Friday, April 25, 2014

I See Your Crash, Computer, And I Raise You One System Restore, New Anti-Virus Programs, And Some Duct Tape

   I don't know when this war that I am having with technology will ever end. This laptop that I am sitting here typing on is around seven years old, I think. I have to use this one because the new one that I bought LAST FRICKIN' YEAR broke down so completely that I can't even figure out how to turn the biatch on. It's dead. My friend told me that her son takes old computers out and shoots them, literally, as stress relief, and I am seriously thinking of donating one worthless, never-worked-right laptop to the cause.
   But this laptop, as old and junkie as it happens to be, is one that I can somehow manage to keep fixing, even if that does involve many mornings with all my hair pulled out and extensive usage of every single sentence-enhancing cuss word I can think of. At one time, I was thinking that I would never get a Dell again, but at this point, I am thinking, shit, at least I can keep the damn thing running when I do inevitably break it.
   Which leads to now, because, of course, this hunk of junk isn't working right. First, the thing would turn on, but it wouldn't load any of my desktop stuff, so I couldn't see my shortcuts. So I ran some diskcheck thing-y, having no ideal what that would do, and I still have no ideal what it did do, but my screen would load. But they would load sloooooooooooooooooooooow when I tried to open them. I could literally walk away, cook dinner, come back, and the thing would still be loading. So I ran virus programs and did system restores and things loaded faster, but part of my screen popped off and hit me in the head.
   You would think that would make me give up, right? Shit's flying at my head, time to throw in the towel here. But you see, I just got pissed. Started thinking, "Oh, it's on now." I am going to beat this computer. I am going to win. And also, I have duct tape. If you ever grew up in Mississippi, in the country, surrounded by rednecks as far as the eye can see, then you too would know that duct tape can fix just about anything.
   So for now, things seem to be working back to normal, which is still pretty crappy, all things said, but I don't exactly have the money for a new laptop at the moment. You see.... there where some books that I had to have... And now I have them; all 12 of them. I'm broke, but I am pretty damn content.
   But I am dealing with a picky, stubborn ass computer, than my picky, stubborn ass self is refusing to replace (again), so we'll see how often I am actually able to get on the internet and post things. I have a feeling that in the next year or so, I am going to have no choice but to replace this monster, but I am gonna hold out until the bitter end this time.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

99.9% Germ Free, And Why I Get To Finally Feel Justified About My Lack Of Cleaning Skills

