Friday, December 27, 2013

No Wishes For Normalcy In 2014

   Once again Christmas has come, and now Christmas is gone, and even though the tree is still up, and will be for a good while, I find myself having to adjust to some normalcy. No hidden gifts in the closet, no more teasing the kiddo about One Direction presents all wrapped under the tree, the ballet The Nutcracker has come and gone, and everything is over. Normalcy invades this apartment like a thick mist....
   Wait, who's apartment am I talking about here? Normalcy: no. I walked in the door from work this evening and my daughter starts shrieking at me that I have to save her because she's offended the penguins and they are gonna get her, and here I am standing in the doorway -- shell-shocked -- wondering what the hell has been going on in my house while I have been gone. Fair warning, don't offend the penguins.
   And so far as I am concerned, this is imagination at it's finest. My daughter doesn't mope around bored. She finds something to do, and keeps entertained, even if that entertainment involves vengeful penguins. This is me being glad that I get to come home to full scale penguin wars going on in my living room. Because otherwise, life would just be boring.
    I hope all of you that celebrate Christmas had a wonderful one. For those of you who celebrate other things, I hope, whatever those other celebrations were, that they were equally wonderful. I hope you don't come home to a calm and quiet apartment, but to your own version of penguin wars, whether they involve eleven (almost twelve) year old little girls or not. I hope your life is anything BUT normal, and I hope that you understand what you have been blessed with.
   As I go through this end of the old year, I hope that whatever comes new in 2014, I never wish for normalcy. Maybe you have a humdrum job, maybe your finances are a tangled mess and the money stress is giving you stomach issues, or maybe you are just plain sad, but if you come home to a little bit of off-the-wall, harmless silliness, and you are smart enough to laugh and find your sense of humor, I think you are going to be okay. At least, that is how I have decided to view things in this home. And we have made it alright so far. So this is me wishing that in the new year to come, you find your own vengeful penguins, and that whatever comes your way, you laugh and get through it as painlessly as possible.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pregnant Redheaded Waitresses Named Pepper

   A long, long time ago, one of my first jobs I help was as a server. I worked at a bar and grill, which will remain nameless, and I was eighteen. This job was brought to mind because I recently shared a post on my facebook page about the need to raise servers' wages. Many of them do not even make minimum wage; their employers pay them less then minimum wage (I was paid around $2.13/hr if memory serves), and tips are expected to make up the difference. Except then you run into the issues such as slow operation hours, when there are not enough customers to make the difference unless they ALL tip heavily, which isn't fair to expect, and there are bad tippers, and then there are the places that require servers to tip out to bus boys and hostesses, regardless of what they made in tips. All these things add up, and some places are so packed that maybe the servers still walk away with good money, but not every place is like that. But really, I digress, because my story today is not about the need for a living wage for all jobs. All this rallying for servers brought to mind a story that took place when I was in training at the bar and grill that I served for.
   I had several different trainers during my training period, but the particular story that I have in mind took place with a redheaded, pregnant server, who was named, I kid you not, Pepper. You can't make this stuff up. My trainers were showing some concern over my shyness, because though some of you will not believe it, I was shy. Well, maybe not so much shy as I didn't really want to talk to these people. I didn't mind taking orders and refilling drinks, ect., but this was the South, and everybody wants to talk to everybody, and I didn't want to talk to any of them. So, not super friendly. You wouldn't be waiting for you food forever, but if you wanted to talk about the virtues of the various nightclubs or casinos in the area, I was not the server for you.
   So they worried about that, most of them. Not Pepper. She was a very blunt person, and she didn't really mess around. She told me what tables to take, and then just got on with watching me. She was heavily pregnant, and probably appreciated the break. She didn't care if I was pissing people of left and right; she just wanted to rest her feet a bit. I can't blame her for that. But there came this point when we were slammed and we got seated all eight of her tables at once. One of the tables was a large party; I can't remember how many, only that we had to put a few tables together just to seat them. Now, Pepper took this order because she didn't think I could handle a large party yet, and I took the smaller orders, but at one point, after their main courses had been served, one of the men in the party grabbed my arm as I was passing, and pulled me to the table.
   "This is unacceptable!" he complained, pointing at his half-eaten steak.
   I was confused; I hadn't taken this table, so I wasn't sure what the problem was, but I made a go at it, "Is it cold? Or not cooked right?" I asked.
   "This steak is the blandest steak I have ever tasted! Did you even put any seasoning at all on it?!?"
   Well, no, I didn't. Servers don't cook the food, they just bring the food to the table. I didn't know if the cook had put the seasonings on the steak or not, this wasn't my job. And I didn't know how to handle this. Today, I would have been more aggressive, especially after being grabbed and pulled on because in no way do I tolerate being touched, and probably I would have been fired as a result, but remember, this is back in the day, before I was a mom: one of my first jobs. But I wasn't left hanging, because Pepper had been keeping an eye on me even though we had been working independently for a short while. So in a flash, she was over at the table saying, "This is my trainee, and she may not know how to help you. How can I help you?"
   The man at this point, thrust the whole plate into Pepper's middle. Pepper's occupied-with-a-baby middle. Bad move with any woman, but when you are talking about a redhead named Pepper, who also happens to be pregnant, bad, baaaaaad move. Before I knew what was happening, she smashed the whole plate to the floor, had the manager over at the table, and was screaming, "This asshole just threw his fucking plate into my stomach!"
   I have never seen a more frightened manager. Normally, a manager might have comped the meal and gave a bullshit apology, because even though this man was in no way right, managers tend to try to keep people coming back to bring in that revenue. Sometimes they take this too far, but that wasn't going to be an issue in this case. I think that the manager was scared of Pepper; I certainly was. Don't mess with pregnant redheaded waitresses named Pepper.
   I can't really remember what happened with that family. I do know that several of the women were stammering embarrassed apologies to me; I think they were also too afraid of Pepper to apologize to her directly. I didn't hold that job a year. I wasn't fired, but I quit. I couldn't work there; serving is so much more difficult that people think. Putting in an order is not all there is to the job. Like many jobs, there are issues and problems that people don't even see or think of until they actually have to do the job themselves. I didn't last, that's all I know. Serving remains my worst work experience ever. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sometimes We Just Need To Be Angry

   'Tis the season to be jolly, and usually, I am jolly at this time of year. I love Christmas. But I am not jolly right now. I am the furthest thing from jolly, in fact, that I could possibly be. And I am gonna snap at the next jackass who tells me to smile or that things could be worse. Well, of course things could be worse. Things can always be worse, and I know that right now, I have friends going through things that are far worse than what I am going through, and my heart bleeds for them. The fact that their misfortunes are worse than mine does little to make me feel better, however. I'm not entirely sure that they would want me to feel better just because they are having a harder time than me. That's a crappy reason to feel better.
   As for smiling, sometimes that small movement of muscle is the hardest thing to do. Faking a smile, contrary to popular belief, does not make you feel better. I know; I work in customer service, and I fake smiles all day long. ALL DAY LONG. Doesn't make a bad day better. A real smile, yes, that would probably help, but sometimes, that just isn't forthcoming. And I think that this is okay, sometimes. Don't get me wrong, you don't want to wallow in misery. You don't want to work on feeling badly, blotting out every single good thing because, dammit, you feel bad. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying though, is that sometimes you are dealt a crappy hand, and so long as you don't let that anger or sorrow, or whatever emotion you are feeling, stop you from pushing forward, then it's alright to just feel badly and admit that you are not a happy little ball of bleeping sunshine.
   It's been a rough few weeks for me. My daughter is dealing with a harsh grading system in school, and for the first time, she has found herself struggling with bad grades. We are dealing with family drama from people that I really wish I could just cut out of our lives, except that legally, I can't. And my daughter has dealt with a creeper at the bus stop. Not a fun time for us, and on top of all that, we deal with the usual drama that people like to pile up on you during this time of year. You probably know what this drama is, so I won't bore you by making the list of all the little petty bullshit things that people like to start pulling out and airing during the holiday season.
   And people keep saying, "Be happy, Marie." And I'm all like, "If you would just give me two f***ing seconds to be pissed, I would be a lot happier."
   Maybe that doesn't make a lot of sense to you. But to me, this makes the ultimate sense. Sometimes people just need time to be mad. Then, they can get over whatever they are mad about, and start to feel better. Especially when they have good reason to be mad in the first place. I mean, my daughter and all the other kids waiting for the bus, they were all harassed by a pervert creeper while waiting for the bus. Isn't that a good reason to be pissed? Why do I have to smile at you right now? The answer is: I don't.
  That doesn't mean that I won't, eventually. I have a lot of things to look forward to. My daughter's honor choir concert is coming up, and I always like to go hear my baby sing. This coming weekend, my whole family is also going to go see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's version of the Nutcracker. Plus, I really love Christmas! And I have the best daughter ever, and a good life. So yes, I will feel better. But right now, I'm pissed, and I see no reason not to just let myself be pissed. We've gone through a lot of bad things these last couple of weeks, and I'm tired and stressed and disillusioned, and dammit, I'm really freaking mad. I do have the right, and also the need, to have that emotion. At times, we all do. If you want to see a happy, rainbows-coming-out-the-bung-hole person, go put in Mary Poppins. She ain't here, though, so don't look for her. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

