Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WNBP: Stuff's Getting Real Now

Last week, due to my mistakenly wandering a week ahead on the calendar track, was an emotional roller coaster.  In my mind, it was the last week of my summer vacation and I mourned it hard.  Then, when an exasperated sales clerk demanded repeatedly that I change the date on my check so that it represented the correct day, I realized the truth.  I still had another week to go.

By then, it was too late.  I'd already unpacked a great deal of the emotional baggage that comes with summer's end and trying to refold everything was just too difficult.  Now that the actual "end is nigh," I'm not sure how to feel.

What I do know, however, is that a sense of reality is beginning to creep in.  It's not the same diamond  edged clarity I had last week.  (And that, as we all know, was of the cubic zirconium variety but it was close enough to wear to a semi-formal occasion and be able to fool the masses)  But it is definitely a feeling.

Yeah.  It's maybe starting to get a little real up in here...

So here is your last Summer Vacation Edition Of The Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  May it adequately express all the confusion and mixed emotions of the day!

*I always make a lot of promised to myself before summer vacation.  Mostly about things I will do to improve my life while I have the time to do them.

*During the school year, I spend most of my down time on the sofa wondering if I have the strength to get up and go do it again tomorrow...

*This year, per usual, I promised myself stuff all willy-nilly.  I know me and I don't expect it will all get done, but I like to think I get to some of it.

*The one thing I promised seriously, however, was that I would finish clearing out the spare bedroom.

*AKA: The Border Hoarder Room.

*Not quite up to genuine Hoarder Standards, but you can see the potential.

*I did a lot this summer.

*I painted the living room during a heat wave.  I also painted a contrasting wall that leads into the kitchen.

*The latter involved patching a large hole.  There was drywall involved.

*I refinished and reupholstered my grandmother's sewing chair.  

*One of those things I snagged right before the house was sold.  Not sure why I took it, but it's been a handy little chair.  Very sturdy.  A solid chair to have about the manse.

*Especially when I realized I didn't have a step ladder for painting.

*Which is why it needed to be refinished and reupholstered.  

*Gotta respect the handy chair.  Even a workhorse likes to look its best.

*I installed a new light switch in the bathroom.

*One that stays up or down as my mood and lighting needs dictate.  

*It also doesn't make that weird sizzling sound when it can't decide which position to take.

*That is comforting.

*I installed roman shades in the living room.

*I rearranged several pieces of furniture to update the look around here and replaced some of the art to reflect something other than the Late Nineties And Too Lazy To Do Anything About It period.

*Budget art shopping.  Took some time.  Took some digging.  

*I hung several shelves.

*I replaced my printer for a wireless model that could be stored less obtrusively but still used.

*I found a killer deal on a faux fireplace and built a faux hearthstone upon which to place it.

*Faux mantel is forthcoming.  I ran out of Faux.

*And Time

*I did a lot.  More than I've listed.

*What I did not do was finish cleaning out the spare bedroom.

*I've cleared a path.  If you look at it with one eye closed and think positively, it almost could be considered charmingly cluttered.

*That is probably going to have to be good enough.  The reality is, I'm out of time to do the job fully.

*And out of steam.

*I went to the doctor's office last week.

*And was promptly sent home because my real appointment was for this week.

*So I went today because it seemed like the right thing to do.

*I have tendinitis.  Of the Tennis Elbow variety.

*I have moved one too many pieces of furniture and I can't help but hearken back to that time I was crawling around under the sink yelling to myself, "Hey, stupid!  Your arm doesn't bend that way and you should have just bought the correct wrench like the internet said in the first place!!!"

*I have the wrench, but I think we are going to add "replace the sprayer attachment on the kitchen sink" to the List 'O Stuff That Shall Remain Undone.

*Gotta get real about that.  

*Now I am supposed to wear a Tennis Elbow Brace.

*I'm not just making up a cute name for it.  That is what it is called.  A Tennis Elbow Brace.  You can get them at the grocery store for fifteen dollars.

