July 31, 2010

What a morning!

On a cloudy, little morning when the air actually feels cool and fresh I can hardly resist a walk with the monster. I dressed in comfy yet very unappealing clothing, grabbed some plastic bags - just in case I have to lift vomit-inducing materials from a lawn- my phone, keys and Brody's leash. Getting that harness on him has not gotten any easier over the years. He can't just wear a collar and leash - no no. He's like a contortionist, he'll pull outta that before I close my front door. So a collar/harness combo is best. This also helps to yank him away from passing cyclist. He hates him a bicycle. He was pretty excited this morning - thrown off guard by my early rising and eagerness to enjoy the clouds before that sun wipes them off the map. 

It was a very peaceful and enjoyable outing... 

I thought this tree was adorable. I have no idea what kind it is but I love the leaves. 
Of course, it could be an oak tree for all I know. Never did pay attention to such info.

Bro simply must stop and sniff everything we pass, no exceptions to the rule...

My main objective was to head to the filthy yet beautiful pond. 
It may be dirty but it sure is purty... 

On our way back we FINALLY got to meet the puppy that I call "Fluff". 
We drive by the house all the time and see him lumbering around the yard but never 
actually saw him face to face - man is he cute!

And that concludes today's cloudy walk documentary.

Beat it, recession depression

4 am ... well good morning to you! Yes, I very much enjoy the sound of that soothing alarm (not joking, it really is soothing - Aqueous Transition) however I would like it better at sayyyyy 9 am. It is a Saturday morning and, while a normal weekend beginner, Gregg has to work today. No rest for the weary. As he rises I hear "Ugggggg I don't wanna go..." and various grumbles. Normally I would toss and turn for an average of an hour and a half before falling asleep to catch the rest of my z's but occasionally - today for example - I hit the point of no return. At 5:15 I spring out of bed and rush to the freezer section of our lovely refrigerator. "You're gonna laugh at what I'm about to do" I say to Gregg. He looks at me curiously as I remove the little hanging wax tart holder from the top shelf. "I put it in here yesterday afternoon and forgot about it" I inform him. He shakes his head mumbling something about how I am insane. (For those of you who don't know what I am talking about - to remove wax from a candle holder you can just put it in the freezer for a few minutes and it slips right out). Gregg grabbed his necessities and headed out the door for, hopefully, a short and non-grueling day. I headed for the kitchen in search of my coffee pot and some cinnamon. Brody? Well, he would have headed straight through the glass, sliding door to murder a rabbit had I not yanked him away reprimanding him.

I have had the urge to write many times lately but nothing has come to mind. Writers block? Slackers block? I don't know. Maybe I have been limiting myself due to unflattering material. Yep, that's definitely it. I try not to overwhelm my friends with gloom and tales of woe. Nobody wants to read a womp womp diary. We all have our sad stories, we all have our rough times. However, now that I have roped you in ... you will read about mine. And you'll like it. HA! Suckers. 

So, I guess my being laid off in May kicked off the 'season of horror'. We were fine for a few weeks. I was collecting unemployment benefits at a decent rate, not nearly what I was making while employed but I could make it work. Gregg was growing more and more exhausted and stressed out from his close to 60 hour, very draining work weeks. Enter the transportation calamity. 

My car, despite five trips to the mechanic, remained undiagnosed and ill repaired. The AC in Gregg's Jeep failed just as the sweaty heat of 2010 crept into our lives. I let him take my time bomb of a vehicle to work so he wouldn't die on the ride home. On the hottest day of the year, 102 degrees I believe, he came home in the passenger seat of a tow truck. My little Honda rolling along behind him, twisting its mustache. He opted for the sweaty rides home after that. The following week, he came home in a tow truck again - this time with his Jeep riding behind him on a flatbed. Now, with two cars needing a doctor, we were less than thrilled. Luckily, there's a mechanic in the family. He figured out the problems, wrote down the parts we needed and came back to fix them. My car decided to be a drama queen and break down even further. Still in the driveway, I stare at it daily with a deep loathing. 