   This morning, I woke up, with a brain that was not yet functioning, and found myself contemplating my foot. You see, my foot was cold, and in my groggy, I-just-woke-up-and-can't-think state, I couldn't figure out why my foot was cold. I stretched my toes out, wondering what the heck was going on, when I FINALLY realized that I was missing my sock, and with a shriek that would put a banshee to shame, I dove back into my blankets and found the runaway sock.
   How cold is the weather right now where you are? Some of you are going to laugh your asses off at me, because I am complaining about weather that is in the teens and twenties, and you are gonna be looking at numbers in the negatives. I can't remember where this place was located, but I remember somewhere in the states, they hit a record breaking low of -39 degrees, and I swear, I felt my skin attempting to get frost bite just at the thought of that type of cold -- just at the very thought! I have a friend who posted on her facebook page that she was having a 'warm spell' at -7 degrees, and I just about died. I can't deal with that cold!!!
   Once upon a time, I did live in a chilly-ass place called South Dakota. Maybe I have lived in colder places, but I don't remember them. I do remember South Dakota however, and I do remember blizzards and snow so deep that you could tunnel in it; I remember snow forts and snowmen and snowball fights with the neighbors. I remember liking that stuff.
   My daughter wants to build some of her own snow memories. Ever since we hit November, she has been praying for snow. Hoping, begging, all that good stuff, while I am over here frantically thinking, "Hush your mouth!" Because I don't want snow. I don't want to go outside and try to  scrap the thin layering of slush that we get and call snow, into something resembling a snowman. I don't want to get hit in the back with an icy wad of melting snow that will soak into my coat and drip down my back. No thanks; not me.
   Don't look at me to participate in that crap now. I am the wet blanket of winter fun. In case you hadn't noticed, that stuff's cold! You see, after we lived in South Dakota, we moved to Mississippi. My dad did some overseas work while we stayed there, and then he eventually retired, and we stayed in Mississippi. What does that have to do with cold weather? Well, ever since I was nine years old, I have been having Christmases that were in the 60's, 70's, and sometimes even the friggen 80's. My body got used to hot weather.
   Of course, then  I moved up here, and those of you where reading over the summer know this already, and once I had lived here for a few years, I lost my tolerance to extreme heat. As kids, we used to run out the door in 110 degree heat (although honestly, we were usually looking for some sort of body of water to go jump in), but now 80 feels too hot. But here I am saying that 20 is too cold. So what the hell do I want already? Well, I should think that the answer to that question was obvious. I just want the temperature to be in the 60's and 70's year round. Is that really too much to ask for? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One Direction Woes

   Ahhh. Christmas time is coming. I love Christmas. My family loves Christmas. My sister has had her apartment decorated for Christmas since Halloween, which is nuts. But it's her apartment, and this is her right. However, I feel like a Grinch whenever I walk into her apartment, because while her apartment looks like a Christmas-y wonderland, I have a tree. And that tree was decorated by my daughter, because I didn't want to do it. If my daughter hadn't gleefully accomplished this task, we would just have a bare tree. Someone should just follow me around playing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Except I really do love Christmas -- I just don't like decorating. Everything you put up must eventually come down, and I don't feel like doing all this extra work.
    Anyway, we do the whole gifts at Christmas thing. I know that I have heard some people express that gifts take away the meaning of Christmas, and that Santa has taken over a day made for Christ, but I think that both can coexist. They do in my home at the least, so I leave this how I always leave issues such as this, you do what you want, I will do what I want, and we won't hurt each other and call each other nasty names, and all will be well. And to those of you who don't celebrate, Happy whatever-you-do-celebrate. I wish you much joy. My family just happens to celebrate Christmas, and my story today revolves around our tradition.
    Some families wait until Christmas Eve to put out gifts, but we don't do that. We generally place all the gifts out except the ones specifically from Santa (who is based off a Catholic Saint, Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of children, and others but I'm not giving a Catholic history lesson here) and the presents from Santa are the ones that are placed out on Christmas Eve, after the kiddos go to bed.

This is what our tree looks like right at this moment.

   Which leads us to the fact that my daughter has seen some of the wrapped presents under the tree, and she began to playfully try to guess what they were. So I began to playfully suggest things that they could be, but I picked things that she would absolutely hate to get. In doing this, I hit on One Direction. My daughter hates the boy-band One Direction. She doesn't like the music, doesn't want the assorted items with their faces plastered all over, and doesn't wanna watch the 'movie' of the tours. So I started suggesting that these gifts under the tree where things like One Direction CDs, One Direction action figures, One Direction pajamas, and a One Direction poster, that I suggested that she could tack to the ceiling of her room, right above her bed, so that when she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw would be their faces.
   This horrified her, which was so much fun, that I followed around after her for days, suggesting every time she looked at the tree, that perhaps she was excited to get all of her One Direction presents. She would put her face in her hands, and pretend to cry, while laughing, because after all, she knows that I would no more do this than set the house on fire. I don't care for One Direction any more than she does, and giving her all this would place me in direct contact with all of their music. Plus, that would just be mean, and while I like to do a little teasing, I abhor meanness.
    However, today my little kiddo had a really bad day. And for a few moments I didn't quite realize how bad she felt, and I fell into teasing her. Her response, "If it's really all One Direction, just burn it. I don't want anything." Poor little silly-head. Momma's done teasing you. At least for a while. (And she got a giant hug and assurances that she was NOT getting One Direction.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Deviled Eggs And Christmas Trees

   Happy Thanksgiving all you grateful, feasting people! I love Thanksgiving, so my sitting down to write a blog may seem a bit strange, because where is the family time? Well, I did do a small turkey and some stuffing today, because I wanna eat too dammit, but my family's Thanksgiving is being held at a later date. This is due to the fact that my mother is an oncology nurse, and she works tonight. Cancer patients don't get the day off from being sick, and they still need someone to take care of them. So while I had a little mini-feast, this is not my day of huge, massive, artery-blocking feasting.
   But as I said, my daughter and I did have our little two-person meal, and so far as my daughter is concerned, a meal is NOT a holiday meal unless you have some deviled eggs. She loves these things and eagerly awaits their completion. Today was no different. She hovered over me until I got all the other prep work for the other food done, had the hard-boiled eggs out (we boiled them last night) and was just eagerly assisting and awaiting.
   Our deviled eggs are not sweet. The first time I tasted a sweet deviled egg I had to fight to stop from spitting it out. That's nasty; before that ill-fated taste, I never even knew that deviled eggs could be sweet. Who knew? Not me. The person who made them thought I was weird as hell for making deviled eggs with vinegar and mustard; I thought she was weird as hell for using sugar. But regardless, vinegar and mustard is the way my family has made deviled eggs forever. These are the eggs that I ate as a child, and these are the eggs that my daughter devours like candy.
   This is my family's deviled egg recipe:
    6 hard boiled eggs (chilled)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    2 tablespoons mayo
    2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    Paprika (to sprinkle over eggs)
    Cut eggs in half, putting yoke in mixing bowl and mashing with fork. Mix in spices, add mayo and vinegar, mix well and heap mixture into egg halves. Sprinkle with paprika.
    It should also be noted that you can use regular balsamic vinegar as well, but this makes the yolk mixture turn brown, and so guests might be a little wary of eating the deviled eggs. Of course, this way, there is more for you. Or your fiendish egg-snatching daughter.
   Another thing that my daughter and I did today was put up our Christmas tree. I know that traditionally, you are supposed to wait for the day after Thanksgiving to put up the tree, but I am a working mom, and I have today off. We tend to do these types of things around my work schedule, often throwing tradition out the window, and in that spirit, the tree went up today.
   One tradition that my family has is that every year, the kids get a new Christmas ornament as a Christmas gift. My sister and I always knew that we would get a new ornament, and of course, my daughter probably knows this as well, but she has manners, so she doesn't go around shaking presents and hollering, "This one's the ornament!" Nor does she groan after opening the ornament and proclaim, "An ornament, again!?!" I think she likes getting her Christmas ornament, but even if she didn't, she knows that momma would be pretty pissed at this type of behavior. Punishment would ensue. But I digress.
    Since every year my daughter has been getting ornaments, and I tend to pick out her gifts according to her tastes and not mine, I have a tree with a shit-load of My Little Ponies and Tinker Bell. If this tree was decorated with my taste in mind, there would be pine cones, traditional glass balls, and maybe some cardinals or something; instead I have a hodgepodge of Disney and Hasbro toys. But long ago, I came to terms with the fact that my life now included My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake. Not much I can do about that. Kids will be kids.
   So anyway, the deviled eggs are devoured, the tree is up and decorated, and now my daughter and I are winding down. I hope that all of you had a very happy Thanksgiving! Get your feast on, be thankful, and celebrate family.

