Saturday, June 30, 2012

I've been on a writing frenzy for the past few days. Maybe it's because I decided my job sucks and that I need to find one that doesn't make me want to throttle people through walls. Or maybe it's because I've had plenty of sleep after about a week of insomnia and my brain needed that extra charge to be creative. I don't really know, but it's been awesome. I've actually been able to figure out plot points that I've been having the hardest fucking time reconciling with the rest of the series. I've even gotten a domain name for "The Legion," the link to which I'll post here once I get the site ready to go.

And it's apparently been "Unfuck Your Habitat" at my apartment, because I cannot seem to stop cleaning or organizing (when I'm not writing, of course). My kitchen, while not spotless - because who am I kidding, spotless? HA - has rhyme and reason to how it's set up. I even hung up POTS, for God's sake. I am still not inviting my mother over until it looks like it's been at least a few weeks since a tornado instead of right after, but it's progress.

It really is amazing how much the light at the end of the tunnel will do to someone's psyche. August 31st is looking like this oasis of sorts - several miles away, but doable. And my camel hasn't yet decided that it hates me and it probably wants the water there, too.
Camels are awesome. Not as awesome as their cousin, the alpaca, but pretty fucking close. LOOK AT THAT FACE. It just says, "Ride me into the desert!"* Or possibly, "Smoke cigarettes. Don't you wanna be cool like me?"**
Even the people at work have noticed a distinct change in my demeanor. Most of them don't know that I'm leaving yet, though, so I think they assume I've found Jesus. The ones that do know are like, "GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!!" or "OMG I'M SO JEALOUS!!" Once I sent my resignation email, my supervisor spent the next two days trying to convince me that I was making a mistake. He is the only one. And after looking at the next two month's schedule? Shit. Even with no new clients (yay, being a lead caseworker), the sheer number of recertifications is frightening.

Now, this is not to say that there aren't a few things I'm going to miss about the place. I've met some incredible people there (you know who you are and I will stalk you daily, in a non-creepy way), and there are several clients that I'm actually sad I won't be seeing again. At least, not in a SNAP/TANF/Medicaid capacity. There's one that cracks me up and, during our "interviews," we end up joking and complaining about QVC or something.

For the most part, though, I'm counting down the days until freedom. Because then I can basically do the very things that I have been doing, like in the first paragraph. I don't think that I'll never be bored or sad or whatever, because that's just life. But at least it will be on my terms for the most part. And I won't ever have to listen to the phrase: "Where my food stamps be at?"***
Oddly enough, there weren't too many Mel Gibson as William Wallace images on Google Image Search. But there were PLENTY of American flags.
* Not in a sexual way. I'm not okay with bestiality.
** P.S.A. Do not start smoking, kids. You will turn into a giant phlegm monster. Don't listen to the camel.
*** Before you get all THAT'S RACIST on me, the majority of people that I hear say this just happen to be white people.

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Effing HOT (for those of you who don't already know this)

As of today, a town outside of Nashville has declared that fireworks are, until further notice, banned due to the heat. This sort of thing hasn't happened in my lifetime, as short as that may be. And as the temperatures crested to 109 degrees - proof that Mother Earth has had just about enough of our shit and wants us all to die - I found myself running towards the bus. Normally, this wouldn't phase me. I'm fairly physically fit, thanks to Jillian's insanity, so the short burst of energy shouldn't have done what it did. I was exhausted, huffing, covered in sweat. It was gross and there were plenty of other people on the bus in the same boat: smelly, sticky people in one small place. I wish I had nose plugs.

Throughout my life, I've always said, "I LOVE THE HEAT MOAR HEEEAAT!" It's safe to say that, yes, I am an asshole. Because I don't like it. At all, especially right now. I just hadn't had the oh so fun experience of living triple-digit areas of the world whose humidity might just match the Amazon.* Mind you, in about six months, I'm going to be bitching about the cold, because it's my thing: I can't stand extremes in temperatures. Three? He loves the cold. I've never seen him happier than when it snowed that one time this past winter. And this heat is just killing him; he's threatening to move us to the Arctic Circle. Although right now, I probably wouldn't fight him.

But anyway, I'm home aka the place where the A/C lives, and I don't think I'm going to go outside again until late September. Unless it's to water my Tomato Babies on the balcony. I can't let them suffer.

* I'm assuming. I've never been. My generalization may just further prove that, indeed, I am an asshole.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quittin' Time

I was talking to some of my friends recently about how my job's been going, which is to say, not well. I'm not in any danger of getting fired, and I'm pretty sure that I'm held in somewhat high esteem with upper management (even though I'm pretty vocal whenever I disagree about, oh, anything). I get the job done and the majority of my clients are satisfied, with a few that aren't. That's just part of the game. But there's this lingering thing hanging over my head on an essentially daily basis.

This past Friday, I left work for home and, as soon as I'd gone through my front door, this big wave of fear came over me. I was already dreading going back in on Monday. Now, this is not to say that everyone loves their jobs; I know they don't. Most of the time, a job is just that: a thing we do to make money so we can pay bills and not have to live on the street, begging passersby to shell out their cash so we can buy something at the gas station. And most of the time - or at least, until a few days ago - I function that way. I never thought about work when I left. I came home, did various chores, wrote, drew dinosaurs in period-wear*, played with Zola and the kitties, etc. I even somewhat enjoyed my choice of what had apparently become my career.

But on Friday? I couldn't deal with the fact I would be headed back to that damned cubicle, with the bazillion plus one emails, voicemails, changes, applications, whatever. It actually induced a bit of a depression in me, which was not helped by watching the horrendous movie that was "Prometheus**." This churning feeling in my stomach kept me awake, and when I was able to fall asleep, I kept having dreams about drop-kicking asshole clients.

I've never wanted to be that caseworker who has completely removed her heart the second she walks through the front doors, but that idealism is quickly falling by the wayside. I'm becoming jaded, callous. I've caught myself hating a person when they come into the office or mentally chastising a client for asking a question that they undoubtedly couldn't know the answer to. They haven't been doing this job for three years; how could they? But it hurts me. I don't want to be that person.

Anyway, like I said above, I was talking to my friends about it, and they all essentially agree that it may, indeed, be quittin' time for me. Sure, there are several who warned me about financial difficulties and are trying to help me keep my head on straight, but for the most part, they're all wondering the same thing I am: how in the fuck did I manage to stay sane for three years of dealing with the same bullshit, day in and day out?

Part of my hesitation to actually quit is fear. Will Three's new job be able to pay for our bills if I focus entirely on writing? I mean, yeah, he's getting paid well, but having two sources of income is helpful so we can, you know, pay for necessities like tires and food and the occasional liter of boxed wine. I could always get a part-time job, I suppose, for savings; there seem to be plenty of those around. And I'll have health insurance through his job.

But the fear doesn't totally come from financial stability. The other is, dear GOD, what if I fail? What if I don't become at least moderately successful? I don't necessarily want to become a multimillionaire or anything; a modest salary would be fine. As long as I don't wake up and think, "Fuck, it's another day of doling out the SNAP*** shit. I wonder which dickbag is going to piss me off today." But still, even if I sell a few ebooks, short stories, articles, novels, what-have-you, what if it's still Three completely taking care of me? I don't want to be That Wife.

Ugh.



Three told me today that we need to sit down and see if me quitting is feasible: come up with a budget and figure out what we can and can't cut or even if we need to do anything drastic. I'm currently looking for another job, either way, so at least I have options. But I do know this: I have to get out. Or else I may rampage.

 * TRUE STORY:
I named her Bonnie the Bonneted T-Rex.
** Not that the company wasn't awesome. It was a blast to be able to laugh and say, "OMG SHE DIED BECAUSE SUDDENLY SHE COULDN'T RUN SIDEWAYS!" and not be scowled at for ruining the ambiance.

*** What food stamps are now called. I don't really know why they decided to call it SNAP, although I think it's to get away from the stigma of food stamps and also to remind people that they are a supplement to your income, not your entire food budget. Oh, and also, so they can make quippy advertisements like, "Oh, SNAP! Look! YOU CAN USE YOUR SNAP BENEFITS HERE!!" And yes, people have actually done that and they hang fliers everywhere near my office.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

TAT. ME. UP.

I think that my love of tattoos is going to keep me poor. I only have three right now: fish, Polish folk art flower ... thingy, and Wonder Woman. And I keep coming up with ideas for more. It's an addiction, you guys.* I'm jonesing. BAD. And I can't pick which one of my ideas to go with. It's like "Sophie's Choice." But without the kid dying.


