December 14, 2012

A perk of not teaching anymore...

... is that this is the first time I've been seriously sick since I quit teaching on April 6th. Odd, no?

For any of you who missed it, which is probably 4 of the approximately 5 people likely to read this, I had a go at going to work on Wednesday, gave up, and came home early about 2 o'clock because I was primarily staring at the stuff I needed to do and trying not to go to sleep. Didn't seem like a productive use of time to me. Yesterday (Thursday) I just didn't even try it at all. Stayed home. Played Cake Mania and The Sims 3 all day and did nothing at all productive until about 6:30, when I finally decided to fix dinner. And then I had to go let in a guy who locked himself out who lives on the 3rd floor, and that about wore me out and I did nothing else at all productive yesterday.

I'm planning on heading in to work today, but I still don't feel well. What I've got, for the curious, is a nasty head cold that I'm hoping will do me the favor of NOT turning into a sinus infection, since I don't have health insurance anymore. But it is still somewhat amusing to me that I went from April to December without getting a cold. Could not have done that while teaching, I promise you!

What is blog-worthy about this, you ask? Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. I'm just trying to get back into the habit of writing since I've been doing it very infrequently in between April when we moved and August, and almost not at between August and now. I think it's good for me... it makes me introspect a little, and I don't like to do that. :-)

Song o' the Day: "End of Time" by Lacuna Coil. Perhaps it's fitting that they chose to release a video for this song just days before the "impending apocalypse". The video itself is pretty boring by LC standards, actually, and a lot of people are annoyed that it only has Cristina and Andrea in it. People get annoyed about strange things. The song, on the other hand, is really good (despite having Andrea in it!).

November 27, 2012

The changes FOUR years can bring....

For the literally ones of people who read this tripe I type up on a regular basis (or to put it in Fry and Laurie terms, "the viewing several"), I decided not to disappoint this year. Since 2009 I have been doing an annual review of what has changed in my life since the previous year. Some of the changes this year are interesting, and some of them some of you might not actually know about yet, so this should be fun and informative. In keeping with past years, I've decided to copy/paste the previous year's entry so you can go back with me all the way to 2008. (The original post in 2009 compared 2009 with 2008.)

Here we go... TIME TRAVEL!!!

2008: We lived in a falling-apart house with no heat.
2009: We live in a pretty nice apartment with gas heat.
2010: We live in the same apartment as last year. Have somehow managed to keep paying the rent. Praise God!
2011: We still live in the same apartment. I have an eye toward moving before the end of the year, though, because I'm close to being able to afford to at this rate.
2012: We have moved twice in 2012. The first time was to Gresham (in April) for a new job, the second time was to Milwaukie (in October) for the same company.

2008: I was unemployed. All year.
2009: I sometimes wish I worked less, but I am blessed to have a job surrounded by good, godly poeple who are passionate about what they do and make working with them so much fun.
2010: Same job situation except it has dawned on me that I really don't like teaching. Okay, so I knew that all along, but now I'm really starting to get the urge to move along... still like the people I work with, though!
2011: I now work FULL TIME for the first time since 2001. I adore the people I work with, but I like teaching less and less. Looking to move on (and when I do that apartment change thing will probably shortly follow).
2012: I am now a full time, salaried property manager. Which sort of explains how I have moved twice this year, no? And look up there and see how psychic I was in 2011! I knew something was coming, just didn't know what... lol. Anyway, not only do I get free rent on a 1,200 square foot apartment, but also I am salaried for more money than I've ever made before in my life. I've had years where my total yearly income was barely $8,000. This is not one of those years.

2008: I did nearly all my Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree, because it was what I could afford.
2009: I did most of my Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart... moving on up!
2010: Primarily Wal-Mart again. No huge change in this department.
2011: Again, no change! What can I say? I like Wal-Mart.
2012: Haven't done any shopping yet. Could I shop somewhere else? Yes, probably. Will I shop somewhere else? Eh... maybe. But it's hard to beat Wal-Mart!

2008: We got food boxes from a couple of different local organizations.
2009: An organization called to offer us a food box and I told them they could probably find someone who needed it worse than we do. After I hung up I realized what I'd just been able to say and I almost cried.
2010: Nobody even offered us a food box this year.
2011: I don't even get food stamps anymore. (Well, $16 a month, but that hardly counts, now does it?)
2012: Virtually no change from 2011 here. I do technically still qualify for the minimum amount of food stamps, but I often forget to use them. The only reason I'm still signed up is because I do it at the same time as the Chamaco's medical insurance (which I'm keeping, since I don't have health insurance myself to add him to). 

2008: I carried my son upstairs to his bed when he fell asleep on the couch.
2009: I can barely pick up my son, much less carry him upstairs. This only happened in the last month or two. I realized today that soon I won't be able to pick him up at all... my baby is gone. I almost cried.
2010: I can still pick up my nine-year-old boy for brief periods of time
2011: My kid turned 10 this year. I can still pick him up, but I can't carry him much of anywhere. I realize that the only reason I can pick him up is because I routinely lift up to sixty pounds of child at work. He clocks in at about 74, last I knew.
2012: The boy will be 11 next week. And I can still pick him up, but only barely.

2008: My son was the sort of co-dependent that being the only child of a single mom will get you.
2009: I have an increasingly independent eight-year-old who more and more often wants to do things by himself. I told him that I was going to get Nancy's recipe for play-doh because the stuff we make at work is better than the store-bought stuff. I said this because I thought it would be something fun we could do together. He asked if he could do it by himself.
2010: My son cooked dinner a few weeks ago. I supervised him, but the only thing I actually did for him was turn the knobs on the stove, because he can't reach them yet. He's older but still short... lol.
2011: My kid can stay home by himself for increasingly long periods of time (I haven't yet pushed it past an hour and a half). He has a cell phone. As long as there is a microwave and a stocked freezer, he can feed himself indefinitely. This works out well for me going to Zumba classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
2012: All this moving and new job stuff has created the necessity for the Chamaco to stay home alone for up to eight hours a day if he's not in school. Somehow, against all odds, I have raised the sort of responsible, independent kid that can handle this just fine so long as he has a microwave and internet access.

2008: I had a couple of friends, but mostly felt very lonely and isolated.
2009: I have some very good friends, some less-close-but-still-good friends, some casual acquaintances that  always make me smile (hello CTG!), a pretty full social calendar, and sometimes wish desperately to just be home by myself for a few hours.
2010: All of the above, plus a couple of new friends... :-)
2011: Loads of new people in my life this year. Some of them are even male... lol.
2012: With the new job comes a new social circle. I must say I like working with a mixed group of men and women again... lol. The estrogen levels in my life were approaching critical.

2008: I was single.
2009: Still single... no change there. : )
2010: Despite some rumors you may have heard, still single. But I guess there were at least rumors this year. Maybe next year there will be something to them! ;-)
2011: Still single! But I did actually go on ONE date in 2011. Which is one more than in the previous eight years combined, so I guess that's progress... ha ha ha!
2012: I am... not single*. Haven't been since September-ish. (Don't ask me exactly when, because I don't know!) Here's the funny part: Internally, I have always said two things... that I wanted to date someone I didn't date in high school (because all previous boyfriends and my ex-husband I dated in high school), and that I wanted to date someone who was my best friend (obviously, this required finding a male best friend). To which, I presume, God said, "Okay then... how about your best friend from elementary school? That's not high school!" You will never convince me that God doesn't have a sense of humor (as well as a keen sense of irony), but I am still very grateful to have Andrew back in my life after 19 years of absence.

(*Edit: Seemingly some have taken this statement to mean I am now married. I assure you that is not the case. I'm just in a reasonably serious relationship, is all.)
Well, that wraps it up for this year, kids!

November 9, 2012

We Have Moved.... Again

I see that I haven't posted anything since July, which is going to make playing catch-up rather difficult. I'm not sure I even know where to start, aside from maybe starting where I left off in July. I don't exactly remember where I left off, but judging by the date I will say it was probably something about how cool it was to have my best friend from 5th grade back and stuff like that. That's still cool, don't get me wrong.

We, in fact, hung out pretty much from Friday afternoon through Saturday night (and sometimes on Sunday afternoons too) every weekend straight through July and August. And pretty soon the Chamaco became involved, joining us at the river on Sunday afternoons. (He simply isn't around Friday night through Saturday night because he goes to my mom's and/or his dad's.)

Interesting side note: People really don't change a lot between ages 10 and 30. I mentioned before that I remember Andrew (who will need a cool blog alias) as the kid who could draw every US state from memory. Well, we were sitting on the bank of the river one  Sunday afternoon watching the Chamaco jump around in the water, and suddenly Andrew elbowed me and pointed at the sand and asked, "What's that?" Naturally he has drawn the outline of a state in the sand. I forget which one he started with. But he did a few states, and when it became clear that wasn't going to stump me he moved on to European countries. My point here is that we were nerds in 5th grade and we pretty much still are. And clearly whatever odd chemistry made us work as friends when we were 10 is still effective 20 years later, even though now we are old and have money and cars and don't have to whine at our parents to take us places anymore.

