Driving Miss Daisy

Or, why it rubs my fur the wrong way to lose one ounce of my independence…

I had another breakthrough seizure Wednesday. This one was a Complex Partial seizure – full convulsions. I vaguely remember sitting down to take the certification exam. I don’t remember 3 hours passing by. I do remember panicking at having only answered 20 questions. No, I have no idea if 3 hours had really passed by or not. You’re kind-of disoriented when these things happen to you.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the back of an ambulance, and that’s a bit foggy. I don’t remember all the details of how I got from the ambulance to the emergency room. I was able to answer basic questions, I think… but I don’t remember anyone asking me questions. My husband showed up; so at some point I must have given them his cell phone number.

So now I lose my driving privileges for at least 6 months, providing I remain seizure free for that time frame. I’ve lost my independence. I have to rely on other people to get me from A to B. Jesus Christ on a fucking pogo stick, who is going to want to hire me when I don’t have my own transportation? :: headdesk ::

Things I will not miss about private school

My son attends private school. I placed him there in 5th grade, when we moved to the Houston area and I discovered the abysmal public education system. That, combined with the lack of reinforcement on the “zero-tolerance” policy on bullying; well, let’s just say my son lasted about a month in public school. When a fight broke out on school grounds, my kid was punched, and the teachers did nothing about it nor did they send a note home to notify me what happened, I was furious. When my kid was persecuted by his peers for not being Christian, I’d had it. All the while, his teachers did nothing.

What school, do you ask? Shadow Oaks Elementary. Spring Branch ISD.

I pulled him and put him into private school. When it came time to do the transfer work, his new school required his current teachers to write letters of recommendation and fax them over (these cannot be delivered by the parent). One of his teachers didn’t know the campus had a fax machine, much less how to use it.

These were the teachers we trusted to educate the children in that school? And we wonder what’s wrong with the kids, today?

Since the middle of 5th grade, my kid has had a wonderful experience. He’s had a challenging curriculum, smaller student-to-teacher ratios in class, and the benefit of a learning environment where teachers do not have their hands tied by district administration – they don’t have to teach to the lowest level of the classroom. They can adjust curriculum accordingly to fit student needs and learning styles.

This is the part of private school that I’m truly going to miss.

What will I not miss?

  • I won’t miss the tuition, that’s for sure.
  • On top of that monthly tuition, I won’t miss the plug for a fundraiser here, and a donation there.
    • (Why, dear God, WHY, did they have a fundraiser selling plants this year? After the summer we had last year when everything died, and the summer we’re expecting this year, do they think people are really going to reinvest in their flower gardens? Are they surprised this fundraiser was a complete flop?)
  • I won’t miss the unspoken expectation that the entire student body comes from parents who make an average income level of “X”
    • (If you can afford the tuition, surely you can afford the spring trip every year, and all these other activities…. why, 99.9% of the students live in this neighborhood, so everyone is in this income bracket)
  • I won’t miss the assumption that if you can’t afford to send your kid on the $1800+ spring trip, you have no problem sending your kid to the planned activities for that week for kids who are “left behind”. They cost $160 for the entire week. It’s one payment, whether or not your child participates.
    • What happened to studying for upcoming final exams?
  • Graduation Fee for all 8th graders is another $170 or $180 (at this point, I’ve chosen to erase that figure from my brain).
    • This includes cost of the graduation party, whether or not your child chooses to attend.

I’m thinking I need to open up a private school. They seem to be pulling in the big bucks.


Purple is my favorite color

For those who follow my blog or have read my blog, you’ve figured out by now what I write about may have nothing to do with menopause, itself. It’s more of a blog of everyday life, from a woman riding that crazy train. Nonetheless, today’s post does have to do with menopause, somewhat…

Today is Purple Day, supporting Epilepsy around the world. Women who have Epilepsy are particularly concerned about Menopause. We do not know how “the change” will affect us. Geez, even our neurologists can’t seem to give us a straight answer on the subject. “Every woman is different.” “Some women notice their seizure activity decreases, others see an increase in activity with the change in hormone levels.” In other words, Neurologists who specialize in Epilepsy are just as much in the dark as the patients they treat. As far as we’ve come in research, more research needs to be done in so many areas. So I’m making this post and doing my part to spread awareness today.

There are so many patients out there who are on enough medications to knock out a horse and still can’t control their seizures. This is more than just wearing purple. Go. Look for yourself.

