Monday, November 15, 2010

Secrets, secrets, are no fun

Today is one of those days when I feel isolated - not just physically but mentally & emotionally. No one knows my secrets. Normally that would make me feel smug but today it makes me feel lonely. I get so tired of not speaking, keeping my thoughts to myself. I guess it's better than spewing venom but I wonder if I'm coming across as bland to people who don't spend a lot of time with me. By not voicing an opinion maybe I appear too stupid to have one. Interesting.

There are things about me that aren't pretty, beyond the occasional mood swings. And I feel like I don't have anyone in my life that can accept those ugly things. Even my siblings couldn't handle hearing about them. Religion, for example, has become more and more strange to me. I can't talk about it with anyone and sometimes I really want to. Instead I patiently endure co-workers gushing about their kids accepting Christ or the new Christian rock band that I just have to hear. I don't know how to respond to that.

Sometimes I have the oddest thoughts. I drove home tonight happily munching on a steak burrito from Chipotle when it suddenly struck me how casually we kill. To live is to make others die. Cows, chickens, fish... all must be sacrificed to feed the dominant humans. Will that thought turn me into a vegetarian? Probably not - and I feel guilty about my callousness. But guilt is good. It's both a virtue and a luxury. And now I feel pretentious.

I suppose I should try to expand my circle of friends and meet some people who have more in common with me. It's kind of a strange niche: formerly religious and still moderately conservative but with liberal leanings seeks same for deep conversations and zero possibility of intimacy. That's a winner. The problem of course is that I can't stay interested in deep conversations for very long before apathy kicks in. I like to discuss, I don't like to argue. Maybe that's the problem right there. I would rather keep quiet than risk starting an argument.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's pronounced "hallow", not "hollow"

Time really flies when you're not having fun. It seems like October just started and already it's Halloween. For the last month my days have followed the same dull pattern: the alarm clock at 7 a.m. is ignored until 7:45; I rush around preparing for work and dash out the door around 8:40; arrive at work by 9 to sit in front of a computer screen for the next 9-10 hours; leave the office between 6 and 7 p.m.; feed the cats, watch TV, go to bed around 11. Rinse and repeat.

Fortunately, I'm planning another vacation in a few weeks. I'm going to stay with my sister Two over Thanksgiving. This will give me an opportunity to see my best friend's new house, which she purchased in July. I will probably leave with a severe case of design-envy, as the only thing I've really done to change the appearance of my house is tearing out the lilacs this summer. I'm excited to see my nephews and my sisters again. Nine will be there too and she has big plans for a Cheesecake Factory coupon. Yea!

In case you were wondering, I needn't have worried: Dizzy bombed her interview. When asked why she applied for the job she responded, "My boss told me you had 3 openings and I should apply." Um... the correct answer would have been something along the lines of "I enjoy working with numbers" or "I'm looking for a new experience to grow my skill set". We are getting a new hire tomorrow. I hope I get along with her. I hope she doesn't outshine me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dizzy

I've worked for the same company since early 2004, although technically I was a temp for the first 13 months so on paper I've only worked there 5 years. In that time the company has changed names twice and I have changed job titles 6 times. When I was hired into a permanent position I interviewed replacement temps with my supervisor. I didn't like the girl she selected. Not at all. She was a bubble-headed redneck who giggled in the interview. A lot. But the guy I wanted to hire turned us down so we took a chance on "Dizzy".

Fast-forward 5 1/2 years and Dizzy still works as a temp in that department. I worked beside her for 18 months before changing departments. She wasn't terrible but she had limited software skills and no inclination to improve them. It frustrated me because I am the type who likes to learn shortcuts and find ways to improve processes. Dizzy did things the hard way. She was slow to pick up new systems and was often scrambling to fix her mistakes.

I lost whatever respect I had for Dizzy when I had to start dealing with her as an end-user. The girl asked the same questions over and over. She couldn't retain anything we told her. The final nail in the coffin was when she accidentally tagged a record to be deleted and, not knowing how to correct her error, she told an outside vendor they had to recreate the file and asked my department to delete our version of it. I explained to her why this was a bad idea and told her how to re-import the file from our system. A week later Dizzy emailed asking us to delete a "duplication" that occurred when the vendor recreated their file. I was spitting mad. I still am, a little bit.
 
My old supervisor loves her. I can't explain why. She wasn't allowed to back fill when I left the position. I think she feels guilty about not hiring Dizzy permanently because every time there's a job opening in my department I hear from her. The funny thing (to me) is that I never hear about how qualified Dizzy is, just that she deserves to be hired because she works so hard. Yeah. If she were a little smarter she wouldn't have to work so hard.

Fortunately, in my last department the supervisor knew the kind of dingbat we were dealing with and swore she would never hire Dizzy. But now there's an opening in my new department. I saw Dizzy's resume in the pile of candidates to be interviewed next week and I nearly choked. This group has never worked with her but some of them know her from taking smoke breaks together. They may even like her. I told our Lead a little about her and why I didn't think she would be a good fit. I don't know if that was an ethical thing to do or not. I really don't want to work with her again. I might go crazy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rules to live by

I worry sometimes that I might have an anxiety disorder - and yes, I do realize how funny that sounds. I also worry that I might be a hypochondriac. Don't act so surprised, I've mentioned before that I might be insane. It's not that big a stretch. Insanity runs in my family; it practically gallops!

Anyway, I was thinking the other day about the various rules I create for myself. Rules like "always take the first pair of underwear in the row so you don't wear out one pair faster than the others". Oh, and "arrange your underwear in a row so you always know which pair was laundered last". Then there are rules like "never waste a trip", i.e. taking everything you need downstairs with you so you won't have to come back upstairs to get something. Or "always put the bleach in first and the fabric softener in second, then measure the soap, turn on the water and pour the soap in last". It's a HE machine, this insures that all the soap gets washed out of the dispenser and doesn't get deposited undiluted on my clothes... Never mind.