The simple ones:


1) "Big Hungry Bear" - I read this book as a child and I want an image from one of the last pages (that I can't find on the internet ANYWHERE) where [SPOILER ALERT]the mouse is sharing the strawberry with the reader.
2) A hummingbird sipping out of a lilac - this is to honor both of my grandmothers.
3) A Major's insignia - both of my parents were Majors in the Air Force.
4) A simple black cross - I want this on the top of my right foot.
5) A henna design on my left foot - I haven't completely thought this one through, since I don't know which design I actually want. Sigh.
6) Purple lightsaber on the interior of my right pointer finger - this just goes without saying. 
7) A combination of my Big Three zodiac signs: Picses (rising), Sagittarius (sun), Gemini (moon). 
8) Pig (I was born in the Year of the Pig) - like this:
9) Llama - Seriously, my favorite animal on the planet. I wonder if I can find the awesome llama/alpaca artwork I was going to use as a reference. Hmmmmm.
10) "Remember Where You Came From" - A quote from both of my parents every time I'd go some place, be it a friend's house, college, down to the damned grocery store. I think it's better than my mom's attempt at coining, "Don't do drugs or have sex!"
11) A phoenix - it just kind of is my symbol. How many times have I crashed and burned and come out stronger? God knows. My mom probably does, too.


I know there are more of these, but that list is on my stupid, dead computer. Sigh. I'm going to have to start using Google Docs more.


And ... now for the big one:


I'll be getting a half-sleeve on my left arm that's going to be all about my spirituality. It's going to incorporate my Christian, Buddhist, and Wiccan beliefs**. This whole thing is going to be A Process because I'm still not entirely sure what exactly I want in it. I do know that Durga is going to be the centerpiece:

This kickass bitch said some of my favorite lines from Indian literature: "Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I kill you, the gods themselves will roar with delight." 
In some iconography of Durga, she's sitting on a lotus flower. Now, I like lotuses. I love what they stand for, but you know what, I want Durga to sit on a damned magnolia (my favorite flower).
Anyway, I'm going to have to look up images of iconography and then sit down with a tattoo artist to come up with the design. Come up with a way to seamlessly integrate everything. It's going to be some work.


And the moral of this story is tattoos make you poor because you will always want more.


* This is why I don't gamble. Seriously.
** I told you my spiritual leanings were REALLY hard to explain. Here's how I usually explain it: I'm a follower of Christ, who just happens to view nature as my church and study Buddhist texts. It's actually a lot more complicated than that, but it's just easier to leave it at that. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I can watch this every single minute of my day and not get bored with it.


I don't really think there is much else to say, guys. Happy, diabolical Saturday!!

Nerves of STEEL. Except not.

When I'm at work, I'm fairly easy going. I get yelled at a lot so it's kind of necessary. Clients think I should get things done faster; clients don't understand that our policy doesn't have a personal vendetta against them; there are various stupid people that work at the office who plague me with stupid questions that have very easy, stupid answers (that they should already know but somehow forget)*. Whatever. It's a frustrating job that I manage to perform on a weekdaily* basis. But there are still days where I lose my shit.

I am interviewing pretty much all day. That's just the nature of this job. And the "down time" (haha) I have is used to process changes, respond to emails, yell at my supervisor for forgetting the thing I asked him to do two weeks ago for the 45937th time, reports, etc. So I get this email from a client, who, quite frankly, is a pain in my ass. She had emailed me several weeks ago, begging me to move her appointment up, but I didn't have any slots available and was like, "You have to wait, sorry." The interview went fine until I told her that, yes, I indeed had to verify her income. She said that it was on the Work Number***, and I inform her that, since she's only been working there for less than three weeks, I'll need something from her employer, letting me know how many she hours she will most likely be scheduled per week and at what rate. I give her my fax number and email and tell her its due ten days from now. Easy? I would think so.

Then, oh, today's message? Incredibly rude, basically calling me a lazy ass for not answering my phone (um, she never left a message, but okay) and that I need to call her. Why didn't she email me? Because I didn't respond to the other email last month to tell her that I would not be seeing her earlier. And yes, she had a fair point. I could have responded, but it would have started this spiral into, "Why can't you see me earlier? I have NEEDS." And I didn't want to get into that, so I just waited for her to either come in on her scheduled appointment date or for me to call her on that date. Anyway, not two minutes later, I get an email from one of the higher ups, saying I need to call the client (no reason given, but okay), and then right after that, my supervisor comes into my cubicle, asking me about this client.

My supervisor is on the phone with the woman and she's demanding that I take care of her case right the fuck now because she's been trying to call me. Then he says that she has been told by her employer that they won't provide the statement because her income is on the Work Number. I explain to my supervisor that the income on there is not sufficient for me to accurately calculate her income (seriously, it's an annoying bit of math) and he goes back to tell her this. About thirty seconds later, he's bounding back, saying that she has her employer on the line and whatever, and just to use the three pay stubs on the website.

"You do realize that this is not really following policy, right?"

I mean, technically, in particular circumstances, you can fudge policy. I do it every day. It's not wrong, per se, and if you document why you did it, usually Quality Assurance isn't going to jump down your throat. Unless you're, like, approving benefits for someone who obviously doesn't qualify. And normally, if you are a respectful, if flustered, client, I'll work with you. But when you are an absolute bitch? Nope. Not unless I have no choice, which in this case, I didn't. I was essentially receiving an executive order to process her case.

And what was so damned frustrating about this whole thing is, the client wasn't even eligible in the first place! At least, based on the income that I could verify. Which is why I was waiting for more information, anyway. But noooooooooo.

Then my supervisor tells me I have to email her back - because he told her I would - regarding the outcome, so I do, very civilly. I even give her extra information, in hopes that she'll just stop bothering me and we'll be done (at least until next year, when she has to recertify****). About thirty minutes passes, and I have to go to a meeting/training session, so I'm thinking, "Yay, done."

Hahahaha, oh, I should have learned by now.

I come back from my meeting to this scathing email from her, calling me (and all caseworkers at the office) "lazies" and saying that she was going to call the lady she spoke with earlier - the upper management person - because she was sure that I'd calculated the income incorrectly because ... I had to use the pay stubs that were available? Or something. I'm not really sure because I was kind of distracted by being called a "lazies."

Honestly, it's this kind of shit that makes caseworkers go on rampages. Or quit. Because clients can behave like assholes. If they don't like what the outcome is. If they don't like that you are overworked and can't return their phone calls (even if you tell them to call the service center, who was created solely to answer questions and processes changes, if possible, but whatever). If they are mad at whatever thing that has nothing to do with you. The reasons don't really matter. It's the fact that some treat you like you have no soul.

Now, I am raging pissed. My face is red and I am about ready to pull a move straight out of "Scanners." I'm glad my supervisor is the one dealing with the client over the phone, because I would probably be fired for screaming obscenities at her*****. But I'm still kind of burned up about it. She's no longer in my caseload (thanks, Supervisor), but fuck. Sigh.

On a scale of one to ten, my desire to quit this damned job is probably at a 21.

* For example: If someone isn't receiving SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps), yes, they do in fact have to apply for them, even if they are already receiving TANF (welfare) or Medicaid.
** I made up a WORD! Not as awesome as my favorites, "amaxing" or "fickwut," but it'll do.
*** Probably one of my favorite and least favorite resources I have at my disposal. The Work Number is a website that a lot of companies are using to document pay stubs for their employees to make it easier to access that information if 1) the client lost his/her pay stubs and wants them for his/her own records or 2) if someone needs to verify that s/he is working. It makes it easier on me because I can just verify the income without waiting for the clients to get it to me, but it also makes them lazier at times and downright uncooperative at others. Say, for instance, this client (see above).
**** I'm not planning on being here, but oh, well. She'll have to deal with someone else then.
***** Although I found out today that there was a caseworker who actually hit a client and s/he is still employed here. Maybe it was in self-defense, I don't know. And I don't think I'd ever take it that far, but still.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part VII: Aveos Are Grounds for Divorce

Ahhh, you thought I was finished, did you?? You clearly are underestimating the Bad Luck Fairy's hold on my car life.

Before Three and I met, we both decided that we should get identical cars, in case we should ever cross paths. So we both purchased one Chevy Aveo each. He bought a 2004 yellow hatchback with a sunroof and manual transmission (Chiquita), and I bought a 2005 red hatchback automatic (Roxy). When we finally came across each other that fateful day in August 2010, he actually made a comment which was totally awkward because I had no idea what he was talking about.