Anyway, sometime in mid-August he was griping about being a broke college student and having to pay whatever he was paying to live in a bedroom of somebody's big fancy house, and I was like, "It's too bad I don't have 3 bedrooms... I get free rent! I wouldn't charge you to live here." He insisted he would want to pay something to help with utilities and stuff, and it sort of didn't come up again until about a week later when he realized that he was going to have slightly less income for the month of September and almost no income for the month of October. See, he gets paid a certain amount per day for days he actually attends college... this is how his Air Force thing works. And the school term ended in late August and wouldn't start up again until September 24th or something like that. So he was losing a week for August (paid in September), and then losing almost all of September (paid in October). He worked it out and realized he was only going to have about $600 for the whole month of October. Rent for him was almost all of that, and he still would need to buy gas to get to school, food, etc. And suddenly we were revisiting the idea of him moving in, which he was only willing to do if it was okay with the Chamaco. And he jokingly said to me, "Tell your boss she needs to build a 3 bedroom apartment at Highland!"

I believe it was the next day I was talking to my boss on the phone about moving him in with me and what would be necessary, and I said, "Oh, and he says to tell you to build a 3 bedroom apartment at Highland." And we had a good laugh.

A few days later, she called me back and asked, "Did you really want a three bedroom apartment?" I was like, "Well yeah, it would be nice, but there aren't any here."

"So how would you like to move to Springcreek?"

It was then explained to me that the property I was currently living/working on was up for sale. There were no offers on it yet, of course, but at some point it would be sold and then whatever manager was on that property at the time would need to be relocated. And since at that point I was the only manager living on-site, they sort of wanted to move me to a property they were keeping. They also sort of wanted the manager who was currently at Springcreek to take her sales talent over to a property that was struggling a bit more. So, the day before Andrew was set to move in with me anyway (and he hadn't much liked the idea of moving to Gresham, mind you), I called him and said, "So... how would you like to move to Milwaukie?"

The initial reaction, of course, was "why?" followed by a rant about my job's seeming instability and doubt about whether he should move at all. I told him I had asked for a day to think it over. That night I went out to dinner with Sammich, determined to forget about this impending decision for a few hours. And then the text messages from Andrew started coming in. "Springcreek is within walking distance of _______." "Milwaukie Elementary was rated 7 out of 10 stars." (Yes, he was even checking out the schools for the Chamaco." And by the time I got home from dinner that night it was beginning to sound like Andrew was not at all opposed. The Chamaco wasn't really opposed either... he didn't like the school in Gresham anyhow (which according to Andrew had only gotten 3 of 10 stars on that same site), and liked the idea of moving back to a smaller town perhaps more similar to the one we'd left when we came to Gresham.

So Andrew moved in with me anyway on August 30th, and I temporarily cleaned out half my closet to give him a place to put his clothes and essentials, and he put other stuff in a storage unit across the street (a steal at around $100/month compared to what he'd been paying before for rent). The idea was that we'd somehow coexist in a small space for a month or so, then we'd move to Milwaukie and he could have his own room. Both of us were looking forward to this. Him because the closet was really crowded, and me primarily because he snores.

Somewhere in September my emotionally retarded brain finally caught onto the idea that the vibe between us had turned fuzzy, and somewhere toward the end of September we became official enough that he told his friends. Not something I was expecting, really, but I wasn't opposed either. We moved to Milwaukie on October 13th (pictures of new place to follow, naturally), and now he has a room for his stuff.

So yes, I live with my boyfriend. I feel I must point out that those were not the terms when he moved in, and given the current financial situation (and also the fact that I like having him around) I'm disinclined to give him the boot now. It's now been about 2 1/2 months since he moved in and we still don't hate each other. I find this fact amusing, because my ex-husband didn't move in with me until after we got married, and it only took me about 2 weeks after that to start reconsidering the idea. Now that Andrew is working and going to school and I'm working full time I pretty much only see him in the evenings, but the really cool part is that dishes get done as if by magic and reasonably often, since he gets home first, he has dinner going by the time I get home. And, as he points out often, he does his own laundry. Can't beat that.

I have to run to work now, so this post will end a tad abruptly, but I'll try not to go another 4 months without posting.

July 21, 2012

Lies Tenants Tell...

So, I've officially survived 3 1/2 months managing an apartment complex. It hasn't done much to improve my already somewhat bleak outlook on humanity, that much I can tell you. It's made me feel rather House-like, in fact.

I've already touched on my House-like tendencies before (I believe the post was titled "I want to be an evil genius too!", and may have been on my old MySpace blog, but it could be here... I'm too lazy to go hunting for it). Now I've taken it a step further by adopting a new operational theory of the universe that can be summed up as the following:

Tenants lie.

Here are some of their favorite lies to tell...

#1) "I didn't know that!"  - Pssht. Yeah, right. The fact is that we take an hour (or longer) out of our lives to sit down and go through the lease with you so you know what the rules are, and then you get a copy of every single document you signed, and you seriously are claiming that you didn't know that you couldn't do that? What "that" is varies greatly, but I've even had people become greatly perturbed at me when their car was towed because they parked in another resident's parking space or because they parked in the non-reserved parking without a parking tag. In neither case did I instigate the towing, and I'm certainly not about to call the tow company and demand they return your car. Besides, they wouldn't do it anyway.

#2) "But _____ said that it was fine!" - In this case, ______ can be any one of the most recent five managers of this place, though some of them can remember even farther back than that. And the "it" that is "fine" can be anything from "borrowing" extra parking passes from the office, to having someone not named on the lease live in your apartment while you go live elsewhere, to growing marijuana on your balcony. A variation of this one is "But ______ knew about it!" This was the line used by my marijuana-grower, and according to him every manager previous to me has known about it. Well, there was nothing in the file and nobody told me, so maybe they all have some great psychic bond that I do not share. Or you're full of it.

#3) "I'll pay it on _______." - Now, see, I would have liked to believe this one. I'd like to be able to be understanding and go, "Oh, well, since you don't get paid until the 5th, it's okay to bring your rent payment in on the 6th." Unfortunately, it's due no later than the 4th. And real grownups who know they aren't getting paid until the 5th pay the rent out of the check they got on the 20th (or thereabouts) of the previous month. Granted, some of them actually do pay it when they say they will... but it's still late, and they're still paying an extra $75 a month by paying a late fee every month. One resident, who should serve as a shining example to all others, gets paid only once a month. On the 15th. She pays every month on the 15th, but she pays for the coming month, as in bringing me August rent on July 15th. This is how you do it. But fairly often they don't pay when they say they will anyway. My former account rep whom I miss dearly (the new one does not banter as well... or indeed at all) told me not to believe any of their stories and to stop caring so much. Good advice, I think.

#4) "I used to manage apartments...." - Oh boy... this one is my favorite! This is the sentence usually used to preface telling me what I'm doing wrong and how bad I suck at my job. Man, if I had a nickel for every time a resident told me they used to manage apartments, I could quit this job. I wonder how so many of them ended up living here on housing assistance if they have management skills, first and foremost. Perhaps they manged apartments and really sucked at it? Also, even giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they did "used to" manage apartments, they probably weren't doing it recently enough to know that there were like a zillion changes to landlord/tenant law in 2010 and everything they think they know is probably now wrong. My marijuana grower "used to manage apartments" too, and he was pretty furious about the 30/14 he got for having 19 pot plants on his balcony. Because when he used to manage apartments, you gave a warning first. Ha ha ha... that is your warning, silly! It's a warning that you have 14 days to get the pot plants off of your balcony! (Or 30 days to find someplace else to live, your choice.) What more warning do you need?? I think people just get all riled because it says "30 day notice of for-cause termination" at the top, and they don't bother to read the bit about the 14 day cure date. If there's a cause, there might be something you can do to remove that cause... the one you need to really worry about is the "no-cause termination" notice. That's the "pack your things and go" notice.

Anyway, this post was sort of a rant. I'm out of major lies now (though there are more minor ones) and this is just a subject that has been kicking around in my brain for a while, so I'm purging it. I promise my next post will be a great tale of adventure, as the Chamaco and I had one of those today.

Song o' the Day: "I Miss the Misery" by Halestorm. For no reason other than it's catchy.

July 15, 2012

Becoming a Fruit Bat...

So last night I finally did something people had been telling me for quite some time that I ought to do, but I just hadn't found a space of time in which to do it. I watched this little documentary on Netflix called "Forks over Knives". For those not familiar with the film, it centers around two doctors (both of whom are now in their 70s) who were basically the pioneers in thinking that eating meat is not actually all that good for you, and that all of the processed foods in the modern American diet are killing us.

I know you've heard that and rolled your eyes at it before, but they've got some pretty surprising research studies to back it up. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say I was pretty convinced... convinced enough, at least, to give it a go.

So for at least the next week (and possibly longer, unless I decide there are no measurable differences in how I feel), I'm going to be trying something different with the way we eat and prepare meals around here. Here are the basics:

*My primary objective is to cut out processed foods. By "processed foods" I mean "things with ingredients on the label that I can't readily identify". Example: I know what "milk" is. I know what "chicken" is. I know what "soybeans" look like. I could probably draw you a rough sketch of any of the above. I do not, however, know how to draw a "polysorbate 80". The rule of thumb is basically not to eat anything with ingredients that didn't exist when my grandparents were children.

*I'm not cutting out meat entirely, but I am reducing quantities and sticking to chicken, fish and maybe the occasional pork (we were never really into red meat anyway). After I've exhausted the current stock on hand, I'm going to look into getting organic meat and see how much it will hurt my wallet.

