Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: A Recap

Interesting year 2009 has been. Between the highs of the inauguration of the country's first African-American president and the lows of a global recession, there were other events that kept us from being bored. Sadly, though, even though the pundits tell us the economy is in recovery mode, I know four folks who lost their jobs this month alone. Sigh...

The magazine has been through changes as well - including moving from a quarterly print to a bi-monthly digital publication. Although we tried a few events to help spur the local economy, the one that took off the most has been "First Fridays" - our girls' night out chick flick at a local cinema on the first Friday of each month. Since the first Friday of January is also New Year's Day, we'll be picking up right where we left off in February - so we'll keep you posted.

Here's hoping your 2010 is off to a good start! Happy New Year :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dear Santa...

My son informed me a week before Christmas that his holiday list was almost complete. A day later, he slid a typed sheet of paper under my bedroom door which read as follows:

Christmas List 2009

So, here it is. It's that time of year again. Sleigh bells ringing, ornaments jingling and we all know that gift exchange is not the true meaning of Christmas or what it's all about, but...IT'S A BIG PART OF IT :-). So this is the Christmas list from me this year. And normally I would send this to Santa, but he's a little bit busy this year!!!

Wish List:
1. Spining Toothbrush
2. Some blue Pentel WOW! ™ Pens
3. Cell phone case and screen protector for the Samsung Eternity a867
4. iTunes gift card for music download
5. Anything from Old Navy that you could see me wearing
6. Tekken 6 for PSP
7. Tekken 6 for PS3
8. PS3 :-)
9. DDR X2 for PS2
10. Any DVD that you think I would enjoy watching

Thank you!! I will be doing some Christmas shopping as well...It's not all about me :-)

*NOTE: The sender of this letter knows very well that money does not grow on trees and that we are in a recession. This list is meant to be a SUGGESTION of gifts - not an Expectation or Demand. I understand that the gift giver will do what he/she can. And whatever is received will be appreciated to the fullest extent.

Thanks again!!!


It wasn't signed, but since he is the only person in the house under 40, I kinda figured it was from him. Nice how he snuck the PS3 in there, huh?!?

BTW, Santa-Mom axed the PS3 but was able to find the spining toothbrush! Old Navy had nothing left by the time I got there, so I gave him a gift certificate instead. The only thing Santa-Mom messed up on was the Dance Dance Revolution game; she bought DDR X - which he already had - instead of X2. I thought the package looked familiar...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

When Celebrity Trumps News

I gotta admit, I feel kinda bad for Tiger Woods these days. His personal business is totally "in the streets" right now. Not passing judgement at all, but imagine going through such a jacked-up family situation and having the whole world knowing intimate details about it almost instantly. Such is the price of celebrity, I guess. But, dang, it seems like a high price to pay.

For the last three days, information about his 2:30am car crash and speculation about what could have preceded it have been lead stories on everything from the morning "infotainment" news shows like "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America" to the national evening news broadcasts. Squeaky-clean athlete/role model possibly caught with his pants down - how scandalous! But really, that stuff happens every day to athletes, politicians, celbs and regular Joes alike. Just ask Kobe Bryant, Elliot Spitzer, George Michael or your best friend - because everyone knows someone whose honey got caught cheating.

I kinda admire Tiger's attempts to keep the information flow to a minimum, though. This is something between him and his family and has nothing to do with me and mine - still information about it is everywhere. I really don't even CARE about what goes on in his bedroom any more than I care about what goes on in my neighbor's. I really wish the media outlets would GET that and leave the Woods family be.

The worst part is that while the papers and networks are sending their reporters out to gather the latest on Tiger, information about what should really matter gets buried on page 99 or barely nets a 30 second mention on the evening news. Seriously, anyone know the status of the Health Care bill right now?

And, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the media, but we're doing a pathetic job of prioritizing as of late. And as a member of the general public, I'm blaming us, too. At production (for TV news) and front page (for news publications) meetings all over the country, editors and producers are hashing out arguments as to why one particular story is more important than another. What makes something news is often the amount of people seeking information about it. So stop asking. Stop Googling, stop buying the tabloids whose headlines promise to detail everything about the woman Tiger has supposedly been "seeing for months" and stop watching "Entertainment Tonight." If we (the general public) show we're not interested, we (the media) will stop covering it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The College Search Begins...

Last Wednesday marked my son's foray into the college search process when we attended "College Night" at the high school and got to walk through the gym and cafeteria with about 500 other students and their folks checking out the offerings of colleges and universities from all over the east coast.

My son is a junior - which is good. He also knows what he wants to major and minor in, which is even better. I also have an idea of what we can afford (in-state tuition, please!) so it was basically a matter of looking for schools with Theater/Drama programs that wouldn't make me faint dead away when the "Tuition/Room and Board/Fees" part of the equation came into play.

He actually came away with more than a few that would fit the criteria - and ironically, the two he is leaning towards right now are schools he's familiar with: Purchase College (we take karate classes there once a week) and SUNY New Paltz (we've been to a few performances and athletic events there). But just so he has the obligatory "safety school," he and I jumped online on his day off from school yesterday and discovered that Queens College - part of the CUNY system - has an excellent Theater curriculum. We also looked at SUNY Binghamton and SUNY Albany. So now there are five schools in the mix. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

It's been a while since my own college search days so most of the process of "What's this gonna cost?" is a little fuzzy, but I know that what I did after we checked out the course of study for each school was go straight to the page that outlined tuition and fees. Can you say "sticker shock"? Believe it or not, the tuition wasn't what made me gasp - it was the room and board! Purchase's fees for one semester are TWICE as much as tuition! My mouth went dry for a second...

So, at least we now have an idea of what we're reaching for. All that's left to do now is pass NYS Regents Chemistry, register for SATs, visit/apply to the schools, audition, get accepted, figure out how to stretch the college savings, find some scholarships/grants and voila! He'll be on his way.

OMG - I think I really am going to faint...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making Strides

Last Sunday, my friends and family loaded up two cars and headed to The Woodbury Commons for the American Cancer Society's annual "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk. Designed to raise money for BC research, I first did the walk with my son when he was only 6. Ten years have passed (we've walked every one since) and I'm still amazed at all the people who walk the three miles in memory or in honor of someone who has been affected by the disease. Too many "in memory of..." signs for certain. It's past time for a cure, folks...

But, despite the cold rain, we walked along with thousands of others. Hope Courtney, Audrey, Vickie, Rena, Malcolm, Corey and I are all able to do it again next year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Surrender the Pink!

Each October, I promise myself I'm not going to get too upset by all the pink crap that is seemingly every freaking where. Tried that last year, but it didn't work (seriously - read all about it here). I remember being so upset in Walmart once - after seeing a pink Parker Pen that donated 1/10 of a percent to BC research - that I thought I was going to lose it. But eventually the month ended and the pink vacuums, soup cans, cookie cutters and water bottles soon disappeared. I guess the idea is that people only can or want to be aware of breast cancer for 31 days - and not a second longer.

And about awareness: what the hell is it that we're supposed to be aware of? Before my diagnosis, I knew that young, otherwise healthy women got the disease and died from it because it happened to my mom. I knew that a history of benign breast changes were a huge warning sign for pending breast disease because it happened to my aunt. But although I had two pre-menopausal relatives affected and I'd also had a history of fibrocystic breast disease, I never in a zillion years thought I would ever be diagnosed. So what are we making people aware of each October - that every brand in America can turn a profit if they stick a pink ribbon and some pithy text about hoping for a cure on their label? That's certainly what it seems like.

All the Yo Plait yogurt lids in the world will not keep women from dying of this disease, it seems. 465,000 women world-wide will be lost to breast cancer this year alone. Pink products, ribbons and races don't seem to be putting a dent in that number, either.