Whilst dealing with our chariot afflictions we had a sandstorm of other stress factors plaguing our lives. Costly weddings, birthday parties, the visit of our southern family, my endless job searching, birds in the wall, etc. The biggest issue of course? Income. After spending several hours on the phone with the lovely unemployment office I was given devastating news. My benefits were being cut like a wimp in a knife fight. I now bring in less weekly than I did at age 19. Something to be very proud of indeed. Obviously the job search was expanded immediately to include jobs that I would hate doing for less pay than I would ever imagine accepting. My once peaceful 8-hour nightly comas were transformed into barely 4-hour naps interrupted by nightmares and racing worries. My mind refused to rest.

Gregg continues to struggle with his taxing job. His body is tired. He is overworked and it is aging him immensely. We are hoping for a new path for him soon. I have a job interview on Monday which sounds promising but I refuse to get my hopes up. I know that whatever happens is all happening for some crazy reason - maybe we are in line to win Powerball. Shhhhh!! Don't be a dream crusher. It has been a rough few months to say the least but I am hoping that the worst is behind us. My crappy car should be fixed one day soon and I'll be rollin' in 10-year old style once again. Gregg will find a job that won't cause him to crumble on the floor when he arrives home and will pay him for any overtime hours. I will find a job that will pay me what I need to make ends meet. And we will once again live our lives at our means - because that is all that we can do. You win, economy... but not for long. 

July 7, 2010

... what 60 bucks can do ...

From the first day I laid eyes on this house there was one thing (among eight others) that I loathed immediately. A shiny pair of brass friggin sconces above the fireplace mantle. BRASS??? Really?? Unacceptable. I remember ranting about how that would be the FIRST renovation we would make! Yeah, no. After painting 8 rooms I figured there was no harm in waiting a little while longer.

3.5 years later...

The sconces have been destroyed!! In fact, the sconces have been smashed to pieces, hehehe. Thanks to a quick trip to Lowe's and the price tag of $60 bucks we are no longer in 80's lighting hell. Take a look...

Old, horrid lights:

New, much better option:
Naturally I took the giant candles down after seeing these pictures... but the upgrade is perfect. Now to take care of the nasty brass on the fireplace doors. High heat spray paint for the win!!

July 6, 2010

... fax THIS.

Well I thought I should probably jot down a quick note before I become fully blinded with rage.


I could stop there, no? That word triggers enough emotions in and of itself. But I won't stop. I will, in fact, let you in on what's pissing me off today.

As you may or may not know - in May I became unemployed for the second time in a year and a half. Luckily I was able to continue my old claim and run out the funds. When that time came (just 4 weeks later) I was placed on the state extended benefits. That was 3 weeks ago. I spent two hours calling and 40 minutes on hold. That was like a sunshine miracle compared to some former days when I had spent 5 hours furiously dialing that number to the call center only to get through and spend 2 more hours on hold. Feeling good that I just took care of this 3 weeks ago you can imagine my disgust when, on Sunday, Tele-serve (the automated payment system which allows you to request your weekly unemployment insurance benefit payments) instructed me to call the office once again. Ahhh something to look forward to. Clear the calendar for Monday! Wait, nope, Monday is a holiday... so that means double the volume of calls on TUESDAYYYY. Awesome.

For anyone who has become unemployed - it is no secret that the phone calls to the unemployment office are always a treat. I like to get my coffee and breakfast and snuggle up in my nice, comfy recliner while dialing. I start with one house phone and dial for an hour until that battery dies. Next I grab the other house phone and dial until I drain that battery as well. I then have a go-to web of profanity that I weave while placing both dead phones back on their bases. Next up, the trusty cell phone. Thank God for options. Today started off like any other day. Started dialing at 7:58 am. Drained phone 1 by 9. Drained phone 2 by 9:40. Used the cell and got through at 9:50. NOT BAD. On hold 'til 10:15. Know what's awesome?? When you are on hold you get to hear some very informative recordings. The catch?? The recordings are only informative to people that are calling the wrong number. So, since I am not a complete moron I just watch television until I hear the ring. That ring is initially so exciting because you know you are just seconds away from speaking to someone who will take care of the situation. Unfortunately today, that someone was heinous. I have had pretty good luck in the past with people being friendly but today I got the best of the best. She spoke too fast with a very thick accent on a crappy connection and she was rude. I couldn't have asked for more.

