Friday, August 28, 2009

The Usual Suspects

The Suspects:

















The Crime:
(Actually, you're lucky you can't actually *see* the real crime anymore. See those spots? Yeah. They used to be what I can only call Shit Paddies.)


I ran errands most of the day, including the bi-weekly trip to the grocery store right before I raced over to get the kids from school. I knew immediately when I walked through the door that something was, shall we say, AMISS. The dogs are blocked in the foyer and upstairs hallway when we're not here by closing the door into the kitchen, and the french doors to the living room. Even from the back door, which is through the kitchen and enclosed back porch, I could smell IT. Even better, when I went to open the door to find out what exactly IT was, part of IT turned out to be right behind the door, so I smeared IT all over the floor right out of the butt box.

IT took a whole roll of paper towels, plus several bleach scrubby wipes, which I used for good measure, to clean up. These spots may not look like much in the pictures, but they were each about the size of my foot, which is a LOT when you're talking doggie diarrhea. PLUS, I had to take the kitchen door off the hinges and haul it outside so I could clean off the bottom of it, which was smeared with IT.

Can I tell you how many times I almost barfed? Ugh. Thankfully the kids were here (I know, when have I said *that* during an emergency situation?!), and they brought in most of the groceries and helped hold the outside door open and bring me extra towels and stuff.

I thought it was Baci, but then DH told me that Someone sneaked downstairs and polished off the chocolate chips that Josie had left in the living room.

Someone

...so now I don't know. I still think it was probably Baci, though, since he's been having a hard time with his stomach and the anti-anxiety meds, enough so that we've been giving them to him not every day anymore.

Oh, well. That which doesn't kill you, or make you barf, makes you stronger, right?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Success!

Hooray!!!! I got an email from the professor this afternoon saying that he added me to the class. He said that there are DVDs I need to get from the bookstore along with the textbook and a packet of material he's putting on his office door. I've never used DVDs before in an online class, so this is very interesting. He serems perfectly fine. That advisor was obviously off her rocker.

Guess what died? Our downstairs air conditioner! Crrrrrap! It's still in the high 80s during the day here. We hurried up and installed the new ceiling fan in the dining room, and it's really helping, so far. We're hoping to limp along without having to buy another a/c unit just now. I know they're on sale now, probably, but with paying for classes and books we'd prefer not to have to deal with another $200 on an a/c unit. Once I start grad school next year, I'll hopefully have student loans to help pay for it, so we'll have a little more in our pockets.

I haven't heard anything from the local school system yet about subbing. I know they said that they weren't going to call anyone until the end of August, but I'm starting to get worried that they don't have all my materials yet or something. I'm going to give it until Monday, I think, before I call over there. I would probably have done it already, but since I'm a little scared of the whole thing, I'm procrastinating. It's funny how something that you really want can still be intimidating.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dr. Do Little

I finally heard from the professor.

He has no idea who I am, and said that no one talked to him on Tuesday. He said that he'll grant me access to the class if I have the requirements.

Haven't I already been on this merry-go-round!?

I don't know who that nutty advisor talked to, whether it was him, or some other 'asshole'. Did she talk to him, and he's really THAT big of an asshole? Or, did she talk to someone else, thinking it ws him? Or did she talk to no one at all, and just make it up?

Really, truly, what the hell does he even care?! I mean, I paid, the class had openings, and I'm not going for a math degree. I just need to take the class, for chrissakes. I'm 35 freaking years old, not some drunken sorority chick!

I just replied to his email very politely explaining once again that yes, I have met the requirements, and describing the counselor woman to him so he can talk to her if he wants to and figure out what the h-e-double hockey sticks is going on.

But, seriously, just let me in. I'm already registered. It's not rocket science. If I fail, it's not going to set off a nuclear holocaust.

Down from the Ledge

Phew. I was totally off the handle yesterday, huh?! Thanks for talking me off the ledge, people, especially you, B. I felt a whole lot better after getting it all out, and all the encouragement helped me get my brain back in gear.