I'm not saying don't walk/run or buy products that talk about donating to breast cancer research, but I am saying that reading the labels is important. Find out where the money is going (treatment or mammos? cure research or into the pocket of the company CEO?), how much of it is being donated (is it a paltry penny for each $4 you spend? is it capped at $10,000?) or even if it's being donated at all (you'd be surprised at how many pink ribbon products mention nothing about where all the money collected goes). If we don't, the pink parade of stupid products will only get worse, scores more women will be diagnosed and we'll still be wading through the pink sh*t HOPING for a cure.

I'm also saying this: Enough of the pink stuff. CURE this b*tch already!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Teaching My Son to Drive

On Labor Day, my son turned 16. The next day, we traveled to the DMV so he could take his driving permit test. I honestly didn't start to hyperventilate until he asked about his first driving lesson when we got back to the car.

For me, 16 was the magic number. My mom didn't drive so I had to depend on rides from other friends' moms to get to and from meetings and activities. An active teen, I think I began my own "countdown until I can get my license" the day I turned 14.

My dad tried to teach me to drive, but frustration soon set in on his end and tears on mine, so he sent me to Brown's Auto School for driving lessons. Mr. Brown was cool. He taught me to look "up and out" when driving down the road and to always look for the kid on the bike when pulling away from a curb or making a turn, which I still do today. He didn't yell as much as my dad did, either, but of course he also had a brake and steering wheel on his side of the car to keep me from ending up in the bushes.

Well, my car doesn't have any extra peddles, so the idea of teaching my son to drive was kinda scary - mostly because I've seen him drive the shopping cart through the grocery store. I worried about him being impulsive and reckless. Save for taking the very first turn out of the driveway a bit too fast and almost mowing down the neighbor's mailbox, he was the exact opposite: cautious and careful. Once he got the feel of the gas and brake, he did pretty well on the turns and will only get better as time goes by and he gets to practice it more.

But don't worry, I'll still call all of you to let you know when he's on the road as a courtesy. I'm sure you'd do the same for me!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Have Horse, Will Travel...

Just got back from our annual trek to Lake George. We usually do all the touristy things, like a boat ride on the lake, The Great Escape amusement park, hitting all the gift shops and specialty stores on Canada Street - but this year we tried something new: horseback riding on a trail. My trusty steed was a very gentle horse named Bella.

It was my first time on a horse, although I had been around them before via a friend's family stable outside of Philly. In other words, I brushed them, fed them and scooped up poop, but I was too afraid to actually ride one. And when I climbed onto Bella's back, I realized why: sitting atop a saddle on an adult horse puts you about 10 feet off the ground! Once the horse starts walking, the saddle actually sways ever so gently as well.

What I realized though is that horses are incredibly sure-footed creatures. The trail we rode was rocky and muddy from the rain it'd gotten a few days before. Bella never wavered and kept right on keeping on up the rocks, through the mud and across streams. He was my four-legged hero, because I'm sure had I been asked to walk through all that, I surely would have turned back...

So, I guess the lesson to be learned is that fear can potentially make you miss out on lots of cool things (and yes, I was kinda afraid up there so far from earth), but sometimes you have to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Perhaps next year, I'll try parasailing...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Love and Marriage

I spent last Sunday at a Central Park concert with three of my cousins. We danced, sang, took pictures and generally had a wonderful time - the kind of fun that makes you say "We need to do this again SOON!" But the best part of the day was undoubtedly the spirited and brutally honest conversation we had in the car on the way down to NYC and at the restaurant after the concert was done. Guess what we chatted about? Relationships.

We all kind of came to the conclusion that the examples of everyday love and marriage in action that our immediate families set for us pretty much doomed us to relationship failure. I mean, I always thought my parents had a great marriage until it dawned on me that my mom did most of the compromising and bending in their relationship. Dad's job was to have a job and provide for his family. My mom's job was damn-near everything else. That may have worked for them, but it made me say "NO WAY!!" as theirs was not a relationship I sought to emulate in the slightest. My cousins all saw similar things in the relationships that surrounded their lives as well. "Why are these two people even together?!?" is the question we all found ourselves asking at one time or another about our dear relatives. We couldn't imagine putting up with so much and getting so little in return.

