December 29, 2008

Just some tunes.

I love music and sometimes, you just can't help but wonder if a song wasn't written about you. You'll be driving along and some random song you haven't heard in years comes on the radio and takes you back 10 or 15 years and reminds of something or someone. The songs and videos below don't necessarily remind me of anyone or anything...and maybe some do...but I just really dig 'em and thought I'd share.

This one had me crying...

I defy anyone to listen to this and not feel the pain she's expressing...

And then, my kids...two songs really get me every. single. time.

And since this list of videos is getting ridiculous, I'll end with this and maybe do some more this weekend, who knows? Anyway, this is for those of you going through a craptastic patch like we are.

Now That's Dedication

I admire this kid. I wish I had that kind of dedication. I used to; I was dedicated to school, to organizations I was involved with, to partying...okay, so my devotion to partying sometimes overshadowed the other two, but hey, at least I was dedicated. I could always be relied upon to be a wing-woman at a party. If you wanted someone to go to a party with, I was your girl! I did love a good party.

But now, my biggest dedication is my kids. I'm hoping to find a new dedication in the new year. I'm already dedicated to finding a job, hopefully a job I'll love, but a job either way. I'm dedicated to supporting my family and to helping my husband earn his college degree. I'm dedicated to a healther lifestyle: to eating even better than we do now and to insisting upon that gym membership in February, going every day. We went to the little "gym" our apartment complex offers today. There's one elliptical trainer, one treadmill, one recumbent bike, and a weight machine. I did 10 minutes at 2.8 mph on the treadmill and 10 minutes on the bike at about 80 rpms. I don't know how many calories I burned and honestly, I don't care. I worked out, something I haven't done since right after I had my son.

I'm going back there tomorrow. I hope that woman who was in there today isn't there tomorrow. She'd set the thermostat to about 80ºF and gave us dirty looks the whole time. Whatever. It's for everyone lady, it's not your personal home gym.

December 26, 2008

Ah, the day after.

I should have relaxed. Instead, I cleaned like a maniac because at 9:00 a.m., whilst munching on a no-bake cookie and contemplating loafing on the couch doing a crossword puzzle, I saw the notice we'd received on Christmas Eve about apartment inspections occurring on December 26th and 29th. I cleaned like a maniac not because we would be found in violation of our lease agreement or because they'd discover massive amounts of mold in our bathroom but because I have this obsessive need for people to not see just how messy my home can get.

So I spent an hour and a half picking up clutter, shoving things in drawers, and barking at Beth to, and I'm paraphrasing, "...put the damn toys in. your. ROOM!" I also ran the vacuum, sucked out days-old food from the high chair, and hanging jackets in the hall closet. Then I filled a bucket with bleach and water and scrubbed the hell out of our bathroom and kitchen floors, cabinets and appliances. Then, and only then, could I feel free to get a shower and relax for 15 minutes. I just can't have perfect strangers think less of me and see an imperfect home. Even after cleaning, it still looked frightfully cluttered. Ugh.

So how was our Christmas, you ask? Not too shabby. My husband was the most excited of all of us on Christmas morning: he woke up at 5:15 a.m., asked me if I thought we should wake up Beth (to which I responded, "No. Go back to sleep!") and then got up, went to the bathroom, turned on the kitchen light, got a Coke, opened the front door to check for our newspaper, turned on the T.V. and then sat down and waited. Like no one would wake up after all that ruckus.

So then he decides he just can't wait any longer and wakes up Beth. I tell her that Santa had visited and she leapt off the couch, ran to the tree, grabbed the first present she found and started tearing into it! Thankfully, it was a gift for her, but it was very funny. Then, once she'd run through all the gifts, she started helping her brother and we discovered she was more excited about his gifts than hers. Nice. Oh well, at least she had a good morning.

The afternoon at my in-laws was okay. We were more or less ignored as we always are but we knew we would be going into it so it wasn't too big of a shock. She has her family over too, her brother and his brood, and there's eight of them all told, so they way outnumber us. Anyway, it was a nice day. The kids got lots of stuff and came away happy and tired.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas too!

December 24, 2008

Sleigh bells ring, are ya listenin'?

So the kids are tucked away in their crib and bed, TV's on a country music channel playing Christmas music, tree's lit up, and hubby and I are playing Scrabble. Okay, we're not playing at the moment, but nature called so I'm seizing the opportunity to get in a Christmas blog. I know damn well I won't have a moment to breathe tomorrow so this is it until Friday.

