Tuesday, March 31, 2009


This is probably the last re-post of my fave stories. I'm going to put up the rest that I feel comfortable with as archives. Please keep in mind that my sisters currently read my blog if you choose to leave comments (thank you).

One of my sisters moved to Arizona two summers ago. Things did not work out for her exactly as she had planned, and she was scrambling with those last minute details. I got a call from her the day before she and her fiance were planning to drive across the country, asking me to take her cat, Treasure. Treasure is a sweet black girl kitty with white markings on her face, neck, belly and feet.

I told my sister, "of course". I’m an animal lover, I already have cats (who hate the dog). Taking in one more cat for my sister’s sake was not a big deal (as long as no one told the landlord). Treasure is one of the sweetest, shyest little skitty kitties in the world. I adore my sister, she took in my son when I was so f’d up that I didn’t know what I was doing. I probably owe her a million favors, not that she’d ever call me on them.

I figured Treasure would just hide out in the basement until she got comfortable. I put food and water down there for her, and I knew my kitties would never give her any trouble. As long as she hung out in the basement, the dog wouldn't give her any trouble, either.

My cats are indoor only cats, exclusively. I live on a very busy street, my cats are fixed, there is no need for them to go outside ( although they sometimes try). Anyway, I assumed Treasure was an indoor only cat, also – especially since she was such a scaredy-cat!

For the first couple of days, Treasure would meet me at the top of basement stairs, and let me pet her. I thought this was a milestone of her affection, considering she hardly ever even acknowledged my presence at my sister’s house. My niece told me that her friends thought she was making up the cat, because no one ever saw her!

A couple of days into Treasure staying with me, my landlord said he needed to change the filter on the furnace. I let him in through the hatchway. At the same time, I needed to take out some rugs that my sister had given to me and vacuum the hell out of them in the driveway. I never thought anything of it, until I realized the next day that Treasure had not greeted me at the top of the stairs that morning. Nor did she, the next day, or the next. I was Flipping Out! Turns out Treasure actually did go out from time to time when she was living at my sister’s house. No one ever saw her go out, but she was no longer in my basement…

For a few weeks after, my son kept telling me that he saw Treasure around the neighborhood, when he was taking the dog out for a walk. Obviously, he could not get close to the cat with the crazy dog on the leash in his hand. Every time he tried, the cat would run off, and he wouldn't see her again for days.

One evening, he came home telling me that Treasure was right up the road. We ditched the dog, and I drove over to the house, thinking my son could hold her in a towel while I drove, in case she was freaked out. We could not just walk her home that way (across the very busy street). I drove up very close to the yard where she was. I got out of the car, gently, so as not to spook her. I very sweetly crooned over and over, “Hi Treasure, baby, hi, do you remember your Aunty, I was so worried about you, sweet baby”, all the while very slowly creeping forward with my hand out in front of me, to pet her head, and her sweet nose, and ears.

The cat responded as I expected her to, cautiously, then warming up to me, until I could pick her up. I picked her up, and pet her, and kept crooning. She was still highly agitated, so I chose not to hand her off to my son, but to just put her in the car and drive the 5 houses up the road with her in the backseat. I figured we would just deal with it when we got there, rather than my son getting scratched.

As I was basically throwing the cat into my car, this lady came running out of the house I was parked in front of, yelling, “Tuxedo, Tuxedo!”. I was so incredulous at the time; it seemed to me that she was running in slow motion, “Tuuuuxeeeedoooo, Tuuuxeeedoooo”. My mind could not grasp what was going on.

It turns out that I was stealing her extremely friendly cat, who was lounging in her front yard and was willing to get in my car with me. Whatever – don’t judge me ;). I really thought I was doing the right thing, at the time. I grilled this woman about when she had gotten the cat, was she sure it was Tuxedo and not Treasure, etc. It was more than a little embarrassing, especially when I found out Tuxedo was a boy. You just can't fake that part. I’m pretty sure my son did not want to be seen around the neighborhood for a while after that.

We never saw Treasure, again - :(

And now, courtesy of the our family home of really bad jokes:

“What if she had called the cops on you? Do you think you could have gotten arrested for stealing pussy?”


Monday, March 30, 2009

You may have noticed...

That I pussied out on the quitting thing. I never quit anything for long. Or shall we say I tried a hiatus for two whole days and realized that it wasn't for me right now. I feel silly for even making a situation out of it when I could have just shut the fuck up and nobody would have noticed.

Shutting the fuck up has never been my strong suit.

So, I will apologize because I made a m-m-mis... Let me try that again, I was w-w-wro... Oh what the hell, I'm sorry, and I'm going to make it up to you. Take a few moments and think about how you want me to do that. There, do you feel better? Good! Let's smoke a cigarette.

I changed my look, and Google spiders in my garage be damned. Onward, ho! No, not you, I swear I'm not calling you a ho.

