Yesterday while chatting on the phone with my mother, the conversation drifted to birds. It probably started with her asking me if my feeders were full, which is strange coming from a woman who does not fill her own. Since I love birds, my feeders always have seeds, but I reminded her my favorite birds were ones who never visited my feeders -- crows.
"Yes, crows, Mom. Ravens, sleek black birds, scavengers. They're my favorite."
"Well, I never knew that. That's just odd. I mean, why?"
I answered, "Maybe it was because I was born on Halloween." That seemed to be an okay answer for her because she quickly moved on to something else.
After we hung up, I thought about it. Is there really something about being born on Halloween that makes me a bit different, a bit macabre, makes my tastes a little dark?
My favorite smelling flower is a Lily of the Valley, but my favorite show flower is a sunflower. In fact, I don't think anything brings me more joy in nature than a sunflower field. Sunflowers are nice and bright, but let's face it, a flower of autumn. Another connection.
Even my dog, Drusilla, was named after a vampire in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And yes, she's black, not the typical fawn type. More proof!
Some women my age might look at goth kids and say, "Gross!" I look at them and say, "Cool! Wish I could wear that. Love that shirt. Cool boots!" Brandon Lee in the film "The Crow" was absolutely beautiful to me, after make up. Yeah, that's a bit dark.
In fact fact, the one year my daughter was "goth" was one of the happiest times for clothes shopping in my life. I loved looking for rare black shirts for her. Not too dark or violent though ... and that's when I fell in love with Emily the Strange. The dark cartoon girl with lots of merchandise to back her up. I still love her and that's why this year, I picked out a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch shaped like her head, but dark green and beautiful. I proudly held it out while saying to my family, "I'm going to make this into Emily the Strange." My daughter grimaced and added an, "oh God." My husband said cheerily, "Sure, great idea." I felt the clouds of doubt around me, but hey, I was determined.
I sketched pictures of Emily, something I've done a lot of in the past ... making Emily look more like my own daughter with the hairstyle (no way was I putting bangs on my own kid!). Then I was ready to draw the face on the pumpkin, carve, slice and even use my own nails in the tight spots and for the face line. This was my end result:
I'm pretty proud of myself, I must admit, and more so, I'm happy to be a little strange. It beats trying to find myself at the mall. Now that's a REAL nightmare!
Happy Halloween, everyone, or in other words ... Happy Birthday to Me!
I think a huge myth concerning neatfreaks is that ALL neatfreaks love to clean. Not so, I say. In fact, I hate to clean. I've never understood cleaning therapy. The premise being when you're feeling down, get out your cleaning supplies, and clean until you feel better.
I don't know about anyone else, but I always feel terrible when I clean. Grumpy, cranky, dirty, and dare I say it ... bitchy! Clean therapy might work for me, but only if I could watch someone else cleaning the house. Perhaps someone mean and terrible or even just my teen daughter on a bad day. That would work.
Until then, I do it myself. I dust, sweep, mop, vacuum, and scrub while silently cursing in my head. I toothbrush the grout while singing along with Everclear. Angry songs to match my mood.
So, what keeps this neatfreak freakishly neat? I hate dirt and chaos. I love clean and order.
After I finish cleaning, I get those 15 minutes of looking around at everything sparkling, everything in its place (before the family messes it up again), and I drink it all in like a fine ale. The smell of Murphy's Oil Soap wafting through the air or a gleaming white toilet bowl, which has long forgotten my son's "misses." To me, this is a slice of heaven, but it is NOT something I enjoy doing ... not at all.
If I could say one word about T-Mobile it would be BEWARE. If you asked me to say another, it would be UNETHICAL. Another? ASS BACKWARDS. Okay, that's two, but read on and see if it doesn't fit.
I was looking for another cell phone company with a less expensive family plan. T-Mobile offered a "back to school" deal. $49.99 for two lines, 1000 anytime minutes. Good enough.