All of the examples above relate to laundry, probably because I just did my laundry and the rules are fresh in my mind. There are also rules about cooking and cleaning and spreadsheet formatting and query writing and email management. The rules themselves aren't all that interesting. What strikes me is how I freak out if I deviate from them. There are times I have remembered something I needed halfway down the stairs and become frozen with indecision about which is more efficient; going back up the stairs to retrieve it or putting away whatever it is before going up again. I get a feeling of fear and tension because I'm doing it wrong and someone might find out.

My rules aren't limited to work and chores. Sometimes I script conversations in advance, then later I replay them (sometimes out loud - sometimes out loud and in public) and agonize over what I did or did not say. I find myself listening to people while a voice in my head says "nod, smile, make eye contact, hold, break, say 'uh huh'..." etc. Later there will be a mental browbeating over not asking the right follow-up questions or for directing the conversation too much to myself. Ugh. So much anxiety!

In the face of all these rules I often feel overwhelmed. It's easier to NOT clean the house because I know I won't do it correctly. I will move knickknacks in the wrong order, thus extending my dusting to 5 minutes instead of the optimum 3. I will run out of clean mop water 3/4ths of the way through and be faced with the prospect of wasting a bucket of water. I will start in the wrong place, crumple the previously ironed part of my shirt and have to redo the sleeve or yoke or whatever.

I don't know if I have a conclusion for this post, other than I think I understand how people can become obsessive-compulsive. I don't think I'm there yet but if my tooth-brushing ritual is any indication, I could be heading in that direction.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I need a vacation

I feel like I took a huge step backwards at work this week. I was super busy and I didn't get half the things done that I wanted to. On top of that, I made quite a few people mad at me and it will probably take a few weeks (or months) before they like me again. It's my own fault, really. My job is to analyze commissions that we pay our sales reps. This week I noticed some errors in the sales data and, not having enough to do already, I started digging deeper. After 3 days of auditing and compiling data I had the odious task of informing the reps that I was reducing their compensation by a few thousand dollars. Most of them were out of the office on Friday so I am bracing myself for a shit storm on Monday. Oh well, what can I do? Having found the problem I am now liable for resolving it. That's the job. Yea.

I still haven't bought a plane ticket for Seattle. I haven't flown since the summer before I had my thyroid removed and I've gained a bit of weight since then. Now I'm afraid I'll be too fat for a single seat. I don't want to buy a second ticket if I don't have to but I also can't rely on the airline having an empty seat beside mine. I've considered flying first class or business class - the seats are supposed to be bigger, right? - but I don't how one purchases that kind of ticket. Everything I see on Travelocity, Orbitz & PriceLine is economy/coach class. Those sites don't really address morbid obesity in their FAQ sections either and it's kind of embarrassing to ask a call center employee.

The cats are another issue I need to sort out. They would probably be happiest staying here with someone dropping in to feed them. I don't really know who to call for that, though. The last time I left town a co-worker took care of them. In return, I took care of her dog and cat when she left town. That was 18 months ago. She left the company over a year ago and she hasn't spoken to me in almost as long. I think she's mad because I told another co-worker I thought her husband was a jerk (he is) but she never confronted me about it. Seems awkward to call her up now. Anyway, I'll figure something out.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another to do list

In no particular order, here is a list of things that I really need to do. These are things that keep me awake at night and make me feel guilty during the day. Procrastination is a real bitch sometimes!

Take advantage of the free counseling offered through work
Get rid of the weeds around my house
Plant something where the lilacs used to be
Add insulation to my attic
Decide if I'm going to Seattle in three weeks
Buy tickets for Seattle or buy a new AC and furnace
Get new light fixtures for the kitchen, upstairs bathroom and living room
Replace sheet rock in the laundry room and downstairs bathroom
Replace the tub and shower in the upstairs bathroom
Paint the interior of my house
Pick up calming pheromones for my fur-chewing cat
Buy new pants, shoes and tops
Lose 150 pounds
Go to the doctor
Find a reasonable excuse not to go to former friend's baby shower
Clean the interior of my car
Vacuum, dust and sweep up dustbunnies
Make a budget
Take advantage of the free financial planning offered through my bank
Have the cats' teeth cleaned
Look for another job
Shred junkmail
Write in my journal
Read more books

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hello, goodbye

In the last 3 months we have lost 3 people at work. It's a bit strange because I feel like I'm still the newbie, still learning who people are and what they do. It doesn't seem right to be saying goodbye so soon after saying hello. Truth be told, it makes me a little anxious. What are they seeing that I'm not? Are they jumping ship before it sinks? I sure hope not.

Last night we had a farewell party for my supervisor - the man who interviewed me last October and talked about the sci fi book he was reading, who then called me in late December to offer the job after I had already received notice that I didn't get it. He's leaving to be a consultant for the company that provides our IT support. I found myself near tears several times yesterday and was baffled by that. When I left the party he hugged me and said, "I'm glad I hired you."  That really made me choke up! I guess I'm afraid that whoever replaces him won't see in me what he saw. I have flaws and insecurities, I gossip, I'm impatient. I'm afraid my next supervisor will be as critical of me as I am of myself and that's a scary prospect.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why I'm still single

Among other reasons, I believe I'm still single because I'm intolerant.  I'm fairly intelligent and I want to date a man who shares my intellect.  Unfortunately, at my age and shape, almost all of the guys I attract are idiots.  This is compounded by my own insecurities. I don't think I'm very attractive, ergo anyone who is attracted to me must be 1) stupid or 2) out of his mind and is thereby disqualified as a potential mate.  I'm probably also a bit overly analytical, as illustrated by the scenario below:

This week I had several IM conversations with a man that I work with but have never met. He had the audacity to look me up on Facebook after a work-related email exchange, then sent an instant message asking if I'd gone to "Religious University".  As it turns out, he was raised in the same church that I was.  I told him I haven't been affiliated with that church since college but I think he glossed over that part and dived straight into mission memories.  Whatever, I don't agree with sending naive young men out to sell their parents' religion to the masses, but in my family I do think some good came of it because my brothers learned to live on their own rather than staying at home for the rest of their lives.  So, share your lovely mission memories if you want to, just don't be surprised if I tune out when you talk about faith & miracles.  I digress.