Every single year, this set of ponies are hung together in a group like this. It's the ugliest damn thing ever, but my daughter has to have them this way. I think it's mind control; the ponies take over her mind so that they can be hung together. This is so that they can plot against us. One day, the ponies will stage a rebellion and take over my house. I am sure of this. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Living Wage

   I am thankful for many things in my life, and one of the things that I am (I won't say most, but really, near the top of the list) thankful for is my job. Sure, a checker job is not that glamorous, nor does my job require an abundance of intellect. But the one thing that sets my job apart from other cashier's jobs is that I make a wage that I can survive off of, without the aid of government assistance. To be clear, my job did start me out at minimum wage, and during those times I had to live with my mom and my sister to make ends meet, but my job has a pretty good raise system, and if you don't run afoul of the rules, you eventually come to a point when people are going, "You make how much money??? For being a cashier???" Granted, none of us are rich, but we can survive if we budget right and don't buy things that we don't need.
   But there are a lot of people who are not in that position. They make minimum wage and they have been for years because their jobs don't give raises more then the 10 cent raise every two years, or some similar nonsense, and that makes it hard. Especially because minimum wage is so low compared to our country's cost-of-living. And the first argument to that statement that I usually hear is, "Well, try living in a third world country." Well, I thank God that I don't, but how do you think that this is a reasonable argument? You are comparing one of the richest countries in the world to the poorest? To me, that is like comparing apples and oranges. Yeah, they are both fruit, but other than that, they don't have a lot in common. To me, comparing the United States to other wealthy countries would be more realistic, because all I can say is that I pay over $600 for my built before the 1960's, 700 square foot, one bedroom apartment, and somehow, I doubt that this is the rent in a third world country. If it is, then I have full sympathy for those people, but we still have poor here. Their suffering does not negate our fellow countryman's suffering.
   A second argument is that all poor here have microwaves and the poor in other countries do not. Well, a lot of us do. Microwavable food, in the United States, is often cheaper by far then food that you need to prepare and cook. But not all of the poor have microwaves. Not all of the poor are walking around with Ipods and laptops and other gadgetry. Ever seen a homeless person with a microwave strapped to his/her back? I haven't.
   There is a lot of entitlement in this country, and while I think that government programs need to be in place for people who have hit hard times or are disabled, be it physical or mental, I also understand that there are quite a few people who 'work' the system, and that needs to stop. But barring those people, we have a whole class of the working poor; these are people who work full time jobs, sometimes two, and they still have to utilize these programs because they are not paid a wage that they can live off of. 
   I have heard the arguments that not all jobs deserve a wage that you can live off of, which to me is elitist bullshit. Of course, if you are thinking that, then you are thinking that of course I think that, I am just a lazy cashier, and my job was meant for a teenager. Well, I am not gonna argue what age you need to be to do my job. I have, at a former job, trained a fourteen year old to be a cashier. They couldn't keep him on the register because he couldn't get the hang of counting back change, but  I don't think that this is the norm for most teenage kids. My daughter could do it, I believe. She couldn't deal with the asshat customers that come through my line from time to time. We have had grown cashiers in tears because some giant-walking-turd came through with a chip on their shoulder and decided to take it out on someone just trying to do their job, but really, I digress. The low minimum wage affects more than cashiers and fast food workers and servers, and they do deserve a decent wage, regardless of elitist opinions.
   Would you job snobs say that early childhood education is worthy of earning a living wage? Because a lot of them do NOT (just to provide a different field of work here). My sister is in this field, and she makes maybe a dollar above minimum wage. She is not alone; all of her coworkers are in the position of working a full time, sometimes high-stress job, and needing government assistance to survive. I would say that anyone working with children, teaching them letters, numbers, helping them potty train, and nurturing them deserves a wage that they can live off of without government assistance. They don't get this, at least not in my neck of the woods. And it is not because the company can't afford it, and it's not because prices would raise. This is due to corporate greed, in my opinion. Yes, companies have a right to make a profit, but if you cannot afford to pay your employees properly, then your company has not grown to the point where you should have employees. Or at least not so many of them.
   I am going to go back to my company. I don't have permission to affiliate myself with the company that I work for (not that I have asked, but this is MY blog, and I don't want to place myself in the position where I am having to ask permission for what I write, so try to leave names out of it), but my company is one of the lowest priced stores in the area. Our prices often beat Walmart. From my own inquiries, I believe we are one of the best paid, and we get good benefits. Of course there are flaws and issues, but name a place that doesn't have them. I get paid above what I have seen suggested as a living wage, which is $11 an hour. I make a good amount more than that. People fight raising minimum wage because they say that it will cause inflation, that companies can't afford it, that prices will rise, YET I have just told you that my store pays a good amount of their employees above $11 an hour, due to the raise system that they have in place. Probably over half, because once people get in with my company, they try their best to stay with them, and the raise system in place rewards longevity. I have TWO COLLEGE DEGREES, and I don't want to leave. Because my company pays me well, provides my with affordable insurance and works with me on hours scheduled so that I have plenty of time for my other, more important job: being a mom.
   Federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25( of course we know that this varies from state to state, and here in Washington, where I live, it's $9.19 an hour); that's not enough for the cost-of-living in the United States. Poverty exists in the United States. Need proof, here's two links: Seattle One Night Count and National Center For Children In Poverty. These are links to one organization that is close to my home and one that is the United States in it's entirety. I chose these links because they outline the amount of children in poverty, and in a country as wealthy as this one, I find the amount of children living in poverty appalling. A living wage would reduce that amount drastically. No; this wouldn't get rid of the people who abuse the system, but this would get those who are working and who work hard, out of the welfare system, relieving some of that burden, and the reduction of numbers could ease an overtaxed system with overtaxed workers, which in turn might provide time for said workers to start weeding out the abusers. Make sense? Does to me. Plus, a living wage is the right thing to do. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holidays And The Public

   If there is one truth that you learn as a cashier then I have to say that this is that truth: Nothing brings out the worst in people like holidays and natural disasters. Oh, I know some of you are flapping your hands and 'pshhhh -awing' the screen, unable to believe my truth, because we are talking about holidays here, and aren't natural disasters things that bring people together? Well, as a former Southern citizen, I can tell you that I have worked retail up to the last possible minute during a hurricane. And you have never seen anything until you have seen two eighty year old women beating the crap out of each other over a 24 pack of bottled water. I mean, that was PRICELESS. And extremely stupid, but at least during a natural disaster, people are being stupid because they fear impending death. Hardship, at least, is some kind of explanation for idiocy and meanness. I am not saying that this behavior is right; I'm just saying at least this behavior is more understandable during a natural disaster than during the holidays.
   Because holidays, those are supposed to be about thankfulness, about being grateful, about friends and family and fellowship. Not about getting the best deal and nabbing the biggest turkey. Not about harassing your poor customer service representative to the breaking point. But many of you do seem to think that holidays are some kind of excuse for this type of behavior. I mean, good grief.  Yelling, screaming at other customers, screaming at workers just trying to do their jobs: holidays can really suck for someone in customer service. And yeah, we do chose to work there, because we have bills to pay and families to support, but just because we chose to work in a place does not give the patrons of that establishment the right to treat the workers like the crap they scraped off the bottom of their shoes.
   And of course, not all people are like that. So if you don't behave badly, if you treat people with respect, and deal with real problems that arise with common sense, then you aren't really part of this problem. But there are so many people that want to treat others badly. So for this holiday season, what I ask is that people think about others' feelings before they fly off the handle, that they treat people with the respect that all people deserve, and that they remember that this season is about fellowship, thankfulness, and rejoicing; not getting all that you can get and knocking down whoever you need to in order to get it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bad Habits And Typhoid Mary