   I did it again; I opened the door to a man with a clipboard. What is this weird obsession that I have about opening the door to people with clipboards? I don't understand. But I digress, this man with the clipboard was claiming to be some kind of salesperson for a carpet cleaning company and what he wanted was to be allowed to come in and clean a section of my carpet for free as a sample of his work.
   Of course I said no. I am not a very trusting person at all, and there is no way in any kind of hell that I am letting some random stranger from some random company come into my home. I barely let friends and family come up in here. This is my space. If I were a cat, I'd spray the whole apartment down so bad you could smell the stench the next state over. Which is really gross, I admit, but the point is here, that I am a territorial person and there was no way that this man was coming in my apartment, even if my carpet could use shampooing like you  wouldn't believe.
   I think I have talked about the fact that I am no housekeeper. I hate to clean. I don't want to live in filth, so I keep my apartment picked up enough so that strange new life isn't forming in the fridge and the toilet bowl, but that's about as good as it gets: no strange new life forms. I think the last time I dusted was, well, when I first moved in. Wait a minute, about three months or so ago, my sister came over, and she wrote 'Wash Me' in the dust on my bookcase, and I did dust enough to erase her little love note. So if dusting off the words on a few shelves counts as dusting, then I dusted three months ago.
   I am waging a war with the pine needles that like to track into my apartment on the bottoms of people's shoes, so I actually vacuum quite often, but I don't know what the deal is with these pine needles liking to be in my apartment, because my carpet can start resembling the forest floor about five minutes after vacuuming; I don't get it. I do laundry about once a week, and my mom once told me that watching me take laundry out of the dryer was like watching clowns come out of those little tiny cars; they keep coming and coming and you wonder how they all managed to fit in there. I admit that I wash rather large loads, but that's only because I hate laundry with a passion; more than any other cleaning chore --  more that even scrubbing out the toilet. Larger loads = less loads. I do dishes regularly too; no new life forms in the sink either, but if I happen to have a large amount of company over, I make them all eat off of paper plates. I have no desire to wash massive amounts of dishes, even if I do happen to like the people eating off of them.
    What's the point of all my running down my list of cleaning habits (or lack thereof)? Well, the other day, my mother, who also happens to have like around twenty or so years of nursing experience was telling me that all those little anti-bacterial cleaning products, you know, the ones that kill 99.9% of all germs, are breeding super-viruses, or something like that. All this germ-free existence is: 1) not giving our immune systems a lot of practice fighting shit off, and 2) bacteria are evolving to be stronger than ever because we are giving them plenty of practice fighting. So this woman, who gave birth to me, who has known me for the whole 32 years of my life, is sitting there, in all earnestness, lecturing me about using too many anti-bacterial products, and telling me soap and water is just fine, and I am looking at her, saying "Mom, seriously? Nothing in this apartment is 99.9% germ free. I think our immune systems are getting plenty of practice here." She did concede the point; I think my sister better prepare herself for that lecture, because mom's preaching to the choir here.
    But regardless, maybe the next time some random carpet cleaner comes over to your house offering to clean your carpet, you should think of super-bacteria, and not let him in. That, or the fact that he just might be an ax-murderer. Either way, you're gonna die, so just make him stay his happy-ass outside. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mom Versus Mom - When Will It End? (Part Second)

   Sometime last week, I had someone really hurt my feelings. Someone I admired, someone who probably honestly just thought they were helping: just giving some friendly advice. What they did was they just talked to me about how much better a stay-at-home mom is then a working mom. Better because a stay-at-home mom is home with the kids more, and so the kids are not neglected like a working mom's kids are; better because they home school, so their kids are more educated then my child, who goes to a public school; better because they are more nurturing, more hands-on, and that I really should be that way as well.
   This did really hurt my feelings, because I am a working mom. I have to be - either that or be homeless. Or, about eight years ago, I could have decided to remain in an abusive relationship that was harming me in every way possible, so that I wouldn't have to be a single mom. Considering my choices, I believe that I have made the best choice possible. But regardless of whether anyone agrees with that or not, all I can do is say: my daughter is not neglected. She is taught morals and ethics -- by me, not the TV, or the babysitter, or the public education system. In short, I do my best.
   Yes, she is in public school, but she is in a pretty decent one, and I talk to her everyday about her day in school, and sometimes, I even volunteer. I do my best, and while I am not against homeschooling, for us, that was never an option in the first place. I believe that academic teaching requires a certain skill set, and frankly, sometimes I still have to add on my fingers. I am lacking that skill set required. Now, I agree that there are some teachers in the education system who unfortunately are lacking that skill set as well, but I keep a close eye on my daughter and the work she does, and what she is learning, and if she still likes school, and everything that I can possibly think of that might signal that she has run afoul of one of these teachers who should not be teaching. But my daughter's education is proceeding nicely. She is a smart girl, and she knows she can talk to me, and I have some high hopes for her future, and my working is not infringing on those hopes. In short, I do my best.
   Sometimes I am not home. Sometimes I am at work, but I check up on her throughout the day. She always knows when I am supposed to be home as well, and I am never late, sometimes to the dismay of my supervisors, who just really wish I could stay late because we are slammed. Sometimes my scheduling requirements means that I get the short-end of the stick when it comes to hours, but I do my best not to complain, because I am capable of creative budgeting and in the end, I am really grateful that I work for someone that understands that I am mom first, employee second, and the job keeps my daughter fed, under a roof, clothed, and insured. I have to be the nurturer and the money-earner all in one, but I am always there when my daughter needs me, because whatever job I work, I am Mom first. In short, I do my best.
    I have argued before that we need to stop judging each other as parents, and stop with the one-way, and one-way only mentality that we have towards parenting, but sometimes it just really feels like we are never going to stop. I could have gotten on here and argued why my way is better, why my daughter is learning independence, critical thinking, and how to interact with the real world, but in all reality, that's as much a crock of bullshit as the saying that my daughter is not as nurtured or as well educated. We all parent according to standards that best meet the needs of our lives, and that is the only way to do this thing called parenting. A mom who wants to stay home should not feel like she is less than a working mom, and a working mom should not feel like she is less than a stay-at-home mom. One does not negate the other. One does not take away the value of the other. Different does not mean wrong, and that is the message that I want to get across here. Different is okay. And even though we may differ in our methods, one thing remains the same - we all just do our best.