Said man is a married father of 2.  That fact coupled with the tenuous religious connection (not to mention the fact that we're chatting at WORK) led me to believe the conversation would be clean.  I told him a little about the northwest Missouri church branch my parents attend.  He looked up some members in the area and commented about a few excommunicated people he found.  Harmless, I suppose.  Then he found my mother's website advertising hormone therapies and asked if she could get him "horned up".  Excuse me?!  I told him that topic was not appropriate for work and ended the conversation.

Yesterday he was chatting with me again.  I tuned him out for most of the day but he did say something else that annoyed me.  This time he asked what I did in the time that I was laid off.  I said I watched a lot of sci fi.  He said, "Wow, I'm not that geeky!" to which I replied, "No one's perfect."  He responded, "You're probably the first woman to ever admit that."  End conversation.

After these two comments, I'm left with the sense that my coworker is a chauvinist and a pig.  He made a generalized statement that women consider themselves perfect but aren't.  Is that really how he feels about women?  How disgusting.  And why would he ask if my MOTHER could get him horned up?  You just don't say that about people's mothers!  Especially not when you're married and especially not at work.

If he knew I thought this about him he would probably call me "stuck up" or "overly sensitive".  I don't really care.  But even though I wasn't flirting with him or entertaining the idea of dating him (married pig), I can see parallels between this interaction and the ones I've had with single guys.  Why do some guys think insulting a woman will make her like him?  Is it a manipulative tactic?  Are they trying to put her on the defensive, make her feel like she has to change their minds and, in so doing, give them lots of attention?  That seems pretty childish to me.  And why does nearly every IM or email conversation I have with a man always turn into sex talk?  Don't tell me it's because men think about sex a lot. I know it's not the only thing on their minds. I find it tacky & disrespectful to talk about sex with someone I've never met.  If you want to engage in dirty talk, call a chat line.  If you want to talk about a good book or movie, I'm your girl!

Either I've just been really unlucky or all men are like this.  I'm hoping it's the former because otherwise I will probably never marry. Eh. Oh, well.  At least I won't fall into an open toilet in the middle of the night (seriously, girls, turn on the lights and LOOK first.  Sheez!).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This is a Muppet news flash

Well, I finally caved after 5 days and switched the cats back to Eukanuba.  They are very grateful.  Monster Kitty purred with joy: nom nom purrrrr nom nom nom purrrrr...  He makes me laugh.

I got a new prescription for glasses right before the 4th of July holiday but I haven't filled it yet.  I'm having trouble choosing my new frames.  Twoofadozen wants me to go with "funky frames".  I don't know how funky she thinks I am.  I've tried a few of them on.  I think I'm leaning towards a scholarly look.  I don't know.  There are a lot of cute options, I just can't commit.  I'm afraid I won't like them two months in, afraid I might catch myself in a peripheral reflection and wonder "who's that dork?" then realize it's ME.  I'm going in again tomorrow.  Ugh.  I really need to make a decision because my prescription has changed by a lot and I can barely read street signs these days.

My job has been a lot better lately.  I am working less and accomplishing more.  I wrote my first macro in Excel yesterday and I was SO impressed with myself.  Ha!  I never knew I had it in me.  I need to do a lot more of that so I can put it on my resume.  Speaking of resumes, I got an email last week through LinkedIn from a recruiter who asked if I was interested in a job in Florida.  I thought about it for a day or two and decided, hell yeah I'm interested!  So I responded through LinkedIn.  We'll see if that goes anywhere.  I'm only marginally qualified but they may have something else I could do.

There isn't much else to say.  It's hot and muggy in Kansas.  My house needs more insulation.  I might try to roll some out in the attic this weekend.  Hopefully there won't be too many spiders up there! :/

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hunger strike

After 2+ years of feeding the cats Eukanuba Indoor Hairball Relief I find myself changing their food again.  Eukanuba doesn't sell it in large bags anymore and I don't want to pay more per pound for a small bag.  I selected By Nature Adult Cat Formula because I was impressed by the ingredients: no corn, wheat or soy. Cats are carnivores, they shouldn't be eating cattle feed, right?  And they don't really have a hairball problem, per se.  I thought maybe a food they could digest better would eliminate the need for extra fiber, which is all there really is to "hairball relief".  Plus there's a picture of a Bengal on the bag.  Sold!

The cats are not as impressed as I was.  The new kibble is X-shaped where the old was round.  It has a different smell and texture.  This is not food, in their opinion.  I'm mixing it 50/50 with the old stuff.  They are very good at finding the old and spitting out the new.  There are half-empty bowls of cat food sitting around for the first time in... ever, actually.  I'll give it a few more days but I don't think the cats are going to budge on this one.  I may have to cut my losses and go back to Eukanuba.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Losing my religion

For several weeks I've had something on my mind that I haven't felt brave enough to share publicly.  I think it's because I don't want to alienate people.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to think about anything else worth blogging, so my posts have been a bit sparse lately. 