   Don't you love it when you have a three day weekend and you have some plans to get shit done, to manage to finally check a few things off on the eight mile long to-do list that you have been trying to get to for months and then BAM!!! -- sickness. I cooked myself a pot of crockpot lima beans, some of the best things ever, and I got sooooo sick after eating them. I thought I had managed to give myself food poisoning. How did you manage to poison yourself with lima beans, you might ask. Well, I'm Southern, and while lima beans might seem like a nice healthy option, nothing remains healthy after a Southern person gets a hold of it. My lima beans were cooked with ham hock, to give them flavor, and I thought the ham hock had gone bad or something, because I was sick, bad sick, and my stomach felt like it was trying to escape.
   So I slumped around the house, whining, got on facebook, and whined, and did my usual 'curl up at the bottom of the shower', with lots of hot water, as a method of pain management, and I whined there too. There was an awful lot of whining going on, and I even went over to my sister's and whined as well. What can I say? I used to be all stoic and 'eff you pain', but I've gotten soft. Don't judge me.
    Needless to say, my to-do list was ignored. But as I slumped around the house, sick as a dog, unable to keep anything in my stomach, trying to find something, anything, that wouldn't come up, I realized that my daughter has a really, really bad habit. I've known this for a while, because I've been cleaning up after this habit for a while. but for some reason this habit just hit me as I fought this war with my body, trying desperately to force my digestive system to fall back in line. I went to get a package of saltine crackers, and I knew that we had some because the box was still in the cabinet, so I reached in for a package and found -- air. The box sitting there in the cabinet, bold as you please, was empty. Because my daughter had taken the last pack, but she left the box as a kind of momento: crackers were here. But now, they were gone. And I realized that this wasn't the first time either, because I started recalling empty hot pocket boxes, empty pop tart boxes, and a long, long list of other food items, whose empty boxes I have been culling from the cabinets, fridge, and freezer for months. Ack! How did I not nip this in the bud already? I am death on cleaning; I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! So anything that reeks of me having to clean up some one else's mess when they are perfectly able to doing said cleaning on their own is usually nipped in the bud. All I can do is repeat what I have already said: I'm getting soft. However, I have not gotten so soft that I am allowing this habit to continue. Now that I acknowledge the problem's existence, the problem will be eradicated.
   And the three day weekend, which wasn't really a weekend at all being as these days off fell on Tues-Thurs, passed with me believing that I had poisoned myself with my own cooking. Then came today (Friday), which was my first day back to work, and my daughter is being considerate and asking me if I am feeling better and I am telling her I do feel better and thanking her for asking. The next words out of her mouth are, "I hope I don't get sick. Kids in class have been getting that stomach flu all week."
Treacherous little Typhoid Mary. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

What's In A Name?

   I have so many friends who are expecting now! Babies everywhere; don't drink the water!!! Anyway, it's really great, but the thing is, until I had my own baby, I didn't know that I liked babies. I actively avoided all babies and if someone brought one near me, they would get rewarded with a panic-induced, "I don't want to hold that thing!!!" Not what a new mom wants to hear, let me tell you. But, as I have said, I have outgrown that fear.
  All these new moms are going through or have already gone through picking out names for their babies, and all this reminds me of the headache of picking a name for my daughter, which was a freaking war. Her father and I couldn't agree on any name at all. For a long time, we just argued back and forth. I originally wanted to name my daughter Regina. There was no sentimental reason for this name; this was a name I had just liked since sometime in my early teenage years (although, at this time, I was actually still a teenager - I got pregnant at 19) and I just thought that Regina was  a pretty name. He wanted to name our daughter Carrie. I didn't like Carrie, because I read too much Stephen King. I also didn't like Carrie because this is name of one of his female friends, a female friend that he even dated for a short time; although he didn't think that I knew this. I never made a big deal about it because I am not the overly jealous type and I just felt that obviously the dating part didn't work out, but just some advice -- dudes, it is NEVER EVER okay to try and name your daughter after some chick that you dated in the past. Sorry, not a good idea, and it did make me wonder how over his feelings he was towards her. Naming a kid after someone specific is a pretty big thing. And to be fair, if a chick did the same thing, you guys would be pretty pissed. That was one of our first big ass fights, and it ended with tears, but I did not back down. Looking at the state of what our relationship is now, I am beyond glad that I didn't back down.
   The compromise to that fight was that I would give up Regina, which he hated, if he would give up Carrie, which I hated. This left us trying to find other names. I didn't want something that was common, where she would go to school and there would be two or  three other girls with the same name in her class, but he would go for totally off-the-wall things like I didn't like at all, one of which being Raven. I didn't want to name my daughter Raven. My sister actually has a thing for ravens; they are her favorite birds ever, so it would have made sense for her to name her daughter raven (she didn't), but for me, I just didn't like the idea. I mean, why not name her flamingo or owl while we are at it? Ravens were not special to either of us, and I didn't like the idea of just picking something that had no meaning to either of us. If we were going to do that, why not just name her spoon or fork? That's how much the name Raven meant to me. We would just be picking some random word that held no meaning to us. Probably I was being too picky, but I didn't like the name, and you only get to name your child once. So you'd better like the name: that's how I feel.
   Also, we were only looking at girl names, which I guess pissed all of his family off, because we did not know the sex of the baby. I was determined that I was having a girl, but they were not able to verify this during the ultrasound. My daughter wouldn't uncross her legs, so they couldn't see if she had girl parts or boy parts, and we didn't know that she was really a girl until I actually pushed her on out. But I knew that I was having a girl. I guess that makes no sense, but I was only able to see myself with a baby girl, so by my extremely young and naive reasoning, this was a sign that my baby was a girl.
   By the time I actually gave birth, I had had a birthday and was twenty, but still, I was young, and I was stubborn as hell. I wanted a girl so I was having a girl, and that was final. I would actually be in tears when someone argued that my baby might be a boy. Of course, I am sure that I would have loved a boy just as much in the long run, but I had a girl, so that's that. And I digress, we were talking about finding names.
   Finally, I came up with the name Rowan. My daughter is indeed named after a tree. I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan, and that name has roots in both (particularly, Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey, both authors I admire), and I liked the idea of my daughter being named Rowan. The rowan tree is supposed to be repellent to evil forces.
I liked the meaning of the name and what a rowan tree represented and he liked some of the ties to mythology and such, so we agreed. Rowan was the only name that we even slightly agreed on, so I was surprised when his family put up such an opposition to the name. They hated it. I spent the last half of my pregnancy defending my choice of my daughter's name, but they were really hoping for a boy, so I think they only ever backed off because they figured that a boy would negate the name. Of course, Rowan is asexual, and can be used for a girl or boy... Anyway, my mom and sister never complained, but they were on the other side of the country, so though they supported my choice, they weren't really involved in the whole name war. The only person who really supported my choice of names was my daughter's father's grandmother. She also just supported my desire to have a girl, and rooted for a girl with me. She really meant so much to me. She's passed away now, but she is on that list of people in heaven that I want to see again.
   But this is why my daughter is named after a tree. And  the thing I learned from all my issues is that if someone
is rooting for a boy, then I root for a boy for them. Of course, they are gonna love a girl just as much, but why be all in their face about you think they are having a girl when they don't know yet and they want a boy? It isn't gonna change a damn thing, and pregnant women are under enough stress as it is. Also, I don't give negative opinions about names. A name is something for the mom and the dad to decide, not the mom and dad's friends or uncles or grandma's or whoever. I really went through my pregnancy feeling ganged up on and at war; the dreaded Name Wars. I'm not about to do that to someone else. The only time I ever really protested a name was when my sister told me she was gonna name her son 'Busaba Hoobear' and honestly, she said that shit to get a reaction from me in the first place. She likes to mess with me as much as I like to mess with her. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Turkey Time Is Coming!!!

   Now that Halloween is over, we can finally get on with business and prepare for Christmas... Well that seems to be the direction that all the retail businesses are going with, but I want Thanksgiving, dammit!! I love Thanksgiving. This holiday is all about being thankful for your blessings and EATING! The one holiday that revolves around the largest, most elaborate feast that you can manage. What is not to love? I love turkey and dressing, but so many people I know prepare non-traditional Thanksgiving meals that not liking turkey or not eating meat is nothing to stop you from celebrating. And no matter what you eat, we all need to pay a little more attention to our blessings and a little less attention to our misfortunes. So on that note, I have prepared a list of the things that I am most thankful for, just to get this blog into the correct holiday spirit.