Me: Where is my car? Is it done?
Three: Oh, it's in the front. I parked it out there. Or maybe I just wanted a red one instead! Hahahah!
Me: ... What?
Three: Oh. Uh, you don't live inside my head. Um, I have one, too?
Me: Oh. Okay.

We were FATED, okay?

Well, as it is well known, at least in my home and on this blog, that Aveos are crap cars. Chevy makes good trucks, Impalas, and Malibus. Aveos? No. They are marketed to poor college students for a reason. Great on gas mileage, not so much for anything else. Three and I frequently bond over this fact, and we have a small fake-money pool for when we think Chiquita is going to keel over and die. Kind of like how Roxy went out in a blaze of glory.

Three was still working for Satan Valvoline, and they were having a deal on all their services on Saturday, so I figured, hell, I'll just take the car down for an oil change and maybe a transmission flush or something. Why not?* I got there early, mainly so I could help Three and his employees set up this tent thingy that you needed a physics degree to erect (haha, erect) but also, hey, discounts! And also a chance to be a bitch to his area manager. I think I was the first person in line, which is only fair since I was there since, like, seven that morning, but when I pulled into the bay, it started raining. I should have taken that as a sign.

A little back story here. Three had just taken over this store a few months prior as a brand new general manager and had previously had a pretty decent area manager, named Lance. Lance was a skeezeball**, but he let Three be since he got results. Now, he thought it was because Three was being underhanded, when in fact, customers were just happy someone was being straight and honest with them. And this store was in a poorer section of town, so it was even harder to get good numbers like the bigwigs wanted. Then, Scott (cue clown music) is given an area manager position. Scott is a dickball. He just is. He's a bald (on purpose) idiot who thinks he's awesome because ... well, I'm not sure. He's as dumb as a pot roast and he "tooken English classes and got the honors."

Just an example:

Scott: So what's going on with this lady?
Three: Well, she's been rather cavalier about this whole car maintenance process -
Scott: Wait, she has a Cavalier, too?
Three: ... No, she has a cavalier attitude.
Scott: Now, you listen here. Just because our customers have Cavaliers does not mean they have bad attitudes.
Three: ... I have to go.

Yeah, there you go. He's also tenacious. When Three was doing a Christmas charity, he was written up for not getting enough people to donate. In a poor area of town. That was probably receiving the charity in the first place. When Three's store didn't make the necessary numbers, he would force Three to work seven days a week, open to close ... because that will change something. Somehow. So, dumb and aggressive is this guy. And also why I relished the notion of being an unrepentant bitch to him.

After the oil was changed, I told the technician that I wanted a flush or ... honestly, I can't remember. But it was another service they offered. A line had started to build, and Scott wanted to make sure he could eke as much money out of every person possible, so he asked me to pull out over to the side, where they would do the flush or whatever. This was a bad idea for two reasons:

1) It was outside, away from cameras.
2) Scott was going to be doing it, and as I've already proven, he is a moron.

But Three seemed to think it was okay, but I blame that on him being exhausted (he had only slept 4 hours the night before and was going on 70 hours that week) and overwhelmed with shit to do. I really should have trusted my instincts. This goofy technician (he sounded like Kermit the Frog) was blundering around with the machine, and they were having a hard time keeping the rain, which had started to just pour from the sky, out of the engine. The entire time, I was thinking, "I really shouldn't even be getting this done."

Everything seemed to go okay, and I gave Three a kiss and headed back to the apartment to go back to bed.

It was about a week later, as I was driving to Three's store, that my lapse in trusting my judgment bit me in the ass. I was driving on I-24 and coming up on the exit when I noticed that 1) the red check engine light was coming on and 2) there was smoke billowing out from under the hood.

So you know:


Thankfully, I was only about two seconds away from the store, and I pulled into the parking lot with my hands in the air (I drive with my knees with greater skill than my hands, a trick learned while smoking) in frustration. Three opens the hood and, sure enough, the procedure conducted a week prior had pulled loose something that made the coolant and oil (with a little bit of gasoline) mix and spray everywhere. And so now the car is fucked beyond repair. Sure, we could probably replace a whole bunch of shit (probably the whole engine, actually, if our mechanic friend is to be believed***) but that would be more than the car is worth. My dad ended up helping us tow Roxy back to our apartment complex, where she to this day sits. She looks fine. She just can't drive more than a few feet. And so we're stuck with Chiquita, who is paid for so I can't really complain.

Except that I do.

Lesson learned: never go to Valvoline for anything. Also, don't buy an Aveo.

* This, followed by a dramatic, life-altering event, could be considered the pattern of my life, actually.

** Skeezeballs also get fired for asking a female employee to show him her tits, despite what they may tell you.

*** He is.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When the husbeast sleeps ...

Three's work schedule has totally fucked him up. I'm sure that once he's been working third shift for a while, he'll be used to it, but damn.
First of all, his job has kind of dicked him around a bit for the last two months. At first, he was on third shift. Then they moved him to second shift. A few weeks later, he was put on a weird in between shift, and then the next week, he was told he was back on third again. Which, you know, what the hell?
Second, he has diabetes. It's Type II, so he's not insulin dependent, but all of this constant change makes him eat at different times. For those of you who know people with diabetes, you understand that this is a very bad thing. Last week, his body just said, "Enough, fucker. I'm done." He thankfully had that weekend off, and he spent the whole time sleeping.
I feel bad for the poor boy. He gets ... slow when he is sleepy. He calls it his "lizard brain." Normally, he's this ubergenius who does calculus in his head for fun and watches Ted Talks (a show where really smart people ask ridiculously wealthy people for grants to do insane things like mine an asteroid that's been dragged back to Earth instead of asking governments) for inspiration. But after no or not enough quality sleep? Yeah, he's a mess. He'll fall down for no reason, forget basic words, uses really bad non sequiturs. And his driving, while normally horrendous, gets even worse. Once, he drove into oncoming traffic and didn't even realize it, which is why, any time he is going to be getting behind the wheel, I make him wake up and move around for about 30 - 45 minutes before hopping in the car.
Right now, I'm sitting the bed, trying to type extremely quietly (though not having much luck), and he's snuggled up under our comforter. It's 7:30P as I'm writing this and he has to get up in about an hour; I really, really don't want to wake him up. Our apartment complex, after getting sick of the shitty job the roofing company they hired to fix their job for the fourth or fifth time, has contracted a new company that just, about thirty minutes ago, finished their work for today. And they've been at it since eight this morning. Which means the pitiful husbeast beside me probably has only gotten a few hours of sleep today.
He just turned to me and said, "Sweetie, I'm sorry I'm not being a better husband right now. I'm just ... so ..."
Aaaand like that, he's out like a light again.
Honestly, it doesn't bother me. I can entertain myself quite well and have always been able to do so. My imagination is a pretty awesome place to be most of the time. It's not that I don't miss him. I totally do. I don't like sleeping alone while he's at work. As much as I love Zola, she's just not the same.
Although she does have one of the cutest faces when she's sleeping. :D
But it's not like our marriage is being hurt by this. We get the afternoons and weekends (usually) to hang out, just like with a 9 - 5 job. On days like this, I can't really get what I need to get done around the house accomplished because I don't want to keep him up. (He even offers to go sleep on the floor in the other room so I can do housework and shit, but I'm not about to let him do that when we have a perfectly acceptable bed here.) But hell, I can get that done when he leaves. I have no problem keeping the asshole downstairs awake with my vacuuming; she's woken me from a deep sleep with drunken slurring at 3A before, so my sympathy for her is minimum, at best. 
I just don't want him worried about us, you know? I mean, he already is. But I don't want to exacerbate the situation by complaining. I don't really have any thing to complain about, actually: he has a good job that's steady and has plenty of room for advancement AND we spend time together. And I get my alone time, which I need more than anyone I know. I can blog, surf the internet, play with Zola, write, draw, watch bad Lifetime movies. 
Although, shit, it's close to eight now. I should probably wake up Sleeping Husbeast so he can get some food in him. Because sleepy and hungry Three? I'd rather wrestle a polar bear, thanks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part VI: How I Met Your Father

Roxy makes lots of visits in this series because she is an Aveo. It's almost like she belongs here among complaints of stupid car shit. But I can say that I would not have met my husband if it wasn't for this damned thing.

