Category Archives: rants

Stories From The 80s. Parenting thru the Generations.

 

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**everyone’s real name has been changed. 

Social media brings up a lot of feelings for me lately. I have to constantly remind myself that for most people, social media is showing their “best side”.  Even sometimes for me.

 

I hesitate to even share this story because the immediate reaction can be, “What does this have to do with your life?  Mind your own business. “ I want to point some things out, and some differences that I process between my life, and other people’s life. I feel like I am processing good thoughts and good concepts. It is the things like this that I ruminate about.  Maybe not what I ruminate the most about, but it does bother me! And I bet other people wrestle with similar concepts.

My mom has had a best friend for just about 30 years. Its been a very awesome and interesting journey, and I say that only as the observer along for the ride. I think most people  want a friend like Sue for more than half your life.   In the course of 30 years, the friend we will call “Sue” was our neighbor, not once, but twice!    That’s right. In two different neighborhoods. In the first neighborhood,  Sue lived across the street at the end of the block. If you squinted, you could see each others houses.   I would believe my mom and Sue were fast friends because they had kids the same age.  Sue has a daughter  about two  years older than me, I am one month older than Sue’s  son, (uh, we’re the same age, same grade in school—same class in 5th grade!); and she would have a daughter with a new relationship in 1987.

That youngest daughter is who this post is going to focus on, But after some down –memory-lane backstory.  Prepare to go back in time to the 1980’s.

Sue had a husband named Dan. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember him at all. All I remember are the stories  about Dan. Also,  thanks to “throwback Thursdays” on social media.   If it’s not obvious yet, Dan passed away as a very young man. More on that in a moment.

 

The circumstances surrounding Dan’s death are cloudy at best for me. Mostly because I was no more than five years old.  But that part is verified, because there is a photo of me opening a birthday gift at our house, with Sue’s kids looking on.  I remember a comment that was made so very long ago.  “That was JUST after IT happened”.

You’ll notice that,I don’t know if it was my specific parenting, or this baby-boomer generation but WE WILL NOT DEFINE ANY TERMS.  JUST BE AS VAGUE AS POSSIBLE.

I am not convinced it wasn’t a suicide, but my mother was aghast when I even suggested that.

How it came be is the big mystery. From what I’ve been told  Dan had a known medical condition.  Kind of like narcolepsy, but maybe it wasn’t.  One night, Dan came home late.  Whether it was a night of working late, or a night out with the guys– I don’t know. Probably around midnight.  Dan pulls into he garage of their home. He has an “episode” perhaps, and falls asleep in the car.  But the car is still running.  AND, he closed the garage amidst all of it.

I tend to think “passed out drunk, but closed the garage first” but that’s just me.  Tragic no matter what the circumstance.

Sue found him early the next morning.  I think they both were no more than 30 years old. Two children left behind, 6 and 4.

That’s how Sue and my mom became close. Sue started spending lots of time, as she would say, “on your couch in your family room”.  The miraculous part for me is that Dan must have had quite the life insurance policy, because Sue didn’t ever work until sometime in the mid 90s.  Dan died in the mid 80s!  So she essentially was a stay-at-home mom, even though her husband had died.  Someday I will need to ask her more about that situation, because that blows my mind. As the s

I had a father that traveled for a living.  From the time I was born, til the time I left home. The pattern was he would leave on Sunday, and return Thursday night.  That’ another post for another time. But as the story goes, Sue says when my dad would finally get home, we would flash a look like, “You Again? ”   I kind of get it.  Find something else to do.  But that’s all they did. Kids had constant playmates, and mom’s sat and drank Tab and watched Oprah.

Just imagine being 30 and widowed?  I am sure the loneliness feels like it will kill you.

So my mom and Pam became what we call, “The Single Mom’s Club”. This played out in a memory that I we always laugh about when we talk with Sue.  There was a diner/chain restaurant in town (that doesn’t exist anymore, sadly, but just a Denny’s type place) that had Kids Eat Free on Tuesday nights.  So, Mom, Sue, and another single mom that was a friend of Sue’s packed up all the kids, got a huge booth, and they COPED.  Kids ran around, hit each other with balloon animals, and the mom’s just talked.  I am sure there was complaining. There was definitely laughter.  But it was a tradition, and I remember it fondly.  Our families were each other’s tribe.   They were there for the good and the bad. Now that I am an adult, I understand that it is not easy to raise multiple kids without someone to “take a shift” every now and then.

I am happy that Sue is still “in my life” via social media, and I try to visit her when I go back to my hometown. I feel privileged that she can say. “I’ve known you forever”.

Sue, being barely 30, of course hit the bar and dating scene after Dan’s death. Sometimes she brought my mom with her when a babysitter was retained.   Sue met her new husband and they married around 1986.

Sue and *Bill had a daughter together the next year.  We’ll call her LEAH.  And Leah, I have a  bone to pick with today.