Speaking of being busy, guess who was a one-armed paper-hanger today? This girl. In the morning, I cleaned up the living room and plucked through the youngins' toys to find stuff to give to the thrift store. Then I did two loads of laundry so we don't have to go to the family Christmas dinner in dirty clothes. Then we had lunch, followed by massive amounts of cookie baking. My first batch harvested approximately three dozen of these:

About two dozen of these:

And a partridge in a pear tree one tired mama:

We played absolute hell trying to convince Beth that if she didn't go to sleep, Santa wouldn't visit and bring her presents. I think she's smarter than your average bear: she kept refusing to go to bed, insisting on watching "Charlie Brown" (the Peanuts Christmas special we DVRd a few weeks ago). We'd remind her about Santa and how he doesn't visit little kids who are awake when he passes through town, and she'd admit she wanted him to stop, but then she'd say she wanted to stay up and watch TV.

But now she's in bed, snug as a bug. After that last paragraph, Rob came back out and we finished our game of Scrabble. Now he's watching "Bad Santa" and I'm blogging. Sleepy night here in Haytown. Tomorrow will be hell on wheels. Up with the kids, open gifts, eat breakfast, showers, dress the kids, gather the family gifts and cookies, head out on [what would be a 45-minute drive] an hour and a half's drive to the in-laws where we'll be until at least 6 p.m., possibly later, and then drive back home and try to get the kids to bed.

But I'm damn excited about it! For the first time in almost four years, my oldest finally gets Christmas and the whole Santa Claus thing. She's excited and hasn't stopped talking about Christmas since the week before Thanksgiving. And her excitement is contagious. I love kids.

December 23, 2008

College, Part Deux

At the outset, Kelly seemed to be fairly normal. She was a freshman and would be running track for SRU. We spoke once before the semester started so we could coordinate who would be bringing what. I still had no idea what happened to Heidi and Angie. What's the first thing Kelly and I did as roomies? Conspired to drive the unknown third roommate (whose name completely escapes me at this point) out of our room. Evidently, Kelly met her before I did and didn't like her, and I was all for having a big room, an extra bed all to myself, and fewer people to deal with, so I was on board. It took one day.

Kate and Little lived in the adjoining suite; we shared a bathroom. Little was my smoking cohort, we were the O.G. smokestacks of the group. Kate smoked occasionally but not truly until the following year, and Jamie smoked only in times of high stress. The thing was, North Hall was completely non-smoking, so we always had to make the journey out to the front steps - and for four or five months of the two semesters, we were dressed like Nanooks of the North - to smoke one lousy cigarette.

I wasted a few months of my time that winter on a guy, a guy whose antics and charades caused my grades to nosedive and nearly cost me a few friendships. Unsurprisingly and, when all was said and done thankfully, after three months I found out he was cheating on me, confronted him about it and then he had the girl he was cheating on me with break up with me for him via Instant-freakin'-messenger. What a sad sack. I should also mention that I pulled a very big friend faux pas with him: he was the very recent ex-boyfriend of Jamie, the girl who slept across the hall in her own room but may as well have lived in our suites. My faux pas caused much rifts between me and all of them.

But they forgave me. Yay!

After we broke up in January, I made it a point to move on. I pulled my grades out of the gutter and started to enjoy life more. Got my second tattoo. Discovered the frugal evils of MD 20/20. Landed my first waitressing gig at Cracker Barrel the day I moved out in May. Two weeks into that gig, I got a second waitressing job at Stable Pit 'n Pub in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania. I'd work the Barrel from 8 or 9 a.m. till 4ish, then PnP from 5 till midnight. Guess who went home with pockets full of cash every night? Guess who also didn't have a social life?

My sophomore year was fun. I joined the Association of Residence Hall Students because Jamie roped me in and ended up actually having fun. I met a small group of guys from Pittsburgh, one of whom Jamie ended up dating for six or seven years, and through whom I would finally meet Rob. It would be two years down the line, though. I also changed my major that year: I started off a psych major and during the first semester, thanks to much prompting from my writing professor, changed it to English. Best. Decision. Ever.

December 22, 2008

College, Part Un

I mean, if you can't steal their ideas for a blog post, then may as well kick them to the curb, right? *smile* Thanks, Amy!

As most of you know by now, I went to Slippery Rock University in western Pennsylvania. Look at a map of Pennsylvania, find Pittsburgh and Lake Erie, draw a line and find the midpoint. You're in Slippery Rock. Yes, it's a real town. And yes, more often than not, it is slippery.

I spent a total of 34 months there, give or take a few weeks, between 1998 and 2002. I lived in three different residence halls and one set of on-campus apartments. I changed majors once and even declared a minor - but only because they made me do it. I had six different roommates. I participated in one organization and one on-campus protest. I learned how to drink AND how to smoke (cigarettes, that is, for the most part but more on that later) and discovered the inherent beauty of the Hangover Hat. Let me tell you about it. College, not the Hangover Hat.

I started SRU in Fall 1998. My roommate, whom I'd never met but only spoken to briefly, was Megan. We thought we'd be alright with out a TV, so neither of us brought one, but after about four days we we were bored out of our tree. I went home that weekend and brought one back with me. Maury Povich at 10 a.m. became the only thing we had in common. She had an emotional basketcase of a boyfriend who'd started at SRU that fall too and man alive, was he a mess. We went through a week or so of him calling every. five. minutes. in the middle of the night because he was homesick and panicked about being a school. Sometime after Christmas break, she stopped sleeping in our room; she'd stay at her boyfriend's dorm every night and hardly spoke to me for the rest of the semester. I never did figure out what that was about.