You're right - it was totally unprofessional for that advisor to say that about that professor. It says more about her than it does him, at least for the moment. For all I know, she could have wanted to date the guy and he snubbed her, and now she's mad. Trash talk is completely inappropriate.

However, I do have to say, it's not looking great so far for this professor. I looked him up, and he's an associate professor; I'm not sure what this means, whether it's that he's new or that he just doesn't have tenure. I sent him a very polite email yesterday thanking him for letting me into the class, briefly explaining why I had registered at the last minute, and saying that I am familiar with how online classes work from grad classes I've taken. I apologized for having missed his orientation (which happened over a week before the semester starts), and asked if he could please send me any materials I will need to get started. That was at around 3pm. This morning, I called his office and left a message around 9. It is now after noon, and I still haven't heard anything. I know the semester hasn't started yet, but he must be checking email and voicemail at least once a day? Sigh. If I haven't gotten anything by tomorrow morning, I'm going to call the department and see if I can find out what his schedule is so I can stop over, or at least call when I know he's going to be there. Also, maybe if he knows that someone else knows I'm trying to - hello - find out about my class that he said I could enroll in yesterday, he'll get back to me.

I've been going through this book, Forgotten Algebra, and to my surprise, I really like it. I've always thought that math was fun, but since I didn't spend enough time on it when I was younger, I got behind and confused and stressed. This book starts with basic concepts, gives a few examples, and then exercises, the answers to which are fully explained, and then moves on to the next thing. I started at the beginning, and have been feeling pretty good about things, so a few minutes ago I flipped to the back to look at the stuff on triangles, which are the basis of trig. So far, so good.

I have no idea if I have to get materials for my bio class, or if they're all available to download as well. I suppose I should call the campus bookstore? I'm looking forward to the material in that one a little. Thank you, Discovery Health channel!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What Have I Done?!

I spent several hours yesterday talking to all the various parties in order to coordinate the whole school thing - my undergrad school (UVM), UMUC (where I took my grad classes last time before I got laid off), the grad school where I'm going to apply for next May, and the community college where I have to take the classes to get into the grad school. It was like being on a transcript merry-go-round.

This morning, I went over to the CC to register. First, the advisor couldn't find my transcript. Then, when she finally did, it hadn't been evaluated as far as what my undergrad classes would qualify as pre-req's for. So, the advisor decided to do it herself, rather than having me go to one of the people who is supposed to do it. Then, to her, my algebra class had had a funny name, and UVM has changed their class names and numbers since then, so the description of what I took versus the name, versus the number, were all different, and thus she proclaimed that it was not acceptable as being algebra. (Now, who on earth can graduate college without taking at least one college-level algebra class? Hello!)

Then she decided that she should ask the professors for permission to take me into the class. No one was answering any phones. Finally, she went down to the trig professor's office, and of course he said it was fine. Then, she flat-out told me that he's a difficult 'asshole', and I'm going to have to email him for help, since I've already missed the orientation class that was on the 20th (the semester doesn't even start until the 28th). There's also the chance he might try to kick me out because of that, she said, but that I can appeal it and it will be fine. ?!?!?!?

Next, I found out that there was a typo in the CC catalogue, and the bio class I'm taking (which at first she couldn't figure out if I had taken enough english classes to qualify for - um, why do I need english for biology, and also, I actually had enough english credits for a minor!) actually has a three-hour lab on a different night, meaning I will be in class from 5:30-8:15 on Thursday, and in lab three more hours on Tuesday, rather having the two combined as the online catalogue showed.

So, to sum up, I'm barely squeaking into a trig class, taught by a reported asshole who may or may not try to kick me out, that I don't even want to take, and the bio class is twice as much time as I thought it was going to be, and I may have to have some teenager as a lab partner for three hours. What have I done?!?!

The kids have karate on M-W nights. I will have class on T-Th nights. I've already dropped out of the MOPS volunteer program, and I think I'm going to have to leave choir, which is my favorite thing ever, for the semester, because it's right after karate on Wed nights, and I already feel guilty enough that I'm going to be away from the kids so much.

