Friday, January 4, 2013

My New Grassroots Campaign

I have decided that I can no longer stay silent, whining to myself about a problem that is plaguing the American Consumer.

It is a new year.  A fresh start.  It is time for change.  I will prevail.

I hope you will join me in my cause as I start my new organization:

Citizens for Uniformity When Paying For Stuff:  CUWPFS  (pronounced Coo-Puffs)

Back in the olden days....there was uniformity.  Things were consistent.  People knew instinctively how to pay for stuff.

If you paid by handed the cashier cash.
If you paid by handed the cashier your driver's license.
If you paid by credit handed the cashier your credit card and he/she compared the signature on the receipt to the back of your credit card...which of course you had signed.

It was the same anywhere and everywhere.
You knew how to pay.

These days, paying for stuff is much different.

If you pay by hand them cash.  (OK...that's not really different)

If you pay by check...IF the cashier even recognizes what a check may or may not have to present your driver's license.  This varies based on the amount of the check (which varies by store), the mood of the computer that reads your check (which varies by both the check out lane AND the store), or how many children you have begging you for a candy bar.  So often now, stores don't necessarily request an ID.  Except when it's 6:30 in the morning and you want to buy  2 gallons of milk and a bag of Donettes and you run into CVS with a checkbook and your CVS store loyalty card.  At those times, the cashier will ask for your driver's license which of course you don't have.  It doesn't seem to matter that CVS already knows everything about you, because of the store loyalty card...which automatically gives you coupons for diaper cream because you buy pull ups.  They also know your complete medical history because you had to give them your life's story along with your insurance card to get a prescription for happy pills.  In those moments you end up yelling at the poor guy who has been working all night (24 hour CVS) because he won't make an exception and take your check for $7.52..."because of the cameras,"  and you go home and make your kids toast for breakfast because there is no milk.  Not that that has happened to me or's just a hypothetical situation.

Moving on.

For credit cards...we may need a flow chart.

Sometimes you hand it to the cashier, sometimes you swipe it yourself.
Sometimes you have to sign the receipt, sometimes you have to sign the little screen thing (which usually takes several attempts, and only AFTER you untangle the plastic pen)
Sometimes...and usually only AFTER you have put the card back in your wallet, and your wallet back in your pocket/purse...the cashier wants to see the back of the card to compare the signatures.  This also will vary by store, mood of the cashier and phases of the moon.

For debit cards, you have all the stress and anxiety of using a credit card, but now you also have to figure out which buttons to push on the touch screen (or keypad).  The PIN number is pretty straight forward...IF you can remember your PIN.  If you can't, you just look for the CANCEL button which may or may not be red.    Then your card will be run like a credit card, and you will have to take your chances on the whole sign or not to sign protocol.  If you DO remember your pin AND enter it successfully, then you have to press a series of buttons on the little touch screen, or sometimes they are actual buttons on the side of the screen.

The buttons on the touch screens are NEVER in the same place. Sometimes they are on the right.  Sometimes on the top.  Sometimes in Spanish.  And in that 1.2 second moment where you are trying to figure out how this particular touch screen is laid out, the cashier may or may not roll his/her eyes, look annoyed and in as CONDESCENDING a tone as possible instruct you how to work the machine.  Because it is OBVIOUS that you, the paying customer, are a complete moron.  And not, in fact, that when you paid for something 15 minutes earlier at different store, that the ACCEPT button was in a different place.

If you want cash have to get the eye roll twice.

Is the extra cash worth it?
Should paying for stuff really be so stressful?

CUWPFS hopes to create uniformity in the paying for stuff process.  In this instance, conformity is to be applauded.  Everyone will know when to bring their license, when and if they will need to sign receipts, and most importantly, where the *$&&^ accept button is.

And there shall be rejoicing and less eyeball rolling in all the land!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm back!

I haven't gone on vacation.
I haven't been too busy working.
I just haven't been here.

