Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beat The Heat

  This has been a busy weekend for me. My daughter, for the first time, had a sleepover with someone who was not directly related to us by blood. I have volunteered with both the Mom and Dad of the little sleepover friend, so am on familiar terms with both, which makes a difference. And although I was a nervous wreck, my daughter had a blast. And I stayed at my sister's house and annoyed the ever-living shit out of her by complaining every five minutes that I missed my daughter.
   But after picking my daughter up, I wanted to do something fun. I didn't want to go home to my apartment.  The temperature outside is 85, and I know that my southern relatives are all hooting now, because that is nothing to them. But I would like to point out that all of the apartments, trailers, ect. that I lived in down South had central air. Apartments in Washington do not come with any kind of air, and most apartments have issues with you installing a window air unit because they don't look attractive, and in order to draw in new tenets, the neighborhood needs to look as attractive as possible. And my apartment holds heat very well, a boon in the winter, but a curse in the summer. Another issue is that one of my neighbors is very elderly, and has been complaining about the cold, and has been running her heat. In 80 degree weather, and her living room wall is my living room wall. So my apartment has been feeling like it's 95 degrees instead of 85, and I feel like picketing her front door. She is trying to cook us all.
   So to get back to what I was saying before, I didn't want to take my daughter from an awesome sleepover to our oven of an apartment. I needed something fun to do, something that would cool us down. So I decided to go whine to my sister. As the youngest, one of her primary duties in this life is to keep me entertained (Haha! She doesn't agree.) And she came through, because all the kids have new swimsuits, and she thought they might like to go to Steel Lake Park. Way to go Sissy!!
   I love Steel Lake Park because it's free. You can see the cheapskate coming out of me, but free is awesome. Plus, after 12 pm, they have official lifeguards on duty, so that is an extra layer of safety. So we suited the kiddos up, suited ourselves up, and piled into my sister's minivan. You swim at your own risk, because this is a lake and ducks shit in that water and little kids pee and there are all manner of strange creatures. My sister found some kind of freaky fish looking thing with six freaking legs, so who knows what is in that water, but it's free. Free is awesome!!!
    And on getting there, my sister and I proceeded to show the kiddos that they do not have the monopoly on having fun and goofing off. My sister and I spent two hours in the water with the kids, splashing each other, smashing dirt into each other's swimsuits, grabbing the other's legs and trying to pull them under water, jumping on each other's backs unexpectedly, and causing general chaos that had the parents glaring, the children staring, and the life guards keeping us under careful watch. Kids do not have a monopoly on fun when my sister and I are around; we have that monopoly. Everybody just wishes that they had as much fun as we do. What can I say? We can't all be awesome. But if you are somewhere looking for a way to beat the heat, I do suggest looking for the free activities. Because the water parks are awesome, but you don't always have the cash, and if you only want to spend a few hours somewhere in the first place, those entrance fees are a waste of money if you do have the cash. Beat the heat in ways that are free, or have a low cost, like 5 bucks. If you live in my particular area, Steel Lake Park. Free, and with life guards on duty. What's better?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Karate And Self Defense

   I have a funky past; this past has led me to the realization that victimizing women is really easy for some people, and women can make it easier by having low self-esteems and not fighting back. I don't say this to point fingers, or I would be pointing four back at myself; I'm guilty. But when it comes to my daughter, I don't want her to be in this position ever. I want her to have the confidence to stand up for herself.
   So I had been looking into some form of martial arts for a while, but all that was too expensive. I might laugh about my book buying sprees, and talk about buying games, but these things don't happen every payday. They don't even happen every other payday. Hell, they don't even happen every month. My budget can get pretty tight, but what happens is sometimes I work extra hours and get more money that way, or sometimes I manage to get a bill down really low. For example, I have gotten my electric bill down to $50, which I budget $100 to $150 (depending on season) for it usually, so there is an extra fifty bucks (and now you can image me patting myself on the back and giving myself a cookie. Woo-hoo!) Then this extra money becomes my splurge money and that is what I buy books and games with. So a monthly martial arts bill was not something I could afford, at the prices that many places charged.
   Except that the school started offering special karate classes that where unbelievably cheap. They offered karate and cheer classes by this certain group and the classes where really, really affordable. While all the other little girls' moms where eyeballing the cheer classes, I was eyeballing the karate/self-defense class. My daughter wanted to do cheer at first, because some of her friends were doing it, but  I couldn't afford to do both. The classes are cheap, but  I had to go in to work and make myself unavailable to work on those nights, and I didn't find it feasible to do that for both classes. And while usually I do try to listen to her wishes, I am Mom, and I wanted her in those karate classes. My sister also wanted her daughter in the karate classes, so that helped, because she could go to class with her cousin, and would have somebody she knew in the class. After that, my daughter took not doing cheer pretty well; she was still getting to do a class, and there was someone she knew in the class with her.
She is a green belt with a blue stripe.
    I figured that if she hated the class, she could stop after one semester, which aligns with the school semesters, but that she would at least have the basics, because the teacher (Sensei) of the class was teaching them things like how to break out of the hold of a person who was larger than you, and was teaching them this basic self-defense along with horse stance and ready stance and upper punch blocks. So I thought she would at least be able to get away from someone trying to grab her, and that was what  I really wanted, so if she hated it, I would let her quit after she had learned those basics. But she didn't hate karate; she loved it. I even think that now, she doesn't even remember that she ever wanted to do cheer. She works hard on her stances, and she is trying to learn her kata so that she can move on to blue belt. And she has a lot of fun surprising her friends and classmates when they find out she knows some karate. In many respects, my daughter is a total opposite from me, which means that she is a real girly-girl about some things. She is a gamer girly-girl, but still very girly and likes the color pink and likes her shirts to be glittery and colorful, all things that  I avoid like the plague. People don't look at her and think that here's a kid that knows some karate, but she does. And I am happy that she likes karate so well. I feel a tiny bit safer about her well being when  I remember that she is not so helpless. Of course, I don't ever want that tested, but I do have a small (tiny) piece-of-mind when  I remember that she knows how to defend herself.
    And I feel that this knowledge is something that is really important for all kids, not just girls, but boys as well. There are so many people out there, evil-minded people, who don't seem to think twice about hurting a child. I feel that we really have to give them the tools that they need to defend themselves, whether those tools are karate, or boxing, or whatever. Maybe you think that is overboard, but I've seen enough to know that it's not. Hell, all you have to do is turn on the news and pay attention. So my daughter is going to be given every tool that I can give her to survive in this world, and one of those tools is knowing how to get the hell away from an assailant. 