Part of it is, perhaps, that our relatives grew up in a time where marriage really did mean "'til death do us part." Being miserably unhappy was not a reason to toss in the towel and call it a relationship in their books. With divorce rates currently hovering around 50 percent, it's not hard to figure out that my generation doesn't feel quite the same way. Not quite sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing - it just is, I guess.

Have one-sided relationships clouded your opinion of love and marriage? Check out our message board and let me know how you feel about it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dogzilla and Me

Meet K, our new puppy. He is a now four-month-old Lab/German Shepherd mix that hubby-to-be (H2B) brought home from North Carolina after a track meet. I didn't want a dog at all, but H2B really, really did. I compromised and only asked for one thing in return: a small adult dog (a shitzu would have been nice). What I got was K. Please don't tell me how cute he is...

Two reasons I didn't want a dog: we already have a cat (9-yr-old Vestley) and puppies, I hear, are a lot of work. For the record, we are almost never home for long stretches of time. I work during the day, teach writing classes at night, coach track in the afternoon and have karate classes at least three nights a week; H2B coaches and is gone almost every weekend from November through July (in fact, he is at a meet as I type this). It just seemed to me that we hardly have the lifestyle for a dog that has to be walked and fed at regular intervals.

Seems I was right. Although K is slowly getting the don't go IN HERE but OUT THERE thing, I'm coordinating feedings and bathroom runs more than I've done since my son was 2 (he's now almost 16). I swore I wouldn't walk, buy food for K or take him to the vet, but I did all that within his first days here. Also swore I wouldn't bathe him, but we're heading to the local dog wash as soon as I'm done chatting with you. Never say never, I guess.

Don't get me wrong, K is a great dog. He's got a wonderful disposition and is affectionate and sweet - but having a puppy is a lot of work. Last night, in the middle of a torrential downpour, I held an umbrella in a futile attempt to keep us both dry while K did his business outside. Not what I signed up for at all. At this point, I'm about done with scooping puppy pooh from the front lawn. If there is a nastier job on the planet, I don't know what it is...

Dogzilla is what I call him when he chews my flip-flops, eats the cat food and pees in the foyer only inches from the front door (thank God it's tiled and not carpeted there), but he's Puppy Love when he greets me at the door by licking my toes or climbs on my back when I'm doing my morning pushups. Ours is truly a love-hate relationships, it seems...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

On Women & Self-Defense

According to the US Department of Justice, almost 2.25 million women were victims of violent crimes like robbery, sexual assault and rape in 2005. The DOJ also says that about 100 American women per hour are assaulted by someone they know.

Because there are too many women being victimized, I've been toying with the idea of becoming certified to teach women's self-defense for quite a while. But believe it or not, there aren't as many straight self-defense programs as you may think that actually: 1. inform participants of the very real numbers about women and violent crime 2. don't make participants whack the heck out of a man in a big, padded suit and 3. are taught by women.

For the record, self-defense for women is not just learning physical ways to protect oneself against attack. A good program should also include assault statistics, address confidence and self-esteem building as well as ways to de-escalate a conflict if at all possible. Attacks aren't always about the unknown assailant jumping out from behind the bushes as, again, many women are assaulted by people they know. And when the attack is a surprise, women - who generally have less muscle mass than a man the same height - may not be able to effectively use the strength techniques many programs teach. Call me cynical, but I want to see a woman my size - not a burley, martial arts master who's studied for 20 years and was also an Army drill sergeant - take down a big guy who has grabbed her by wrists or throat before I'll believe a technique is do-able for the average Jane.

Unlike men, women don't learn how to defend ourselves when we are young. Boys are encouraged to wrestle and rough-house while girls are encouraged to stay clean, avoid the fray, observe or even cheer the boys on. I read a quote a few days ago about what would happen if this were allowed in the world of dog breeding. Imagine separating a litter of puppies by sex and letting the males practice "hunting" by play fighting and chasing toys while discouraging the females from doing the same. Crazy, right? But that's exactly what we do to young humans, isn't it?

