I am a Screw Magnet

Okay, all of the dirty-minded people to the left, and please move it right along…

I don’t know what it is.  I don’t frequent construction sites, dirt roads or grassy fields.  I ride suburban streets and highways and never park in the far reaches of parking lots.

I am an average driver in an average town on average roads.  Yet I, or more directly my tires, pick up screws far more than the norm.  In a 2 week period last year I came home with three screws – all discovered only when noticing my tire was flat.

I have AAA, so getting them to come out is easy.  They do charge, however, to plug a tire.  The first time a screw followed me  home the tow truck driver tried to charge me $20 for the plug, and I knew I was being overcharged.  I talked him down to $10, and decided to go buy a tire repair kit for $6 in case it happened again.  After all, Husband has an air compressor – it would be an easy (for him) fix.

When it happened two more times in about a week we were glad we’d made the investment.  I was puzzled about how it kept happening, but Husband was convinced that someone in the neighborhood really didn’t like me.  He went so far as to stand outside and announce to whomever might be listening (hopefully the perpetrator) that if he found out who it was that was putting shiny things in my tires, he would rip off their arms and use them to beat the perpetrator to death things would get unpleasant…

Sigh.

That was several months ago, and things have been quiet since.  All my tires have remained intact,  even after we moved and I had to drive by a new home construction site in our new neighborhood every single day.

Things were quiet, until today.  I’d only been out shortly, to go to the cemetery to pay respects to my stepmother on her birthday, and then to lunch with my Dad.  I came home, did some work in the yard, cooked dinner, then went back into the yard to do some clean-up.

As we were walking back towards the house, Husband exclaimed, “Oh my G-D!!!!  You have a flat tire!!!  What is it with you and screws?!!!!”  I walked over and sure enough, right there on top of the tire in plain view was a nice, shiny screw.

As Husband fixed the tire I got treated to a non-stop commentary as Husband debunked his original theory (gee, you really like me!) and came up with a new theory that made me something of the Mistress of Murphy’s Law as pertains to screws.

Well, I do like shiny things.  But I prefer them on my fingers and in my ears, and Husband prefers his screws to remain in his toolbox.

And I think he’s a little disappointed he’s not going to get to tear off anybody’s arms, but life is full of little disappointments.

On Being Jewish

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “Religion”.

Ever since I was a young girl I have felt the responsibility of being Jewish.  A responsibility to practice the religion, to remember those who died defending it or because if it, to behave and accomplish in a way befitting G-d’s chosen people.

But even more than the responsibility of being Jewish, what I felt most was fear.  Fear of another Holocaust, fear of being attacked by a pogrom, fear of the anti-semitism being practiced and publicized all throughout the world.  I would try to concoct ways to fool oppressors into thinking I wasn’t Jewish, in an effort to save myself from my ancestors’ fate.  It’s scary for a kid to think that someone is going to come and take them away and kill them just because of their religion – and one they didn’t choose at that.   And all of these atrocities were talked about at length in synagogues, in Hebrew school, at holidays.  Never forget, we are warned.  Never forget.

As a teenager I went through the process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and I even enjoyed the process.  There was comfort in the traditions and the prayers and the belief in G-d.  But I was also becoming aware of the stereotypes that dogged my fellow Semites, and I was embarrassed that many of them were dead-on.  Not for EVERY Jew, to be sure, but for many of those I met.

One day a rabbi gave a sermon that had me see clearly what my biggest issue was with organized Judaism.  He was talking about Jews being G-d’s chosen people – a frequent and recurrent theme in Jewish services.  But that day I got what really bugged me about my religion.  It seemed to me that many of the  Jews out there, especially the ones exhibiting the hated stereotypes, saw being “G-d’s chosen people” as responsibility that proves our superiority.

In my mind, though, that was a biiiiiiiig mistake.  To me being one of the chosen means that He indeed gave us responsibility, but responsibility from a place of humility.