*Another thing I'm cutting way back on is dairy. This saddens me greatly, because cheese is one of my favorite things, but the documentary also made a pretty convincing argument that casein, one of the major proteins in dairy products, makes your risk for certain cancers go through the roof. This gives me pause, because apparently there is more of a history of cancer in my family than anyone ever really acknowledged before my mom was found to have colon cancer in 2006. This, in fact, seems to be moderately common on her side of the family. It's on my list of things to avoid... at least until I'm 50 or so. My mom said chemo apparently works really well for skipping over that whole menopause thing.

*The only thing I've so far decided to eliminate entirely that I would have considered a "staple" item two days ago is Diet Coke. I have, in fact, eliminated any beverages with any sort of chemicals and/or artificial sweeteners in them, particularly aspartame. So I've been drinking lots of water, and trying to relearn the art of making my own flavored water at home, which is something I picked up in Mexico.

*What we are still eating is a lot of fruits and vegetables, along with rice, quinoa, beans, and stuff like this. And I personally have seen some success with this sort of eating before. When I was pregnant I pretty much only wanted to eat fruit (and McDonald's chicken nuggets, for some reason), and I lost 45 pounds while I was pregnant. Yes, that's right. LOST 45 pounds. You read it correctly. My doctor was initially very concerned and did a lot of careful measuring and monitoring of both of us, and finally threw up her hands and said, "You're getting smaller, he's getting bigger... all I can figure is that he's eating you! But you're both healthy so I guess we'll let it slide." So I know it works, my question is if I sustain it without having a growing human inside me. I guess we shall see.

Dinner tonight shall consist of teriyaki chicken (mostly for Damian, because he will have to be eased into this more gradually), couscous, and this amazing fruit salad I have constructed, along with home-made lemon-flavored water (well, I didn't make the water or the lemons, but I did artfully combine the two). I may put up pictures later if it's particularly epic. The caffeine deprivation headache is already beginning though, and based on the events of Friday tomorrow is likely to be a MONDAY. In all capital letters like that. So we'll see if I make it through or if I cave and run across to 7-11 for a caffeine jolt.

June 25, 2012

Nostalgia trippin'....

Generally I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love that it keeps me from having to do as much talking on the phone, which I actually hate doing. I love seeing pictures and funny stuff that people post. I hate seeing political garbage that people post (especially in election years). I love being able to easily keep in touch with people in far away places like Mexico. I hate knowing the minutiae of the lives of friends who live fifteen minutes away. My feelings on Facebook are very mixed.

Every now and then, though, Facebook does something interesting. Like allowing someone you haven't seen in about 19 years (and I'm 29, so do the math) to find you. In fact, it was 19 years ago last week that my family moved to Molalla from Fairview, just a couple of days after I finished fifth grade. One of the people that I was pretty opposed to leaving behind in Fairview was a kid named Andrew.

I think I met Andrew in third grade. I don't believe he was at the school before that, though I can't remember if he moved there that year or what. I'd been there since kindergarten. I think we had different teachers that year, but we were in the same TAG class and there the bonds of shared nerdery were forged. I have sort of a jumble of random memories of time spent with him, but overall a very pleasant sort of association. We actually were in the same class in both fourth and fifth grades, if I recall correctly, giving us even more time to practice our brand of mischief. Which I think primarily involved playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego on the computer any chance we got. So Andrew, if you're reading this (since I link to this crap on Facebook), please don't kill me. We don't have any mutual FB friends so your dignity should be safe... Here are some of those random memories I was talking about earlier:

*Working together in TAG class to build a structure that, if I recall correctly, was made out of milk straws and marshmallows.

*Trips to OMSI. I always thought Andrew's parents must be millionaires because not only did they have a fancy house with leather furniture in it (and the first artificial Christmas tree I'd ever seen), but he also got to go to OMSI any time he wanted, pretty much. And his mom was usually pretty willing to take me along. I always liked his mom. Even when she sang along to Michael Jackson songs in the car. (This was the only place in my whole life I ever listened to Michael Jackson music.)

*I remember when Hurricane Andrew hit. Andrew went around for days bragging that he'd just destroyed half of Florida. For some reason I found this hilarious.

*Andrew always insisted that he was cool because his family was Finnish. This was back in the day when just about all the kids at school except two were generic, white-bread Americans, and thus I also thought it was very cool that his family was Finnish. I also thought it was cool that someone besides me had a last name that nobody could figure out how to spell/pronounce. Also his surname reinforces my theory that most if not all Finnish names have a repeating letter in them. (Perttu, Eicca, Paavo, Mikko, Kivilaakso, Niiranen. The pattern holds.)

*I forget what he did, but in fourth grade he somehow managed to have his face contact a curb somewhere between home and school and showed up at school with blood running down his face. I remember the teachers freaking out over it and him being all nonchalant. It was the greatest display of manliness my nine-year-old eyes had seen (at least from someone in my own age bracket). And I think last time I saw him he still had scars from that. (Do you still?)

*One year, I think it was fourth grade (but possibly fifth), Andrew and I took first and second place in the school's geography bee. He only beat me because I couldn't remember the name of the volcano that had been erupting in the Philippines. Well, I'll never forget it now - Mt. Pinatubo. He won a Carmen San Diego board game, and generously offered to let me play. I think we decided it was kind of boring, though, and we ended up doing something else entirely that afternoon. But I would have been completely furious if I'd been beaten by anyone but Andrew.

*I have never known anyone else who could draw accurate maps of most (if not all) US states from memory. I remember in fifth grade for Valentine's Day we had these little heart-shaped books that we made and had to pass around and everyone had to write something nice in everyone else's book. Andrew drew a state in everyone's book. And he drew Illinois in mine, because he said it was his favorite state to draw. I think I may still have that somewhere in a box.

*Andrew's mom (who I believe is named Karen) actually taught me how to swim. In Blue Lake. She took us there quite a bit too, it seems. But I think he actually lived pretty close to Blue Lake, so that wasn't really a huge ordeal. 

*Fairview Elementary thought it was cool to torture fifth graders in April by making them learn the maypole dance and then having them perform it on May 1st. Most of the fifth graders thought it was torture because they had to be partnered up with and dance with someone of the opposite gender. Andrew and I were partnered up together. I remember practicing in his driveway and laughing about it with both of our moms looking on like we were insane.

*I actually did see Andrew one time after we moved. His mom drove him all the way out to Molalla, and he and I spent an afternoon hunting down the feral kittens living under our front porch. I think both of us got scratched quite a lot that day, but we caught some kittens (all but one of which we eventually tamed).

What really blows my mind, though, is that when we moved to Molalla I was almost exactly the age that my son is now. And suddenly I'm having all these memories from a ten-year-old perspective, which is a mental place I haven't visited in a long, long time, and remembering how I saw the world then. Also interesting since I just moved Damian from the only school he'd ever known (Molalla) and brought him to Gresham, about six miles from where I grew up in Fairview. I remember that first summer in Molalla as being one of the most boring times of my life, because I didn't know anyone, there were no kids around, and I hadn't been to school there yet so I didn't have any friends to call (and I think Fairview might still have been long distance from Molalla back then, before the dawn of EAS). If it hadn't been for the Molalla Public Library (and the mother of my future husband, but that's another story) I think I would have gone completely mad. Overall I think Damian's handling a remarkably parallel situation much better than I did. Of course, he's not hormonal yet. ;-) Though we did have this dialog this evening after I'd tucked him in bed.

DAMIAN: Auughh!!! My blanket reeks!
ME: Yeah, that's because it smells like boy. I keep telling you every morning that it smells like boy in here and you gotta let some air in!
DAMIAN: Man, I didn't realize that men stink so much!

Well said, my child... well said. ;-)

June 24, 2012

Knowing me...

Interestingly, Amy happened to post a blog about knowing oneself when I'd been musing on that topic just last night as I wrote the other post about music and stuff. (I Wanna Get a Mohawk - AFI) I don't know if Amy has spy cameras in my brain or if we're just psychically linked somehow, but it's a topic I've been thinking about lately. Probably because the knowledge that I will be 30 in just a few short months is really settling in. Also maybe the fact that my little sister is getting married on Saturday and that makes me feel SERIOUSLY old.

So here's some more stuff about me that I've recently figured out that I didn't already put in the comments of Amy's blog (and maybe some of the same stuff, but in more depth). Some of it you might not have wanted to know, but too bad...

#1) My first marriage screwed me up bad enough that I might never get brave enough to do it again. And I'm sort of okay with that. In fact, the only part of it I'm not okay with is the lack of sex. I am definitely not okay with no sex (sex, in fact, is one of the things that tends to get me most into trouble), but my belief structure is not okay with a "friends with benefits" setup, which would otherwise be totally ideal for me. I really, really like the idea of someone to just have sleepovers with when the mood strikes, but who has his own house and spends more of his time there. (Intoxicated - Lacuna Coil) I don't know if this is what happens when your husband totally destroys your life and self-esteem and then abandons you or what, but that is at least what happened to me and it's been a long road to recovery (our 11th anniversary would have been yesterday had our marriage lasted more than a year and a half). I'm not particularly jumping at the chance to let someone have another shot at ruining me forever. So I wouldn't say that I'm happily single, but I can at least maintain equilibrium that way.