*You probably already knew that was a real thing.  I did not.

*I also had blood work done today.  I have my rheumatoid factor tested every few years just to be on the safe side.

*Family history of rheumatoid arthritis.

*Thought you only had to do that once and, if cleared, all was well.  I was quickly disabused of that happy notion by a nurse with RA.

*The factor is shy and hides until it isn't a so much a factor as a reality.  Hence, I re-test every so often just to be sure I've covered my bases.

*I bring it up because I am right handed.  Which is why my tennis elbow is on the right side.

*And where they tend to take blood.

*It is nigh on impossible to wear the brace so close to the site of today's vampiric carnage.

*To be fair, I don't give up my corpuscles easily.  Nurses have to work for it.

*I try to keep it real and not scream obscenities at them as they fish about with the needle hoping for a glimpse of red.

*Very bruised inner elbow.  Very sore outer elbow what with the tennis influence and arm wrenching that occurs when a frustrated nurse is desperately trying to make blood appear.

*I don't have arthritis, of that I am fairly certain.  But, I almost feel like I've earned some sort of diagnosis after this.

*I can't be mad at the nurse.  I just can't.  She's real nice.  And she thinks I'm funny.  

*It's not her fault she has to weigh me or stab me.

*My doctor was late to my appointment.  

*Stuck behind a school bus full of kindergartners.

*The kids were fine.  The problems were more centered around parents clinging to the bus and begging reassurances from the driver.

*She lives in my hometown.  A place where school has already started for the year.

*My school starts later than most.  We get away with it because we don't take much in the way of staff development time out of the regular school year.

*It works.  And gives me a few days of non kid-impacted shopping/driving/basically enjoying life during the last week of summer vacation.

*Now that I think of it, the plethora of kids around last week probably should have been a clue that something was off with my date calculations...

*I spent fifteen minutes rhapsodizing to my cats about the features of my new back-to-school bras.

*I was enthused.  To say the least.

*Da Boyz were clearly less than impressed with my description.  In fact, I can't help but think they were not even really all that interested.

*I understand, but they could have at least faked it for the sake of politeness.

*It is entirely possible that it really is time for me to go back to school. 

* Not just in the temporal sense.  In the personal sense.

*I might be in need of some Daytime Structure.

*And a little reality check...

And there you have it.  The limit of my recollections for the week. As much as I'd like to continue thinking Summer Thoughts, I need to get real here.  Vacation is pretty much done.  A couple more days and then it's just a plain, old weekend.  Just like the one I get during the winter months.  Except for the part where Monday is a holiday, but you get the idea.

Ready or not.  Reality, here I come...


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WNBP: Don't Mind Me. Seriously. Question Everything.

It seems that when I miss a week of blogging, it is cause for concern.  I suppose this makes sense, given that I have been fairly regular since I switched from the 6-days-per-week format to the current once-weekly version.  But I honestly didn't give it much thought last week when, after a day of shopping for party supplies with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach, I was too spent to do much of anything, let alone compose intelligent sentences.

I probably should have guessed that my parents would be contacted...

My initial reaction was one of humorous dismissal.  "That's nice," I said with a chuckle, "but I'm pretty sure I've got things under control over here.  No need to push the panic button just because I took one night off!"

I've since had cause to rescind that statement.  In fact, I now believe that everyone should question everything I do rather carefully.  Furthermore, if I cannot be located for more than an hour's time, a search party should be assembled post haste.  I am, no doubt, at the bottom of a well or attempting to coax a rabid raccoon into a box so I can keep him as a pet.

At no time should it be assumed that I know what I am doing.  Ever.  Even if I say I know what I am doing, don't be fooled.  I don't.

Here is this week's Wednesday Night Bullet Post, on schedule except for the part where I lost track of time and started it a bit late:

*I somehow lost track of July.  I do that sometimes, lose track of days, weeks...yes, even entire months.