I made the majority of my friends in my dorm on my floor, primarily Sara, Pam, Becca, Cary and Erin. Cary and Erin took me to my first fraternity party. It was a finger-painting party, we had to wear plain t-shirts, drink and paint other people. It was my first foray into drinking and I got lost in the beer. I came home that night with a pair of handprints on my boobs, reportedly from a gay guy (hey, it was Phi Kapps, a fraternity with mostly male band geeks in it, and I say "geeks" endearingly: I served my marching band with pride in high school).

Any drinking I did that year, I did with them, save for my trip to London. That's right, across the pond. See, I was a member (for all of three semesters) of the honor's program and that entitled me to an invitation for a week-long trip to London and a day trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Wheee! I don't remember what it cost me but the college footed most of the bill. It was freaking awesome. I made a friend on the trip, Beth, and because the legal drinking age there is 19, we all had a good time. Americans to the core, we dedicated a night to drinking at - where else? - TGI Fridays! It was a few blocks from our hotel. I also had a bottle of MGD at the first pub I ate at. I had fish 'n chips. I'm such a tourist.

I majored in psychology when I enrolled at SRU and was still a psych major when I wrapped up my freshman year. I'd accumulated about nine credits in the psych department at that point and thought I was well on my way. I'd taken College Writing I and II with the same professor though, Dr. DiMarco, and she was like the English teacher I'd never had in high school. One who saw how much I loved writing and encouraged it and was NICE. Cohorts from CVHS remember D. Baker. NOT nice.

I never returned to Harner Hall after my second semester wrapped up. I'd found new roommates in North Hall, the all-girls dorm at the top of Cardiac Hill on campus. I was supposed to room with Heidi and Angie in a suite. I got my roommate assignment letter in July with my roommate's name on it, and it definitely didn't say anything about a Heidi or an Angie. It said Kelly. I hadn't the foggiest the ride I was in for with Kelly or the hooligans in the adjoining suite, not to mention the neighbor across the hall who, for all intents and purposes, lived in the suite too.

To be continued...

December 21, 2008

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."

~ Roy L. Smith

Something weird came over me today. I left the kids at home with Rob and I took off around 10:00 a.m. I was heading to Wal-Mart, Sears, and the grocery store. I picked up what I needed at Wal-Mart and headed out the door only to be met by a man soliciting for money for a miscellaneous cause that I didn't catch wind of. What I did catch was a twinge of guilt when I told him, "Sorry, I'm not carrying any cash today." The truth was, I really wasn't carrying cash. The guilt was for that very reason. I wanted to drop a buck in the locked box. Normally, I don't think twice about brushing off a solicitor. I never have the spare cash and I cynically assume that a portion of that money will go towards salaries. I realize, logically, that in most cases that simply isn't true, but I use it as justification for not coughing up fifty cents.

I felt even worse when he said, "Thank you anyway, have a nice day," and his voice carried that resignation and sarcasm. I was pushing a cart with a box of diapers, and three bags, two of which had gifts in it, a gift each for my step-nephews; how could I not have cash? Or maybe my guilt is manifesting this.

Then I get out to the car and as I'm climbing into the driver's seat, I look over across the cart corral and see a woman flipping open the top of a garbage can, collecting cans and bottles for recycling, probably to earn a few bucks for a meal. Any other day, I'd just go about my business, paying her no mind. What did I do today? I started digging around my floorboards for a bag to gather up our used bottles and cans, hoping to pass a quarter's worth of recycling on to her. By the time I realized I had no bag and only one can to offer, though, she was on to the next aisle.

My ten-minute drive to Sears was filled with an odd feeling. I could almost feel Christmas stirring my soul. I was smiling, I was singing at the top of my lungs, and all I wanted to do was finish running my errands so I could get home and figure out how to give this Christmas and from now on. We have a truckload of stuffed animals the kids don't play with that we'd like to donate, a bunch of old clothes, some toys. I guess I'll post most of them on Freecycle since no shelter will take used clothing or toys. I may also donate some old blankets and sheets to the local animal shelter. On Christmas Eve, we're going up to Antioch to help my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law feed the homeless and needy. They provide a huge, hot meal and hand out blankets and warm clothes, it's a really great thing they do.

It's just really strange that at a time when we have very little and are facing down a grim immediate future that all I want to do is give. Maybe it's because the shoe's on the other foot now and I'm seeing just how tough it can get. Or I've realized that I have so much more than a lot of people have: a healthy family, a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator, a car to take me places that isn't falling apart (actually, it kind of is but it's holding up nicely all things considered), and a place to go on Christmas.