That was such an epiphany for me, and as a result I pretty much pulled away from the temple, and practicing my religion.  I became a part-time Jew – weddings, bar mitzvahs and the High Holy Days.  I still believe in G-d, and still pray on occasion.   I’ve often said that if I could find a temple with real people who  just happened to be Jewish that I’d gladly join.   I’ve never found that.  Some friends say that has more to do with living where I live – that what I yearn for flourishes  in places like Alabama and Utah, where Jews are much fewer and further between.  Which is why I did consider Alabama

Now that I’m older I’m willing to give those stereotypical Jews a little slack.   When you’re persecuted over centuries and struggle to survive, perhaps the best way to do that is to stick together and declare yourselves superior.  When our kids are being picked on by bullies don’t we tell them to ignore the taunts and jeers, and point out and encourage their best qualities?  It’s not such a far leap to see how that sense of superiority developed…

But now that Son is getting older I’m finding, like so many other parents, that I want religion to be a part of his life.  I like the idea of G-d, whether he truly exists or not.  I want Son to have that spirituality, to have that private relationship.   So I’m looking for a temple, willing to give my religion another chance.  And I’m hoping that I’ll find one that will help show Son the joys of tradition and being a mensch, and accepting that responsibility of being G-d’s chosen with a bit of humility.

Are you out there?

There are easier ways to make $200…

There are lots and lots and lots and lots of better ways to make money than to go to the Emergency Room with chest pain and shortness of breath.

It started Sunday night, when for the second time in my life I (Apparently?  Hopefully?) had heartburn.  The first time (several years ago), I thought I was having a heart attack, but thought I’d  go get some Tums and see if perhaps it was that heartburn stuff I’d heard about over the years.  The Tums did nothing for me (and didn’t years later when I was pregnant, either!), so I went back out and bought some Pepcid, with the plan that if I didn’t feel better in an hour I’d go to the ER.

Pepcid, lovely product that it is, worked in twenty minutes.

So,  when I started experiencing chest and back pain on Sunday night I popped a Pepcid.  And, because one of my dearest friends had a heart attack at age 44 just three months ago, I sent Husband to the store for baby aspirin, just in case.  I chewed 4 baby aspirin, and promptly fell asleep.

Well, that wasn’t  smart.

But, I did.  And when I got out of the bed the next morning my chest felt a bit tight.  And when I started huffing and puffing just walking from the refrigerator to the microwave to the sink I thought something might be wrong.  Seriously wrong.  I called Husband, and we decided, “better safe than sorry”.  I arranged for my sister-in-law to come pick up Son, and went to the Emergency Room.

Funny thing.  Mention the words “chest pain” and “shortness of breath” and your ass will be in a wheelchair so fast you won’t notice the dirty looks of the other ER patients-in-waiting as you are whisked immediately into treatment bed 6.   I made sure to tell the doctor it was  “probably heartburn or a little anxiety”  because, well,  G-d forbid he think I’m a hypochondriac.  He wasn’t impressed by my Curriculum vitæ as regards medical training (watching Marcus Welby, MD, ER and Quincy do not an MD make, apparently).  One EKG later and the doctor admitted me, even though my EKG showed no abnormality.  Seems the heart likes to play coy and only sometimes shows trouble on an EKG.    I was admitted for more tests and for observation.

Lovely.

While I waited for a room, I was treated to an array of visitors.  There was the girl from registration, who wanted my drivers license and insurance card (smart girl that I am, they’re the only 2 things I brought to the hospital).   Patient relations came for a visit  (Did I need anything?  Yes – how do I make sure that everyone who touches me is covered under my insurance?  She blanched, ran from the room never to be seen again.)  And, surprise, the Chief Financial Officer of the hospital.  He “didn’t want any money from me”, just wanted to see how I was doing (Seems my bigwig brother sits on the Patient Relations Board, called the COO, who made sure I was taken care of.  And, ahem, that got me a private room, never mind that it was at 3 am).

So, while I waited for a room I called my insurance company, who verified that I needn’t worry who  touched me (well, not for insurance reasons, anyway).  Because I was at a participating hospital, and because I was admitted from the Emergency Room, everything was 100% covered.  And my ER deductible was waived because I was admitted.