Leah is now.. what, 28 years old? Something like that.  Well into adulthood.  I only remember Leah like as a pre-schooler.  I left home relatively young. So I remember her not much older than elementary age. Leah has had a bit of a tragic story herself.  Leah met a guy, and they fell in “looove”. And wouldn’t you know it, Leah gets pregnant like 30 seconds later.  A few months before the baby is born, Leah and the baby’s father get married.

All is well, right?  Nope.

Now you want to talk about sketchy details.. I think this set are sketchy because no one really wants to talk about this story.  It’s quick to be swept under the rug..   But I guess from the very SECOND Leah married this guy, he SNAPPED.   My interpretation.   The word that was described to me was “controlling”.   But controlling moved in the next breath to “No Contact Orders”. I don’t recall ever hearing about any physical violence, or anything that would be OBVIOUSLY dangerous, but at some point a judge agreed.

But things must have progressed rapidly, because soon after, he had no visitation and no contact with the baby either. He has a court order for child support, but no visitation or contact.  He is the baby’s father by check and last name only.

So Leah obvoiously moved home. With a newborn. It makes sense. She needed a safe place to shelter and to raise a newborn. In the meantime, Sue and Bill both love their grandson. They love all the hands-on.

But I would think— and here comes my RUMINATING— that there would be some rough plan in place. A rough timeline.  Stay for a year or two. Get on your feet.  She had just been accepted to a 4 year university when she got pregnant. She told me she was moving to the dorms. When I heard she was pregnant, my thought was, “Well,I guess moving away to school is out!”

Okay. Here we go.  Leah is now 28, and her son is going into 2nd grade. He’s 8 years old.  Leah, still living in her childhood home, a 2 blocks from my own childhood home.

“So who cares Sarah? Whats the problem?!”  JUST WAIT.

Leah is a bartender so she works until 2 or 3 am. That means that Sue and Bill put her son to bed EVERY night. I tried to stop by and visit with Sue when I was in town last spring.  She said only had a 2 hour window. She had to drop her grandson off at afternoon-half-day-kindergarten; she had to run an errand, and she had to be back to pick the boy up in like 2 hours.  (W.

 

But here’s what’s really been bugging me. Obviousy, Bill, Sue,and Leah have some tension.  Sue told me that “If it wasn’t for [child], Leah would be gone.”  She said that when Leah is home  on a rare night, she will ask her mother, “When was the last time he had a bath?”  Sue takes offense at this. As if she is eluding to the fact her mother is neglecting her grandchild.

Sue rightly tells her, “Look, if you think he needs bathing, then give him a bath.”

I agree.  DUH!

I guess there was also an incident where one night Leah went out on a date with a “new” boyfriend.  Her parents were not opposed to babysitting so she could go out. Of course, my thought is I am sure they have hopes that she will find another stable and lasting relationship.   They appear supportive.

This particular night though, the child was throwing up. Unexpectedly. As kids tend to do.  Sue texts Leah:

“He is throwing up. I need you to come home.”

Reasonable, right?   Leah texted back, that she was on her way, and would be home soon.

Sue said two hours later, still no Leah. So, she texts her again, “I really need you to come home and help me with this”.

Well.  The response? “You fucking bitch!  Don’t you know I am out on a date?  I said I am on my way as soon as I can”. 

This is where I fainted.

This is one issue where my mother and I are in agreement. “She’d be out of my house”. 

I can’t even believe that. Which is why I am writing about it.

In my experience, I was told in the EIGHTH GRADE, very vaguely, because obviously we can’t have frank conversations…  about sex.    But it was not, “One part goes into another part, and thats how a baby is made”.  SCHOOL teaches that. (and the playground).  We pay people to talk about that!

My conversation consisted of, “I Don’t Want You Doing It.  But IF YOU DO, and SOMETHING HAPPENS (happens being the wild-card word, I guess?  Fill in the blank??)  Then HAVE A PLAN TO DEAL WITH IT .  ”   The End. Very informative.

Proclamation at the end: “I’ve had MY Kids!”

There would be NO babies living in our home.  At any age.  Visit:  Yes.  Reside:  HELL NO.

“Sarah, I am lost. Where in heaven are you going with this story, it started out with something about’ ‘social media’ and “our best side’.  Wrap it up.  Jimmy Fallon is almost on… ” 

Just this last week, I pulled up some social media where Sue was sharing photos.  Leah was in Oregon; mind you about 1,800 miles or so from her home with her new boyfriend.  Sue was tickled to share all the nice photos of lush, green Oregon and all the hikes Leah was taking.

Well, I couldn’t resist. COMMENT!  “Are you babysitting, Grandma?”

“Yes,I am.”

Okay, so I AM NOT saying that a single mom shouldn’t have time to herself, or take a girls trip, or a trip away with a significant other.  Women are more than Mothers, and they have other sides to their lives to nourish.

But “you fucking bitch?”  and she stays home and takes care of your kid full-time while you’re off on vacation? I don’t know if that’s OWED to you.

I do think Leah needs to grow up already. I understand if you can’t afford an apartment. Although bartenders make pretty good tips!  GET A ROOMMATE OR TWO OR THREE. Do you know how many years I lived in relative boarding houses because I couldn’t afford a place of my own?  Here’s a clue: I was 31 when I got my OWN place!  Give your parents some peace.