Oh, there you are, my dear friend…

Stress and I go way back. We’ve had our share of good times and bad, but mostly difficult. I always swear, “If we ever make it through this mess, I’m so done with you, bitch.” But she always comes back around, and, like an old friend, I let her back in hoping for different results this time around. She’s a bad influence, and we have quite the unhealthy relationship.

I don’t handle stress that well. I’m on seizure control meds, for Christsakes…

Alas, now the meds are kicking in. Duch is sleepy tonight.  Goodnight world…

Where does the time go?

Spring break is over. My kid has 10 weeks of school left, including his final exam week. Eighth grade graduation is scheduled for May 30th.

My kid starts high school this fall.

I still get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. He’s taller than me. His voice has changed. He’s starting to get peach fuzz on his upper lip. :: wince :: I still think of my kid like this:

My kid. I think he was 3 or 4 here. Fake tattoo. Hamming it up for the camera.

Obviously, he’s grown so much over the years. He’s no longer a little boy. Here’s a recent shot from a couple weeks ago, up at North Texas Irish Festival, with his cousins:

My, how they've grown

Yeah, that’s my boy over on the left. Amazing what 10 or 11 years will do, huh? Of course, I haven’t aged a bit. 😉

High school… next he’ll be wanting to drive. :: shudders :: 

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, Everyone!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day here in the U.S. We wear green, we celebrate. St. Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year when everyone is Irish. 😉

Tonight, I’m going to a party at a friend’s house. We’re upholding a longstanding annual tradition of watching The Boondock Saints. Some words of advice if you haven’t seen this movie yet:

  • Put the kids to bed first.
  • If you’re easily offended by foul language or violence, put yourself to bed next.
  • Do not try to make a drinking game out of the movie
    • If you try to drink every time they say the F*** word, you’ll never make it to the middle of the movie, much less the end. 😉
  • Do watch the deleted scenes and outtakes on the DVD after you’ve watched the movie. They’re well worth it.

May you all have fun tonight. Celebrate, but be responsible. If you find you’ve had just a tad too much, ask a friend if you can stay the night, or call a taxi. Faith and Begorrah, y’want to celebrate another day, now, don’t ya’? 😉

The Downside of Working in Customer Service

Having worked in a Customer Service/Technical Support/Call Center environment for over 15 years, I developed a certain level of expectation of Quality of Service. You see, when I worked as a service provider, I held myself to a high standard and put my customers needs first. If the customer wasn’t happy, the issue wasn’t resolved. If you have one happy customer, they tell 10 people about their experience with your business. If you have one unhappy customer, they tell 100 people about their experience with your business.

As a customer, I expect service providers hold themselves accountable just as I did. I expect them to keep that bar of Quality of Service just as high, if not higher.  Sadly, I am disappointed more often than not.

Wednesday, Blackmon Mooring was out to clean our air ducts. They showed up on time, told me it would take about an hour. It took about 2 hours. In the process, they removed the air filters and threw them away (they needed replacing anyway). But they didn’t ask me ahead of time if I had replacements. I didn’t. Nor did I wish to purchase any from them. I now had to make a special trip to Home Depot. So I had the guy write down the measurements for me. I wasn’t happy about this, but I let it go. Why clean the air ducts if you’re just going to suck dirty air filter dust back into them, right? :: shrugs :: Oh…. and this put me climbing on a ladder to replace an air filter up in a vaulted ceiling. Yes, I could have waited for my husband to get home, but damnit, I can do it myself. :: grr… ::

Upon leaving, I notice they left one of the moving pads behind (they had spread it over the bed when cleaning the air duct in the bedroom). I figured they’d notice this and come back. These aren’t cheap. Last contractor we hired to work on something at the house left a toolbelt behind. He called within 30 minutes and came back to pick it up. I waited.

My husband came home and noticed two large screws on the bedtable. They looked like the came from one of the vents. We went through the house. We found the vent they came from…. the AC vent in the den…. very high up, with the vaulted ceiling. It appears it was just placed in, no screws at all. So I get to call Blackmon & Mooring the next morning.