  • I am thankful for my faith and beliefs, because even though sometimes I am awake at 3 a.m. worrying about things like The Conjuring and Paranormal Activity demons, my faith has given me strength to get through some of my darkest hours. 
  • I am thankful for my sister, because if I ever become targeted by some horrible demon, I have faith that she WILL CALL A PRIEST. I am also thankful for being pulled into every last drop of drama she can find, and for  her willingness to spend hours with me planning for the zombie apocalypse.
  • I am thankful for my daughter, who is happy and healthy, and whose many talents include running up the electric bill and over-dramatic dialog (she gets that talent from my sister.) She is also the best daughter ever, so it all evens out. 
  • I an thankful for my family, the only people on this planet who are as deranged and multi-personalitied as I am. (Apparently multi-personalitied is not actually a word, but all I can say about that is this: it's a word now.)
  • I am thankful for my family again, for tolerating me even though sometimes I am a smart-assed, over-opinionated know-it-all. And for accepting my obsessive fascination with zombies and obsessive fear of lice. 
  • I am thankful for my job; when so many people are finding themselves laid-off or shut down or whatever job-related drama that is going on, people will always need to buy food, and so cashiers will always be needed. 
  • I am thankful for my health insurance, which so far seems to be avoiding all these Obamacare horror stories (keep your fingers crossed for me on that one!!!) 
  • I am thankful for my niece and nephew, because I really enjoy seeing someone besides myself drive my sister batshit crazy.
  • I am thankful even for this cracked-out Dell, because without it, I would not be able to write this post, since my other computer UTTERLY FAILED ME.
  • I am thankful for my country. We have problems; point out a country that doesn't. At the end of the day, I am still proud to be an American. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
   I am really looking forward to my turkey day and hope that ya'll have a great Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

If You Are A Computer, Then I Am Your Angel Of Death

Arrgggggggggg! So I have had the new computer, the charmed, Windows 8 driven monstrosity , for barely a month, and I have killed it already. Not sure how. I was poking around online, and then the whole thing froze, and then shutdown, and now it'll turn on, but Windows 8 just seems to be gone, and since that was the operating system...
   I am not a computer wiz , not by a long shot. You know that saying, "God gives us obstacles?" I am technology's obstacle. That shit comes into my house, and I am gonna find a way to break it. Technology isn't very durable around me and often our little disagreements end in something's circuitry being fried and me scratching my head in pure bafflement.
   Since I managed to wreck that little Acer computer (unfortunately, a month is not my record, I once manage to destroy an HP in a week), I am back on the Dell, you know, the one that is all busted with the screen that is hanging on by a wire (thank goodness I didn't throw it out.) I have barely looked at my other computer, and at a later time, when I am more calm and not  thinking fondly of hammers, I will look at the Acer and see what I can manage to do myself. Last night when it broke, I was just exhausted, and at that time, the only feasible options where to actually get that hammer and bust that junker up beyond all repair, or to go to bed. Since the new computer is actually under warranty still, I didn't think the hammer was the option, so I went to bed. Since I went to be before my daughter, when I woke up at 3:30 a.m., every single light in the house was on. My daughter was snoozing merrily away in her bed, and the kitchen light was on, both hall lights were on, her bedroom light was one, the bathroom light was on, and both TVs were on. Good-bye $50 electric bill.... But I digress. We were not talking about my daughter's super power -- running up the electric bill -- we were talking about mine: the ability to destroy computer systems with a mere glance. Perhaps this ability would be of value if I were actually some kind of super hero or villain, but I have to tell you -- when you are just a single mom trying to pay some bills online, this is the worst superpower IN THE UNIVERSE.
   I am on a six day work stretch, and to top that off, I just have not been feeling 100% lately, so hunting down the warranty and the phone numbers, and then calling the customer service people, which I am sure you will all agree is always the most enjoyable, super-fun thing to do ever, will have to wait. I can't deal with this crap right now, and in the meantime, I have this Dell. This aggravating, slower-than-an-old-lady-on-a-non-motorized-wheelchair, and maybe I need to come to terms with the fact that this is just my speed when I am dealing with technology.  Or maybe I should just move deep into the mountains and become a luddite.
The Beast

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Raising Kids

   There is a lot of judgement out there about how a person should raise kids. I say 'judgement' instead of 'opinion' because this is what I am talking about -- there are a lot of people out there who like to point fingers and tout their methods above other people's methods; basically claiming that their method is better and anyone who doesn't use this method is a sub-par parent.
   I want to be clear on one thing -- I have a lot of opinions, and I am vocal in this blog about the way I raise my daughter, but I hope I never come across as judgmental, because that has never been my intention. If you do something differently than me, I don't think you are doing things 'wrong'. I just think you are different. But God forbid that we all be different; aren't we supposed to be cookie-cutter images of each other? This can't be! We can't be different! (Cue the dramatic music here please.)
    Seems to be the prevalent opinion these days. I know that as parents, your methods have been attacked, your decisions have been second guessed, and all I am saying is that if you are anything like me, you are getting a little tired of having to defend yourself to people who are not an integral part of your life -- as if these people had business butting into your business.
    Some of the many things I have been attacked about: well as always there is the working mom bit. I have absolutely nothing against stay-at-home moms. Many of my best friends, whom I have had friendships with since childhood, are stay-at-home moms, and I have the deepest respect for them. But I can't do this. Besides the whole 'I'm the sole income' bit; I have suffered from very severe economic abuse from my ex-significant other. Try not working when at one time, you have had to beg and plead for even sanitary items. I have panic attacks when I have no income. I NEED to be able to buy my own things; I am never gonna be able to be a stay-at-home mom again; I don't think I would stay sane. But of course, other people have other reasons and other influences, other needs, and I don't look at these people with any kind of judgment; diversity is a beautiful thing. But no -- my child is NOT suffering because I work. She knows that I love and support her 100%; I volunteer at her school; I talk to her every day about her day and help with homework; we have quality time together.
   Another thing I often get attacked about is her education. Yes -- I send my daughter to a public school. A lot of people expect me to say this with shame, which I refuse to do. My daughter is doing very well in school; she in in advanced classes. Yes, there has been problems with bullying in schools; and my daughter is in self defense classes; I have taught her that she should stand up for herself and that I will always stand up for her. Last year, a girl was picking on her and she told me about the incidents. Outraged, I wanted to call the school; I wanted this to never happen again. My itchy trigger finger was on the call button of the phone, but my daughter stopped me and insisted I let her handle this. After a few days, she informed me that the girl and herself were now friends. Seems she handled bullying better than I would have.
    Furthermore, in no way am I what I would consider a good teacher. Yes, of morals and ethics and beliefs, no to text book math. I had to get help from my daughter's teacher so that I could help my daughter with her homework, an amusing experience, but one that firmly illustrated that I should not be trying to teach pre-algebra, much less the higher maths. Nor would I make a good science teacher. I take an integral role in my daughter's education, but they say it takes a village to raise a child. Public education is my way of using the village.  You may home school; I have never attacked a homeschooling mom. Again, I have friends who home school, and they often complain about they way they are attacked for their choices. Is it fair to attack me in turn, and claim that I am forcing my child to 'conform to society' and allowing her to be bullied and receive a substandard education? Not true in any case; learning to exist with people who are different than you is not conforming. I don't teach my child to change the ideals, morals, and beliefs that I have worked to instill in her; I teach her to accept that other people are different, and that she can exist with these differences and that these differences cannot change her beliefs unless she wants them to. She has proven that she can handle someone picking on her in a very mature way -- by talking it out and working through their differences -- and if she meets the person she can't handle, I will be right there. I work with her teachers as well, and know what my child is being taught, and she is not receiving anything substandard. I shouldn't have to defend my choices any more than a homeschooling or privately schooled parent should. Worry about your kid and let me worry about mine.
   And of course, the single parent. How dare I leave an abusive partner and work my ass off to make a better life for myself and my child. I am the wreck of the family, and things should be like they were back when women didn't even have the right to vote, were considered property, and there was no such thing as marital rape because women weren't allowed to say no.
  Of course that is a sweeping generalization of people who value the traditional family, and doesn't being forced into a generalization that has nothing to do with what you believe suck? I never wanted to be a single mom, but I'll be damned if I am going to raise my child in a harmful environment. I shouldn't have to defend that, and the fact that I am raising my child as a single parent should not affect your family in any way. If my being a single mom does threaten your family structure, than you have some pretty big problems, and you can stop misdirecting your anger, because regardless of what your problem is -- it's not caused by me or the choices I have made.
   So again I write another post defending my choices. But the message that I want to get across here is not really the defense of my choices, although I do feel better after that vent, but to say that we would do better as a society if we stopped being so judgmental. I have gotten along with my many diverse friends for years and years, and they have gotten along with me. So why can't we all? Why do we insist on bringing each other down, on belittling other's lives? We really have to stop judging each other. I really hope that nothing I have written comes across as anything other than defending my choices; I am not against home school or private school, nor am I against stay-at-home moms, and I am certainly not against marriage and having both parents involved in their child. But there are reasons for all of my choices, just as you have reasons for all of your choices, and I think that instead of sitting down and judging each other, we should accept that we are different and do things differently, and really, why is that so wrong? The answer is, there's nothing wrong. We make the best life choices we can, and do the best we can for our families. That is what we should focus on, not nitpicking another person's choices. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Packages And Holiday Shopping