It is a hot, bright sunny day in Nashville on August 21, 2010, and I am going to be driving to Atlanta to visit a friend that next weekend. I want to be sure my car would be good for the trip, so I stop in the Valvoline closest to my parents' house. I was living there at the time since working for the state wasn't exactly helpful in ways of paying rent by myself. The second I pull up to wait, I notice this guy: a curly-headed, olive-skinned dude wearing a Valvoline hat and rocking his work pants. Another guy working there directs me behind what I later found out was Bay 3, and I reluctantly park there, the whole time trying to discreetly check out the curly-headed guy.

My luck apparently changes because Bay 1 opened up (Three later told me the customer suddenly changed his mind and only wanted an oil change - FATE!!) and Curly-Head motions for me to come over there. He flashes me this smile and I giggled.

Okay, I have absolutely never giggled at a guy before; at least, not in this sort of situation. I feel like such a moron and try to cover it up, but he notices and ugh. I tell him what I need, he nods, and guides me into the bay. I think I mouth "OH MY GOD" at least fifteen times to myself as I watch him move around. Seriously, his ass? A sight to behold.

When it comes time to recharge my A/C, he asks me to go into the lobby and wait until everything was done. I can't leer at him anymore, so I grab my phone and try to distract myself with whatever game I had then. Maybe Brick Breaker? To my delight, he comes into the lobby.

"Well, it looks like you'll need a new battery soon, but I wouldn't worry about it for -"

"It's okay. Just put a new one in."

He has this shocked expression on his face, and I immediately regretted it, but oh well. He smiles - again, that smile - and says, "Oh, hey, by the way, I like your paint."

I have a tattoo down the center of my back that was inspired by Polish folk art and I was wearing a very skimpy tank top (it was hot out, okay? I wasn't planning on getting all flirty with a Valvoline employee), so of course he can see it. But I am all, "OMG, HE WAS WATCHING ME AS I WALKED AWAY SQUEEEEE!"


The tattoo in question.
I go on to explain that it was in honor of my grandmother who was Polish and that I had brought the artist about four or five different images I wanted him to use as references. Basically, I am sputtering and trying to give him a reason to stay. He looks out into the bay area and then sighs, deciding to take a break.

Of course, my head is all going places and thinking things and yet not able to actually form words. He's like, "God, it's hot out there," and I'm like, "Yeah, it's hot as balls. Not that I ... have balls. But I would imagine that this is what that would ... feel like??" It was just so headdesky that, looking back on it, I'm surprised he showed any interest in me at all.

But I digress. How is this about a lack of car luck?

WELL. Let me tell you.

As it turns out, I have an Aveo. I may have mentioned this before. The car keeps having issues, and I go back to Valvoline to get these things fixed. And despite what you're thinking, these are all legitimate things. Basically, my two rear lights are not working, which initially is blamed on the new battery. Then they figure out it must be a sensor, so Three sends me to NTB, National Tire something or other, just down the street. I drive away, and unbeknownst to me, Three is thinking, "Damn, I may never see her again. Well, maybe she'll come back to get her oil changed in three months." Well, NTB tells me, "Hey, you have to go to your dealer because we don't do sensors."

If you remember, Carmax is my dealer and I had vowed never, ever to have anything to do with them again, so I'm more than a little reluctant to comply. Now, Three had called me from his cell phone regarding the battery arriving, so I figure, what the hell. I text him: "Hey, this is Juju. I just wanted to thank you for all the help you've giving me, but I have one more favor to ask. NTB is telling me I have to go to Carmax. Can you think of anyone else that might be able to help me?"

I wait a few seconds after sending, mentally flogging myself, but he calls me!

His first words: "Yeah, that's crap. I'll fix it for you. Can you come to the store tomorrow?"

Of course I say yes. And of course he asks me out* and of course we go on a second date the next night** and OMG I'm completely infatuated and then I remember, God, I have to go to Atlanta this weekend. I think about canceling but realize that's a really shitty thing to do. So I'm down in Atlanta, the whole time trying to stay focused on my friend who keeps fucking asking me about Three, and actually have a lot of fun. We stay in my friend's friend's condo which is amazing and has a hot tub. We go to the botanical gardens and we eat incredible food, all the while I'm avoiding thinking about Three. Then, the day I'm supposed to go back, my car is dead. Completely.

The fuck? According to the neighbor, my brake lights were on the whole time, even after I'd turned off the car on Friday night. Awesome. My friend helps me jump the car, and I immediately call Three to tell him what happened. He's concerned but assures me that he'll look into it when I get home. On my way back to Nashville, I notice that the radio isn't working and that the clock is now permanently set at 1:00. And none of the cigarette lighter things that I used to charge up my phone were functioning. Great. I hadn't charged my phone that night since I was assuming I could do so in my car, so I'm hoping now that no giant tragedies occur. And if you know anything about me, this hope is actually very much needed. 

Now, if you'll notice from reading my other posts, nope, none of the above problems were fixed. And Roxy is officially dead and waiting to be transported back to Carmax as we speak. But! I have an awesome husband, Valvoline is no longer a part of our lives, and Three's ass is still bangin'. 

* At first I'm nervous and I say, "God, I'm tired." He cocks his head to the side and says, "Well, that probably precludes my next question, but I'm going to ask anyway. Do you want to go grab a drink?" He had me at "precludes."

** And there may or may not have been some outdoor, park bench sex.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh, dear God.

On Saturday, I went to get Chiquita's oil changed at one of the local oil change places - a lot better customer service than Valvoline and Jiffy Lube and a helluva lot cheaper - since the husband was called in to work on his day off. Unlike the quick-lube chain places, or at least the one's I have gone to, they sent me into a waiting room, with free coffee, bathrooms, air conditioning, and cable TV. I unfortunately had forgotten my headphones at home, so I found myself watching House Hunters on HGTV. It was a couple with three kids relocating to Tampa, FL, from Detroit, MI, and okay, fine. Whatever. You are moving there because of your husband's job. Cool.


But dear GOD, I wanted throttle these people. Even the real estate agent was all, "Um, are your heads completely up your asses, or is it just me?"


It was this utter disdain for a house that *GASP* only had two bathrooms that really set me off. I'm like, bitches, are you kidding me? This house is in your price range, is in your target neighborhood, and there's plenty of room for that fucking pool and an additional bathroom, if that third one is absolutely a must. Which it totally is.


I vacillate between wanting to someday own a house and being a Forever Renter. There's a certain amount of freedom that comes from renting - hey, my dishwasher is broken! Fix it, handyman! At no additional cost to me!! - and I like that I have a courtesy officer at my beckon call*.


I kind of like the chaos of renting, too; you don't really know who your neighbors are going to be, and they usually provide the best stories. I know I've entertained the people at work with the shit I've dealt with over the past two years at my current complex. The best part of this is, the neighbors change, so even if you have a bad set, worst case scenario is that you have to deal with them for over one year.


But Juj, you say: If you own your house, there are so many pluses that you aren't thinking about! And sure, there are. You can pretty much do whatever you want, unless you are forced to join a homeowner's association**; you don't have to share a wall (or walls) with other people; you don't have to search for a parking spot whenever you come home;you don't have to smell the various concoctions the bad chefs below you create; you don't have to entertain extremely drunk people on a drunk treasure hunt, making up treasure hunt rules as they go along, just so they stop knocking on your door and asking for sugar cubes.


But fuck if it doesn't seem like the most WASPy thing to do. I mean, sure, I came from a family of WASPs, at least on the surface***, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I want the white picket fence, 2.5 children scene in my future. Hell, Three and I were talking about buying a trawler and living on the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of our lives. And if it makes me sound like the people from the HGTV show? Just kill me.


OMG ONLY TWO BATHROOMS. WHY DOES THE WORLD HATE YOU??
They sounded like the most entitled people I've ever seen, and I work at DHS****. I'm sure not everyone is like that, but if House Hunters is to be believed, the people able to afford houses (that are at the least $275,000*****) are all assholes, who have this clever, cheerful veneer over their rotting, corporate souls. 


I think that settles it, at least for today: I'm a renter FO' LYFE. 


* Not really. Sean, if you read this, I promise I will only call you at 3A when the dumbass drunk girl downstairs invites an entire fraternity over. Again.


** Then you may have to get approval to put up a fence on your own damned yard, like in the case of my parents, who just kind of gave up after a while.


*** My grandmother was Polish, grew up Catholic and then said HA RELIGION YOU ARE TEH DUMZ, and we also have a hefty dose of Cherokee blood in us, like the rest of the freaking South. There's a bunch of other ethnicities that run in my family, but honestly, that's probably for another post.


**** Honestly, this is a misconception. Sure, there are people out there receiving government benefits, but the majority of the ones I come across are not entitled at all. They just need help. You know, I need to do a post on SNAP, TANF, & Medicaid benefits.