This is such a huge change, and so fast. I've been at home for seven years, and now not only am I maybe going to be substituting, I also have to take really hard classes with a large group of strangers who are probably going to think I'm a geriatric pariah. Josie and Patrick are going to be upset that I'm gone so much. Between the nerves and guilt, I've been close to or actually in tears ever since I left the community college this morning.

I have an appointment with the grad advisor next Thursday to go over all my stuff and talk about what I need to do to get into the MA in Teaching program. Here's another scary thought - what if I do all of this and I either a) don't do well enough to have it count or b) do fine but still somehow don't get accepted into the grad program for another reason? *looking for paper bag to breathe into*

I need to drink. A LOT. But, it might kill brain cells that I apparently can't afford to spare.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School, Everyone

Including me.

The kids' first week at school has been great. Josie is even doing the morning announcements for this rotation (the schools here operate on a five-day rotation of specials like music and art, rather than a weekly schedule, which is TREMENDOUSLY confusing for parents but ensures no one misses a special due to a day off b/c the rotation simply skips that day) with another child from the other fifth grade class. The new principal seems great. Patrick has gotten to pet the classroom hedgehog, Pearl, and, being a boy, that's really all he has to say until either someone vomits on someone else's shoes or passes out at recess from hanging upside down too long on the monkeybars.

Anyhoo, today I decided to take myself out to breakfast at a little local shop I've been meaning to try out. It was eeh. While I sat there munching my over-greased egg sandwich, I realized that the local outpost for the state colleges was just around the corner, and on a whim, I decided to stop by.

Since we're the largest town in our college-less county, the state schools got together and founded an extension program where us yokels can go for several undergrad and grad degrees. I was curious about the master of arts in education program, which bridges a non-ed undergrad degree into a teaching certificate, and found out that it's a year-long, full time program, starting with evening classes next summer and then transitioning to daytime in the fall, ending in May with a certificate to teach and a master's degree. Basically, it's the perfect schedule for a parent, since I'll be home with the kids in the summer during the day, and then able to spend the evenings with them once school starts.

I had one small question, which led to me talking to an assistant advisor, which in turn led to me walking out of the building with a handful of paper, a course catelogue, and a dazed expression. I would need to take (gulp) two sciences (one with a LAB, OMG), and maybe a math, depending on how they would view my undergrad sociological statistics class to meet all the criteria for the program, plus put together a portfolio, at the community college across town. They make early-acceptance in November, granting provisional status to anyone who needs to finish pre-req classes.

I thought about it all day, and looked into special loan programs for teachers who work in Title I schools (of which there are many around here) or areas with critical shortages (which is our entire state). I carefully weighed the costs ($16k for the entire program) against the benefits (a starting salary of $38k the very next year and the potential of serious loan forgiveness as long as you agree to work - duh).

I registered online at the local community college about an hour ago.

Next May, I will enter the grad program. With any luck, the fall after that I'll be a teacher.

... but first, I have to take a SCIENCE with a LAB. Hold me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Anticipation

A Clean Slate

Today I cleaned off our giant magnet board, which is divided into halves for both Josie and Patrick by our growing magnet collection (my favorite is the one of a six-pack of sushi) in the back entryway of the house. It had various summer crafts, church stuffs, and the final report card from last year for each kid. Now it is as bare and fresh as the new school year.

For the first time, I wish the summer had been longer. The whole rotating-week-at-camp strategy worked so well that the kids rarely fought, and actually got along better than they ever have before. They were both really busy, both separately and together, with friends, karate, camps, and neighborhood stuff that it all flew by. It was only the last two weeks that really seemed to be mellow at all, for me, at least. I suppose all the fun was relaxing for them, since they didn't have to transport themselves to or from, or pack anything, or do any of the pre- or post-cleaning (other than toy and game stuff). For me, PHEW.

The last several mornings, we've hung out in bed together, watching Word Girl and Fetch on PBS, squished in with the dogs, laughing. It's been lovely, and I'm going to miss it, and them, when I drop them off in the morning. I wish it was longer.

