Friday, October 24, 2008

$150,000...

...would pay off my student loans in full.

And leave me with about $10,000 and change for rugrat's college fund. Which is exactly what the college determined my 'family contribution' should be when we didn't get any student aid.

Sarah Palin is wearing the equivalent of my entire student loan debt.

And rugrat's two-year community college degree.

What is wrong with this picture...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the little red car that couldn't

The auto body shop called me on Tuesday. They said that they would do all the work on the car, even though it would cost more than the insurance company's estimate. Why? Because if they tried to pass the additional cost on to the insurance company, the company would have just totaled the car out and left us with no car at all.

The auto shop was not going to ask me to pay the extra over my 20% either; they were planning to take a loss on anything over the approved total. When have you ever heard of an auto company doing that? I wish I could plug them here, but that would give away my location.

Well, then they called me on Thursday afternoon. They were going to pull the car back into the shop to finish the work so that the car would be ready on Friday. The problem: even though the car had been running previously, now it wouldn't start. It turned over, but it wouldn't start. Their mechanics had no idea what the problem was. They were calling me to see if I'd put some cut-off theft deterrent device on the car that could be causing the engine not to kick in. Of course, I hadn't.

I didn't hear from them at all on Friday. What do you think the odds are that after all the work they've done on the car, the fucker won't run?

We are now four weeks without the car. Four weeks of no grocery shopping. Four weeks of rugrat living at her boyfriend's mom's house. I think it's getting old for the bf's mom. I don't know how much longer rugrat will be a welcome sight over there. And I don't know what we'll do when she can't stay there anymore. She won't be able to get home from work otherwise.

How can something so simple fuck things up so badly?

Little deuce coupe, the beach boys:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I almost never do these anymore


You are a Jackie. "I do everything the right way."

Jackies are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.


How to Get Along with Me

* Take your share of the responsibility so I don't end up with all the work.
* Acknowledge my achievements.
* I'm hard on myself. Reassure me that I'm fine the way I am.
* Tell me that you value my advice.
* Be fair and considerate, as I am.
* Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me to forgive.
* Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a Jackie


* Being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal
* Working hard to make the world a better place
* Having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself
* Being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do
* Being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions
* Being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people


What's Hard About Being a Jackie

* Being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not met
* Feeling burdened by too much responsibility
* Thinking that what I do is never good enough
* Not being appreciated for what I do for people
* Being upset because others aren't trying as hard as I am
* Obsessing about what I did or what I should do
* Being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Jackies as Children Often

* Criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others
* Refrain from doing things that they think might not come out perfect
* Focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers
* Are very responsible; may assume the role of parent
* Hold back negative emotions ("good children aren't angry")

Jackies as Parents


* Teach their children responsibility and strong moral values
* Are consistent and fair
* Discipline firmly

Take the quiz yourself at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

nobody gets out of life alive


The craziness is still there.

Oh, I managed to get lots of papers graded, and meeting minutes typed up and emailed out. I even spent a few hours doing a literature search for the new lit review on the MFD. Wound up with two dozen good articles. I even set a goal of reading and summarizing three articles per week. Whether that happens or not is anyone's guess.

But most of that was accomplished simply because classes weren't held during the Jewish holidays, so I didn't have class prep. And still, I brought 38 papers home to grade over the three-day weekend. Not to mention things being out of control in the other committee I'm on.

And to top it off, I fucked up with the bills and paid two credit card payments two days late this week. I never do that, 'cause the resulting fees are so bad. And now is not the time to be screwing with my credit score, not when I want to move into the city and they do credit checks.

I feel like each week, I'm walking through the center of a tornado. Everything I'm supposed to keep in the air whirls around and around and half the time when I reach for it -- it's sucked right up through the vortex and is lost forever. And if I don't hang on to something solid, I'm afraid I'll get sucked right up that vortex along with everything I'm supposed to be juggling.