 

That’s this :”unconditional love ” thing that Sue REALLY seems to get.  Maybe my mom… not so much.  Because go back to her “sex talk” with me:   What that’s really saying is, “I will only love you, if you obey what I say.”  To this day, if I would ask her, “hey, what if I had gotten pregnant at 15… what would you have done?”  Without hesitation, she said, “You would have been sent away.  To the ‘Unwed Mothers Home”, (DOESNT EXIST) , Foster Care, You would not have been in my home.”

So after all this, HOW ARE YOUR MOTHER AND SUE THE BEST OF FRIENDS??   My mom is like the head-cheerleader of Retirement Life.  or as I refer to it, “Second adolescence.”

My answer:  Who the hell knows!  They are VERY different in how it comes to child rearing.  Mom mom’s opinion is that Sue “has a need to be needed”.  She has shared with me that “Sue’s mother was schizophrenic, and was hospitalized for most of her youth (think the 60s  era of  long-term, months of hospitalization). She is used to taking care of everyone.” 

While Sue was our neighbor in two different neighborhoods (only separated from 1988-1992 .Then Sue and Bill bought a home in our neighborhood, again!) The women are now separated by more than 1,000 miles.  They have a set appointment phone-date every Monday. They talk about soap-operas, TV shows and movies, politics,and everything in between.  Mom says that they RARELY talk about our kids.  She said that “occasionally something will come up where we will talk about you guys, but we don’t call to talk about kids. We talk about fun things.  But I have told Sue when she complains about Leah, that “I just never would tolerate what you do”

And that’s adorable.  I wish I had a phone date  once a week, with ANYONE!  Hashtag jealous.  And they really are, the BEST of Friends. It’s a pleasure to have been a part of,and to even watch them interact on Facebook.  They have a sisterhood.

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Filed under Authenticity, random, rants, Relationships

Just Write– Second Edition

Oh look, here I am again. It must be important.

And it is.

I have at least a few thoughts tonights topic.

I am here to announce OPERATION LOSE 20lbs, or ‘Let’s Get This Fat Ass In Shape 2011″.

I know I’ve added on the pounds for a while. Slowly creeping up since sometime in 2009. I suddenly needed a bigger size  pair of jeans one day. And then there was…. well, then there was a little life incident in 2010..  Now, there wasn’t a ton of weight added there, it was mostly like being bloated.  And needless to say,  it was so fleeting. But the scale didn’t really go down after that either.  I recall beginning a committed lifestyle plan a month or two after that. A good friend had shown me two different apps for the iPhone where you can track your calories and food, and add in your fitness.  I know I was feeling heavy, but that was probably more my heart and soul then my body. My employer helps to subsidize a local gym membership as part of their benefits package. So I jumped on board with that. Besides, working out has great benefits other than just losing pounds and inches.  It helps ease stress, depression, helps you sleep better. Hey wait… all of those benefits could help me out!  Sign me up!

I have a theory about why I’ve been slowly packing on the pounds since about that time. I didn’t gain or lose more than 5 pounds from the age of 17-27. For a few years in high-school and college,I was an octo-lacto vegetarian. This was less about PETA and love the animals, and more about being able to control what would and would not go into my mouth.  Because I had really no control over any other area of my life at that time. MAJOR SERIOUS ISSUES. But thank God I was never bulimic or anorexic at that time as those are horrible diseases that are barely escapable.  And you know, “Heroin Chic” with Kate Moss as the spokeswoman was really in, and Kate Moss made heroin look really cool. And recreational. Also, she was super skinny. Anyway, around 2009, I stopped taking medications that I had taken for years earlier. Most with a stimulating effect. Some people gain tons of weight on medication, and a few lose. I only briefly lost weight on a really awesome off-label medication, but I think it helped to maintain my lower weight

I was super committed with the gym  for a while. I was going 3-5 times a week. Getting in the pool, swimming laps, climbing the stairs, and doing a lot of cycling.  Also really enjoying the heat sauna afterwards. You’re probably thinking,

You paid to go sit in a heat sauna? Why don’t you sit on your bed at home in the dead of the summer.. or on random days in mid October… same diff?

And to that I would say—TOUCHE. But it’s different…The sauna is relaxing. And it smells like cedar.

But I digress..

So I went for a while. I made excellent workout playlists on my iPod, I found the days/hours  when the gym is empty. I even tried a few gyms in different neighborhoods until I found my favorite . But then in October 2010 I took a promotion at work. A promotion that kicked my ass for about the first four months. Those first three months I didn’t know which end was up by the end of the day. I would slump into the seat of the shuttle each day that drove to the parking lot and try to recover for the next day.  Good friends of mine had a relationship trauma at this time as well, and I was on the front lines of helping both process what the hell was going on.

