Friday, July 4, 2014

Ten Ways a "Single" Girl Can Rock-Out on a Holiday:

 I've been "single" this holiday. Scott is on his way home from "JOMO." That's the lingo; it's Joplin, Missouri. And the kids are -- all over. So, to make the most of this holiday normally associated with family BBQs and hanging out at the beach with friends, I've developed a few traditions of my own. Maybe some will even take off!

1. Remove the wet, mangled, and very dead bird that Tinkerbell so proudly left for me on the patio. (For an old girl, she's still got it!)

 2. Go visit my new granddaughter and her mother! Here's a picture:

 3. Laugh at the joke -- "Hey, you sound awful! You gotta stop yellin' at the kids/ the husband/ concerts so much! Hehehe" -- fourteen more times.

 4. Eat a quart of ice cream because I miss my husband. (Don't judge me)

 5. Check the mail again, only to find I STILL haven't gotten paid. I know it's a holiday, but you never know when a neighbor might have accidentally gotten it in their mailbox, and on the way to their family BBQ, thought, "Here, let's swing by this lady's house and drop off the check I'm sure she's being anticipating." OK, nobody says that, and nobody's got my check, but I can dream, can't I?

 6. Write a rant about intolerant liberals who write inflammatory, untrue nonsense about Christians because we are intolerant and inflammatory hypocrites.

 7. Explain to the dogs, at least four more times, that we cannot walk today because the air quality is poor and Mommy is still not completely better yet. (I don't know why they don't get it.)

 8. Answer two or three calls from Russell Crowe. (A telemarketer who uses a local number and a bogus ID to trap you into answering. I can understand when Russell Crowe was hot, but he's a bit of a hasbeen now; I'm not sure he generates that big of a response. I only answer because my phone voice is worse than my "live" voice and it satisfies me to give something back to those folks who love to call when I'm in bed.)

 9. Wash the three dishes and the half load of laundry I have compiled living alone this week.

10. Plan dinner -- a bag of microwave popcorn or a big cup of iced coffee with a side of baked beans.

Oh, and here's a BONUS:
Go to bed early -- I mean earlier than senior citizens and newborns early, miss all the fireworks, and catch all the DUI checkpoints, for work on Saturday.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Can You Hook Me Up with a Lyric or Two?

Remember this one?

Aah, yes. Anticipation. Today, my friends, I give you "Frustration":

Trying to get some rest. Mom calls.

"Ron is here." (The guy who cuts her grass) "He says you owe him more money." (I catch up with him periodically and we settle her bill, but she feels the need to call me each time and give me the same spiel)

"OK, Mom."

"Here, I'll let you talk to him." (Ron is hard of hearing)

"No, Mom! N-- Yeah, hi Ron."

After a one-sided conversation, with him very loudly and distinctly -- because apparently my inability to talk is accompanied by hearing loss -- repeating almost exactly what my mother said, he decides I have understood and hands the phone to my mother. I overhear their discussion.

"What did she say?"

"I don't know. She was whispering. I couldn't hear her."

"I told you!"



Then, there's this one:

I've sent multiple messages to Aetna Disability via their system; I have yet to receive a reply. Given my voice, or lack thereof, I'm reluctant to call, but I am two weeks behind in receiving a paycheck, and this guy "Bill" that lives with us doesn't like to wait.

"Aetna Disability, how may I help you?"

"We have a few problems. One, you overpaid me by two days. And, two, payroll will not pay me because you are still showing me on disability."

"You were on disability on the 4th--"

"No, my disability began on the 5th. I worked on the 4th."

"No. No you didn't."

"I put the time in myself! It was my last day of work before surgery. People were wishing me 'good luck.'"

"No. You didn't work."

"Well, there was someone who looked an awful lot like me, sitting at my desk, closing out my timecard and gathering up 'get well' wishes."

On to #2. "Payroll says you still had me on disability week ending 6/21."

"No, we didn't."

"Why would they say that?'

"I don't know, but we didn't."

"So, why did you pay me the Monday of that week, and the Monday of the following week if there wasn't something strange going on?"

"We did?"

"Yes, you did."

"Well, we need that check back."

"Obviously. And I need my week's pay."

"I can't help that. But we need that check back. I will email your boss and let him know that we did not have you on disability."

"He knows that. I was at work. He sat next to me. I need you to email Payroll and tell them I was not on disability."

"Oh, we don't do that."

I couldn't. I couldn't ask why. I knew it had something to do with celestial bodies and pig urine, and I just couldn't take it right at that moment. I did, however, get another phone call from Aetna today:

"Your claim representative says we overpaid you."

"Yes, I told her that."

"Well, we overpaid you in the amount of ___, and there are a few ways we can have you reimburse us. You could--"

"I didn't even get the check yet! I already told her I would not cash the check, but return it to you."

"Oh, she didn't tell me that."

"Yeah, it seems there's a lot she doesn't do. Thank you."