Josie's in fifth grade now, and it's the last year she and Patrick will share a school, ever. Fifth grade goes away for a week at the end of the year to a sleepaway camp. I will presumably start working again at least a few days a week, and they will be walking home on those days. Patrick will have a desk of his own, rather than sharing a table with classmates. I know that tomorrow, unlike last year, he will not be walking through the doors holding his sister's hand as she guides him to his room each morning for a week. He will feel the superiority of the child who is no longer the youngest one around when he sees all the K kids walking around, wide-eyed.

I'm so proud of them both, and I can't wait to fill that board back up with all the new and wonderful things that they will bring home to me. It's like making a collage of who they are becoming, in real time, each semester. Like it, they are ever-changing works in progress.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Standing Tall

Well, folks, tonight is my first night as really, truly being VP of the PTA. Technically, I was elected (aka, convinced to do it and elected when people raised their hands in relief that *anyone* but them had been talked into it) just before the end of the school year, but tonight is Meet the Teacher Night, where I have to stand up in front of everyone and actually BE it. Whee. :) No nerves here. Nope. None. I *love* standing up in front of LOTS of people. Totally.

I really like doing things. I just don't necessarily like people to know that I'm doing them. Even having people pleased with things I've done is totally embarrassing.

For instance, I'm also vc of the worship commission at church, which is the committee that organizes and oversees all other committees. So far, I've started a recycling program, which people, even the in-their-groove-and-don't-change-it older people, like, and now even seem to want to expand. However, I've also gotten in the middle of a pretty contentious issue - clapping. That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But, as weird as it sounds, really, it's the Issue that represents the great generational divide. The older people, as a general rule, don't want clapping after musical performances, etc, because they feel it isn't respectful. The younger crowd either wants to be able to applaud, or at least have the option, and is willing to tolerate either. For example, at the church board of directors meeting, one elderly guy piped up and said that he doesn't want to do anything to bend 'to the Me generation people'. So, me, being the ornery person I am, burst out that it's the Me generation that is the future of the church, and we need to find a way to more forward in a way that resepects where we've been and compromises into the future. I was nervous (and angry) when I said it, but I've had several people, including the quieter older set, come up to me and thank me. One person even shook my hand!

It's amazing to me that I'm doing things, and saying things, and people are listening. Something has changed, in me, somehow.

Josie is sitting on the couch nearby, watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Imporium, which happens to be one of my favorite movies. Maybe I can be like Mahoney, and own a sparkle I never thought I had.

Hm, maybe I can also hang out with Jason Bateman?

I should probably pace myself a little.

First, PTA meeting.

THEN Jason Bateman.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grocery Roundup, Aug 15 - trying new things

This week I went to my favorite grocery store, across town, because it has the nicest produce and best selection. It's not as inexpensive as the one right near me, but since what I needed this time was primarily packable lunch foods, fruits, veggies, and frozen/dairy (rather than paper goods, meats and cleaning products), I was more interested in choice rather than price. Plus, frankly, it's just a nicer store.

Their gas points are calculated on a different basis than the cheaper store, however. Nicer store adds to your total for every dollar you spend, regardless of the amount you spend (you get a dime off per 100 points). Cheaper store gives a flat $.10 per every $50. Thus, you can get more off your gas at Cheaper store, IF you shop in $50 increments, because it's not pro-rated, so if you stop in after school to get pizzas and some soda, and spend $25, you get nothing at cheaper store, whereas Nicer store would give you 25 points. Plus, Nicer store runs promotions where if you buy a certain number of things, or mixture of items, you can get bonus gas points added to your total. So, it ends up being about the same in the end.