*I remember doing stuff.  I recall afternoon naps.  I know I celebrated Independence Day.  

*But it all kind of blurred together and suddenly, without warning...

*It was the last week of summer vacation!!!!

*That one hit hard.  I thought I had more time.  Worse, I still hadn't been in to school to set up the classroom and organize any of those Very Important Files Without Which No Learning Can Commence.

*I hate going in to school during the last week of vacation.  I prefer to get it done during the second to last week so I can use the final days to mope around properly.

*Somehow, I missed that window.  This irked me.

*Worse, I'd scheduled appointments!  What was I thinking?????

*I overslept yesterday.  It was only by an hour or so, but that isn't tolerated around here.

*I now need to add Shampoo The Living Room Carpet Again to the list of stuff that I need to get done before school starts.

*My feline overlords are generally benevolent dictators.

*Not so much when breakfast is late, though.

*I went in to school yesterday after doing some spot cleaning on the carpet.  

*I took poop on the carpet as a sign.  You don't ignore signs.  Clearly, I needed to get myself back on schedule.

*I planned on a two hour marathon.  Work it hard and get 'er done!  Home by noon!  

*Napping by 1:00...

*Oversleeping and having to spot clean poop out of the carpet kind of puts a damper on schedules.

*Nor is it reasonable to think that an entire classroom, plus filing, can be assembled logically in two hours.

*It also cannot be done in three hours, but that was all I had in me.  It was hot and the posters kept sliding off the walls.

*Had I done this last week, it would have been much easier.  It was far less humid.

*Why, oh why did I put this off until the last week of vacation?  How could I have been so stupid?  How does one lose an entire week???????

*And, believe me, I said this to anyone who would listen.  Which wasn't very many people since the school isn't actually open yet, but I made the effort.  I hunted down individuals to whom I might air my complaints.

*However, it was nice to add that the room was pretty much done and that I was ready to start next week.

*As much as I'm not really ready...

*I finally straightened out my online banking issues.

*And, by "online banking issues" I mean, "I haven't been able to access online banking ever."

*The system refused to allow it.  Multiple bank representatives were made aware of this over the years.

*All of whom assured me that I should have no problem signing up for online banking if I just tried again.  

*And one of whom assumed that I didn't know how to use a computer.  And said so.  To my face.

*Little Girl, I was learning how to write code before you were born...

*I did not say that.  Partly because I didn't think of it in time and mostly because writing code in the early 80's wasn't really all that impressive.

*It mostly revolved around solving for X in sophomore algebra.  

*And my flow charts never flowed well towards that goal.  Nor did my if/then statements inspire the room-sized panel of flashing gadgetry to do my will with anything remotely resembling fluid processing.

*OK.  So maybe Steve Jobs wasn't hunting me down to beg that I join his dream team in the garage, but I do know how to use a computer.

*When I went in to drop off my sort of late car payment, the nice young man asked me why I didn't just do it on-line.

*For well over a decade and then some, I have been reduced to telephone banking while I hum the soundtrack from Pretty In Pink to distract me from the fact that I am banking it 80's style.

*Although I do love me some Psychedelic Furs...

*I laughed right in the nice young man's face because a decade plus and then some is far too long to maintain one's sense of politeness and gentility.

*This time, however, a manager was in earshot.  A manager over the age of twelve and with some sense of customer service sense.

*I say "some sense" because she obviously still assumed the issue was on my end.  

*At least until the system shut her out of my online banking access.  

*Phone calls were made.  Special access codes invoked.  My footprints already in the system were erased in order that we might make a clean start of it.

*In short, I am now a proud member of the online banking community.  Something I have been trying to do since I first picked up that floppy disk on display in the bank's lobby.  The one that promised to set me up for futuristic banking.

*A floppy disk, for God's sake!!!

*No one knows why the system believed I already had a password.  I never got past the first two floppy disk prompts.  There is no way I could have set up a password.  