Welcome to the world!

My newest cousin was born this morning at 3:37am. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces. Mother and baby are doing well.

Happy first day of the rest of your life, Liah Danielle!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My brother Jimmy, part 2

I'm not condoning any of the following behavior. It is the truth, and part of the story.

Jimmy had already had a couple of DWI's, as they were called then, when he got pulled over driving an unregistered, uninsured car, containing an unregistered, unloaded fire arm. Possibly the same unregistered, unloaded gun that he put to the head of my boyfriend

Jimmy had picked up a hitch-hiker whom he claimed he didn't know was carrying a large amount of marijuana, which the hitch-hiker stashed under the seat. Possession is 9/10ths of the law and Jimmy got busted for it. He finally lost his license and was lucky enough to be put on probation. He then got caught driving without a license, this time with possession of cocaine. He got sentenced to two one-year jail terms, back to back. In our area there are very different terms you could sit out. Jimmy got sent to what we affectionately called the
Brooklyn Country Club. It's like summer camp with dorms - but with more barbed wire, and less swimming.

When Jimmy got out of jail, serving less than six months of a two year sentence, he really seemed to have changed his law-breaking ways. He never again got behind the wheel of a car until he had his license back. However, he and alcohol were never very far apart. We thought that he had kicked his love affair with drugs, but we were wrong.

He got steady work at a lumber yard. He and my father moved together into in an apartment. Jimmy sometimes spent weekends at my mother's house, and sometimes spent them at my oldest sister, Kouf's house. He was helping Kouf's husband turn the attic into rooms that they could rent out. He seemed to be a nomad, who was welcome anywhere he went. He was always the life of any party he found himself at.

After five years, the State of Connecticut agreed to give Jimmy his license back. I took the day off of work and brought him for his driver's test. He passed with no problems. From that point on, all we talked about was getting our motorcycle licenses together. I don't know why it seemed so important to us, but it did.

Maybe it meant to me that I had finally proven myself to him that I was an equal, that I could stand up to him, and his friends that he wouldn't let me date. I so wanted to be a bad-ass bitch in his eyes, I guess. Maybe for him, it was the same in reverse. He had taught his little sister to be a bad-ass who could stand up for herself in a world that he tried to, but could not always, protect her from.

Three weeks after getting his license back, we spent a Saturday afternoon together looking at bikes. Neither of us was ready to make any decisions, but we had fun with it. I dropped him off at Kouf's house. I had plans, and Jimmy was staying with her for the weekend. He hadn't yet gotten himself a car.

Kouf and her husband also had plans that evening. Jimmy apparently walked to a nearby bar looking for cocaine. We did not know until later that he had been shooting cocaine intravenously. From what we pieced together, he couldn't find any cocaine, so he decided to try heroin for the first time as it was all that was available. He bought a bad batch that killed 17 people in the Connecticut and New York area.

The next day, I was rather a bit annoyed with my sister, Bouf, for waking me up on a Sunday morning by banging incessantly on the front door at my mother's house. I was hung over and assumed she just needed to do her laundry and had lost her key or something. I opened the door, and was already half-way back up the stairs when she said, "Wait, Fancy, I'm here for a reason - Jimmy's dead". I literally cried like a fucking baby, sitting on the stairs, telling my poor sister that she was a liar. It could not be true, we had just spent the day together. We had plans, goddammit! Why was she being so mean?

My mother had worked a 12-hour shift the night before, 7pm to 7am. Bouf and I had to wake her up and tell her that her only son was dead at the age of 26 of a heroin overdose. That was definitely one of the worst days of my life.

It has been 16 years, amazingly to the day, another Sunday. I still cannot believe that he is gone. He never met his nephew, my son. I have a hard time reconciling the fact that my kid never met his awesome and incredible uncle, for whom he was named.

I have the feeling they would have adored each other. Actually, I have the really weird feeling that my brother loves the hell out of my kid, from wherever he is.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another pork chop dinner, shared with the world

Internationally known and award winning Fancy Schmancy of Hartford County would like to share a simple pork chop dinner with you. Unlike Some People, Fancy would like to tell you how you can also make this culinary masterpiece at your own house.

Buy some pork chops. Also, buy some generic shake and bake for pork. Follow the directions on the box. Don't let those big bloggers, like Dr. Zibbs intimidate you. You can also make pork chops, I promise!

Buy your side dish of choice. Cook it while the pork chops are cooking. There, that's it! See how easy that was?

Interviewer: Fancy Schmancy, how did you learn to cook like this? Through trial and error.

Interviewer: Fancy, do you have anything to say about this particular dinner? Why yes, thank you for asking. I never would have cooked pork chops again if it wasn't for my friend, Zibbs.

That being said, I happen to think that I have done pork chops much better than he could ever hope to. I paired pork chops with latkes, and latkes can be paired with applesauce AND sour cream! And I think the money shot is with the sour cream.