Marie's Advice On Recharging The Old Bio-Battery

   We all get tired and we all have way too much stress in our lives. I don't care what you do, there are things that stress us out and make us tired and we get depressed and bogged down with this roller-costar called life and there are times when you need to learn to take a friggin' break and recharge. In other words, for the purpose of this blog, YOU are the bio-battery. You are the one that holds your life together, the decision-maker, the big boss of your world, and you need a break, okay? Yes, you do, if you are saying no, you are in denial. So I'm going to tell you how to do it, and I recommend doing it once a month, maybe every two months if you are just super busy. I recommend that you get your family in on it, so that they look forward to these days, and learn to participate instead of distracting from your valuable recharge time. Even if you have small kids, I recommend that you try. You days won't go as planned at first, because small kids always come with unanticipated surprises, but eventually, you will get them there. So get started.

Step 1: For a recharge day, you have got to prepare properly. If you work, you are gonna need two consecutive days off, or for a really luxurious day, three. The reason for this is that if you work, you need to do all the non-work work, and usually you need a day off to do that. Stay-at-homers, you need to plan on getting everything done the day before as well, so you are going to have one ultra-busy day. You need to get all the house work done the day before. You need to make all your important calls, pay all your bills, and take care of anything that is weighing on your mind the day before. Do not put it off until the day after, because you know that you will worry about it and that will spoil you recharge. 

Step 2:   You need to carefully plan food for your recharge day. Unless you just really love being in the kitchen, and baking and cooking relaxes you, you need to have easy to prepare snacks and meals. You do not want to follow a strict diet on this day, because being hungry is gonna make you mad, but you don't want to totally pig out, because worrying about eating a whole cake from the bakery is gonna make you feel guilty and make you stress about your weight.
   Personally, I like to have a frozen dinner. Trader Joe's has a wonderful frozen spanakopita, which is a Greek spinach pie. If you are interesting in trying spanakopita and don't have a Trader Joe's near you, Target has a decent option. I like Trader Joe's better, but I do pick them up from Target as well, because I tend to go there more often so it's convenient. Popcorn is a good snack that isn't too unhealthy; popcorn has lots of fiber so it fills you up. My daughter likes hummus, and I like cheese and olives. I also recommend keeping a little chocolate on hand. You don't have to binge on chocolate, but a craving for chocolate can disturb your day, so have a little on hand, just in case. 

Step 3: Do not set your alarm. If your kids are old enough to fend for themselves, then make sure that they understand that either cereal or poptarts or some similar do-it-yourself options are for breakfast, and that they are to get them on their own. If you have little ones, sleeping in is probably a few years away, but let them wake up naturally and try your best to sleep in. No alarms. If you are dealing with some older kids or adults, unless someone is not breathing, bleeding, or in crisis in some way, no one is to wake you up. They need to understand that the consequences will be severe, and that your attitude will be stuck in angry-bear-mode for the rest of the month. 

Step 4: Plan some activities. DO NOT make a frickin itinerary and stick to the thing like glue; that's stressful and no fun. What I mean is to have some movies that the whole family likes to watch, have some video games ready, if your family is into board games, have that ready. DO NOT plan on getting dressed, this is a lazy pajama day. A day at the park is excellent, but something to be done on a different day. Plan stay-at-home, don't get dressed activities, like art projects for the kiddos, movies, book reading, and things along those lines. If you have a good friend that you wanna call and have a good gossip-gab with, a conversation that is completely frivolous, that's fine. Don't talk on the phone with anyone who is going to stress you out, don't answer the phone if work calls, don't pick up for bill collectors, ect. Personally, I am capable of gleefully ignoring all these people, but if you cannot, unplug your house phone and stick the thing in your sock drawer along with all your cell phones. If you like to cook, then cook, but don't do the damn dishes; they will be there tomorrow. If needed, imagine me standing over you and nagging in the most authoritative voice you have ever heard in your life, "Put down the soap and the dish cloth." If dirty dishes bother you, use throw away utensils and plates. You aren't cleaning today.