I don't just mean blogging.  I mean I haven't been HERE for a while.  I haven't been present in my own life.  I haven't been interested in anything.  Not decorating for Christmas.  Not celebrating the holidays.  Nothing.  I haven't been me.

Last year, on my old blog...back when I was in the middle of nowhere, I wrote a post called Club Med.  It was my take on coping with the fact that I take anti-anxiety meds.  It's a hard thing to wrap my brain around, but ultimately, I know it's for the best.

At the end of 2011, I came to the realization that I have seasonal depression.  I always assumed that people with seasonal depression suffered in January thru March.  But apparently, it hits me Mid-November thru December.

Looking back I want to hit myself over the head with a frying pan and yell..DUH you DUMB ASS!  Over the years, I have always fallen off the workout wagon in November.  I had my first grown up real life "meltdown" in December 10 years ago.  (I think they used to call them nervous breakdowns...not sure if that's what I had...but I did end up sobbing inconsolably for no real reason on my friend's seems close!)

So this year, I should have been prepared, right?  I knew the time was coming, and I should have taken steps to make sure I was taking care of myself.  That's what moderately intelligent middle age  Club Med members do, right??


Without me realizing it, I got caught unaware.  And had another DUMB ASS moment.  The puzzle pieces didn't fall into place until my Boss/Brother JUSTIFIABLY yelled at me for dropping the ball on some work stuff.  Then the following 5 things all came together to give me a clear picture of what I will be up against every holiday season for the rest of my life:

  1. I suddenly was completely unmotivated to do anything that I normally love to decorating our wonderful new home for the holidays.  I made a good start.  Got most of the decorations up, but the totes/boxes sat around for over a week, and I never really finished.
  2. I found myself watching hours and hours of TV every day, and procrastinating at work.  My part time job at the college was fine...I had to get up and get dressed and be there at a certain time.  I could totally fake that.  But my part time work at home job was Procrastination-City.
  3. I ate like crap.
  4. I was sleeping like crap, therefore oversleeping in the morning and missing my workouts.
  5. I was really sporadic on taking my meds.
When I got yelled at on the phone, I was defensive and cried and tried to turn the blame around on him.  But within 5 minutes of getting off the phone...everything clicked and I realized that by missing my meds at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME OF THE YEAR I was letting 1 through 4 happen.


Depression is insidious.  It is annoying.  It is different for everybody.  I know that I suffer from it, yet I still didn't notice the warning signs.  I wasn't  sobbing on my friends couch.  (I did cry at work over an argument with my husband over a hamburger...but that is a whole different story, and totally I was totally justified!!!)  I was getting out of bed every day, getting my kids to school, making dinner, paying seems almost self-indulgent to say I was depressed.  But the chemical changes in my body were there...they left me stuck on the couch watching ABC Family, eating every carb in sight, and ignoring responsibilities.

My wake up call happened 2 weeks ago.  Since then I have been diligent about taking my meds, and in doing so, I woke up yesterday morning and felt like myself again...except this time with a nagging cough.  I got dressed, even though I don't have to be anywhere this morning.  That hasn't happened in a month.  (I had been staying in my pajamas or work out clothes until the embarrassment or stench sent me to the shower)

I'm sharing this because I am 100% confidant that I am NOT the only person going through this right now.  If you find yourself in the middle of a "Switched at Birth" marathon, wearing your PJs, eating a bag of potato might want to consider it a warning sign.

Don't feel like a failure, or a crazy person.  Because you're not.  Don't be ashamed to talk to someone about it, or to ask for help.   There are more members of Club Med than you might think.  And we all need to help each other.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Breaking Tradition

This has not been a year of traditions in my house.

Didn't get to see 4th of July fireworks because we were driving into Richmond, our new town.

Didn't get to smell a turkey roasting in the oven on Thanksgiving because I ordered food from Cracker Barrel.

Didn't wait until Christmas morning to open presents because we will be out of town, so we had Christmas today.