What am I saying here? My gym membership and I are not exactly BFF. I don’t have a lot of endurance. There is a bit of preparation that goes into going to the gym. You need the gym bag, the lock, the water, the emergency snack for later.. As far as I am concerned, you need to pack a carry-on for one session. And when it comes to endurance, I would go, workout for 30-45 minutes, and then feel tired. I would try to push myself thru it and keep going, but I could only cycle thru that so many times. Many of my friends also have memberships to the same gym, but no one can ever go at the same time. Or in the case of someone in my life right now, the moment you get the workout inspiration seriously, they are done with that phase, and are no longer working out. Or let their membership expire.  Awesome.

And so this fitness company has gotten some substantial automatic funds from me this past year for not a lot of gain  no gain on my end. Or maybe TWENTY POUNDS OF GAIN.

The last few months, I have been bummed out with how I am looking in the mirror. And I don’t mean my face. I mean this belly I see in the mirror. Several times I’ve gone to zip my pants when getting ready for work to find they just aren’t going to coöperate. It’s a little less than sexy.  I’ve known I should be doing something about it. On a couple of occasions now people have asked me if I am expecting. Which, at my age, is more affecting then funny.  But it’s easier to laugh and just keep it light. I admit that somewhere not quite at the surface, I would be cool with gaining some extra  pounds if it meant that a healthy little bean was swimming around inside. I would wear it like a badge of honor.

Fast forward to this week.  I got a biometric screening done. TWENTY POUNDS OVER WEIGHT. Not only that, a BMI that is in the Fair/Poor rating category.  What the….what?!

Excuse me? I am an “A” student. I don’t get Fair/Poor ratings!

So let’s talk about my diet.“Well, what are you eating? Are you eating healthy? Are you eating crap everyday? Maybe that’s why you’re fat!” 

This is where I get really pissed.

I work really HARD to eat healthy. I believe in it passionately. My grocery bills are bigger than yours—I promise (assuming you are single and buying for one).  Every time I get my grocery total—EVERY TIME— I think to myself. “Man, these grocery bills are getting ridiculous..”   I make weekly visits, even. Because nearly all the food I purchase is fresh.  I quickly stifle my economic worry by reminding myself that I pack lunch every day for work. I rarely eat out unless I am starving and not home, or it’s a social occasion.  And I am buying HEALTHY FOOD. Mostly raw food as well. Tons of vegetables, yogurt, some leaner proteins—I eat a lot  often eat fish actually as my physician calls it brain healthy food.

But most recently I have discovered raw vegan green smoothies. Which are basically some kiwis, and a bunch of green veggies (brocooli, celery,kale, parsley, wheat grass, barley grass and green algae).  I try to have one every morning, because I find that I feel better during the day after I have one. More alertness or energy or something. I think I could even characterize my diet as like 20% vegan. I voluntarily consume a lot of vegan products, not because their vegan, but just because they are the choices I am making.

But I don’t have the patience or the time, or the resources to be completely vegan. I know a 20-somthing that is getting FOOD STAMPS to subsidize her vegan diet, and that is governmental fraud if you ask me. I have to pay for your soy cheese?

I watch a lot of what other people eat. In a way, you could say…. I am judging what you eat. But it’s because I feel sorry for you. I want to guide you to better choices. I want you to want more for yourself.  One coworker of mine comes into work every day with an entire LITER of Mountain Dew. Have you seen that Diane Sawyer special? Mountain Dew Mouth?  Teeth BATHED in Sugar water all day??  Sometimes alongside of that she has a Venti size frappa-mochachino with whipped cream on top. A MILKSHAKE, OKAY at eight o’clock in the morning!  And then from the diner across the street, I regularly sit next to her as she consumes some fried foods, with some more battered friend foods on side.  I feel sorry for them really. I believe that you only get one body. You have to treat it well. I really believe this. Now.

I am to the point now that when I eat fast food.. I feel awful afterwards. Tired, crampy.. it’s really not  worth it.

YET I HAVE 20 POUNDS TO LOSE, and am rocking 29% bodyfat. (they tell me my bodyfat should be around 20%).

So, I am at the mall today. And while I am trying on item after item, I am just fixated on how I have “let myself go”.  I found a stretch mark, yo! Bulges that show thru the clothes…. terrible.

Maybe it was the stores I was shopping in, but woman after woman that came into the dressing room, when asking for another size asked for a DOUBLE ZERO.  The fact that there is a size this small blows my mind. I know I’ve discussed this before in this space. Double Zero– dead???

We often discuss “Standards of Beauty?”  Is that the standard in this image-obsessed affluent culture?

This size is on the racks in seeming abundance and it’s repeatedly asked for by woman after woman in these stores. Meanwhile, I am lucky to find my size anymore in my two favorite clothing stores. If I do find it…. it’s the pair  at the very back, or the blouse completely at the bottom of the stack.

Lets say you’re a Double Zero size and you drop 5 pounds from a stressful month at work. WHERE DO YOU GO FROM THERE?  BabyGap???

Anyway, this week I embark on the 1st of five sessions with a personal trainer. I am committed to going 2-3X per week  And I begin to start logging everything I put in my mouth. WHICH I THOUGHT WERE THE RIGHT THINGS.  I can’t wait to see how he’s going to restrict my food in some way.