Step 5: Is optional. If you have a third day, stay up late and sleep in the next morning as well. Nothing feels better than not watching the clock. Staying up late can be as fun as sleeping in, but if you have to work the next day, waking up tired defeats the purpose of a bio-battery recharge, so get enough sleep. FYI: young kids count as work, so you'll need to get to sleep on time. You want this day to help you feel more rested, not make you feel worn out.

   I do this often. Not every day-off, that is not feasible, and would get boring. But I do try to do this once a month, and my daughter loves it! This is my time to teach her how to relieve her stress. We all work on teaching our kids good work ethics, good manners, good social skills, ect., and these are good goals and very important, but we also need to teach them how to effectively relieve stress and take a break, and this is one of my tools. Of course there are park days, and visiting friend days, and hiking days, but this is the recharge day, and has as much value in stress relief as any of the previously mentioned activities. We all need some good couch time in our lives. Plus, if you do have kids or a spouse or whatever, this is a fun and cheap way to have some quality family time. Try it! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Birthday To A Special, Unique Little Girl

   My niece is turning eight years old soon. She's getting so big! I first met her when she was just a baby (duh), and now she is this big girl. And like all people in my family, she is eccentric. Oh, her quirks started showing early. And her imagination is huge! I remember that at one time, she was terrified to go outside at night, and she urgently hushed anyone who went outside while it was dark and started to speak. After a little digging, we found that she had made up a story for herself, and this story had grown into a real fear. She told us that the owls liked to capture people when they went outside at night, and they found you by the noise that you made. And then they would fly you off to their pink castle, and never let you come home again. She was terrified of getting taken to the pink castle! Of course, this is a family joke now, and she no longer fears the pink castle, but what an imagination! My sister and I laughed so hard at this fear (of course, not while she was telling us, that would have been mean.)
   To this day, my niece's quirkiness still amuses. Her favorite TV character is Gollum, and she is terrified of Honey-Boo-Boo. She loves the movie Ghostbusters, and she thought that Life of Pi was hilarious. No one really knows what is going on in that head of hers, but we all know that she marches to her own drum. She gets it honest, is all I can say.
   My niece has this big laugh, a deep, from-the-belly guffaw that makes everyone else around her laugh. She gets this laugh from my Grandpa, but my Grandpa's laugh sounds so funny coming from this little girl. She's an aggressive hugger with a megawatt smile. She doesn't understand the meaning of stranger-danger. Literally, she doesn't get that concept. Sometimes in the area that I live, you will sometimes get men who come up to stopped car's windows and ask for money. Now,  I feel really bad for the homeless, but this is dangerous. There are such things as car-jackers. So the windows go up and the doors get locked, unless my niece is in the car. And then she is trying to open up her window and talk to them, no matter how shady they look, while her mother and I frantically tell her to knock it off. Which breaks her heart. And she sobs, "I just wanted to talk to him!" A very friendly child, which gives us heart attacks.
   She also has a unique way of looking at things. My mother and I took a summer vacation to Mount Rainier, and my sister couldn't go, but my mom decided to take my niece with us. During that time, the girls (my daughter and niece) took a Junior Ranger class, and they were studying owls (this is waaay after the owl/castle incident, so this was not the trigger) by looking at pictures, which my niece didn't like because of the owls' big eyes, and looking through owl pellets. Which are really gross, and full of the undigested bones of their prey. When the girls were done, and the Ranger who was in charge of the class asked the girls to share something that they learned my niece disgustedly replied, "Eyes and bones." Her voice was so disgusted and so mournful that she got laughter from everyone who heard her reply. 
    My niece is truly a one-of-a-kind girl, and from Auntie to her one-of-a-kind niece, Happy 8th Birthday!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cars Are Freaking Expensive And I Would Rather Buy Books