This year has been different.  So many changes.  Houses.  Schools.  Jobs.  Communities.  Friends.

This week has been challenging.  The plague seems to be going through our house, as almost everyone has been sick at some point.  The thought of a long weekend stuck inside with 4 kids, and few distractions seemed like cruel and unusual punishment on myself.  So we sent an email to Santa and suggested that it might be a good idea that he come early.

He set his alarm for 4am to leave gifts under the tree, to fill stockings, and to leave a note upstairs by our bedrooms.  Since this was unexpected, we didn't actually all get out of bed until 7:30, which was nice.  The kids are happy, enjoying their gifts, and hanging out.  Since most of them are still sick, we didn't even attempt church.

I have never once EVER let my kids open their presents early.  I always had to wait for Christmas morning.  So would they.  It's TRADITION!!

But on Christmas Eve, we will be heading to my parents house.  The 6 of us and a St. Bernard in a mini-van.  It doesn't leave a lot of extra room for a sleigh full of gifts.  Plus, the older boys wouldn't be able to use their presents until we got back home, so it just seemed like a better idea to do everything early.

I haven't decided if this year's break with our normal holiday traditions is just a healthy adaptation to the changes in our lives, or if it's just laziness and apathy.

Probably a combination.

Did you drop (or add) any traditions this year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans.  An ethical dilemma in two parts...

This is going to be short and sweet.  You're welcome.


My daughter has a fear of public bathrooms.  This has created a problem in Kindergarten.  On occasion  she has an accident that requires a change of clothes.  These are usually kept in a ziploc bag in her backpack.  But I have 4 kids, I'm forgetful, and there have been times that ziploc bag remains empty on the floor of my laundry room, and the school has been kind enough to lend her clothes from their emergency stash. my ethical dilemma...


She had changed immediately into pajamas when she got home from school on Monday, so I didn't realize that she had had an accident, and that the nurse had lent her jeans.  The next morning she put them back on.  They were skinny jeans.  They had sparkly buttons.  She was rocking them.

I muttered a bad word under my breath.  It rhymed with itch.

I seriously stared at my 5 year old in those skinny jeans and was jealous.  J-E-A-L-O-U-S!!!  I don't think that I ever would have looked that good in a pair of jeans.  Even at the age of 5, years before my bottom half was distorted by pregnancies and a long term carb addiction.

Dilemma it wrong to be completely jealous of a 5 year old girl that can rock a pair of skinny jeans?


She looks so good in those jeans!  I'm talking "sisterhood of the travelling pants" good!  I want to keep them, and send a different pair back for the stash that the nurse keeps in her office.  I mean, to look that good in a pair of jeans is a very special thing, right?  I have every right to vicariously live through her, right???

Dilemma it wrong to send back a different pair of jeans (or 2) so that my daughter can look completely adorable?

Since my moral compass is apparently broken, I would appreciate any input.

As long as you say that I won't go to hell for being jealous of a 5 year old, and that I can send in a different pair of jeans.  (or 2)

Monday, December 3, 2012

the great un-birthday experiment...

So my birthday was last Monday.  With it came the end of an experiment I started last year on my birthday.  I decided to go an entire year without wishing anyone happy birthday via facebook post.

Why?  Just cuz.
No really...why?   Because!
Seriously, why????   Because facebook happy birthday postings are annoying!!!

OK...don't get me wrong.  I am a huge supporter of making a big deal out of people's birthdays.  I spent an entire year terrorizing the women in my Sunday school class with what stupid thing I would do next, just for the sake of their birthdays.

Blindfolded and kidnapped for ice cream?  CHECK!
Kitchen cabinets and drawers re-arranged?  CHECK!
A birthday breakfast in bed for the night owl among us?  CHECK!
A car full of balloons and shredded paper?  CHECK!
A Happy 40th birthday message on the sign at the grain elevator when the birthday girl was only 37?  CHECK...wait...they did that to ME!!!  (Payback is a bitch)

A properly celebrated birthday is a joy forever.  I love when people make a big deal out of my birthday!!  This year's desk full of "stephanie" confetti was the highlight of my day!