I don't know...I always knew what the true meaning of Christmas was, I just never really felt it until this year. Then with all that soul-stirring going on, it made me wonder (again), if there isn't something to the whole belief thing. I don't know if I ever explained it in its entirety, but I was born and raised a Catholic - got confirmed and everything. Then I left the Catholic church in 1998 for the Church of Christ and was baptised in June 1999. Sometime over the next two years, however, I started to question my beliefs and found that I didn't really believe in the bible. I'd always taken it in stride, assumed it's truth because that's what I'd been taught: to believe and not to question. I got more into the science of man and evolution and whatnot...I declared myself Agnostic and have never looked back.

But with all that's been going on lately, and the random acts of kindness thrown our way - that I haven't blogged about because really, it's kind of personal - I can't help but wonder. My problem lies here: what do I do with the scientific facts that can't be explained away? Specifically, evolution? One time, in a discussion about evolution, Darwin, and pre-historic times, this transpired:

Rob: Well, if the bible is historical fact, then how do you explain dinosaurs?
Father-in-law: Well, maybe they just didn't exist.

How can you deny the existence of dinosaurs? Or evolution? I don't know. I'm pretty confused about the whole kit 'n caboodle. I guess that's part of life, right? To figure out what works for us and what doesn't?

December 19, 2008

The Friday Chronicles

Oh, what a week...actually, it wasn't a huge week, but it's ending with a mix of ups and downs and most of what I have to talk about happened over the course of the past 12 hours.


Every year since Beth was born, she's always sat on Santa's lap at Rob's company potluck, held every Christmas Eve (they'd "work" half a day and the party would start at 11:30 a.m.) at the office. Santa was one of the Bobcat salesman and he'd sit inside a Bobcat in the lobby and take pictures with all the employees' kids. This year, obviously, no Christmas party. So we decided to brave the pre-Christmas mall and take her to see him there. The good news: she met Santa and told him what she wanted with no hissy fit and got the picture taken. The bad news: we paid about $17.00 for one 5x7" picture.

Free picture

$17.39 picture

*For those scratching their heads about our lack of finances and our ability to afford that mediocre picture, my mother-in-law very generously sent the money she was going to spend on our kids directly to us to get them what we knew they wanted; that way she wasn't left guessing, so we put some towards a Christmas picture.

We've discovered that California, as a state, SUCKS. With Rob's first unemployment claim form, it questioned him about the first two weeks of December. One would be inclined to believe that he'd get paid for both weeks. Nope. One week. Why? A "waiting period." Waiting for what, I don't know. So now, we can't make any car payments. We can pay our insurance, but that's it. It'll be another two and a half weeks before he gets two checks and in that time, our utility bill will be late, our rent will be late, and we'll definitely be late with both car payments. Guess maybe I should start garnering moving boxes?

The dining room in our old place, October 2007


I read an article in "O" today that has the wheels a-turnin' in my head. It was an article on "simple living," which is attached (not exclusively) to The Simple Living Institute. Basically, it means downsizing your life, in varying degrees, to your basic needs. It reminds me of vegetarianism: some vegetarians only cut out red meat, some cut out all meat save for fish, some cut out all meat all-together, some cut out all meat and dairy, etc. You can say you buy too many Starbucks coffees and stop buying them. You can move to the woods in a two-room cottage and live off the land. Or you can land somewhere in the middle.

This intrigues me. With all the stress we're dealing with right now, less would indeed be more for us. We aren't sure what we're going to do just yet, but we're definitely going to simplify. Digital cable will probably be the first to go. We're going to go through all of our stuff tomorrow and find stuff to sell or give away. We need to downsize! Learn to live simply! I feel like a hippy but it's liberating to think of having less and worrying less.


I saw in the news that the human remains found in Florida were that of Caylee Anthony. Folks, my blood boils when I hear about things like this. Caylee, Rachel & Lillian Entwistle, and Laci & Conner absolutely shatters my heart that there are people out there cold enough, cruel enough, subhuman enough to do things like that. It will be six years ago on Christmas Eve that Laci went missing and to this day, I get very upset when I think about it too much. I was very pregnant with Beth when Scott Peterson was convicted and I remember standing in my living room, holding my belly, bawling tears of relief that justice had been served and yet tears of despair that that trial had to occur at all.

So I guess this is my way of saying: Go hug your kids, your husband or wife or significant other, your dog or your cat, call your mom, your sister or brother, your best friend. Life is so precious and so short.


I gotta go. I've cried once already today, I can't handle another episode right now! Have a nice weekend, everyone.

December 17, 2008

A Tad Disappointing

Rob and I saw "The X-Files: I Want To Believe" last night. Let me tell you, totally not worth the $1.09 we spent at the Redbox to rent it. I was all kinds of excited about it. I watched "The X-Files" when I was a teenager and loved it! They had me believing in extra-terrestrials, rooting for Mulder and glaring at Scully for her scepticism, and wanting to jam that smoky cigarette down Cancerman's throat. You can imagine my anticipation for this to come to DVD. They made it sound just like the old days, out looking for evidence of aliens and whatnot.