   Today's topic is going to be cars. More specifically, why I still don't have one. I was nineteen the last time I actually owned a car, and I was twenty-three the last time I actually drove. That was a while ago, as I am thirty-one now. I know that I once posted this funny little blog about a squirrel  but there are other reasons -- reasons that are actually more pressing the poor Mr. Squirrel. And those reasons are money.
   Yup. That little rectangle of green paper that makes life go round here in the United States. You all know; you are all right here with me, struggling to pay bills and buy food and all that good stuff that takes cold, hard cash. (Or debit cards and checks. Same difference.)
   Let me outline something for you. First, I have always hated driving. At no time in my life have I ever thought driving was in any way fun or entertaining. Speed scares the shit out of me. Second, I don't mind walking -- most of the time. Now let me add some things up for you. Let's talk car payments. The most expensive one that I have heard of is $500, my mom's was around $400 I believe, and my sister's -- the cheapest -- was around $200, but when she went in and bought her car, she practically bought the thing up front. She only owed a couple thousand more, I believe. So say I had the cheapest car payment. That is still $200!! That is over double my light bill. That is more than my cable bill. That is not more than my grocery bills (damn healthy foods), but it's close.
   Still, say I saved (and saved and saved and saved) and bought the car all up front. Does that mean that there are no expenses? No. Washington has an insurance requirement, I believe. So there is insurance. What is that? 100? 80? I don't know. Not free = too much. Then there is gas. Back when I owned a car, gas was $1.38 a gallon, usually. I remember that, because I was extremely poor, and had to budget very carefully just to afford gas, and I used to spend five dollars a week on gas. A gas tank would laugh at me now if I tried that shit. Then you have your maintenance: oil changes, tires, and all that good stuff. Might not be a monthly bill, but I believe that you are supposed to change oil every three months? I could be wrong. But what I do know is that I can't do it: so not free. Not free = too much.
   Now let me explain something else to you: I have always been poor. At one time, I only made $6,000 for an entire year. Since I am not living in a poor country, things are costly. So I had to budget, and I couldn't buy things like books and games. I couldn't even rent my own place; I lived with my mom. And before I lived with my mom, I lived in a one room shack on a piece of land that was used as a garbage dump with 6 other people, and before that I rented an apartment with two other people, and before that, I rented a room in a house. I did not rent the house, I rented a room, and the common areas were shared by three others who also rented a room, and the landlord, who owned the house. So this is the very first time that I have been able to afford to live on my own, in my own apartment. And this is the very first year where I might actually break the poverty line. I might not be under the poverty line this year -- which makes me happy. But because I cut my expenses and don't go in for things that I don't really have to have -- like a car -- I can live above my economic status. I can buy books and games and afford vacations
My sister's car when we went on a winter vacation in the mountains.
sometimes if I plan very carefully. (This need for caution is why I do not enter bookstores unless I do have money. No browsing for me. I know myself too well for that foolishness.)
    I am good at walking, and my mom and sister help me out from time to time. I used to be good at taking the bus, and I could again, but I need to restock my pepper spray. The last time I was on the bus there were four scruffy men in the back of the bus, and the conversation they were having entailed a couple of men explaining to the others that killing a man was actually better than assault, because apparently if you can reduce your sentence to man slaughter, you actually spend less time in jail. Who knew??? And my brain was thinking, "Ummmm, I want off now. I'm good; I can walk." Also, they have made a mess of the bus routes since they redid them all. But give me a good can of pepper spray, and some time to learn the new routes, and I can do the bus again, although that really isn't necessary now that I don't have to commute to a college campus. (The internet is a wonderful thing.)
   But I am not putting the money out on a car right now. Some things are worth more to some people, and I am going to tell you, in the issue of car versus books, books win. I want my money to go into making my house look like you've just walked into a bookstore. Ahhhhhh, dream big, Marie. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Ramble About Money

   Today, I was checking, because I've been checking all week, because I only got scheduled one day off, and although I decided to roll with it and just work the extra day because I have a vacation coming up and I need the extra money, I am reserving the right to complain about this extra day of work until I am forty. But I digress. I was checking today, was how this story was going, and one of my customers' bill came up to a little over $100, and she had a kid. And that kid's eyes popped out of his little head, and he said in an awed voice, "Whoa, that's a lot of money." And his mom looked at me and we laughed at this little piece of naive childhood, because all of us adults know that $100 in the U.S., that doesn't get you very far.
  But that is also a bit of naivety that I can relate too, and this actually brought to mind a childhood vacation from when I was a child myself. My mom, sister, and I were visiting my dad in Maryland (before they divorced). My dad was in the Air Force (which is why I was born in Japan, because my mom was overseas with my dad when I was born) and for a while, he didn't live with us because he was going to all these overseas places so we went and lived in Mississippi, where he is from, while he did his job overseas. But for a short period of time, he was not stationed overseas, but was in Maryland, so we went to visit him. So I don't suppose that this was a vacation trip for him, but it was for us, and he recognized that, and as a gift upon our arrival, he gave my sister and I both a hundred dollar bill to use as spending money while we were there.
   $100!!! That seemed like a fortune. And actually, to just give that to a kid as spending money, that is a lot of money, but I remember the shock of holding that money. I felt so rich. But even better than this feeling, is my sister's reaction. (Hehe, she's gonna kill me.) My sister was so happy to have that, and so determined that no one was going to take that money, that she took that bill, and stuck the entire thing in her mouth. She figured that no one would want the $100 back if her slobber was all over it. She's such a germaphobe, this made sense to her because she hates other people's slobber, but she was just a kid, so she had no knowledge of how dirty money really is. She is probably highly disgusted that she ever did such a thing. But her taking that money and cramming it in her mouth made my dad laugh and laugh and laugh.
   Of course, now a hundred bucks doesn't seem so much. Buying a game takes over half of that money right away, if you buy it new. And that won't even cover the bill if  I go shopping for books. Don't get me started on the grocery bill -- I try to eat somewhat healthy, and healthy food is way more expensive than junk food. And my daughter's favorite fruit is cherries, the most freaking expensive fruit I've ever bought. A little bag of cherries costs me eight to twelve dollars at the store. Can't that kid like apples the best????
   But I understand that kid's awe (not mine, the customer's), because a hundred does seem like a lot, and I understand the parent's wry  amusement, because what is a lot to a kid, isn't much to an adult. (Although that was a LOT of money to give to a kid just to spend. My dad must have saved up and done without to give that to us.) And the whole point of this blog post might have just been to tell the world that my sister once crammed a hundred dollar bill in her mouth. I'll never admit that though. It's a mystery.....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