   Packages; I am swamped with packages. How many of you do a lot of online shopping? I do quite  a lot. For one thing, shopping online is easier when you don't have a car, but that is really just a minor issue. I have so many offers of people who are willing to take me to this place and that, that all I need to do is pick up the phone. Online, for me, gives me more variety; if I can't find what I want on one website, all I need to do is press a few buttons and I am on another. And over time, I have found the stores that will do free shipping and handling, so I wait for those sales, or in the case of Amazon, pay the yearly fee, because I order so much from them, that I save by doing the fee and always ordering prime and getting free shipping. 
   But even that is not the real reason that I have packages coming out of my ears, which is a real pain with my mailbox still not being replaced, because I have to walk to the post office to pick them up. Even worse was the false hope I was fed a few days ago, when I saw a new box standing up there, which prompted a trip to the office to find out if we were getting our mail delivered again, only to be told that they need two more boxes and then they have to get everything registered and squared away with the post office. And it's the Christmas shopping season!
   So now you probably begin to guess why my home is overflowing with packages. I have been doing my Christmas shopping online. For me, online shopping is the best option. This way, I can shop without my daughter, and there is no possible way that she can see what is in my 'shopping cart'. Have you ever tried Christmas or birthday shopping while your kid is in the store with you? You might as well just let them pick out the gifts that they want, because if they are anywhere in the store, even if they are two isles down with your sister or mom, they are going to figure out what you put in that cart. There isn't even any use; you can try telling them not to look in your buggy, but c'mon, you were a kid once as well. Would that have worked with you? Wouldn't have worked with me. 
   This way I don't have to deal with any of that. Boxes come, I look in them to make sure that all is there and nothing is broke, then I tape that biatch back up and shove it in the closet until it's time to wrap. That is what I call stress-free Christmas shopping. I don't have to stand in mile long lines and fight over the last toy in stock that my kid has-to-have. Not that I often deal with that, because I tend to try to get all my Christmas shopping done by the time December rolls around. That way, I can sit back and laugh at all the frantic mommas and daddys running around trying to get every thing done last minute. Fistfights in Walmart are hilarious when you aren't the one involved in them.
   Anyway, on top of Christmas shopping, I recently ordered my daughter's Halloween costume online, as well as her winter coat, but those items came UPS. Of course, the UPS man always come when I am at work, so my package gets left at the apartment office, and I usually get to hear comments about how many packages I am ordering, while I look at them with crazy eyes because I don't think two packages is worth commenting over. I, on the other hand, could comment about how I haven't had a mailbox for a month now. I think that is worth some commentary. 
   But besides my mail issues, I really love this time of year. I love Halloween; I love Thanksgiving; I love Christmas. And here they are, all lined up in a sweet little row of holiday fun. BAM BAM BAM!!! Good times. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Counterfeit Money

   Any one who has spent any amount of time handling money should know that there is a huge problem with counterfeit money. If your time handling money is part of your job, part of the way that you support your family, then you take measures to make sure that you don't take in that counterfeit money; all cashiers know this unless they are newbies.
   This need to thoroughly check the bills that pass through our hands, however, has a tendency to piss people off. Frankly, I am not sure why. I have been on the other side of that counter as a consumer/customer, and my panties don't get in a bunch when the cashier passes that counterfeit pen over my bill and then holds the bill up to the light. I know that they are just doing their job; checking for fake bills is actually part of our job and there are specific things we are looking for. The most well known is the little strip inside the bill, that says 100 if it's a 100 or twenty if it's a 20 (it's actually spelled out on the strip for the 20 and in numerals for the 100.) We also check for a number of other thinks, like color changing ink, matching faces, red and blue threads in the paper, and so-on and so-forth. The pen is a useful tool, but all the pen does is let us know that the bill is on the right type of paper, and, oh those creative criminals, they have found ways around that. So I understand that even if I just got that bill straight from the bank, the person I am handing the bill to still needs to check for authenticity. So  I don't waste my time getting all huffy and puffy about them doing their job.
    Even with all those measures, sometimes we still manage to take in fake bills. I know that I have seen fake bills in every thing from fake 100's all the way down to fake 10's. And I mean, really, if you have the time and energy to fake a 10, I wouldn't think that getting a job would be less work. But who knows what goes on in people's heads? Not me.
   But to get back to my original point, there are some people that really get steamed when we check their money. I know that I have even been told that my checking money is not legal (pure bullshit, folks, so whatever you have read online about that, disregard it. Marking a bill with a counterfeit pen is NOT considered defacing money.) I know some people think that we check because we are implying something about their character, but that is not the case at all.  We don't even know most of you. For my store, and for many others that I know of, checking money is standard procedure. We are supposed to check every single bill. So our checking isn't a sign that we are judging you, we check every one's bills from little old  ladies with glasses and polka dot dresses to big scary-looking dudes with facial piercings and tattoos (and in my own experience, the old ladies can be the meanest customers and the pierced, tatted up dudes can be huge teddy bears.) This is our job, and taking in a counterfeit bill can and often is counted as a shortage in our cash drawer, and frankly, too many incidents like that would lead to termination. I speak for myself here, but I have a child to support, so frankly, I can afford your offense, even though checking a bill is not meant to be offensive, but I cannot afford to take in those counterfeit bills.
  This is something that I do try to explain to people when they seem upset, or even just curious as to what I am looking for. Some people, once I have explained and even showed them what I am looking for in a bill, settle down and leave with an understanding that I am just doing my job. But other people: they are determined to take offense no matter what I say. But, as I just explained, this isn't something that I can stop doing. One fake 100 dollar bill in my drawer puts me over the shortage amount that I am allowed; I can't afford that. My family can't afford that. So checking for counterfeit money is something that is going to happen.
   On that note, they have just come out with new 100 dollar bills that are supposed to be much harder to counterfeit, and I actually had some pass through my hands to other day. The first one I handled just befuddled me. This poor man handed me this purplish bill with a metallic 3D strip down the center of the bill and I was looking at the thing thinking this man had handed me some weird kind of play money. After the man told me the money was real, I called to verify, and the bill was real. I felt bad for needing to check, because he seemed embarrassed, but again, having never seen the actually design, part of my job would be to verify that this was a real bill. I did apologize to him for needing to check.
   Anyway, the real point that I want to get across here is that fake money is a big problem for us people in the retail field, and we aren't looking to accuse. Even when we find fake money, we fully understand that in all likely-hood, the person who handed that bill to us had no clue and is a victim. I never look to accuse anyone of anything; that is part of someone else's job description, and they are welcome to it -- I want no part of that. But we do have to check, so all I have to say is that just going with the flow is going to be less stressful and drama filled for both of us. Isn't that something we all want?

Crazy, huh? I was thinking, "What kind of monopoly money is this?"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

School Clothes And Halloween Costumes

   In previous years, my daughter was much more laid back about clothes shopping. Laid back as in she really didn't want to be there and would rather be doing something more fun. So I would drag her around to all these stores, and would have to pick out her clothes for her. Which meant that she vetoed all the black stuff that I naturally gravitated towards but gave the go-ahead on all the glitter-crusted brightly colored creations that I typically avoid like the plague, but I would pick these things for her because clothes shopping is not my true love either and I wanted to be done quickly. Then we would go to GameStop and drool over video games (and usually we left with something too.)
  So this year I was somewhat surprised when the time for school clothes shopping came, because the minute we got into the mall (which has really sucked since all the book stores were closed) my daughter was on a mission. She was going through those clothing racks with a determination that I had never seen before in her pertaining to clothing. I was gobsmacked, to say the least. And she was picking items of clothing that before, she would have never had the option of, because I would never have picked a neon yellow and pink shirt with leather sleeves. Uh-huh, no way, not happening. But she was dead set on having that shirt, and she didn't care that my eyes were bleeding. And that's one of her favorite shirts now; she gets many compliments from you strange, strange people. I am never going to understand fashion.
   Her little ass has suddenly become uber-picky about what she wears, and that became apparent in this year's search for her Halloween costume. She drove me nuts; she didn't like anything I showed her. NOTHING!!! I got so frustrated that I finally told her that if she didn't pick one, we just wouldn't go trick-or-treating this year. She is getting older anyway, and I surely don't mind not tromping around in the rain, knocking on strangers' doors. Skipping that was fine by me, not that I imagined she would ever agree to skip trick-or-treating, but I thought the threat would spur her into making a choice.
   Well, she wasn't going to skip, and gave me massive guilt trips for even suggesting this, but she didn't pick either. I was at my wits end; I know this child wasn't expecting me to make something? The last thing I tried to make was a skirt, waaaaaay back in my junior high days, and the damn thing fell apart while I was wearing it; nightmares DO come true. But she wasn't expecting me to make the costume, thankfully. Just turns out that she hadn't found what she wanted yet. She found that this morning. She is going to be a butterfly; all this trouble for a damn butterfly costume. Whatever, child.
   All I know is this little fashionista is wearing me out. I wasn't expecting this. I was all prepared for boy drama and smart mouths and teenage rebellion; no one warned me that she would turn into a manic clothing critic who had to have her wardrobe and costumes 'just right'. The one thing that hasn't changed about her clothing attitude is that she still refuses to wear white socks. Ones with colors and designs are much better -- who knew???