The very next day, I call B&M. They don’t pull the file up by address. They pull it up by phone number. Everything is under my husband’s cell phone number. But I need them to call me back, not him. So I leave a detailed message of what happened, what was left behind, and what’s incomplete. I leave my cell phone number. I explain that I have things to do today and ask when I will get a call. I’m told someone will get with me this morning. I wait…. I wait….. I call again at 11:30am. I reach someone else who has record of my call, but not my cell phone number. She spouts off my husband’s cell phone number, and our land line (which I have blocked for incoming calls except for about 20 numbers of people we know…. this is how we avoid telemarketing calls). I am furious! Can’t these people follow the simple instructions I left in my previous message? I told her I’ve been waiting all morning and had things to do. I left a valid phone number, which I’ll be happy to leave again, and please note that all other numbers she has on file are invalid. She offered to transfer me to the person I need to speak with. I asked if that person was there or if I was going to get a voicemail. She didn’t know. I told her not to transfer me. She took my information and said he would call me back. Amazingly enough, after I went into “customer-from-hell” mode, I got a call from their service manager, who apologized, saying he left two voicemails earlier. I told him if his agents gave him the correct phone number, he would have called me and not my husband, and he wouldn’t have received a voicemail. At this time, I’m on my way out the door. I’m tired of waiting. Can you be here at 4:00? Yes, he said. Good, I said.

That’s incompetent contractor #1.

Incompetent contractor #2….

We’re looking at remodeling our guest bath. Someone my husband knows recommended Absolute Paint and Remodel. So I called them on Tuesday morning, told the guy we need a consultation appointment to discuss options and costs. Compare cost of a complete remodel vs. partial; etc… He said he would call me back that day. Two days later, no word from the guy. So I called him back yesterday morning. This is how the conversation went:

Incompetent Contractor: “I was thinking about coming over on Sunday afternoon.” 

Me: “I called you two days ago. I’ve been waiting for a callback to confirm a consultation appointment.”

Incompetent Contractor: “Oh, yeah… I was going to call you this morning.”

Me: (thinking to myself…. it’s already 10:30am…. just when were you going to call me??) “Let me check my schedule on Sunday…. I have some time in the afternoon. Is 1:00 ok?”

Incompetent Contractor: “Well, I need to give you a window.”

Me: “Ok. What window are we looking at?”

Incompetent Contractor: “I need to call you back on Friday morning so I can give you a specific window.”

Me: ” :: sigh :: Ok. Please call me as soon as you can on Friday, so I can plan my day accordingly.” (thinking to myself, this guy isn’t going to call me on Friday at all.)

Incompetent Contractor: “I have a window from 12:00 – 3:00. Will that work?”

Me: “Yes. Thank you.” (thinking to myself, wow…. first you don’t have a window, now you do? WTF?)

I fully expect this guy to no-show on me. Or to be late. Or to call and cancel at the last minute. I’m definitely looking for other contractors.

Oh, and B&M? They’re back again this morning to finish up on the AC vent. Evidently it’s more than just a matter of having a “screw loose”. The vent is no longer flush with the wall. They have someone out to fix it, so it will mount properly and screw into the wall. He was supposed to be here between 9:00 and 10:00. It’s 10:16am. He just got here.

Update: OMFG!!! It just gets better! Now I find out the B&M crew unscrewed the vent but couldn’t get it off, so this one vent never got cleaned! I paid full price and still have one vent that never got touched! :: grrrr ::

Updated Update: The guy that came out today could have just left after seeing what was wrong and determining it was a “pre-existing condition”. He didn’t even go there – never mentioned it. Now that I have another moment, we have another update…

The same guy has expanded the opening so the vent will properly fit. He’s set an appointment for next week so another crew can come out and finish the job. We don’t have to pay anything for the work he just did to make the vent fit. He was embarrassed that the crew never said anything about not cleaning the vent, and he’s been so apologetic about the whole thing. He was more concerned that the original crew never said anything about this vent in the first place and led me to believe everything had been cleaned properly.

Now we get to deal with them one more time, next week, and we’ll be done.

I’m still hesitant to recommend Blackmon Mooring. I’ve only had this one experience with them, and I’ve ended up in “customer recovery”. This one guy here today isn’t so bad. He’s like that one person you deal with that really cares about the customer in an org that doesn’t necessarily give a damn, y’know? I’ll just be glad when this entire ordeal is done.

He did say he’d request they send a different crew next week. At least I won’t have to deal with the original crew who messed up the job in the first place.

Choices

I was talking to my sister, tonight, about my nieces upcoming wedding. As with any young bride-to-be, tension levels mount as the date draws near. She’s two weeks away. I found out that some of her brides maids still haven’t gotten their dresses yet. I remember how I was when Mr. Magick Man and I tied the knot a couple of years ago… I was panicking about the dresses a few months out. I have to give the girl credit for not going “bridezilla” on everyone.

