation is offered, just a phone number you can call. You’re in the middle of a Nor’easter, and nothing is open. The automated machine confirms that you’re entitled to as many parking permits as you have vehicles registered at your address, so you resubmit with a new proof of address, clearly dated and adhering to all the rules. After another 5 business days, the request is denied again—without an explanation, during another (worse) Nor’easter.
  2. For now your car is safely in the “triangle,” a veritable no-man’s land untouched by snow bans, parking restrictions, or resident only sticker garbage—but until you get the permit, you have to make sure you get a spot there every day after work to avoid getting ticketed or towed (despite having been a resident for years). You also can’t risk running errands after work, or using your car past 7 P.M. on Sundays for fear you won’t get a spot. Now you’ll have to try and get a human on the phone in order to figure out why your requests are being denied, and who knows when the office of the parking clerk will be open again when the city is being hit with more than a foot of snow.
    1. Keep drinking ‘til 1 A.M. because it’s a snow day.

4. Moving out of state to Atlanta when you’re 21 and broke, AKA still on your parents’ health insurance. You can’t get your own health insurance anyway yet because it’s not March, so you’re stuck with out-of-state insurance for the foreseeable future. This means mental health isn’t covered, nor is pretty much anything else—but you need Xanax. You go on ZocDoc, find a GP, and express to them very clearly at the first visit that you just need this medication you’ve been on for years and want to be able to get it refilled as needed just by calling, because you’re never sick. The copay is $35 every time, and their office has parking you HAVE to pay for. She runs full blood work and gives you the meds, but insists you come in and get FULL BLOOD WORK every time you need a refill. Sick of paying the copay, your dumb, young, cheap self bails and finds a new GP.

  1. The new GP invites dozens of medical students into the room with you for your first visit, and not a single person in the room understands your history with self-harming, depression, anxiety, or borderline personality disorder. The GP asks how you got the scars on your arm while you calmly try to explain self-harm to her and the students ask to play with the tumbled stone in your hand. They’re fascinated when you say it activates the prefrontal cortex and helps curb your anxiety. The GP writes you the prescription, and a couple months later you’re billed $360. You’ve already had a second appointment, and prescription, by then.
  2. The insurance informs you that the doctor coded the visit as a mental health visit, which isn’t covered. That Xanax that usually costs you $6 now costs $360 for 30 pills, and you’ve got another bill on the way from that second visit. You go back to the GP and literally beg her to code the appointment differently, which she refuses to do.
    1. You call the original GP and realize the reason she did full blood work every time was so she could code the appointment in a way that would be covered by your insurance, but never explained that to you. You dump both GPs and get the fuck out of Atlanta ASAP.
    2. Do at least a shot a week just thinking of this garbage.

5. Living back in Boston at 25, enjoying the benefits of having real health insurance again. You’re properly medicated, have weekly therapy sessions, and have access to a psychiatrist for the first time since you were 18. But you’re about to turn 26, and will no longer have your parents’ Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance. You’ll have Harvard Pilgrim, and none of your mental health team accepts them.

  1. For the next several months, you try to find new therapists but, of course, no one is available. You search through the provider’s site and call numerous offices to come up empty. You’re on endless waiting lists for mental health help in an extremely progressive city. To get the Xanax you need, you have to save them and only use them for emergencies—because whenever you do need a refill, you have to convince your new GP and nurse practitioner you aren’t selling them and are trying to find a psychiatrist.
  2. Give up, get a new job, waiting for new health insurance to kick in. Open a bottle of champagne for yourself and hope it’ll be easier to hunt down a psychiatrist now because, hey, third time’s a charm.
Jacqueline Frasca

Jacqueline Frasca is the editor-in-chief of East Coast Ink literary magazine. A poet from Boston, her friends often call her "Forest Witch."

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