*Floppy disk bank blocked me!

*We decided to just call it One Of Those Things and let it go.  Except I kind of couldn't...

*Later, when I attempted to use my telephone banking pin to see if the information matched up with the version I saw on the screen, all was clear.

*My accursed telephone pin was the culprit!  When the Banking Guru erased me from the system, he/she made that go away.

*Thus clearing the path for new millennium style, updated soundtrack banking.

*Which, in hindsight, is maybe something they should have known.  Perhaps even mentioned to me.

*The floppy disk certainly didn't, but I think it had attitude problems.

*Busy day today.  I figured I might as well get as much done as possible while I was out and about so I checked store circulars before I left.  

*Maybe it's just me, but I think that stores should update their data regularly.  It does not help me to know what was on sale last week.  Just an observation.

*And one I made rather pointedly to Da Boyz, but I don't think they cared.  Food arrived on time this morning so their interest in me had waned a bit by then.

*First Stop: The doctor's office.  I had an appointment at 8:15.  I know this because it was written on a little card.

*And I quoted that little card to the nice receptionist when she told me that I did not have an appointment today.  No one had an appointment today because there wasn't even a doctor to be seen today.

*I repeated what it said on the card.  She repeated what it said on her computer screen.  

*Computer screen trumps card.  I left.  

*People are not cooperating with my last week of vacation at all.  I was contemplating sending a memo.

*It was now 8:20.  And I had three and a half hours to kill before meeting Mommy and Daddy Sheep for family lunch.

*I went to the Farmer's Market for the Weekly Visit With The Vegetables.  The last one of the summer.

*I fondly stroked a few eggplants and murmured sad good-byes to the melons.  

*Then I realized that one shouldn't be stroking and murmuring to produce because it causes people to look at one oddly.  One should purchase some melons and peaches and definitely that eggplant one was molesting and get out of Dodge.

*I found some very reasonably priced roman shades at a store known for discounted merchandise.  I wasn't exactly in the market for roman shades, but I was planning to buy new blinds later.  I figured roman shades thrown in my path were probably meant to be.

*This is a pay week.  I have money in my checking account.  I know this because I can check it online now.

*But, three days before payday, it's always nice to slow things down a bit.  I wrote a check for the shades.

*A check that I was assured would be happily accepted as long as I corrected the date.

*"You wrote the 28th," the nice man said.  "It's the 21st.  You need to change that."

*My response:  "Huh?"

*Now clearly believing that I was trying to pull some sort of check-related tom-foolery, he pointed to the paper and said, "You can't write that for the 28th.  It has to be TODAY'S DATE."

*I made a few uncertain and garbled noises, but I changed the check.  If this guy wanted to believe it was last week, so be it.  Not my problem.  I just wanted some cheap roman shades.

*And yet he seemed so certain...

*I pulled out my phone when I got back to the car.  I checked the date.  Sure enough.  It is not the 28th.  It is the 21st.  

*It is not the last week of summer vacation.  It is the second-to-last week.

*I am surrounded by calendars.  Paper versions.  Digital versions.  The bank is nice enough to put one right in the lobby for me to look at.  

*Over the past two days I have spoken to more people than I care to count about my sadness over this being the last week of summer vacation.  Several of them work with me.  They are on the exact same schedule.  

*I stood in the doctor's office today and quoted a card which listed my appointment as being for August 28th.  I quoted it twice.

*There were two people who heard it.

*I don't know whether to be horrified by how stupid I sound in public or concerned that no one saw fit to correct me until it involved possible check fraud.

So there you have it:  proof positive that I can never be left to my own devices.  Sure, I might sound like I know what I'm talking about.  I may come across as confident.  I might even use big words.  But don't for one minute let me out of your sight.  Or, if you have other things to do besides making sure I don't lick bare wires poking out of the wall, set up a rotating schedule so no one gets stuck with Sheepie Duty for overlong.  Whatever you have to do to make it work is fine with me.  The goal is to keep me alive and somewhere in the vicinity of where I need to be.