#2) Music is my substitute for the sex I'm not getting. Yeah, you read that right. It's like the next best thing I can think of. (Okay, alcohol might have had a place in there but it had to be discarded for the same reason the "friends with benefits" idea didn't work out. I could quite easily become an alcoholic, I think, but more of that under the next number.) I have to have some music every day. I like music before bed. I like music first thing in the morning. I like music in cars. I like music in the shower. I'll even get music in the office if I can work it in around my busy schedule of being the face people can come in to complain at. And I like music with Shaun Morgan best of all. He is my musical friend with benefits. ;-) (The Gift - Seether)

#3) It was my sister who first called this to my attention, but she was absolutely right... I have an obsessive personality. I've always been this way. I have many interests, but there's always one thing that I am currently in the process of taking way too far, and I tend to take most things further than they ought to go. My line of obsessions started in about first grade, and I can remember them roughly in order: Ninja Turtles, Astronomy, Paleontology, Ballet, Ornithology, Gymnastics, The Lion King (shut up), Star Trek Voyager (continue shutting up... Chakotay was hot, okay?), Spanish, Pre-hispanic Latin American Civilizations, Seether, Jamie, Seether, Italian, Seether, Rock Band/Guitar Hero, House, Bones, Zumba, Seether. (Notice which one of those keeps popping up again? Every time they release an album, man...) (Eaten Up Inside - Korn) Some of these lasted much longer than others, the longest-lasting being Star Trek Voyager, which lasted from roughly the time I was 13 until shortly after the series ended when I was 19. And the end result is that I know a lot of trivia about astronomy, dinosaurs, birds, dance, Aztecs/Incas/Mayas and foreign languages and I can totally kick your butt at either Guitar Hero or Trivial Pursuit. Interestingly, however, my obsession with Seether is not strong enough to make me pay $75 to see them. You know why? Because they're touring with Nickelback, that's why. I'm not gonna pay $75 to see Nickelback. (What I've Done - Linkin Park) But like I mentioned under the last number, I think I could very easily become an alcoholic if I were to make alcohol more readily available. It's a thing I like too much, and for me that's dangerous. Moderation is not a thing I do particularly well.

#4) I'm shy. For the first five minutes, anyway. Maybe. Depending on the time of day. (Dónde Están los Ladrones - Shakira) This is what I have noticed about myself... the idea of getting up in front of people to perform, sing karaoke, act, dance, whatever, makes me nervous and jumpy. I invariably do it anyway. And then you can't get me off the freakin' stage/microphone. I think I read an interview with a musician once where someone said (I can't remember who it was) that after many years they still got nervous before shows, and they thought that was healthy, because if you don't get nervous anymore that means that you no longer care at all about your performance.

#5) I am getting slowly more girly as I age. I used to be a total tomboy. I used to be "more one of the guys than Derral is" (this in the words of Matt, one of the guys I hung out with in high school). And gradually I started wearing earrings. (Fire - Lacuna Coil) First it was just one at a time, then it was up to four as long as they didn't match. Now I can wear matching earrings (this is a recent development) and coordinate them to my outfit without cringing. I still hate carrying a purse (so far), but I can force myself to do it on those days when I just get the urge to wear a skirt. I am developing an increasing collection of shoes. I am beginning to enjoy shopping for clothing (I'm not sure if this is a side effect of having more money or of being able to find more stuff that fits now that my boobs aren't as ginormous). (Ghettochip Malfunction - Beck) Just the other day I gave in to my recent urge to buy cute underwear. Never before have I bought underwear that didn't come in a pack of 6 for $7 or less. Part of me died a little when I paid $3 for a single pair of underwear. But also they match my new purple bra really well.

#6) I am an introvert cleverly disguised as an extrovert. Most of my friends, if you asked them, would say that generally I am friendly and outgoing. This is a complete fallacy. (Got the Life - Korn) I find dealing with people to be draining... even people I actually like (and we won't talk about the ones I don't like). I enjoy spending time with friends, family, church family, etc., but I need several hours of solitude to recover afterward. This is why Damian goes to bed at 8:30 (during the school year) and I stay up until midnight. Because I need the alone hours, that's why.

#7) I have developed a burning hatred of American Politics, and when people post things about it on my Facebook wall it sort of makes me want to unfriend them. And no, I don't care which side they're on. (Stay and Play - Saron Gas) I may alienate some people with this one (particularly those of you fond of sharing your political beliefs on Facebook), but really I just cannot make myself care. Both of the major political parties are now more interested in money and badmouthing the other party than they are about actually doing anything for the country they supposedly "serve" as "public servants". I think they both suck. I think the American political system is irreparably broken and we are on our way to the collapse of government as we have always known it. And I'm not entirely convinced that will be a bad thing. I do not discuss my political views because they would make me immensely unpopular.

#8) I believe television is part of a conspiracy to dumb down the American public. Don't believe me? Watch Jersey Shore. Or Desperate Housewives. Even the TV news is so much conflicting misinformation that people willingly allow themselves to be spoon-fed, mixed with enough violence and tragedy to keep people interested. Anyone ever heard the song "Vicarious" by Tool? That song is completely correct. "Eye on the TV 'cause tragedy thrills me, whatever flavor it happens to be like. Killed by the husband, drowned by the ocean, shot by his own son, she used a poison in his tea... kissed him goodbye. That's my kind of story. It's no fun 'til someone dies. Don't look at me like I am a monster, frown out your one face and with the other stare like a junkie into the TV, stare like zombie while the mother holds her child, watches him die, hands to the sky crying "Why oh why?" I need to watch things die from a good safe distance. Vicariously I live while the whole world dies. You all need it too, don't lie... Why can't we just admit it?" And that pretty much sums up my thoughts on television news. (Mala Gente - Juanes)

#9) I always wanted to believe (and wanted everyone else to believe) that I didn't care what people thought of me, when the fact of the matter was that I cared way too much what other people thought. My entire life, until very recently, was ruled by what other people thought of me. Just recently I'm learning to worry more about what I think of me. Because let's be real, worrying about pleasing everyone else clearly wasn't pleasing much of anyone, and I have successfully managed to disguise my real self from most people for many, many years. (In fact, some of the things I've said in this blog post alone will probably cause some readers to choke on their coffee, because they might not believe I had such thoughts in my head... particularly the ones about sex and alcohol.) (Nada Me Mata Más Que Tu Voz - Gamberro) I've always read that your 30s are a time of self-discovery and self-realization. Maybe I'm starting early, but the real me is coming out to play and some of you aren't gonna like her much. But neither of us really cares anymore. :-)

#10) I figured I should think of a tenth one of these, just to make it a nice even number, so give me a second... hmm... oh, got it. People who attend the same Sunday morning Bible class as I do just found this one out in the last week or so, but most of the rest of the world is in the dark... I've always been fascinated by/attracted to the paranormal/supernatural. Not to the point of dabbling in any dark arts, but I don't mind reading about them, watching ghost-hunting shows, etc. Because think about it for a minute... demonic possession is clearly real. It's biblically documented. Even after the crucifixion. Evil spirits also are "scriptural" for lack of a better term. I personally have seen things I would term as being "ghosts" for lack of a better term, even within the last year. (Cult of Personality - In Living Color) The first time I remember seeing such a thing, I was probably five. I've never been frightened by anything I've seen... my reaction has always been closer to fascination. I don't know how much of this has to do with the fact that the house we lived in until I was 10 was at least eighty years old when my parents bought it and since then I've had a tendency to spend a lot of time in churches, funeral homes, and schools that are close to 100 years old (all 4 are prime spots for the paranormal, from what I've read). And yet, I think I've always known this is not the sort of subject my parents would be receptive to... even as a five year old, I figured telling them about the glowing lady I saw walking down the hallway at night was probably not a good idea, even though I saw her more than once. (Duality - Slipknot) Besides, she didn't scare me. I'll admit that I don't quite understand why Christians, who are supposed to be all about the supernatural (God is pretty supernatural) are so opposed to the idea of there being anything in the world currently that we can't quite get a handle on. Yeah, it's okay if people were getting possessed by demons in Jesus' time and I have to believe that because it's in the Bible, but that surely doesn't happen anymore, right? Umm.... okay, if you feel better believing that. I'll just say that there are an awful lot of practicing Satanists out there, to profess a belief in God is also to admit the existence of Satan (because if it were not for Satan there would have been no sin and you wouldn't need God, strictly speaking), and a lot of creepy stuff tends to happen in places where Satanism has been practiced in the past... forget about where it's actually happening now. Some things just leave a mark. We read something in the book of Mark in class this morning that made an impression on me: "When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first." (Luke 11:24-26) A nearly identical text is found in Matthew 12. These are the words of Jesus himself, people. Jesus just told you that at least 8 "impure spirits" of varying degrees of wickedness really do exist and are actively looking for people to dwell in. I think we do ourselves a disservice by pretending they don't exist anymore. I can go to Africa and say I don't believe in lions, but the lion believes in me. And he believes I would be crunchy and good with ketchup, whether or not I believe in him and am on guard against him.

Anyway, this turned into a much longer blog than I intended for it to be... I guess we'll see if anyone actually reads it!

June 23, 2012

I've got you covered...