 

How did this all come to be?  I hope to log my progress (and probably plenty of whining) here.

 

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Filed under Announcement, Life, rants, Remember-When....., Things-I-Don't-Understand

24 Hours?

When you essentially woke up at 330AM today like I did, evidently at 1:20PM, 3:30PM, 5:00PM, 5:45PM, 7:00OM, and at 8:10PM you wonder why it’s not at least midnight… forget more like 3AM, or 4AM…  It’s so fucking early!  Why does it feel like this day won’t end?!

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Filed under Authenticity, Current-Events, Life, random, rants

Snapped.

As if I wasn’t dealing with enough right now….Oh no. No, No! Certainly not.  Here’s this morning in a nutshell:

 

 I officially snapped last night: after another party next door with girls screaming on the balcony 20 ft away “I AM GETTING A LAP DANCE!”
 I told my roommate I was taking her phone, and filing a noise report with the police.   They asked if I would be willing to sign a statement. Because they “may” be able to get them to just “quiet down”, but if they choose not to, nothing else can be done. I said I absolutely would sign.  Also, I said there is a good likelihood that this is fueled by lots of drinking, (perhaps underage) and I can’t barely open my patio door for cool air without getting a room-full of weed-smoke all the time. Perhaps they should check into that.  
They came out, I talked to them. Explained how this is on ongoing, several-night a week problem, etc. They said “Are you sure it’s not 107 (next to “great, awesome neighbors” –who they complain about) because they are out for complaints on them all the time.  Roommate was up with me, and supported me in talking to the police, and tried to get apartment Management Security on the line as well but failed. (probably too busy out towing cars!!)  
They said I can file an “incident” report—which I did.. which goes into the database. Or I can file a “prosecution” report. But they agreed with me that that would really be the “last resort.”  I told them I wanted a incident report for 2 reasons:
1). in case of any “retaliation”—I have a paper trail with a incident number and an officer name
2). I will be bringing that into Management at my apartment Complex after work today. I want to make them aware of the ongoing problem over there. They’ve put memo’s in everybody’s door in the past indicating they want to know about this, so I am making them aware. 
The officers walked next door. Explained the neighbors are complaining, and if the partying continues on a regular basis late into the night (particularly OUTDOORS–which is my issue) We are considering prosecuting (even though we really aren’t.)
They did explain what we already knew, that being that there is a major community college directly across the street from here, we get a lot of the party’ers.  I said I fully understand and am aware of that, however, not EVERYONE is a college student that lives here. There are plenty of children out riding bikes/skateboards after school into the evening (ironically, often screaming as well… but that is neither here nor there!) I’ve seen mom’s/dad’s loading kids into car-seats.  We pay plenty of money to live here. A decent night of sleep should not be a catch-as-catch can.
As just that quickly, all fell silent. Imagine that…. 
By the way, As I feel I had to explain to my roommate several times last night to soothe my own guilt for calling police (probably a deep-seated therapy issue to be addressed) I am really NOT A hard-ass bitch.  I don’t like “snitching ” on people and causing drama. I am really QUITE diplomatic, and don’t like to stir the pot.   But I can”t deal with this anymore. Roommate even said it’s starting to effect her during her workday of having so little sleep.  
The end…
off to work.. 
more later. 
Hopefully my tires and windows are in tact on my vehicle.. crossing my fingers!  

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Filed under Current-Events, Life, rants, Relationships, Stress

This Apartment May be Harmful to Your Attitude.

Could my apartment be depressing to me? Or is it just the situation that I am in?  I swear to you, I can be fine all day long—-perfect acting as required within my industry and line of work. Someone even commented today… “You are SO cheerful with the Guests!!” Yeah. So I hear.  I wonder who that person is?

But seriously, I come home and perhaps just the look of this cluttered living room, perhaps the hot-pink and red college-dorm looking couch I am sitting on…. I come home at night… and I instantly want to be sound asleep. Or someplace else.

Lately, the second I walk in the door I am unhappy.

I have to be honest. I think part of what bothers me is that my roommate comes home each and every night. Plops right on the couch, and doesn’t move from there until she goes to bed. We’ve lived together just over four months now, and I can fairly assess that it never, ever crosses her mind to clean a bathroom, wipe a sink, run the dishwasher unless I specifically ask her to do any of these things. Absolutely nothing. We have a potential roommate coming any second… and instead of attempting to make this place look halfway presentable.. maybe run the vacuum… or clean the clutter (which is ALL hers) off the coffee table… she just tells the potential..

“The place is a mess! hee hee!”

Oh yeah… the messier the better!  Instead of $865 for that room… let me give you a thounsand dollars to live in the place with the refridgerator that doesn’t close unless you lift UP on the handle first, electrical outlets that don’t work, screen doors that are off track, and a linoleum floor that even after 4 consecutive BLEACH washes.. still is not clean.

People are being refreshingly honest with me, saying, “Sarah, honestly.. someone with $865 to spend on a room is not gonna pick your place with stained dirty carpets, dirty floors (depiste my desperate attempts to clean them, and a fridge that is hanging on it’s last hinge.