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why I Think The Arts Are Important In Education

   I am very lucky in my daughter's school system. She goes to a public school, and we all know that often the music and art and creative-type classes are often the first things cut from public educational programs. The focus now is on reading and math, which are very, very important subjects, don't get me wrong. You can all probably understand the way I feel about reading -- so, so important. But I don't feel that this should be at the exclusion of the creative arts. For me, I see these things as things that expand a child's creative process; their imagination. Being imaginative is important in all walks of life; just imagine if no scientist, no doctor, no teacher ever asked the question "What if?", daring to imagine that something could be different. I think without creativity we would become a stagnant culture, never growing, never changing.
   So to me, arts are an extremely important subject. But my daughter's school system has not cut the arts from the educational budget. From kindergarten to fifth grade, she was in a required music class. All the kids were, and they put on concerts as part of the grade, and parents were expected to participate by coming to see the kids sing. I never mind participating in my child's education, in fact, I try to be very involved, and this was a fun way to be involved.
   However, many children are part of a system that have cut music and art programs. The funding just isn't there in all the cases that I know about, and that is a terrible thing. You may not understand the importance of the programs, but in my own opinion they are vitally important. My daughter has had a music program from day one of her education. While she has not had regular art classes, the teachers incorporated art in the learning process, and the kids could earn an extra art class through good behavior, so at the least, the element of art was there. If another reason for art and music is needed besides the expansion and nurturing of creativity, then look at the enjoyment that children have in these activities. The activities can make a child want to actually be in school. If the kids want to be there, and are having fun, they are going to learn much better than a child who desperately wants to be somewhere else.
   I just know that after five years of a mandatory music class, my daughter chose to continue to sing in the choir as her elective. And if she had chosen not to continue in honor choir, there were other musical and art based choices for her. I am not saying that everyone has to be all artsy or musical -- I am neither myself -- but to me, taking that knowledge out of the public education system is a foolish move. Of course, schools are up against budget cuts while having to serve larger and larger groups of kids, so I understand that leaving in the 'nonessential' programs are difficult, but at the same time, they all manage to keep their multitudes of sports teams. Strange that -- not that I am against sports. I am just saying, keep it balanced. Our kids need a creative outlet in their education, just as much as they need physical activity, math, and reading.
One of my daughter's school art projects from elementary. It's still on the fridge too. I love it. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Monorails, Family Excursions, and Seattle

   When I first came to Washington, there was so much that I missed. I missed the heat of the South, I missed the beaches, and I even missed the way people talked. I love hearing a Southern accent; I feel homesick every time I do. However, Washington has become my home as well. There are many things about this area that I have come to love.
  One of the things that I love is going to concerts and ballets and shows in Seattle. I go with my mother and my daughter, and sometimes my sister and her two kids; it's a family thing. I also feel that for the kids, seeing things like a music concert or a play or ballet is something that is very important. I feel that this expands their creativity, but that's a post for another day.
   We go to these shows as a family, and last night, my mother, myself and my daughter went to the Josh Groban concert. We have been to see him three times, and we always enjoy the show. This time, I did not expect to get to go, because with the saving up for the recent Yellowstone trip, I had a tight budget. Unknown to me, my mother purchased my ticket as a birthday present (BEST PRESENT EVER!!!!) so I did get to go.
   My mom works in Seattle, so she is very familiar with the area, thus we rely on her for the navigation of Seattle's busy streets and many sidewalks. One thing that my mother is very firm on is that in Seattle, you drive as little as possible. So we park at a certain garage and we hoof it over to the monorail.
   My mom and daughter and sister and niece and nephew all love the monorail; the monorail scares the shit out of me. Heights, we've talked about how I don't like heights, and the monorail runs on a single track, high, high above the city. Not only this, but the monorail car tilts as it goes along it's demented, merry-ass way. To this side, to that side, and I am doing my best to lean the opposite way that the monorail is tilting. Ya'know, to balance things out. As was the case last night, when my mom and daughter were watching me with knowing smirks on their amused faces. As the monorail slowed, my daughter says in a mock-soothing voice, "Don't worry mom, it's stowing down because we are almost there."
The stage for the Nutcracker ballet. 
   You see, one time, on the way to a performance of the Nutcracker, I really freaked out. The Nutcracker is a ballet that we have been going to see every year, performed by the Pacific Northwest ballet. We LOVE that ballet, but I don't love the monorail. And that day, the monorail was jumping and banging more than usual. I mean, I usually don't hear the thing rattle so much. I guess because usually, the monorail is pretty full, as a major form of transportation in downtown Seattle, but on this day, we had a pretty empty car. So I heard all the little bangs and rattles all the better. And then we slowed to almost a stop, crawling along, slow as a snail.
   After listening to all those bangs, bams, and rattles, I was positive that somehow we have broken down in the middle of the friggin' air. I was freaked, I mean, how were we going to get down??!! And I asked, "Why are we stopping?!" in a panicked manner to my mom. Which of course meant that I was louder than I thought, so the few people that were on the monorail were looking over at me with amusement in their eyes.
   "We're slowing down because we are fixing to stop," my mom says to me, and she's really trying not to laugh. Credit to her, because I probably would have laughed. Which is why my daughter cracked her little quip last night on the way to the Josh Groban concert; my fear of the monorail is a joke between her and my mother, and they love to remind me about the night that I panicked because we were stopping.
   Not that I mind, and I laugh along with them, because as calm and collected as I try to be, there are times when all that just goes out the window, and when that happens -- it's pretty damn funny. Gotta see the humor in things. And the rewards for using the monorail are extensive, we use that to go the space needle, the Seattle Science Center, the ballet, concerts, and so-on. What's a little irrational fear compared to those rewards?

Friday, October 4, 2013


   Recently, as you all probably know, we have been getting my daughter used to her new schedule for middle school. One of the things that happens to be different about her day is that she now takes the bus to and from school. Last year, the elementary that she went to was so close to where we lived that I walked her to and from school every day, but her school now is too far for that. So she walks home every day from the bus stop, which is down the road a bit, at the other end of the complex.
   Now while this seems unrelated, I need to insert here that my daughter is not a big animal person. She doesn't hate them, and she likes to see them; when we went to Yellowstone the past summer she was in raptures over all the bison that wander all over the park, and she picked out two stuffed animal bison to bring home as souvenirs; currently she sleeps with them every night, which happens to be information that she probably doesn't want me to share, but there you have it. That being said, she doesn't like animals that jump all over her or want to be petted or whatever. Namely: dogs and cats. She likes to see them; she doesn't typically want to touch them. And she doesn't want them touching her either; when my sister got the cat that became so attached to my mother that she ended up keeping him, that cat tried to sleep with my daughter and she would have none of him. She even demanded that I start shutting the bedroom door for her so that he would not go in the room; she didn't like him because he would bat at her feet while she was trying to sleep.
   All this might seem irrelevant to the beginning paragraph, because I was talking about school and walking home from the bus stop, but I assure you that her dislike of animals wanting to be petted and jumping on her is very relevant, as you will see in a minute. You see, one of the neighbors often walks her little chihuahua at the same time that my daughter's bus drops off the school kid. This woman is a very nice woman, and her little dog is on a leash, and her little dog is very, very friendly. So friendly that one day, as my daughter was walking home from school, the little dog ran to her and started jumping up and down in front of her because he wanted to say hi.
   The woman said to my daughter, "He's very friendly; you can pet him if you'd like."
    My daughter ran across the road shrieking.
    Yup, you read that right. The woman, clearly not expecting this reaction (who would?), called after her, saying that she wouldn't let the dog jump on her and that she was so sorry and that my daughter could come back. After putting some distance between her and the little dog, apparently my daughter regained her composure and replied to the woman that she was okay and she was sorry and that she would just stay was for now but that she didn't mean to make the woman feel bad and she hoped that she didn't feel bad. The poor woman looked nonplussed, and my daughter looked stressed as well, and me; well I was just trying not to laugh my ass off, because I'm mature like that.
   After I asked my daughter why she did that, my daughter looked me dead in the eye and replied, "I don't like chihuahuas. They are freaky; they freak me out." And refused to talk about the incident further. But here I will state that I have never seen her react to any animal like that, nor anything else for that matter.
   Some people are afraid of rats and mice (me), some are afraid of heights (also me), and some are afraid of spiders (my sister). We all have our phobias. My daughter's biggest fear just happens to be chihuahuas. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Giving In: The New Computer And Why I Am Already Baffled