***** Like seriously, what? That's more than I make in, like, five years. Must be nice.

So.

Today can just go fuck itself. I mean, really.

Most of you know that I work for the Department of Human Services (aka the food stamp office, aka the welfare office, aka the place that a lot of kids think is the doctor, etc.) and that it sucks big hairy donkey balls. And this is not to say that I do not enjoy the idea of what I do. The theory is awesome; the practice? Not so much.

Anyway, I'm the lead caseworker of a unit, a job that has it's perks*, but sometimes, it's like the Powers That Be decided that they could make slave labor out of those that are leads. That's right: we are still paid the same as a regular caseworker, but we have more responsibilities and do more shit. Because that seems fair to demand higher performance standards without offering commiserate pay. But who am I kidding. This is state government.

I came into work this morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from an awesome Father's Day weekend, to two messages I wasn't really wanting to see:

1) Email from a caseworker, saying she's sick and won't be coming in today.
2) Email from my supervisor, saying he won't be coming in today.

I'm pretty sure this is the sixth Monday in a row that my supervisor has either not come to work or has emailed me, telling me he'll be late, usually very late, for whatever reason. Not that I can't handle things - operations usually run smoother when he's not here, actually - but it's irritating.

Now, I'm not annoyed at the caseworker. She's competent and is usually at work, on time or early, but ugh. This just means that now I have to make sure her people get seen if they come in. Luckily, we have an EA (eligibility assistant) - for the purposes of this post, we'll call her Joan - who can do everything the caseworker does, except run and approve the case. And she was already on top of things by the time I got to work. Like, she had all the applications and the caseworker's schedule and everything.

Joan and I, today. [actual image]
So, I'm going about my morning, making sure that Joan has everything she needs and interviewing my people, when I get an IM at 11:15A from one of my favorite front desk workers, T. Honestly, there are only three people up there that I like and don't mind getting messages from, because it's usually not a dumb reason like, OMG THIS PERSON DOESN'T HAVE BENEFITS DO THEY NEED TO TURN IN AN APPLICATION OMGOMGOMG PLEASE RESPOND THE CLIENT IS WAITING!!! ZOMG!!!**

T: "Um, I don't know who's watching [name redacted]'s waiting list, but they've been here since 7?"

Um, what?

Name Redacted is another caseworker in my unit that has his schedule set from 9A - 6P. Not the schedule I would pick, because ew? At work until 6? No thanks. I checked my email, and nope, nothing from him at all. Then I checked the phone system, which showed that nope, he hadn't logged in. The fuck.

Me: The hell? Did you know he wasn't coming in? I sure as hell didn't.
T: No? I just checked our phones and he's not here.
Me: I'm going to kill something.

I was only halfway through my schedule; Joan has the other caseworker's shit to do.  Name Redacted's waiting list showed that there were four clients signed in for their appointments. Greaaaaaaaaaat. I flew into Supervisor Mode. I grabbed any applications I could find for today in NR's filing cabinet and instructed the other caseworkers that they would each have to take one. One tried to protest but quickly backed off when I pulled out my Pissed Off face.

"I have full schedule today, too, guys, and I'm taking more of his people than you, so you can just be quiet."

I was having none of this today.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part V: Why I Wondered If My Mom Secretly Hated Me

When I was forced to get braces, I wasn't too keen on the idea of pain of the face. Even now, I will brave a migraine, limp on a kinda-broken ankle, attempt to do a strenuous workout after hurting my back from leaning over to pick up lettuce*, but face pain? Nope. I'm a fucking baby about it. I'll cry and whine and usually get my way of having some type of extreme pain reliever once I leave the dentist. But because my parents had the money and the overbearing will to compel my teeth to conform to Hollywood prettiness, I ended up in the scary chair where they attach metal and wires to your teeth.

As if it wasn't bad enough that I was a walking lightning rod, there were the regular checkups. I particularly hated these and hoped every time that they'd forget to adjust my braces. For days afterwards, it would hurt to eat, to talk, etc. And, like I said above, I was a whining brat about it the whole time. I figured, if I had to be miserable, so would everyone else. I'd even try to be late so my orthodontist, Dr. Gluck, would reschedule, which he never fucking did because I think he actually hated all people (but especially me). And so began what was a seemingly normal day: it was 8:30A and my appointment was at 8:15A and we were just entering the parking lot for Dr. Gluck's office.

To be fair, my mom is perpetually late. Everywhere. All the time. It's almost a gift of sorts. It's not that she doesn't try to be on time, but she most always is at least fifteen minutes late. And that's on a good day. When I was still in school and I'd call my mom to see when she'd be coming home, our exchanges went a little something like this:

Me: Hi, Mom. It's five. When are you coming home?
Mom: Oh, give me about thirty more minutes. Can you start the potatoes so they'll be ready when I get there?
Me: Is this normal-people-thirty-minutes or Mom-thirty-minutes?
Mom: What does that mean?
Me: Seriously? We have this conversation at least once a day.
Mom: I don't know. I'm busy.
Me: Well, I'd kind of like to know, because the potatoes will probably be one giant burned lump if we go by Mom-thirty-minutes.
Mom: Where's your father?

I think Dr. Gluck had at some point talked to my mother about my constant tardiness, because on this fateful morning, my mom was a little panicky that we were so late. It's not that it hadn't bothered her before, but for some reason, she seemed more out of sorts about it. She was pulling up to the front of the building and demanded, "Get out here and I'll go park."

So I step out. It all happened so quickly that it's kind of hard to remember exactly how everything transpired, but my best recollection was this:

I set my foot on the pavement and the car was still moving. The sole of my sandal landed but didn't stick, so it slid. Right in the way of the still-in-motion rear tire.

And that's when my mom ran over me. In front of witnesses, too.

The building in which Dr. Gluck's office was located housed several other businesses, like a mattress store and a regular dentist office, which on this day had just opened. About four dental hygienists and five waiting patients saw this whole sordid scene through giant glass windows. I'm guessing they thought it was early morning entertainment.

Okay, now, back to what was actually going on.

So my foot is underneath the tire and I am screaming at my mom to reverse. My sister, who is in the seat next to me, is telling her the exact opposite for some fucking reason. Because she would know??

Sister: OH MY GOD GO FORWARD!!
Me: OH MY GOD GO BACKWARD!!
Sister: NO GO FORWARD!!
Me: YOU SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH!! I ALWAYS KNEW YOU WANTED TO BE AN ONLY CHILD!!
Mom: OH MY GOD I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING!!

She's rolling back and forth on my poor right** foot. Several times. And everyone inside that dentist's office is just gawking at the sight. Why no one came to my rescue still pisses me off slightly. This was in the years prior to reality TV, so maybe I should have seen that genre coming. Oh, well.

Anyway, Mom's senses finally took hold of her shocked brain and she rolled off my foot. The rest of my body just kind of fell to the ground, and I was kind of in this weird in-between state of "Do I feel pain?" and "What in the absolute hell just happened?" and "Yes, I think I hurt." As if on cue, the dentist's people came rushing out, fawning over me, and my mother had to go into Dr. Gluck's office to tell him she'd have to reschedule my appointment for a day that I wasn't run over by a car. HER car. I'm not sure how that went since I was sitting in the dentist's office with a sucker and a bag of ice on my foot. And my braces were not going to be tightened.

All in all, it was a good day.

I still have the little round scar where my foot was basically ground into the asphalt. And to this day, I will never open a door until a car has come to a complete stop. I will never let my mom live this down, either. She'll bring up something that I've done recently and I'll quip, "Yeah, well, you remember when you nearly killed me with your car? And how you were almost going to go with Stef's suggestion of GOING FORWARD?? Yeah, your argument is invalid."

* All of these are true.
** You know, I'm starting to think that my right side is cursed. My right leg gets third degree burns. My right ankle is the one that broke (one of the tiny bones that you apparently use but don't realize it) a few weeks ago. I nearly split open my right knee that one time. This list could go on forever.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I didn't think this week would EVER end.

It's like I was in a time warp, minus Tim Curry, and was just mundanely going through every task. My house looks like a freight train went through it twice and I'm pretty sure I need to do about 30 loads of laundry. My boss pissed me off more than once, as is pretty much the norm but it just got to me this week, and I haven't dealt with this many difficult cases all at once in a while. 