Facebook happy birthdays aren't the same thing though, are they?  ARE THEY?  Facebook makes it too easy to wish someone a happy birthday.  They remind you about the birthday for a week.  On the day of the birthday, they remind you to comment.  (You don't even have to go to someone's wall anymore, they have a quick add feature where you can just cut and paste "Happy Birthday!! Have a great day" as many times as you need, click enter and done.)

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!!

TOO EASY!! And now they have facebook you don't even have to think about what to buy.

I am a traditionalist.  I feel that birthdays should be an honored part of the annual "Transfer info to the new calendar" ceremony.  They should be handwritten on squares that are too small.   They should be written in ink as an act of love and commitment to a friendship.  (Except for my husband's.  His is written in pencil.  One time...ONE TIME...the first year we were married...I wrote his birthday on the wrong date.  18 years later and I still haven't heard the end of it, and now I always have to second guess myself when asked when his birthday is...the 22nd?  the 25th?  Crap...)  Keep in mind, I love my google calendar that is synced to my phone.  And all the birthdays are in there anyway, so I have a back up...but those people that are handwritten in...those are the special ones.

And there are those that you may not actually write in the squares any more...time and distance and circumstances might not require you to celebrate.  But you should remember them.  I remember that November 17th is Cindy's.  She was my best friend in 1st grade.  March 22nd was my friend Beth's.  She passed away a few years ago.  October 19th is a big one.  I have 3 friends with that birthday.  Haven't seen any of them in at least 10 years.  November 25th is my sister in law's...which I forgot to put on the calendar on my refrigerator, but remembered every single time that I walked passed it for a month...then was appropriately chastised by my 7 year old son for not writing it on there when she was visiting for Thanksgiving.  Monica, it is on there crayon.  I love you!  Remember all the things I do right, OK??

So, while I appreciate all 67 birthday greetings I got this year, I doubt that the cousin of a high school friend who needed more neighbors in farmville 2 years ago REALLY cares whether or not I had a great birthday.  She probably has me hidden from her news feed anyway.

My co-worker sent me this last week...after listening to the verbal form of this post in its original form.  Classic. Brilliant. Truly a laugh out loud moment:

Precedent!  The mother's milk of, you know, makin' your point and bein' right!! - Donna Moss

Happy Birthday...I hope you had a great day! - Me

Friday, November 30, 2012

Too Young to Die

We moved to Indiana over the summer because my husband took a job Earlham College.  It is a small liberal arts college founded in 1854 by a group of Richmond Quakers.  A few months later, I got a part time position working at the college too.  I am an administrative assistant in a small office in a refurbished house on a quiet corner of the campus.  I applied for the job for a few reasons.  It was  only for 10 hours a week, hospitality was part of the job description, and I was desperate to start meeting people.

I've been working in the office of The Newlin Center for Quaker Thought and Practice since August.  I've been learning a lot about Quakers, and how they think and practice...which is to say that there is a lot I still don't know or understand about Quakers.  Also, the joke about eating oat meal and wearing the big black hat is only funny a handful of times.  Then it gets old.  Or maybe it just wasn't funny to begin with.

One of the programs run out of The Newlin Center is Quaker Fellows.  It is a program offered to Quaker students that promotes their spiritual development as well as to encourage and train them to be the next generation of Quaker leaders.  The students have to write written reflections, meet one on one a few times with my boss (the Director), meet as a group weekly, go on retreats, participate in activities across campus.  They become very close to one another.

And this afternoon, we said goodbye to one of them.