Interviewer: Fancy, your photos do not show any vegetables, how do you feel about veggies? Well, while I love veggies, I have to honestly admit that some vegetables are more gay than others. Especially green beans.

Stop playing with your food

Mama, how we supposed to eat? (Mama says with butter, yum!)

What in heck? Food not supposed to move!

Mama, Stripey is lover, not fighter.

My brother, Jimmy part one

My brother, Jimmy, was a lot of things to a lot of people. He was a natural born comedian who hid an abusive past behind a wall of comedy. He almost never let his tragedy side show.

He was the kid who gave my uptight mother wet-willies, and she would laugh. He was the kid who told our mother that he was growing tomato plants in his bedroom in the middle of winter, and she believed him right up until those plants started growing stuff that didn't look at all like tomatoes. He was the kid that took care of both his older and younger sisters, because he felt he had to be the man in the family after my father moved out. He was the kid who took the brunt of my father's brutality before the bastard moved out.

I remember an exceedingly cold night in which my father had told my brother not to let the fire go out in the living room fire place. Jimmy could not have been any older than 11 or 12 at the time. When my father got home from the bar in the middle of the night, Jimmy had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room, and the fire had gone out. He made Jimmy go out in the snow in his pajamas, bare foot , down a set of stairs, over the driveway and up a hill to get more wood for the fire. I can't put a number on how many other similar situations the kid had to endure.

Jimmy started getting into trouble when he was 12. He started using drugs and alcohol around the same time. They sent him to the military academy for ninth grade where my father had gone to high school. Jimmy hated it and made sure he got kicked out. That was pretty much the end of school for him. It turns out that not only do mental health issues run in my family, but also dyslexia. Back then, they just thought he was stupid. He used to ask me to fill out his job applications for him because his "hand writing was so bad." He was pretty much illiterate.

He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He was funny, he was kind, he was generous. He loved kids, he loved wildlife, he loved to go fishing more than anything else in the whole world. He may have eventually looked the part of a dirty, greasy alcoholic who got into bar fights and did some time in jail, but he was never any of those things to us. To us, he was always the only sweet little boy in a house full of girls. "Excuse me, ladies, but I believe someone left their soiled panties to soak in the sink, and I would like to brush my teeth."

I pretty much adored him. Even when he threatened to break the thumbs of a much older guy who I thought would be dreamy to have for my boyfriend, when I was 13. He taught me how to play baseball and how to throw a football. He taught me basic self-defense, and gave me a knife to carry when he found out I was hitch-hiking.

When I was 16 and finally had a much older boyfriend, he offered to give the guy a ride home. I found out much later that Jimmy had waited until they got to my boyfriends house, pulled out an unloaded gun and put it to the boyfriend's head and asked, "are you sleeping with my little sister?". Apparently, the guy nearly shit his pants, making my brother a much better judge of character than I was, in retrospect....

Friday, March 27, 2009

The time I had a baby raccoon for a pet

I'm starting to slowly put posts back up, but only the ones I really liked. This is also one of my favorites, and probably old enough that not many people read it.

We moved from Buffalo, NY to Connecticut in 1975. We moved from a city into a very old house in the middle of nowhere. My mother made friends with a lady up the road who lived on a farm. I'm not sure if they were friends before or after my sisters started dating the lady's sons, but that doesn't really matter to the story. I was only about four years old at the time of the move.

The farm up the road had a chicken coop with a hen house, and it was being raided on a regular basis. I don't know if just the eggs were being taken, or if it was worse than that. I do know that they were a blended family with about 7 children to feed. It was not a loss that they could afford.

One night, the man of the farm heard a ruckus outside and went out with his shotgun. A huge raccoon was raiding their hen house and he shot her. As she was dying, she gave birth to a bunch of little helpless baby raccoons.

The man of the house was not a bad man, he was protecting the food that they needed to survive. He asked around to find people who were willing and able to take on the baby raccoons, instead of letting them also die. My mother has always been a sap for babies and taking in strays, and we took two of them.

We bottle fed the baby raccoons. We were never able to domesticate them, they remained wild animals. One of them died, despite our efforts. The other one could not get along with our cats and dog. We gave him away to one of my oldest sister's hippie friends. I'll never know what really happened to that little guy. The story I was told is that the hippie friends had him in a car with the windows rolled down, and he freed himself while they were shopping.

He doesn't look as if he likes being held by me very much in this particular picture (although he seems to like me in the picture below):

When he was still a baby, I had a kindergarten Pet Day. My father and one of his friends brought him to my school and I won "Most Unusual Pet". I also got my picture in the local paper. Thank god it was a very rural town - read "Very White Town" - or I think my family may have had some trouble afterward.

I honestly did not know any better, I was five years old at the time. When the man that was taking my picture asked me my pet's name, I told him straight out, "his name is Tyrone, Tyrone the Coon."