I take some flak from my friends sometimes because of my distaste for pop music (and indeed pretty much anything that's currently "trendy", but that's another matter). I was being forced to learn the Rihanna song "Umbrella" (ella, ella, eh eh eh, etc.) for a skit earlier, and I was mentioning my distaste for Rihanna. The comment was made that Rihanna was one of the ones who can actually sing and I should respect Rihanna (note the implied admission that there are indeed pop "singers" who cannot sing). I replied that I might respect her if she put some clothes on.

I have in the past mentioned my distaste for things like "Ke$ha" (or Ke-dollar-sign-ha, as I prefer to call her), which like to portray themselves as pop "singers" when in fact they cannot actually sing without the aid of auto-tune. Their primary function is to look hot and be minimally dressed while bouncing about to whichever catchy song someone has written for them to "sing" on that particular day (or, in the event of a live show, lip-synch to).

I remember I was watching an interview with Shaun Morgan once in which he stated that they didn't put a lot of pictures of the band in their album covers/booklets because they didn't want the focus to be on what they look like... they wanted the focus to be on the music. He pointed out that in the case of bands like Tool, almost nobody knows what those guys actually look like. Their faces aren't recognizable, their sound is. The guys from Slipknot all wear masks 100% of the time when they're performing as Slipknot... the only way to know what they look like is to find pictures of them from their personal lives (or collaborations with other artists in the case of Corey Taylor). The focus isn't on whether or not the guys from Slipknot are good-looking... it's on their music.

I was pointing out to the Chamaco in the car earlier that most of the bands I like, such as Seether, Nirvana, Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Lacuna Coil, etc., write their own songs. On the other hand you have artists like Britney Spears, who are mediocre singers but are good-looking, so specially trained monkeys in Sweden write their songs for them and they are paid to sing them (with auto-tune if necessary), then dance around wearing as little as possible and earn money. He agreed this was pretty dumb.

Then as I was wandering about in the inky depths of YouTube this evening after forcing myself to listen to "Umbrella" a few more times, I stumbled upon the original version of a song I only knew the cover version of. The song is called "Losing My Religion", and the original is by REM. I'm new at posting videos in this manner, so hopefully it works, but you should be able to see the original here:

Now I'm not saying that REM sucks... I like some of their stuff. But Lacuna Coil, which happens to be a band that can do almost no wrong in my eyes, comes along and covers "Losing My Religion" and it comes out like this (please note that this is a fan-created video, not official... but the audio is good):

And that thought reminded me that just about everything is better with Lacuna Coil. Even a perfectly respectable band/song like Megadeth's "A Tout Le Monde"....:

... gets a million times better when you add Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil!:

This thought led me to ponder how many other songs get better when covered by a proper rock band. Take, for example, "London Bridge" by Fergie. I recommend not listening to the whole thing... just enough to get the idea:

Now see what happens to it when Bowling for Soup covers it!:

This is not the only song that Bowling for Soup has improved immensely. They also took on one of Britney Spears' earlier travesties, "Baby, One More Time."

Now look what BFS did with it!!! This one is even cooler because I can actually play it on guitar... :)

Even I will admit that Lady Gaga can craft a catchy pop tune, such as the following "Bad Romance":

However, it takes Lzzy Hale and the guys from Halestorm to make the song truly great. Also Lady Caca only wishes she could sing like Lzzy Hale...

And it doesn't stop here... I'm not even done! Of course Seether has been on this bandwagon as well. Take the original 80s George Michael "classic", "Careless Whisper":

Seether had their wicked way with this one, resulting in the following:

And they even did the video with old video games! How awesome is that?!?! Seether has also worked their magic with Frank Sinatra... "I've Got You Under My Skin". Behold, the original:

And now Seether's take on it!:

Seether has also covered "Across the Universe" by the Beatles, but I'll let you dig that one up on your own. And I'll say again... Shaun Morgan can come sing me to sleep any time he wants... ;-)

There's a lot of fantastic improvement of pop songs going on out there, and today I'm especially proud to be a part of the not-so-mainstream rock brother/sisterhood that is improving most of what the music industry machine is currently mass-producing.

Rant over.

May 26, 2012

Got it made....

And I know you think that sounds like a cheery, optimistic title, but it isn't really. Not in the context in my brain, anyway. Let me to 'splain...

I'm a pretty busy person. I'm a single mom. I work full time (sometimes more than, but don't tell my boss). I teach ESL classes on Saturdays. I go to church, generally three times a week. I get my son over to Molalla to visit his grandma on Fridays, I get him to his dad's on Saturdays (when his dad isn't "too busy", but that's a rant for another time). And now, adding to all that pre-existing fun, I'm on call twenty-four-seven. Meaning that tenants can and do call me at 8:15 p.m. because "the stove gets really hot when I cook on it and I think the paint is catching on fire."  (True story, actually happened Tuesday.) They can and do call me at 5 in the afternoon on Saturday because someone randomly decided to spray motor oil all over the wall of an apartment. They can call me at 8:30 on a Wednesday because the water won't drain out of their washing machine. And on weekends sometimes a certain other manager decides she'd like to go camping and forward all her calls to me for her complex which I know little to nothing about, so somebody from there can call me at 9 p.m. asking about seeing an apartment. (This actually happened last night... who the heck wants to see an apartment at 9 p.m. on a Friday?!) That's right... all of these calls were this week alone.

By the time I got home last night (Friday) at around 11:30 p.m., I. Was. Just. Done. The headache I'd had for three days was not getting any better, and the thought of getting up to drive up to pick up Germania on Glisan and then drive back to Oregon City to teach English this morning made me want to curl into a ball and rock back and forth and maybe weep softly. And I came to the realization that, for the time being at least, I had nothing left to give.

I can't think of a way to say this that doesn't sound like whining, but the truth of the matter is that I give of myself all the time. Pretty much 24 hours a day. I am the caretaker. I take care of my son, I take care of the house, I fix dinner, I pay the bills, I take care of the office, the paperwork, the sales calls, the tenants and their myriad problems, I teach English on Saturdays... yeah, I'm pretty much freakin' wonder-woman. And last night when I scraped the bottom of the proverbial barrel and found that there was nothing left there to dole out, I realized that very, very rarely does any of what I send out ever come back.

To sum up: Nobody takes care of me. Not even me. I'm too busy taking care of everyone else.

I do believe it was back in Genesis that God decreed something along the lines of, "It is not good for the man to be alone," and got about the business of creating the woman. Suddenly I'm realizing that the reverse is also true. It's not good for the woman to be alone either. Unfortunately the woman didn't choose this. Not any of it, actually. I suppose one of the few perks to having been the first woman (aside from the unlimited fruit and veggie buffet in Eden) was that Adam didn't have a whole lot of other options.

I was going to continue this whine and explain where the title of the blog came from (and I may still do that), but God just sent me a cheesecake. Let me to 'splain...

While I was sitting here kvetching about how I get nothing back, I got a text message from Germania, who I mentioned in passing earlier. She told me she was outside my house and that she was bringing me something that someone sent me. About five seconds later there was a knock on my door. Sure enough, there she was. And she brought me a cheesecake. The cheesecake was a gift from one of my English students, and she had brought it to class for me today, except I wasn't there. So Germania, who ended up going to class on the bus since I didn't take her, had stopped by on her way back through to drop off the cheesecake.

God has phenomenal timing, and I think that's his way of saying, "Quit yer whinin'." Though it appears that God may also be trying to make me fat(ter)... lol.

Anyway, back to the original topic, the song in my head today (and the origin of the post title) has been "Got It Made" by Seether, which runs a little something like this in the chorus part:

I'm feeling miles away
You think I've got it made
I don't belong here
I'm feeling like a candle
Burning at both ends
I don't belong here

I was also musing along those lines as I was driving through Molalla earlier today when I went to pick up Damian that while Gresham does not feel like home yet, Molalla doesn't feel quite like home anymore either. Where home is, I don't know at this point. I don't think Damian does either. Hopefully we'll figure it out before too much longer. 

May 3, 2012

The harsh reality sets in...

It's been almost a month now since we moved... it'll be a month officially on Monday. Damian and I are both finding, I think, that the shiny newness and sense of "adventure" in all this is wearing off and the grim reality is setting in.

For Damian, the reality is that he's still the "new kid" in school. The friends he's known since kindergarten are miles away and aside from one or two of them, they have not bothered to contact him since we moved despite the fact that he handed out his e-mail address and phone number pretty freely during his last week of class. The kids in his new school, apparently, do not realize that he's extremely popular, nor do they seem to catch on to the fact that everything out of his mouth belongs on Comedy Central. To say that this has been a rough adjustment for him is something of an understatement. He was a brave, adventurous, tough guy for the first few weeks, but now that it has become clear that we are in an entirely different ball game now, he's starting to fall apart. His teacher e-mailed me to let me know that he has cried after lunch the last two days in a row saying that he was homesick, and I just came from his bedroom where he was lying in bed crying again after I had tucked him in the first time. He told me he wanted to move back to Molalla.

If only that were possible.

I don't hate it here. I actually quite like it most of the time. My stress levels, however, which used to be pretty much nil, have gone through the roof. There's something about realizing that your housing is completely dependent upon your job and that if you ever lose your job you'll have 24 hours to vacate your home that makes you really want to do well. Throw on top of that the fact that it's a completely new industry for me with a zillion and five new skills to master, give or take seven, most of which I'm learning as I go through the day-to-day stuff that comes up. And believe you me, stuff comes up. I feel like I'm still trying to play catch-up on situations that started before my arrival, plus dealing with the brand new ones, some of which are so weird that we have to call the whole crew together to figure out how to handle them.