Picture a threatened cornered animal. The growling and baring of teeth is a warning that said animal will fight with everything they have to protect life, limb and/or babies. Girls who do the same are called unfeminine tomboys. And we wonder why so many women have no idea how to even try to defend themselves when push comes to shove. How often is the myth about not fighting back so as not to anger an attacker still perpetuated?

You don't have to have years of martial arts training under your belt to know how to use your voice (62% of women who screamed, according to a 1998 FBI criminal victimization survey, escaped from their attackers), run (81% of women who tried to run away escaped) or not be a passive victim (68% of women who used some type of physical force were also able to escape). You also don't need a black belt to listen to that voice in your head telling you that a certain situation just doesn't feel right.

We need to be encouraging women and girls of all ages to not be victims by default. Why we aren't is simply appalling.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Death of Customer Service

A few nights ago, my son and I stopped at a local Dunkin' Donuts so he could get his new favorite snack, a cinnamon raisin bagel with strawberry cream cheese. He didn't realize until we'd gotten home that the bagel had regular cream cheese. To erase the look of utter sadness and dejection that had covered his face, I told him we'd take it back.

I didn't go back into the store with him, but knew something was wrong when he came out a few seconds later holding the very same bag he went in with. "They're all out of bagels," he said. Did they offer him anything else or a credit or refund, I wondered? They hadn't he told me. So, I did what any mama bear protecting her cub would do: I went into the store with him to get his $2.15 back.

The woman behind the counter had a look in her eye that said she'd been there for hours and was ready to just get the heck up out of Dodge and off her feet already. When she saw us step to the counter, she literally sighed like we were planning on plucking her last good nerve. Politely, I explained what my son had just explained a few minutes before. I even threw in the obligatory "I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but..." speech hoping it would ease the tension and help move things along. Not.

"So he CAN'T eat regular cream cheese?" counter woman snarled.

"I didn't say CAN'T - I said doesn't like - which is why he ordered strawberry cream cheese to begin with," I said through clenched teeth. "Can't he just get a credit or something?"

"It may take a while," she sighed again. Honestly, I had no idea what we had done to so upset her, other than ask her to correct a mistake she'd made. Guess she didn't get the memo about the customer always being right.

Thirty seconds later, the register opened and she handed my son his cash. When he put down the bag to get his money, counter woman quickly SNATCHED it off the counter. To make matters worse, her manager was standing right next to her. It was difficult to wish them a nice evening, but I did.

What's wrong with this picture? Is customer service that dead that folks working the register at the neighborhood Dunkin' Donuts have to get snooty when their "authority" is challenged? Why wasn't a refund offered in the first place? Did she see a 15-yr-old and think she could treat him like his money wasn't green enough? Did the calm Black woman politely asking for a refund unnerve her so much that she had to get indignant? To me, the manager's silence was truly a non-verbal agreement that her actions were appropriate and condoned. What the heck was that all about?

Yesterday, my son wanted to get another bagel but was a little leery about going back to the scene of the crime. And to add insult to injury, he's filled out an application to work there over the summer. Although the store is about a two minute drive from my home, I don't think I want him working there.

If he does happen to get the job, hopefully he'll understand how NOT to treat a customer from personal experience - and that's truly a shame.

Friday, March 20, 2009

To Dye or Not to Dye - THAT is the Question

I think my hair is about 50 percent grey. I say "I think" because I never let the grey do its thing as I dye it so often. Trouble now is that the grey is lots more stubborn than it used to be and I find myself having to touch it up more than ever before. It seems like three weeks is as long as I can go before the temples and edges start sprouting little white wiry hairs. It's exhausting to have to do my do so much, but leaving the grey has been a totally unacceptable concept to me. Until now, anyway.

To save a little cash in these tough economic times, I buy Dark and Lovely or Colorsilk and dye my hair myself, which beats the heck out of paying about $60 at the salon to have it done. But still it has to be DONE, meaning I'm the one who has to don plastic gloves and an old towel every few weeks and do it. It's not hard, but it's extremely time-consuming and messy as all get out. It is such a pain in the butt!