In my mid 20s I walked away from my parents' religion.  I can't pinpoint when I lost faith.  There was never a big angry moment when I decided I did not believe - but then there was never a shining spiritual moment when I decided I did.  Looking back over my teen and pre-teen years I can't remember ever liking church.  I enjoyed some of the activities but I didn't have much interest in the faith itself.  After high school I went to a church-sponsored university because it was expected and I had never been allowed to consider going anywhere else.

Sometime in my late teens I stopped accepting Sacrament trays, stopped singing hymns and stopped saying "Amen" after prayers.  I had this feeling that I didn't want to go through the motions unless I truly believed in them.  To my father I'm sure it seemed like an act of rebellion but it was a lot more deliberate than that.  I didn't want to make a commitment that I wasn't willing to follow through on.  I also felt obligated to show my siblings that they didn't have to conform.

In spite of that I still went to church, partly because I needed an ecclesiastical endorsement if I wanted to stay in school.  I was miserable and out of place and baffled by the beaming hypocrites who didn't share my reticence when it came to making empty promises.  Not that they were all hypocrites; I do think there were a few people who genuinely tried to live by their faith.  They seemed delusional to me but at least they were sincere.  I tried to gain a testimony of my own but I was suspicious of my own feelings.  Was I feeling the "Spirit" or was I feeling an adrenaline rush brought on by nerves?  I couldn't tell.

While I struggled with faith, my mother was telling stories about supernatural happenings in her rural community.  She said their former bishop was practicing witchcraft and sending demons to harass her.  She said her neighbor was receiving visits from aliens.  She said my entire family had been micro chipped by the government but there was an angel who had told her how to remove the microchips.  She said my English professor (who wore a Masonic ring) was going to abduct me so that I could be brainwashed into serving the devil.  I didn't know what to believe anymore.  I became depressed and anxious.  I had reoccurring nightmares.  I started pulling out my hair.  Finally I decided for my own sanity that I needed to take a break from every form of theism.

As I said before, I never had a defining moment when I decided the church itself wasn't true.  After leaving I just didn't want to think about it anymore.  Three years ago I briefly attended church again but I was extremely uncomfortable.  I knew I didn't belong there.  I think I have been afraid to think about my personal beliefs because I didn't want to be responsible for acting on them.  I was always taught that deep down every person had a testimony.  What if I found out I DID believe in the church?  What then?

It has been a big relief to discover that deep down I don't believe in my parents' religion.  It has been a bigger relief to discover that I don't believe in anything at all.  No heaven, hell, deities or demons.  All of that guilt-inducing rhetoric seems ridiculous to me.  I am intrigued by the origins of myth and I might talk about it in a later post, but it's enough for me to say that I don't believe any of it and so far I haven't been struck by lightning.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day in, day out

I'm still working a lot, although I feel a little less stressed about it.  My boss told me this is the kind of job where I will always have work to do and not to put in too much over 40 hours.  I really needed to hear that. 

Last week I had the lilacs pulled out.  I am so happy they're gone!  It's such a relief to not be dodging branches when I want to mow the lawn or use the front door.  I need to find something to plant there now.  I've been on a blackberry kick and I'm tempted to plant blackberry bushes but I don't think that's the sort of thing you put in your front yard.

This weekend I'm planning to cut down the saplings growing through my chain link fence.  Man, do they grow fast.  I may also have a reemergence of bindweed to deal with.  Things looked a bit vine-y when I was mowing.  I suppose I should also put down more weed-n-feed.  There's always something to do around the yard.  Yea for long weekends!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mean Mr. Mustard

Remember last year when I freaked out that my cat might have mange?  I'm afraid her bald spots have not improved.  There are small patches on each of her front legs and a big one across her stomach.  I realized a couple of weeks ago that these bald patches roughly match the areas that were shaved when I had her spayed.  Each of her front legs was shaved to draw blood (one side clotted too quickly so they had to try the other) and of course her belly was shaved for the incision.  It's been 3 years and the fur isn't back.  I've watched her grooming and she nips the hair.  I think that's why it won't grow.  Part of me says I should leave her alone.  If she wants a Brazilian then it won't hurt anything.  The other part of me says I must fix this problem.  Enter the mustard.

I despise mustard.  My mother claims I ate a handful of hot English mustard at a bed & breakfast when I was 2, then screamed bloody murder.  Who knows if that really happened?  But regardless, I have never liked mustard in any form.  Hot, mild, honey... They're all the same: disgusting.  My sister, Twoofadozen, LOVES mustard so when she visited last summer I bought a bottle of French's just for her.  It's been sitting in my fridge ever since.  This kitty situation has finally presented a use for the yellow atrocity.  For the last few days I've been slathering it on the cat's stomach. Observe:


Turns out she doesn't like it either. I can report that there has been exactly... no progress.  I don't see any new hair growth and she's still trying to groom herself, only now she's making yucky faces.  What I do see is an increase in yellow stains on my blanket.  I'm not giving up yet, though.  If the mustard doesn't work then I'm switching to cayenne pepper.  She WILL grow that hair back.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crack a lackin

I'm once again under the care of a chiropractor.  Don't worry, it's not the same one who said my pain was caused by my huge honkers - which turned out to be untrue because 10 months after reduction surgery I still have back pain.  No, this guy is an intern at the local chiropractic college.  He and his doctor-teachers prescribed an aggressive treatment regime involving adjustments and electrical stimulation twice a week for 6 weeks.  After 4 weeks I can say the pain is subsiding. I still have an ache but I almost never get the tingling anymore.