Humanity, with all its foibles and flaws, is landing on my doorstep on a regular basis. I'm now finishing my second week as full-time manager here, and I'm already remembering why working fast food made me sort of start hating humans. I had theorized previously that maybe humans were just at their worst when they were hungry. Now I'm modifying my theory to state that an awful lot of people are just at their worst whether they're hungry or not.

And don't get me wrong... I've already got a couple of tenants that I know will brighten my day every time I talk to them. Then there are a few more that, even though I wouldn't necessarily choose to socialize with them outside of work, are so delightfully quirky that I sort of have to smile while they talk anyway. And then there's that last group... the group that every time I see their phone numbers on the caller ID or their shadows darkening my doorway, I start wondering where I might be able to disappear to. Because I know whatever they're gonna say is going to be stupid, whiny, or both, and that nothing I can do or say will satisfy them.

Here are a few great truths I have learned in the last two weeks:

1) Refrigerators do not leak. Small dogs, however, do. When a tenant complains of a leaky refrigerator, check the dog. (This apparently applies equally to sliding glass doors.)

2) Get it in writing. "It" can be anything from "we want to keep the carpet like it is" to "oh, it's totally okay if you take out an apartment in your name and let your cousin live there". (The latter statement someone is claiming was uttered by one of my predecessors, when in fact the word "fraud" has been tossed about the office in reference to the situation.) Whatever it is, it doesn't mean anything if you can't get it written down and signed.

3) Windows in extremely warm rooms, when the outside temperature is much, much colder, tend to form condensation. This is not termed as "leaking", and replacing your window will not fix it. However, turning the heat down or cracking your window open half an inch might solve the problem.

4) When the company cell phone rings, you answer. No matter what you're doing. Showering? Answer the phone. In church? Answer the phone. Sleeping? Answer the phone.

5) I need more pockets. Given the fact that I am expected to carry a wad of keys that would make a janitor look on in envy, plus the company cell phone, plus any of my own personal keys/possessions on my person at all times, I have begun to wonder if maybe I should have stolen a teacher's apron from my last job and given it new life here. However, I am expected to dress "professionally" and still somehow carry all this stuff around... this is not even slightly practical. However, I have also learned that practicality and logic have little use here.

6) Become a robot. Seriously. With as many repetitive tasks and functions as I am expected to perform exactly the same way each time, plus the fact that I am expected to treat everyone who comes through the office door exactly the same way and say more or less exactly the same thing (lest someone should accuse me of discrimination), I might as well just remove my brain and replace it with a computer program. However, such a program probably would have come up with at least two "blue screen of death" errors this week alone when circumstances arose that were completely outside of the scope of its programming. Some stuff you just can't predict.

7) Someone put a hex on our hot water heaters. I've had four die in the last two days. 3 of them the permanent sort of death that requires removing them entirely and replacing them with a different hot water heater. Soon the maintenance guy is going to stop answering his phone when I call. I'll be able to just text him a unit number and he can go swap out the water heater.

8) Seemingly, the terms "work order" and "money order" work well in Spanish sentences.

9) My "grown-up" Spanish is a little rusty. For the last three years I've been doing most of my conversing in Spanish with three and four year olds.

10) Nobody expects the white girl to speak Spanish.

Okay, I already knew the last one.

April 30, 2012

Out of the mouth of ten year olds...

It's not every day that your child pretty much sums up everything that's wrong with your generation while he's trying to think of hypothetical questions to distract you from the fact that you told him to get ready for bed and he's supposed to be brushing his teeth right now.

We do this dance every night... I tell him to go get ready for bed, he obediently heads down the hallway, then pops back up with some inane question 30 seconds later and tries to start a conversation about it. I have begun sneaking the time I tell him to go get ready for bed even earlier in 5 minute increments to compensate for this habit. He noticed and it hasn't deterred him any. At this rate, soon he'll be heading down the hall at 7.

Anyway, tonight he popped out to stall for more time, and the following conversation ensued:

HIM: So say that it's January and someone says, "In two months it will be February." Is that a fact or an opinion? (He's big on fact and opinion lately... I think they must be studying it in school.)
ME: It's wrong.
HIM: But they don't teach wrong in school! Why is that?
ME: Because they don't want to damage anyone's self-esteem.
HIM: What??
ME: They don't want to make anyone feel bad by telling them they got the wrong answer.
HIM: Oh, so they just call it an "opinion", even though it's actually wrong.

See... that right there is a lot of what's wrong with humanity today. Black and white concepts like "right" and "wrong" are steadily being fudged in exchange for shades of gray, and far too much weight is being given to how people feel about being wrong... especially in schools.

2 + 2 is still 4, regardless of how little Johnny feels about it. And when little Johnny guesses "6" in school, some PBIS-robot teacher (I can say that now since I'm not teaching anymore) will say something like, "Good try." Let me tell you (and little Johnny) something, though. When he gets out into the real world and has a real job, he's going to make a mistake and expect his boss to say, "Good try." Depending on the severity of the error, Johnny might be really surprised to find out that "good try" doesn't always count in the real world. Sometimes wrong is just wrong, and sometimes Johnny gets fired for it. Especially if Johnny is an accountant and there were a lot of zeroes after those 2s that he added to get 6. Or if Johnny is an architect and his "good try" created an unstable structure that collapsed and killed some people. These are of course extreme examples, but still you see my point... sometimes wrong is just wrong.

Most younger people, however, particularly those my age and younger, expect that when they make a mistake in the real world they can just laugh it off and go, "Oh, my bad!" and it'll all be okay. And it isn't, really. That's not how life works. And insisting your incorrect "opinion" is valid, no matter how many times you repeat it, does not make you any less wrong. In fact, it kind of makes you look even dumber, because you're persistently being wrong over and over again and not learning anything at all from your mistakes.

And then there's that whole thing about the younger generations seemingly being unable to take responsibility for their mistakes when they make them. I'd start going on about that too, but this post is already making me sound kind of like a cranky old woman and I'm not even thirty yet. (Getting close, though.)

So I think I'll just go to bed early, because between move-out inspections, five-page reports, rent week, taking applications, showing apartments, and the odd 30/14, I'm already having a long week and it's only Monday night. And I'm not just saying that... I'm actually already two hours over for this week, so I have to go in late and take me some long lunches to get my hours balanced out by Thursday evening. Yikes!

April 29, 2012

The Great Adventure, 2012....

So yeah, haven't posted anything in a couple of months, but I have a really, really good excuse, I promise. The excuse is as follows: I changed careers and I moved earlier this month. For most people (including me, in some respects) that looked like a really sudden thing. So now I'm going to take you back in time to late February and explain what led up to this turn of events.

Sometime around the last week of February, I was cruising the job listings on Craigslist, because I was in the habit of doing that just about every night. Not that I so much hated working where I was working, but that I felt I had completely stagnated, had no potential for advancement, didn't feel like I was being challenged, didn't feel like my full potential was being realized, yadda yadda. On this particular evening I saw a post titled "Office Assistant/Leasing Agent", and after reading it I decided to send in my resume. Worst thing that can happen is that nothing happens... that's one idea I've gotten used to lately.

Imagine my surprise, then, when something happened. They called me, did a brief phone interview, and said that if I was chosen to interview in person I would hear from them again. A few days later I was called in for an interview. I went in, not really sure what to expect, and ended up actually having a quite pleasant conversation with the interviewer. We established over the course of this interview that I basically had no property management experience, very little office experience, and would have to be trained pretty much from the ground up if I were to be offered the position. She helpfully suggested some changes I might like to make to my resume and asked questions that were actually relevant rather than the standard "Where do you see yourself in five years?" (I hate that question, by the way... I don't know where I see myself next week, much less in five years.) We parted ways on very good terms that day, and I told my mom on the phone that night that I thought it was a very good experience but that I really doubted I would be hearing from them again.

Thus, imagine my shock when I was called back sometime in the second week of March. I was told on the phone that the nature of the position had switched a bit. Instead of being "Office Assistant/Leasing Agent" it was now "Leasing Agent/Office Assistant", with the emphasis on Leasing Agent, and if I was still interested in the position knowing that, they would be interested in having me in for a second interview. I was sort of like, okay, sure. If you're interested enough to talk to me again, I'll be interested in the position. Why not? And I went in for a second interview late in the second week of March (I think we had a snow day that day, so I wasn't working anyway).

I had an interview with a man and a different woman that was a lot more difficult than the first one had been, and they also made me take a test on Microsoft Word and Excel. I'm far more comfortable with the former than the latter, having done nearly all of my six years of translation work in Word. I took one semester of Excel class in college and never used the thing again. So I wasn't sure how that was going to turn out, but I gave it my best shot. And once again I figured I probably wouldn't hear from them again.

Now we get into the timeline... I know these dates precisely. Monday, March 19th, I had a call on my voicemail when I got home from work. It was from this place I had interviewed at, and merely requested that I call them back. So I did. The nice lady on the phone (from the second interview, not the first) said that they had decided to offer me the position and that there were two options. The first option was to take the job at a wage of $13 an hour (slightly more than I was making). The second, and the one that she strongly hinted that they preferred, was that we move to Gresham and manage the apartment complex on-site, where I would get a free apartment plus $10 an hour.