A few days ago, I gave my roots a good long look and figured I could go at least another week before I'd have to break out the jet black hair color I keep on standby under the bathroom sink. But this morning, it looked like a few hundred hair follicles decided to rebel and stop producing color. How such a thing happens I have no idea, but I did know that I had no time to dye, wash, blow dry and curl my hair before I needed to be out the door. Instead, I just curled it and went on about my regular routine. Sure, it was a little shocking seeing my face surrounded by a little white hair halo whenever I passed a mirror, but it really wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Reminded me of a commercial I saw about a week ago. Not sure what the ad was for, but two best friends with white hair (one had a cute little spiked pixie cut) were chatting about how they loved looking like the women of experience they were. The wore their coifs like crowns and even joked that they were going to start telling people that they were in their 80s instead of their 60s. They didn't seem unhappy about looking older at all. They were actually excited about it.

So what is it about a little grey that makes me want to run screaming to the drug store? I have no qualms about aging, I don't think, but somehow LOOKING older gives me pause. Call it vanity or whatever, but I enjoy it when I hear folks tell me that I haven't aged a day at high school reunions and when people ask my son if I'm his sister. But really, what's so good about looking 25 when you're 42? Damn it, I've earned every one of these stinking grey hairs on my head thanks to cancer, burying loved ones and divorce! Why am I in such a hurry to cover them up and get folks I don't really even know to think I'm younger than I am? Have I lost my daggone mind?

This weekend I'll have time to dye my hair, but I'm not sure if I will. So if you see me around town looking like a skunk, just smile and wave, folks. Just smile and wave...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Assault & Battery

Every music fan in the world has heard about singers Rihanna and Chris Brown: squeaky-clean R&B star accused of using his girlfriend as a punching bag. People were shocked to see the photo that showed Rihanna's bruised face and just as surprised when court documents revealed that he allegedly threatened to kill her on Grammy night. Personally, I was more shocked at how she was characterized via some media outlets: as a controlling, domineering girlfriend who was insecure about her relationship. It was like somehow, her actions had caused him to snap.

Just for the record, domestic violence is never the fault of the person being battered. It isn't what was or wasn't said or was or wasn't done that causes the a batterer to get physical no more than it is the bottle's fault an alcoholic gets drunk. That I know from personal experience.

My dirty little secret is this: I was once in a relationship with a person who hit, pushed and choked me. Doesn't matter that it only happened a few times, each time was frightening and followed by a promise that it would never happen again. After a particularly bad incident - our last - I left and only came back after he promised to seek help and find a counselor. Eventually, he did, it didn't help and we're not together today. But it took me a while to get to that "Enough!" point, evident by the fact that I went back to that idiot not once, but twice.

Now, there is buzz about a possible fan back lash against Rihanna because of her decision to go back to her boyfriend. Getting beaten up by your mate is one thing, but falling for the apology and actually taking him back is a whole 'nother story, the consensus seems to be, implying that she's stupid for being willing to let bygones be bygones. "Is she crazy?" we ask each other.

Probably not - just a young woman in love who hasn't reached her own "Enough!" point yet. Eventually, she will. I just hope it isn't after he hurts her so badly that she won't really have a choice.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grandma Gets the Shaft

I try to visit my grandmother at least once a month in the Bronx nursing home where she's now been for two years since being diagnosed with dementia. I know the nursing staff, they know me and someone always has some (usually) funny story to tell me about Grandma's exploits when I arrive.

But last Sunday was different. Two of my aunts, my son and I arrived only to find that she had been moved to another building in the facility FIVE DAYS earlier. The move changed all that had become routine and familiar over the last two years for her, including her doctors and nurses, her social worker, her room and roommate. And to make matters worse, no one from the facility even bothered to call and let me - listed as the family contact person on every record they have - know what the heck was going on.