So you can say that, yes, I am happy the weekend is here. My plan is to essentially do nothing. Three and I have plans to go see a movie, which we haven't done in a long time because of time constraints and money. Plus, Father's Day is Sunday, so I think we're grilling out? I should probably call my mom just to be sure, so we don't show up at their house while they have sex or something. Because that would be gross. 

It's weird to think that a few months ago, I was ... I don't want to say depressed, since I think that word is thrown around too lightly these days. But I was down. Our future was unstable and we weren't able to pay our bills and ugh. Now, I can think about sleeping and taking Zola to get groomed (for $15! STEAL!!) and getting my hair cut and writing again and planting tomatoes. I didn't really realize how incredibly limbo-ish my life was. I was stuck. Now I can breathe. 

You know, I don't even know what this post is about anymore. Bedtime, methinks?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part IV: I Got Burned

Now, I'm going to veer slightly off topic here since, well, for starters, the next vehicle is actually a motorcycle. Secondly, there were some pretty serious injuries, of which I will not show you images. Because they are gross.  To be completely honest, I have been pretty lucky, at least as far as personal harm goes, when dealing with cars. I guess one's luck is bound to run out eventually?

So, January 21, 2007, is a day that will live in infamy. Why, do you ask? Well, because that is the day I decided it would be a good idea to ride my brand new Harley-Davidson Sportster 883L down to Murfreesboro to 1) show it off and 2) see some good friends of mine that I'd hadn't seen since I graduated.

First things first. I was unemployed at the time I made this decision to go to Murfreesboro. I had purchased the bike when I was still gainfully employed as a temp worker for DirectBuy. And yes, I mean that sarcastically. So I had this newly purchased motorcycle (on fucking credit, nonetheless) and they tell me they're eliminating my position, of course, on my damned birthday. Honestly, I have made some very, very dumb decisions, but I think this one just takes the cake.

Okay, so, I go down to Murfreesboro around noon or so. It's a little cold, but not too bad. Plus, I have on my cold weather riding gear, like a boss. But then I decide to have a few drinks and can't legally drive for a bit, so I don't leave until around 11:45P. Now, the temperature has dropped significantly since noon. We're talking it is now 29 degrees. That's fucking cold. I should have just stayed the night at a friend's place, but ... sigh. Hindsight, right?

For those of you not familiar with Middle Tennessee, Murfreesboro is about 30 - 45 minutes away from Nashville, depending on where you're going and which route you take. I could have taken I-24, but then I would have been going 70mph in 29 degree weather. I opted for what I thought would be a saner route: highway 96. I'd be going about 55mph and, while I might have to travel a little bit longer, at least the wind wouldn't be as brutal.

Ha, I don't even get to highway 96 when I look down, feeling something weird on my right side, only to find that my right leg is engulfed in flames.

Well. That's just great.

I pull the bike over, prop it up on the kickstand, and jump into the field next to the road, doing that stop, drop, and roll bit you learn in 1st grade but never think you will use. It was just the trick. The flames go out, and I think, "Meh, flesh wound. I can probably just take some Advil or something to ease the inevitable swelling later." Nevermind that my jeans' right leg is now capri length. And my long underwear looks somewhat fused to my leg. Whatever.

I can honestly say that I don't know why I didn't just call the ambulance. Possibly, it was because I knew I didn't have any type of health insurance. Except for COBRA, which ha. Okay. Fuck COBRA. It's the last giant middle finger from your former place of employment. The other possibility is because I honestly thought I was okay. It's weird, being a doctor's kid. Both of my parents were in the medical field (surgeon and nurse practitioner), and you kind of learn things by osmosis, in a way. You just remember what they say when certain things happen, and at this point in my life, I might have been looking at my leg and thinking, "Well, it can't be worse than first degree, so I should hop back on and go about my merry way!" Or maybe, you know, shock.

Either way, I get back on the bike and continued down highway 96, which is little more than a two-lane country back road. And when it's 29 degrees outside and the only thing keeping you warm is a what might as well be just an expensive windbreaker, well, that back road just seems to keep getting longer. I eventually reach the highway intersection with I-65, which turned out to be a godsend. I see a little Mapco Express on the right hand side and think, "Hey, coffee and Advil! Just what the doctor in my head ordered!" I go inside and the guy behind the counter looks at me kind of strangely, probably because one leg of my pants is burned off, but he doesn't say anything to me. I pay for the coffee and Advil, chug down coffee (burning my lip on the way, because, seriously, what the hell? Why not?)

My leg starts to feel off and I hesitate to ask where the nearest hospital, thinking I'm going to have to drive all the way to Nashville, which is another thirty minutes away - going my speed, anyway. And, anyway, I rationalize, it couldn't hurt to just get checked out. It may be more serious than I think it is. Hahahah, oh, past self, you are just so stupid. I ask the clerk, who graciously points me in the direction of the nearest hospital, which is a grand 20 seconds drive away. I thank him profusely and head over to the hospital, park the bike, and walk into the ER.

The nurse at the entrance looks at me like, "Um, why are you here?"

I point to my leg. "I got burned."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Possible Unpopular Opinion: I Love Miley Cyrus.

It's strange, you guys. I don't know her. She is a celebrity, a notion about which I have talked about before. Save Dolly Parton, I can't really say that I follow many.

I mean, come ON, how can you not love her?? I know: IF YOU HAVE NO SOUL.
But Miley? I just love her. Sure, she's almost ten years younger than me, but hell, I couldn't care less. I have her music on my iPod. I plan on going to any concert of hers whenever she comes to Nashville. I follow her on Twitter, and nearly every story that comes out on her - good or bad - I read it and just say, "Oh, Miley, you will be awesome one day."

Do I think she'll last in the public eye? Probably not. I mean, her movies essentially suck (I have a soft spot for "The Last Song," though, and yeah, I'm probably going to see "So Undercover") and she's not really a groundbreaking artist or entertainer, despite her tween fans' assertions. But I think that, once she hits her mid-twenties, she'll turn into this incredibly awesome person. Maybe she'll graduate into better pop music and start reading good scripts, I don't know. I hope so.

I mean, I even like this video for "Can't Be Tamed." Even the ridiculous, over-the-topness of the whole thing. I mean, seriously? "Aevis Cyrus??" Seriously?? Sigh.


The girl is just trying SO. HARD. to break free from Hannah Montana, and I can't really blame her. 

I think the crux of all of this is that I see a lot of myself in her. We're both Sagittariuses, both raised in a similar culture in Nashville, etc etc etc. Mind you, my father was not Billy Ray Cyrus, so our paths diverge at that point, but I can't help but think that my coming-of-age drama would have been quite similar if I grew up under the scrutiny of Hollywood. Which ... ew. I have enough body image issues on my own that I don't need paparazzi selling pictures of me in my swimsuit to all the tabloids. 

She, for the most part, has taken it in stride. She is who she is, even if she's just starting to explore all aspects of herself. I remember that phase. It had its ups and downs, but ultimately, it's what made me who I am now, right? 

So keep up with your bad self, Miley. You can crash at my place anytime. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part III: Carmax Is Evil

Now, this story is not as exciting or death-defying as the others, but it is a morality tale of how Carmax is an evil entity and how you should never under any circumstances purchase a vehicle from them.

Anyway, remember that Mah-gret died? Well, now I needed a car because it's hard to go job searching and then to actual job without one. My parents had just purchased a car for my sister from Carmax and had a wonderful experience and blah blah blah, so they were encouraging me to do the same. They took me to the same store on July 4, 2007, and I found the perfect little car: a 2005 Saturn Ion that I named Izzie.

To be completely honest, I really loved this car. It was cheap; it was good on gas; it was small; etc etc etc. It was just basically made out of plastic, and we all know that Saturn went under shortly after I bought Izzie, so ... I guess I should have expected it, regardless of my past unluckiness with things of the transportation sort.

I had the damned thing for three weeks, and then one afternoon as I got into the car to drive to work, I noticed that the dash thingy was reading, "Low coolant" or something like that. I turned Izzie off, got on my hands and knees, and looked under the car for leaks. There were none. Um, okay? I thought maybe they just hadn't topped her off or something at Carmax and decided, alright, I'll go down to Walmart and buy some coolant. I got no more than maybe half a mile from work and I realized, "Shit, my tire is flat."

Hahahaha, oh, why does this always happen to me? I sardonically laughed to myself. I had a spare tire and proceeded to replace it at a gas station* and drove over to Walmart to pick up some coolant. I poured it in and thought, DONE!

Oh, but it would not be so. About a week later, the same message flashed across my dash AGAIN. I called up Carmax and they were all, "Oh, just bring it in and we'll look at it." Which I did. The girl at the front, Stephanie, I believe, asked me how long I'd had the car.