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for ensuring that the only time I've ever been in the paper in my life is when I am uttering a racial slur.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Totally awkward Thursday

This past weekend seemed rough to me. But I have to be brought down a notch or two, because this weekend was ridiculously hard on some members of my extended family.

One of my cousins passed away this past weekend at the age of 39. He apparently had high blood pressure, but wasn't consistent with taking his medication. He had some type of a flu-like virus last week, but seemed to be feeling better. About 10 minutes after speaking with his parents on the phone, while watching television with his wife and 3 kids, he got up to get something to drink and an aspirin. He collapsed, and apparently that was it. He had a massive cerebral hemorrhage. They kept him on life support long enough for his parents and brother and friends to get there to say goodbye. When they took him off, he died immediately.

If you know me at all, you know I have difficulty making small talk under normal circumstances. Add death to the mix, and I clam up because I don't know what the heck to say and don't want to say the wrong thing. I'm already in a fog this week, not sleeping well worrying about my son. In addition, the anniversary of my brother's death is coming up this weekend.

We couldn't not go, so my sister and I set out to the wake yesterday afternoon. I was freaking out because I just couldn't imagine what I would possibly say to his parents, but especially his wife. How lame does "I'm sorry" and "what a tragedy" sound after I'm sure they've heard that at least one thousand times?

The widow was exceptionally well composed. She was wearing a black sweater set with white piping, and by the time we got to her the white piping had a huge black mark on it that was obviously teary mascara. The widow is a tall woman, and she wasn't wearing any mascara. She's the kind of person that asked how You were doing, how are You holding up under the circumstances, with a smile on her face.

I hugged and kissed her, I gave her my "I'm sorry" and "what a tragedy". And, before I knew it, I put the piping of her sweater set between my fingers and tried to help rub out the mascara stain. I actually said out loud, "Sweetie, you've got to stop letting people cry on you!".

Luckily, she laughed. She even said, "Oh, Fancy, you're never going to change", like she thought it was funny. I will always cringe in horror every time I remember that moment, wondering if I ever will change...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The time my mother almost got us kicked out of Monkey Jungle

This was one of my first posts, and probably my favorite. As most of you didn't know who the heck I was last August, I figured I could re-post it with a few edits and it wouldn't matter.

When I was about 8 years old, my parents took us on a trip to Florida. My father, Horhay, had an old Citroen station wagon that I thought was the coolest car (and still do). It had a hydraulic lift system, and jump seats in the back. It never looked as good as the following picture - it was a dull white, probably spray painted, with a green hood.

In the end, it looked a little more like the following picture. My father never could get rid of a car until one ex-wife or another sent it to the junkyard. He's a bit of a pack rat.

My parents loaded the four younger kids and all of our wordly possessions into the Citroen. My poor sister Bouf had to sit up front and be the map reader. I've done the trip to Florida with my father as his map reader as an adult, and it was brutal. As awful as that job was, there was one that was worse.

Because the trunk was piled so high that my father couldn't see out the back window, they smushed my brother Jimmy in between the luggage and the hatchback door so he could see if it was okay to change lanes. For 3 days down and 3 days back, in the middle of winter, where no heat could reach him.

And what a trip it was! On the way down, Virginia and the Carolina's got hit with an ice and snow storm. Apparently in 1979 they shared one plow and one sand truck between all three states. And no one had ever taught anyone in any of those states how to drive in that shit! I remember hanging on to my mother for dear life in the back seat while my father stubbornly forged on in his trusty and reliable Citroen, dodging cars that were
at a complete stop in the middle of an interstate highway!

I truly do understand that they were woefully unprepared for what turned out to be a devastating storm for them. And really, why would they be prepared for Horhay to be driving through it like a mad-man, not willing to stop until "the next planned stop" on our itinerary, dammit?

He carried around a little notebook, and marked down gas prices and mileage, and how long before we were allowed to go to the bathroom, again. I'm sorry, but a little act of God like a major ice storm just didn't fit in with how many miles we HAD to travel that day.

So we got there, all in one piece, and I think we all actually enjoyed ourselves. My father's parents had a trailer in Jensen Beach at the time, and we visited with them, and did a day at the beach. Then we went on and did Disney, Parrot Jungle and Monkey Jungle.

I barely remember Parrot Jungle. I have pictures of myself and my siblings posing for pictures where they line the parrots up and down your arms. I was actually a little terrified, I had no previous experience with birds, and quite frankly - they have sharp little beaks and are not against taking a nip out of you. Birds have too much free intellect, and are just a different species altogether. Give me a simian over an avian, any day.

I'll never forget Monkey Jungle, though. It was right up my alley. They had many habitats that were wide open, except for nets overhead . The whole thing was amazing to my 8 year old eyes. The best part, however, was that they had people walking around with monkeys. Nowadays, they try to educate you about the animals but don't let you touch them. Mostly for the animal's sake, but also because of liability issues. Back then, however, they were much more interactive.