Since "the quarter ended" I apparently had to file a new claim. She asked me the same questions that I am asked every time I call. (You'd think they would keep the info in their system, no?). She needed me to fax her some information and said to do it as soon as possible so she could call me back and finish the claim. I ran out and faxed it to her within 15 minutes. I have been awaiting her call for 5 hours. Really?? That makes me irate. Granted, I am SO thankful to be able to collect - otherwise Gregg and I would be panhandling down at the BP- but I cannot believe that such an important office is run so inefficiently with such an archaic system. With everyone out on their asses shouldn't they be hiring some of us fools waiting on hold for hours? (Please don't hire me because I would kill myself if I had to do that job for more than 10 minutes).

So, here I sit. Waiting for Miss Faxypants to call me back. And I have no choice but to do just that. Lord knows I can't call HER back - I don't have enough phones.

July 2, 2010

red, white and yawn ...

4th of July weekend!!!

Friday night kickoff.

What's that I hear?? No, it's not fireworks... ahhh yes, it is the combined sounds of Gregg sleeping like a rock and a dusty favorite, The Wizard of Oz, on television. Holy mackerel. When the hell did I go from slowing down to 87 yrs old? Must have happened in my sleep one night when the nightmares stole my party fire. I knew I should have locked that up a little better. 

Well, I'm not elderly just yet. I do love a good party and can hammer down a bunch of beers as good as the next sloppy jerk but still ... something has changed. I guess my love of comfort and "home" has finally beat out my love for scream singing Tenacious D at 4:30 in the morning. It was a hell of a fight though. And let's not pretend it won't happen again someday.

My partying days were long. Days? Wait, no, clearly YEARS. I spent about 13 years - maybe 14 - giving it my all. I can remember when I lived at home my parents demanded that I choose one night per week to stay at home and I simply could not commit to that. My routine was this: Wake up, shower, work, shower, head out until anywhere from 1 am to 8 am, sleep a few hours and do it all again. I do partially blame the restaurant industry for creating that monster. I smoked like a fiend, finished more bottles of rum than a century of pirates and didn't give a rats ass about anything. I was out for fun. Responsibility fail. 

Of course things started to slow down when I met Gregg. He was a different breed... and he was exactly what I needed. I am very lucky to have found him when I did. I'm not sure that things would have changed and who knows where I would be today. That's a sobering thought - no pun intended. For years I dragged him to parties with all of my friends - who are now all of his friends - and I believe they like him better - and he was a trooper through it all. 1 am, Gregg: "Are you ready to go?" Me: "Nope".  2 am, he is asleep on the couch while I am DJ-ing the ipod with Johnny and still thinking it is 10:30 pm. 4 am, Gregg: "Let's go". Me: "It's still earlyyyyyy".  Yeah, he had his hands full. He took it all in stride. As long as he was driving me home he could rest a little easier. Good guy that Gregg is. 

So here we are - 2010 - 4th of July weekend. Beautiful weather. Insane amounts of parties. And I'm eating popcorn and watching Dorothy knock on the Tin Man's shoe. What you probably don't realize is that I'm actually not complaining. Tricked ya didn't I? That need to be at a party 3 nights in a row is fading more and more as the years pass. It started with New Year's Eve and is currently working it's way through the calendar year. I no longer feel like I am missing something. It's the same people in the same places doing the same things. Of course it's a good time every time but I don't feel guilty about staying home in my hello kitty pjs. It is perfectly okay to 'sit this one out' once in a while. 

We don't do as much as we used to simply because of circumstance. After a 60 hour work week Gregg can barely hold his head up on a Friday night. It's practically mandatory that he fall asleep on the couch at 8 pm. Who can blame him?? It takes him 2 days to recover from the physical exhaustion and then he's right back at it on Monday morning. I have eased into the role of stay-at-home-wife once again due to another round of unemployment. I keep things going. Cleaning, shopping, errands, etc. I have plenty of down time and I don't expect to fill it all up every weekend. Some weekends are jam packed and others are lovely lazy days. It's all about balance, gang. So while the old Sheri would be ashamed of her empty holiday Friday night - the current Sheri couldn't be more content.