He's not just treating the chronic midback pain.  I also have lower back problems and tightness in the shoulders that pulls my neck and upper thoracics out.  It's especially bad after a tense day, which I've had a lot of lately.  I'm usually so tight that he can't move anything without marinating me in BioFreeze first.  I think I'm becoming a BioFreeze junkie; that stuff is fantastic! 

Today we found out just how potent the BioFreeze is.  While adjusting me he nicked my back with a fingernail just enough to draw blood.  Normally such a small cut would bead up and clot within seconds but this one kept bleeding & bleeding & bleeding.  He tried swiping at it with an antiseptic wipe.  That didn't work but it burned like a mother.  I could tell he was getting a little panicked.  He went looking for a doctor and a first aid kit while I laid down with a tissue on top of the cut.  He came back and applied a bandaid - which I started bleeding through.  The doctor who was observing him said the BioFreeze was probably causing an increased blood flow to the area.  I knew it relaxed my muscles but I didn't know it could have an effect like that!  Eventually with pressure and another tissue on top of the bandaid he got the bleeding to stop.

I don't know what's wrong with me but I thought the whole situation was hilarious.  I could hardly wait to text my brothers and tell them about it.  Poor guy.  He told me he became a chiropractor because he didn't like blood.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tired

Work has really kicked my butt this week.  I have easily put in 60 hours and there's still so much more to do.  There were a couple of nights last week that I didn't get home until 7:30 or 8.  On Friday night I watched TV and tried to relax, then yesterday afternoon I got out the laptop and worked until 11.  Today I was on the laptop again from 3 until 9.  I think as I learn the ropes a little better I won't have to put quite so much time into it.  I hope so, anyway!  I feel sorry for my cats.  Even when I'm here I'm not paying much attention to them.  Maybe it's arrogant to think they miss me - maybe they're fine.  I really hope next week is easier.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Busy bee

Work became a lot harder this month.  I was given my own region and told to handle it.  I'm trying to do as much as I can on my own because the two people who were taking care of it have their own regions to handle.  I'm not drowning yet but I feel like things are piling up and there just aren't enough hours in the day.  I would feel a lot better about this if I was eligible for overtime, but I'm salaried - a fact I did not know when I accepted this job.  Dang it.

I'm also trying to make improvements on the house.  I have quotes for painting, gutter replacement and shrub removal.  Of the three, painting is the most immediate need.  My neighbor offered to loan me his power washer and samples of the paint he used on their side.  Maybe I should take him up on that.  I'm scared of heights, though, and there are portions of my house that stand over 2 stories high.  Still, I'm not sure I can cough up the $3,000 the painter wants for painting, repairing the fascia, and bracing, washing & sealing the deck.  He also wants to paint my gutters and garage door, which I'm not sure I agree with.

The lawn is another ongoing project.  I think I did it all wrong this spring.  I put out TurfBuilder 3 weeks ago.  The label said not to put it down when you expect rain within 24 hours.  I didn't expect rain but I should have checked the weather report because it rained overnight and continued raining for 3 or 4 days.  Oh, well.  As long as the weather was going to be rainy I decided to put out grass seed.  Again, I should have checked the weather report.  I've been outside watering the seed almost every day for 2 weeks.  It has rained once since I put the seed down.  Frak!  Should've gone for the TurfBuilder again!  There's a good chance my seed isn't going to germinate because apparently you're supposed to wait 4 weeks after putting down that stuff.  I didn't see any of that on the label.  The dandelions are thriving, maybe the grass seed will pull through.

Monday, April 12, 2010

That's what she said

I've developed a taste for feet.  How else do I explain the constant foot in my mouth?  The other day I was picking up lunch with a coworker, blathering on about the neighbors' mulberry tree that overhangs my fence.  "It gives great shade" I said, "but I'm sick of all the twigs and berries."  I paused, realized what I'd said and burst out laughing.  My (male) coworker looked at me and started to ask, "Twigs and berries... doesn't that mean...?" "Yup."  Then he laughed, too.  Phew!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What I did on my birthday

My sister Twoofadozen sent a birthday gift in the mail - "The Action Heroine's Handbook". It arrived yesterday, wrapped in a pretty brown ribbon.  I could think of only one thing to do with that ribbon:


Doesn't he look thrilled?  I was giggling like a fool all night while he tried to take it off.  Yes, I've turned into THAT girl - the one who dresses up her kitties and talks about them constantly.  Hee hee.


I've been desperately trying to solve a 4x4x4 Rubik's Cube.  Last night I finally turned to the internet for a solution.  Unfortunately, I got a little too forceful while attempting said solution, thus rendering the endeavor moot.  Oops.


The cube further disintegrated and is now occupying a Ziploc bag.  That blue piece in front is going to need a super glue intervention before I can reassemble this beast.  Oh well, at least when I put it back together I will finally have it "solved".  Cross that off my list of things to do now that I'm 32!

This didn't happen yesterday, but I'm also excited about a book from Fiveofadozen that arrived on Monday.  It's called "The Heritage Universe" and I think it's actually 3 books in one hardcover collection (yea!  I love hardcover books!).  I'm planning to start reading it this weekend.  All together this was a much better birthday than last year's - and I still have 2 more presents in the mail!  Hooray!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring has sprung

Sometimes I wish I had an owner's manual for my house - or a seasonal checklist or something.  I only think about taking care of things when I notice that they're broken.  Preventative maintenance would probably save me a lot of money!  I finally resolved the groundhog problem by paying a mudjacker to fill in the empty space below my porch and stairs.  The bill was $500.  The animal control guy never came back so I guess that means I'm off the hook for his $150 fee. 