Mom Versus Mom: Just Plain Wrong (link to the first blog post that I did on this subject, written 1/23/13)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Eat Door-To-Door Salespeople For Dinner

   You know what really bugs me? I mean, really, really bugs me? Those people who go door to door peddling whatever they are peddling, whether it's religion, cable service, cookies, or whatever. Do you know why these people really bug the hell out of me? Because whenever you tell them no, you are not interested, they still don't shut the hell up and go away. Then you are forced to either be a jackass and slam the door in their faces, or be a complete asshole, and just tell them straight up, "Go the hell away. I don't want your shit."
   I had this problem today, which really irritated me. I am sitting there, minding my own damn business, I have my beef stew cooking, and I'm so into the game that I am playing (it IS my vacation after all) that I haven't checked it yet. It's fine, right? It's in the crock pot, of course it's fine. But then I hear a knock at the door, and since I have some stuff coming through UPS, I get up and look out the peephole.
  I don't know if any of you wear glasses, but so far as I am concerned, those peepholes are not made for people with glasses. I can never see out of them very well, and since I am blind-as-a-bat without them, taking my glasses off helps nothing. Which means all I can see is that the person is holding something that could be one of those little scanner things that you sign, that the UPS carries, so I opened the door. It was someone trying to sell me internet, and they were holding a little clipboard. Really? Like I am gonna buy your shit? Leave a flyer on the freaking door, so that I can throw the bitch away at my leisure, and lets not waste either of our time. I have games to play here. I have an entire afternoon to waste, because I am on vacation. Don't fill up my wasted time with your door-to-door sales pitch. Wasted time might seem like, well, a waste to you, but I am a single mom. The amount of time I generally get to waste is typically very, very small. I value my wasted time, dammit!!!
   Okay, so it's not all a loss. One time, I had did have some religious people coming around here. I am not entirely sure why I answered the door at that time. Maybe they were holding a clipboard too. For some odd reason, I feel compelled to answer the door when someone is holding a clipboard, and I am gonna work on that issue, but I digress. These people wanted to save people. While I am religious and believe in God, I am not really a huge fan of organized religion, and I certainly am not walking into any strange-ass churches being peddled by door-to-door preachers, or whatever they are. But these people didn't really want to leave - I guess the had a quota to fill. They asked me, finally, in apparent desperation, after I had said no and was starting to shut the door on them, "Don't you know anyone who wants to be saved?" Wait, wait, wait. Anyone? Before I had really even had time to think about what I was doing, I gave them my sister's home address, who also happens to live in the same complex as me, so she was really easily reached. My sister, who has life sized zombies plastered to her wall, and a neat-o skull-and-crossbones with daggers sticking out (my mom gave it to her for her birthday) hung up all right in plain sight of the entry way. She once had a pizza guy want to come in and explore her apartment because he saw all that shit. My sister, who unlike me, really is an atheist. "Here's my sister's address. She needs God." I told them, while trying not to start cackling madly.
   I can't help doing shit like this. There's something wrong with me; I never denied it. But now that I think of this, I am realizing that I have not had door-to-door religious people knock on my door since. I think I owe my sister dinner. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bad News, Cashier-Brain, and Books (Yay! Books!!!)