By the weekend, I'm a mental wreck. I wind up locking myself in the apartment, not showering, laying in front of the tv, snacking, and napping all day, just to build enough strength to get through the coming week. I'm finding myself doubting sometimes if I made the right choice with this job, and with next summer's move. It's all so damned overwhelming, I keep wondering if this is the way it's going to be for the next 20 years.

And we still don't have a car.

And the toaster broke today.

But I have to end on a positive note or I'll go postal. Rugrat one actually returned my happy bd phone call with a text message, and my email with one of his own. I must have raised him well somehow...he and his wife are building their own home, can you believe it. And building a 'mother-in-law' apartment for me, for when I retire. Of course that would mean leaving the city and going back to Washington -- but what a kid, to think of me, and what a wife to support something like that.

I miss that kid so damned much sometimes. As I get older, I remember more and more things from when he was a kid. Not having him close, and neither of us being the world's greatest communicators, leaves me with no one to share those moments with when they come to my mind. It was just him and I for so long, after all -- there's no one else in the world who shared those early moments with us.

I keep wanting to write them all down, but it becomes one of those many things swirling around and around me in that tornado. I'm afraid if I reach for it, it will get sucked up into the vortex with everything else, and be lost forever.

Simply Red:




photo mine, taken near the wtc site

(title -- quote from movie Hud)

Friday, October 10, 2008

the apple of my grey hair



So rugrat one turns 29 today. At 9:05 pm, pacific standard time. I'd like to call him at the time of his birth, but that means calling at 12:05 am on the 11th, my time.

This was him at about four or five months:



I kept that little velour sweatsuit along with other outfits, and sent them to him about a year ago.

And yes, I just emailed him that video; he'll love it!

Monday, October 06, 2008

she sits alone by a lamppost


So the auto body shop called and said they can't fix the car for what the insurance company budgeted 'cause the fucking parts just aren't available for the prices the insurance company quoted

and they can fix it so it runs safely but it won't be 'pretty,' in which case we'll have a car, or they can assess the real cost, in which case the insurance company will total the car out and give us a check for about $1500, minus our 20% 'cause the rugrat didn't drive into the gutter and over the fucking curb to avoid the fucking asshole that rammed into her.

Oh, and the only way they'll do the work is for cash only, which means I have to cash the insurance check (if I ever get it) and pay them cash and also give them my 20% in cash, which is fine really since I don't have enough open on any of my credit cards anyway.

But since I don't have any cash on hand 'cause I have to make my payments on those credit cards to avoid late charges, even though I've actually closed most of them so that I can learn to be credit independent, but I still have to make payments dammit,

so I'm selling my good ikea furniture on craig's list and getting crappy cheap shit with my target card for way less than I'm selling my good ikea stuff for so that I will have cash for the fucking car and still have furniture, and it isn't so much that I'm getting crappy cheap target shit that kills me, but more that I have to pull this kind of financial round robin when I should be able to afford something like this without playing games.

Someone came and bought my entertainment stand for $50 last night, and the idiot came in a sedan, despite my posting the dimensions of the thing on craig's, and when it wouldn't fit in his car, as I knew it wouldn't, we sat outside in the damp cold dark at 8 o'clock at night taking it apart so it would fit in his car, and I've had the chills ever since, can't get warm, and I got a tv stand at target online for $20 and free delivery, so I made $30 on the deal for the car.

Did I mention that I'm tired of health issues, I used to be healthy, and like two years ago my body just fell apart, failed me, and I seem to have passed some point of no return in which I can't get well no matter how positive I try to stay, and it's harder and harder to stay positive now that I can't even take the hormones for the big M mood swings 'cause of the fucking blood clot.

My asthma has been bad for weeks now, and I'm about out of both inhalers, but I can't get the ones I have renewed 'cause they weren't on the generic list and one of them was $37, which I don't have right now, and if I make a trip to the doc to get cheaper prescriptions, it'll cost me in office copays, and I'd be running around to the doc and the pharmacy...you guessed it...without a fucking car, mixing the bus and miles of walking.