I went to Amazon.com to order the phones. My daughter wanted the orange Motorola PEBL phone, which, if you know anything about phones, you know it's expensive. $279.00 to be exact. Still, I received a discount with a plan and had that extra benefit of making her happy. My husband passed Amazon's standard cell phone credit check and our new phones were on the way.
When they arrived, which took over a week, they weren't activated. They didn't even come with designated phone numbers. The instructions said just to plug 'em in, wait 15 minutes, and they'd self-activate. Cool. I plugged them in, waited 15 minutes ... nothing. Nothing 15 minutes after that or 8 hours after that. So, I call T-Mobile, which went something like this:
Me - "Hi. This is blah blah blah, we received our phones today, plugged them in, but they won't self-activate."
T-Mobile Rep (syrupy smarmy tone) - "Can I get your cell phone number?"
Me - "I don't HAVE a cell phone number. No number. No activated phone."
[Fill this spot with asking me all kinds of personal questions like street address, social security number, eye color, blood type ...]
T-Mobile Rep - "It looks like you have a balance from 6 years ago that just showed up this week on your credit report. An old account you had with us, but I can't tell you for what or when. That's not what I do. I can only tell you who to call to pay it and then you'll be on your way to activation."
Me - "Wait, we don't have an old account with T-Mobile and now something mysteriously popped up just this week? Amazon DID a credit check."
[Fill this space with T-Mobile rep just repeating themselves]
So, I hang up and I call the number. Again and again and again and again. I never get an answer so I finally leave a message. I repeat this action a few times. Each time speaking more slowly. I give my name, my number, the account number I was given by T-Mobile. Nothing. No call back. No acknowledgement of my existence.
Then I go online and retrieve two credit reports -- one from Experian, one from Equifax. And guess what? There's nothing there. No alerts or pending collections or anything with the account number I was given, so I call T-Mobile back armed with this new information.
This time I get a very excited Spanish T-Mobile rep (I believe he was a planted angel by God) who is shouting loudly about my having "proof in hand of my innocence" and how this was a "wonderful thing" ... making me ponder if T-Mobile wasn't doing this scam so much, the guy was literally rooting for the people on the other side. Now here's the glitch, the only department in T-Mobile who can investigate, erase the erroneous account, and get me activated is so top secret, so exclusive, they can't be reached by phone or e-mail. Nope, you can only fax them and then, they would not call or e-mail you back. You had to wait to receive something in snail mail OR keep calling back. I chose the latter. I chose the latter a lot.
Each time I called I had to repeat the above part of my blog all over again. About 20 times or so. Each time I asked, "Isn't anyone notating my account concerning this? It might be a time saver."
Each time I'm told "2 more days," "3 more days," "5 more days," "go take a restful vacation and when you get back, it should be ready."
Finally, I call and someone says the magic words, "We found the error. Forget about the old account. Let's get you to activation." My daughter was doing back flips. Of course, activation isn't a smooth thing with T-Mobile. Activation took (and this is not an exaggeration) 2 hours to complete WHILE I WAS ON THE PHONE. Two hours of them figuring out SIM card numbers and SIM card mishaps. Two hours of me retelling the previous part of this blog to three different people.
When the phone finally turns on and I see the bars finally raise, I feel light-headed. I don't believe it. I actually thought, "This is a trick." My daughter whizzed off in the other direction with her phone until I shouted, "The rep just told me you can't use your texting privileges until tomorrow ... I don't know why not. No, not tonight. TOMORROW. Tonight we pay for it. I DON'T KNOW WHY NOT." (You get the picture)
And the next day, phone imprint on my face finally beginning to fade, life is good again. We have cell phones. Daughter is texting. Daughter can go places with cell phone again giving me a little more peace of mind.
I never actually use my phone unless I'm checking up on my daughter. I used it a total of 2 minutes in a little under two weeks. So one day, while talking to a friend on the land line phone and needing to pick up my kids from school at the same time, I hop in the truck, grab my cell phone and say to her, "I'll call you right back on my cell phone."