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ginsburg: NO Friend of Women

This will be brief -- I promise. There has been far too much written on this already, some of it very good. It is the inaccurate, intolerant, unsubstantiated garbage to which I will not draw attention.

The Supreme Court, as we all know has Backed Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties in their objection to distribute their money into an account supported by the Affordable Care Act, which would provide for certain forms of contraception for their employees.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has written a 35-page dissent regarding this judgment.

"Ginsburg argued, the government has shown that providing no-cost birth control to women is 'a compelling interest in public health and women's well being.'"

"Providing no-cost birth control." Not, working to eliminate the "hook-up" culture that is pervasive within American society. Not, teaching young women that using your bodies as leverage enslaves them. Not, working to support conservative groups which currently seem to be the only holdouts even preaching abstinence and monogamy. Not, working to find out exactly what all these options in contraception are doing to prevent unwanted pregnancies and casual sex in the first place. (I grew up believing sex makes babies. I had no clue where to get birth control. Would never, if my life depended on it, have asked my mother for it. I still grew up to be a wild child, and I still lost my virginity at 18. Now, the national average is seventeen, and almost any fifteen year old can get condoms from the school nurse. I don't have to be a scientist to know the answer is "Contraception availability has done nothing to reduce unwanted pregnancies and the incidents of casual sex.") So, where, is the compelling interest?

"You can't argue against abortion and argue against free birth control," you say. I can argue that you do the same thing I and millions of other women have done through the years, and pay for it yourself. I can argue that you stop having unprotected sex if you don't want children. I can argue that asking my employer to establish a Condom Credit (maybe a Rainy Day Fund) is just as ludicrous as what you are proposing. Why shouldn't men be provided with free birth control after all?

"To recapitulate, the mandated contraception coverage enables women to avoid the health problems unintended pregnancies may visit on them and their children," Ginsburg wrote.

Justice Ginsburg, you are obviously an intelligent, independent, successful woman. Why on earth would you A) invite the Federal government or an employer into your uterus or the uterus of any other woman, B) limit women by implying we need free contraception or anything else in order to make right decisions, and C) coddle and lull the women of America into thinking they are less than you; that they, unlike you, are unable to succeed, unable to achieve, unable to provide for themselves and their families, and unable even to afford contraception? (Which, by the way, Hobby Lobby and others are still providing; it's only certain forms from which they are absolved, based on their religious stand.) Justice Ginsburg, I, a citizen of the United States, a woman who has worked from the age of fifteen, a woman who provides much more than that for which you give me credit -- without a college education or even a picture-perfect trust-funded upbringing, abhor your condescension and are revolted by your patronization. I work hard; I have worked hard; I will continue to work hard, as many other women do each day, without your help or your indulgences. And somehow, we will manage our reproductive health all by ourselves.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

This weekend, I read the story of a 73-year old man who was fired from Cracker Barrel for giving away, in this instance, a corn muffin. The media, of course has pulled out all the stops: he's seventy-three ("Aaw"), he's a Vietnam Vet (cue flag waving), he did it because the guy was "needy" (of course!), and Cracker Barrel is a big corporation (feel the swell of righteous indignation -- go ahead, I'll give you a moment).

So the story goes, this man approached employee Joe Koblenzer, and asked for some mayonnaise and tartar sauce (mayo is the main ingredient in tartar sauce, but I didn't write this stuff) because he was going to make fish. Throughout the video, the camera focuses on the RV parking outside the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Florida. From that, and the man's fish-frying scheme, can we assume this man had not necessarily dined at the restaurant? Nonetheless, Koblenzer gave the man the mayo/ tartar sauce, determined the man was "needy," and included a corn muffin. I've been needy before. I didn't give a rat's tail whether my fish had tartar sauce or not; I was just glad for the fish. But, who am I?

By Koblenzer's own admission, this was not his first infraction. He says third; Cracker Barrel says fifth. Whatever. His previous offenses include taking a sip of Coke and giving a woman a "coffee to go." He was disciplined for both. We all screw up; I'll leave the Coke thing to late night humor, but the "coffee to go?" Was this woman needy as well? Or was she just a nice lady? A nun, perhaps? Maybe I've been brainwashed by the hierarchy of capitalism and our Orwellian government, but you don't give someone else's stuff away. Koblenzer says he would have paid for the muffin if Cracker Barrel had offered that option. Why didn't he do that in the first place? Wasn't the whole "coffee thing" more or less, a warning shot? Wouldn't one think to him/ herself, "I know this is not the right thing to do because I have been called on the carpet for it before, perhaps I can go about it another way?" Perhaps ask my supervisor. Perhaps just purchase the muffin myself and do with it as I please.

Mr. Koblenzer says he's not criticizing Cracker Barrel policy, but that this was a moral issue. Yer darn tootin' it was a moral issue! You stole something from their store even after you were previously guilty of the same infraction, and warned not to do it again. Robin Hood was fictional, but that doesn't seem to stop people from thinking he was justified.