She Keeps On Growing Up!!!

   For the twentieth time this evening alone, my daughter has walked into our living room and asked, "You remember that tomorrow is my fifth grade graduation, right?"
   Because I could forget? Every day my own eyes confirm the fact that she is not my little chubby toddler anymore. She is growing like a weed, and there is no denying this fact. But the fifth grade graduation is something that is new to me. I never had a fifth grade graduation; when did they start this? Of course, this is not the shocker that her kindergarten graduation was; that was a real shocker. Celebrate getting through kindergarten? If that is difficult, let me tell you kid, life is gonna be a rude awakening.
   Of course, kindergarten is not what it used to be. I remember kindergarten, and we used to get praised if we just managed to color in the lines. When my daughter started kindergarten she was already expected to know the entire alphabet on entrance and how to count to ten. On exit; she had learned to read and to count to 100. I was like "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???" So I guess that the graduation of kindergarten does deserve comment, because those kids learn A LOT.
    So I knew that this graduation was coming. I've been expecting it. Of course, getting the date was an accomplishment in and of itself. Doesn't the school system realize that a lot of parents have to work and need these dates in advance so that they can make arrangements at work? But we have had all of this worked out, so it's a little insulting that my daughter feels the need to remind me twenty times in one evening. I go to every school function, so it's not like she is worried because I have a habit of skipping out. I think that mostly nerves are causing this questioning. She's so excited to be a middle school student next year! And she has worked really hard to get there. Learning standards in the classroom have gone up from my own school days. I'm sure some of the work I have seen her with is because she is in the HCP class. (Highly Capable Programming, formerly called GATE, which stood for Gifted and Talented Education; why did they change the title? It's a mystery...) But I have seen her bringing home algebra, and then I'm all like !!??!! because I didn't touch algebra until I was in the 6th or 7th grade, and she started bringing it home in 3rd grade. And I know that all the classes take timed math tests. She had tests where she was supposed to answer 100
multiplication questions in 10 minutes. That is amazing to me. Sure, they are not complicated multiplication questions, but nevertheless, I couldn't do it. So I guess that these fifth graders, they deserve their graduation. Because they have already worked so hard to get where they are at, and frankly, we need to do these things if this will encourage them to stay in school. I never felt encouraged, and I was a  high school drop-out. If keeping my daughter from doing the same means that I go celebrate every single day she goes to school at all, then this is what I will do. (It's a good thing that so far, my daughter loves school, because celebrating is expensive. I would need another job.)
   So anyway, this long, rambling post is simply my way of working up to saying:

Congratulations Baby Girl!!! Mom is so proud of you! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moms Don't Get Sick Days