Talk about mind-boggling decisions that have to be made really quickly. I asked her a few questions, jotted down some notes, and asked her for 24 hours to think it over. She agreed and we hung up. I then called my mom. And over the course of that conversation and thinking out loud, doing the math, and talking through the pros and cons of each choice, I realized that the Gresham option was actually looking pretty good aside from the whole moving to someplace I've never been part. Seriously, I had no idea where the place even was, but I had gotten the address on the phone and I Googled it.

I talked to the Chamaco about it some that night. He was uncertain on the idea. So was I, honestly. But I decided that this was a decision that needed to be made as a family and needed to be an informed decision. So the next morning I called in *cough cough* sick to work and called the Chamaco's school and told them he wouldn't be in that day "for family reasons". And we got our MapQuest guide and set out.

First off, the area was not what I was expecting. I was expecting big city urban... buildings and traffic, etc. The area is actually pretty calm. Yes, it's right on a major street, but not nearly as noisy and busy and urban looking as I was expecting. We played stupid and went into the apartment office like we were just off the street looking for an apartment. The guy in the office said the manager had stepped out and he didn't have access to the keys to show me an actual apartment at that time, but he did walk us through the furnished "model" apartment that was adjoining the office. He took my name and phone number and said he'd have the manager call us when she got back (she was taking longer than expected) and he was generally so nice that I felt like I was lying to him. So I finally told him that I had been offered a job with the property management company and that we'd been invited to move there. He said, "Oh, you're the one we got told to hold an apartment for!" I told him that was probably so. He said he still didn't have keys and the manager would call me when she got back.

So the Chamaco and I decided to go investigate the other important thing - school. I had deduced in my online investigating which school he would probably be attending should we make the move, so he and I went to check it out. We went into the office, and the secretaries were very friendly. We told them we were considering a move to the area and wanted to check out the school. We gave them the address and they confirmed it was indeed the right school and offered us a tour. We got to walk the school, which the Chamaco told me he gave "8 and 3/4 out of 10 stars". And as we were getting in the car my phone rang. It was the apartment manager, who was now back on site.

We went back to the apartments, not far at all from the school, and when I explained to her who I was and what the situation was, she offered to show me the apartment they were holding, which was being worked on that day... it wasn't quite ready for move-in, but almost. The workers were in there all right... it was an upstairs apartment, and I liked that there wasn't carpet. Vacuuming is not one of my favorite things. The walls were freshly painted (we were warned not to touch them, in fact), there was a nice balcony, and it was on the back side of the complex where there were trees and a nice fence in between the complex and the retirement community that is behind it. It seemed like a pretty quiet area, and again far less urban than I'd been expecting.

After that experience, the Chamaco and I decided it was lunch time. We found a Taco Bell not two minutes from the apartment complex, which we thought was neato considering that Molalla doesn't even have a Taco Bell, and sat down to eat and discuss. I asked him what he thought we should do, and he said he thought we should probably move. I asked him if he had any concerns about that or anything that would bother him if he moved. The first thing he said was that he didn't want to leave his friends. I expected that one. We negotiated a bit, and I agreed to allow him to get an e-mail address so that he could e-mail friends from Molalla, and he already has a phone so he could stay in touch that way. His second thing, and this was the one that almost had him in tears, was that he didn't think he would get to spend Friday nights with Grandma anymore since she would be farther away. Yes, 32 miles is a little farther than 7, but Grandma and I agreed that we could probably work it out. Only after addressing those two concerns did he even ask about his dad. I admitted that it would probably be tricky to work out those visits since his dad doesn't drive or pay gas money either one, but I told him we could probably figure it out... it just might take a week or two to get the details sorted. He deemed that acceptable. And I asked him one final time, "Do you think we should move?"

"Yes. I think we should."

That was pretty much what I was thinking at that point too, so we sat in the parking lot at Taco Bell, I dialed the phone and formally accepted the job offer. We swung by the office on the way home and I filled out some paperwork (I still had to be background checked before they could officially hire me), and hammered out the details of when I would start. I managed to wrangle a full two weeks at my old job out of them so I could give two weeks notice, but that was all... I would end my old job on Friday the 6th and start the new one on Monday, April 9th. And we would be moving Saturday, April 7th. This was all decided on Tuesday, March 20th, and we'd been planning to leave town on March 24th to visit my grandparents over spring break. Yikes.

I almost cancelled that trip, in fact, but I decided that I would need the de-stress time if there was any way at all I was going to survive the move. But I did put out the word on Facebook that very night that I would be moving and I was looking for boxes. The next night at church, Jacob and Amy brought me boxes, and I started putting some non-essential items into them. I had four boxes packed by the time we left for Gold Beach on the 24th, most of them from my bedroom... I'm not hardly in there except to sleep anyway.

We made the drive home from Gold Beach on the 28th of March, and then the real fun started. I spent the last few days of spring break packing and planning.

The work-week that started April 2nd and would be my last at my old job was pure hell. I got up at six, was at work by 7:45, got home around 5, helped the Chamaco with his homework, got dinner done, spent some time with the kid and put him to bed by 8:30, and then I spent the time from 8:30 to about midnight packing, then collapsed into bed. Wake up at 6 a.m. Repeat. For five days. I wasn't sleeping well in the few hours that I did sleep, and I was stressed out and emotional... I was crying at everything, which is nowhere near normal for me. Thursday was my last day with the kiddos and both classes had small parties for me because it was my last day. I managed to keep it together for them, even as I said goodbye to kids I knew I would probably never see again. Friday I did center meeting and managed to hold it together for a few hours, even when my coworkers took me out to lunch.

Friday night at about 10 o'clock, when I was still packing, hadn't even started on the kitchen yet, and knew there was no way on earth that I was going to have everything packed and ready to go by 10 the next morning when the U-haul got there, that was when I lost it. I called my mom almost crying on the phone and explained that it still wasn't even close to done and I was completely and totally exhausted and I was going to have to stay up all night packing, I was going to be dead the next day, and I had no idea how I was going to get everything moved and get the new place set up enough to be functional by Monday morning... I just didn't think I had it in me. She told me to go to bed (she and Dad were both pretty appalled that I was still awake at that point) and promised that she would come down early in the morning to help finish the packing before everyone got there to help move. 

Speaking of everyone, I should probably mention here that I have the best church family ever. I had put out the word that I would be moving on Saturday the 7th at 10 a.m. and would appreciate the help of anyone who might show up to put things in the truck. I expected maybe four people plus my parents, and I figured if I got four to six people it would probably only take an hour and a half or so to load everything in the truck. What I got was five men (at least a couple of which were capable of lifting large pieces of furniture unassisted) and three boys, plus my parents and the Chamaco. The truck was loaded in less than an hour. And the entire crew actually followed me to Gresham and helped unload the truck and carry everything up to the apartment and get it sort of in the right rooms. And when we got to Gresham we were met by some of my aunts and uncles, a couple of cousins, plus a couple of guys from the church in Portland that I had never met before but they'd come to help anyway since they were friends of my aunt and uncle. Despite the fact that the new apartment was a considerable distance from the parking lot and was also upstairs, that truck was empty in no time. By 1:30 we were on our way back to the U-Haul place with an empty truck. I was completely exhausted, yes, but I was also so grateful that I wasn't sure whether I should sleep or cry. (The Chamaco chose sleep... he slept with his head in my lap in the U-Haul on the way back. Fortunately my dad was driving.)

I should also mention here that I have awesome parents. My mom did come down early as promised (a bit after 7 a.m., if I recall correctly) and she pretty much packed my entire kitchen herself while I busied myself putting in boxes those last things that I hadn't been able to pack because they were things we used every day... toothbrushes, contact lens case, etc. Dad helped load/unload and drove the truck. And once we had the empty truck back to the U-Haul place, Mom stayed with me at the old apartment and helped me clean for several hours. She cleaned the kitchen pretty much by herself, I did the rest of the house, minus the bathtub which my brother showed up and did for me. When we were done, that apartment pretty much looked like we were never there, which was my goal all along.

Anyway, we spent Sunday afternoon after church getting situated. The Chamaco unpacked and set up his own room. I told him he could make it however he wanted so long as it didn't pose any sort of safety hazard. I did the rest of the house, starting with the kitchen, then the bathroom, the living room, and finally my own bedroom. Sunday night as I started packing the Chamaco's lunch for his first day at his new school, I realized I didn't have any drinks to put in it... this was at about 11 p.m. after he was already in bed and I was exhausted. I learned that night that it takes me exactly 9 minutes to drive to Safeway, buy drinks and get home.