Here's the New Thing I tried this week: Nicer Store offers the option to scan and bag your groceries as you shop. You get the hand scanner at a kiosk where you also scan in your bonus card, so they're linked right away. I really, really liked it! It was fun, and I knew exactly what I was spending as I went through the store. I packed my own stuff, so it was all grouped how I wanted it to be, and packed neatly rather than thrown in there by some schmuck. When I was done with my trip, I went to a self checkout line, scanned a bar code on the machine that said 'Order Complete', and all my info was loaded into the register. Then, I scanned in my own coupons, paid, and left. I didn't have to unload my whole cart at the register! This is a huge improvement in the speed department, since checkout typically takes at least ten minutes, plus time to wait for whoever is in front of me. Apparently, they do audit random people, or if they're suspicious (like if you scanned all your produce as bananas, I guess), but otherwise it's really faster and more pleasant all around. I will do this all the time from now on.

Without further ado, here you go:

Nicer Store Totals:

Total Before Savings: $323.18

Coupons Used: 21 (11 of which were doubled)
Coupon Savings: $24
Bonus card / sale savings: $39.48
Total Saved: $63.48
Total Items Purchased: 110

Total After Savings: $261.45
Percent Saved: 20%
Average Price Per Item: $2.37

YTD Savings (Bonus Card Only): $240.24 (I've only shopped there 3-4 times so far this year.)

Gas Points Earned: 478 (323 + extra earned via promotions)
Total Gas Points Earned this Earnings Period: 844 (this translates into $.80 per gallon, plus I'm $56 away from earning another dime off).

This particular earnings period ends 9/19, and then a new one will begin. I *should* have earned a free tank of gas by then.

Friday, August 14, 2009

End of Summer Awesomeness

Today the kids and I took a field trip to Baltimore. Originally, we were only going to go to Port Discovery, but at the last minute, we decided to go to the aquarium, which is a block away, also. For those of you with really little kids, this is one HUGE advantage of having only bigger kids - spontaneous, all-day outings where everyone has the energy level required! We left the house at 10am, and didn't get home until about 8.

Port Discovery is SO cool now that the kids are old enough to enjoy it. The climbing structure in the middle is three actual stories tall, with six kid-stories. There are slides, rope ladders, cargo nets, tubes reaching from the structure to the main levels of the building, and an internal zip line! I could only fit half of it in a photo.

We visited a travelling interactive Chegall exhibit, played with water, and learned about cowboys and crabs (although, thankfully, not at the same time).









We had some snacks at the gorgeous Barnes and Noble at the Inner Harbor. It's in a remodeled power plant, and everything is wood and copper. I could LIVE there.


Then, we finished up with a two-hour tour of the aquarium, which is currently hosting my favorite travelling exhibit of all time, Jellyfish Invasion. I saw it once before, with my last boyfriend before DH, about twelve years ago. It's amazing how beautiful they are.





NOW we can have school. The Fun has been Had.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moving On Up

Yesterday was a big day!




We started out with kids that looked like these two pictures here. Cute, no?
















By the end of the day, they looked like this!










































Even cuter, si? My friend Megan cut Josie's hair yesterday afternoon, and it looks awesome. Doesn't she look so sophisticated? That's my baby, being.... less of a baby. Sigh.

And, Mr. Patrick, as he is called at karate, did beautifully on his belt test. He didn't get all embarrassed and forget, or "forget", or act up, or anything. For once, he sat respectfully when he was supposed to be waiting, didn't goof off while he was supposed to be standing still, and did everything he was supposed to do without any fidgeting at all. There were about eight people there testing last night, ranging from Patrick trying to pass his first test to yellow belt, all the way up to a 50something guy going for his purple belt. Everyone was really supportive and tolerant of having two younger kids in their midst, and in return the kids lived up to expectations. We were SO proud.


video

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Catching Up

The funniest thing I have heard lately:

'Well, ma'am, I'm not sure this ($300 brand-new-only-has-a-timing-problem) sewing machine is worth fixing - we do have some great machines that start at only $1200, though. I thought I'd let you know that before I started fixing this one.' - the Mennonite repair guy at the local quilting shop. Apparently Mennonites (like Amish lite) are doing quite well for themselves these days. I laughed at him. I couldn't help it. Sure, buddy, I'll take two. And, do you have any caviar back there?