   When you have a job, and you get sick, the expected thing to do is to go to the doctor's, get medication, and if necessary, call in sick. No one wants those germs. But even if you can't call in sick, because you can't afford to and are out of sick time, or you have an important project deadline coming up, or for whatever reason, there is still the expectation that when you get home, you will be able to rest. Take some medicine, get in your jammies, put your feet up and rest.
   This is not the case with moms. Whether single or working, moms don't get to call out. No matter how sick we are, the kids need feeding, housework needs doing, and no one seems to believe that the world will continue to turn if you take a rest. This is true for all mothers; we have all been there.
   This is the truth that I face today. Of course, I have always known this, but I like to complain. And this week has not started off in the best manner. Saturday, I suddenly came down with the cold from Hell, and there was no warning. I was fine one hour, the next hour my nose was a leaky faucet. Are you kidding me??? How did this happen? Well, both my niece and my daughter were sick a few weeks ago, but then my sister caught the dreaded cold, so I made sure to stay away from that sick-o. She can keep her germs, and when she recovered from runny nose hell while I only experienced a sore throat, I thought I had managed to evade that little germ, everyone has been recovered for a while and I was still going strong.
    Nope. No such luck. Saturday, I went from being fine to being sicker than a dog, and so I decided that I needed to stay the night at my sister's apartment, so she could take care of me. (Considerate, right? I thought so, hehehehe <----evil laughter.) But that wasn't really helpful, because we stayed up most of the night watching horror movies, so I didn't get much rest. That Sunday at work, I was miserable. But when  I went home, what did I do? Well, I had to hold off on the Nyquil, because Monday was my daughter's field day. Since someone has been feeding that child Miracle Grow behind my back, she currently only possesses one pair of shorts that fit, which needed to be washed, but she had to have them for field day. So I had to do laundry. She also needed something to eat. Since I am not in the habit of serving up a nice, tasty dish of Miracle Grow, I had to fix her something to eat. Well, I eventually went to bed, and earlier than usual, but then I got woken up because the shower curtain had fallen down on my daughter while she was showering and getting ready for bed, so I got up and put the shower curtain back up. Then someone knocked at the door, so I stormed to the door and opened it only to immediately slam said door in some person's face. I don't know whose, because I didn't really look. In my defense, at this time I was under the influence of Nyquil, and I had only been asleep for less than two hours. I am really a bear when I wake up, so this unidentified person was lucky, in retrospect: I didn't eat him.
   Since I was up and in a pissy mood anyway, I put the dishes in the dishwasher, and then I went back to bed, only to have to get up at seven. I didn't have to be to work until eleven, but there is this little thing called getting my daughter to school that I have to do every weekday. I work shift work, so sometimes I go in at nine, sometimes I go in at noon, and sometimes I go in at four in the afternoon, and every other time between, but regardless of when  I have to go in, I have to get up at seven in the morning to get my daughter to school.
   These are things that all moms are familiar with. Even when sick, we still find ourselves taking care of the family, getting housework done, nursing other sick family members, and all the other little things that keep our homes running smoothly. We don't get to call in sick because apparently if we did, the world would stop in it's tracks. This is being mom; no sick days. Good thing we are a hardy breed, full of strength, the backbone of our species, and it's a really good thing that we love our most important work: our family.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Maggots' Feast AKA Nom Nom Nom (Based On A True Story)

On a lonely road in the dead of night....
   The masked villain, tired from a day of dumpster diving and terrorizing the apartment complex's outdoor cats (even though Washington state does have leash laws, people) takes a peaceful walk home. As he is crossing the road however, he is met by his arch nemesis, and is frozen by his one weakness: headlights. Unable to defend himself, the masked villain is struck down. A concerned citizen sees the body, and calls Animal Control, but little do they know that the Animal Control operative is a deranged lunatic, who chuckles gleefully as he places the body (dun dun dun) right next to the sidewalk that the school children use to get to school.

The next day...
   Our fearless heroine notices the body in the morning, but artfully shields her smart aleck-y daughter from the knowledge that the reaper has just visited a most favored villain. But that afternoon she can no longer hide the knowledge of the death of the masked villain, because some dumb-ass dad (the kryptonite of every mother) has all the school kids in a trance as he pokes the body with a stick.
   "Are you kidding me?!" our fearless heroine shouts at the dumb-ass dad but he just chuckles and continues his morbid exploration. Our fearless heroine pushes a path through the crowd for her smart aleck-y daughter so that they can continue walking home from the daughter's school.
   "Don't let me catch you doing that dumb shit," our fearless heroine snaps to her smart aleck-y daughter as they continue on their way.
   "Yeah, because I always poke dead things with sticks," her smart aleck-y daughter replies.

Two days later...
   The body is still there. Calls to the maniacal Animal Control operative are to no avail. No one knows what to do about the body because they are all citified and are not gonna touch that crap. The school kids just have to hold their breaths as they pass the masked villain's remains. Our fearless heroine and her smart aleck-y daughter are walking to school when they notice that the corpse seems to be shifting oddly. Our fearless heroine stops in confusion.
  "Zombie?" she mutters, mostly just to mess with her smart aleck-y daughter's head.
  "Oh my God, no! Mother! Stop staring at the dead raccoon and let's go!" the smart aleck-y daughter complains.
   Suddenly the corpse erupts and maggots start spilling from the body. Our fearless heroine gives a blood-curdling scream and shouts "RUN!!" at her smart aleck-y daughter, but it's too late. What has been seen cannot be unseen. They will both carry the scars of witnessing the maggot feast for the rest of their lives.
   They come to a rest at the cross walk and the school crossing guard politely asks them how they are doing this morning.
  "Horror...." answers our fearless heroine, still reeling from what she witnessed.
   Her smart aleck-y daughter however, just rolls her eyes. "She stayed up too late last night reading manga," she explains to the crossing guard.
   "Manga?" asks the crossing guard.
   "Yeah, kinda like comics, but from Japan."
   "Dead raccoon," our fearless heroine explains, because how late she stayed up the night before reading has nothing to do with anything.
   "Oooooh," the crossing guard lady says in understanding. "You know, someone should call Animal Control. They will probably come remove it."

The saga continues....