   Currently, I'm on vacation, or staycation, because we are just staying home in our apartment, with no travel plans, nor any other plans, come to think of it. The only hard and fast plan that I did have was to go see Divergent, and to spend the night at my sister's and watch some scary movies, and I've done both (I loved Divergent!). So I have a line of empty days ahead of me and my daughter, who is on spring break.
   And that's a good thing, because I was seriously suffering from a strong case of cashier-brain. I was seeing PLU numbers (price look-up codes) every time I shut my eyes. I was hearing that blasted beeping even when I had left the stores, and my last two vivid nightmares had both been about work. That's too much; that is a sign. Marie needs a break, clearly written across my psyche.
   Of course, come time for me to take my break, everything starts happening. I have had a shit-storm of bad news that I can't really do anything about, which is one of the worst types of bad news there is. Not being able to do anything kinda makes you feel like a glass of ice water in the North Pole: redundant. All I can do, over and over again, is say how sorry I am and that I'll pray, when I would much rather charge in, fix everything, and have us all live happily ever after. But all I can do is sit here and worry.
   And then on top of that, every nuisance task that can manage to rear it's ugly head comes along, such as having to fill out paperwork and provide documentation that your daughter really is your daughter, so that your insurance won't drop her as a dependent on your coverage. I mean, yeah, that's easy enough to prove, but I didn't exactly want to take time from my worry and fret to mess around with my damn insurance, for a matter that I think is a bunch of bullshit at any damn rate. Even if my daughter wasn't my daughter, I still feel that I should be allowed to cover her on my insurance if I want to. But she is my daughter, so the whole mess is just minor aggravation that I'm just shrugging at.
    But this is my vacation, so I am making effort to do things that I like, so last night, I stayed up and read Night Broken, which is book number eight in the Mercy Thompson series, and which also happens to be my most favorite urban fantasy series ever. I love Patricia Briggs, and yes, I did sit down and read the book from start to finish, secure in the knowledge that I am on vacation and would be able to sleep in. Most times when I sit down and read a book from start to finish, I read with the guilty knowledge that I am going to be a cashier-zombie in the morning.
    My daughter's pretty happy as well, because since we are on vacation, I just feel that she should have new material to read, so she's been coming to me with her Kindle, waiving the thing in my face with books already pulled up on the screen and ready to purchase, begging with her puppy-dog eyes, "Momma, please? Please, Momma?" I'm a sucker for this type of request, so she has scored The Fault With Our Stars, and all three of the books in The Maze Runner trilogy, so far. We are not even halfway through our vacation. She knows that when she asks me for a book, getting a yes is almost guaranteed, unless I truly am broke, and then, I guess I am lucky that she's a good kid, and doesn't give me a hard time about getting a no, because I know that I have spoiled her so far as getting knew books are concerned. I don't feel too badly about this, because I also know that I can be very strict about other things, and I do feel that while we really need to provide rules and boundaries for our kids, a small amount of spoiling never hurt anything, especially when you are talking about books.
   I did think I would write a little more than I have, but honestly, right now I am at a bit of a loss for topics. My mind keeps circling around that bad news that I have received -- my damn mind is like a freaking vulture and it's pissing me off, but what can you do when you get pissed at your own mind? And these topics are topics that I don't really feel at leisure to discuss, because frankly, they aren't my business to discuss, and if there is one thing I want to avoid, being the writer who writes about everyone else's business is one of them. I do NOT want people - friends and family - to feel like they can't talk to me about private things because they are worried they will show up in my blog. But at the moment, this does leave me without a topic, and thus you all get treated to this wandering ramble.  Happy staycation to me, and if nothing else, may I be cured from the cursed cashier-brain. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Sister's Freaky-Deaky Laundry Room