Oh, and by the way, you might want to make a note of this for the schedule.  You know that doctor's appointment I went to that isn't until next week?  The one I insisted on having made?  Yeah...that's actually for my yearly mammogram and doesn't occur anywhere near my primary care physician's office.

It says so right on the other side of that little card...


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

WNBP: Bold Moves

There has been an outbreak of brazen behavior here at the manse.  I'm not sure just what is behind it, but it's mostly working out.  Except when it's not and then things have gotten rather exciting, at least for short periods.

Note:  "Exciting" has sort of varying definitions depending upon one's circumstances.  The guy on the bomb disposal team in charge of deciding which wire to cut probably has a higher tolerance for excitement than I, a middle aged schoolteacher just trying to get a last few things done before the clock ticks down on summer vacation.  That said, a galloping heart rate is a galloping heart rate no matter who you be.

Here's every adrenaline filled moment in Wednesday Night Bullet Post format:

*I mentioned getting Thai food last week.

*It was good.  It was spicy.  It was plentiful.

*When I go out to eat with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach, I always get the leftovers.

*Not sure why.  I think she believes me to be starving to death over here.

*I couldn't wait to eat more of it.  It was that good.

*Hence, I had it for dinner.  Chicken with mango chutney.  Three and a half stars.

*Which isn't as spicy as they can make it, but spicy.  Very spicy.

*The Absurdly Gi-normous Kitty can sense food containers being opened a mile away.

*Even from a deep sleep.  He could be in the throes of the world's greatest mouse-chasing dream and still be instantly alert when certain sounds emanate from the kitchen.

*Especially when there is chicken involved.

*He's not such a huge fan of tofu and there was some of that, too.  Apparently, he was willing to forgive the vegetarian leanings in order to access the carnivorous fare.

*He appeared like magic, right there on the counter.  I don't know how he does it.

*I wasn't worried.  One whiff of those Asian spices and he'd be off.  I even let him have a sniff just to move the process along.

*When the AGK wants my dinner it is a bit of an ordeal.  One that does not end until the meal is gone or he has pilfered what he feels is his rightful share.

*My cat is not normal.  My cat is like something out of a fantasy novel where the animals are in charge of everything.  Perhaps in a previous life he was a purveyor of exotic spices.

*I shouldn't have been surprised.  Thinking back, I recall that time I found him on the stove dipping chili straight out of the pot with his paws...

*No.  I did not let him eat my mango curry.  Mango curry is not good for cats.

*But that didn't stop him from trying.  

*He woke me up several times during the night as he fiddled and slammed the lower cabinet, trying to foil the childproof lock so he could get at the empty containers.

*Which were double wrapped.

*However, since I am not bold enough to brave The Dumpster Where The Zombies Live at 1:00 in the morning, I did nothing about it until the dawn.

*I have had a paperclip holding my drain lever open for longer than I care to admit.

*I already mentioned this in an earlier post but for those of you wondering why a person would live in such a savage fashion, here is my reasoning:


*I've had the supplies to fix the drain for a while now, but not the will.  Last week, I finally summoned up the courage to face my fears.

*It will take years of very expensive therapy and a few very powerful psychotropic medications before I can go into any detail.  For now, I can only say the following:

1.  Clearly, the manse was very creatively constructed, at least as far as the plumbing went.  There was little that resembled the nice, clean illustrations that came with my new drain/overflow plate assembly kit.

2.  This job took longer than it should have and that is not a good thing when you are facing your demons.  See previous observation.

3.  I am still not really "done."  I will require a special tool, probably something made of titanium and diamonds and made only the the farthest reaches of some long disbanded country to remove the actual drain assembly for replacement.

4.  Again...see observation the first.  However there was information available on the Internet so it can't be that rare.  Hope springs eternal that there is a simple way to obtain this tool.