Sheesh. Bad enough that I got taken for a ride when I traded in my MIL's embroidery machine, since this machine isn't as expensive as the guy at the other store told me it was, but now I realize, ALL sewing machine stores must be run by crooks! It's like there's a sewing mafia!

Patrick is testing for his yellow belt tomorrow night. Also, the kids have a sleepover with the karate studio this weekend. It's a pool party, followed by a movie at the studio, and games and video gaming. It'll be the first night DH and I will have had alone for a date in a long time. We may actually do dinner AND a movie! Whoa! Well, at least dinner, and then maybe a trip to Barnes and Noble.

The dogs are driving me nuts. It's too hot for them to go outside, so they're acting out. Delilah has eaten the zipper off of Patrick's backpack (from last year, but we were going to use it this year too, since it was in perfect condition), most of a jar of kids' mouthwash (their poop had better be minty-fresh), and torn up a bunch of paper stuff. That's just today. Last week, we had a substitute mail carrier who used the slot rather than the giant mail box next to the house and we had Mail Salad for two days until I taped a huge sign on our slot that said 'NO - The mailbox is RIGHT BEHIND YOU'. You'd think after seeing the dogs waiting the first day, they'd look around, but no.

DH may get a new job. He likes his current one just fine, but he and this other guy have a line on helping his dream company create a new division, and it looks like they're biting.

I started a small recycling program at our church for the weekly bulletins. I'm hoping to expand it, but I have to go slowly, because with organizations that have a lot of old people who are set in their ways, you have to kind of slide things in when they're not looking.

School starts next Wednesday. The kids find out who they have and who is in their class tomorrow night.

Guess that's it... that's kind of why I haven't been writing a lot lately - I'm boring at the moment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thoughts on the Basement

After almost a week of working on the basement, we finally have all the carpet and carpet pad up (almost all of which was soaked). What we found was

- a cement floor that had, at some point, been painted with regular, red paint, which was then covered with what is probably that cement-dampness-sealer paint that had either cracked or been improperly installed. Underneath the red was soaked, which is what made the red paint come up. The red was SO red that the concrete is stained red! Which, really, is kind of nice, compared to what it could be.

- a partially covered-up sump pump. Hmmm. Who would cover up a pump that was obviously installed for a REASON? There have only been three owners of this house - the farmer's daughter it was built for, the people before us, who were here for 11 years, and us. Uh-huh. So, perhaps the water came from a small crack in that seal, which would explain why it was under the sealant.

I bought a dehumidifier (it is a lot more expensive to remove water than to add it, OMG!), and the place is pretty much dry now. We think the plan will be to level the floor, which is really craggy and bumpy, using colored cement and then throw down area rugs, which could be brought outside to dry if there's another problem. Our other thought is sheet linoleum, but I'm not sure that would keep water above it rather than trapping it below, although it would be a lot cheaper - does anyone know anything about that?

The unused office, however, stayed dry. My idea for that is, wait for it, WAIT FOR IT......

A GIANT WALK-IN STORAGE CLOSET!!!!

I *know*, right?!?!?!

It makes a shitty, dungeon office because one wall has a very low ceiling that goes about two feet into the room due to pipes that have been walled in, and no windows, but would be perfect for one of those huge closet systems you see in mansions on TV!!!! Our ghetto-mansion closet would be used to store general stuff, and seasonal clothes, and the comforters and such that we don't use most of the year. I am so excited I could just pee, but that would just make more water to clean up. We could have an area for folding and sorting clothes, too, rather than trying to do it on top of the washing machine and ironing board in the adjacent crappy laundry area, and knock a door through for access since the laundry area is unfinished and we can see where the door could go. It's dark, and spiders love it. It would be a LOT better if we made it an adjunct to a massive, bright CLOSET!

So, you know, when life hands you big, stinky, waterlogged lemons, make a lemonade closet!

When we start, I'll put up photos. Any thoughts on the linoleum thing? Do you think it would keep water on top of it, or would it just get wet and moldy underneath?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dear Ramalama Ding Dong,

I am just having a DAY. Seriously.