It wasn't. Not at all.

I won't ruin it for those of you who think I'm full of it and rent it anyway, but let me tell you, don't expect a whole lot. It was a good movie, decent plot, but definitely not the "X-Files" I remember. No E.T. No spaceship. It was more about Scully and Mulder's relationship than anything else.

Now I'm looking forward to "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." [insert uncontrollable giggles here]

December 16, 2008

Thankful Tuesday...on Wednesday

My friend, Denise has been doing Thankful Tuesday for a while now and I haven't participated. I know I've had a lot to be thankful for but when it gets overshadowed by the hardships, it's hard to want to talk about it. But in the name of the holidays and the smile on my daughter's face when I turn the Christmas tree lights on in the evening, I'm doing it this week.

However, I'm putting a spin on it, a lá Mimi. I'm doing one serious list and one fun list.

Fun First! Here's a short list of Hollywood-related things and people I'm thankful for:

1. "Grey's Anatomy" I love this show. I've loved it since Day One and it never disappoints. It gives me one hour of respite from the stress in my life and lets me focus on their stress. I also have empathy for the characters in their struggle to figure themselves out. A lot of shows focus on characters about my age and it's like living through "Dawson's Creek" all over again. You're growing up with the characters.

2. Phyllis Smith You'll probably only recognize her if you watch "The Office." She plays Phyllis Lapin-Vance, one of the salespeople in the office and Angela's antagonist. I love her character because she's quietly smart and very unassuming but always comes out on top with her head held high. But I love her the most because when she was a cheerleader and a burlesque dancer! You don't have to be thin to be beautiful and confident, girls!

3. Patrick Dempsey I'm thankful for his general presence in television and movies. I don't always care for his movies (I only saw a few minutes of Enchanted but that was enough) but he's good-looking enough that it brightens my day a little bit every Thursday.

4. American Idol More specifically, the auditions. We haven't watched a full regular season since Carrie Underwood won, but those auditions are worth every hour wasted in front of the TV. Personally, I can't really carry a tune. I can hum Brahm's Lullaby to my son more or less in key and I won't attract tomcats to my front door, but Martina McBride I am not. AI auditions remind me that it's not about how well you can sing, it's about chutzpah, and those kids have it. Rock on, young 'uns!


And now for my serious list: What I'm really thankful for.

1. My kids I know that sounds very clichè, but it's true. Things have been down and out lately but we've managed to keep things as normal as possible so they don't know anything's different. And bless their little hearts, they make mommy smile all day long! If it weren't for them, I may just cry instead of laugh.

2. My husband's sense of humor He knows things are bad right now but he's keeping his sense of humor sharp and on the ball. You wouldn't know how funny he was unless you know him really well and he acts like himself around you but trust me, he's a riot! I laugh until I cry around him many times each day and no day should go by without laughter.

3. My friends This week, one in particular. We've never met face to face, we've only chatted and emailed, but she was really there for me and I don't know if I can thank her enough! She and I have got to get together one of these days! Also, for Diana who sent us two very adorable pictures of her daughter for Christmas which put a smile on everyone's face, especially my daughter, who now wants to meet "Kay-dee."

4. My blogging friends A few of you have left encouraging words and I'm really thankful that you're all there. Not just "there" in the sense that you leave sentiments in my comments but "there" in the sense that you still read my blog even though it's taken a depressing turn and there are days I don't blog at all, and "there" in the sense that you all still write and give me something to lose myself in for a few minutes and remember that we all have troubles and we all come through on the other side, one way or another.


Thanks, everyone!

December 15, 2008

I'd love to say something interesting happened today...

...but it didn't. We woke up, ran an errand for a friend, ate lunch, I went to a focus group in Pleasanton, went to Safeway and bought a few things, and came home. Ta-da! My day.

No calls today for jobs. I finally put my application in at Wal-Mart. I've been doing it in pieces: one little bit of it in Fremont, some of it in Union City, and I finally finished it at home. I didn't know you could do that at home, I thought you had to apply at those computer kiosks, but the woman I babysit for said she got her friend a job at Wal-Mart that way so I checked it and whaddya know? I'll probably go back to it tomorrow and apply for something administrative too, if I can.

So on that note, I'm going to go relax and watch something funny with my husband. I need to chill. And "chill" I will: it's 39ºF outside right now with a chance of snow in our hills, at about 1000 ft.! Can I get a big "BRR" from my peeps on the lower left coast?!

This is the Bay Area's idea of snow, folks. I can hear you east coast suckers growling and groaning...