   My last computer rant was a while ago, but to recap, I basically ranted on about the taped-together wreck that was functioning as my laptop. But money is tight, and I didn't want to dip into my vacation funds to replace what was a very expensive computer that I just feel should have lasted longer, although I have been told that for a laptop, my taped together mess of circuits and wires actually lasted longer than normal. Why the hell to they cost so damn much then, is what I want to know, but I digress.
   The real purpose of the new post is to rant about the new computer that I bought. This laptop, although I guess technically the thing is considered a notebook, whatever the hell difference that is, was a lot cheaper than my last laptop, yet it still cost more than my PS3 did. Go figure. (I like my PS3 better, by the way.) The damn thing is a lot smaller, however, so I started calling it the baby laptop, and it has no disk drive. But I can handle that because there are slots for flashdrives, so  I can save my work. Whatever the size, the baby computer is a lot faster that my wreck-of-a-laptop-that-let-me-down. But my real complaint is not the computer, I actually think it's a good little baby computer; my real complaint is this Windows 8 shit.
   Oh. My. God. Have you ever worked with that system? I don't even understand the way things work anymore.  For starters(<---haha!), I don't have a start button anymore, which was one of the main ways that I accessed programs that  I didn't have shortcuts to. How do I access them now?
   Well, there are these little squares all over my screen called tiles, which is not the shortcuts on the desktop, which has to be accessed from the tile screen by the desktop tile, and they link to all my stuff. Except that for some reason, they keep opening randomly on their own when I am trying to blog or scroll down on facebook. I can't understand why, but all of the sudden, I am off of the internet and I am staring, dumbfounded, at some blue screen with the image of a picture in lighter blue on it while a load sign wheels around and around. And then somehow I am in my pictures, except I didn't want to be here in the first damn place.
   So I have to push my arrow into the corner of the screen, and since I haven't been able to figure out how to pin my Google Chrome shortcut to the (wait for it ---->) Charm menu, I have to go all the way back to the tile page and then I can hit the Chrome tile and get back to where I never wanted to leave.
   Don't even get me started on Charms.... Too late; I'm going there. Lets talk charms. As in charms should only be spells cast in D & D type games when you are playing a spell caster, which I usually never do. True to character, I like to play beserkers. In other words, I don't care for charms, and I certainly don't like things on my computer being named after them, and they are as much a pain in the ass to use on Windows 8 as they are to cast in an RPG. They keep popping up all over the damn place and they don't work right half the time. Sorry, your cast failed.
   All I can say about Windows 8 is that the navigation is not intuitive; I keep ending up in strange and unknown places, and often, I can't figure out how to get back to that place once I have managed to escape. So if I end up looking at something that looks neat, I better mess with it while I am there, because there is a good chance I'll never see it again.
   Maybe this system is really great for some brilliant computer wiz, but for me, this system is a fail. But now I'm stuck with it, and like my former travesty of a computer, I am going to make this one last until the screen is popping off and parts are taped on with duct tape. I hate putting money out on computers; on the other hand, however, the new PS4 is coming out soon. I would dearly love to put some money down on that. Happy thoughts, Marie, happy thoughts. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mailbox Woes

   Last weekend, someone busted open some of the mail boxes at our apartments. People can be wonderful at times. And even more wonderful is the limited action that the complex took on the matter. I guess there was a sign posted on the mail boxes, but by the time I got around to checking my mail, the sign was gone. This was all that they did, so  I was baffled as to why the mail boxes were left open on one side (these are old-style apartment boxes, with one end for the mail person to open and put mail in, and then on the other side, the many little doors for the individual boxes, and it was the mail person's side that was broken.)
   Of course, by the time I got out there, the office was closed, so my inquiries had to wait for the next day, and after I called them up, a Tuesday,  I was informed of the break-in. Call me crazy here, but I think a note stuck on the door of the affected apartments would not have been out of line in this circumstance, especially since we all needed to be aware of the fact that our mail was being held at the post office until the boxes could be replaced. That is what I call critical information. But we weren't notified, and what's done is done.
   My next stress was trying to figure out what packages had been delivered and if anything was missing. You see, I have started my Christmas shopping. This may seem early, but I like to be finished by December 1st if at all possible. Now, rarely am I actually finished by that time, but usually I do have the bulk of the shopping done. And because my daughter tends to go with me every time I go to a store, I do a lot of shopping online. Amazon is a wonderful site; I spend a lot of money there. This online shopping has the bonus of my daughter having no clue what I have bought (I mean, c'mon, how many of you think telling your kid not to peek in the cart actually works? Do you remember being a kid? I would have peeked.) Then there is the fact that I do not have to leave the house. Great perks. I love shopping in my pjs. But I had some gifts in the mail, and I needed to find out whether or not they had been stolen.
   That's not to mention any additional personal information that might have been jacked for identity theft use. Not too happy about that one. I have had my identity stolen, and having to call the bank because you've been alerted that someone is trying to use your card to book a hotel in England, when you are stuck in Washington and have to go to work the next day, puts you in a really bad mood. Trust me; I know from experience.
   Questions towards the office ladies procure the knowledge that they don't know when the mail boxes will be replaced, which means all my mail is on hold until further notice. The silver lining in all of this is that I have confirmed that all of my daughter's Christmas is safe and sound, and is currently stacked in my closet, which is a huge relief. The boxes are not yet fixed, but although taking that hike up to the post office is annoying, at least the rest of my mail is safe.
   All I can really add to all this is that not being able to get my mail has been really stressful for me.  I never knew how much  I took all of that for granted. I will never, ever take the mail person for granted again, I swear! Just deliver my mail again! (That being said, if they took anything at all, they sure didn't take the bills. Hmmmm. Why didn't they want to pay my student loans for me, I wonder???)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Something For The Football Fans (To Mock Me With)

   I have never been into sports. Maybe it's just because I can't understand why a bunch of people want to spend a significant amount of valuable time chasing a ball around, or maybe all my interest is eaten up by my kid, books, and video games. Whatever the reason, that doesn't change the fact that almost every friend I have is a huge football fan, nor does the fact change that every Sunday during football season, my news feed on Facebook fills with football chatter. Not that I am complaining, so don't think that at all, but some of the chatter is stuff that I just don't always understand right away, and that is what this post is going to be about, so don't go away thinking this is a football hating post. This is a Marie-mocking post.
Do they live next to Whoville?
   First, we are going to talk about some Southern friends and their fave team of all time. For a while, I really didn't understand all this Who Dat, randomly posted on my news feed. Of course they sometimes posted Who Dat with a symbol, but honestly, I didn't recognize the symbol. I don't even know the names of most of the teams. And all I could help thinking was that the Who Dat's sounded like something from Dr. Seuss, maybe a town next to Whoville. A sign of all that book reading I do, I am sure. Now that some time has passed, and I've seen the phrase in context,  I understand that this is a phrase for the Saints, but at first, this really was what  I was thinking. I was baffled.
  Then we have the 'dirty birds.' Don't even know who that is, even now, but what I think of is all those crows and seagulls fighting over the trash in our complex dumpster. Have you ever seen a crow attacking the trash? They can get  really creative; they grab a bag of trash, fly up into the air, and let it go. Which often breaks the bag open and trash flies out all over the road. Then the seagulls swoop in and start picking over people's thrown out food, fighting the crows for moldy bread and pizza crusts. I have actually seen them do this, and the garbage looks worse than if a dog had gotten into the dump, especially when the bag snags a tree on the way down, and then you have trash on the ground and up in the freaking tree. So that's my thoughts on dirty birds: trash diving crows and seagulls. I still think of that when  I see dirty bird posts; I can't seem to stop myself.
  Finally, a more recent one was the recent Seahawks game, that happened weekend before last, and everyone was on my news feed praising the '12th Man'. Yeah, I thought that was actually a position, like a quarterback or something. Then I find out that it's something about fans being really loud. Okay. You all like loud people? Come hang out with my sister; she breaks the sound barrier on a regular basis. Loud, louder, LOUDEST.
   I'm sure that football is great; so many people like the game that I have to just be missing something. But I just continually miss whatever that something is. We all know my brain is wired on video games and books, so maybe I just missed the football fan gene. But continue posting your football stats, and I'll continue to post my dorky book and video game stats, and we'll all get along great and laugh at each other.