Dear Susquehanna Bank,

Thank you for closing our account due to inactivity, and taking the money (small though it was) as a forfeit. I appreciated not having anywhere to put my money when I CAME IN TO DEPOSIT MY CHECK today. The kicker is, I was really only being nice in keeping the account open, since we do use a national bank for the automatic deposits so DH can actually get to an ATM near his work. We chose you all because you were local, because your location was right next to our old house, and the people who work at that branch were really nice, so we kept any checks we got in the mail with you all. Now that we've moved, it's not quite so convenient, but to be nice I still went there, and was in fact there just last month being, you know, ACTIVE. I especially liked how, when presented with my CHECK, the (new) woman at the counter drawled that our account was marked as inactive, and yet didn't offer to re-activate it in order to TAKE MY MONEY! The real hallmark of customer service, though, was when she proceeded to refuse to cash it, even though it was a check issued BY SUSQUEHANNA, because it was made out to DH!!! With your unique service record, I can see why the corporate office is having to save money by closing all accounts that aren't procreating like mad, or whatever you expect them to do.

Sincerely,
The Inactive Forger


Dear New Bank,

I have recentely opened an account with you, using your 'easier' online option to do so. I believe that your mascot next to the 'easy' link should be a cat in a bathtub. After being booted off the site twice by some 'glitch', I finally finished the application and printed out confirmation, only to see that my name is now MR. Astarte Last Name JR. Apparently, my gynocologist has a lot of explaining to do, and I am wearing the entirely wrong kind of underwear. Since I wasn't given an account number, or told when exactly I might be able to use said account, I called the 800 number the next day, only to find out that they didn't know, but they could take care of making me able to use one immediately over the phone. Good thing I asked, because Ms. Einstein was going to open ANOTHER account in my name, and didn't know how that would affect the $100 New Bank had automatically withdrawn to open my first account. Whee!!!! The good news is, I got a debit/check card in the mail today, only to find out that if I slip and use it as a debit card at a store, there's a $.50 charge every time I do. No worries, though, because I still don't have a PIN, and after ten minutes of verifying my name, address, bra size and Aunt Flo chart, I found out that I can't set one up over the phone. Thanks for making sure I don't go crazy at the gas station, or, you know, deposit checks that other banks think I'm forging.

Sincerely,
It's MY MONEY, Dammit!


Dearest Patrick,

Duh. I can hear you when you run madly up the stairs to pretend you've been in your room the whole time, supposedly mulling over what a little turd you were awhile ago, just like you could hear ME on the stairs coming up from the basement. I *know* you were watching the TV. Slamming your door isn't exactly keeping your clandestine TV watching a secret, either, Captain Obvious.

Sincerely,
I Ain't Deef YET, Sonny-Boy!


and finally.....


Dear Previous Owner,

Ahh, where to begin? My mind is so full of amazing memories thanks to you, like how you saved me from a nice weekend getaway by making me give the money to the hot tub repairman instead after your hotwire job blew the motor. Oh, and how you glued the carpet in the attic to the floor, and attached it to the stairs with 100 staples per riser. Or, how the downstairs bathroom has a ceiling so low that every man we know has left a head-print on it. This weekend, though, you outdid yourself. We had a lot of rain, and imagine our shock when the (cheapo) carpet down there literally squished when we went down to do laundry! You knew we wouldn't like the constantly shedding crap you put down, didn't you, you scamp?! How kind of you to give us a reason to bond for a weekend while we ripped up all the waterlogged carpet, only to discover that the carpet tack strips on one side of the wall are completely rotted! That means that 1) this has happened before, a lot, but not quite so badly in the past year, 2)you knew it was a problem, since you lived here 11 years before we bought it, and 3) you wanted to hide it by throwing down new stuff when the house went on the market so no one would be able to tell, and you'd be able to call it a finished basement. You're the best renovation guy EVER! I can only imagine the wonderful memories all of your contracting customers must have!!!.

Sincerely,
What Next?!?!