Steamed, I called the administrative office first thing Monday morning to find out who would now be the contact on the nursing home's end if the family had questions or concerns. The new social worker was not in at 9:15am, so I left a message. I left another at 11am and was about to leave yet another at 11:30am when she finally answered her phone. Her weak apology over how their lack of contact forced our visit to begin like a wild goose chase did little to make me feel better. And that she just didn't get that bothered me even more.

The nursing home is over an hour away. The main reason I haven't transfered my grandmother closer is because she seemed comfortable and had developed a routine and good relationship with her roommate. Convenience for me didn't seem like enough of a reason to cause her any undue stress. But not only has that apple cart now been upset, nobody thought it important enough to notify the family about what was going on or why it was necessary. Does it really seem like her best interests are even a concern?

I asked the social worker about the procedure for having Grandma moved to another nursing home and found out the leg work will be on me as far as finding one in our area that takes Medicaid and that has a space for her. I just have to call her with the info when I find one, Ms. Social Worker said. I wanted to reach through the phone, grab her by the collar and shake the spit our of her mouth for all the help she offered. Instead, I thanked her and hung up.

This crap is so overwhelming it isn't even funny.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bug Invasion!

OK - squeamish, I'm not. Blood and gore barely make me flinch (I once watched a 12-hour marathon of "The Operation" after all), but for some reason, groups of bugs have always freaked me out. I can deal with a ladybug or two, but I would probably faint upon discovering a bunch of them moving along a wall or something. I actually showered for over an hour not too long ago when a brick I moved from the corner of the patio made a couple of pincher bugs hanging from the bottom fall on my foot. Still get itchy just thinking about it...

So imagine my surprise when I lifted a potted plant last week and found the thing teaming with carpenter ants. Yep - I screamed, dropped the plant and ran like I was being chased by a very quick dog. My son, who just stood there looking at me like I'd finally lost my mind (it probably looked like I did) put the plant in a bag and took it outside. He threw some snow in the planter while I peeked from the window. Even my partner shook his head when I told him what happened. He thought it was quite comical that I can step into a sparring ring at karate tournaments ready to do battle with almost anyone, but a few ants made me want to sell the house. A few?!?

We did the research, found out those big, crawling monsters don't actually EAT wood, just live in it (the plant was on top of a wooden speaker in my living room) and discovered that to get rid of them, we had to find the nest (probably outside of the house) and destroy it. But just in case they'd set up shop in the house, my partner decided to take the speaker outside and check it out. Afraid of what he might find, I actually had to leave the house as he and my son moved the speaker to the porch and opened it up in search of more ants. Thankfully, there were none, but now somebody's got to look around the house's foundation and in nearby trees for wood that might be hiding the nest. That somebody won't be me - although I'll be with them in spirit, watching from behind the window curtains. Seriously, if the housing market weren't so bad, I'm sure we could get rid of the house and find another bug-free one nearby...

The fellas seem to think we'll see more bugs as it gets warmer. Anybody know where I can get an cheap anteater?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How the Budget Deficit Effects the Little Guy First

I'm happily divorced (might sound terrible, but it is oh-so-true) and have been since my son was six. Although it has stopped and started more than once and the amount has decreased by about 70% since it began, the child support my ex is required to send to help care for our child has been regular and consistent for about three years now. Until today, that is.

My ex's obligation is $150 per month. But because I had to hire the county attorney for court to find out why child support simply stopped for two years back in 2002, only $113 makes it to my mailbox (payment for the attorney is taken directly out of the support payments). Today's check - a late payment for January - was a whopping $88. Turns out the great state of New York is now charging an annual $25 administrative fee to distribute child support to the custodial families that need it. Whose brilliant idea was that?

$25 may not seem like a lot, but it really translates to a month's worth of haircuts or school lunches or a much-needed prescription or well-visit co-pay. For a custodial parent struggling to make ends meet and keep roof overhead and food on the table, that $25 could actually make a big difference. That may not be my reality, but it is for too many.

Seriously, whose brilliant idea was it to charge children to access money that belongs to them anyway?

Time's Been Up

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