I was quite relieved, having read about and experienced (while handling the insurance claims from my stepmother’s final hospital stay) horror stories about in-hospital services and doctors’ bills being  not covered or covered at much higher out-of-network rates.  I am seriously hoping the information I was  given was accurate.

Seriously.

And so began a twenty-four hour odyssey of tests and blood draws and two room changes and massive headaches-as-side-effects-of-medications and sleeplessness and really bad food (there was a hamburger that looked suspiciously like the roadkill I’d noticed in the parking lot as I walked to the ER), but at least all of the personnel I dealt with were top rate, at least I had a private room (thanks BW!) and at least I’ll be making money on the deal.

How?  Well, remember the Hospital Income policy I told you about?  Yes, well, I get to put a claim in for my lovely day in the hospital.

There are easier ways to make $200.  Perhaps next time I’ll try something that doesn’t involve needles.

To Make a Stink or Not to Make a Stink? That is the Question.

Husband has been with the same company for 7 years.   He is a hard worker with a good work ethic, and he goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.  Last week his company was pitching a new client, and they didn’t even ask him for an animation because his department is slammed with regular work right now.  Husband worked on it at home on his own time at his own impetus because he knew it would give his company an edge, and it looks like his animation will land them the client.

Great, isn’t he?

He’s also a terrific troubleshooter, and has become the go-to guy for hardware and software tech support in addition to his regular duties.

They love him almost as much as I do.

Like most of the rest of corporate America, times are tough at Large Conglomerate.  There were massive layoffs last year, and a handy dandy pay cut to go along with it.   Grateful to keep his job, we accepted the cut with as much grace as possible.

Things are going much better now.  His office has hooked several new clients, and receipts are way up.  Being part of a Large Conglomerate, though, means that the entire company has to be in the black consistently before his old pay is reinstated, no matter how much his little piece of the pie shines.

Poop.

The other day the HR person was chatting with Husband, and the subject of vacation came up.  She’s been there 2 years longer than Husband, and takes 4 weeks of vacation (compared to Husband’s three).  She said there was no written policy dictating when the 4th week was awarded, and she’d gotten her 4th week 2 year before.  She volunteered to ask if Husband could get a 4th week, too.

We were both excited about this possibility, thinking that:

1.  He deserves a bonus for all of the extra work he does consistently, and

2.  It would help lessen the blow of the pay cut.

Today the HR person forwarded Husband an email from the corporate HR department denying the request, and it included the policy in place addressing the 4th week of vacation.  As with many other companies, employees of Large Conglomerate are eligible for the 4th week of vacation after ten years of service.

Fine.

But why does HR person get the 4th week?  Do labor laws not specifiy that all employees of the same class get the same benefits on the same schedule?  I’m sure executive level rules are different, but at Husband’s and HR person’s level they absolutely do.  Don’t they?

That’s discriminatory.  And it isn’t the first time the company has exhibited discriminatory practices.  Heck, I’m Jewish and even I don’t think Jewish employees should get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off with pay without giving other employees commensurate time off.

These things are unfair.

Husband, of course, will do nothing.  He doesn’t want HR person to lose her extra week, which she surely would if he made a stink.

But to me it stinks anyway.  It violates my innate sense of fairness.

What would you do?

A year ago…

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “A Year Ago”.

A year ago I was cleaning crap out of my Dad’s house.  This year I’m moving crap into my Dad’s house.

A year ago Son was in school.  This year he is not.

A year ago I was writing 1-2 posts per day.  This year I am writing 1-2 posts per week.

A year ago I had a colonoscopy.   This year I don’t have to.  Next year,  either.  Or the year after that.  Or the year after THAT.  We won’t talk about the year AFTER that.

A year ago we were worried because someone had just gotten laid off from Husband’s agency.  This year we are worried because someone has just gotten laid off from Husband’s agency.

A year ago Son napped daily and I napped occassionally. This year no one naps but Husband’s grandmother.

A year ago I was getting curtains hung.  This year I’m taking curtains down.

It’s been a fairly good year for us.  We’re all alive, Husband is employed and we are moving to a house more than twice as big as this one.