We came across a man with a baby spider monkey - In A Diaper! I thought I had died and gone to HEAVEN. This was better than any Betsy Wetsy doll Santa had ever brought me. This was a real live baby monkey, and I wanted to love it, and hug it, and stroke his hair backward and name him George. This was my first real estrogen rush, and I could have easily sacrificed every estrogen rush in my future if I could just bring this baby home with me.

Apparently, I was not the only one. Look how unabashedly happy Jimmy looks in this picture.

(And really, good lord, get a hair cut, Mr. 1979 monkey keeper! Barry Gibbs you are not!)

After this picture was taken, the baby monkey kind of crawled up my arm. I don't know whether he was tired, or hungry, or what, but he started sort of suckling my arm. I didn't know what was going on, I was 8. It didn't hurt or anything, it sort of felt like what I later realized a hickey would feel like. Not a big deal, to me. But to my mother, holy crap!

Apparently she thought the wild crazy monkey was trying to eat her youngest daughter. And She Started Hitting It! Hitting a baby monkey in a diaper, yelling, "get off, get off". Which is probably why they don't let their patrons touch their animals any longer.

My mother is probably the only person in the history of Monkey Jungle not to get kicked out for slapping a baby monkey while yelling, "get off, get off". And if anyone is here because of a really dirty Google search - ha-ha on YOU, you perv. Get the fuck off my blog.

My Karma ran over your Dogma

First things first, no news yet. It seems the school doesn't know about the incident, yet, thankfully. My son is trying to keep his daily routine and stay calm, and that's all we can do at this point, I guess.

Thank you all so much for the comments and emails and thoughts. The support, and offers of legal advice have been overwhelming, and wonderful. It's quite a little community we have going here, huh?

And to think I thought about giving it up - less than 5 hours later there was a police officer knocking on my front door.

Coincidence? I don't know. But if I promise to start posting some stuff again, will you guys promise to stop sending the police to my house?

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I may have picked a bad time to quit blogging...

My kid may be in pretty serious trouble. In all probability it's not going to be a question of if charges will be brought against him, but what charges will be brought against him. He made an error in judgement, a stupid mistake that may ruin his life at the tender age of 14. While he should have known better morally, he honestly had no idea that it might be illegal. I don't know if I would have, either.

He's not alone in this trouble, and I don't know how much of the blame will be placed on him. We won't know anything until the detectives get the case tomorrow and decide what to do. It could go any way and we could be very lucky, or he could be made an example out of. I've been led to believe that it could be very bad for him.

Expulsion from school may be the least of our problems as I won't be able to afford the school any more if I have to hire a lawyer. I've already consulted one.

I can't stop crying and I'm terrified. The worst part is not knowing what is going to happen, so my mind is free to explore all the worst case scenarios. Including the very real possibility that the FBI may have to get involved.

If you have a minute and the inclination, would you please say a prayer for him? He's a good kid, he's never been in any trouble, and I'm so scared for him...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

HTML Level 2

When I showed up for my HTML Level 2 class yesterday morning, I was already being a Debbie Downer thinking I was going to be in completely over my head. But, you know what? I was ready for it! I was going to follow along as best as I could. What the hell did I have to lose? My company was paying for it, and they really had no expectations of me other than showing up for the class.

It's not like the time I took out a student loan for thousands of dollars to find out I was not smart enough to get A+ certification, right? Yeah, I totally felt like it was.

Anyway, the first thing they told us was that there had been a death in the company over the weekend and classes were only going to go until noon. What they proposed was they would get through as much content as possible, and everyone had the option of retaking the class for free. Which is their policy, anyway, and a pretty damn good one at that.

The class instructor for Level 1 last week was great, he brought everything down to my level. While he didn't follow the book word for word, he followed along in the same sequence so I could make notes in my book and highlight or asterisk parts I felt were important. Yesterday's Level 2 instructor did not do any of that.

I had the same problem with him last year with an Excel course. He's not only too smart - he's cocky about it. His philosophy was that he would cover everything in the book, and more, but he would give it to us in a "real world environment", in other words what HE thought we needed to know to do our jobs. One of his favorite things to say was, "trust me, this will make sense in five minutes". Dude, we don't have an extra five minutes, make it make sense to me NOW..

Another thing that bugs me about this school is they are constantly trying to teach you stuff about other programs and classes they think you should take in the future, or get you to sign up for a package. Both HTML instructors were pushing CSS, Javascript, Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop. I had no intention at the time of taking anything other than the two HTML classes - teach me some freakin' HTML. Especially yesterday, as so much was being shoved into my tiny little brain in a 3-1/2 hour period.