I still want to rip out the lilacs and the wooden borders on my flower beds but I'm not sure about the timing.  I desperately need to get the gutters repaired.  I called a guy about that on Thursday but haven't heard back from him yet.  I also need to have the house painted and patches of wood rot fixed - a painter come out yesterday to give me an estimate which he is going to email to me at work.  I should probably get the deck cleaned and sealed (is that what they do to keep it from splintering?) and I've known for 3 years that I need to get it braced.  Maybe after all of that I can look at landscaping.

Landscaping can't be put off for too long, though.  I have so much erosion going on around the house that I worry about my foundation.  Still, I wouldn't want the leaky gutters to wash away my pretty new landscape and I don't want paint to get on it.  I don't want paint on the deck, either.  Sooo... gutters, paint, deck, landscape?  Sounds like I've been talking to people in the wrong order.

Meanwhile, I'm stumbling my way through lawn care.  I raked up a ton of leaves and twigs today.  Tomorrow I'm going to mow and put something down.  Not sure yet if that will be fertilizer, weed killer, grass seed or all 3.  And now I have moles making lumpy tunnels in my yard.  I'm choosing to ignore them.  Yeah.  I can't deal with that; too many other things to worry about!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mental

My mother is a case.  I wonder sometimes if she's bipolar or schizophrenic or something.  From an early age she would tell me about her visions and the angels that came to speak with her.  She told me all of her children had visited her before they were born and that I had begged God to be her daughter.  She had some kind of breakdown when I was 12, locked herself in a bathroom for days and refused to eat, said it was her Garden of Gethsemane trial, claimed she was on the verge of being translated...  Yeah.  Good times.

The thing that sucks about being raised a devout Christian is that scriptures give validity to that kind of thing.  You don't know if you're dealing with a truly crazy person or if you just don't have enough faith to experience these things for yourself.  When she raised her hand to a square and called me Satan, I had to wonder if maybe I was possessed of a devil.  Maybe I always had been and was used to it?

At 14 I was put into a mental hospital.  It started with a visit to a psychiatrist about migraine headaches.  A few days later I left school early for an overnight hospital stay, again because of my headaches.  Only it wasn't.  They took all of my belongings (including my shoes), put me in a smock and locked me in a room with barred windows.  I was there for 6 weeks and no one ever told me why.  At the end of the first week they asked if I felt better and wanted to go home.  I was angry with my parents for lying to me.  I said no.

I don't remember a lot about that stay.  I remember going to group therapy and being told I was in denial because I couldn't come up with a reason for being there.  The other kids were suicidal, bulimic, severely depressed.  I was hyperactive.  No one was yelling at me, no one was hitting me, I was allowed to drink soda.  It was almost like a vacation.  I suppose I really was in denial.  I didn't want to talk about the darkness at home.  It was so much easier to push that away and not think about it.

They say crazy people are convinced of their own sanity.  Since being hospitalized I often doubt mine.  Was/is something truly wrong with me?  Or was that incident just part of the epic power struggle between me and my parents?  I'd like to think it's the latter but this nagging thought keeps coming back: they wouldn't have kept you there if you weren't just a little bit crazy.  And maybe I am.  Maybe it's hereditary.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To do list

My list of things to do got a little bit longer this week.  On Wednesday I came home from work and found a huge hole behind my lilac bushes.  Since last summer a groundhog has been living under the concrete slab in front of my house.  I didn't mind, I thought he was harmless.


THIS is not harmless.


I called an animal control company immediately.  They came out Thursday evening to set a trap.  Unfortunately, my groundhog is a bit of a roamer and wasn't home.  Groundhog traps go over the entrance of a burrow to catch critters on their way out; there isn't much point in setting them over an empty burrow.  The animal control company left without setting any traps but they're going to try again next week.

Whether or not we catch him I can't leave that hole.  We measured the burrow and it's 22 feet long from end to end.  It goes the length of my foundation and all the way to the outer edge of the slab.  It could damage my foundation and - worse - it will attract skunks.  SKUNKS!

This spells doom for my lilacs.  I can see no feasible way to fill in the hole without killing them, so I decided to have the job done right.  I called a landscaping company on Friday for an estimate.  They can do it for less than $250.  I was pleasantly surprised; I was expecting at least double that.  Now I'm thinking about having them do more.  I've asked them to give me an estimate for building up the soil around the entire house and possibly replacing the wood borders with something more sturdy.

Of course, once I get the landscape looking pretty I will have to do something about those leaky gutters to cut down on the erosion problem.  Then I'll need to address the rotting wood I found in a couple of places.  Once that is fixed the house should be painted.  I still need to stain and seal the deck, which should probably be done after I get the deck braced because it's a little bit wobbly.

Some days I really regret buying a house.  There are way too many things to keep up and I typically don't even know I should do something about them until they're on the verge of breaking.  Oh, I didn't mention that I may also have moles in my yard.  Another blessing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cute stuff

My sister, Twoofadozen, has been very busy crocheting very cute things. Look what she sent me! I especially like the green flower with the tan button in the middle. Too cute!!


I admit I haven't worn the headband or purple hat as much as I would like to. My moisturizer has a lot of peroxide in it and I'm afraid it will bleach them - like it bleached my towels and pillows. Not cool. I can wear them, I just have to be super careful that they don't touch my forehead.

Speaking of cute things, I bought myself a new purse. Look at how beautiful!


Why yes, that is a Dalek hanging from the purse strap. How astute of you to notice. I'm even more impressed that you know what a Dalek is.


This particular Dalek is a cell phone charm that flashes and vibrates when my phone is active. Text messages and phone calls get it all excited. Good times.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eleven & Heaven

My youngest brother was the 7th boy and 11th child. He had cerebral palsy and profound autism. When he died at age 11 it tore a hole in my heart. I blamed myself, I blamed my parents, I blamed myself again.