A much lamented villain. Rest in peace masked villain.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hi, My Name Is Marie, And I've Been Addicted To Books For 31 Years

So many, yet, not enough. 
   Okay, if you have been reading my blog posts, you know that I have a serious addiction to the written word. I don't know if you could really compare that addiction to drugs, like my title implies, but this is an addiction. Not a harmful one, but an addiction nonetheless. I see a book that I haven't read, that I want to read, and I am affected physically. My heart starts pounding, I can hear the blood rushing in my ears, my skin gets warm, I tingle...... Okay, that sounds funky, but all the same, it happens. I NEED that book. More than I need food or sleep; my need to read surpassed even my need to game. In fact, my love of gaming started because the stories I found in video games could be every bit as involved and detailed as a story in a book. Final Fantasy VII and Xenogears (gears, NOT saga) pulled me in as deeply as any book ever did, and the main reason that I have those games still is for the stories, not the actual gameplay (although I like that too).
   So when I say that I am addicted to books, I mean I am addicted. I can't stop. Getting them from the library is not good enough. I mean, that will momentarily cure the itch, but I am not just a reader, I am a re-reader. Meaning that if I like something, I will read that something over and over and over again. And I am a fast reader. I finish most books within a day or two. I finished The Fellowship of The Ring in one day. (Incidentally, that is the first book I ever read my daughter. When she was older and cared what she was listening to, I read her Brown Bear, Brown Bear, but I avoided that stuff as long as possible. A newborn only cares that she/he can hear the sound of your voice and feel skin-on-skin contact. She/he doesn't care what silly old Frodo is up to.) So I can read a large quantity of books in a small amount of time. Which is really freaking expensive. My savings account is always in danger of being raided for book money. I know that I shouldn't.......but I have too. I NEED that books. My sweaty palms are burning.
Hazel and Fiver always make me feel better. 
   And books; they comfort me. Watership Down is my comfort book. Whenever I feel too upset to handle things, I go visit Hazel and Fiver. Those are two good old friends that have given the the respite needed in order to regroup and get a handle on problems. Feeling like there is no such thing as romance? Read Pride and Prejudice. Can't stomach the classics? Then read the manga Fruits Basket. You'll believe in love again. Sounds corny, but I rely on these stories. Sure, they are make-believe, but a person made them up, and that encourages my belief in people. We can think up such amazing things, and that makes me happy. So books are also my rock, in a way. No, they don't solve my problems, but they give my nerves a rest, which enables me to think more clearly and more rationally, which in turn enables me to tackle a problem with better clarity and stronger resolve.
My happy little space saver. 
   But really, I need to leave my savings account alone. So I write this blog post with a little bit of frustration at myself, because now I owe my savings a hundred bucks. And that was a cheap book shop, but that darn Amazon, that canny online store had a complete set of a manga series that I have been looking to pick up, and they had the originally priced $140 set for $82 (I took out $100 because I wasn't sure about tax. I suck at math.) That is over fifty dollars off! And if I had bought the books singly, they sell for $9.99, and there are eighteen in the series, so that's $180, so I saved myself a hundred bucks buying them like this. At least, that's what I tell myself. But if I hadn't bought them, I'd still have my hundred bucks in my savings, and not feeding Amazon's profit margin. *sigh* You can't win for losing, and I have lost to this addiction. In truth, I don't want to cure my book addiction at all. I know a ton of people who don't read at all, and I can't fathom not reading. What do you people do?!?! Don't say get out, because I get out too. I go to work and go to the movies and go to the mall and go hiking on Mount Rainier and go away on vacation and do family things with my daughter, but there are still a lot of minutes in life that are filled with not doing any of these things. What do you do in those minutes? Minutes that add up to hours that add up to days. What do you do? I don't understand.

These bookcases where an apartment-warming gift from my grandpa and his wife. Thanks!!!!

*** This is where I add a little note saying that I mean no disrespect to those fighting real addictions. You are all so strong and brave in facing your inner demons. I would never make fun of someone facing that; this was me making fun of myself, because I know that I am ridiculous about books.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tanning Bed Terrors