December 14, 2008

The Friday Chronicles

So I'm a couple days late again. I can't help it; lately, I've been so stressed out and busy that sometimes my blog falls to the backburner and it's a constant cycle of "I'll get to it in the morning, or I'll blog tonight before bed." Neither happens and the next thing you know it's been two days.

Anyway, my thoughts for the week...


We discovered today that California's technology is a few steps behind Pennsylvania's, at least as far as the state's concerned. You know how you can call pretty much any office and get a full-service automated menu? [Aside: Does anyone else get really annoyed when you call a company's phone number and can't seem to get a real person on the other end of the line? What happened to the days when you called a company and a person answered the phone?] Well, when I filed for unemployment from Pennsylvania when I lost my job in January 2004, I was able to phone in every other week and re-file my claim. Out here, apparently, you can't call. You have to fill out your bi-weekly claim and mail it in. Like, snail mail. THEN, you have to wait up to 10 days before you get the checks. I understand having to jump through hoops for this sort of thing but c' can't provide an automated service with a 1-800 number? Join the new millenium, California. You're the friggin' pioneer state of technology.


Buy shoes that fit. I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough. Ill-fitting shoes will make you want to take a hacksaw to your feet after three blocks of walking in them. Remember Saw? Okay, maybe it's not that bad. But you get the idea.


I am absolutely loving this cold spell we're having here! It's 50ºF here, which may not seem cold to all of you back east or in the midwest, but it's cool here and at night, we get down to 40º and it's AWESOME. Don't get me wrong: I don't miss the snow. Not in the least. But when you only get two seasons per year (summer and "winter") you look forward to either being cold or hot. So I'm totally relishing wearing jeans, socks, slippers, t-shirts and sweatshirts. I even got to put a blanket on my little boy when he took his nap today - he wrapped himself up like a burrito!



I'm really hoping something happens this week, job-wise. Things are getting kinda scary here. I need an office job, something that pays a decent salary, because in order to collect unemployment, Rob has to keep actively looking for work (that is the idea behind Unemployment Insurance) but if he's offered work, he has to accept it. The idea is to get me working so he can focus on school. And if I'm working, I have to make enough to support us right off the bat. So keep your fingers crossed - or pray if that's what you do - for a Christmas miracle. We need one.

December 11, 2008

It's a small thing, really...

So I had my interview at Sears today. Let me start with what I wore: black dress pants, black dress flats, a white shirt under a tannish-cream blouse. Sounds benign, right? Yeah, well I bet it wouldn't sound so benign if I told you I nearly tore my foot off wearing those damn shoes. See, I was on a pretty tight budget when I bought the pants and shoes - two items I didn't have but needed for interviews - and whilst in Payless, these shoes were the only ones not designed for a cocktail dress that didn't cost more than I could spend. However, the only ones available with the little "Sale: $11.00" sign on the box were 1/2 size too big.

I was really stuck between a rock and a hard place: do I buy the too-big shoes and run the risk of blisters or do I not buy shoes at all and look like an asshole with black dress pants and cheap brown flip flops from Old Navy? Blisters, it is.

They were so frickin' comfortable when I got them home and wore them around the apartment! I loved them for about 10 minutes. The next day, I walked three city blocks in them in Oakland (this was a week ago, by the way, for another interview) and then another three blocks back to the car. I tore off about 1/4" worth of skin that morning. I vowed to never wear them again.

But then I got the interview at Sears. So I emailed Diana, who works in retail, and asked her if I should go uber dressy or uber casual for department store interviews. She told me dressy was my best shot. I trusted her instincts, she's been in retail for years.

So back to those blasted shoes. Luckily, there was minimal walking today but if I'm going to wear those scalpels with straps ever again, I have got to buy some booties for them.

Cute, right? Yeah. Cute like that creepy dinosaur in "Jurassic Park" that killed Newman.

Anyway, I go to my interview. I sit there for half-a-damn-hour waiting for my interviewer. Then I find out, halfway through the interview, that they don't offer full-time AT ALL and then, in my second interview (yes, I had the pleasure of being interviewed twice), that I'd only be making $8.00 an hour - not that unexpected but still a bit of a letdown when, in your last job, you made $10.00 an hour - and that I wouldn't be eligible for benefits until I'd been employed for a solid year. I need health care for my kids, like, NOW. But I have to take whatever job I can get for the time being, just to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads. I just hate being without health care. That's when shit will go wrong, you know? Someone will fall off the couch and break an arm or they'll get an ear infection and I won't be able to help it.

This sucks. I hope one of the million office jobs I've applied for recently calls me soon!

December 10, 2008

What A Loser.

Now, don't laugh, but I watch "The Biggest Loser." Okay, I guess you can snicker. Or maybe let out a guffaw. But seriously, it's a very inspirational show and once we get our gym memberships in February, you can all kiss my ass. Anyway, let me tell you about Vicky.