I had some bloodwork done last Monday, and I always use my left arm for needles since the clot in my right arm, and my left arm has been hurting ever since the blood draw, and the pain has moved up into the muscle of my upper arm, just like it did before, and I can't tell if I just have a sore muscle or another fucking dvt. I cannot go to the fucking hospital right now, I just can't. And I think if I had to go back on the anticoagulant I'd lose it completely and they'd have to lock me in a padded room to protect me from me, and dudes, I am scared shitless right now.

Today my hands have been shaking and my heart speeding and pounding like it did when I was 17 and a speed freak. You know, street speed, cross top, the kind that came 20 hits for $5 that we called nicklebags, and that I would take over the course of the first day, fly for two more days, and then crash for the last two days of the week. So I'm all shaky like the first days of the high, yet at the same time exhausted and brain dead like the last days, and the base of my skull has been pounding for days and nothing less than 6 ibuprofen will numb the pain, and of course that puts me to sleep, so I can only get relief when I go to bed.

And then there is the student who I am quite sure has paranoid personality disorder or schizophrenia, paranoid, and has admitted to another concerned student that they are not taking their prescribed meds, and the other concerned student came to me today to tell me the PPD student said she/he knew I was 'after' him/her and the concerned student is scared that the PPD student might just lose it at school and that I might be a target, not because he/she made any specific threats but because of the way he/she acted, and of course I'm telling the right people, but really, we have minimal security and students're gonna do what they're gonna do.

And on the way home I was so exhausted and disheartened that I could barely hold it in, and then the girl sitting in the seat in front of me laid her head on her someone's shoulder and all I could think was who does she think she is to have someone, and flaunt it in front of me when I'm all alone and I wanted to kick the seat or spill something on her, but then he got up and got off at a stop before her while she stayed on the train so I laughed inside 'cause at least she was going home alone tonight just like me.

And yet I get up every fucking morning and paste a smile on my face as soon as the front door shuts behind me and I go through all the right motions and say all the right things so that no one knows that I'm going through shit and have no one to talk to, 'cause all they see is the professional who always has a laugh and a joke and behaves appropriately to the situation and never lets them see me sweat. Or cry.

And I actually keep those sad feelings at bay and enjoy most of what I do and even got told by a visitor in the class tonight that I rocked as a teacher and they wish they'd had a teacher like me and damn, that's what makes it all worthwhile, that's why I do what I do and keep that fucking smile on my face, and I'm great until I'm alone again.

And then I'm alone on the ride home and it all comes washing over me all over again, but somehow I manage to hold it all in 'til I get home and shut the door and lock myself in, cold and alone, for the night.

hootie, let her cry:



(photo mine, taken in quito, ecuador, 2000; this is how rural people protect their gardens from animals and humans)

Friday, October 03, 2008

life can be bright and beautiful, sunshine and daffodils

I had the car towed to the body shop this morning. I went to the same place as three years ago, when the woman in the SUV backed into me. I liked them, and they are on the side of the client in insurance claims.

The final verdict (or maybe not so final) is that they assessed the damage at $1700. Unfortunately, it was done by pricing salvage parts that were available when the assessment was done, nine days ago. Whether those parts are still available is anyone's guess. This was done in an attempt to prevent totaling out the car. One problem is that the assessor didn't look at the engine, and it is running very roughly. There may be much more costly work to be done, and we won't know until the body shop checks it out. So really, it's still up in the air if it will be repaired or totaled.

They have decided that the fault split is 80/20. They came to this conclusion because the insurance person asked the rugrat if she could have steered the car to the right (where normally cars are parked) to avoid the accident. Rugrat's response was pure 18-year-old: ummm, I don't know, I guess so. So because she failed to avoid the accident, we have to pay 20% of the repair costs. And if the repair costs go above $1700, our cost goes up as well.