   People don't seem to get the truth about tanning beds. Just a way to make your skin darker; but I've worked in a tanning salon, and the truth is ugly. If you are truly determined not to stop tanning, you really might not want to read this. But regardless of whether you want to read this or not, I am going to wrtie it. And although you might be expecting another skin cancer rant, I am not even going to talk about that. I am going to talk about the deranged habits of some people, and the fact that if something can go wrong, it will. I am going to talk about piss, periods, and crabs. Happy reading; you've been warned.
   One thing that I hear often is the fact that you can't catch crabs from a tanning bed. Well, while it is true that the UV rays kills them, there are such things as technical malfunctions. Like, what happens if the tanning bed bulbs are not working right, and they do not emit those lusted after skin-darkening rays? Think it can't happen? It did. It has. It probably will again. And we had one pissed off customer and her pissed off husband, and a bed that was undeniably, indisputably infested. We had to take apart that bed and fumigate the entire thing. Personally, darker shin is not worth that to me, but we all know that I have an issue with creepy little crawly bugs that live in hair. I can't see myself surviving crabs. So that leaves tanning beds out for me because I wanna live.
   Okay, so now we have addressed that dread subject, and I am going to move on, because my skin is itching. Wanna know who else gets in tanning beds? Imagine having to go in to work and your main job at work is to wipe those beds down after people have used them. Now imagine that you walk into the room and the bed is covered in red. Guess what that is? Yeah, girls who don't plug it up on their monthly flow. I could never leave a bed like that, but some girls just have no shame. And since all beds are linked to a customer account, we can look at who used the bed last and figure out who left that nasty mess. Some tanning salons allow for walk in tans, and you don't have to have an account, but the place I worked at did not allow that. You had to have an account on file with us, and I think incidents like this were the reason. This woman was notified that if she left a bed in that condition again, we would suspend her account and not allow her to use our beds again, but can you imagine how awkward that conversation was? I'm just glad that I didn't have to be the one to deal with that. There are some places where you really do not want to be a manager, and a tanning salon is one of them.
  Now on to piss! Bet your loving this; this has got to be one of the most nasty blog posts that I have ever written. But working in a tanning salon is the nastiest job that I have ever had, hands down. We had this regular customer, and she would come in and tan and be all friendly, but for some reason, every time she left a tanning booth, that booth would smell like piss, and we couldn't figure out why. People have pissed in the beds before, but this was obviously not happening here. There were no puddles in her bed. I don't know why some people have the urge to piss in a tanning bed, but there are some freaky people out there, and they do this. She was not though, so we couldn't figure out why. For a while, we thought she just had an unfortunate body odor. But we went in and did a complete clean of the room, and we lifted the trash can that was in the room up, and underneath the trash can was a damp spot: a pee-smelling damp spot. She had lifted up the trash can, pissed on the floor, and then put the trash can down on top of it. Are you kidding me?!?!
   I mean, I could keep going. People get really nasty in tanning beds. I am not sure why because these are public places, and what you do in them is not as private as you might think. And these are the real reasons I am never going to get in a tanning bed. Forget cancer, although I don't want that either, the truth of my terror of tanning beds is working for a year in a tanning salon. Those places are nasty. And before you go thinking that I worked in a trashy little place: no. I worked in a nice salon, with the newest beds. These things happened in even an upscale little salon. Happy tanning.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ummmm, Sorry To Burst Your Bubble, But Boys Can Be Teenage Parents Too

   Okay, I have had enough. If one more person tells me that they are glad they don't have a girl because they don't have to worry about her getting pregnant, I am going to explode. The last time I checked, the human species does not reproduce asexually. Meaning that all kids have two parents. Meaning that out there for every teenage mom, there is either a teenage dad, or some statutory rapist is on the prowl. Unless you think all teenage mothers go to the clinic and get artificially inseminated? If so, let us know what clinic they are using, because we need to shut that shit DOWN.
   But the truth is, boys are teenage parents just as much as girls are. So Moms, shame on you for saying this, because moms are sure enough the ones I hear this the most from. What lessons are you teaching your sons each time this garbage comes out of your mouth? Oh, it's okay to walk away from your children because you have a penis? That doesn't fly with me. I know that this attitude doesn't fly with my sister. If my nephew starts running around knocking girls up, he better get some jobs lined up, because she's gonna drag him to the courthouse and get child support and visitation set up herself if he won't do it on his own. But likely, he won't need her to do this, because she is not raising him that way.
   We have a whole shitload of deadbeat dads in this country. We need to stop saying bullshit like this, because if you run around mouthing off this kind of swill, you are part of the problem. My whole rant for today is founded on a woman telling me that she never realized that she would have to help her kids out with  their kids, because she had boys so she didn't think she would have to deal with single parent issues. Um, excuse me? So what exactly where you expecting? You could argue that she expected them to stay married, but then why would she say that she didn't expect to deal with single parent issues because she had all boys? That doesn't sound like a marriage issue; that sounds like she expected that the moms would have the kids and her sons would have little to no responsibilities for them. That's what that sounds like to me.
   So just an FYI to all of you with boys, don't expect this bullshit from me. I have talked the 'safe sex' talk with my daughter, and I have had the 'wait until you are married' talk, and I've talked about how hard being a single mom is and how being a mom, married or single, changes your whole life so that you need to wait until you are ready for that change. But if she does end up as a pregnant teenager, and no one claims responsibility for their half of pregnancy, you can bet that I am going to be getting some court orders for paternity tests for every boy she has had contact with if I need to. You can bet that there will be child support and visitation, because she won't have gotten into that mess alone. Somewhere, some guy was whispering "Baby, I love you" in her ear, and they are gonna take care of their responsibilities. So if your boy knocks my daughter up, don't be sitting there thinking your son won't have responsibilities.
   Hopefully this will never have to happen with my daughter, because we talk about everything, and she's a smart enough girl to learn from her mom's mistakes and hardships, but even if this doesn't happen to her, my point is that this shouldn't happen AT ALL. We shouldn't have this attitude. And guys, I know that this doesn't apply to all of you. There are a lot of you that are excellent fathers, and there are some super crappy moms out there, but you have to admit that society does not view teenage fathers in the same light as teenage mothers, or even single fathers the same as single mothers. Women get a bad rap when it comes to this baby stuff, but my point it, this baby stuff takes two. Lets start laying half of that responsibility where it belongs.