   My sister and I had another scary movie sleep over the other night and we had it at her apartment; having sleep overs at her apartment is something I am seriously beginning to question. The logic behind having most of our sleep overs at her apartment rather than mine is that I have a one bedroom apartment with limited sleeping space, and her rather roomier apartment has a multitude of extra beds, including a trundle bed that pulls out from under her bed and two couches that convert into mattresses. I have a futon and an air mattress, so her sleeping arrangements are often more comfortable as well. So logically speaking, her apartment is the better one to have sleep overs in when we are doing our scary movie thing, and scaring the crap out of ourselves and each other.
    However, I am not a logical person; I admit this freely, and the problem I have with her apartment is this: her apartment is very clearly haunted, and mine is not. We can all sleep in my apartment on the floors, and be free of ghosts and demons; that is my logic. I wanna live, dammit.
   How did I come to this conclusion about her apartment, you may be asking. This conclusion is from over a year's worth of careful observation. You see, when she first moved into that apartment, I didn't go into her home with preconceived notions, but after the first time I slept over, I had woken often, on my nice, comfy full sized couch bed, with the feeling that something had been standing over me. I don't know why I felt that way, but I did, and I didn't get much sleep. Of course, I did brush this off at first, because the entire reason that I stay over at my sister's apartment is so that we can watch horror films. I was paranoid because of what we had just watched, right?
   Wrong. When I joked about my feelings on facebook, making fun of myself as I often do, a friend who had once lived in the exact same building as my sister told me that family members of hers had seen and sensed things in that building. (singsong-voice --->) FREAKY!!!
   But whatever, you know. Almost every building in this complex probably has some kind of history; these buildings are old, that's why they are cheaper than every other complex in this area. Be that as it may, this complex does not have any kind of a disturbing, paranormal reputation, so I figured we were good. People talk; if there was some really freaky shit going on in one of these buildings, we would know.
   Still, my sister would complain to me about seeing things out of the corner of her eye, but when she would look directly, nothing would be there. She would hear things in the hall at night, but her kids would be in bed, things like that. You know, common shit that you see in every single cliche haunting movie. So I really couldn't decide whether or not we were just spooking each other. Active imaginations can feed off of one another, and we both have very active imaginations that we are feeding constantly with supernatural horror movies. Of course we are seeing shit. If we stopped watching horror movies, we would stop seeing crap out of the corners of our eyes, a problem that I do not have in my own apartment, but still.
    The thing that really pushed me over the edge was when we were leaving to go on our Yellowstone vacation last summer. I had stayed the night at her house the night before we left for that vacation, because we wanted to get an early start, and I figured that this would be easier if we were just all at the same place in the morning. Less travel, you know? My sister had someone who was going to come over during that time to take care of her guinea pig, so she wanted me to set our dirty clothes in the laundry room so that they would be out of the way when the person came over, which I did, no problem. However, when we came back from our trip, I went over to pick up our overnight stuff from her apartment, and I could not open the door. The door knob felt like someone was holding on to it from the other side, and pull as I might, I could not get the door open, and it felt for all the world like someone was pulling on the door from the other side!
    That's all the convincing that I need. I left my stuff; that old haunt wants some dirty overnight clothes, it can have them. I hate laundry; I am sure as hell not gonna die for it. I WILL BUY NEW SHIT. If the ghost/demon/whatever wants some nasty, dirty clothes, who am I to say no? It can have them.
    I still go over there, although I have made stronger attempts to have any sleepovers held at my own apartment. When I do go over there, all the kids sleep together in one room, and I make my sister sleep in whatever room that I am in; we use the buddy system. No one goes anywhere alone! And I make sure that the damn laundry room door is shut. I can't handle looking into that room.
   But if any of us ever start exhibiting signs of possession, that laundry room needs to be investigated first.