The instructor yesterday was all over the place, and didn't follow the sequence in the book at all. So I was trying to copy his code on the screen, as he kept switching back and forth from Notepad to the finished image on IE, and I was trying to write it down at the same time. Then he decided he was going to teach us a Javascript code that would impress our instructor "when we took Javascript". He wasted a precious half hour on it. Sure, like a monkey, I can copy what he typed, but I doubt I understood it enough to actually apply it. Nor do I need to for work, if all I'm going to be doing is updating the company website...

Quite honestly, I can't see that I would have much need for it for this blog, either. Blogger makes it easy to use their functionality for fonts and colors and links and such, and there are plenty of places I can go to get backgrounds and themes and headers for free.

The Prez asked me today how my class went, and I gave him the honest critique from above. The thing with he and I is that we are always straight with each other - he is just one of the coolest employers I've ever had. I went a little further and told him that I think taking the CSS class would be helpful to me with updating the website. He asked what I thought about the rest of it. I decided I would go out on a limb and see what happened. I told him that the school suggested Dreamweaver and Java and Flash but that I couldn't justify the company paying for me to take those classes unless they were going to have me take over the website completely. If they did that, they would have to pay at least $900 to buy the Dreamweaver software.

BUT, we're thinking about redesigning the website entirely in the near future. We have a new logo we're starting to go live with, and new colors. The company that handles our IT issues and hosts our domain designed our current cookie cutter website for free as an incentive to get our business. They have been under contract for a flat fee since then, but I'm under the impression that at some point in the near future they are going to start charging us by the hour. When I suggested to the Prez that hourly rate would probably be somewhere in the range of $100, he said it would probably be more like $125, at the very least. He also said that he would have a hard time with the idea of paying upwards of $900 for software only I would be able to use.

Then he floored me by saying that if I was interested in this training, the company would pay for it if I took it on my own time. I said I would have to weigh it against taking vacation time for something I wasn't sure I would be able to use at work or in my personal life. He didn't realize the school doesn't offer night or weekend classes. We left it at both of us thinking about it.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I would be stupid not to take him up on the offer, even if I had to use vacation/personal time. And then I think I would be Really Stupid if I didn't figure out how to show The Prez that having me take over the design of the new site and updates would equal a savings somehow to the company.

I need your help, internet and blogger friends. Help me figure out a way to explain that taking these classes that run $300-$500 each, and the software associated (Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop) would be a cost savings in the long run from paying an already experienced team of experts upward of $125 an hour.

Am I out of my mind?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My landlord, Douchey McDoucherson

I've been telling you about how my landlord needs his own posts, so here is one of many more to come, I'm sure. D-Bag, as I affectionately refer to him, can't remember what he told me when, and often just makes stuff up. I'm not sure if he believes half of what he's saying, but I'm pretty sure that I don't.

He's been telling me for years that he can't afford to fix the things that are wrong on my side of the house. He's semi-retired and his wife only works part time. At the time that he was gracious enough to fix up my bathroom a little bit, he told me again that he just doesn't have the money to fix the plumbing and electricity in there. I accepted that because I understand money trouble, and they still have 2 kids at home.

D-Bag also doesn't have the money to fix the electricity in the rest of the house as he has been promising. Other than the stove and the dryer, the whole rest of the house is on ONE circuit. We've learned to deal with it, and know what can and can't be on at the same time, but it's still dangerous if you ask me. I've had flat out screaming matches with the man, especially the time smoke was seen coming out of the only outlet in my son's room. He's always got some smart ass response turning anything going wrong in the house to my fault. This time it was because my son had too much stuff plugged in. There is only one outlet in his room! Every fight ends with, "if you don't like it, you can leave".

Another sore spot for me is the shared driveway. It is huge, and there should be plenty of room for at least 5 vehicles. However, the landlord and his wife always park as stupidly as humanly possible - and they have a garage! Any time someone comes to visit me, parking ensues into drama. It's obviously hereditary - a couple of months ago, one of his older sons came for a visit. I took this picture from my bathroom window.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed there was a new car in the driveway. Eh, not my business, except the new car started going in the garage, and the landlord's old car and his wife's minivan were both now in the driveway. About a week later when I got home from work, the landlord was outside. I decided to take the opportunity to see if he was going to keep his word to me about being able to use the space between the garage and the shed (see above) to plant a small vegetable garden. He agreed, again, but we'll see what happens when it actually comes time to plant.

Like a kid with a new toy, he asked what I thought of his new car, a white Suzuki Firenza. I honestly told him I thought it was very nice. He started gushing about what a great deal he got on it, and how one of his friends got one two years ago and paid $20,000 for it, but he got this one for only $11,000.

Being the bitch that I am, I inquired if his old car had died. He explained that his younger son was going to be turning 17 and getting his license in July and would need his own car then. My face must have given me away, because he started stammering, "Oh, believe me, I didn't WANT to have to buy a new car, believe me, they're just giving them away, I couldn't pass up the deal".