Frankly.. it’s just her plain lack of motivation in general. Other than her full time job, she is home on the couch. At any time of the day.

We had the beginnings of a discussion yesterday about why it is she has never gotten a driver’s license and learned to drive at close to thirty years old.

Granted, I didn’t start the conversation. She had come home dissapointed from her own church after having a meeting with the youth director. For more than a month she had been talking about returning to this “home church”  and doing ministry with high-school girls. This is her absolute passion. Her undergraduate degree was even in this very vocation. Hence the job she has now…. but that’s another story.

She was processing with me how this youth leader had a very pointed meeting with her, focusing on her apparent “unreadiness” to have a small group of high-school girls.  And what do I know? I am just going with what she told me.  Apparently a high-school girl in her last group reported back that she promoted a certain lifestyle that is clearly unbiblical, but my roommate alluded to it being okay.

I don’t really believe that happened, and the girl was confused, but whatever….

But she also confronted her on the lack of driving issue.  She said that other youth staff had commented to the Director that she makes them feel guilty for not giving her rides home at night  and to other events.

This I doubt as well, as I live with her and she has never guilted me for not taking her anywhere. In fact, there was one time when she was needing to collect one of numerous checks she is owed by people, and she didn’t want to ask me to take her.  WELL, GET IN THE CAR AND GET US THAT MONEY!  She obeyed.:)

So, we began a discussion about her lack of driving at her very more than young-adult age.

“I have to tell you, it is different and rather odd that you show no motivation to even want to learn to drive”

“I’ve driven before!! I’ve had four permits in the past!” She said defensively.

Not offended, I said, “Okay. So, when you’ve driven, you’ve always had someone else—a licensed driver in the car to supervise you.”  (Translation—this is not “driving”).

“Yeah, and I hated it. I hated every minute of it.”

Look. It doesn’t matter what I think of anybody else thinks… obviously she shouldn’t be denied a volunteer youth leader position if she is gifted and qualified to do it due to the fact that she doesn’t hold a Motor Vehicle License.

But I did tell her that I see how much she misses out on. I’ve seen her pout when all her friends are having a bonfire down at the beach, but she can’t go because there is not a bus route that goes down to the beach and back here again.  Part of the reason she has a job that is so below her educational level and skill level is because she literally works five minutes away. She has to always be employed along a bus route.

I realize many do this, but to me I think it just adds to the “apathy” and minimal motivation characterization. If I don’t cook and share with her (and of course I always do.. who wants to cook for one?)  The only things she eats these days are take out and fast food.

This is relevant and the point I am trying to make with the food is that during last nights discussion in repsonse to the Youth Director’s question of

Why don’t you just get a car???”

Her response (at least to me) was that there would be no point in her purchasing a car and learning to drive. Why?  Because then she would have to afford gas.  And car insurance!  THE INSANITY!

Well, frankly, if you know me… I had a heyday with that response.  WHAT DOES EVERYBODY ELSE DO!?  YOU AFFORD IT!!!  I said,  ”

I wouldn’t get to work if I didn’t have car insurance and gas in my car. I couldn’t have the job I have.”  And maybe that’s simply because I refuse to sit on a bus twice a day for a whole hour each way to get to work…. but JS.

And my last point—Thats, right.. .she has never purchased gas or insurance, let alone paid for oil changes, maitenance, or repairs.  Where is that chunk of unallocated money??

Oh, and here’s a hint, “IVE SEEN HER PAYSTUB. SHE MAY HAVE A LOW-CLASS MEANINGLESS JOB  JUST AS I DO, BUT SHE STILL IS BRINGING HOME MORE MONEY THAN ME!  And she wants to say she wouldn’t afford a tank of gas a week?  I don’t think so!!

Perhaps if she stopped eating out at roughly 30-40 dollars per week, maybe she would have that money for gas.  Going to the grocery store helps. I have stopped eating out if it’s not for a social/speicial occassion.  AND I AM SAVING MONEY!   I am completely blessed to be entirely in the BLACK THIS MONTH! GOD IS GOOD!

Finally, she ended the conversation by thinking of her own solution of the not driving problem.

“I just need to move to a place where a car is not needed..”

i say, “You mean like San Francisco, or New York?”

“Yes!! Thats it!” she said.

WHAT SHE IS FAILING TO REALIZE THOUGH IS THAT DO YOU THINK THE HOUSING IS EXPENSIVE HERE?  Try $2500 a month for apartment rentals in most areas of San Francisco!  Oh, that REALLY sounds like a good plan!  But hey… you don’t need a car, to buy gas, and car insurance!   You sure beat them!

I’m out and spent…

The bottom line here folks.. is why do I always end up living with people that have no housekeeping skills, or even understand what mutual responsibility and respect of a home are???  Do I magnetize these people or what?!   JS!!