"I bought it on July 4th."

She looked at me and asked, "Last year?"

I shook my head. "THIS year."

She laughed sympathetically and offered to set me up with a rental car, for which they would pay. Now, it ended up being a fucking PT Cruiser that smelled like ass and a landfill, but at least it had coolant in it. I even let my friends smoke in the thing, which oddly enough made it smell better.

Carmax had Izzie for about a week when they called me to tell me that they had no idea what was wrong with the car but that she didn't seem to have any leaks and I could come pick her up whenever. I didn't have to wait too long when I got there, thankfully, and I was grateful that I worked nights, since this whole process would have been a nightmare otherwise. Again, I thought, DONE!

Nope.

About a week and half later, the same message popped up. I leaned my head back and just screamed, "Are you FUCKING kidding me? Oh, no, you are NOT, you whore of a car." And I checked under the hood; the coolant reservoir was BONE DRY. After I'd filled it less than three weeks prior. Instead of waiting until I calmed down, I called Carmax right the hell then, which might or might not have been the best idea, but they told me to drive down again in the morning because it was 4P and they were closed. Thankfully, I had a bicycle to ride to work, and I was less than a ten minute ride away. When I got to work that day, my boss couldn't figure out why I wasn't wanting to talk to my tables, but once I explained the situation, he just let me run food the whole night. I couldn't sleep at all once I left work because, well, I couldn't leave until 4A, and it would be silly to get only three hours of sleep. When I showed up at Carmax's doors at 7:30A, I'm sure I looked a fright: all black clothing, overnight makeup, surly expression. I was not pleased.

In order to keep this from being a novel-length post, let's just say that this KEPT. ON. HAPPENING. Carmax couldn't figure it out. They even drove the car to the service manager's house (which I later found out was just car speak for "we have no idea what's going on so let's put some miles on this thing to pretend like we're doing something") and back to Carmax, but could not give me any answers.

Actual quote from me: "Look, if it's not leaking, where is this coolant going? Coolant heaven? Are there coolant eating gremlins that live in my driveway??"

Izzie had been in my possession for four months, only one of which I was actually driving her. Carmax eventually took away the PT Cruiser and my insurance helped get me in a rental car (a Mazda 6, which OMG, I STILL WANT ONE OF THOSE) for the remainder of the time. I was absolutely fed up with the whole situation and was about to get the general manager involved, when MAGICALNESS, the service manager called me up to tell me, "Oh, it's the head gasket. It's blown."

Um, what? How long had this been the case? Couldn't they have been able to tell that the head gasket was fucked up? She couldn't give me an explanation. Then she offered to give me a new engine.

"Like brand new, never been used or touched by you guys?"

"No, it's a used engine. It only has 21,000 miles on it, which is less than is on your engine."

I laughed at her. "You are kidding, right?"

"Ma'am, we stand behind this engine."

"Yeah, I'm sure you do. But you also stood behind the current one, and look where that got me."

She tried to haggle with me for about thirty minutes, and my brain was nearly roasting, I was so pissed. Eventually, I was just like, "Look, fine, put in the new engine, but I want a different car."

"I don't have anything to do with sales."

"Well, then who will I need to speak with about this?"

She could not remember anyone's names and just told me to call the main store. Okay, fine. Whatever. I try to get a hold of the general manager and leave several voicemails for him, but he never calls me back. About a week later (still hadn't heard about the outcome from the "new" engine), I stormed into the store, demanding to see the general manager, who I knew was there because thirty minutes before I called to see, and the secretary told me to wait in the little lobby area, which I did. Out came this older gentleman, who, as it turned out was NOT the general manager, but the something of sales or whatever. That was when it got amusing.

Remember Stephanie from the beginning of the story? She and I became good friends because I was at the store once a week at least, and she was impressed that I hadn't been a total bitch the whole time. Well, she called my cell phone in the middle of this meeting with George (I can't remember his real name), as he was trying to convince me that I didn't want a new car, just to let their service department do their jobs.

"Hey! It's Stephanie. Um, they just tried to start up the Ion with the new engine? And yeah, it doesn't work. So they wanted me to tell you that you can just select a new car."

I asked Stephanie to repeat that to the guy sitting beside me, who defeatedly sighed and showed me to the lot.

Now, I was not completely happy about this. If I had been who I am right now, I would have told them to fuck themselves and give me back my money so I could go buy a car elsewhere, but I was just so tired of having to drive a rental car that I was willing to just get a new car. I picked out a 2005 red Chevy Aveo, because 1) it was cheaper than the Ion and 2) my insurance would be cheaper.

As I drove away in Roxy, I vowed never EVER to shop at Carmax again. And I tell pretty much everyone that I meet, even if they don't ask, the same thing. The piece that really gets me is that they are all about advertising their 125 point or however many points inspection that ever car goes through. I'd think a warped or blown head gasket would have perked up someone's ears, but I'm starting to think that they're just liars. I'd rather deal with one of those shady buy-here-pay-here lots. At least then the general manager doesn't sit in his office, hoping you'll go away; oh, no, he comes out and FIGHTS you.

* Mind you, I work at a bar at this point, and I'm wearing a VERY short black dress, hoping that I'm not flashing anyone.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Actual Conversation from 6/9/2012

Three: Hey, I'm going to change the tail light so we stop getting pulled over by cops!

Me: Wait wait wait! I want to give you a kiss before you go out there. Because ... a perilous WASPy ... place? And I may never see you again?

[start to kiss his cheek when I notice his entire face is dripping]

Me: The fuck? Why is your face wet?

Three: I rinsed it because it was oily.

Me: And you didn't think to just, you know, dry it off?

Three: It will dry eventually.

Me: ... Okay.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part II: The Cars Strike Back

To begin my second installment of IHtWLwC, I'm going to introduce Mah-gret:
This is pretty much her, except I can't tell if this car is silver or if it's champagne - which is just fancy people talk for tan with sparkles, so I will clarify that Mah-gret was champagne.
Via American Listed
She was the car that my parents decided to let me have after Spaz went to the junkyard, and I was thankful. It was reliable! I didn't get pulled over by cops anymore because I ran four stop signs in a row! Yay!!! She lasted me all through college, and even a year or so after that. I was fully expecting to buy the car from my parents - at a discounted rate, of course - once I became a Real Adult (TM).

Alas, that was not to be.

Renewing Mah-gret's tags was a responsibility of mine, as it should have been, seeing as my parents did not drive her any longer, and in 2008, it was about time to get the emissions checked and put a new sticker on the license plate. I had been taught early on that the best time to go to the emissions place was on, like, a Tuesday in the early middle of the month, and like a dutiful car owner, I did just that. However, everyone else had been clued in on this strategy, so there was a long-ass line on this hot-ass day. I sighed and just pulled behind the a large van that I was sure was going to fail the test.

I noticed that the radio was flickering in and out and the clock was turning on and off. I just thought it was the heat. What? I know NOTHING about how cars work. I can change my own oil and a flat tire! But don't fucking ask me about the mechanics and electronics of the damned things. It takes about thirty or so minutes, but I'm finally next in line, wondering if I should start a bet with the dude next to me in the Malibu about how quickly the van ahead of me will be told his car is a piece of shit that's ruining the environment. When it pulls out of the garage without incident, I shrug and think, "Well, I just saved myself $50."

The emissions test guy directed me into the building and then suddenly, Mah-gret stopped. Died. Everything. The engine, the radio, the brakes. I was apparently lucid enough to pull the emergency brake and looked out the window helplessly.

"So does this mean that I fail?"

He laughed sadly at me. "Yeah, miss. You do."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I have an on-again-off-again relationship with celebritydom. Most of the time, I couldn't really care much less about what various famous people do with their time or what they wear or what they eat. They shit and have a favorite band and probably had one nasty thought about George W. Bush at some point, just like the rest of us.

There's a part of me that feels sorry for them, really - constantly trying to keep themselves valid by any means necessary, having to always be 100%, etc. And the scrutiny? Ew, no, thank you. No one needs to know that I wear ratty old gym shorts, a thinning T-shirt, and Frye boots to the grocery store because they're the closest things between me and the door. And apparently, going somewhere naked gets you arrested. So. And then there's the relationships. Oh, the relationships. I admire people that keep their personal lives out of the media, although I'm not quite sure how they do it. Stay boring when they're not on screen or on stage? Unicorn sacrifices? Who knows?

So I guess my way of letting them have their privacy is ignoring them most of the time.