What a petulant little bitch! She's been out to win the money, plain and simple, weight loss is just a pleasant side effect. If you watch her during the challenges, she puts out minimal effort. Just enough to get it done, really. She always comes in last or just plain gives up. If you watch her when she talks to Bob, she rarely looks him in the eye or she'll roll her eyes and you can tell she's just providing lip service; she means nothing of what she says. She's playing the game.

And that wouldn't bother me on any other reality show. Hell, that's what competitions are about in most cases. But TBL is different: it's meant to change lives overall, not just monetarily. People apply to be on this show because they've discovered that they can't do it on their own. They need support, guidance and resources to learn from. And this bitch rolled into town and went from sweet, southern-drawl Vicky to a hateful, conniving bitch whose ass I long to kick.

RAWRRRR!!! Rarely do I let people on TV get under my skin like this but it's really stuck in my craw this time. I don't wish for her to gain her weight back, I think she's done a hell of a job losing it, but I wish she were in it for the right reasons.Here's a good piece that can say better what I'm trying to convey.

December 8, 2008

Two, Please.

Interviews, that is. Yay! I applied to Sears online today and at the end of the application, it scheduled me an interview automatically. That'll be Thursday. My other interview is tomorrow with Sports Authority, who called at 6:30 p.m. to talk to me. Who calls that late? Anyway, I'm excited. I know it's just a sporting goods store and plain ol' Sears but it's work. I'd prefer an office job of course, but hey, it's paying the bills, buying groceries, keeping the roof over our heads. I swear I'll never complain. Much.

I turned in applications to Office Depot and Lucky Supermarket. Between the two, I'd prefer Office Depot just so I could get high off office supply fumes (I'm an office supply store junkie, I can't get enough of pens, paper and collapsible folders), but Lucky would be much more convenient since I could walk to work every day.

Overall, I hope none of these interviews is just for seasonal employment. In the interest of paying the bills, I'll have to accept the job but I really need something long-term. So keep your fingers crossed! I forgot how much I hate looking for jobs.

Rob and I had a bit of a fight this morning over the whole issue. He found an ad on Craigslist for me last night that he thought I should apply for. It was from a head-hunting company - Dialogue Direct - who hires any Joe/Jill Schmoe off the street to work in teams to convince wealthy corporations and such to sponsor Children International. Now this isn't to say that CI isn't a wonderful organization, it absolutely is. What I couldn't stomach was the idea of public speaking. I HATE IT. Vehemently. It makes me panic. Sweat. Shake. Stammer. Feel faint. The whole nine yards of a panic attack.

But I applied. Because I'm a pushover like that.

This morning, I got a system-generated email asking me to come in for an interview tomorrow afternoon in San Francisco to see "..."if Dialogue Direct is the right fit for me..." Let me save them and me the time and, in my case, $14.00 to ride BART into the city: Dialogue Direct is definitely not the right fit for me. Job duties aside, my hours would be from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. That means I'd have to get on BART before 8:30 a.m. to get to San Francisco on time and I wouldn't be home until 8:30 p.m. or thereabouts. I would never get to see my husband and kids, plus I'd have to hire a babysitter in the evenings between 6:30 p.m. and whenever I got home, when both kids were sound asleep. Totally not worth it.

But when I explained most of the above sentiment (the not-seeing-the-kids-and-husband part didn't occur to me until two minutes after the argument), he got all belligerent and upset, saying "I guess we'll just start turning down interviews and job offers, [blah blah blah]!" I stopped listening. I did, however, start bawling and locked myself in the bathroom.

How could he not understand the pressure I'm under? We have, like, no money, bills are due, Christmas is coming, rent is just around the corner, and it's all on me to start making money A.S.A.P. I'm experiencing a large quagmire of stress right now, the last thing I need is a heckler. Not to mention a heckler who, in a moment of lapsed judgment, completely disregarded his wife's feelings. Rawr.

But we're over it now. He apologized in his patented, not-actually-saying-I'm-Sorry kind of way and I stopped crying. Temporarily. Ha ha. I've been crying a good bit lately, mostly due to stress, partially due to seeing the excitement on my daughter's face at the prospect of Christmas and knowing that although Grandma Betty, Grandma Lynette, and Papa and Yaya will be buying her presents, Santa Claus may be MIA this year. She probably won't know any better, she is still very young. But we know and it sucks. But whatever. It's about new beginnings this coming year and I swear, if it means I have to knock off a liquor store, they'll have a kick-ass Christmas next year!

December 6, 2008

Need help Christmas shopping?

Then go visit Debateur Debates and enter her giveaway to win one of two Amazon gift cards valued at $25.00 each! I know we could certainly use the help this year. I'm new to her site but I'm always up for debates so I'm sure I'll be back there!

December 5, 2008

The Friday Chronicles

We caught this commercial on TV today and I was, to say the least, floored. Lisa Kudrow's doing commercials? Really?? Is this what she's reduced to? Or am I missing a key piece of Hollywood news?