It made me think, really, we choose how we react. Life presents us with a series of events. We can choose to let the drama unfold around us; or we can choose to breathe; or we can choose to handle it somewhere in between. Personally, I’m guilty of hitting that panic button on more than one occasion; however, I’ve made great strides in my ability to pause, then choose my action. My action may not be the correct choice, but it is an action of my choosing rather than a knee-jerk reaction. This allows me to reflect on events, acknowledge and learn from any mistakes, and grow.

I am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine

My middle niece is getting married in just a few weeks. I’m so happy for her, and so proud. And there are so many things I want to tell her. It’s times like these when I wish I lived closer, so I could just go visit, sit down, and have the “heart-to-heart-Auntie-chat”. Online or on the phone just isn’t the same.

I’ve been sitting on this “talk” for about a week now. I saw Melinda just for a brief while last weekend, but really, there wasn’t enough time, and this is really something for the both of them. Now I’m at the point where I just need to write it out so I don’t make an embarrassing speech at the wedding reception. 😉

To Melinda and Jerrod, with much love, from Auntie Cyn…

Be each other’s loving friend. Nourish each other with love and integrity. Accept each other’s individuality. Support each other; especially through the more challenging times life presents you. Revel and share in each other’s joys and accomplishments. Share your own hopes and dreams through a lifetime of learning and communication. Strive for intimacy, insight, patience and affection.

The secret to a good marriage? I don’t claim to be that wise. But I do like the words of wisdom our Rabbi passed on to us at our wedding: “You can be right, or you can be happy.” That doesn’t mean invalidate your emotions or your opinions. It doesn’t mean cave in to your partner all the time. It means when things do come up, take a breath and look at the situation in the big picture. Discuss things with your spouse calmly. Talk about what’s happened and how you feel. Listen to how your spouse feels. Develop the ability to let things go and don’t carry a grudge. You don’t have to be right … y’know? Approach the situation with an open mind.

There will be times in your marriage when you love each other with a fiery passion. There will be times when you are both so frustrated with each other you want to tear your hair out. The best thing is knowing that this person is not only your loving partner, but your best friend. In those frustrating times, you can trust this person and communicate with this person and work out whatever may be going on. That’s what makes it worthwhile.

Congratulations, both of you. I’m such a proud Auntie Cyn.  We’ll see you soon! 🙂

Where Fools Rush In

And, oh my, did this one put his foot in his mouth.

On February 28th, Rush Limbaugh actually said, with his outside voice, that if a woman wanted insurance coverage for birth control under her school’s healthcare plan, that was the equivalent of being paid to have sex. He said, “It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.” It’s been all over the news. Here’s one of the links from CBS.

This isn’t a new story for most of you. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve been out of town at North Texas Irish Festival and I’m just catching up on the news.

I actually went to rushlimbaugh.com to look for the show where he said it. I don’t listen to his drivel, but I thought, surely something is being taken out of context. I know how the media can be biased to one side or the other. Every talk show host keeps archives. I found the link to the show, but it appears they’ve removed the transcript. In fact, anything referencing Sandra Fluke on February 28th seems to be inaccessible.

If you search the archives for other stories related to Sandra Fluke, you will find all the other transcripts of where he defends himself and eventually apologizes. Oh, and evidently at some point there was a bomb threat at his house over this mess… poor thing.

The thing that really gets me is, he talks about how frequently she has sex, as though that has any bearing on anything. You take the pill once a day. Period. It’s not like Viagra or Cialis (perhaps that’s the only thing he has for a frame of reference…).

I should note, insurance companies have provided birth control at no extra expense for years now. It’s part of the overall package when you get “X” insurance coverage. You may have to pay a co-pay, and that co-pay may vary depending on your plan, but it’s still part of the package, regardless. I should also note, insurance companies also cover prescriptions like Viagra and Cialis in just the same manner. So, following Rush Limbaugh’s philosophy, let’s say an unfortunate college man has health issues …. erectile dysfunction. He needs a prescription for Viagra or Cialis. If that student wants the school healthcare plan to cover his prescription “get it up”, does that make that man a male prostitute?

Food for thought, Mr. Limbaugh. Oh, and BTW, you know you’ve really screwed up when Don Imus says your apology was lame. Looks like he gets to hand the “Mediot” crown over to you now. 😉