Here’s hoping this year is better.  And that next year I won’t have to consult my blogs to remember what happened this year.

Remind Me To Never Go to Taipei…

From last year's  birthday trip to Metrozoo, where his only interest was the restrooms...

From last year's birthday trip to Metrozoo, where his only interest was the restrooms...

Everyone who reads my blog knows that Son’s favorite thing is a restroom.  Ever since he was a baby he has been fascinated by toilets, and they day he discovered a urinal our whole lives changed.  He wanted to be a urinal for Halloween, and whenever you ask him what he wants for his birthday his answer is invariably “A restroom!”

One of last year's efforts.  Today's are much more detailed.

One of last year's efforts. Today's are much more detailed.

Thank goodness he doesn’t  know about this restaurant in Taipei, the brainchild of someone who is obviously a kindred spirit to Son.  Or four years old.

“The servers bring your meal atop a mini toilet bowl (quite convenient, as it brings the food closer to your mouth), you sip drinks from your own plastic urinal (a souvenir), and soft-swirl ice cream arrives for dessert atop a dish shaped like a squat toilet.” toilet_rest_0219

Seriously, who wants to eat food that looks like poop?  Out of a toilet bowl.  While sipping upon one. Here are some more photos, for those who appreciate my not  posting them directly.

I’m one that loves desserts.  But you can bet your ass that I’m not eating ice cream called “diarrhea with dried droppings” (chocolate), “bloody poop” (strawberry) and “green dysentery” (kiwi). But my, how Son would love it!

No, we’ll not be going to Taipei.  But if any of you go, would you please bring Son one of the souvenier urinal cups?  He’d be ever so grateful…

On Forgiveness

I’ve always been quick to poo-poo the things that others have done to hurt me.  People are human, they make errors in judgment – at least if I am any indication.  I can just let most things roll off my back.  I’ve never held a grudge against anyone (well, except my stepmother), much preferring to let things go and move on.  I won’t  go through a laundry list of my life’s hurts, as they are only unique because they happened to me.   It just takes  too much emotional energy to carry around the hurt and anger.

I’m not so easy on myself, though.

Like all other Jews I was injected with a healthy dose of guilt at birth (what, you thought that was a rumor?).  That guilt was fostered by various Jewish grandmothers, parents and clergy over the course of a typical angst-ridden childhood.  That inherent guilt only enhanced my low self-esteem (which really didn’t need the help).  I found a myriad of ways to feel guilty, adding some extra spice to my parents’ divorce and the unfortunate molestation incident that make up the major markers of my childhood.  Do I know how to have a good time, or what?!

Being so guilt-prone I even feel guilty for things for which I have no more than a cosmic responsibility.  I feel guilty for the way our country acquired land from Native Americans, and for the treatment of African Americans and anyone else who has been enslaved. I can’t step on an ant without feeling guilt, though I do admit to less guilt when a roach meets it’s end stuck to the heel of one of Husband’s boots.  Ick.

What does guilt have to do with forgiveness?  Everything, if you’re waiting on it.   Forgiveness withheld is the ultimate manipulation.   Guilt is a horrible emotion, without any productive purpose.   The  kicker is that even once you’ve managed to wrest forgiveness for transgressions it only assuages  guilt temporarily, and in essence leaves one at the mercy of the one  manipulating dangling offering forgiveness.

And who the hell needs that?

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out why it’s so easy for me to let others off the hook, do you?  I never want to be that person, wielding that power.  I’d rather just acknowledge the event, appreciate and acknowledge an apology (if given), and  move on.

Still, letting myself off the hook isn’t nearly as easy.  I’ve worked to move away from feeling guilt for my transgressions, and instead simply take responsibility.  It’s just like guilt, but without the angst.  Without the manipulation.  Without the condescension.  And it’s productive!  What worked?   What didn’t?  Keep doing what works, stop doing what didn’t.  Acknowledge and apologize,  then move on.

Wow!

It’s not easy.  But it’s worth doing.

There is hope that Son will have a guilt-free, responsibility-rich life.  Amen.

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Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is forgiveness.

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