A few weeks ago, our campus experienced one of those tragedies that you see on the news, but happens many towns or many states away.  Far enough that you understand it's signifigance, you feel bad for the community, but it has no real impact on your life what so ever.  Three of our students, in a moment of questionable judgement, were too close to the rail road tracks when an oncoming train was heading toward the Depot District of Richmond.  They were struck.  One young woman was killed instantly.  One young man was severely injured, but released from the hospital about a week and a half later.  And then there was our Lenore.  She was critically injured, but survived several surgeries.  The reports from the hospital were cautiously optimistic.  Enough time had gone by, and many of us had taken the "cautiously optimistic" mantra to heart, and had begun to start anticipating her recovery time, and no longer thinking of the alternative.  Yet Monday morning, the news of her passing was like a band-aid being ripped off the grief that had started to heal on campus.  She had not made it.  There would be no recovery.

I actually had never met Lenore.  I am new to this office, and my schedule did not overlap with when most of the students in the program would be in our building.  Also, she had a field trip to go on the weekend that the Fellows had a retreat, so I didn't get to visit with her at all on the drive to drop them off or to pick them up.  Really, the only communication I had with her was through email I sent to the group, and a frantic call from one of the students who had borrowed and then lost track of Lenore's jacket on the retreat.  That was it.  So my grief is different than the groups.  It is different than the students.

My grief manifests itself in the need to support the staff of my office who have organized the gatherings and the memorial services.  It is to hold in prayer the counselors, the staff of residence life, and my husband and his Department of Public Safety as they walk the students through this time of  mourning, and the new normal that comes after the things we can't imagine when we are young.

It means I make sure there is enough Kleenex in the meeting house for the memorial service, and that people are eating.  It is doing what I can when I fell helpless to do anything else.

I sat there today, my first time in the silence of a Quaker meeting house, watching the young people in their grief.  They think they are adults.  They can talk at length of philosophy and the economy and how to bring peace to the middle east.  Yet the unthinkable happened to two of their own, and they looked so sad and lost and I just wanted to grab them and hug them and say "Shhh...there...there."  And I thought of Meagan, and Kelsey and the other college students that we left behind in Illinois, and thanked God for their health and safety and the joy they have brought to my life.

While I never met her, in the last few weeks, I have learned much about Lenore.  She was funny, and liked to play practical jokes, and there apparently some long standing joke about writing names in other people's underwear.  I still haven't heard the full story, so I will leave it to the students to remember on their own.  I understand inside jokes...if everyone is in on them...they are not so funny.

The service this afternoon ended with a video.  It's on youtube, so I am assuming it is OK to share.  Please take a few minutes and watch it:

This video made me laugh for several reasons.

First, because I wish I had seen this before the train.  If I had, I would have given her a hard time, but would have loved her, because it was clever and funny.  

Second, because I thought of it as a cautionary tale...what youtube videos will they be playing at MY funeral? I had better be careful.  And I guarantee it WON'T be of my belly button talking.  

Third, because who doesn't love dessert...for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for dessert???

If you pray, I ask that you keep the families and friends of these young women in your thoughts and prayers.  I ask that you  pray for the students and faculty and staff of our school.  These deaths were not the only ones that we have mourned this has been a hard year.

But most importantly...I ask that you go eat some Lucky, Lucky Charms and remember a young woman that you probably have never met...and celebrate her legacy of humor and laughter and joy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Making a new box

My brain is a very cluttered place.  At any given time, I'm thinking about 4 different kids at 3 different schools, 2 different part-time jobs, adding to 9 different lists, and mentally writing 3 different blog posts.

Because of all this mental chaos...I usually don't get anything accomplished.  So I have decided to compartmentalize my thoughts and rantings in an effort to simplify my life.

I realize that posts about running, or dieting or any kind of exercise are not for I have built myself a new box to put all that in.  And by box, I mean blog.  

I'll keep posting here on a semi regular basis, but for anything fitness related, please check out my new blog, Fat Girl TRI-ing.  

Here is a link to my maiden post:

I hope to get a facebook page, domain, and all that good stuff eventually...but for now...I consider it a success to have actually gotten the post done at all.