I punch in her phone number. Call failed! Re-dial. Call failed! Re-dial. Call failed! 5 minutes into it, I'm on the road in utter panic as friend was in the middle of having a serious conversation with me. I figure I will wait for daughter to come out to truck and use her phone. I'll even have her dial while I'm back on the road, heading for their grandmother's house. Problem solved.
My son barrels into the front seat. My daughter curses him for reaching front seat first and slams into the back. I ask her if her phone is working. She confirms that it is and takes it out. I explain my mishap to her as I'm driving and what should happen? Her phone doesn't work either. But why? Are we out of the network? Is it a phone glitch?
Not only can I not call my friend back, but both our cell phones are no longer working. This is when my daughter says, "We should have numbers right there in the screen of the phone. It's blank. It's like we've been shut off."
Shut off? I've had it less than two weeks. How is that possible? Do they bill weekly? Am I 4 days overdue? No, that can't be right.
When I finally return home, I call my rejected friend first, and then T-Mobile. I am told by an automated operator that I have a zero dollar zero cent balance and the phones will be shut off until I pay it. The roboterator asks me how I would like to pay. How do you pay zero dollars and zero cents? Mastercard. Of course, this doesn't work so a real rep is forced to get on the phone. This is when I'm told I have been shut off due to the account I had with the company 6 years ago. I'm to call a number (yes, the same number they gave me weeks ago) and settle it with them first.
Once again, I explain everything you've already read up to this point. AGAIN! This T-Mobile representative doesn't care at all. The only words that leave her lips are, "I hear what you're saying, but you'll have to call that number."
Me - "No, you're not hearing me! If you heard me you'd be hearing that your Customer Relations Dep't, the guys who are so exclusive you can't even call them on the phone, found the problem, fixed the problem, updated my account, had the phones activated."
T-Mobile Dominatrix - "Yes, but then we found this account."
Me - "No, this account was found right when I called the first time. It was mistake."
T-M Dom - "Not anymore. Today someone verified it as a real account."
Me - "Today? Today?!? You mean, they verify me almost two weeks ago, activate the phones, tell me there's nothing to worry about and TODAY they suddenly changed their mind??"
Her - "I hear what you're saying, but you'll have to call that number."
Me - "I already called that number! I left messages. They never called back. They still haven't called back."
Her - "I hear what you're saying, but you'll have to call that number."
Me - "I'm not a moron, you're not listening to me ..."
Her - "I hear what you're saying, but you'll have to call that number."
Me - "This is ridiculous. This is crap! Connect me with someone in your company who actually knows what they're doing because I've talked to twenty so far who don't. Restore my faith. Give me to one person who actually knows this is total crap and is going to fix it and CAN fix it without having me fax, forward, or hold on anymore."
Her - "Hold on."
I wait. I'm pissed. I'm so pissed I'm shaking. I'm so pissed I'm reminding myself not to swear when she picks up again. Ah, she's back.
"I hear what you're saying, but you'll have to call that number."
Me - "You're kidding me, right?"
I kid you not, she tries to repeat it all over again until I just hang up on her.
So, what did I do? Two more phones (with iPods built-in for the trouble) and a switch to Cingular. Letstalk.com had them here in two days. Two days! Not only did they show up fast, but they showed up activated with two working lines. I added text messaging to my daughter's line through their website. She could use the plan within 5 minutes. 5 minutes!
I've been looking all over the internet and have found multiple "T-Mobile sucks" chat rooms, message boards, and blogs. Apparently, this company has some major problems, but they don't have me anymore.
I decided to switch to the nation's most reliable network -- Cingular. Farewell, T-Mobile. May the flames of Hell swallow you up soon.