Look, I'm not trying to judge Vets, or Senior citizens, or homeless people, or even Joe Koblenzer personally, but the media truly makes me ill when it comes to stuff like this. Listen to the interviewer's closing comment: "Puzzling. Corporate America sometimes is." Really? How puzzling is it that a corporation -- large or small -- cannot allow its employees to simply take its inventory and give it away at their discretion? How puzzling is it that corporations who donate to local and national charities don't feel it's necessary to allow their employees to start handing out free food in the parking lot? Well, I've got some things for you that are authentically puzzling:

Why are we vilifying corporations that were begun in order to -- oh, I don't know -- make money?

Why are our hired politicians raping us in taxes and healthcare, escaping the same burdens, and we are ranting about the "Muffin Man" on social media?

Why are we interviewing a man who says he doesn't want to comment on his former employer's policies, but then goes on not only to comment, but cast a dark light on Cracker Barrel's moral integrity? And why are people siding with him?

I volunteered at a "food ministry." We all have certain people who just tug at our heartstrings. When someone I believed to be "extra needy," or someone who had been saddled by some very trying circumstances came in, I would take out whatever money I'd saved since last month's distribution, and purchase something for them. My determination, my donation. See how that works?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Devil's Dirty Little Tool Kit

I have been with UPS for twenty-five years, and I've spent the last twelve years in the same office. Five or six years ago, a co-worker whose seniority was in the double digits was given a choice, relinquish your full-time position and go part-time, or take a walk. Corporate America. Well, as the story broke, we found this was not an isolated incident. Jobs and employees were being cut faster than bok choy at Benihana. No one felt safe. The spirit of fear that insidiously slithered its way through our work group caused dissension, rumors, dissatisfaction, feelings of worthlessness and apathy, and eradicated any concept of teamwork. The only point of solidarity was the vulnerability we felt.

I watched the other day as a man, a Middle Eastern man, almost wept in front of the two nurses at the front desk of the cancer treatment center. From what I understand about Middle eastern culture, this is an anomaly. His wife's cancer had begun to spread, rapidly, if I understood correctly. You could almost hear the desperation in his voice, but the hopelessness was crying much too loudly. A cousin of mine committed suicide last year. His hopelessness is still rippling through our family -- at birthdays and graduations, proms and holidays. An old friend of mine snapped. Barely in her fifties, she epitomizes the "crazy cat lady," and she rarely leaves her home. Like a modern day thief, her hopelessness has assumed her identity.

Fear. Hopelessness. As I age mature, I begin to feel more empathetic toward parents who abuse their children or so-called "deadbeat dads." I begin to understand drug dealers, welfare frauds, litterers, dog fighters, neighbors who will not stop parking in front of your driveway, jack rabbits at rush hour, the sycophant in the office, punks who hold up old ladies, and fathers who would beat a mother in front of her own children. I begin to see what is on the inside of some of these, societies most loathed inhabitants. It's not much different from what was lurking in our office those few months, or what cries out from a husband as he slowly watches his wife succumb to something he cannot even understand much less stop. Fear. Hopelessness.

I know a woman who would hurt her children just to draw attention to herself. Who would begrudge someone happiness just so she could say she took it away. Who seeks to control every situation and individual around her, but is so out of control herself, it is mind-boggling. Psycho? Manipulator? Maybe, but when I look at her, I see someone so sad, so alone, so pathetic -- and absolutely addled with fear. It is destroying who she is and how she relates to others. She is so obsessed with the idea that others will have more, or better, or less, or prettier -- and that if they do, she is "less than" -- that she cannot function outside of doing unto others before they do unto her. This, for her, is a fight to the death. She is not secure or happy or content in anything enough, that she can comfortably say "That's ok," if she does not have things her way. The perfidious thing about fear is, that in obsessing over it, she is perishing by it.

I overheard two women discussing a mutual friend. They had nothing nice to say about this women, yet they called her "friend." Hypocrites. Backstabbers. Right? Not as I saw it. These women had lost hope their friend was ever going to change. There was something about this woman they liked, but some of her characteristics had become so socially unacceptable, they were littering the line at the market with them, thereby becoming somewhat socially unacceptable themselves (but that's for another day). There was just something in their voices that said, "We are not terrible women, but we have no hope our friend will ever stop monopolizing every conversation and trying to outdo everyone with her spending. We'd love it if she would be more of a friend to us, but we don't think that will happen. So, we vent." Nothing prospers in hopelessness.

Fear. Hopelessness. You see them everywhere. It is my humble opinion that theses are Satan's two greatest tools. Look and listen. You'll find that most of what is wrong in the world today can be traced back to some one's fear of being cut, trampled, without, left behind, or made to look foolish, or it comes from a lack of confidence that anything can change. I enjoy right wing rant as much as the next gal, but I challenge some of these folks to really look with compassion, as Jesus did, on the cause of some of these problems in our society. I don't say excuse them or pardon them, but I do say follow the example of Christ and look on them with love. In understanding, we just might be able to make a difference.