I took him to school that first day, met his teacher briefly, and then did one of the hardest things I've ever done. I left him there. I turned around, walked out the door, and left him there in a place where neither of us knew anyone. I realize that most moms probably get over this right around the first day of Kindergarten, but I didn't do that because I was actually working at his school when he started kindergarten. Not only had I hand-picked every teacher he'd had up until that point because I knew them all, but also I would see him at various points during the day while he was in kindergarten... I always knew where he was, who he was with, and what he was doing. This held true even in first, second, third, and fourth grade because even though I no longer worked in his school I still knew the staff and knew the routines... I even knew most of the students. Here neither of us knew anybody, and the friends he'd been in class with since Kindergarten were miles away. All I knew about his teacher was her name, and I told him goodbye, told him I'd see him after school, and then left him there. I got out of the room okay, but before I got halfway down the hall I had tears in my eyes. By the time I got to my car I was crying like a baby, and it was only 8 a.m. And I had to go to my own new job. I was still mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and the week was just starting. (Interesting fact: My mom later confessed that she cried when she dropped me off for my first day at Molalla Middle School too. I was in sixth grade, and she had not been employed at the school I attended K-5. Also by that point we'd been living in Molalla for pretty much all of summer vacation. Hmm.)

That first week was interesting. Damian's school called around lunchtime on the second day and told me that he was in the office with a 101.3 fever and needed to go home. Normally I would have asked my mom to go get him, but she was kinda far. Also if he was that sick, I figured limiting exposure was in order. So I asked my aunt to go get him and see how he seemed, and if he seemed bad I would see about coming home. Because remember, it was only my second day at my new job too, and I wasn't sure how it would go over if I left early, especially since it was my boss's birthday and we were out to lunch to celebrate it. So toward the end of lunch I called my aunt to ask how my kid was doing. She said he'd thrown up in her car. Crap. Fortunately everyone, even the birthday girl, was very understanding. Even when I pointed out that Damian would not be allowed to go to school the next day no matter how well he felt by that point, and if I couldn't find someplace for him to go I wouldn't be able to go to work. They said to let them know. So I went home with a sick boy and worrying that I was already starting to look like a flake to my new employer, on whom I depended for my housing. (By the way, if I'm ever fired or otherwise decide to leave my job, I have 24 hours to vacate my apartment. It's in my contract.) The good news was that I found someone who was willing to keep the sickie the next day. The bad news was that she was in Molalla. So we got up extra early the next morning and drove to Molalla and I left Damian with my sister, who is also awesome. Then I drove all the way back to Clackamas where our corporate office is. Damian was fine that day, by the way, and my sister reported that he was eating everything in sight. So that evening I drove back to Molalla to get him, then to Woodburn to pick up my contact lens order that was in, then back to Molalla to drop off my sister who had gone to Woodburn with us, then back home to Gresham.

Now that we're beginning our fourth week here, things are starting to level out. I'm working on-site now, having gotten the basic training at the corporate office, which means that my commute is a three-minute walk from our apartment to the office. Damian's getting the school thing figured out and is doing awesome with his new set of responsibilities here... seriously, I could not be more proud of the kid. When he gets off the bus at 2:30, I take a break (either a 10 or my lunch, depending on how the day's been) and walk him to our apartment and let him in. I don't get off work until six, so he stays home by himself and does his homework, any other little chores I might ask him to do, and entertains himself until I get home and make dinner. He's got a phone so he can call or text me if he needs to, and if he really needed to he could come to the office or I could run home, so it's not like he's cut off, but he's handling it very well. He's even starting to make friends with some of the kids in our apartment complex. Pretty much the only driving I'm doing now is to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, plus a trip to Molalla once a week to pick Damian up from his dad's (my mom is getting him there after he does his overnight at her house, and she's been meeting me in Oregon City to get him). Also I drive to the store sometimes (less than a mile) and a couple of times I've taken Damian to school (just over a mile). We've also begun to explore the area and have found a couple of decent parks that aren't too far away, as well as the local library. I'm still teaching English on Saturdays, and in fact the move has put us close enough to one of my earliest English students (who stopped coming to class when she moved to Gresham because she didn't have transportation) that I was able to pick her up and take her to class yesterday and then take her to church today.

April has been a pretty hectic month and one that we won't soon forget. I think overall this move will be good for us in the long run, though. Damian's learning to adapt to new environments and make new friends, and I'm working at a more challenging job where I will gain (and am already gaining) new skills that I could potentially take a lot of other places in the future. Once I get a full paycheck (my first check was a partial one because of when I started working), we should be doing better financially as well since I won't be dedicating a large chunk of my income to rent and I'm dodging the current high price of gasoline by pretty much not needing to drive anywhere. It's been an adjustment, for sure, but I think both of us are going to come through this as better, stronger people.

I think I mentioned back in January that I had a sense this was going to be a year of change, didn't I? ;-)

Our new living room, back when it was still in a state of empty.

March 4, 2012

Random facts and figures...

 WARNING: I'm in a bad mood right now. Don't read this if you don't want to hear (read) me complaining. If you read it anyway, don't say you weren't warned....

10 1/2 (approximately): The number of years that have elapsed since, as an 18 year old, I thought it would be a pretty smart idea to get married on June 23, 2001. 

9 (approximately): The number of years it has been since my ex-husband and I separated for the third and final time. (After he left, came back, left, came back, then told me he was leaving again. I told him not to bother coming back if he left. So of course, now our divorce is my fault because I told him not to come back.)

4 years, 2 months (almost exactly): The number of years we've been officially divorced. (Someone wouldn't help pay for it (because it was my fault), so it had to wait until I could afford to do it myself.)

Once a year or less: The approximate frequency with which either of the above two facts bothers me in the slightest. (In truth, I'm much more likely to celebrate those same facts on any given day.)

And if I'm gonna be totally fair, it's not him specifically I miss. Okay, actually I don't miss him at all... like I said, in retrospect I'm glad he's gone. I mostly just miss the bed not being empty. Odd if you consider that for the greater part of our marriage we worked opposing shifts and were never in the bed at the same time anyway, but I digress.

In general I've adapted pretty darn well to the single-parenting lifestyle. Since we separated I've managed to get myself a college degree, get myself a job, get myself an apartment, and somehow raise a kid who isn't screwed up in the head (yet). I can kill my own spiders, perform my own basic automobile maintenance, move my own heavy stuff and open my own jars. I have managed to keep us fed, clothed and housed for the most part without even the aid of monthly child support payments (someone doesn't pay them). Some of the above successes are partly attributable to supportive family members, both blood relatives and church family. And a lot of it just attributable to the fact that I do not need a man to survive... I learned that about 9 years ago when he walked.

Of course, that same fact is also the source of my current dilemma. Or at least part of it. That's just the problem... I don't need a man. Most of the time I don't even want one. Sometimes I entertain the notion that the ideal arrangement for me would be one of those marriages where you maintain separate houses and have sleepovers. (Actually, were it not against my religion, the ideal arrangement would probably be more what is termed a "friend with benefits"... no legal entanglements whatsoever.) Some would say that I've never even been in a healthy, functional romantic relationship and just don't know what I'm missing. They're probably right about that, but what am I supposed to do about it? It ain't exactly raining men around here... in fact, it's been more of a nine-year drought. And yes, there have been a couple of close calls in those nine years, but they mostly served to make me realize even more what I don't want to put up with.

Yeah, maybe that's the problem. Having nine years to think it over has made me really picky. I have a long list of deal-breakers. Like these:

NO SMOKING: If you want to poison yourself slowly, go for it. Just do it far away from me. I already tried being married to a smoker. It didn't work for me and I won't do it again, which is why I won't even bother dating a smoker. I don't date people who have zero marriage potential, and smoking is an automatic disqualifier. Sorry!

NO DRUGS: Again, already tried this one in a marriage. It doesn't work. I am not and will never be "420 friendly", and yes, pot is a drug. Go stare at the walls in your own house and stay outta mine.

NO FIXER-UPPERS: This is a more recently adopted rule. Women in general are guilty of this and I think probably Christian women doubly so... we meet someone with a sad and tragic past and we get this romantic notion in our heads that we can somehow make it all better with the power of love or some trite BS like that. Yeah, well, guess what... it doesn't work that way. If a guy has more issues than TV Guide and/or more baggage than the average United Airlines flight, don't get involved.

And before I start sounding too negative, the deal-breaker list isn't my only list. I also have a "must-have" list. Because I work for Head Start and have been thoroughly PBIS indoctrinated, I'm going to call them the "be" rules.

BE a Real Grown-up: I already have a kid. Not looking for another one at this point. I do not want to feel like your mother or your babysitter. Any potential man should be like me in that he is completely capable of functioning solo without anyone to clean up his messes (both literal and metaphorical). Any potential cleaning up of each other's messes would be purely by mutual agreement to do so, not necessity or obligation.

BE Funny: Sense of humor. It is a must for anyone who is going to put up with me for more than, say, five minutes. It is also a must for anyone that I am going to have to put up with for more than, say, five minutes. Witty banter skill is an absolute requirement.

And as if that didn't reduce the field of potential candidates enough, I threw this one on:

BE a Christian: And just like that, I've narrowed my potential field of choices down to two! (Either of which could potentially be reading this... hi guys!) And I'm not saying that there are no other single, Christian men in the universe, I'm just saying that I don't know any personally and I have failed to stumble across any in the last nine years or so. That's all I'm saying. If I insist on church-going, faithful Christian men, the number of proverbial fish in the proverbial sea decreases exponentially.

But I guess really this was just a very roundabout way for me to say this: I'm lonely tonight and want someone to cuddle with. Just tonight, though. I'll probably be fine again tomorrow.

Song o' the Day: While not strictly related to the topic at hand, I'm gonna go with "Just Tonight" by The Pretty Reckless, because I have it in my head right now. See/hear it here.