I'm not an Oprah fan, per se. In truth, I think she's grown so high and mighty, I just can't deal with her 'tude. When she uttered the words, "I sit where God sits," I thought, 'Uh oh, now she believes God has saved her a seat.' I mean, in the lunch room in heaven, sitting where God sits would be the shiznit of a table. A table Oprah apparently already frequents all day, all night.
Still, I usually know what she's doing on her show and if I find it informative/interesting, I'll watch it. Yesterday the show was about how to live healthier. Healthy is good, so I stuck with it until the show took a nose dive right into the crapper ... literally. The topic became fecal matter. How it should look, what color it should be, why it smells.
Here is Oprah "I Sit Where God Sits" Winfrey and she can't even say feces or fecal matter. It was "poop" this and "poop" that. Even the world renowned heart doctor she had on as a guest kept flowing with the poop word. After 15 minutes of "poop talk," my 12-year old son shouted at me, "These two are educated people, right? Why can't they just say feces? They sound like idiots."
Still, I go to Oprah to learn. Did I learn anything from yesterday's show? Sure. Feces should come out S-shaped, C-shaped is fine. Feces should be brown. Red is bad, like "get your arse to a doctor" bad. Good feces is made by drinking water, eating whole grains, and keeping "lubricated" with good oils like flax seed and olive.
I've never seen an S in the bowl in my life. Frankly, I don't know what I would have done if I HAD seen an S. Probably call the doctor. More likely blog about it. Definitely call my mother. I mean, even the "just passing" C-shape hasn't presented itself in my toilet bowl.
As if worrying over children, war, extra pounds, money, and Africa isn't enough -- now I need to examine the shape of my bowel movements. A lower case "L" will no longer do. :::sigh:::
Hey, don't blame me for this blog's topic. If it's good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for you, darn it!
Last night my husband and I watched "Lucky Number Slevin" and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Let me just say, this is NOT a chick flick. There's violence, there's nudity, some gratuitous sex, but the writing was good and the acting was strong from start to finish. If you liked "Snatch" or "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," you'll like this one as well. And if you didn't like those last two, I have to question your taste in films and possibly your sanity. (not kidding)
To get back to this film, you are treated to two veterans of the screen -- Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman. These two don't have to even try to be good, they just are, but the one who really surprised and delighted me was Josh Hartnett (the hunk). Yes, he was really cute in this film. OK, downright hot. James Dean, but cooler and hotter. Not kidding again, but he also put on his best Brad Pitt impersonation with this "hmm" and "mmm" thing when he was thinking. It just worked for him. I bought it and I'm REALLY critical, so give it a look see if you haven't already.
Secondly, most of you know, I'm a voracious reader because I am an insomniac. Due to the fact that I refuse to go on the computer or watch television past 10pm, this leaves me with much of the night to read and none of the morning to sleep. How fair is that? Still, I don't normally recommend books. Why? Because I'm one the of the strange people on the planet who really does enjoy the classics. I love Dickens and Dostoevsky, Austen and Fitzgerald, Conrad and Eliot. I don't just read classic authors once a year and then stick to modern novels. I usually read one modern work a month and the rest are before the 1950s. I love the old world, the beautiful language and writing.
"Night" by Elie Wiesel, a Jew who survived Auschwitz, has written over 40 pieces on his time there, and received some major awards ... including the Nobel Peace Prize, has that writing. "Night" is Mr. Wiesel's most famous work. My husband said it was part of our high school's curriculum, but it wasn't for me. I didn't even know it existed until I saw Mr. Wiesel in an television interview a few months ago. At 128 pages, the book is short. So short in fact, you can read it in just a couple of hours, but the words and images are haunting. Mr. Wieselputs horrific events into beautifully written lines. For the first time in my life, I was shaken by the holocaust and honestly brought to tears. I do believe hearing him read it and speak of it is how it's supposed to be heard, so if you can and have the desire, try to rent the audio cassette or CD.
"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented." - Elie Wiesel
I hardly recommend any of the brilliant books I read for fear most people would find them just plain boring, but I just think this one is too important historically not to mention.