Two weeks without a car, and counting. And what do I do when the going gets tough? I buy food. And eat. So I went by the grocery store and got stuff. Like pringles and dr pepper. And stouffers french bread pizza. Right now I'm eating spreadable sharp cheddar on 'stoned wheat thins' (I kid you not; and I wish I were...stoned that is...ok fine, and thin). And I have ben and jerry's for later. And a people mag with Newman on the cover.

Apropos of nothing: having the medical assistant at the doc's office tell you, when you step off the scale, that you 'don't look like you weigh that much,' really isn't a compliment. You know?

On the other hand, the doc was great. When I said I've been avoiding workouts because of the pain (I haven't blogged about the pain yet), I mentioned that I know that's not much of an excuse, 'cause no pain, no gain, right. His response: sure, but if your body is in new kind of pain, it's often an indication that something needs to be looked at.

The pain? Since last year and the anticoagulants, I've had serious knee and hip pain, even when I'm just walking. I expected it to get better when I went off the meds, but it's been getting worse. Now the pain radiates out from the knees and hips, moving through the entire thigh. And it doesn't just happen when I am physical; several times a week, I'm in pain without doing much of anything. And you all know I'm a masochist, so if I say it's pain, it's pain.

Work: now that I'm tenure-track, I've had to add serving the department and the college. I'm on the committee that is responsible for student activity funds -- in fact, I got stuck as secretary. I fucking hate taking notes and typing them up; and I owe them minutes for two meetings that happened two weeks ago.

I'm also on our college's version of a teaching and learning center. On the board, that is. And co-chair of the programming committee. Right now, we are supposed to be getting faculty to present scholarly topics, and developing questions for the president's coffee hour in november.

I'm also adviser to a student club, in which some mind-boggling passive-aggressive behavior is going on that I simply can't be arsed to deal with. And I have papers to grade in one class, and two weeks of papers to grade in another. I am hopelessly behind, at only 1/3 through the semester. And don't ask about MFD progress.

High points of the week: after my thyroid ultrasound on wednesday, I went by the library to find some good zen music, and had a hard time staying in the limit of what I can check out.

Check these out:

Van Morrison, the Healing Game
The Stones, Flowers
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
Cher, Essential Collection
Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View
Blues Traveler, Four
Josh Groban, Awake
Liz Phair
Adam Sandler, they're all gonna laugh at you (dudes, I couldn't resist -- it's got the lunchlady song and the thanksgiving song)
Herman's Hermits, retrospective (it's herman's hermits, y'all! Did I ever mention that I saw Peter Noone in concert, back in 1973; he opened for the jackson 5, which was the worst pairing I can think of...the people who came to see J5 certainly didn't come to see Noone...but I was in heaven)

My life really has become something with a soundtrack in the background, just like in the movies. I have the zen on constantly, but never loud because of ear pain from a chronic sinus condition. It's on low enough that I could carry on a conversation with someone. So it really is music in the background as I walk -- or stumble -- through each day.

Thursday evening I left work after dark, and walked out the front door of the building. I never know quite what I'll find when I leave work, as I tend not to be where there are windows while in the building. Thursday, the sky was black, but it was amazingly clear. So I walked out and was greeted by the brightly lit tops of the tall buildings (like the woolworth building) crisply outlined against the black sky. It was incredible, and I just stood there for several minutes staring up at the sky.

My accompanying soundtrack of the moment was norah jones, come away with me. And as I looked at the sky, a random image of leaning back against someone, his arms around me, and feeling the warmth of his body against my back as we both appreciated the moment entered my mind. And I went with it, and enjoyed it for what it was. And I'll end on that particular high note.

(title is a line from the movie 'once upon a honeymoon,' 1942, cary grant and ginger rogers -- below is the scene in question, it starts about 5 minutes in)



(and this is norah)