Before I go any further, please let me say that if you can get a great deal on a car or a house or anything right now, good for you! It is a buyer's market, and if you have the money and/or the credit to take advantage of the sales going on all over the place, I'm happy for you!

But don't tell me you don't have the money to put into fixing up your own house and then turn around and buy a brand new $11,000 car because your son, who won't have his license for another four months, is going to need a car. The same kid that you won't even let ride his 10-speed out of the yard.

At least they better teach the kid how to park properly, or one of these days I swear I'm going to go out there with a can of yellow spray paint and put down lines.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More light at the end of the tunnel!

Today was my review. I was on pins and needles. I knew it wasn't going to be a bad review because they've consistently been telling me what a good job I have been doing. What was concerning me was if I was going to get dissed again on my raise this year.

I work for a small company, and there is not a lot of room to go anywhere. My actual job title is receptionist, although I do SO much more than answer the phones. The president of the company calls me his "special projects girl" and is constantly trying to find ways to give me more work "so he can give me more money". Well, he found a way when Laverne was out in December and I took over her job for 3 weeks. I now do the majority of the billing for the Service Department in addition to everything else I do, and I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable with it.

They gave me a really nice bonus in December, which I now understand was more than what I would usually have been given, and 3 months early. Then they gave me another small bonus totally out of the blue last week when everyone else got theirs. Being the pessimist I am, I was concerned that the bonus was going to be a way of pacifying me because my raise was going to suck, again. When you don't make a lot of money, and your job title is technically "receptionist", the standard 3% of nothing is pretty much nothing.

I decided in December that I wasn't going to push the issue. Hey, I'm lucky I have a job! I have good benefits, it's a great company to work for, and I'm 3 miles away from either my house or my son's school. I keep reminding myself of these things because jobs are not easy to come by these days. They have also been letting me take classes on their dime at a local training facility they have a contract with. I'm toying with the idea of asking them to pay for me to go back to school for an accounting degree.

Anyway, back to my review. My direct supervisor gave me a glowing report. He said he's seen a marked change in me since the HR girl left in October. (I honestly think I've also been changing personally due to this blog, being able to vent about what I need to, and the support I receive from the people reading it.) He said I've become more mature, more stable, more reliable. My attendance has improved, my demeanor has improved, and my willingness to accept more responsibility has been noticed. While I've always been one to cover for other people and help out in any way I can, the way I stepped in and calmly averted what could have been a really bad situation for the company spoke well of me.

Then he got to the raise part, the part I was dreading. I had in my head an hourly rate that I would honestly like to be at, but when I calculated it, it would have been an 8-1/4% increase. I knew that I could not realistically expect anything like that. No matter what I had in my head that I was going to say about how my job title doesn't convey what I actually do, the duties I am responsible for, I knew that I wouldn't contest whatever they gave me too much. What was I going to say in this economy when people are being asked to take cuts in pay just to retain their jobs? I knew in my heart I wasn't going to threaten to quit, that would just be stupid.

My supervisor explained that corporate had allotted them a pool of approximately 2% per person for raises. I kept my poker face and waited for him to go on. He then told me that both he and The Prez had rallied on my behalf to corporate because I had essentially taken on a new job. They took me out of the 2% pool and treated it like a promotion. My paycheck tomorrow will reflect my 9% raise! 9% in this economy! I almost kissed the man on the mouth, but then remembered my new more mature demeanor and kept my emotions in check and shook his hand!

Tomorrow, I will be at an HTML class, with a follow up on Monday so I can start to take over the company website. I'm starting to feel like not much can hold me back, right now.

Actually, I'm starting to feel like Ethel Merman - check this out:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thirteen and NOT thrilled

Are you old enough to remember a time before MTV? If you are, then you might remember Friday Night Videos. And you will probably remember that Michael Jackson was a dominant presence on the scene.

Any youngun's reading this, take notes. There actually was a time before MTV. A time where you had to get up to change channels on the television, using a knob. And there were only 3-5 channels to choose from, depending on how good your antenna was. Many of them were even in color, and no we did not have to fight off the dinosaurs to get to the tv. Shut up.

I have to get something out of the way here, a little confession of sorts. I loved Michael Jackson when I was 12 and 13. Loved him! To the point of obsession. The record Thriller came out less than 3 weeks before my 12th birthday. I never owned the record, but a lady I babysat for did. After I put her kid to bed, I would play that record over and over and over until it was time to go home. Her record player was in her bedroom, and I would dance around her bedroom, or just lay on her bed and listen to the wonder and magic that was the music of Michael Jackson.

One of my sisters worked at Dairy Queen, and for my 13th birthday she made me an ice cream cake with Michael Jackson on it. I only let people eat the outer edges of it, NO ONE was allowed to cut into his face! I saved that shit in the freezer in the basement so no one would be tempted by it. (As a funny side-note, when I checked on it months later I found that my brother had cut into the middle of it and literally eaten Michael Jackson's face. I was not amused at the time. And by not amused, I mean complete hissy fit. Asshole!)