We're pulling out all the stops with my job search, not just looking at professional/career-type positions but ones in retail too. It's a temporary thing to create a bit of a stop-gap until something more, um, financially rewarding comes along. So today I tried like hell to apply for a job at Wal-Mart and of the three different stores I went to, NONE OF THEM had working kiosks to apply. Love that craptastic Wal-Fart. I did manage to put in an application at Target.


We laid a fish to rest this morning. You remember the fish? And the Moor? All of yesterday, he kept floating his way behind the return ramp for the filter and getting trapped. I kept having to take the lid off, pick up the filter/motor contraption and wait for him to frantically swim out. Then, just as I fed them for the evening and was going to turn out the light, I noticed a lump on his lower abdomen. I did some research online and found out that it was probably one of two things. It could have been a) a tumor which, unless you want to take your goldfish to the vet, is incurable; or b) some kind of worm which, if it gets too big and it bursts out of the fish (effectively killing the fish), can be swallowed or otherwise absorbed by other fish in the tank and will eventually kill them. I didn't want to explain six dead fish to my daughter. Rob insisted we take a look at it the next day and this morning, the lump was not only still there but some of it had turned white and clearish stuff was making its way out. Gross, I know. I tasked Rob with removing the fish and giving Beth her first lesson in death via a trip to the toilet. She seemed to take it well. We went with the lesson of: sometimes animals - and people - get sick and they don't get better, and then they have to go away. I imagine it'll be a bit harder when a grandparent passes away, but hopefully she'll be much older.


And finally, my baby turned into a little man today. He got his first haircut. His curls were getting wild on the back and it wasn't a cute kind of wild. It was a, "Wow...his parents must never comb his hair. He looks like he just got out of bed!" Initially, we tried to just use scissors but when he wouldn't hold his head still - and when Rob took a HUGE chunk off the back - we had to get out the clippers. The first guard we tried was the 1", which trimmed it down but still looked weird because he seems to have a natural mohawk: thick up the middle and down the back, but thin on the sides. So we used the 1/2" guard and he went from this...

to this...


December 3, 2008

My Weekly Writing Assignment

I'm doing my homework this week, too.


Tag! Post and write about the 6th picture from (the 6th folder of?) your Flickr account and then do the same for the 6th picture of the 6th folder on your computer.

This was taken in June of this year. That orange sugarsicle you see my daughter eating is the first one she ever had and she loved it. It was about 100 degree at 10 a.m. that day and shortly thereafter, we decided to go to the beach. That resulted in a trip to Terror Beach but an otherwise lovely day.

Okay, so the 6th picture in the 6th folder on my computer was another picture of Beth. That didn't seem fair. So I went to the 7th folder. But there were only four pictures in there. I checked the 8th - this is picture #6. It was taken in January of this year at Valeta's place with her daughter. A playdate, if you will!

So I'm Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

Alright, alright. Enough people have noticed that I've not been blogging daily like I used to. You might say I've been busy, preoccupied, harried, aggrieved, distressed, or fretful. I've been troubled. Excited. Nervous. Excited but nervous.

Here's what you know: Rob was laid off the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Here's what you don't know: His last day of work was November 7th. He got his "severence check" on 11/26 for two-week's pay. I air-quoted "severence check" because although it may be company policy, two week's pay as severence for five years worth of loyalty and hard work seems a mere pittance. But what do I know?

Anyway, the check just covered the rent. I got paid for one week of babysitting. Things. Are. TIGHT.

It's been decided throughout the last month, however, that Rob is going back to school. We talked and talked, and since it costs next to nothing to go to school when you're a resident of California, he would enroll full-time at Chabot for night classes with an unofficially declared major of mechanical engineering. After he earns 60 credits at Chabot, he'll apply for transfer to UC Berkeley! He should be done with everything in about 5-6 years.

Initially, he was also going to work full time while going to school. Then we had a brilliant idea: send me back to work. I wasn't too keen on it at first. I have no clothes (why do women always go to that first? "I have nothing to wear!") that aren't stained, fading, or growing holes in them. I haven't worked since early 2004 - who's going to hire me? Will I really want to spend 9+ hours a day away from the kids I've spent every day with for the last four years? Am I even cut out for the professional life anymore?

But I put my nose to the grindstone, pulled together my resumè and a generic cover letter, and pulled the proverbial trigger. I've got about 30-or-so resumès out. It's only been about a week and a half and although I've had no call-backs yet, we're hopeful!

So that's what I've been up to. I didn't want to say anything officially but I'm becoming more and more comfortable with the idea. If you know anyone in the SF East Bay area who needs an administrative assistant, please let me know! Or you can contribute to the Keep Mommy on the Edge's Family Afloat Fund!

Please bear with me. I plan on getting back to blogging on the regular but it's hard; I spend my evenings looking for jobs and sending out resumès and it kind of cuts into my blogging time. I do miss writing and I miss all you lovely people.

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