I was 28 years old and pissed off at my parents for their latest round of bad choices; getting their house foreclosed, blowing all of their money on supposed life-changing seminars ("Oh, it's made such a difference in Dad. He's joyous, he's peaceful, I've never seen him so loving...") and buying into yet another natural healing pyramid scheme. I decided that it was time for me to get some distance so I told my mom that I couldn't afford to come home for Christmas that year.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I got a phone call. "Eleven's dead". No sugar coating, no easing into it. Very blunt, matter of fact. He'd suffered a seizure on the previous day and gone to sleep, then never woken up again. Because he died at home the police were there. My mom was worried that they would find evidence of abuse and neglect. We worried and waited for the next 5 days before his body was finally released by the coroner. I still don't know the official cause of death.

At the funeral my father grieved while my mother rejoiced. She spoke from the pulpit and told the congregation about angels who had come to prevent her from saving his life. She talked about his green aura. She said he had come to visit and comfort her. I sat in shame and wished someone would tell her to stop talking.

I was angry with my parents for a long time. I blamed them for Eleven's death. I hated her for saying those things at his funeral. I hated myself for letting him live in their house and never alerting anyone to how he was treated. His life could have been so much better than it was. I should have spoken up when I saw him being yelled at by my father or slapped by my brother or left alone for hours in his room with the TV for a babysitter. I wanted my parents to suffer for all of it. I hoped they would be arrested for child abuse.

Within 2 weeks of his death my parents left the state. They said the kids couldn't stand being in the house where he died, didn't like walking past his empty room, couldn't handle the daily reminder. So they sold everything they didn't need and ran away. To me it was an admission of guilt. I was angry to see them escape justice. But once again I said nothing and did nothing.

What is it about family that inspires such loyalty? Why in all the years of beatings and insults and manipulation didn't I try harder to get help? Why did I stand idly by as my parents flitted around ignoring the child who needed them most? Grief is a difficult thing. I suppose I'm over the anger now but I still blame myself for Eleven's death. If there is a Heaven then I hope he's there. I hope he's happy. I hope he forgives me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sundanced again

I saw the WORST movie last weekend - another Sundance Channel bomb. It amazes me that no matter how bad a film is you can always find at least one person on the IMDb who likes it. Are they deluding themselves? Are they not able to recognize bad material? Maybe they think that cultured people should like the film so, in an attempt to appear smart and cultured, they look for reasons to downplay the negatives. Clich├ęd and predictable become restrained irony. Unrealistic and unbelievable become a glimpse into a character’s projected fantasy.

The movie probably would have been better if it was deliberately ironic. Too bad everyone tried to play it seriously. It was adapted from a novel by Elizabeth Taylor. I wonder if she was trying to write a parody? What is the point in writing a parody if it's identical to the actual genre? You might as well read and laugh at the original novels. At least now I know not to bother reading anything by Ms. Taylor. Yich.

Why, you may ask, am I still watching movies on the Sundance Channel after all of the flashing last year? Well, this time I was interested in a specific actress, Romola Garai, whom I recently saw in Emma on Masterpiece Theatre. I loved it. I even pre-ordered it from Amazon so I could have a copy the minute it became available. Then I searched the TV guide for anything else she had done and found the Sundance channel listing. I should have known better. Next time I swear I'll be more careful!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stay out of my space

This afternoon I found myself getting more & more irritated with a coworker. She sent me a couple of spreadsheets and came over to my cubicle to explain what she wanted done with them. In the process of explaining she put a hand on my back while pointing at the monitor with the other hand. She was very hesitant and unsure in her explanations, making it difficult to understand what she needed done. Then, instead of asking me to sort by a certain category, she started instructing me on HOW to sort. Are you kidding me?! What kind of idiot needs to be told how to use an autofilter, especially after demonstrating the ability to do vlookup and concatenate formulas?!

I'm afraid I got a little snippy with her, asking why she required me to highlight certain rows in yellow and why I needed to look up the values of spreadsheet A in the database when that spreadsheet had just been pulled moments before from the same database. She wanted me to take 150 rows of data from spreadsheet A and look for it in spreadsheet B to see if it matched, then look at the database to see if it also matched and highlight the data in spreadsheet B if it did. One row at a time. I'm sorry, but if there's a quick way to do something I'm choosing it. Every time. Almost every time. Okay, if there's a quick way to do something work-related I'm choosing it every time.

Anyway, she's kind of a sensitive person. Anxious, needs approval. I can tell by the way she's always chewing on something when people are talking to her; fingernails, pen caps, etc. She said I could do it the way I thought was best (oh, don't worry, I intended to) and left before she could annoy me any further.

When I had cooled down a little I pondered my reaction. What made me get so mean? Was it because I sensed a weaker person and I was raised in a family that didn't tolerate weakness? Was it that her neediness reminded me of the clingy cat lady? Maybe. But I think the biggest irritant was having that hand on my back and feeling like I couldn't shrug it off. It made me feel threatened somehow.

I don't like to be touched. Not at all. That was one of the reasons I panicked about that date last year. The idea of him being in my house and expecting to get some action was revolting. No no no no no! I like to have a lot of empty space around me, especially when I'm just getting to know you. As we become better friends that space could shrink. If I'm attracted to a guy and he hasn't managed to disqualify himself then I'm open to getting physical - but usually I'm so scared that I start shivering.

I guess all of this is fodder for another session with my future therapist. I feel bad about being rude to her. I debated explaining it to her but couldn't think of a way that wouldn't come out mean. How do you tell someone to not touch you and, while they're at it, please remain at least 24 (if not 36) inches away at all times? Whichever way I spin it she's going to have her feelings hurt.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You fixed it!