Right around the time of my 13th birthday, the video for Thriller was set to come out on Friday Night Videos. This was a HUGE deal! The network built up the suspense for weeks. Everyone talked about how it was set up like a movie, the dancing and special effects were unbelievable, the budget was astronomical, nothing like this had ever been done before! I was foaming at the mouth in anticipation.

The big weekend came, and it turned out to be a weekend that I spent at my father and future step-mother's house. Which meant I got to spend the evening at a bar watching them drink. I remember begging my father to make sure we were back to his house by 11:30 so I could see the video. He didn't make any promises, but said if we weren't home he would make sure one of the tv's in the bar was tuned to the right station so I could see it.

The thing was, if you missed it the first time, you really missed it. There was no re-cap an hour later. If you were lucky, you might see it the following week on the next episode of Friday Night Videos, but you would be the only kid in eighth grade for that whole week who didn't see it.

I kept asking what time it was at the bar with my father. First it was 11:00, then it was 11:40. By the time the bartender turned the television to NBC, it was over. I had missed what I deemed to be one of the biggest events of my formidable years.

I have obviously never gotten over it, and blame this one single event for everything that has gone wrong in my life since then...

If you have 14 minutes of your life to waste, clicky the linky.

Thriller on youtube

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The day my blog bit me in the face

Since the conception of this blog, I had hoped to keep it semi-anonymous. One reason for that was because I thought this would be some kind of free therapy for me, and for the most part it has been. Another reason for that is because there are a lot of creepy people out there and I didn't want anyone being able to trace me back to my home address. I'm not worried about me so much, although I am a little bit, I'm more worried about my kid.

At the same time, I promised myself that I wouldn't put anything out there that would intentionally embarrass my kid. So when I started writing stories about him, I let him know. Hey, I started a blog, I wrote this and that about you - I'm not asking you if you are cool with that, I'm just letting you know, k? For the most part, his response is that he is way too cool to see what his lame mother is doing on-line.

I have sent him a link to every story that mentioned him, and every time he has ignored me - which is fine with me. I'm not sending him the link because I need some kind of attention from my child, I'm sending it out of courtesy because I just called him a monkey, or something similar. I try to never ask him afterward if he read the post, I don't seek validation from my child. I have just assumed over the past few months that he ignores everything I send him...

The other night, Tuesday night dinner with my nieces, my sister Kouf and I were talking in the kitchen while the other savages were running rampant up and down the stairs and between the rooms on the bottom floor. My son came into the kitchen, the only male in a sea of women and girls, and was playing with the younger girls. When he came in, the vase on the fridge full of flowers vibrated, as did the plants in water on the baker's rack. Keep in mind that he is incredibly skinny, but towers over everyone in the family by at least six inches.

When I pointed this fact out to him, he thought it would be funny to jump up and down in the kitchen. I didn't. After this, my sister and I thought it might be funny to nickname him Big Foot or Sasquatch, or Sassy for short. He didn't.

What he did think would be funny would be calling me "farty four eyes". OMG - I didn't send you That link! OMG - You Read My Blog!

He still won't admit to it, but all I've been called for the past couple of days is farty-four-eyes by my child. Obviously I'm going to have to do something different in the future.

I'm becoming too over-exposed or something. Perhaps I need to create a new and totally anonymous blog where I can be as dark as I want and not worry about anything...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Totally Awkward Tuesday

Tova at Tova Darling hosts Totally Awkward Tuesdays. Here's my submission this week - for once it's not about me! Yay!

You may remember me talking about this girl I work with, Laverne. She's the control freak who's job I covered when she had emergency surgery in December. Yeah, that's still an ongoing battle, but whatevs. I do what my boss tells me to do and try my best to ignore her.

Ignoring her is very difficult sometimes, because as soon as she opens her mouth, she sets my teeth on edge. She speaks her own kind of made up language, and speaks it in a nasally whine. She overemphasizes every syllable of the word she's misusing, all while sighing dramatically and wildly waving her hands around and shaking her head back and forth and rolling her eyes. Sometimes it's annoying, sometimes it's amusing. An example, "OOOOOOOH, that BOY, he SHOULDa DID it YESterDAY!". Or, "OOOOOOOOH, that BOY, he's KILLin' me DEAD!".

She outdid herself last week. Someone paid an old bill and I gave her a copy of the check. Apparently this made her even more excited than usual. As she was walking down the hall she exclaimed at the top of her lungs, "WELL! WONders never deCEASED!"

My buddy Pete poked his head out of the copy room across from me looking totally bewildered. Thank god she was walking away, because I started giggling and couldn't stop. When I finally caught my breath, Pete asked me, "what the fuck was That?".

That, my friend, is Laverne, in all her glory.