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I am terribly sad today. Only since I got home really. For working short hours (If you want to come to America’s favorite Theme Park.. May I suggest September or October. Parks. Are. Empty.) Not to mention hours are very short. In the course of a week, we’ve gone from months of 16-18 hour days, to 10 max. (12 technically if you close in my new role.) I guess you could say it started at work..

First of all, let me just state that the only people in life taking vacations right now are foreigners. Specifically, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and some of the UK. Americans can hardly be found.

So I had to deal with these two Guests— perhaps married, perhaps just boyfriend/girlfriend. The first words they uttered to me were “We are deaf”. The girl looks agitated and is furiously signing to her partner  Okay! I’ve done this once or twice. So I grabbed a paper tablet to start communicating by note. Apparently I made the first bad move by writing:

How can I help you?”

My translation of that:  “What do you need, and what do you want to buy? What can I get for you?”

They start writing me back a note that says they are both deaf. They want “disabled discounts” and also a wristband and a necklace that will identify them as deaf.

Well, knowing full well that we don’t offer “wristbands” or “necklaces” that brand people as disabled in any way, I said:

“Hold on one moment” and I obviously motioned as so.

I go to the phone and call what is known as the “Language Line”.  My understanding of the Language Line is a resource for employees that need assistance with translation, etc.  Diego answered. He said that he is only a Spanish translator and he is the only one “on” at the moment.

“But let me give you another resource” he said.  “There is a woman in Divirsity and Inclusion Services that may know someone on Property that can sign. Here is her extension”.

I dial, and she picks up on the very first ring. Score!  I introduce myself and my department and explain the situation. She starts scrambling that she is only the “Pin resource”. Pins are added to your official nametag if you pass a written test that proves you are fluent in whatever language you want a pin for.  She starts going through her list of employees that are listed as fluent in ASL.

Meanwhile, my Guests are clearly getting agitated that I have been on the phone. They likely think I am ignoring them because they are indeed deaf.

I go back to the Guests to pacify them and to tell them write a note that said, “I am working on getting someone to help sign for you”.

Then they tell me two things:

1. One they are BRITISH, therefore they don’t “do” ASL.

2. They also allegedly have Tourette’s syndrome, and the waiting time is evidentally exacerbating that.

The lady in Diversity and Inclusion said she would call me right back. As helpful and kind as she was, she actually never called me back. So, I call Dean, one of the Leads in another Department that might be able to help.  I explain the situation.

Dean is very funny. In regards to the wristbands that do not exist, he said,

“Yeah, other Theme Parks give out ‘ghetto’ wristbands and stuff, but we don’t do that”. Noted!

Dean says that a CM named Rebecca is fluent in ASL.

I say, “But is she here today, is she on?

He said, “Yeah, I saw her.”
So, I walk the Guests through the gate and over to Dean’s department.  We meet Rebecca. I brief her on the situation. That the Guest’s want a “disabled discount”—-that does not exist. They also want a “wristband” or “necklace” that will get them to the front of the line and identify them as challenged.  All of which, again, do not exist.  She soon realizes they are British and know different sign language.  I told Rebecca that the major issue at hand was that I had walked them thru the gate, (which was not a problem) but they had not yet purchased ticket media. So, either a Lead/Manager would have to Comp them in, or they were still going to have to buy tickets.  Due to their insistence on a “Discount” I offered up my own Employee discount, which shaves off about $20 per ticket. But that was pretty the much the best we could offer. No one had ever uttered comp’ing them, which might of been appropriate in this case in light of how loosely we do that, and for more ridiculous reasons people get Comps.

THEN… they tell me they aren’t willing to go back out to the Ticket Booth to purchase the tickets. They weren’t walking back.  But they then decided my employee discount was suitable.  Me personally using my OWN employee discount on a Guest is kind of frowned upon. A Lead needs to approve it, because I could be investigated for “randomly” discounting people.  Which frankly is a bunch of crap. I know a CM that is a hardened ex-Navy service-woman who gives her discount without question when anybody asks for a militaty discount.  We don’t have one, but the unofficial Management policy is that if you feel convicted and strongly about it, give the discount. But tell somebody in charge.

So, I take their cash, walk back out front, process the tickets and put the money in my drawer. BUT I MISQUOTED THE NEW PRICE—I FORGOT THAT THE CM PRICE WENT UP IN THE LAST PRICE INCREASE! !*(#($!&.  Which made my drawer $6.00 short.  Well, I wasn’t in any mood to not balance. So, I pulled my buddy Steven (also a Lead) near me and said, ”

”  Watch me, I am breaking my own twenty to balance my drawer”. Also frowned upon, but they didn’t stop me. After all, I was giving up my own hard-earned cash to balance out my own stupid mistake.

So, that was work.

And then I come home, and I immediately feel this sadness. Sure, I could pick out reasons, but nothing really relavent to be sad about.

Sigh…

A question I want to ask God: (Adding to the long-list)  Why do we have to have sadness as a human emotion? Would the world be so totally bad and boring if we just felt happiness and joy all the time.  And if anybody pulls the “Jesus wept and felt broken-hearted and said.. therefore we do, made in His image and all”—I will cyber-slap you.

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The Boy is Five Years Old.