Both of my toilets have had flushing problems for about a year. Sometimes you press the lever and nothing happens, other times the toilet runs & runs & runs without stopping. I figured out some time ago that the flapper chains were falling off the levers and either sitting at the bottom of the tank or (worse) getting stuck under the flapper. Solution? Take the lid off the tank and fish the chain out. Repeat as needed (typically at least once daily).

When you see how easy it was to fix this problem, you will be amazed that I spent a year plunging my hand into an icy cold toilet tank. I guess I'm just that lazy.


How to Replace Your Toilet Lever

Step 1: Gather materials and remove lid from tank.



Step 2: Stand by for inspection of Step 1.


Step 3: Loosen nut on inside of tank and remove handle/lever assembly.


Step 4: Stand by for inspection of Step 3.


Step 5: Remove hook from corroded lever.


Step 6: Stand by for assistance with Step 5.


Step 7: Install new lever, attach chain.


Step 8: Replace lid and admire.


Total repair time (including inspections): 10 minutes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why blogging isn't therapeutic

I tend to censor myself, no matter which format I'm using. I envy people who have the confidence to say exactly what they're thinking. I can't do it. My private journals are censored. I don't know if that's because of my conservative Christian upbringing - feeling like I have to put a positive spin on my life and downplay the negatives - or if I'm simply afraid of who might read them and judge me. I thought maybe if I created an anonymous blog that I could finally speak my mind - then I turned around and told four of my siblings about it.

This week I've been considering whether I should start seeing a therapist. It's a little bit embarrassing and I'm not very confident that it will help me. I've been through therapy before and didn't get much out of it. That could be because I was embarrassed and resentful. Maybe now that I'm older I'll be able to participate better. I don't know. I get tired of telling my tragic tale, tired of the sound of my voice and the feeling of my jaw flapping.

Still, the fact remains that I am seriously messed up. How else do you explain a BMI of nearly 50? It didn't happen by accident. Sure, I have the hormone problem excuse but the hormone problems were triggered by an initial weight problem. I'm unhappy and isolated. I won't let myself live a normal life until I lose weight but everything I've tried has ended in failure. Last month I started researching the Lap Band. I considered having it done this year but I think I should address my emotional issues first - which brought me to the therapy question.

As I was falling asleep last night I thought about what I would tell a therapist. Maybe I should start with my earliest memory: I was 3 or 4 years old and I had a dream that my dresser turned into 3 ghostly women with glowing red eyes. They locked my bedroom door and surrounded my bed. I woke up screaming. For the next few months I slept between the box spring and the mattress so they wouldn't find me.

When I told my mother about the nightmare she told me the ghosts were real and they were sent by Satan to possess me. She said I was one of God's most special children and Satan wanted me very badly. I had to be very, very good or they would come back and take me. This kind of comment is typical of my mother - it's one of many reasons I can't talk to her today.

So here I am. I have my first therapy session scripted out. I'm ready to unload on a suitable shrink - provided I can convince myself it's worth the time. I'm still not sure it is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's curtains for you

I've spent the last few nights puzzling over a discrepancy on my W2 form. It doesn't match my last pay stub and I just can't seem to figure it out. I put everything into Excel and I'm adding this, subtracting that, figuring partial years here and salary increases there... It's mind-numbing.

Last night while I sat glued to my homemade spreadsheet I heard a loud crash followed by skittering kitty feet on the hardwood floor. I meant to get up and see what they broke, but I got distracted by a new function ("NetWorkDays" - it figures out how many non-weekend days there were between 2 given dates. It can even subtract holidays if you give it a list of dates. Genius!). Several hours later I walked out to the living room and found this:


The little terrors tore down my curtains. I thought that only happened in cartoons! You can imagine how shocked I was when I realized the entire cul de sac was able to see inside my living room for most of the night. I'm SO glad it's winter and I was wearing pants. If this had happened in the summer you would be hearing a much more embarrassing story.

Don't worry about the curtains. The rods were slightly bent but you can't really tell. Ta da!

Friday, February 5, 2010

February finds a drift

I have no excuse for my lack of blogging, other than sheer apathy. I can barely remember the month of December. I think there was sushi and sleeping in til 12 (okay, 1) and mailing Christmas gifts to darling nephews. We had a huge snowstorm on Christmas Day which I braved to get to the parents' house - only to leave again an hour later because I didn't think I could make it home in the dark. I was right, by the way. When I got home after 3 hours of driving I looked at road conditions online and saw that MODOT and KSDOT had closed the highways behind me. I never want to drive through that kind of weather again!

I spent the month of January working as a temp for a former coworker. She only needed me for 4 weeks but the pay was excellent and I had been bored out of my mind at home. I've been lazy this week, just sitting around watching TV and whistling shrilly (it drives the cats crazy, I love it!). On Monday I start my new job. Yes, I said NEW JOB.

Remember my awkward and embarrassing interview in October? Read about it here and here. I got a rejection notice in November, which I kind of expected. Then a few days before Christmas the hiring manager called to see if I was still available. They hired a temp from their IT support group, but that temp got a better offer from another company and left a month later. The manager said he had wanted to hire me all along but went with the temp because he was already trained on their systems. I'm kind of shocked that he liked me and remembered me. I thought I was a major dork!

The timing of the temp job and full time job was almost perfect because it took about a month to get all of the background checks, drug screenings and approvals together. I was finally offered the job last week. I am considered a new employee and they're not going to bridge my years of service. I was pretty angry about that, however a job with benefits is a hell of a lot better than sitting around collecting unemployment. I'm getting excited now. Truth be told, I'm also feeling a bit smug. We'll see how long that lasts!