*For now, I am just grateful the most important fix was doable and that I no longer require office supplies to drain my bathtub.  

*Although I'll miss the thrill that comes from balancing precariously on one foot in the shower while the other depresses the lever when the paperclip unexpectedly breaks.  

*At the risk of repeating myself...excitement is a relative concept.

*Over the past few summers, I've gotten in the habit of doing some school year meal prepping.  It's good to have things ready to go once I'm back to work.  

*Children make me tired.  I am not as young as I once was, you know.

*I always can up a bunch of chicken since it is easy to make into edibles and, once pressure canned, will keep well without refrigeration.

*To make life easier, I usually pick up the skinless, boneless variety.  More expensive, but less time consuming.

*I am on summer vacation.  I am home a lot.  With access to cable television.  

*Hence, I decided it was perfectly within my skill set to purchase a couple of whole chickens and do the bone removal all by myself.

*I blame BBC America and MasterChef.  I wouldn't have come up with such a crazy plan all by myself, now would I?

*Actually, it didn't go as badly as it could have.  I don't think I'm ready to compete with the professionals, nor will I go so far as to say not a scrap of meat was wasted.  But there were neither bones nor skin when I was done.

*I even remembered to remind myself to toss the giblet packet in the trash before it attracted unwanted pests.  Or cats.

*Note to self:  Remembering to remind one's self is not the same as remembering to actually complete the task.  In fact, it is pretty much the same as leaving it in the sink.

*When the first fowl was finally wrestled into a boneless state, I turned to find a bloody trail leading from the kitchen to the living room.

*I followed it to find a scrap of waxed paper and one Very Complicated Kitty looking rather embarrassed .

*The ninja cat who actually did the deed was nowhere to be found, but I wasn't fooled for a minute.

*As I told the VCK, "I don't blame you for the theft as I know you don't have the delicate grace necessary to pull it off.  However, I am extremely disappointed in you for participating, even after the fact."

*He had the good grace to look abashed while I cleaned the carpet.  

*The culprit slept the sleep of the innocent whilst digesting a bellyful of ill gotten gains.

*I am assuming that the paper was mostly eaten by the VCK.  He likes paper...

*The scene of the crime and the counter top where I was committing criminal acts upon a chicken are less than three feet apart.  

*I heard nothing.  I saw nothing.  

*My cat is not of this world, I tell you.  He's like a spicy Thai loving agent for the CIA!!!

*And fearless.  Who steals chicken giblets right in front of The Boss 'O The House???

*I have delusions of grandeur.  Let it go.  I fixed a drain and dealt with chicken bones.  There was squealing involved and I'm in need of some self-esteem boosting right now.

*Between the mango curry and the raw chicken entrails, I spent a few anxious days watching the littler box and wondering just how bad this was going to be.

*Probably not worse than the drain, but neither would it be a basket of puppies.

*All is well.  No ill effects.  However, both cats look at me like they are expecting a menu and a list of Today's Specials...

*I canned stew beef on Monday.  I had waaay more of the cooking liquid left over than I'd planned.

*So today, I picked up a few beef bones and some veggies.  Figured I might as well make a proper stock out of it.  

*No cats were involved at any level of the process.

*I guess they aren't fans of the red meat.

*Which makes me wish I was since I really want to can some sweet 'n sour chicken on Friday and I'm not sure I have the cash to pay for both my share and the cats'.

Yes, bold decisions were made and daring plans executed over the past week.  Heck, I even ventured back into The Scary Closet Of Bridesmaid Dresses And Other Assorted Horrors From The 90's for another round of junk hauling!  I'm on a roll, but who knows how long I can sustain it?  Once the will to face danger and yucky things passes, it's kind of over.  I figure I should run with it while I got it.  I might even tackle that drawer in the fridge that sometimes looks to contain an actual moving life form!

But I doubt it.  No one is that bold...