Keep that in mind when you are reading the responses he gave to questioning.

Los Angeles Times Reader Comment:

When you see a child out in public being physically, emotionally, or verbally abused, it is your duty to step in and interfere.” -Be Strong

The great-grandmother of a 5-year-old South Los Angeles boy at the center of torture and abuse allegations noticed about a year ago that he had scratches across his back. When she asked him about it, the boy replied:

“A dog attacked me.”

Another time, Barbara Moreno saw a large knot on his forehead. he told her.

“I fell down some stairs”

Despite the evidence, several people in the boy’s life said in interviews Thursday with The Times that they could not bring themselves to believe he was being abused.

“It could have been a dog or something,” said Donna Hunter, 39, who took care of the boy while his mother, Starkeisha Brown, served two separate terms in state prison in 2003 and 2006.

In retrospect, after authorities this week charged Brown and two other women with ritualistically torturing and abusing the boy, Hunter wondered why she hadn’t acted.

“I don’t really know what I was thinking,” she said.

Authorities allege that the boy was subjected to extreme and sustained abuse for more than a year, including being burned with cigarette butts on his body and genitals, hung from a doorjamb by his wrists and whipped, left to sit in his own urine and feces, malnourished and severely burned on his hands, which were held to a hot stove.

Los Angeles County child welfare officials didn’t learn about the abuse until earlier this month, when they received a tip from a concerned citizen who heard the boy at a Metro Green Line train station say

“she put my hand on top of the stove.”

The case has prompted outrage from some officials, who argue that county and state agencies should have been able to protect the child better.

The county Department of Children and Family Services had looked into allegations of neglect in 2005, but ultimately concluded that the charges could not be sustained.

On Thursday, county supervisors called for a broad-based investigation into county and state agencies whose supervision — or lack of it — failed to detect the boy’s plight.

Supervisor Gloria Molina said the county inquiry would not only focus on “the communications breakdown” within the Department of Children and Family Services, but also among the more than half a dozen county and state agencies — including court, probation, parole and other law enforcement officials, as well as the county departments of health, mental health and social services — that all had information relevant to the boy’s situation.

“The process didn’t protect the child,” Molina said. “There could have been triggers across the board.”

The boy has been receiving medical treatment since authorities took custody of him June 9. He has been hospitalized in stable condition and could be released as early as next week.

Family members and friends described the boy as “joyful” before the abuse and said he loved French fries and chicken nuggets and was intelligent for his age.

Hunter, a family friend, showed pictures of the boy with a toy drum set she had bought him for Christmas and another picture of her cradling him.

“There’s no excuse,” she said of the abuse.

Hunter said she first took in the boy in August 2003 when Brown was sent to prison for robbing an elderly woman. She kept the boy at her apartment north of Watts until Brown was released in early 2005.

During the period, the boy sometimes stayed with his great-grandmother who lives nearby, Hunter said.

When Brown went back to jail in 2006 for shoplifting, Hunter took the child again until his mother was released in January 2007.

After Brown’s release, she and Krystal Matthews, 21, came and stayed in Hunter’s apartment with the boy.

Eventually, Hunter said, Brown found a new place to live.

“All she had to do was give him back,” Hunter said.

Moreno, 73, the boy’s great-grandmother, described Brown as a “violent person” who had been in a gang since she was 9 years old and would “curse you out something awful.”

Sometimes when she and Brown were with the boy, Moreno said, she noticed things that bothered her.

If the boy was hungry, Brown would say, “If I don’t have nothing to eat, he don’t have nothing to eat,” Moreno said.

There were other warning signs as well, she said. When Moreno would come over to Brown’s house to visit the boy, he would always be “hid, not there, or asleep.”

By then, Brown was living with her son and Mathews in a small South Los Angeles apartment.

Brown, Mathews and La Tanya Monikue Jones have each been charged with abusing the boy.

Molina and Supervisor Mike Antonovich drafted an ordinance that would focus on how to better share automated information about clients served by county departments and other governmental agencies, recommend changes to state laws that prohibit the sharing of information between agencies and set up formal protocols for managing such information.

Officials from the Department of Children and Family Services have said they cannot act without a formal complaint.

But there were other problems, Molina said.

Brown was the subject of an arrest warrant in March 2007 for a parole violation — but authorities could not find her.

Molina and others have noted, however, that she still managed to receive welfare benefits during that time.

Molina said she thinks the Department of Children and Family Services should have been informed about the arrest warrant.

Officials also have noted that Brown was a known gang member who as a minor served time in the California Youth Authority for battery and as an adult was convicted of robbery and petty theft.

Antonovich said he was concerned about Brown’s classification by state parole officials as a low-level offender and wondered whether she should have been categorized differently as high-risk, given her criminal background.

“Half of his life was spent in unthinkable conditions,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said of the boy. “He’s scarred for life, both physically and mentally, and someone should pay the price.”

Anyone interested in making donations for the 5-year-old boy can contact Michael Wrice of the county Department of Children and Family Services at (213) 739-6202.

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

***All bolding mine. ****

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