I go through phases, however, that are infrequent but regular enough to make me wonder about my sanity. I guess it's that part of me that always KIND of wanted to be famous. To go to fancy parties and talk with other famous people. To go on talk shows and podcasts and market my books/stories/screenplays/movies/whatever. During these times, I stalk various fashion magazines (I KNOW, IT'S BAD FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH) and celebrity websites, looking for inspiration on what my wardrobe should look like (even though the rest of the time, I'm like, "It's clean? Cool.") and keeping up with the latest gossip. I even dream about moving to LA or NYC or some place that isn't Nashville where, like, famous people that aren't country music stars and Nicole Kidman live.

Right now is one of those times.

It's similar to those periods where I'm all about makeup and hair and talk incessantly about pin-up styles.

Like, I lalalove this look but for fuck's sake, SO. MUCH. WORK. I'm lucky if I can 1) find a red lipstick that does not look either magenta or orange on me or 2) keep my makeup from just melting off, even WITH primer. Also, my rack is not NEARLY that impressive.
I'll almost buy dresses and Dior mascara and study techniques for cat eyes, but ultimately, I end up just putting on some Maybelline mascara and Chapstick and heading out the door. Ah, the plans of mice and men.

Even as I sit here, I have about seven other tabs open, one of which is InStyle and another is People. Hell, I may even go to the US Weekly site. Probably not, since even the idea just kind of makes me shudder, but it's a thought that I've entertained before. I don't really obsess over singular people; it's more of a generalized *cue Robin Leach voice* "LIVE LIKE THE STAAAHHHHS!" feeling.

I'm not even sure what starts these binges. I think part of it this time is because I'm so fed up with my job and really just want to focus on writing and soap making and marketing and blah blah blah, which could also be a symptom of me being over social work. Another part is because I'm a Sagittarius and, well, we are instigators that get bored pretty easily with routine. The internet has definitely made it easier to live other places and still reach a large audience, but fuck, it's frustrating when everything supposedly creative goes towards writing more drinking ditties.

Maybe we never truly escape our 14-year-old fantasies, where you take your hairbrush and thank the Academy and also your mom for always believing in you. Looking at celebrities and their kind of annoyingly lavish lives is a wish-fulfillment of sorts. My imagination is pretty vivid, and I can just picture myself in the spotlight, adding refreshing commentary that absolutely no one else could, and the emcees on the red carpet would just be all, "Oh, Juju is such an approachable person, isn't she? She's like one of us!! Now, tell us about your diet and exercise schedule! Your fans are just DYING to know."

I'm reading back through this, squinting at my screen and thinking, "Really, Juj? Really." It really does seem adolescent. What the fuck, I don't even care. It's my mind, anyway. In a few days, I'll go back to my fuck-it-all attitude and enjoy my anonymous life where I can use baking soda and vinegar as a cleaning regimen because I'm poor and not because it's a new eco-friendly fad. Until then, I'm going to go look at red carpet looks and decided who wore what dress better.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part I: It Begins

I really, REALLY do. And not just cars. Any type of vehicle. I even ruined one of my dad's ATVs that he actually uses for legitimate purposes on his 700 or however many acres he has in Bumfuck West.

Other than my Very First Ever Car, Gladys, a 1995 Buick Century that I got from my grandmother and only because she couldn't see to drive anymore, every piece of transportation I've had has been some sort of death trap. And it's not like I don't treat them well. I make sure the oil is changed every 3000 - 5000 miles, depending on whether or not I use conventional or full synthetic and on how much I drive it. I get the tires balanced.

The first car I bought with my own money was purchased out of necessity. I had recently given my parents the middle finger - we have both agreed to disagree about the merits of such a middle finger - and needed transportation to and from work. I poured through the classifieds, as Craigslist wasn't used as much back then. God, it was only 2003 and I'm making sound like this was back in, like, 1992. I came across an ad for a 1987 Ford Escort hatchback, tan in color, and only $600, being sold by a couple who was about to have a baby and were looking to get a more reliable, er, bigger vehicle. It's an automatic, which made me happy since the boyfriend I had at the time had refused to teach me how to drive a stick (Three eventually taught me last year). I took it for a test drive and came back satisfied.

For those of you who know me, I name everything that I use on a regular basis. My iPhone is Rosemary, my soon-to-be-deceased Macbook is Pfiona, etc. After about a day, I knew what I was going to call her: Spaz. Why? Oh, well, because every time you stopped, the car turned off. Completely. You had to remove the key from the ignition, put it back in, and start all over; rinse, repeat every time you came to a stop light, stop sign, yield sign, what have you. It was annoying at first but became a fun sort of game between me and Murfreesboro cops. I got pulled over a lot for running stop signs but would explain that I didn't really have any other choice. Honestly, the car was a complete piece of shit and I shouldn't have paid even $400 for it. It was kept together with bubblegum and happy thoughts. Also, she had a little bit of trouble getting above 55 mph, which will come into play later.

Then came a fateful day in August 2003, only a few months after I purchased Spaz. A friend of mine invited me over to watch a movie, and I hopped on the interstate after my mother* bought me nearly $150 in groceries. I think it was $137.42, if my oddly precise memory from that days serves me correctly. And remember above where I said Spaz was kinda iffy above 55 mph? Well, here's where THAT comes in. I was driving at 50 mph in the far right lane and noticed that 1) there was a pickup truck riding my ass; 2) there was a white semi on my left; and 3) there was another semi coming up the on ramp at a speed that was off putting (and by off putting, I mean absolutely shit-your-pants terrifying). So I had two choices: I could slam on my breaks and get rear-ended by the pickup truck or I could speed up and try to get in front of the white semi. I, for some reason, chose the latter. Now, remember, I was already going 50, and as soon as I pushed the gas pedal, she was already complaining, the whiny bitch. The car was shaking, you guys. SHAKING. And the other semi was barreling toward me and then? I just kind of black out.

I have no idea what happened after that. At least until I suddenly regain consciousness or something to find myself, white knuckled, holding onto my steering wheel and screaming at the top of my lungs. There's broken glass EVERYWHERE and the only thing I can really think about is, "OMG MY GROCERIES." I hear this tap on my window, and I'm pretty sure it's Death, come to take me home. Instead, it's a guy, telling me that I should probably get out of my car. At this point, I'm still not sure he's not actually Death, but I hesitantly get out, just then noticing that I am on the other side of four lanes of traffic, less than a few inches away from the median. And Spaz? Well, she's no longer a hatchback. More of a ... hatch, I guess. I notice that the majority of my food - my precious, precious food - has been smooshed beyond repair. The rice has spilled out of the box, and several cans splooshed their innards all over the back seat, or what was left of it. I started to cry and turned my head away, only to catch a glimpse of a small bag in the middle of the road - which may I mind you is still the interstate?

By this time, the paramedics had arrived and they're checking me out. The driver of the white semi had pulled over and was offering me cigarettes, even when the EMT lady was like, "Dude, that's the last thing she needs." The other semi driver? Yeah, we don't know where he went, but the other guy - the one I thought was Death - who was also the asshole who was tailgating me had taken down his license plate number and had given it to police officers at the scene. Of course, my mind wasn't on anything except the bag in the middle of I-40.

My favorite food in the world is plums. I don't think anything could make me happier than biting down on a juicy plum. And my mom had bought me three of them. And there they were, unharmed, laying in the middle of the road. In oncoming traffic, which apparently didn't matter to me at the time? I start wandering out that way, and one EMT notices and grabs me with this "the fuck are you doing" look on his face. This is when I just lose it. Shock is a bitch, you guys.

Now, I didn't call my mom. Sure, I did contact her a day or so later, much to her disappointment. I think she's still a little hurt, even now. I called my friend that I was going to see. I cannot explain this, even to this day. Maybe the sheer trauma just had me thinking, "Okay, what was I doing? Oh, that's right!" Or maybe I was ashamed? I honestly don't know. He and his mom came to help me gather what was left of my groceries. The EMTs tried to take me to a hospital, but with both of my parents being in the medical field and knowing that I didn't have health insurance? Yeah, I declined. What's funny is, they kept on saying how they just knew they would find a dead body inside that car. Okay, maybe that's not so funny, at least in the humorous way. But I ended up with some pretty harsh whiplash and a bruised knee. That's it.

And really? This isn't even the last time that I've survived something that causes most people to look at me as though I'm some type of immortal. Meh, it's the Jupiter in my star chart. Go figure.

* We had started to patch up our relationship at this point, and this was kind of a goodwill gesture from her.
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